LGBT slang

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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.[1][2]

History and context[edit]

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.[2][3][4] Since the advent of queer studies in universities, LGBT slang and argot has become a subject of academic research among linguistic anthropology scholars.[5]

The Butch and Femme society.

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.[1][6] 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.[7][8] SCRUFF launched a gay-slang dictionary app in 2014, which includes commonly used slang in the United States from the gay community.[9] Specialized dictionaries that record LGBT slang have been found to revolve heavily around sexual matters.[10]

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.[11]

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.[12]

English terms[edit]

Term Meaning Region References
100-footer an obviously gay or lesbian person (as if visible from 100 feet away) US [13]
artiste a gay man who excels at fellatio US [14]
auntie an older, often effeminate and gossipy gay man US [14]
baby butch a young, boyish lesbian US [14]
baby dyke a young or recently out lesbian US [13]
baths bathhouses frequented by gay men for sexual encounters US [14]
bathsheba a gay man who frequents gay bathhouses US [14]
batty boy a gay or effeminate man Jamaica [15][16]
beach bitch a gay man who frequents beaches and resorts for sexual encounters US [14]
bean queen a non-Latino gay male who seeks Latino males (from prominence of rice and beans in Latin American cuisine) US [14]
bear a large, often hairy, gay man global [17][18]
bear chaser a man who pursues bears US [18]
beard a person used as a date, romantic partner, or spouse to conceal one's sexual orientation global [19]
bent gay, as opposed to straight US [14]
boi a boyish lesbian UK [20]
bottom man a passive male partner in anal intercourse US [14]
breeder a heterosexual person global [21]
brownie queen a gay man who prefers a passive role in anal intercourse US [14]
bucket boy a passive male partner in anal intercourse US [14]
bull dyke a mannish lesbian, as opposed to a baby butch or dinky dyke US [14]
butch masculinity, particularly in a lesbian US [14][22]
cafeteria repeated fellatio in a backroom or bathhouse US [14]
camp, campy effeminacy, effeminate global [14][14]
carpet muncher, rug muncher a lesbian global [23]
celesbian a celebrity lesbian US [13]
cha-cha queen an effeminate Latino gay man US [14]
chicken a young man or underage boy global [17][14]
chicken dinner the act of fellating an underage boy US [14]
chicken hawk, chicken queen a man who seeks or preys on underage boys US [14]
chubby chaser a man who seeks obese males US [14]
clone a San Francisco or New York Greenwich Village denizen with exaggerated macho behavior and appearance US [14]
closeted in denial of one's homosexuality US [14]
cocksucker a person who practices fellatio, usually a gay male US [14]
come out to admit or publicly acknowledge oneself as non-heterosexual US [14]
Copenhagen capon a transsexual person (in reference to castration) US [14]
cottaging having or seeking anonymous gay sex in a public toilet UK [17]
cotton ceiling lesbian refusal to have sex with a trans woman (patterned after "glass ceiling", referring to women's underwear) global [24][25][26]
cruising seeking a casual gay sex encounter (historically from ancient Rome) global [14][27]
cub a typically heavier, hairier, and younger gay man global [17][18]
daddy a typically an older gay man US [18]
discreet to be reserved, private, or secretive about one's sexual identity US [18]
down-low homosexual or bisexual activity, kept secret, by men who have sex with men US (African American) [28][29][30][31]
dyke a masculine lesbian; originally a slur, reclaimed in the 1970s global [27]
dykon a celebrity woman who is seen as an icon by lesbians; may or may not be a lesbian herself US [13]
en femme, en homme the act of wearing clothes stereotypically of the opposite sex global [32]
fag, faggot a slur against gay men (first recorded in a Portland, Oregon, publication in 1914) global [27]
fag hag a woman who associates mostly or exclusively with gay and bisexual men US [33]
fairy a stereotypically gay man; originally a slur, reclaimed in the 1960s global [27]
femme a feminine lesbian US [13]
flamer an effeminate gay man global [34]
friend of Dorothy a gay man US [35]
fruit a slur against gay men; originally a stereotype of gay men as "softer" and "smelling good" global [27]
fudgepacker a gay man; considered a slur global [36]
gaysian a gay Asian person global [37]
gold star a lesbian who has only had sex with women (in reference to a military award) US [13]
heteroflexible to be mostly heterosexual global [38]
lesbian until graduation a woman who experiments with bisexual or homosexual activity during school only global [39]
lipstick lesbian an effeminate lesbian global [40]
muff-diver a lesbian global [41][42]
otter a thinner, hairier gay man US [18]
packing the act of wearing padding or a phallic object to present the appearance of a penis global [43]
passing the act of being perceived by others as one's preferred gender identity global [44]
pillow princess a lesbian who bottoms during sex but never tops US [13]
poz a usually gay, HIV-positive person US [18]
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 [27]
queen an effeminate gay man; commonly used in compounds such as "drag queen" or "rice queen" global [27]
queer originally a slur against homosexuals, transgender persons, and anyone who does not fit society's standards of gender and sexuality; recently reclaimed global [27]
soft butch a lesbian who leans more masculine, but also has some feminine traits US [13]
stone butch a very masculine lesbian US [13]
swish effeminate or effeminacy US [45][46]
terf "trans-exclusionary radical feminist", a person opposed to trans persons or issues; considered a slur by its targets global [47][48][49][50][51][52]
top the active or inserting sexual partner, usually in a homosexual relation or activity US [18]
twink a small or young-looking, bodily hairless man global [17][18][17]
U-Haul lesbian a lesbian who quickly moves to cohabitation US [53]
wolf a man who tends to fall evenly between a fox/twink or a bear/cub UK [17]

