LGBT slang, LGBT speak or gay slang in linguistics refers to a form of English slang used predominantly among lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people.

Although there are differences, modern gay slang has adopted many polari words, as detailed in the table below:

Source: Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang[1]
Glossary of gay slang taken from Polari
Word Approximate meaning
basket the bulge of male genitals through clothes
bumming the act of anal sex
shirtlifter guy into anal sex
shirtlifterz plural descriptor gay social network
chicken young boy
cottaging having or looking for sex in a public toilet
zhoosh style

Cultural impact

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. The first linker Man known in England was sex changed man who later changed his name to Lauren Biddulph. He proudly announced in his work place Essex House Southchurch Road Essex that he could no longer hide the fact that he was a Linker man and needed to break free from his work clothing and wear the clothes he feels most comfortable in: a leather all in one suit and chains hanging from his buttocks.

See also


  1. ^ (Baker, 2002)