Black Gay Slang, Explained To Suburban White People

If you’ve ever watched en episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race, you’ve probably noticed all the slang and have come away from the show wondering, WHAT ARE THESE PEOPLE SAYING?! Subcultures have a unique way of communicating, using words and phrases that are not automatically intelligible to those not in the culture. Well here’s your chance to be part of the cognoscenti! If your speech pattern needs a makeover, look no further than black gay slang, which is full of some of the funniest expressions for normal everyday things. Here’s a guide to some things you can say in gay black song.

Phrase #1: Read, e.g. Bitch I will read you!/Oooo was that a read?

Explanation: You may think you’re the cat’s meow, but let’s see how you feel after I tell you about yourself.


Phrase #2: Yaassss! (It’s not “yes” — it’s yaaaassss.), e.g. To a friend: “Honey I just landed a job at Vogue!” The friend says/texts: “Yaassss!”

Explanation: Wow, that’s amazing!

Phrase #3: Girl, what’s the tea/T?

Explanation: How was your day? Would you care to gossip?

Phrase #4: Worrrkkk!!! Work/werq/werk (See also “Yaassss!”) I’m about to WORK/WERQ/WERK this final paper Miss Honey, yaassss.

Explanation: You are incredibly good at what you do. What a great idea! I’m going to pursue this task to the best of my abilities.

Phrase #5: _______ gives me LIFE! E.g., Honey, Beyoncé’s performance on the VMAs last night gave me my life!

Explanation: I had a particularly riveting time/the experience was rather sensational and/or transformative.

Phrase #6: I’m not featuring that, e.g., His busted ass tried to talk to me at the bar last night. I’m not featuring that.

Explanation: I’d strongly prefer not to have anything to do with him.

Phrase #7: No tea, no shade, e.g., I would wait for you, but bitch the last time I did your ass was 40 minutes late — no tea, no shade!

Explanation: I know you don’t care to hear this because the truth hurts, but allow me say it anyway.

Phrase #8: Don’t come for me, e.g., That racist lady tried to insult me, but child I have a Ph.D. from Harvard. Don’t come for me.

Explanation: You have no clue just what you’re getting into, do you?


Phrase #9: Throwin’ shade, e.g. Girl why you throwin’ shade?

Explanation: Are you upset with me or something? Have I done something in particular to wrong you?

Phrase #10: Coin, e.g. Girl that job better pay me a cute coin. A bitch needs her coins! Bitch where my coins at, gur!

Explanation: I certainly hope the salary is up to par.

Phrase #11: I’m giving/serving you ___________ realness, e.g., I’m giving you Soul Train realness, honey. I’m serving you some serious suburban-bedroom realness.

Explanation: You couldn’t possibly tell the difference between me and people who were on actually Soul Train/in a suburban-bedroom.

Phrase #12: Gurl! (The “U” is crucial.)

Explanation: I think you might have lost your mind!

Phrase #13: Trade (a more old-school terminology), e.g., He always chasing a piece of trade.

Explanation: Why isn’t that puzzling — he seems to only be attracted to straight guys.

Phrase #14: OVAH!, e.g., Girl that look is OVAH!!

Explanation: That’s amazing!

Phrase #15 Gagging, e.g. As soon as I walked in the room they were all gagging, honey.

Explanation: They just couldn’t take their eyes off me. They’d never seen anything quite like it before, and they were completely stupefied.

Phrase #16 Girl/Gurl/Gur (a term of endearment) e.g., Hey girl! Bitch where you at gur!

Explanation: Hello you awesome person you. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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Madison Moore