A Handy Glossary Of Gay Terms For The Well-Meaning Hetty

imagesMore and more, what were once known as gay bars now welcome those from all walks of life through their chrome or rainbow bedazzled doorways. And that means straight people are privy to all sorts of booze-fueled conversations from their gay friends and strangers they meet there. And like any sub-culture, gays have a language all of their own.

If you have a straight friend you suspect nods along with conversations they’re completely lost in while out on the town with you and your ‘mos, perhaps this glossary might be of assistance. (Message to non-gays: don’t try some of these things at home or at a hetty pickup bar. They just don’t translate.)

Pass this along and they’ll be clucking like a hen in no time.

Kiki vs Kaikai

Both of these are used in reference to your circle of close friends, but they mean very different things. A kiki (as made widely known by the pop band Scissor Sisters) is a small party (usually in someones house). Debauchery will and must ensue.

Kaikai can easily be the result of a kiki, but it can also happen any old time. Gay guys have a unique friendship scenario — our closest circles are often comprised of other men we find attractive. And even though these friendships are platonic, sister on sister action is not unheard of. Kaikai’s origins are in the drag community, when two queens would hook up, but it’s come to mean any two gay friends getting it on.


You might hear this one thrown around, usually in the form of a question or declaration. “No PNP,” or “Do you PNP?” It stands for “party and play,” in reference to doing hard drugs (usually meth) while having anonymous or semi-anonymous sex. If you didn’t know this one before, you’re already doing something right. Keep it up.

tumblr_n2arb2NxTP1rpmfdko1_500Throwing Shade

Shade comes in many different flavors, but the base ingredient is the idea that you are metaphorically stepping in front of someone’s sunshine to block it out. Shade can be funny, bitchy, or cruel, but it should always be real. Aretha Franklin is an expert at throwing shade. Martha Stewart throws subtle shade at Gwyneth constantly.


As Professor RuPaul teaches us, it’s fundamental. Reading is a cousin of throwing shade, and there can definitely be overlap. A read isolates some truth about someone, usually one that is a little uncomfortable. A read can be a dig or more of an intuition. “Girl, you move through men like Capris,” is the dig vs. “The way you move through men, you must have had daddy issues growing up.”

Screen Shot 2014-12-05 at 4.24.58 PMGlamping

The combination of “glamorous” and “camping,” glamping is exactly what it sounds like. Tents are replaced with furnished cabins or an RV, food is prepared at gourmet standards, and the bar is fully stocked (obviously). It’s a stereotype that gay guys don’t like to rough it in the wilderness, but a stereotype built on reality. Sure there are exceptions, but for many it’s the only way to camp.


Calm down, your gay friend isn’t asking you to have sex when he texts “cockies? meet me at 9.” He’s just thirsty and wants cocktails.


If your gay friend is trying to get in your pants (or already has), you might be trade. Trade are straight men seen as conquests for gay guys to sleep with. They’re usually on the masculine side of the spectrum, and are much sought after by a certain breed of gay. Offshoots include rough trade and prison trade. Trade can also mean “DL” or “downlow” — an otherwise straight guy who actively seeks hook-ups with gay guys on the side.


It’s true that gay guys love brunch, but in this case the word means cool, sexy, hot or some combination thereof. But while that is the technical definition, the word is so self-aware of its own absurdity that it’s usually used with some degree of irony. It’s origins are in the TV character Ja’mie who first appeared in Summer Heights High then got her own spinoff Ja’mie: Private School Girl. A song can be quiche, a look, a read — anything, really. There will even be people who will tell you to “stop trying to make quiche happen, it’s not going to happen.”


This adjective is used to described an especially high level of mess, or a noteworthy lack of taste. The coked-up drag queen with the atomic explosion of makeup and bristly wig? Ratchet. The 50-year-old in the skin-tight Abercrombie shirt drunkenly making overt passes at everyone at the bar who could pass for a cousin of One Direction? Ratchet. The sloppy toilet stall sex at 3 a.m. while a line of people waits to pee? Ratchet.

Bonus:  Ten Forgotten Gay Slang Words That Deserve To Be Resurrected