What’d he say? And why? And am I a complete idiot for not having the right reaction to it?
If you’ve ever asked yourself these questions, then it might be time to sharpen up on current gay terms aka slang. And we get it: Keeping up on it all can be exhausting. And as much as you try, things can sometimes get lost in translation.
But you’re in luck! We’ve made the perfect guide to help you figure out the gay slang words everyone’s saying right now and how to use them, all organized for your most important gay moments.
To fully understand gay slang, it helps to understand its importance. We’re not just spouting these words off to look cool, right? Ok, that’s debatable. Still, gay slang has served a legit purpose in gay history. So before you dive in, let’s learn what it’s all about.
Gay slang from then to now
In the first half of the 20th century and even all the way up to the 90s, being out and proud wasn’t an option for many in the LGBTQ+ community. Back then, gay men slang served as a means for people to communicate who they were discreetly—even using simple slang for gay, such as mary and queen. There were no apps, no social media, not even chat rooms. It was mostly face to face, over the phone, or through the mail. Maybe carrier pigeon? You know those birds were fierce.
At the end of the day, you could exist. But only in a way that didn’t upset or offend other people. Gay slang helped LGBTQ people build solidarity and connect safely.
Once the internet was born, it became easier not only to document gay slang but also for others to learn it. The identities of gay men were evolving and becoming more realized. But for the most part, gay and queer slang didn’t really attract the attention of mainstream society.
And then Drag Race happened.
Listen to conversations between you and your friends, and you’ll hear a lot of gay slang words and phrases that came from a queen talking about their runway performance. Seriously! Drag Race started small, but became a worldwide sensation. And with that came a massive audience that was fan-girling and wanting to speak the lingo with everyone they knew. Suddenly, gay terms of all kinds had jumped from the back room to the TV to Tik-Tok quicker than Sasha Colby could do a death drop.
Nowadays, you’re just as likely to hear your bestie yell “WERK” on the dancefloor as you are to hear a Midwestern housewife exclaim it to her kid when they get an A on their math quiz. And while some might argue that this use of gay slang words by those outside the community is muscling in on our territory, it also signals an important turning point of acceptance. I mean c’mon…they all secretly want to be us, right? We’re witty as hell, we know how to buy jeans that fit us properly, and we’re fearless.
So now what? It’s all good: Gay slang still belongs to us. And we get to decide what gets said and what doesn’t. Just like this list does. Have a look, and we promise we’ll have your vocab skills snatched for the gods the next time you want to serve gay slang realness.
When you’re making conversation
Don’t worry, this is a compliment. It’s when your face (or any part of you) is looking flawless, honey, FLAWLESS.
“He sent me a pic from his beach vacation, and his body was looking beat.”
A word added at the end of a statement when you want to crank up the excitement. The exclamation point before the exclamation point.
“I had front row tickets, and that concert was amazing boots!”
Boots The House Down
When boots isn’t enough to describe the amazingness.
“She came back out for an encore, and it was fierce boots the house down!”
Gay slang for an amazing, ass-shaking, and/or iconic song. Usually belted out by a legendary songstress and on perpetual repeat at your fave bar.
Describing someone who looks unkempt, poorly presented, and/or like a hot mess. Literally the last thing you want someone to describe you as.
“My roommate came home from being out all night looking totally busted.”
When someone or something feels intentionally over-the-top. This can include everything from John Waters movies to that hot pink jumpsuit you saw on the train.
The opposite of busted, and the highest compliment you can get from anyone, especially a drag queen.
“She showed up for that job interview dusted in those new boots.”
Used to describe a way you or someone is acting during a certain period of time, from the good to the bad to the WTF.
“After last summer, I’m in my spending less money era.”
One of many gay terms to call out a friend on anything at any time.
“You didn’t hear about that new club? Gurl.”
When you’re about to break down the way someone’s looking or acting.
“His new outfit is giving high-powered executive.”
The ultimate gay slang for getting together with your friends to let loose and gossip (you know, spill the tea).
“Let’s have a kiki so I can tell you all about my crazy weekend.”
A basic gay term for the face.