Other languages[edit]

African languages[edit]

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.[54][55][56]

IsiNgqumo (or IsiGqumo) is an argot used by gays and lesbians of South Africa and Zimbabwe who speak Bantu languages.[57] IsiNgqumo developed during the 1980s.[58][56] It has not been as thoroughly researched or documented as Gayle.[54]

Indonesian[edit]

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.[59]

Japanese[edit]

Although many slang words used in modern Japan are loanwords from American English, many native Japanese slang words remain in Japan's LGBT community.

Term Meaning References
bian (ビアン), rezu (レズ) lesbian [60]
dōseiaisha (同性愛者, literally "same-sex-love person") a homosexual person [60]
gei (ゲイ) gay [60]
homo (ホモ) homosexual [60]
homosekusharu (ホモセクシャル) homosexual [60]
okama (お釜, literally "pot") a gay man [60]
onabe (お鍋, literally "pan") a lesbian [60]
rezubian (レズビアン) lesbian [60]

Tagalog[edit]

Swardspeak (also known as "gayspeak"[61] or "gay lingo") is an argot or cant slang derived from Taglish (Tagalog–English code-switching) and used by LGBT people in the Philippines.[62] 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.[63]

Thai[edit]

Term Meaning References
kathoey (Thai: กะเทย; RTGSKathoei Thai pronunciation: [kàtʰɤːj]) a trans woman or effeminate gay man [64]
phuying (Thai: ผู้หญิง) a trans woman [64]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Baker, Paul (2002). Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 9780203167045. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  2. ^ a b Long, Daniel (1996). Formation Processes of Some Japanese Gay Argot Terms. 71. Duke University Press. pp. 215–224.
  3. ^ Cage, Ken; Evans, Moyra (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.
  4. ^ Hamaida, Lena (2007). "Subtitling Slang and Dialect" (PDF). EU High Level Scientific Conference. p. 5. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  5. ^ Proschan, Frank (1997). "Review: Recognizing Gay and Lesbian Speech". American Anthropologist. Wiley. 99 (1): 164–166. doi:10.1525/aa.1997.99.1.164. JSTOR 682150.
  6. ^ Quinion, Michael (1996). "How Bona to Vada Your Eek!". World Wide Words. Retrieved 4 April 2010.
  7. ^ "Reports of Investigators on Meetings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Ku Klux Klan". State Archives and Library of Florida. 27 July 1964.
  8. ^ Howard, John (1997). Carryin' on in the Lesbian and Gay South. NYU Press. p. 132. ISBN 978-0-8147-3560-2.
  9. ^ "SCRUFF, Gay App, Launches 'Gay Slang Dictionary'". Huffington Post. 12 March 2014. Retrieved 24 March 2014.
  10. ^ Jacobs, Greg (1996). "Lesbian and Gay Male Language Use: A Critical Review of the Literature". American Speech. 71 (1): 49–71. doi:10.2307/455469. JSTOR 455469.
  11. ^ Leap, William (1999). Public Sex/Gay Space. Columbia University Press. p. 61.
  12. ^ Lumby, Malcolm E. (1976). "Code Switching and Sexual Orientation: A Test of Bernstein's Sociolinguistic Theory". Journal of Homosexuality. 1 (4): 383–399. doi:10.1300/j082v01n04_03. PMID 1018102.
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h i Brabaw, Kasandra. "17 Lesbian Slang Terms Every Baby Gay Needs To Learn". Refinery29. Retrieved 17 March 2019.
  14. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa Max, H. (1988). Gay(s) Language: A Dic(k)tionary of Gay Slang. Banned Books. p. 50. ISBN 978-0-934411-15-8.
  15. ^ Scott, Julia (May 22, 2015). "The Lonely Fight Against Belize's Antigay Laws". The New York Times. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  16. ^ Cayetano, Isani (April 9, 2014). "Transgender woman is stoned and beaten by an angry mob". News 5. Belize. Retrieved October 24, 2016.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g Baker, Paul (2002). Fantabulosa: The Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. Continuum. ISBN 9780826473431. Retrieved 17 January 2010.
