The 'Thanks, Can I Have It Back?' TikTok Controversy, Explained

Posted by Matt Ryan on

When TikToker @remycastan uploaded a video asking for straight, cisgender celebrities to return the queer phrases they popularized, he probably didn't predict the controversy that would erupt.

In the TikTok, Remy Castan highlights those co-opted words: "okurrr" from Cardi B, "voguing" from Madonna, "spilling the tea" and "slay" and "yaaas" from VSCO girls, and "wig" from Katy Perry. He's right that these words have been co-opted from queer and trans communities.



But what viewers rightfully took fault with was Remy saying "thanks, can I have it back?" after highlighting each of the words. That's because it wasn't white gay men, like Remy, who created these terms: it was Black queer and trans people.

By Remi saying "can I have it back?" and not "can we have it back?" or "can they have it back?", it erases those Black queer and trans people, who consistently create content and culture that goes on to generate income in the pockets of white, heterosexual, cisgender people.



As the controversy erupted on Twitter, some of those who were upset took to Remy's Instagram and trolled him in the comments with his exact phrase: "thanks, can I have it back?"

But here's where things get a little more complicated. While Remy certainly wasn't right to "ask" for these words back, he did note that white folks did not coin the terms with his caption on TikTok:

When straight people don't acknowledge that 99% of their culture derived from Queer people of colour, drag queens and the LGBTQ community #gay #fyp





However, in the time since this controversy has started, the video is no longer available on @remycastan's TikTok profile.

Here's to hoping this doesn't just have to be a TikTok scandal, but that Remy and others learn from this mistake – and give credit where credit is due.

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