Word of the Gay

*Straight talk on Gay language, one word at-a-time.

Archive for International

#41: “PLWHA”

-acronym
1. “People Living With HIV/AIDS”. This is often abbreviated as “PLWHA”, “PLWA”, “PLHIV”, or “People Living Positively” has also been used.

Related: “positive”, HIV+, HIV positive

Ex: “The number of PLWHA in the United States has increased at lower rates than in other parts of the world.”

[Origin: American, but used widely. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HIV-positive_people%5D

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#38 “hide the candy”

Drag Queens are possibly the most notorious illusionists that have ever walked this Great Green Earth.  For centuries, men have delighted audiences appearing as women, wearing all types of “female” clothing, wigs, make-up and offering many types of entertainment.  These range from singing, dancing and lip-syncing to even fire-eating, acrobatics and so on.  Quite obviously, the most important way in which to maintain the illusion is to make sure their male genitalia is hidden from view.  So in lies the secret to their crotch maintenance… to “hide the candy,” as “candy” referring to their “cock n’ balls” or penis and testicles for those academic types.

As a guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race“, actor and singer Vanessa Williams was amazed at this remarkable method, and remarked on “Lopez Tonight” at just how amazing these Queens maintain their crotches.  The program pits 12 (or 13 as was the case in its 3rd Season) drag queens against one another in the battle to become the “Next Drag Superstar,” and has been an instant hit and will be in its fourth season in 2012.  The drag queens make reference to tucking and hiding their candy quite often, and it has been a subject of many highlighted conversations throughout the series’ run.

-verb

1. the act of a drag queen to conceal the bulge in the crotch before a performance with a durable tape, usually gaff or ducked tape.

Related: tucking, tucknology

Ex: “I can’t go on stage until I hide the candy.”

Ex: “She needs to learn how to hide her candy properly, I can see everything she’s packin’.”

[Origin: Most likely American, and used by drag queens all over the world.]

#34 “swish”

Throughout history, words have been used to discriminate, pigeon-hole, or otherwise keep groups of people “in their place” in society.  To that end, groups that have been the target of vicious name-calling often reclaim insulting language as a way to self-identify and empower themselves as an individual, or as a member of a larger community.

Reclamatory language, as it is referred to, is language with pejorative connotations that people with marginalized identities use to identify themselves. Language which has been used as an insult, and which is still used as an insult today, can be reclaimed through the use of reclamatory language.  However, there are some words, like the “n”, “f”, and “c” words, for instance, that many people believe to be too far beyond reclaiming for anyone to use in an empowering manner.

“Swish” is an example of this phenomenon; and of how a group of like-minded individuals were determined to build a positive movement to further the rights of LGBT people through reclaiming an often insulting slang word used to describe “effeminate” men.  The small group of friends has evolved into a large, diverse community comprising people of every background, shoe size, hair color, and sexual identity. With more than 1,000 members in 32 states and 4 countries, “Swish” creates volunteer, advocacy, and educational opportunities for the gay and straight communities to learn from each other and work together toward full, unwavering equality for LGBT people.

plural -ers. adjective -y [swish]

1. adjective (swishy, swishing): A pejorative word used to describe flamboyant characteristics, personality traits, or physical attributes of a homosexual person; usually a gay man.

2a. noun: An American gay-straight alliance, founded in 2003 (originally an acronym for Straight Women In Support of Homos), that provides opportunities for straight women and men to contribute their time, energy, and talents to furthering the LGBT rights movement.

2b: noun (Swisher): A member of “Swish”, who embodies the mission and vision of the organization – to further the LGBT rights movement.

3a. verb: To fight for equal rights for the LGBT community using one’s talents, smarts, and sense of style.

3b. verb: To make activism uplifting, rewarding, and fun.  To “swish” is the emancipation from what was once a pejorative to an ability to envision and create a world in which equality, freedom, and love for all LGBT people is valued and celebrated.

Ex: “Oh my, would you just look at that guy swishing down the street!”

Ex: “I love being a Swisher!  Each year at NYC Pride, I am able to set a positive example for straight allies in the LGBT movement and beyond!”