  18. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Scruff, Gay Slang Dictionary". Archived from the original on October 6, 2016.
  19. ^ Green, Jonathon (2005). Cassell's Dictionary of Slang. p. 83. ISBN 9780304366361.
  20. ^ "Definition of 'boi'". Collins English Dictionary. Retrieved 22 April 2019. in British ... a lesbian who adopts a boyish appearance or manner
  21. ^ Liu, Ling (26 July 2006). "Provincetown Straights Complain". [SFGate]]. Archived from the original on 4 March 2007. Retrieved 21 March 2007.
  22. ^ "Butch-Femme" (PDF). glbtqarchive. Retrieved 2018-07-12.
  23. ^ Rader, Walter. "Definition of carpet muncher". The Online Slang Dictionary. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  24. ^ Brighter, Cassie (23 January 2019). "The Misunderstood Premise of the Cotton Ceiling". Curve. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  25. ^ Read, Carly (23 December 2018). "Trans group gets £500,000 public cash to tell YOU how to think about gender fluidity". Daily Express. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  26. ^ Ditum, Sarah (11 July 2018). "Why were lesbians protesting at Pride? Because the LGBT coalition leaves women behind". New Statesman America. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  27. ^ a b c d e f g h Dynes, Wayne R. (2016-03-22). Encyclopedia of homosexuality. Volume II. London. ISBN 9781317368113. OCLC 953858681.
  28. ^ King, J.L.; Carreras, Courtney (25 April 2006). Coming Up from the Down Low: The Journey to Acceptance, Healing and Honest Love. Three Rivers Press. p. 36. Archived from the original on 18 August 2010. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  29. ^ Johnson, Jason (1 May 2005). "Secret Gay Encounters of Black Men Could Be Raising Women's Infection Rate". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  30. ^ Mutua, Athena (28 September 2006). Progressive Black Masculinities. Routledge. p. 169. ISBN 978-0-415-97687-9. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  31. ^ Bennett, Jessica (19 May 2008). "Outing Hip-Hop". Newsweek. Retrieved 19 December 2009.
  32. ^ Boyd, Helen (2004). My Husband Betty: Love, Sex and Life with a Cross-Dresser. Sdal Press. p. 64. ISBN 978-1560255154.
  33. ^ Moon, Dawne (1995). "Insult and Inclusion: The Term Fag Hag and Gay Male Community". Social Forces. Social Forces. 74 (2): 487–510. doi:10.2307/2580489. JSTOR 2580489.
  34. ^ "Definition of flamer". The Online Slang Dictionary. Retrieved 28 February 2015.
  35. ^ Leap, William; Tom Boellstorff (2003). Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globalization and Gay Language. University of Illinois Press. p. 98. ISBN 978-0-252-07142-3.
  36. ^ Dalzell, Tom; Victor, Terry, eds. (2013). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 937. ISBN 9781317372523.
  37. ^ "The Gaysian".
  38. ^ Thompson, E.M.; Morgan, E.M. (2008). ""Mostly straight" young women: Variations in sexual behavior and identity development". Developmental Psychology. 44 (1): 15–21. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.44.1.15. PMID 18194001.
  39. ^ Rimer, Sara (June 5, 1993). "Campus Lesbians Step Into Unfamiliar Light". The New York Times.
  40. ^ Roshan das Nair, Catherine Butler (2012). Intersectionality, Sexuality and Psychological Therapies: Working with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Diversity. John Wiley & Sons. p. 49. ISBN 978-1119967439. Retrieved April 5, 2015.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  41. ^ Partridge, Eric; Victor, Terry, eds. (2006). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: J–Z. Taylor & Francis. p. 1335. ISBN 978-0-415-25938-5.
  42. ^ Dalzell, Tom, ed. (2018). The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 2013. ISBN 978-1-138-77965-5.
  43. ^ Venning, Rachel; Cavanah, Claire (2003-09-16). Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide. Simon and Schuster. pp. 86–. ISBN 9780743243513. Retrieved 26 November 2012.
