Tag Archives: LGBT

Twitter Slang: “Drinking from the mother lake”


FC: “There’s a saying, when someone serves seismically, you say that they drank from the mother lake. And the mother lake’s not a real lake, believe it or not. It’s kind of a metaphorical, symbolic source of power for, like, motherly behavior. And motherly behavior, anyone who serves, who delivers some sort of jaw-dropping performance, piece of media, they’re mother. They’re queen, they support me, they nurse me. And in order to gain those powers, that ability, they had to drink from the mother lake. The primordial source of power.”


The informant is a 20-year-old college student from St. Louis, Missouri who has been using Twitter since his early teens. He describes the community he occupies on the app as “stan Twitter,” which is an online community of young people who bond over their fandom for certain musical artists or pop culture interests. Stan Twitter has a specific sense of humor and vernacular, much of which is derived from the cultural practices of the LGBTQ community, of which which many members of the online subculture are members. Black drag queens in particular are responsible for the creation and proliferation of much of the language employed by stan Twitter users.

“It’s very common to talk about celebrities, music icons as, you know, people say “queen” and a lot of that comes from LGBTQ slang, like drag slang,” FC said. He believes that the term “mother,” a reverential term colloquially applied to usually female artists whose work an individual finds exceptional or resonant, was taken from drag and ballroom culture. Since many people involved in these subcultures found themselves alienated from or rejected by their families because of their queerness, drag houses and drag families, or communities of queer people and drag performers, substituted as the kind of support networks which traditional families usually provide. In these groups, “there’s always a mother of the drag family who is the most experienced queen or ballroom performer with the most knowledge and experience to share,” FC said. “They are just held on a very high pedestal and their abilities and servery is applauded, and I think that’s a lot of where ‘mother’ comes from.”

FC described how stan Twitter humor often involves taking one foundational joke or vernacular element, and continually modulating it into absurd derivations. He thinks that the term “drinking from the mother lake” formed through this process, beginning with trends of calling artists “queen” and “mother” and coming up with increasingly extreme, peculiar, and culturally specific ways to express this same admiration.


         This slang term, and slang used on stan Twitter in general, is deeply grounded in LGBTQ history and identity. Young people on this platform connect with previous generations of queer people by using their language and traditions, arguably creating a community or uniting people of queer identities through common experiences or a common culture. Moreover, stan Twitter users form a community by fostering common interests, a sense of humor, and a vernacular style often derived from culturally specific references. To understand the linguistic traditions used by this community, one must understand what the lingo refers to and how humor functions on the platform. Someone’s ability to employ these vernacular traditions, communicate, be funny, or find others funny identifies them as a member of the community, as a member of the in-group, and provides the opportunity to bond with others who share interests and experiences.

The collaborative process by which this slang term evolved strikes me as particularly folkloric. There is no individual author, instead, people add onto each other’s versions, with different derivations branching off and becoming popular in different circles. With every iteration, a new dimension of strangeness and cultural specificity is added, so appreciation for a song or an artist can be expressed by saying that such artist “drank from the mother lake.”

Ballroom/Queer Slang

Main Piece: 

The informant provided examples of ballroom slang which are all used in situations with positive connotations:

“the category is”



“that was a serve”

“the house down”

“sissy that walk”

“work that pussy out”



“And like another slang trend is assigning everyone feminine pronouns, and even assigning feminine identify to inanimate objects. For example, like how we call our Roomba ‘miss Roomba’ or say, ‘oh that plant, she is everything.’” 

How did you get connected to this slang?

“Initially, through gay pop culture, like musical artists, friends, RuPaul’s Drag Race and Pose, documentaries and stuff.”

Do you use these words in your day-to-day life?

“Absolutely! I have to not use ‘miss’ or ‘she’ for everything because people don’t understand what I mean, and like my parents aren’t going to understand queer slang because they’re straight older people (laughs).”


My informant is my roommate. She identifies as queer and sees herself in queer culture. These slang terms were recorded during a dinner conversation about queer media and culture.


Most general queer slang has been lifted straight out of queer subcultures, such as ballroom and drag. Most queer people who live in accepting environments understand the meaning of all the phrases listed above. In general, these phrases aim to empower the receiver through the emphasis of feminine characteristics (like making “pussy” a positive word), while some others come directly from ballroom culture, like how “the category is” and “the house down” reference competition categories and Dance Houses. As society has become more accepting and queer culture has taken over digital media (through shows like RuPaul’s Drag Race), these terms have become well known to the general public. It was definitely a shock when I heard my 10-year-old cousin shout “Yaaaaas queen” when I showed her an outfit, but that really illustrates how mainstream some of these terms have become.

King’s Cup: Drinking Game

Background: DL is a childhood friend of mine who grew up in Long Beach, California before moving up north to attend college in Washington. He a transgender man in his early twenties and lives in an eight-person household with roommates that all identify as LGBTQ+.

