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Differences and similarities to Polari[edit | edit source]
Modern gay slang has origins in the English language. Polari was a cant or cryptolect used in the gay subculture in Britain. Polari derives from Italian languages, Mediterranean Lingua Franca, Yiddish and French. 
Another difference between gay slang and Polari is that gay slang has become descriptive of the overall experience of life in the gay community, whereas Polari includes names for common words that have no exclusive relation to the LGBT culture (e.g., "glossies" for "magazines"). Gay slang also coexists alongside regional slang and many gay men will combine them.
Although there are differences, modern gay slang has adopted many polari words, as detailed in the table below:
|Glossary of gay slang taken from Polari|
|basket||the bulge of male genitals through clothes|
|bumming||the act of gay sex|
|cottaging||having or looking for sex in a public toilet|
Cultural impact[edit | edit source]
Many terms that originated as gay slang have become part of the popular lexicon. For example, the word drag was popularized by Hubert Selby, Jr. in his book Last Exit to Brooklyn. "Drag" has been traced back by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to the late 19th Century. Conversely, words such as banjee, while well-established in a subset of gay society, have never made the transition to popular use. Other less well known terms include funguy : This is a flamboyant homosexual who endulges in any gay sex/fetish and will dress in gay attire; also linker Man : This is a gay male who dresses in gay attire which must include chains, normally he is leather clad. Both of these are normally found in gay bars and thus form part of gay scene.
Footnotes[edit | edit source]
- (Baker, 2002)
References[edit | edit source]
- Baker, Paul (2002). Fantabulosa, a dictionary of Polari and gay slang. Continuum, 242 pages. ISBN 0826459617.
- Rodgers, Bruce (1972). The Queens' Vernacular : a gay lexicon. Straight Arrow Books, 265 pages. ISBN 0879320265.
See also[edit | edit source]
[edit | edit source]
- List of words and phrases
- Dictionary of Gay Slang and Historical Terms
- GLTB Slang Dictionary
- Lavender Linguistics, from Guardian Unlimited
- Polari: British Gay Slang
- Queer Slang in the Gay 90's
- Sexuality as Identity: Gay and Lesbian Language
- "Gay Language Guide" - gay slang in various languages: French, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Japanese, Hungarian, Russian, Thai