The Tea On Stan Twitter: The Dangers Of Appropriating LGBTQ Culture


Jennifer Liu

Lucia Hill, Copy Editor

As social media has evolved, it has allowed for the growth of all kinds of slang and the creation of, essentially, a new language. While the slang on Twitter can allow for the manifestation of a diverse community of stans (the term for multiple fans), what people don’t realize is this popularized slang derives from black LGBTQ+ groups. Using this slang without giving credit where credit is due erases the importance of these groups. 

According to Urban Dictionary, stan twitter is a part of Twitter that is “comprised of cult-like-fandoms that worship popular artists or artist groups”.  The term “stan” originated from an Eminem song called “Stan”, which is essentially about an obsessed fan.

The most well-known slang terms are “tea” and “wig”. “Tea” means that someone is about to spill some hot gossip and share a controversial opinion. “Wig” means someone like a celebrity or idol did something so iconic “my wig flew off”.

While using this language can be fun or quirky, it erases to the black LGBTQ community, who have used this type of language since the 1980s. The term “wig” in particular has been credited to have originated from the drag community, most notably the phrase “wig snatched”, which was used by the black LGBTQ ballroom culture of the 80s. 

Most people do not even know the rich history behind the slang and only know it from stan twitter. Why is this problematic? It is because when the general public only recognizes the slang as coming from stan twitter, it invalidates the culture of the black LGBTQ community, a community with a history of suffering from discrimination.  And when stans themselves ignore the culture behind the slang, the language that belonged to LGBTQ groups, specifically black gay men, has now been stolen by stans screaming about how their idol is better than someone else’s. The circles that were created based around this slang to protect the LGBTQ community have now been essentially destroyed. 

When asked the question, “what about this language seems particularly problematic to you?” senior at Mission Viejo High School and stan twitter user Sydney Wilks was quick to respond. 

“Here’s the thing,” she said, while slipping her phone into her back pocket, “the users on stan twitter just use the language haphazardly. Some recognize its origins, others don’t, but the meaning is never really discussed. So when the slang spreads to the locals and becomes popularized, the history behind the language is completely lost.” 

The importance of why this language was created gets lost in translation when users tweet this type of slang. Stan culture shouldn’t be compromised, but stans need to recognize the historical significance behind the slang. And that’s the tea!