Context: King’s Cup is one of DL’s favorite drinking games. This particular instance of King’s Cup was celebrated on DL’s birthday with about ten schoolmates/friends/roommates of DL, shortly before the COVID-19 Stay-at-Home orders were put in place. A little while afterwards, he celebrated someone else’s birthday over Zoom due to the COVID-19 stay at home orders. DL expressed sadness over not being able to play King’s Cup at the Zoom Party.

Main text:

(In the following interview the informant is identified as DL and the interviewer is identified as JS.)

DL: It’s like…you put a big cup in the middle of the table and, um, spread a deck of cards around it and you take turns picking a card from the ring of cards around the cup and each number on the card signifies something that you have to do.

JS: Okay

DL: Um…most of them involve drinking or [laughs] something of that context.

JS: Does it change each time or is there a specific ruleset that you used?

DL: There’s like a pretty specific ruleset that people generally use. Although we altered it because it’s pretty gender-specific sometimes

[At this point, DL tried to remember some of the rules but couldn’t recall them off the top of his head. He promised to follow up later with a few examples.]

JS: So, you pull the cards out, you go around the table, and they each have a different related thing on them.

DL: Yeah, um, it’s just like a deck of standard cards. And some of them it’s like you have to pour some of your drink into the big cup in the middle and then at the end, like, the loser has to drink the “King’s Cup.”

JS: [laughs] God, that’s so gross!

DL: [laughs] Yeah, we didn’t actually get that far we all kinda shared it and it was disgusting. Whatever you’re drinking, so that’s, like, the disgusting part. I had like some fancy sambuca from my mom so there was some of that in there, and some beer, and some cider, and some…wine I think. [laughs]

Examples of rules include:

Number two cards are titled “you”: Choose someone to drink

Number three cards are called “me”: The person who drew the card must drink.

The biggest modification A and his friends made to the rules set was for cards five and six—instead of sticking to the gender-exclusive rules of “guys and chicks” where either men or women drink, they changed it to “fags and dykes,” and it was up to the players to choose whether they would drink on the card that was pulled.

Thoughts: King’s Cup is a pretty standard drinking game, like much Beer Pong. Drinking games are a unique way to transform relatively standard American college practices (drinking to excess) into “events,” typically by way of making them game-ified or competitive. As DL explains at the end of the interview, the pretense of rules usually begins to fade as a drinking game goes on—there’s no need to keep on playing once the objective of the game (getting drunk) has been completed. What’s particularly interesting is how DL has customized the game to have certain “house rules”—particularly those for five and six. Some of the people DL lives with are nonbinary, making the guys and chicks rule obsolete. Instead, by customizing it with queer terminology, DL and his friends were easily able to tailor the game to their particular environment. I think it’s also important to note that the words “fag” and “dyke,” though often considered insulting and homophobic slurs, are fairly natural in this context for this group of friends—instead, they function as an insider/in-group joke. 


An informant explains a growing online lesbian subculture.


Informant: Cottagecore is this, typically lesbian, ideal aesthetic where you want to live like in cottage in the woods. It’s very fairy-esque. You bake bread and wear paisley skirts. There’s a lot of gardening, living off the land, being off the grid for the good of your soul and the planet. It’s very “I want a fairy wife” kind of belief. There’s a lot of mushrooms and forest animals. It’s this lesbian fantasy that you’ll run away and leave the world behind and live this perfect story-book life with your wife.

Context: A friend was explaining to another friend what Cottagecore is. The informant is a member of the wlw community.


Cottagecore is very popular subgroup/theme on TikTok. I’ve seen it a lot, and it has recently begun to spread to other social media apps like Twitter. I feel as though it is growing in popularity, in both the lesbian culture and more mainstream internet users, because it rejects the stressful aspects of modern society such as capitalism and the nine-to-five work day.

Wig Snatching

In LGBT+ communities saying someone or something “snatched your wig” means you’re shocked by whatever happened. It comes from a drag performances where sometimes in more dramatic moments drag queens will literally take off another queen’s wig. Sometimes there can be another wig under the wig, making the whole event entirely premeditated spectacle, but usually the queen whose wig is pulled isn’t prepared and they have their actual hair revealed by the wig snatch.

This particular lingo speaks to the in-grouping found in LGBT+ communities. It’s a phrase referring to a specific act in a genre of show specifically produced, performed, and attended by a mostly LGBT+ folk group. The internet has spread the phrase around to become more mainstream but the nature of its origins shows how insular the environment it came about in was. The exact syntax is also flexible, with all sorts of small variations from “My wig? Snatched!” to sometimes just “Wig,” which makes sense given the LGBT+ communities general position as pioneers of evolving “archaic” language such as gendered pronouns.