“I’m loving your mug in this pic.”
Used to signal the end of a discussion. When you say it, the conversation is OVER.
“If a guy doesn’t pay on the first date, I’m out. PERIODT.”
Sassy gay slang for the act of being called out…for better or for worse.
“He kept interrupting me, so I read him.”
Read For Filth
The act of calling out someone with zero mercy. They’re gonna need a shower after what you said.
“He interrupted me AND spilled my drink, so I read him for filth.”
Gay terms expressing your unfiltered, snarky opinion on someone. Usually met with a laugh or a jaw drop.
A subtle facial expression used to show your disapproval.
See honey. (We have tons of gay slang words to describe our friends….it’s a good thing!)
Tea/Spill The Tea
Hot gossip. And then sharing it with someone, who sips up every last drop.
“I have tea on that party last night, and I’m ready to spill it.”
Expressing excitement or admiration. Way more fun than saying yes.
When you’re feeling yourself
Taking anything you do to the next level, with mostly five-star results.
“I put neon laces on my new shoes to make them extra.”
Feeling My Oats
Living your best life on almost every possible level.
An intense gay slang quality that allows you to exude confidence in how you look and/or act.
For The Gods
Executing something on the highest possible level. An easy replacement for to perfection.
“I’m wearing head to toe Gucci for the gods, henny!”
A shocked reaction, usually in a good way.
To embody the most authentic version of oneself. Just you being you!
“I came to my job interview serving young executive realness.”
The way that you or someone is presenting themselves, especially when it comes to a look.
Gay slang to describe anything that is incredibly amazing. Like you!
When you do something that is absolutely top notch. Preferably all day.
“I’m here at the club and ready to slay!”
When you’re serving (see Serving above)
Gay terms for when you or someone else is operating at their highest and best capacity. Either spelling is acceptable.
When you’re on the hunt
One of many types of gay men, a bear is hairy, hunky, and larger. Bears have grown over time from a subculture in the gay community into having their own events and bars. When it comes to bears, bigger is better!
A woman who poses as a gay guy’s romantic partner to cover up his sexual identity. Apparently this is still a thing in Hollywood.
Boy + pussy, aka another way of calling out a guy’s anus. Gay sexual slang that’s way better than saying anus, right?
Having masculine qualities of any kind.
The booty. Plain and simple.
The act of looking for some casual fun with another gay guy, usually anywhere other guys are looking.
“Have you been to that new Erewhon? It’s great for cruising!”
Gay men slang for someone with all the cuddly characteristics of a bear, but younger. Where there are bears, you’re sure to see cubs.
A gay man of an older age, with plenty of variations (sugar, leather, etc). At some point, every guy becomes one!
A guy who displays feminine characteristics, whether it be in how they act and/or what they wear.
Gay slang to describe a drag queen who’s damn good at passing as a cis woman.
That mysterious sixth sense everyone employs to find out if a stranger or someone you know is gay or not. Some people’s gaydar works better than others.
A video gamer lover who also happens to love men. Let’s just say they know their way around a controller.
Slang for gay men who have never had sex with a woman. They exist!
A gay guy who’s hairy but on the skinnier side. A slimmed-down bear. Or when a bear starts taking Ozempic.
An innocent, non-romantic infatuation with someone. When it’s not quite a crush, it’s this.
“My co-worker always has my back and I totally have a squish on them now.”
A guy who doesn’t give off obvious gay vibes. Maybe he’s gay? (He’s definitely gay.)
Gay slang for a slim, boyish gay guy. The complete opposite of a bear.
A very muscular twink.
Slang for gay guys with a muscular, hairy body type that’s somewhere between an otter and a bear. Last animal, we promise!
A next-level daddy who’s exceptionally attractive and fashionable. A zaddy is swag and wisdom all rolled into one, and can sometimes include celebrities.
One last thing…
Don’t sweat not saying any of this gay slang right. And don’t worry about what anyone else is gonna think when you say it. What matters more is that it feels natural to you when it comes out of your mouth. Most importantly, gay slang celebrates who we are. So say it with pride!