Word of the Gay

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

Archive for Person

#36 “pronoun dance”

Avoiding a subject that you are confused by, or uncomfortable with, is something that most people deal with at some point in their life.  However, when dealing with sexual orientation, and/or gender identity and expression, some people find it so difficult that they are unable to use the proper pronouns to describe or refer to someone else.  And unfortunately, far too many individuals (in my opinion) use this “pronoun dance” to avoid speaking about someone else’s sexual orientation or gender identity, or to speak about their own open and honestly.

When someone transitions from one gender to another, their family and friends, and extended network of acquaintances, colleagues, etc. can find it confusing and difficult to discuss that person in conversation.  For some, discussing someone else’s  new identity who has transitioned from one gender to another can be difficult , especially when they were so familiar with their old identity.  Remembering to keep names and pronouns straight is a very important thing to be able to do for someone who is trans.  However, it’s only a fraction of the trans experience and the complexity of their experience.  Due to this, it is not uncommon for some to mistakenly refer to someone using their former identity (either by name or by pronoun); in a worst-case scenario, the use of gender-neutral pronouns are used to avoid the subject.

In other cases, there may be times when someone disguises their sexual orientation through the use of gender-neutral pronouns – in order to keep their sexual orientation private.  For instance, for members of the U.S. Armed Forces that are either gay, lesbian, or bisexual, they are forced to keep their personal hidden on a daily basis.  That is because the military’s current ban on openly gay, lesbian, and bisexual service members (“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” – a.k.a. DADT) has forced them to keep their sexual orientation and relationships secret.  Therefore, many will refer to their partners by first name only if they have a gender-neutral name (i.e. “Chris”, “Pat”, or “Jay”), may even invent a boyfriend/girlfriend or  husband/wife, and will avoid the use of “her”, “him”, “he”, or “she” altogether.

[pro-nown danse]

-noun
1. in conversation, the process used to avoid the use of gender-specific pronouns; commonly related to anxiety surrounding a third party’s sexual orientation or gender identity

-verb
1. using gender-neutral pronouns when describing another person, based on their sexual orientation and/or gender identity

Related: pronoun dancing

Ex: “Joe led Mary in the pronoun dance when the subject of his sister Julia’s transitioning process came up.”

Ex: “Sgt. Jones used the pronoun dance to avoid talking about his boyfriend with other members of his Army unit.”

[Origin: Most likely American, mid-20th Century.]

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#35 “walker”

Throughout history, gay men and straight women have gone together like peanut butter & jelly, peas & carrots, or Cagney & Lacey.  The level of intimacy that can be reached between these two individuals can rival even that of the most star-crossed of lovers.  Now, couple the needs of an older woman who is either single or in a loveless marriage and has vast resources – with that of a younger, attractive man who’s looking to advance his social standing – and you’ve got sheer magic.

“Walker” describes the man in this equation; a young gay man that provides company for older women for the purposes of keeping her company, giving her advice, and escorting her to social events – in lieu of a husband or boyfriend.  A walker will usually accompany a widow or unmarried woman, and act as both company and a sort of handler or aide.  Since the woman is usually “of a certain age” the term also has a double-meaning, which refers to a walker, which is a device used to assist with standing and/or walking.

This term should not be confused either “beard” or “frock,” which both describe individuals (bread-female, frock-male) who are romantically linked to either a gay man (beard) or a lesbian (frock) in order to keep their sexual orientation hidden.  Walkers are not necessarily in (or out of) the closet.

1. noun: A man (usually younger and gay) who is in a non-sexual relationship with an older woman (usually single or widowed), and serves as her social escort, muse, best friend, artistic expert, or confidante.

Ex: “Isn’t that Ms. Weintraub?  I haven’t seen her since her husband passed away last year.  It looks like that walker of hers is going to be out with her even more now.”

Ex: “Well, I saw Doris at two different events with her walker, Lawrence, again this week.”

[Origin: Most likely American or European, and used almost exclusively in high society circles.]

[Related: “beard” (female who acts as a closeted gay man’s companion in public); “frock” (male who acts as a closeted lesbian’s companion).  Examples: George “Gould” Strong & Edith Bouvier Beale; Jack McFarland & Karen Walker.]

#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”]

#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.]

#26 transfag/tryke

In most cases, I am not a particular fan of the words “fag” or “dyke.” But for today’s post, I am bending my own rules to introduce a pair of really interesting terms. Today we are getting two words for the price of one! I think of them as like a yin and yang of transsexual terms. I recently came across “transfag” and “tryke” while doing some internet research for today’s post. It seems as if there are as many ways to classify a person’s sexuality – as there are people. I am constantly intrigued by the ways in which people refer to themselves and others when it relates to sex.

transfag – 1. noun: a person who is both both gay and female-to-male (f-t-m) transsexual. [Related: FTG (female-to-gay). See tryke.]

tryke – 1. noun: a person who is a male-to-female (m-t-f) transsexual and is also a lesbian. [Related: transdyke, female lesbian. See transfag.]

#19 “trick”

“Tricks” are treats for some gay men.  The term “trick” is most commonly used by gay men when referring to an anonymous sex partner, or “one-night stand.”  This word is popular among young gay men, and in particular, in large metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.  

The term was popularized in 1999 with the cult gay film, “Trick” starring Christian Campbell and John Paul (“J.P.”) Pitoc.  The film follows an aspiring playwright (Campbell) and a hunky go-go dancer (Pitoc) as they make their way through Manhattan in an attempt to follow-through with a one-night stand.

-noun

1.  an anonymous sex partner; usually a gay male.

-verb

1. the act of an anonymous sexual encounter; sometimes resulting in the transfer of money.

Related: one-night stand, tricking, tricks 

[Origin: Relating to prostitution, the act of picking up a “john” or being a “trick” looking for a possible sexual partner or “date.”]