Calum McSwiggan

The Language of Sex and Love

In Gay on May 30, 2012 at 7:25 am

The Language of Sex and Love

‘If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart’

– Nelson Mandela

This morning I fired up Grindr to check out the local talent and found I was quickly bombarded with messages from foreign men- Spanish, German, French and Danish, they were all suddenly encroaching upon me, and even with the help of Google Translate, I was well and truly bamboozled.

Grindr is complicated enough without throwing a handful of new languages into the mix, I couldn’t make sense of any of it, but after some determined frustration I began to realise that the words they were using were foreign variants of gay slang.

As a sub-culture, we have developed our own personal language, a language of delectable shallow nonsense that we flaunt in our everyday conversations. It’s only when I meet somebody new and they keep interrupting to ask what an otter or a cub is, that I realise how much we overuse them.

It’s come to the stage where when a young gay man comes out of the closet, he needs a gay encyclopaedia thrust into his hands so he can understand what the hell the rest of us are talking about. It can instruct him to identify a bear from a twink, how to figure out whether he’s top or bottom, and whether or not he’s ready for manscaping and anal douching.

I was only fifteen when a boy hit on me over the internet asking me whether I was a top or a bottom. It seems so obvious now, but at the time I had no idea what he was talking about. Now I read ‘Bottom Vers LF Dom Top 4 NSAF’ on the daily and understand it like it’s second nature.

You can even take an online test now which helps identify which gay clique you fit into, it’s all very shallow, categorising ourselves as bulls, chickens, pigs, and various other farmyard animals, but there’s one very strong reason I’m not at all against it.

Gay language can be traced as far back as the 16th century where Polari was used as a code-language in the gay-underground scene- Oscar Wilde himself was said to have used it. As silly and shallow as modern gay language may seem, it was once used to aid in disguising a person’s homosexuality, long before we had the rights we do today, and the fact that we’re still using it is actually something quite special.

Every time we talk about mincing, call someone camp or butch, or call someone a queen or diva, we’re honouring our heritage and history, and that’s what gay pride is all about. It’s not about standing out from the crowd and causing a scene, it’s about being proud of who we are and being truthful to our roots.

As for traversing the language barrier in order to communicate with the Spanish and the Germans, I might just try the handkerchief code.

I’ll go for dark red and tealI think.

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