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LGBT slang, LGBT speak, or gay slang is a set of slang lexicon used predominantly among LGBT people. It has been used in various languages since the early 20th century as a means by which members of the LGBT community identify themselves and speak in code with brevity and speed to others.
History and context
Because of sodomy laws and threat of prosecution due to the criminalization of homosexuality, LGBT slang has served as an argot or cant, a secret language and a way for the LGBT community to communicate with each other publicly without revealing their sexual orientation to others. Since the advent of queer studies in universities, LGBT slang and argot has become a subject of academic research among linguistic anthropology scholars.
During the first seven decades of the 20th century, a specific form of Polari was developed by gay men and lesbians in urban centres of the United Kingdom within established LGBT communities. Although there are differences, contemporary British gay slang has adopted many Polari words. The 1964 legislative report Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida contains an extensive appendix documenting and defining the homosexual slang in the United States at that time. SCRUFF launched a gay-slang dictionary app in 2014, which includes commonly used slang in the United States from the gay community. Specialized dictionaries that record LGBT slang have been found to revolve heavily around sexual matters.
Slang is ephemeral. Terms used in one generation may pass out of usage in another. For example, in the 1960s and 1970s, the terms "cottage" (chiefly British) and "tearoom" (chiefly American) were used to denote public toilets used for sex. By 1999, this terminology had fallen out of use to the point of being greatly unrecognizable by members of the LGBT community at large.
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. Conversations between gay men have been found to use more slang and fewer commonly known terms about sexual behavior than conversations between straight men.
|100-footer||an obviously gay or lesbian person (as if visible from 100 feet away)||US|||
|artiste||a gay man who excels at fellatio||US|||
|auntie||an older, often effeminate and gossipy gay man||US|||
|baby butch||a young, boyish lesbian||US|||
|baby dyke||a young or recently out lesbian||US|||
|baths||bathhouses frequented by gay men for sexual encounters||US|||
|bathsheba||a gay man who frequents gay bathhouses||US|||
|batty boy||a gay or effeminate man||Jamaica|||
|beach bitch||a gay man who frequents beaches and resorts for sexual encounters||US|||
|bean queen||a non-Latino gay male who seeks Latino males (from prominence of rice and beans in Latin American cuisine)||US|||
|bear||a large, often hairy, gay man||global|||
|bear chaser||a man who pursues bears||US|||
|beard||a person used as a date, romantic partner, or spouse to conceal one's sexual orientation||global|||
|bent||gay, as opposed to straight||US|||
|boi||a submissive or younger butch lesbian, or a younger trans man||global|||
|bottom man||a passive male partner in anal intercourse||US|||
|breeder||a heterosexual person||global|||
|brownie queen||a gay man who prefers a passive role in anal intercourse||US|||
|bucket boy||a passive male partner in anal intercourse||US|||
|bull dyke||a mannish lesbian, as opposed to a baby butch or dinky dyke||US|||
|butch||masculinity, particularly in a lesbian||US|||
|cafeteria||repeated fellatio in a backroom or bathhouse||US|||
|camp, campy||effeminacy, effeminate||global|||
|carpet muncher, rug muncher||a lesbian||global|||
|celesbian||a celebrity lesbian||US|||
|cha-cha queen||an effeminate Latino gay man||US|||
|chicken||a young man or underage boy||global|||
|chicken dinner||the act of fellating an underage boy||US|||
|chicken hawk, chicken queen||a man who seeks or preys on underage boys||US|||
|chubby chaser||a man who seeks obese males||US|||
|clone||a San Francisco or New York Greenwich Village denizen with exaggerated macho behavior and appearance||US|||
|closeted||in denial of one's homosexuality||US|||
|cocksucker||a person who practices fellatio, usually a gay male||US|||
|come out||to admit or publicly acknowledge oneself as non-heterosexual||US|||
|Copenhagen capon||a transsexual person (in reference to castration)||US|||
|cottaging||having or seeking anonymous gay sex in a public toilet||UK|||
|cotton ceiling||lesbian refusal to have sex with a trans woman (patterned after "glass ceiling", referring to women's underwear)||global|||
|cruising||seeking a casual gay sex encounter (historically from ancient Rome)||global|||
|cub||a typically heavier, hairier, and younger gay man||global|||
|daddy||a typically an older gay man||US|||
|discreet||to be reserved, private, or secretive about one's sexual identity||US|||
|down-low||homosexual or bisexual activity, kept secret, by men who have sex with men||US (African American)|||
|dyke||a masculine lesbian; originally a slur, reclaimed in the 1970s||global|||
|dykon||a celebrity woman who is seen as an icon by lesbians; may or may not be a lesbian herself||US|||
|en femme, en homme||the act of wearing clothes stereotypically of the opposite sex||global|||
|fag, faggot||a slur against gay men (first recorded in a Portland, Oregon, publication in 1914)||global|||
|fag hag||a woman who associates mostly or exclusively with gay and bisexual men||US|||
|fairy||a stereotypically gay man; originally a slur, reclaimed in the 1960s||global|||
|femme||a feminine lesbian||US|||
|flamer||an effeminate gay man||global|||
|friend of Dorothy||a gay man||US|||
