The Repository @ St. Cloud State

Open Access Knowledge and Scholarship

Date of Award


Culminating Project Type


Degree Name

English: Teaching English as a Second Language: M.A.




College of Liberal Arts

First Advisor

Michael Schwartz

Second Advisor

James Robinson

Third Advisor

Judy Dorn

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Keywords and Subject Headings

lavender linguistics, gay, LGBT, HIV, AIDS


William Leap coined the term lavender linguistics in the early 1990’s. The expression refers to linguistic features unique to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community. Lavender linguistics (Leap, 1995) in HIV discourse is no exception. Although few studies exist in lavender linguistics and HIV discourse, a broad spectrum on this topic has been gained from these studies. Topics in the language marked specifically by LGBT speakers in HIV discourse include racial/ ethnic backgrounds, blood, art and entertainment, activism, camp humor, sex, drugs, online language, HIV treatment, and HIV prevention. Applying lavender linguistics in general, Communities of Practice (Wenger, 1998), AIDSpeak, and HIV history provide a glimpse of how lavender linguistics and HIV discourse has developed to how it is shaped today. Additionally, using interview and focus group data as a lens provided an idea of how the AIDS Generation and Millennial gay men differ in their HIV discourse.

This qualitative study used interviews and focus groups to collect data. Participants were placed in two groups: AIDS Generation (participants were born between 1952-1973) and Millennials (participants were born between 1989-1996). There were 12 AIDS Generation and 11 Millennial participants involved who were found in a metropolitan area in the Upper Midwest. This study examined common choice in words, idioms/ figures of speech, multiple word expressions, and phrases and how they reflect on their HIV-related experiences and beliefs. The data collection was placed in four themes: HIV, Stigma, Sex, and Drugs. The analysis process found numerous similarities and differences in how the two generations discuss HIV. These similarities and differences imply how their experiences related to HIV shapes their language features.