Image Credit: Netflix

A Queer Glossary For Confused, But Well-Meaning Straight People

It’s wild how often new slang and expressions pop up these days. Like, one minute you’re scrolling TikTok, hear someone say something catchy, and the next thing you know, it’s your new go-to phrase. You’re using it in convos, dropping it in comments, and months later, millennials are all like, “Wait, what does that mean?” But let’s be real for a sec: most of these “new” words and expressions are actually straight out of Black, queer culture. “Slay,” “it’s giving…” — yup, you can thank our fabulous queer fam for that.

Now, there’s nothing more cringe than taking a fun word or phrase and butchering it. So, to save you from total embarrassment and help out all the well-meaning heteros (and baby gays) trying to decode queer friends’ lingo, here’s the ultimate queer slang glossary. Get ready to learn all the most common LGBTQ+ terms and identities you absolutely need to know. Otherwise, how will you maintain your chronically online status?

david rose schitt's creek
Image Credit: CBC


This describes someone who does not identify with any gender. Agender people may see themselves as having no gender or being gender-neutral.

Boots The House Down

Coming from the Ballroom scene, this phrase basically means you did a fucking good job — either with your outfit, or just something you did that seemed really iconic.


This is someone in the queer community who presents themselves in a masculine way — like Big Boo (IYKYK).


This has its roots in Ballroom culture, which is an underground scene created by Black trans and queer folks where people compete in different categories. “Chop” or to “be chopped” means being cut from a category.


Someone who identifies as “demisexual” only feels attraction for people they’ve built a strong emotional bond with. So, they don’t feel sexual attraction to someone based on their appearance.


Also originating from the Ballroom scene, the term “extravaganza eleganza” is just another way to describe an event or any type of gathering that is oozing in elegance.


While Tyra Banks definitely had a hand in the widespread use of “fierce,” it also has roots in queer culture. This is typically a way to describe someone who’s walking in a ball and they’re basically giving it all they have. If you’re coming with intensity and confidence, you’re being “fierce.”


And no, this has nothing to do with sex. “Gagging” someone or leaving someone “gagged” is basically saying you left someone speechless. You’re stunning them so much with your outfit, your walk, your confidence that they don’t even know what to say.


Refers to a gender identity that is not fixed and can change over time or depending on the situation. A genderfluid person may feel more masculine on some days, more feminine on others, or somewhere in between at different times.


Genderqueer is an umbrella term for gender identities that are not exclusively male or female. It encompasses a wide range of gender expressions and identities.


You’ve probably heard this all over TikTok and may even use it yourself. But like all these terms, “giving” comes from Black queer culture. There are two ways to use this. First, it can basically a way to say what the vibe of something is, if followed by another word. This outfit is giving sexy, or that text from your ex is giving desperate. But, if you’re just saying something “is giving,” that means it is killing it. “That skirt is giving,” which basically means that’s a cute little skirt.


We might think of “mother” as a typically cishet woman who is considered an icon by the queer community. Think Beyoncé or Lady Gaga. But “Mother” has been around for many, many decades and isn’t reserved for cishet women. Sometimes an older gay man who is a pillar of the queer community is known as Mother. In Ballroom culture, “Mother” is typically the person of a “house” who serves as a leader and guides other, younger queer folks who may have been cast out by their families.


Pansexual means you’re attracted to people for who they are, not what gender they are. To quote David Rose, who said it best, “I like the wine and not the label.” Your heart doesn’t care about the packaging, just the person inside.


This refers to people who are attracted to multiple, but not necessarily all, genders. Unlike pansexuality, polysexuality specifically describes attraction to several, but not all, gender identities.


This used to be a slur used against effeminate gay men, but has been reclaimed by the queer community to apply to everyone and anyone who may be well-liked or… just dressed really well. This is why RuPaul is the Queen.


When you “read” someone, you’re not just insulting them, but you’re insulting them in such a clever way that it’s hard for them to recover. Now, “reading someone for filth” is dragging into them in a way that might cause some tears, like when Logan told Rory that she’s an entitled Ivy league brat herself.


This has a bit of a controversial beginning. Originally “realness” was used to describe how well a trans person “passed” in whatever gender expression they were presenting. Now, it’s an umbrella term to describe how well someone is able to imitate a certain look.


This comes from the Greek poet Sappho, who often wrote about the beauty of Greek goddesses. Now, “sapphic” refers to women who love women — including lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, and queer women, as well as nonbinary folks who resonate with womanhood.


In the same was as calling someone “bad” now is good, calling someone or their outfit sickening is basically saying that they look so good that it disgusts you. This is one of the highest forms of compliment.


We’ve all heard “slay” by now, but in case you didn’t know, it’s just another way to say someone’s “killing it.” This comes from the drag scene.


This is basically a young man who looks really young with no traces of body or facial hair on him. Think Timothée Chalamet.


Yes, I’m sure you know what a wig is, but when the word “wig” is used in queer culture it’s more of an adjective than a noun. It’s basically a way of saying that you’re highly impressed. Or can be used to express your shock, such as, “My wig has been snatched.” When Zendaya popped out in her 2024 Met Gala look? Wig.

Syeda Khaula Saad
Syeda Khaula Saad
Syeda Khaula Saad is a sex & dating writer at Betches despite not remembering the last time she was in a relationship. Just take her word for it.