Real Talk

“Straight white girls” are coming for this gay slang term

It’s not uncommon for straight folks to appropriate gay slang and this TikToker thinks this word is now a lost cause.

Etymology is “the history of a word or word element, including its origins and derivation.” Adam Aleksic, aka @etymologynerd, dives deep into how words impact our daily lives by doing the historical research for us in his online content. Now, based on his findings, the LGBTQ+ community is losing out on a particular slang word.

In a video posted to TikTok and Instagram, Aleksic shared that “slay” will no longer be in the hands of the queer community, but rather be in the clutches of “straight white girls.”

“I’m calling it now. We have one month until straight white girls start saying ‘I’m gagged’ instead of ‘slay,'” Aleksic said. “There’s a lot of evidence that the word is currently trending in the gay community, in the same way that ‘slay’ was trending in early 2022 before it became viral.”

So where does this come from? According to Aleksic, rapper Nicki Minaj might play a part in this trend.

“And part of this is from the Nick Minaj gag city memes, but we’re also seeing an increase in the interjections ‘gag’ and ‘gagged’ as a reaction to something exciting, in a way that’s only going to accelerate,” Aleksic added.

And who might accelerate it? Well, straight white girls.

“And if we know anything about how language spreads on social media, it’s that straight white girls adopt what gay and Black people are saying, and everyone else adopts what straight white girls are saying,” Aleksic explained. “That’s exactly what happened with the words ‘slay,’ ‘serve,’ ‘tea,’ and ‘mother.’ They all came from the ballroom scene in the late 1980s, became viral on TikTok, and then all of a sudden everybody started saying it.”

Cultural appropriation is nothing new and, as Aleksic pointed out, continues to push things, like language that’s connected to marginalized communities, into mainstream (straight, white) society, and never pays respect to the community that created the lexicon. What’s considered “TikTok speak” is actually a set of words commandeered from Black and LGBTQ+ communities used to identify in-group status. Unfortunately, “slay” is the next victim of this appropriation.

“But ‘slay’ is starting to fall out of fashion now precisely because everyone’s saying it,” Aleksic said. “Its original appeal was that it signaled in-group status to gay communities, but now it’s lost that exclusivity, especially in those communities. This is also why the word ‘gag’ is now trending. It’s the new way to signal queer excitement now that ‘slay’ has been appropriated by everyone else.”

However, according to Aleksic, it’s only a matter of time before “gag” is stolen too.

“And gonna be taken too, because we’re in a never-ending cycle of marginalized groups creating slang as a tool of power to build community and shared identity, and then other people taking that slang to capitalize on its perceived ‘coolness'” Aleksic added.

Check out the full video below.

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