|fruit||a slur against gay men; originally a stereotype of gay men as "softer" and "smelling good"||global|||
|fudgepacker||a gay man; considered a slur||global|||
|gaysian||a gay Asian person||global|||
|gold star||a lesbian who has only had sex with women (in reference to a military award)||US|||
|heteroflexible||to be mostly heterosexual||global|||
|lesbian until graduation||a woman who experiments with bisexual or homosexual activity during school only||global|||
|lipstick lesbian||an effeminate lesbian||global|||
|otter||a thinner, hairier gay man||US|||
|packing||the act of wearing padding or a phallic object to present the appearance of a penis||global|||
|passing||the act of being perceived by others as one's preferred gender identity||global|||
|pillow princess||a lesbian who bottoms during sex but never tops||US|||
|poz||a usually gay, HIV-positive person||US|||
|punk||a smaller, younger gay man who, in prison settings, is forced into a submissive role and used for the older inmate's sexual pleasure||global|||
|queen||an effeminate gay man; commonly used in compounds such as "drag queen" or "rice queen"||global|||
|queer||originally a slur against homosexuals, transgender persons, and anyone who does not fit society's standards of gender and sexuality; recently reclaimed||global|||
|soft butch||a lesbian who leans more masculine, but also has some feminine traits||US|||
|stone butch||a very masculine lesbian||US|||
|swish||effeminate or effeminacy||US|||
|terf||"trans-exclusionary radical feminist", a person opposed to trans persons or issues; considered a slur by its targets||global|||
|top||the active or inserting sexual partner, usually in a homosexual relation or activity||US|||
|twink||a small or young-looking, bodily hairless man||global|||
|U-Haul lesbian||a lesbian who quickly moves to cohabitation||US|||
|wolf||a man who tends to fall evenly between a fox/twink or a bear/cub||UK|||
Gayle (or Gail) is a gay argot or cant slang used primarily by English- and Afrikaans-speakers in urban South Africa. It is similar in some respects to Polari in the United Kingdom, from which some of its lexical items have been borrowed.
IsiNgqumo (or IsiGqumo) is an argot used by gays and lesbians of South Africa and Zimbabwe who speak Bantu languages. IsiNgqumo developed during the 1980s. It has not been as thoroughly researched or documented as Gayle.
Bahasa Binan (or bahasa Béncong) is a distinctive Indonesian speech variety originating from the gay community. It has several regular patterns of word formation, well-documented in both speech and writing.
Although many slang words used in modern Japan are loanwords from American English, many native Japanese slang words remain in Japan's LGBT community.
|bian (ビアン), rezu (レズ)||lesbian|||
|dōseiaisha (同性愛者, literally "same-sex-love person")||a homosexual person|||
|okama (お釜, literally "pot")||a gay man|||
|onabe (お鍋, literally "pan")||a lesbian|||
Swardspeak (also known as "gayspeak" or "gay lingo") is an argot or cant slang derived from Taglish (Tagalog–English code-switching) and used by LGBT people in the Philippines. It deliberately transforms or creates words that resemble words from other languages, particularly English, Japanese, Chinese, Spanish, Portuguese, French, and German. It is colorful, witty, and humorous, with vocabularies derived from popular culture and regional variations.
|kathoey (Thai: กะเทย; RTGS: Kathoei Thai pronunciation: [kàtʰɤːj])||a trans woman or effeminate gay man|||
|phuying (Thai: ผู้หญิง)||a trans woman|||
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swish noun [C] (LIKE A WOMAN) › US slang disapproving a man who behaves or appears in a way that is generally considered more suited to a woman, and who does not have traditional male qualities
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swish #n. To overplay or over do homosexual gestures; the traits of an effeminate male homosexual. Source: [1930's] #Passive homosexual. #To walk speak or move in the manner of an weak effeminate boy or man; the stereotype effeminate homosexual.
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The term can be useful for making a distinction with radical feminists who do not share the same position, but those at whom it is directed consider it a slur.
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In the interests of fostering open debate we have set ground rules, both for essays and reader comments: use the pronouns people want you to use, and avoid all slurs, including TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), which may have started as a descriptive term but is now used to try to silence a vast swathe of opinions on trans issues, and sometimes to incite violence against women.
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Terf is now being used in a kind of discourse which has clear similarities with hate-speech directed at other groups…
- Compton, Julie (2019-01-14). "'Pro-lesbian' or 'trans-exclusionary'? Old animosities boil into public view". NBC News. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
Meghan Murphy claims the acronym TERF is 'hate speech' that incites 'violence against women.'
- Flaherty, Colleen (2018-08-29). "'TERF' War". Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
For some, using the word 'TERF' means calling out transphobia where they see it. For others, the word is a slur that has no place in academic discourse.
- Weinberg, Justin (2018-08-27). "Derogatory Language in Philosophy Journal Risks Increased Hostility and Diminished Discussion". Daily Nous. Retrieved 2019-03-19.
…the term 'TERF', which is at worst a slur and at best derogatory.
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