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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, including English and Japanese, since the early 1900s as a means by which members of the LGBT community can identify themselves and speak in code with brevity and speed to other LGBTs.
Because of sodomy laws and threat of prosecution due to the criminalization of homosexuality, LGBT slang also serves as an argot, a secret language and a way for the LGBT community to communicate with each other publicly without revealing their sexual orientation to others.
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.
The examples and perspective in this section deal primarily with the United Kingdom and do not represent a worldwide view of the subject. (October 2012) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
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" (UK) and "tearoom" (US) were used to denote public toilets used for sex. By 1999, this terminology had fallen out of use to the point of being greatly unrecognisable by members of the LGBT community at large.
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 visible through clothing|
|bear||a large, often hairy man|
|bumming||the act of anal sex|
|cottaging||having or looking for sex in a public toilet|
|cub||a young bear|
|gym bunny/Muscle Mary||A person who works out merely for aesthetics|
|howdy||touching another male/female's behind|
|wolf||a man who tends to fall evenly between a fox/twink and a bear/cub|
|twink||usually young or young-looking, bodily-hairless man|
The 1964 legislative report Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida contains an extensive appendix documenting and defining the homosexual slang of the time.
Scruff launched a Gay Slang Dictionary app in January 2014. It includes commonly used slang in the United States from the gay community. Some of these cross over with the British slang, and some are only American.
|Glossary of U.S. gay slang taken from Scruff|
|bear||a large, often hairy man|
|bear chaser||a man who pursues bears|
|bottom||the receptive sexual partner, receives rather than gives|
|Cub||typically heavier, hairier, and younger gay man.|
|daddy||typically an older gay man|
|discreet||gay man who is reserved, private, or secretive about his identity|
|kink||non-standard sexual activity, fetish, or interest.|
|NSA||no strings attached; casual sex.|
|otter||thinner, hairier gay man|
|poz||HIV positive person|
|top||the inserting sexual partner, gives rather than receives|
|twink||a small, often bodily-hairless guy|
H. Max published a short book including gays language in the late 80s. It also includes commonly used slang terms in the United States from the gay community.
|Glossary of U.S. gay slang taken from Max|
|Angel food||Air Force serviceman|
|Artiste||gay who excels at fellatio|
|ass blow||to lick or suck anus as opposed to blow job|
|Auntie||older, often effeminate, gossipy gay|
|baby butch||young boyish lesbian|
|bang, to||active role in anal or vaginal intercourse|
|baths, the||bathhouses frequented by gays for sexual encounters|
|bathsheba||gay who frequents gay bathhouses|
|B/D||bondage and discipline|
|beach bitch||gay who frequents beaches and resoles for sexual encounters|
|bean queen||non-Latin gay who seeks Latin males - from rice-and-beans in Latin cuisine|
|beat off||to masturbate|
|beatmeat||masturbation or ejaculated penis|
|bent||gay as opposed to straight|
|bilingual||to lick or suck penis and anus|
|black jack||black penis|
|blind, to make see||to fellate uncircumcised penis|
|blind cock||uncircumcised penis|
|blinds, to draw the||to fellate uncircumcised penis|
|blow job||fellatio as opposed to ass blow|
|bottom man||passive partner in anal intercourse as opposed to top man|
|brown out||to lick or suck anus|
|brown, to||to perform anal intercourse|
|brownie queen||gay who prefers passive role in anal intercourse|
|brush teeth, to||to perform fellatio|
|bucket boy||passive partner in anal intercourse|
|bugger, to||to perform anal intercourse|
|bull dyke||mannish lesbian as opposed to baby butch or dinky dyke|
|butch||masculine appearance or behavior as opposed to femme, nelly or swish|
|buttplug||sex toy designed to be inserted in rectum|
|cafeteria||repeated fellatio in backroom or bathhouse|
|camp, to||to act effeminate, bitchy|
|casting couch||seduction with promises of career advancement|
|catcher||passive partner in anal intercourse as opposed to pitcher|
|cha-cha queen||effeminate Latin gay|
|cheese||dried accumulation underneath unclean foreskin|
|chicken dinner||to fellate underage boy|
|chicken hawk||gay who preys on underage boys|
|chicken queen||gay who seeks underage boys|
|chubby chaser||gay who seeks obese males|
|circle jerk||group multiple masturbation|
|clone||San Francisco/New York Greenwich Village gay type with exaggerated macho behavior and appearance|
|closet, in the||to deny one's homosexuality as opposed to come out|
|closet queen||gay who hides his homosexuality|
|clusterfuck||group gay sex|
|cock ring||pubic ring used to prolong erection|
|cocksucker||one who practices fellatio, also gay male|
|come out||to admit one's homosexuality as opposed to in the closet|
|cum, to||to ejaculate|
|cornhole, to||to perform anal intercourse|
|cruise, to||to seek a casual gay sex encounter|
|cupcakes||small, well-rounded buttocks|
|curtains, to draw the||to fellate uncircumcised penis|
Other slang that is not included in either.