[Origin: Most likely American or European, used in pre-Stonewall (i.e. 1969 A.D.) gay male communities.]

#32 “trade”

It goes without saying that there are a great many words and phrases that relate to casual sexual encounters.  “Trade” is one such word.  The word originates from Polari (post #22), the now almost entirely defunct gay “slanguage” from The United Kingdom.

“Trade” originally referred to a straight male who was the sexual partner of another man, either gay or bisexual, and quickly came to describe any pair of male sexual partners.  Over time, the term has also been commonly attributed to younger or economically-disadvataged man who becomes the sexual partner of another older, or considerably more affluent, man.

Some specific examples of its use relate to men who seek out overtly masculine sexual partners.  For instance, some men will seek out service members of the armed forces, who exemplify for them a very masculine example of manhood.  These men are referred to as “military trade“, and may or may not be gay.

Currently, and in most cases, the word is used casually to refer to any male sexual partner of another man.

Ex: “I was at my favorite bar again last night, trying to pick up some trade.”, or “Did you see Chris and his trade come out of the club when it closed last night!”

-noun

1. the male sexual partner of another man; depending upon the circumstance may identify as straight, bisexual, or gay; individual may also receive payment after sexual acts are performed

[Related: “hook up”, “MSM” (men who have sex with men), “one night stand”, “rough trade”, “trick”]

#31 “realness”

Exhibiting “realness” in the drag world commonly refers to the ability to “blend” or “pass” as the opposite sex, or as heterosexual.  Because for some, it’s got to be real.

To be able to blend, that’s what realness is… the idea of realness is to look as much like your straight counter-part as possible.” – Dorian Corey, “Paris Is Burning”.

Others have, of course, used this particular phrase over the years, but none as fabulous as Dorian.  What her quote, and interview in this documentary, focuses on is the theme of emulating specific traits or qualities of the opposite sex, gender, or sexual identity.  Gay men exhibiting ultra-masculinity and toughness to “pass” as straight; or, men wearing the latest couture-inspired fashion to seem as feminine and glamorous as possible.

[reel-ness]

1. verb: to perform or exhibit the quality of being either of the opposite sex, or gender, or heterosexual – if one is homosexual.

2. noun: the quality one might possess if he, or she, can successfully convince others that they are off the opposite sex, or gender; or to be heterosexual if they are homosexual.

Ex: “She was giving us some fierce realness tonight!  She could’ve convinced anyone he was a girl.”

[Origin: United States, probably ca. 1970s.  Related words: “passing”, “blending”, ]

#29 “gayby”

“Gayby” is yet another portmanteau word (one that combines two words into one) of the words “gay” and “baby” and refers to the little tykes that are adopted or conceived by a gay, lesbian or LGBT couple.

While this word might not yet have caught on in wider circles, there are already “gaybys” being featured on primetime television, as on the ABC sitcom, “Modern Family“.

1. noun: a child that is adopted into a gay, lesbian or LGBT family or home.

Ex: “Chuck… Larry!  Your little Fuschia is just the cutest little gayby I have ever seen!”

[Origin: Most likely American.  Related words: “gaydar”, “gaysian”, “gayborhood”, etc.]

#28 “green queen”

Not only does this phrase rhyme (something I love to do), but it describes yours truly. Modern life revolves around the concept of “going green”, and almost every industry is capitalizing off of climate change. From the hybrid car to the bio-degradable multi-surface cleaner, we buy-in to our culture’s immediate response to an enormous problem. And we all experience climate change and the effects of the petrol-chemical industries each day – from hormones, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals that remain in our drinking water, to the incremental changes in temperature across the globe.

The average person will not necessarily be aware of these facts as they go about their daily routine. Because even though there is a lot of noise about climate change, and of devastation and irreversible damage to our natural resources, only certain folks seem to be hearing it. I like to refer to a gay man who is conscious of his day-to-day impact on the environment as a Green Queen.

1. noun: an environmentally-conscious homosexual/gay man.

Ex: “I saw the cutest Green Queen recycling his batteries and cell phone charger at Whole Foods the other day.”

[Origin: Yours truly. Not to be confused with one of many women’s websites that focus one the environmentally-conscious woman’s point of view; see here, here, here, and even here.]