"English or Spanish?" Is the Newest TikTok Trend to Highlight Internalized Homophobia

“English or Spanish?” If someone asks you this question, you better watch out for what’s coming next.

Jamie Lerner - Author

Jun. 27 2024, Published 12:25 p.m. ET

In the past, questions about language were often a way to connect us to other people and cultures. But now, the question, “English or Spanish?” has taken on a different meaning. Circulating throughout TikTok, there are videos of people asking “English or Spanish?” in which the person on camera then freezes.

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It doesn’t seem to make sense to casual TikTokers, but the real ones know exactly what “English or Spanish?” means. So what does the strange trend mean on TikTok and where did it come from?

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Asking “English or Spanish?” on TikTok is a reference to one user’s prank.

TikToker Alfonso Pinpon has garnered over 1 million followers with his popular prank. Basically, he goes to a mall in his area, which has a nearly even mix of native English and Spanish speakers. So before pranking innocent passersby, Alfonso asks them, “English or Spanish?” Depending on which language they choose, he then tells them, “Whoever moves first is gay,” and typically, they’ll just freeze.

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Even comedian Andrew Schulz watches Alfonso’s videos, finding it funny that men are so scared of being called gay that they’ll freeze for so long, it’s become a viral trend. However, the trend has surpassed Alfonso and become the “English or Spanish?” trend instead. Now, people are mocking the prank by just freezing whenever someone asks “English or Spanish?” just in case.

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The “English or Spanish?” TikTok trend is a commentary on internalized homophobia.

Sometimes, something will circulate around TikTok that feels like it’s from a different time. Back in the '90s and early 2000s, whenever men would hug each other or show any semblance of affection they might say, “No homo,” to show others that they’re not gay. But this was the time that calling something “gay” was an insult … so it’s not necessarily a time we want to go back to!

However, the “English or Spanish?” evolution of Alfonso’s original prank definitely plays into the commentary of how the original prank can be construed as homophobic. Some people have memed the phrase by doing ridiculous and nearly impossible freezes just to show how silly it is to say, “Don’t move or you’re gay!”

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Others have gone in the complete opposite direction by not freezing at all. Some say “English or Spanish?” and then do the most flamboyant dance possible just to prove that they’re not afraid to be gay and in fact, they’re proud of showing that they’re not straight! Even if they are straight, it doesn’t matter. It’s 2024, so being queer and proud is way more “in” than a fleeting TikTok trend.

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