Word of the Gay

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

Archive for Thing

#25 full house

The best part about writing a blog that unearths popular, obscure, and interesting words and phrases is the constant bombardment with creative and useful language.  Now when it comes to discussing sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs), there is definitely no exception to the number of nicknames and euphemisms that have been created to refer to, and talk “around”, the subject.

I find the phrase “full house” to be as charming as is it practical.  Now if only we could get more people to wear condoms more of the time…

1. noun: having more than one sexually-transmitted disease (STD) at the same time.

Ex: “Oh Gurl, Michael’s so nasty, did you hear she got a full house?  Yeah, gonorrhea and syphilis at the same time!”

[Origin: Most likely British.  Related to the third-highest hand dealt in a game of poker, or to the popular 1980s television series both of the same name.]

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#22 “Polari”

Throughout history, gay people have been forced-out of mainstream society and have had to create for themselves a sort of counter-culture, a secret code of ethics, language and activities.  One manifestation of this phenomena occurred, and flourished, in Great Britain during the mid-Twentieth century.

“Polari” is described as a “secret language” used by gay people during the twentieth century (mainly in England), that was based on slang used by societal outcasts – namely, criminals, prostitutes, sailors and tramps.  It incorporated English rhyme with other languages and slang, such as: Yiddish, Italian and French.  As gay slang and culture moved more into the mainstream toward the end of the twentieth century, Polari began to lose its footing and was used less and less.  Some of its phrases and slang are still used today, but in far less frequency.  Most people who use these “Polari” phrases are most likely unaware of their origins.

EXAMPLES of POLARI phrases and words:

AC/DC: 1. noun: a couple.  2. adjective: bisexual.

joshed up: adjective: looking your best. (root: zhoosh-Yiddish)

on the team: adjective: gay.

polari, polare, parlare, parlaree: 1. noun: gay language.  2. verb: to talk. (possible root: palare-Italian) 

[For more information on Polari, the lost language of “the gays”, pick up “Fantabulosa: A History of Polari and Gay Slang” by Paul Baker, published by continuum Books.]

#20 “gay mafia”

While there may be no documented proof, the existence of a group of gay individuals who run an underground control system of fashion, design, popular culture, art and media has been widely acknowledged. The term “gay mafia” is used to describe this group of individuals who work to keep a handle on all things fabulous.

The term is a turn on the standard definition of “mafia,” which described a system of organized crime, ruled by a “mob boss” and his subordinate cells of henchmen and criminals. The “gay mafia” is said to control areas of particular gay interest and has a certain tongue-and-cheek appeal to both gay and straight people who are interested in popular culture.

Many pop icons have been accredited with being associated with the “gay mafia,” including Cher, Tom Ford, Gianni Versace, Halston, Kenneth Cole and Sir Elton John. Sir Elton John’s 2002 appearance on NBC’s “Will & Grace” paid homage to this concept when he was cast as himself, the “eyeshadowy Don” of the gay mafia.

There is also a professional, Los Angeles-based comedy troupe that goes by the name: “The Gay Mafia

[Related: pink posse, pink panthers]

#16 “fag hag”

“Fag hag” is a term near and dear to this author’s heart. The term “fag hag” relates, most specifically, to a straight woman that associates with, or is very close to, a gay man or men. It is usually used in a derogatory manner, but has been embraced by many women as a positive self-identifying trait.  In some circles, being a Fag Hag represents a status symbol among straight women who champion LGBT equality and rights.

As a member of a gay-straight alliance founded by a self-proclaimed hag, I am particularly interested in everything “fag hag.” SWiSH (Straight Women in Support of Homos) is an example of an organization that focuses on the perspective of a “fag hag.”

Poplar stand-up comedienne and satirist, Margaret Cho offered some very entertaining passages about her experience as a self-proclaimed “fag hag” in her 2000 one-woman act, “I’m The One That I Want.” Essentially, behind every gay man is a steadfast and supportive fag hag – a woman that guides gay men from the tumultuous and exciting days of “coming out” into the golden years of gayhood.

-noun

1. a woman who is closely related to, or feels a strong connection to, gay men.

2. a person, male or female (gay or straight) that advocates on the behalf of gay people or is surrounded by all things gay.

[Related: beard, dyke Mike, dyke tyke]

#9 “Tina”

When it comes to thinking up catchy phrases and nicknames for illicit drugs, no one does it better than gay men.  The term “Tina,” or “Teena” is widely used in gay communities as the casual or street term for crystal methamphetamine.

The name derived from the fact that the drug is commonly bought in sixteenth of an ounce packages; known as a “teena.”  The name has also been attributed to the Western female name, Christina, which sounds similar to part of the drugs name, “crystal.”

[Origin: Most likely American, either San Francisco or New York City.  The phrase was popularized by men frequenting online dating sites in the late 1990s and early 2000s.]

For a comprehensive list of  Methamphetamine slang terms, visit KCI: The Anti-Meth Site.  Many LGBT, HIV/AIDS  and anti-drug organizations have focused on this particular drug in the past ten years for being so closely linked with the increase in HIV infection rates among young men.  “Hurricane Tina” was a successful ad campaign and program launched by Gay Men’s Health Crisis in New York City in 2007 to spread awareness of this troubling trend.

#3 “bear”

Contrary to popular belief (and to the advertising departments of today’s popular gay lifestyle magazines), gay men are not all six feet tall with chiseled features, six-packs, and underwear modeling careers. In fact, most gay men do not look like this and come in many shapes, colors, and sizes. Men who identify as “bears” are one of the many colors in the gay-leidoscope.

The “bear” is so-named for his bear-like appearance. He is usually burly or heavy-set, with a hairy body and some form of facial hair. They may also give the impression of being blue-collar or working-class. The concept of being a “bear” has gone through many permutations in recent decades, with debate about what it means, exactly, to be a bear. They are usually gay or bisexual men, but transgender men have also been known to identify with bear communities.

Since the late-eighties and early-nineties, there has been a lot of growth in the bear community. Bears are closely related to the leather and S&M scenes in many communities, and there are many bears who consider themselves “leather-bears.”

[Origin: San Francisco during the 1980s; as an outgrowth of the gay biker and leather communities. Created by men who felt excluded from mainstream gay culture and the “twink” ideal that it purported. Richard Bulger and Chris Nelson founded Bear Magazine in San Francisco in 1987. Their company, Brush Creek Media, trademarked the name “Bear” for a men’s magazine in 1991.]

Today, the bear culture has permeated through the post-modern, cultural watershed with this fantastic blog.