Oh, Behave!

9 Queer Terms That Need to Go

Is it wrong to refer to young men like these Splash Bar dancers as "twinks"?

I’ve been working with words for all of my adult life, which is longer than I care to say—and I’ve been a queer person for even longer than that. So I feel fine about appointing myself as a one-person Vocabulary Task Force: I’m bored with (and occasionally offended by) some common gay words and terms, and I want us to get rid of them! Strike them from your conversations, blogs, and tweets. Wag your finger at anyone (LGBT or other) who uses them.

And if I’ve missed one, use the Queerty “Comments” section to tell me which words and terms you think need to be shaken out of the queer argot.

> Twink or twinky: I just hate this derogatory term for a young man who is sexually desirable but probably stupid—it manages to be both dismissive and self-loathing. (It might be OK when used to refer to oneself if one is under 25, sexually desirable, and stupid.)

> Fierce: This word is played out. It is the “fabulous” of a new generation. I’m as guilty as anyone of overusing crutch words like this, but I vow today to start being more exact with my adjectives.

> Gay-friendly: The term seems to indicate that “gay-unfriendly” is an acceptable option. I say no. There should be just “normal human being” and “despicably homophobic.”

> Tranny (used derogatorily): Adorable Project Runway designer Christian Siriano called something or other a “hot tranny mess”—and suddenly we were all saying it. It’s insulting. Stop it, unless you can own the term.

> Breeder: This term just grosses me out. It makes me think of a farmer inseminating cows. Blech. Plus, I don’t think straight people like it much. (It might be OK as an insult if used very infrequently and on people who deserve it.)

> Fag hag: This is an awful, misogynistic term that people use carelessly. (I guess it’s OK for woman to refer to herself as one, but I don’t see any need to insult our women friends otherwise.)

> Anything said with a fake English accent: So many of us are still suffering from an intense Ab Fab hangover. And now the dynamic duo is purportedly shooting new episodes. I love the show myself, but Sweetie Darling? You can no longer say “Sweetie Darling” unless you are verifiably English.

> Gay marriage: It’s just marriage. We want marriage equality, not “gay marriage.”

> Straight-acting: This is another self-loathing term—and it doesn’t mean anything, really. I mean, Vin Diesel is straight, but so is Liza Minnelli. “Straight-acting” means having sexual or romantic feelings for the opposite gender; use it that way.

Did I miss one? Let me know!

Photo by GayCities New York City editor JJ Keyes

Charles Purdy is the author of the book Urban Etiquette: Modern Manners for the Modern Metropolis and a longtime manners-advice columnist. In this new column, he will be addressing issues related to social behavior. Find him on Twitter: @charlesqueerty