|Power Bottom||Dominant in bed, but receives rather than gives|
|Spaghetti||Someone who is straight until in a sexual situation with the same sex|
|David||A boy that claims to have a “fetish for guys”|
Although many slang words used in modern Japan are "loanwords" from American English, many native Japanese slang words remain in Japan's LGBT community such as the term "okoge", which serves the same purpose of the English slang word, "fag hag" – a "woman whose friends are mostly homosexual men". Although the literal English translation of okoge is burnt rice that sticks to the bottom of a pot, it is a reference to the Japanese equivalent to "faggot", okama (御釜, お釜, or 御竈; pot).
|Buggery||In England in the early 18th century, the term "buggery" had become a well-known signifier for "criminally unnatural" intercourse. While "criminally unnatural" could refer to a number of things, in this context it almost always was in reference to anal penetration.|
|Camp||"Camp" refers to a specific form of humor commonly associated with gay men. It is based on frivolity and spectacle.|
|Cruising||The earlier recorded use of the term "cruising" comes from ancient Rome. It is used to express the active, social search for one or more sexual partners.|
|Dyke||"Dyke" is a common slang word to refer to a more masculine lesbian. It was originally used as a slur, but after the Vietnam War in the 1970's, lesbians began to reclaim it.|
|Faggot||This term was first recorded in American in 1914, in a Portland, Oregon publication of criminal slang. It is a slur against gay men.|
|Fairy||The term "fairy" was a common slur in America during the period of 1925-1960. It signifies a stereotypical or "obvious" homosexual.|
|Fruit||"Fruit" is a slur against gay men. Its origins lie in the stereotypes of gay men as "softer" and "smelling good".|
|Macho||In Spanish, macho simply means "male". In the context of LGBT slang, it is a term for a more masculine, "tough guy" homosexual.|
|Punk||This is a less common use of the word "punk". Here, it refers to a smaller, younger gay man who, in prison settings, is forced into a submissive role and used for the older inmate's sexual pleasure.|
|Queen||A "queen" is a very effeminate male homosexual. More recently, the term has been used in compounds such as "drag queen" or "rice queen".|
|Queer||The word "queer" has long been a slur against homosexuals, transgender people, and anyone who does not fit into society's standards of gender and sexuality. It carries a heavy connotation of wrongness, otherness, or strangeness.|
- Bahasa Binan
- Friend of Dorothy
- Gayle language
- Gender transposition
- Lavender linguistics
- Terminology of homosexuality
- Paul Baker (2002). Polari – The Lost Manguage of Gay Men. Routledge. p. 119. ISBN 9780203167045. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- Long, Daniel: "Formation Processes of Some Japanese Gay Argot Terms", American Speech, Vol. 71, No. 2 (Summer, 1996), pp. 215–224. Duke University Press, 1996.
- Ken Cage and Moyra Evans (2003). Gayle: The Language of Kinks and Queens: A History and Dictionary of Gay Language in South Africa. Jacana Media. p. 16. ISBN 9781919931494. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- Lena Hamaida (2007). "Subtitling Slang and Dialect" (PDF). EU High Level Scientific Conference. p. 5. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- Proschan, Frank: "Review: Recognizing Gay and Lesbian Speech", American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 99, No. 1 (Mar., 1997), pp. 164–166.
- Leap, William, ed.: Public Sex/Gay Space, Columbia University Press, 1999. p. 61.
- Paul Baker (2002). Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men. Routledge. p. 1. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- Quinion, Michael (1996). "How bona to vada your eek!". WorldWideWords. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
- Paul Baker (2002). Fantabulosa: The Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. Continuum. ISBN 9780826473431. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
- "SCRUFF, Gay App, Launches 'Gay Slang Dictionary'". Huffington Post. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
- "Scruff, Gay Slang Dictionary". Archived from the original on October 6, 2016.
- Gay(s) Language: A Dic(k)tionary of Gay Slang. Banned Books. 1 January 1988. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-934411-15-8.
- McLelland, Mark (2000). "Male Homosexuality and Popular Culture in Modern Japan". Intersections: Gender, History & Culture in the Asian Context (3). Retrieved 24 February 2007.
- Encyclopedia of homosexuality. Volume II. Dynes, Wayne R., 1934-. London. ISBN 9781317368113. OCLC 953858681.
- Baker, Paul (2002). Fantabulosa, a dictionary of Polari and gay slang. Continuum. pp. 242 pages. ISBN 0-8264-5961-7.
- Rodgers, Bruce (1972). The Queens' Vernacular : a gay lexicon. Straight Arrow Books. pp. 265 pages. ISBN 0-87932-026-5.