The Queens’ English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases

Clarkson Potter. Feb. 2021. 336p. ISBN 9780593135006. $22.50. LIT
For performing artist Davis, this project is born out of respect, both for the diversity of the queer community and for herself as a biromantic, demisexual bisexual. This heavily illustrated resource documents language created by and for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, two-spirit, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, gender nonconforming, nonbinary, and nonheteronormative community—and how that language has evolved over time. Davis spent more than a decade compiling this guide to the community’s contributions to the English language, successfully bridging popular slang (e.g. bro, zaddy) and academic terms. She thoughtfully discusses her use of the word queer and how it has been reappropriated by much of the community, though not all are comfortable with this term. Notably, informative entries give proper documentation to queer vernacular, showing how words that originated in ballroom culture—such as fierce, slay, and yas—have been appropriated by the mainstream. In compiling language, not censoring it, Davis includes outdated terms along with their newer counterparts, effectively telling how language transforms and adapts. The section on gender is a highlight, as are micro-histories throughout on ballroom culture, the Stonewall Riots, and more.
VERDICT A must for better understanding queer culture, especially the contributions of Black and Latinx trans people to pop culture at large.
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