What’s the Word? A LGBTQ Slang Glossary
These days, there’s no denying that LGBTQ folk are in the spotlight more than ever before. The phenomenon of RuPaul’s Drag Race particularly has been responsible for serving the world gay slang terms on a silver platter. Today, it’s as if everyone and their dad is versed in a bit of gay lingo — at least enough to throw some shade. Such is our power, people.
From twinks and twunks to jocks and daddies, we absolutely love a label of any description. Some would say they foster a sense of belonging, and the simple fact is that words matter, because they allow for visibility and self-expression. (At least, that’s our excuse for refusing to shut up — and we’re sticking to it.)
Whether it’s baby gay basics or academic terms worthy of Judith Butler, here’s a taster of just some of the language that keeps our community so colorful. Werk.
Someone who’s newly out and is generally pretty clueless about everything. A trip to a gay club feels like a life-changing adventure and social norms seem impossible to grasp. Baby gays would benefit from this glossary.
Hairy, chunky, chubby, muscly, beardy boys, with big bellies to be proud of. Everyone loves a bear, one of the most visible and inclusive subcultures in the gay community. And don’t get us started on all the different kinds of bears: panda bears, red bears, polar bears.
A boy pussy, or an asshole. We could try to give more explanation, but an asshole’s an asshole at the end of the day.
Usually someone who’s is attracted to larger men, although the word can be applied to anyone chasing a particular fetish.
A cute addition to the different bear-subtribes mentioned above, a cub is a young bear, perhaps with a slightly smaller frame, who’s not to be confused with an otter.
If anyone ever accuses you of having lowbrow television tastes, then you can respond that the word “drag” is, in fact, a Shakespearean acronym for “dressed as a girl,” referring to male actors who played female roles.
MILFs have already had a moment in the past year, what with Jennifer Coolidge taking over the world and the absolutely mental dating show MILF Manor doing whatever it’s doing. But DILFS — or, “Dad I’d Like to Fuck” — are also winning hearts the world over. Just look at Pedro Pascal, who has quintessential dad energy despite not actually being a father.
A pretty obvious portmanteau for gays who like video gaming. And we’re more than just a few: A recent survey showed that 21% of the gaming industry in the U.K. identifies as LGBTQ.
A gold star gay is a man who has never had sex with a woman, and vice versa for gold star lesbians. It’s actually a slightly controversial term, as some regard it as elitist and competitive.
Supposedly derived from the fact that male giraffes are penchant for a bit of same-sex action (and who can blame them?), this is a term for a mightily tall homosexual.
A musclebound, chicken-eating, shake-swilling, bicep-curling gay. A gym bunny, a muscle Mary. All the perks of hot bods aside, some of us are perfectly happy being sofa slugs.
A TikTok user recently made a video identifying a new tribe as an “anxious, sassy gay.” It’s a veritable zoo out there. Anteaters, blobfish and hedgehogs are no doubt soon to come.
Gay Times called it “a queer term centuries in the making” dating back to house “mothers” on the ballroom scene as well as women who have historically looked out for gay men. These days it’s applied to everyone from Sarah Michelle Gellar to whatever Real Housewife is trending on a Tuesday.
A slim, maybe athletic man with a good amount of fur to his name.
Listen, this one isn’t big, and it isn’t clever, but it is unfortunately (arguably) quite funny. A prawn refers to someone with a fantastic body and unattractive face. For the record, everyone deserves to feel good about themselves and not have their head peeled off by someone with fishy fingers.
The word “queen” has been a celebrated part of our lexicon for so long that it’s strange to consider that it actually first emerged as a slur. It’s generally used to refer to a flamboyant or effeminate gay man, although everyone has the occasional royal moment.
It’s widely regarded that the word “queer” was first used as a slur against Oscar Wilde when he was on trial for homosexuality in 1895, which was gleefully circulated by the press at the time. It was later reclaimed during the AIDS crisis in the 1990s, with placards emblazoned with the slogan “We’re here, we’re queer.” Now it’s an umbrella or shorthand term for numerous LGBTQ identities.
Another one that’s filtered down from Paris Is Burning to the mainstream, by way of Drag Race. Drag queens have perfected the art of insulting someone with such ruthless precision that there is no possible comeback. You can try doing it with your friends, although without the right finesse you might find yourself wondering why nobody’s answering your calls anymore.
Of all the gay words under the hot homosexual sun, this is perhaps one of the most common: a slim and youthful chap in the mold of Timothée Chalamet in Call Me By Your Name. Most newly out gays hit the clubs as fresh-faced twinks before succumbing to the status of “aging twink,” a sociological complexity that’s far beyond this glossary.
A twink who has hit the gym and mainlined enough protein to bulk up morphs into what is known as a “twunk.” How this is different from a gym rat is anyone’s guess.
Slang for a bisexual person, a reference to people who believe bisexuality to be a myth. It can also be used to describe a bisexual woman who is happy to sleep with a heterosexual couple (or, in other words, the fantasy of most straight men).
Usually a lean, muscular guy with body hair on his torso that is probably a bit on the gray side. Typically perceived as masculine and possibly quite assertive.
Now you’re talking
We’ve served the words — now it’s time for you to dish ‘em out. And there’s no better way to practice your new homo lingo than with Grindr’s more than 10 million monthly users. Get the Grindr app for iOS or Android, or browse hands-free with Grindr Web — the same Grindr you know and love, now available on your laptop or PC with no download required.