The Mainstreaming of The Gay Lingo
“Yesss, honey! Work! You betta get your life!” This is a phrase that, a few years ago, one may have only heard at a ball or on certain streets in major cities where gay men and drag queens and the like congregate. So why am I hearing it from straight female coworkers and girls on the street nowadays? It seems that lately, since that obnoxious Tamar Braxton and “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” hit the small screen, every chick is calling her friends “bitch,” snapping her fingers and, for lack of a better phrase, fagging out. And it’s a pain in the fucking ass!
Now don’t get me wrong – as a gay man, I have many straight female friends. I always have. I’ve never tried to separate them from my gay friends, but I realize that, at times, I speak a little differently around my gays. There’s a certain lingo and language that we gay men used among ourselves, and most of the time, my straight friends had no idea what the hell we were talking about! Hell, it took a long time for me to understand some of the new phrases I heard when I first went out. There’s a certain banter among us that’s downright fun and all our own. It’s reserved for certain times and with certain people. The girls had no idea what “trade” was. They didn’t know what we meant when we referred to someone as “cunt” or why sometimes we may refer to a male as “she” or “queen.” Back when I was a teenager and had just discovered the ballroom scene, none of my straight friends had any idea what “voguing” was outside of a song and a dance Madonna did in 1990. But that was then.
The days when our straight friends and relatives couldn’t decipher what you were talking about with your male “girlfriends” are long gone. There are a few other people to blame, and first on my list is Tyra Banks. Her once-popular TV show, “America’s Next Top Model,” featured several flamboyantly gay men and even Tyra herself, encouraging aspiring models to be “fierce” and to “work it.” Tyra wagged her finger, snapped and even dubbed one of her male judges “Miss Jay.” I’m sure Tyra thinks she was being all-inclusive and gay friendly and teaching naive country girls with modeling dreams valuable lessons about diversity, but after a while Tyra came off to me and my friends like the annoying girl with too many gay friends.
Then came “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” and a slew of other bad reality TV shows featuring a gaggle of catty women and their oftentimes obnoxious and equally catty gay male friends. Singer Toni Braxton’s sister, Tamar, appears weekly on TV with the weave and attitude of an Atlanta drag queen and the lingo to match. Soon enough, the average chick was bragging about being fierce and “having face” and “throwing shade” and actually understanding what the phrase “throwing shade” was! Only thing was half the straight people spouting long-used gay lingo didn’t know that gay men had been using the phrases before reality TV even existed. The language we had was no longer ours.
The real culprits in gay culture being taken and our language being snatched by the straights are a few gays themselves! Some young, overzealous queens just want to tell their girlfriends everything about being gay: how to talk, what clubs the gay guys go to, what to say, how to spot or “clock” gay guys, how to throw and catch shade. They wind up creating these little monsters: straight girls who are too exposed to gay culture and start behaving more like flamboyant gay men than like women! They want to “read,” tell you to “get your life” and tell you they’re “real fish” and vogue against you because they watched Vogue Evolution dance on MTV. And they’re always overzealous to use their newfound knowledge and newly learned language. Especially if they know you’re gay. It’s exhausting.
Now don’t get me wrong, being gay isn’t some secret society with secret code languages, and at times I do like introducing my friends to aspects of gay culture when they ask me, but I do like having some stuff that’s strictly between me and my gay friends without it being snatched up by the mainstream. Or without everybody knowing what I’m talking about. My straight friends don’t really need to know what a vers top is. Most of my straight friends don’t even know I speak a gay lingo because I don’t usually speak it to or around them! It’s also particularly annoying when gay culture and lingo is stolen and not given credit. Madonna would have had you believe she invented voguing and Tamar Braxton would have you believe that her catch phrase, “get your life,” is originally hers and then the masses fall in line and follow suit. And it gets on my nerves!
Soon we’ll have to just back to old school gay Pig Latin! So girls, take heed. Use it in moderation or just leave the gay talk to the ones who do it best: the gays. Don’t call me “honey,” “bitch,” “Miss” or any form of “queen” if you don’t know me, or you will get read for filth and it will indeed be major shade thrown and you will gag. Bitch.