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Do gay men have a secret language? See if you can understand it in this video

By Samuel McManus

As we’re all well aware, February is the UK’s LGBT History Month, and one aspect of the LGBT community that people are reflecting on is the secret language of Polari, which gay men used to speak in secret in the early 20th century.

Gay men used to speak to each other in Polari in the 50s and 60s but Gay Star News reports that it fell out of use in the 50s and 60s after the decriminalisation of homosexuality.

A new moving short film ‘Putting on the Dish’ has put Polari to use once again. The short film shows two gay men meeting on a park bench and exchanging almost entirely in Polari to find out more information about one another.

Australian film maker Brian Fairbairn said of the discovery of the secret language: “I was pretty blown away. We’d been looking for a kind of logical follow-up for our first short film, Skwerl, and I guess I wanted to do something queer so it just seemed like an obvious subject. The more we read about it, the more perfect it felt, and how fascinating it was, and we couldn’t believe no-one had ever tried to make any kind of narrative completely in Polari.”

“Polari is unique to the UK in that it developed from slang and languages that was used by travelling theatre types, circus types,’ says Karl Eccleston, co-creator of the film. “It was a confluence of the languages used by thieves and prostitutes and market traders. It borrows from French and Italian and Romany, but it obviously has quite a British flavor because it has some cockney rhyming slang.”

“What we did find, after we made the film, is that there are still coded languages that are used by gay communities. There’s one in the Philippines called Swardspeak, and another in South Africa called Gayle,” Karl continued.

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