  44. ^ Urquhart, Evan (2017-03-30). "Why Is "Passing" Such a Controversial Subject for Trans People?". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-13.
  45. ^ "swish definition, meaning". dictionary.cambridge.org. Cambridge Dictionaries Online. Retrieved 20 February 2015. 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
  46. ^ "swish - Gay Slang Dictionary". Retrieved 28 February 2015. 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.
  47. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (2014-08-04). "What Is a Woman?". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2019-03-19. 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.
  48. ^ London, H.J. (2018-06-29). "Transgender identities: a series of invited essays". The Economist. Retrieved 2019-03-19. 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.
  49. ^ Ditum, Sarah (2017-09-29). "What is a Terf? How an internet buzzword became a mainstream slur". New Statesman America. Retrieved 2019-03-19. Terf is now being used in a kind of discourse which has clear similarities with hate-speech directed at other groups…
  50. ^ 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.'
  51. ^ 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.
  52. ^ 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.
  53. ^ Eliason, Michele J. (26 October 2010). "A New Classification System for Lesbians: The Dyke Diagnostic Manual". Journal of Lesbian Studies (14.4).
  54. ^ a b Cage, Ken (10 August 1999). "Gayle – Gay SA Slang". Q-online. Archived from the original on 18 August 2000.
  55. ^ Cage, Ken (1999). An investigation into the form and function of language used by gay men in South Africa (M.A. thesis). University of Johannesburg. Archived from the original on 25 June 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  56. ^ a b Cage, Ken; Evans, Moyra (2003). Gayle: The Language of Kinks and Queens: A History and Dictionary of Gay Language in South Africa. Jacana Media. ISBN 9781919931494. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  57. ^ Rudwick, Stephanie; Ntuli, Mduduzi (2008). "IsiNgqumo – Introducing a gay Black South African linguistic variety". Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies. 26 (4): 445–456. doi:10.2989/SALALS.2008.26.4.3.675. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  58. ^ Epprecht, Marc (December 1998). "The 'Unsaying' of Indigenous Homosexualities in Zimbabwe: Mapping a Blindspot in an African Masculinity" (PDF). Journal of Southern African Studies. 24 (4): 631–651. doi:10.1080/03057079808708594. JSTOR 2637467. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 August 2004. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  59. ^ Boellstorff, Tom (2004). "Gay language and Indonesia: registering belonging" (PDF). Journal of Linguistic Anthropology. 14 (2): 248–268. doi:10.1525/jlin.2004.14.2.24 (inactive 2019-05-10). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-02-18.
  60. ^ a b c d e f g h "Intersections: Male Homosexuality and Popular Culture in Modern Japan". intersections.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  61. ^ Alba, Reinerio A. (5 June 2006). "In Focus: The Filipino Gayspeak (Filipino Gay Lingo)". National Commission for Culture and the Arts. Archived from the original on 30 October 2015. Retrieved 21 June 2017.
  62. ^ Leap, William (2013). Globalization and Gay Language. Wiley-Blackwell. p. 558. ISBN 978-1-4051-7581-4.
  63. ^ Remoto, Danton (5 May 2008). "On Philippine Gay Lingo". ABS-CBN News and Current Affairs. Retrieved 25 December 2010.
  64. ^ a b Winter, Sam (2003). Research and discussion paper: Language and identity in transgender: gender wars and the case of the Thai kathoey. Paper presented at the Hawaii conference on Social Sciences, Waikiki, June 2003. Article online Archived 29 March 2012 at the Wayback Machine.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]