The LGBT community has gone through many changes over the years and one aspect of that is its evolving lexicon. I thought it would be interesting to discuss this both as an historical subject and regarding the extent to which current LGBT authors incorporate slang terms into their writing.
It is hard to tell how far back LGBT slang goes. Certainly the eighteenth-century molly subculture had its own lexicon, with some terms borrowed from thieves cant. No doubt the nineteenth century then adapted this to suit its own purposes as the decades passed. However, it’s in the twentieth century and beyond that we have a more detailed record of LGBT slang terms, from Polari in the UK for example. Some of these terms were/are also found in the US, and a number later entered the popular lexicon.
For readers and authors: How important is it to you to have LGBT slang included in the books you read and write? Is it necessary to include it for a story to be “authentic”? Do you believe that all LGBT slang and terminology is now generally understood by those outside the LGBT community? If not, would you want to maintain a barrier between the popularised LGBT slang used in books and the terms and expressions used within the LGBT community as a more secret code? To what extent do you believe that LGBT slang has changed in light of the increasingly open acceptance of those identifying as LGBT? I look forward to hearing everyone’s thoughts.
Asta’s Annotations is a monthly column in which author and editor Asta Idonea (aka Nicki J. Markus) discusses the world of LGBT publishing and offers tips and tricks to help budding authors.
Asta was born in England but now lives in South Australia. She has loved both reading and writing from a young age and is also a keen linguist, having studied several foreign languages.
Asta launched her writing career in 2011 and divides her efforts not only between MM and mainstream works but also between traditional and indie publishing. Her works span the genres, from paranormal to historical and from contemporary to fantasy. It just depends what story and which characters spring into her mind!
As a day job, Asta works as a freelance editor and proofreader, and in her spare time she enjoys music, theatre, cinema, photography, and sketching. She also loves history, folklore and mythology, pen-palling, and travel, all of which have provided plenty of inspiration for her writing. She is never found too far from her much-loved library/music room.