Watch: Can you understand the men in this clip? Film explores hidden gay language

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

For LGBT History Month, PinkNews takes a look at a film written in Polari – the secret code deployed by gay men.

Polari is a form of Cant slang that was deployed by gay men in the UK, at a time when homosexuality was illegal, to converse without risk of being found out by eavesdroppers.

It was further popularised on comedy show Round the Horne, when used by Julian and Sandy – characters played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams – and found its way into the works of Paul O’Grady, Morrissey and even David Bowie

But the Polari code slowly fell out of favour after the legalisation of gay sex acts in England and Wales in 1967 – and while slang words like ‘naff’ and ‘barney’ are still around, many people are unaware it every existed.

However, filmmakers  Brian Fairbairn and Karl Eccelston are leading a comeback – releasing a short film which makes full use of the language.

The pair last year released ‘Putting on the Dish’ – a short film which makes full use of Polari, recreating a conversation between two men that would be nonsensical for the uninitiated.

For example: “The palone tried to give her an Irish. Moultee palaver. Pauline told her to shove her shyckle up her khyber.

Luckily, someone’s made an annotated transcript of the entire thing, so don’t worry if you’re a bit naff, ducky – you can still follow along.

A blurb explains: “London, 1962. Two strangers strike up a conversation on a park bench about life, sex and the hostile world they find themselves in as gay men.

“The conversation might be commonplace, but the language isn’t, because the two men are speaking in Polari.

“Polari was a form of slang spoken by some gay men in Britain prior to the decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.

“Used primarily as a coded way for them to discuss their experiences, it quickly fell out of use in the 70s, although several words entered mainstream English and are still used today.”
Watch: Can you understand the men in this clip? Film explores hidden gay language
Try our Polari quiz below: