Slang

Language is a virus to quote Laurie Andersen. Slang is a specialized vocabulary and it moves organically between cultural subgroups; from the gay community to the straight world. It moves from the African American community to the broader community as a whole. Like all of language our words evolve, are regional and some even transform. As an example consider the word faggot and its original meaning. Slang is all about inside information, about belonging to a group, community even to a particular social class. I was talking with someone the other day and had one of the moments of self-awareness about just how much as a gay man I use terms that few outside my everyday community would understand. I was using what to me are everyday words but to them I might as well of been speaking French. Everyone knows what the term “top” means, but what’s the difference between a “Gayby” and a “Gayce?” That’s where knowledge of slang comes in. Slang helps us to find out who is “in the know” and who is “out of the loop.” Slang changes with the culture.

Certain category of words contain more slang than others, Sexual slang as you might guess is rampant in any culture. As a simple thought experiment, think of how many slang terms we have for body parts. Now think about how many terms there are for the penis. That’s the point — sex is what we talk about!

Recently a group of us went out clubbing, and I noticed a lot of conversations with words like “Bussy” and “Extra” being used. It got me to thinking about how much we use slang in our day to day, but when the mix is more straight, say at work, you’ll seldom hear gay slang. I’ve yet to hear my boss describe himself as “beat for the gods.” He has never said YASSSS to me once. I think I’d spit my coffee. This got me to thinking about how much slang has changed in even the last few years

Let’s face it Drag race has really brought gay slang to the broader world. Terms like “Yasss,” and “Sissy that walk” or even “Gurl” are just as likely to be coming out straight people’s mouths now as they are gay peoples. This being the case, I thought I’d check in with some older gay friends of mine to see what sorts of slang was used back in the day, BRDR (Before Rupauls Drag Race). It was interesting that a lot of the original slang came from the leather community as well as the Bear communities, terms like Daddy, Boy, chicken/twink Top/Bottom were used. Things related to drag weren’t so common. So I thought I’d compile a fun list of some of the newer slang.

“Bussy,”:

“Bop,”:

“Beat for the Gods,”

“Extra,”

“F#ck My Drag Right,”

“Gayby,”

“Gayce,”

“Yasss,”

“Kiki,”

“Werk”

“Okurr.”

I have to be honest there were a few in that list I hadn’t heard before, and I’m sure there are even more. Slang allows us to connect in a way common language doesn’t, and really isn’t it about making those connections. These are just a few terms, What’s your favorite slang term that’s not on this list.

Born in New York, schooled in the Berkshires, Became an adult in L.A., found my Soul in Seattle. Been writing & drinking copious amounts of coffee since 2012.

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