X queen

I’ll be posting mostly about a family of snowclonelet composites of the form X queen, in which the queen component is a word going back to Old English, with the meaning ‘woman, wife’, though a lot of history has intervened. Eventually we get to things like

the gay partner-preference snowclonelet X queen, denoting ‘gay man who prefers Y men as romantic or sexual partners’, where Y is a class of people and where X refers to something, typically a food, associated with Y

— for example, rice queen, denoting a man, typically white, with a preference for partners who are East Asians or of East Asian descent (given that rice is a characteristic food of East Asians).

What gets us to gay snowclonelets like this one is the use of queen for gay men, which I wrote about in a 6/27/14 posting. The connection is through the attribution of femininity to (some or all) gay men. From NOAD2, in its 6th sense for queen:

informal   a male homosexual, typically one regarded as ostentatiously effeminate

There’s a slur use here, but also a more neutral one, and even a gay-affirming in-your-face use (“I’m a big ol’ queen who likes to play rugby”). In any case, gay X queen uses have the neutral sense of queen; a rice queen, for example, can be as butch as you want, as unidentifiably gay as you want, so long as he’s in the market for an East Asian man. (If his preference is for a specific nationality in East Asia, he’s a sushi queen (Japanese), a kimchee queen (Korean), or a chow mein queen (Chinese).)

But now backtrack to the first set of senses for queen in NOAD2:

[1a] the female ruler of an independent state, especially one who inherits the position by right of birth.

[1b] (also Queen Consort) a king’s wife.

[1c] a woman or thing regarded as excellent or outstanding of its kind: the queen of romance novelists | Venice: Queen of the Adriatic.

[1d] a woman or girl chosen to hold the most important position in a festival or event: football stars and homecoming queens.

All four subsenses — except for the ‘thing’ subsubsense in [1c] — are for females, and all of them have a component of superiority in them, a component that doesn’t seem to carry over to gay uses of the word.

X queen: female referent. The examples for sense [1d], with a metaphorical extension of the ‘ruler’ sense in [1a], shade from those where a festival or event is clearly involved:

[1di] homecoming queen, prom queen, pageant queen or beauty queen, rodeo queen, football queen, carnival queen

to those that merely involve display, not involving a festival or event:

[1dii] pinup queen, burlesque queen

There are also extensions of the [1a] sense to rulers of domains other than independent states:

[1a’] gypsy queen ‘queen of the gypsies’, ice queen ‘ruler of the land of ice and snow’ (but then extended to ‘cold-hearted, emotionless woman’)

The senses in [1c] (involving roughly ‘excellence’, ‘pre-eminence’, or ‘expertise’) are another metaphorical extension of [1a], to women [1ci] and then to things [1cii]:

[1ci] [an open-ended list] film queen (e.g. Joan Crawford, Bette Davis), disco queen (e.g. Donna Summer); pastry queen, cake queen, pie queen, dessert queen, soba queen [as in Tampopo],…

(to which we can add welfare queen, a woman reputedly expert at extracting money from the U.S. welfare system).

As for [1cii], there’s a rich range of examples, many of them proper names — for instance Dairy Queen, the soft serve ice cream shops I discussed in a 12/21/12 posting; Speed Queen, the washing machines; and many restaurants and fast-food places with names in which X refers to a foodstuff.

On Speed Queen, from Wikipedia:

Speed Queen is a laundry machine manufacturer headquartered in Ripon, Wisconsin, USA. Speed Queen is a subsidiary of Alliance Laundry Systems LLC, which bills itself as the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial laundry equipment. It makes a large variety of residential and commercial products, from 25-pound-capacity tumblers to 250-pound washer-extractors, as well as dryers. Its commercial machines are a popular brand for laundromats, apartment buildings, and hotels.


(It’s likely that the machines are Speed Queen rather than Speed King because doing the laundry is traditionally considered to be “women’s work”.)

For the eating places, X Queen is an alternative to X King, and I have no idea why Queen was chosen over King in particular cases. I’ll start with two Steak Queen places, a fast-food place in Ontario that was a favorite of Toronto ex-mayor Rob Ford and a food truck (now gone) in the University City district of Philadelphia (by the University of Pennsylvania), which used to serve breakfast and lunch and specialized in subs and cheesesteak sandwiches.

