Allusionist 99. Polari

When there were no safe spaces to be gay, Polari allowed gay men to identify and communicate with each other, and to keep things secret from outsiders.

Professor Paul Baker, author of the Polari dictionary and the upcoming book Fabulosa! The Story of Polari, Britain’s Secret Gay Language, explains how Polari emerged from criminal cant and London’s theatres and docks to be used a code language for gay men in the oppressive 1950s - and then, not long after, it entered the slang lexicons of the general public, via popular sketch comedy and the mouth of an annoyed princess.

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Allusionist 12: Pride


"The poison is shame. The antidote is pride."

It’s June; the President of the USA has officially designated it LGBT Pride Month, and there’ll be Pride events around the world.

Activist and the publisher of Homosexuals Intransigent Craig Schoonmaker recounts how the word ‘pride’ was chosen, which eventually came to be the banner word for demonstrations and celebrations of LGBT rights and culture.



This episode was sponsored by Animoto. Visit to try out their fun and easy video-making tools; if you sign up for an annual pro subscription, get 15% off using the code WORDS.


There'll be a new episode in a fortnight. Meantime, I'll be dispensing podcasting advice in California with Roman Mars and Colin Anderson: check here for details of the events.

- HZ

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