Yahoo Voices Spotlight: Gayspeak – Is There a Gay Language?

I thought I’d start something new today in an attempt to renew some interest in older pieces I’ve written and published on Yahoo Voices and other Internet spots. Today’s spotlight is on a piece I published in January 2008. Gayspeak: Is There a Gay Language? was originally an essay I wrote for a phonology class back in Stony Brook University, and I remember it being an interesting and fun piece to write. Once I’d been writing for a few months, I decided to publish it and it’s gotten more than 16K page views to date.

Language is something that is very fluid, changing all the time. Even some of the slang words that were used when I was younger have metamorphosized into something new. For example, once upon a time we referred to women who liked to hang out with gay men as “fag hags,” which is sometimes still used, but nowadays the more common expression is “fruit flies.”

Gay slang got its origins from a now-dead language, or slang, known as Polari, which was spoken in late 18th Century England. Words such as “butch,” “camp,” and “drag” received their first gay-oriented connotations through Polari. Of course, as time marched on, words and meanings changed.

A lot of what we may think of in gay language or slang is thought of that way because of the way gays have been portrayed in the media and in the entertainment industry. Depictions of gay characters have lent themselves to creating images of what people think gay people are, though we all know that’s not necessarily true. To read more about it, please check out Gayspeak: Is There a Gay Language?

Image Source: the inspiration room

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