The very popular Steak Queen in Etobicoke ON provides burgers, steak, and souvlaki:


On to Philadelphia, the home of the Philly cheesesteak. Here’s a typical menu:


That’s “on an Amoroso roll”:

Amoroso’s Baking Company is a family-owned company that specializes in hearth baked breads and rolls. Over the years the Amoroso sandwich roll has become synonymous with those Philadelphia culinary institutions, the hoagie and the cheesesteak. (link to the company site)

A Philly cheesesteak from Phat Philly:


Regular 7″ cheesesteak made with Masami Farms American kobe beef with fried onions, white American cheese, and hot peppers on an Amoroso roll.

(I am something of a cheesesteak queen. I grew up close enough to Philadelphia to be able to get cheesesteak sandwiches locally — not the same thing as ones from Philly itself, but still very tasty.)

Meanwhile, there are Sushi Queen restaurants in several places, including San Francisco, and Falafel Queen restaurants too, and Pho Queen restaurants as well.

X queen: enthusiasm. Now we come to uses of X queen not covered in NOAD2’s entry for queen, conveying ‘inclination’ or ‘enthusiasm’; these provide an obvious pathway to the gay preference uses.

The first of these is drama queen, used originally for women, then also for gay men (seen as men resembling women), and then also for men in general. NOAD2’s entry for the compound, which is gender-neutral:

informal   a person who habitually responds to situations in a melodramatic way

Other X queen examples have started on this route: for instance, lipstick queen for a woman with a passionate interest in lipsticks. For some, the ‘enthusiast’ use has extended to take in gay men as well as women:

[sports] ‘fan’ or ‘enthusiastic participant’: baseball queen, soccer queen,…

[food] ‘enthusiast’: sushi queen, sashimi queen, wasabi queen, soy queen, tamale queen,…

(I have gay friends who are baseball queens in the ‘fan sense’, and some who are rugby queens in the ‘enthusiastic participant’ sense, and I am myself something of a sushi queen.)

Some of these may have picked up uses for straight men as well as gay men.

In many cases, gay-enthusiast X queen examples seem to have developed directly:

[another open-ended list] gossip queen, theatre/theater queen, movie queen, show queen, opera queen, ballet queen, circuit queen [circuit parties], crystal [meth] queen, scream queen [horror movies], label queen [clothing labels], underwear queen,…

(I suppose I could be labeled a (gay)porn queen.)

In addition to these enthusiasms, there’s a X queen example that almost everybody knows: drag queen. In NOAD2:

a man who dresses up in women’s clothes, typically for the purposes of entertainment

Drag queens can be gay, bisexual, or straight. The expression combines queen as an allusion to the hyperfemininity of drag queens with queen as an allusion to the their customary manic enthusiasm for their roles. (Many people would like to make a terminological distinction between men who “do drag”, drag queens, and men who intend to “pass” as women or prefer to dress as women in private, transvestites. And of course both are to be distinguished from M2F transgender people.)

X queen: gay preferences. Three categories here: partner preferences based on race, ethnicity, or nationality (ethnic preferences, for short); other partner preferences; and preferences for particular sexual practices. I’ll take these up in reverse order, leaving the gigantic collection of examples in the first set for last.

3: Preference in sexual practices. Two examples I already knew (piss queen, for a gay man who seeks out piss play; and scat queen, for a gay man who who seeks out shit play), five I could have predicted but don’t recall having heard until I started a search for examples (cock queen, for a gay man who loves to fellate other men; toe queen, for a foot-fetishist gay man who loves to suck toes; rim queen, for a gay man who especially enjoys rimming his partner, licking and tonguing his anus;  fist queen, for a gay man who especially enjoys being fisted, having another man’s fist and some forearm inserted into his lubricated anus; and dildo queen, a gay man who enjoys having sex toys inserted into his lubricated anus), and one that was an entertaining surprise (mitten queen, for a gay man who prefers to masturbate his partners). No doubt there are more.

For a gay man who prefers to play the receptive role in anal intercourse, the usual slang term is not of the form X queen, but is instead pussy boy ‘boy who is a pussy, offers his pussy for sex’.

2: Non-ethnic partner preferences. The top compound here is size queen, for a gay man (or sometimes a woman) who prefers men with large penises. Then chicken queen, a gay man who prefers chicken (young men, that is, teenagers or youths), also known as a chicken hawk; and wrinkle queen, a gay man who prefers seniors.

And tub queen [from tubby], chub queen [from chubby], or flab queen, aka chubby chaser, for a gay man who prefers fat men; muscle queen, for a gay man who prefers muscular men (this one is ambiguous, since the compound can also refer to a gay man who is muscular; compare the enthusiasm compound gym queen, and predicative compounds like muscle twink ‘twink who is muscular’, muscle boy, muscle bottom, etc.); and my personal favorite in this category, cherry queen, a gay man who prefers partners who are cherry, that is, men who have never experienced receptive anal intercourse.

Again, there are probably more.

Some partner-preference compounds that you might have expected, like twink queen and bear queen, seem to occur only rarely, if at all; apparently they are pre-empted by the predicative compounds meaning ‘queen who is a twink/bear’.

There are several partner-preference compounds I was hoping to find (since they describe fairly common partner preferences) but have not: fur queen, for a gay man who prefers hairy partners; ink queen or tat queen, for a gay man who prefers tattooed partners; and danseur queen or ballerino queen, for a gay man who prefers, or at least seeks out, male ballet dancers as partners.

Then there is the pretty common phenomenon of the gay man who seeks out, or is attracted only to, straight guys: straight queen looks oxymoronic, but het queen, hetero queen, and breeder queen don’t seem to occur either.

1: Ethnic partner preferences. An impossibly rich field. Probably the most common of these compounds is the ugly dinge queen (from dingy ‘dirty, dark’), for a gay man (typically, white) who prefers black partners. In this case there are attested alternatives: coal queen (based on the color of coal) and the much more satisfying chocolate queen (a food compound, based on the color of chocolate).

For the reverse preference, for white men, especially by blacks, the top entry is snow queen (based on color), with dairy queen (a food compound, with dairy products taken to be the characteristic food of lactose-tolerant white people) as runner-up.

On to Hispanics/Latinos and the gay men (typically, white) who love them: a taco queen or bean queen (more food compounds) seeks out such men as partners. In the other direction, for a Hispanic/Latino gay man with a preference for white partners, we have potato queen (another food compound) or, again, dairy queen.

Moving to East Asians, we have rice queen for a gay man (typically, white) with a preference for East Asian men (again a food compound, as explained at the beginning of this posting). In the other direction, once again potato queen or dairy queen.

As I noted early in this posting, preferences for more nation-specific partners in East Asian have names too, all based on food: sushi queen, kimchee queen, chow mein queen.

Then to South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh). A gay man (typically, white) who seeks out South Asian men as partners is a curry queen or spice queen. With the usual alternatives in the other direction.

Now I note that there are special terms (though rare ones) for at least two exclusive preferences: mashed potato queen for white only for white, sticky rice queen for Asian only for Asian. I don’t know of any term specifically for black strictly for black, a preference that is actually pretty common.

Then some entertaining food-based terms: poutine queen (an Anglo Canadian gay man with a preference for French Canadian partners), matzoh queen (with a preference for Jewish men), and hummus queen or falafel queen (with a preference for Arab/Middle Eastern men).

And a couple very specific terms, provided to me by a correspondent whose website and e-address no longer work: nasi lemak queen (with a preference for Malay men) and tom yum queen (with a preference for Thai men). Both terms are based on characteristic regional food:

Nasi lemak is a Malay fragrant rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf. It is commonly found in Malaysia, where it is considered the national dish, and also popular in neighbouring countries (Wikipedia link)

Tom yum … is a Lao and Thai clear, spicy and sour soup. Tom yum is widely served in neighbouring countries (Wikipedia link)

There are surely a great many more examples. For one thing, the list so far is very much oriented towards North America, with no attention to the usages of English-speaking gay men in the U.K., Ireland, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand, etc.

And there are notable gaps. For example, I haven’t found pho queen for a gay man who prefers Vietnamese partners or adobo queen for a gay man who prefers Filipino partners, though such gay men do exist.

One Response to “X queen”

  1. chrishansenhome Says:

    Very interesting post. I am a rice queen, having been together with HWMBO, my Singaporean husband, for 17 years. I also know a lot of Singaporean Chinese and Malay men, and I have never heard them use the phrase “sticky rice queen”. It is always used (for example): “He is sticky rice.” There are 28 Googs for “sticky rice queen” and more than 900K for “sticky rice” (although most of those are culinary references).

    I had nasi lemak this week at a Malaysian restaurant here in London and it was very good indeed: I recommend it.

    I have put out a FB status call for my Singaporean Chinese friends in re “sticky rice queens”.

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