Many gay men and women had a tough time of it before the UK decriminalized homosexuality (Sexual Offences Act 1967) and technology brought the LGBT community together.
As part of their double life, many LGBT people developed their own code of communication to prevent being outed. The Polari language was developed for this purpose.
Polari, which has been around for hundreds of years, is an amalgam of Italian, Romani, and the slang of many different communities, including the circus community and the maritime trade. The language would essentially provide a shield for the LGBT community by replacing certain terms with equivalent sounding ones. Similarly to a secret code, this allowed Queer people to exercise in the presence of others they trusted.
It’s like a secret code: if queer people exercised together, no one would suspect a thing.
Since the safety of LGBT individuals in the UK was no longer an immediate concern after the 1960s, the use of Polari gradually faded away. Because of shows like Round the Horne, Polari is no longer a secret and cannot serve as a shield.
New York was the first place where the coded language of lesbians exchanging violets to express their love for one another went mainstream. This concept was borrowed from Eduoard Bourdet’s 1927 drama, “The Captive,” about a lesbian pair who exchange posies of violets.
In religiously authoritarian nations or regions where anti-sodomy laws date back to the colonial era, the need for LGBT people to speak in code and lead double lives is still all too real. LGBT voices now aren’t disguised by jargon or slang; they’re encrypted, but this is a totally different form of secret language than the ones spoken in the past by these individuals.
Online networking sites
Since its conception, social media has played an increasingly central role in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. For many, especially in regions of the world where homosexuality is still criminalized or socially taboo, it is a lifeline.
Many lesbian and bisexual women, for example, in the Republic of Burundi, where engaging in sexual activity with someone of the same sex as oneself is illegal, have resorted to meeting online because of the lack of safe spaces in their nation.
Lesbian pair Leila and Neya, from Burundi, expressed the following in an interview with the BBC released earlier this year:
It’s hard to put into words how homosexual men and women in Africa find each other. The lack of a Googleable lesbian hangout where we can arrange to meet is a major drawback. Since most of your conversation is nonverbal, you learn to read each other like a book. An expert in body language and eye contact develops in you.
While Niya admits that there are no dedicated dating apps in her culture, she does highlight the prevalence of social media. It’s true that there are some abbreviations used there. Perhaps it’s a phrase in code or a meme we picked up somewhere else. There is absolutely nothing there that someone outside the lesbian community could ever pick up on.
The widespread availability of cellphones has facilitated communication amongst members of the LGBT community. Millions of people who previously would not have felt comfortable dating or forming relationships in public settings have been given this opportunity thanks to apps for Android and iOS. However, this year marks a shift in the use of apps within the LGBT community; instead of only serving as a means of social connection, apps will now be employed in the fight against HIV.
Since the HIV pandemic in North America disproportionately affects young men of Hispanic and African descent, programmers are currently working on the design of an app that will be released across the country by the end of the year.
P3, an acronym for “prepared, protected, and empowered,” will use gamification techniques and social activities to remind and motivate young people at risk of contracting HIV to take Prep, track their medications, post to a social wall about daily discussion topics, and have conversations with their partners about HIV testing.
The goal of this software is twofold: first, to remind individuals at risk to take their medicine; second, to promote open dialogue about HIV status among high-risk groups.
Virtual private networks (VPNs) are well-known because they are commonly used to enable viewers in locations where content is blocked to access content that would otherwise be inaccessible. However, VPNs serve a much more important purpose for the LGBT community in countries like China and Pakistan, where doing so can keep you safe and anonymous while allowing you to stay in touch with your local LGBT community.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, 25-year-old media operations manager at the Beijing LGBT Centre Sun Mo cited the following reasons why gay men in China use Blued (China’s version of Grindr):
When compared to the popularity of Grindr in the United States, “Blued” in China has a higher profile. You can still meet other gay men in America even if you don’t have Grindr. There is a community of LGBT persons in the area. There are no homosexual organizations or gay bars in China outside of the three major cities of Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai.
Blockchain is a cutting-edge innovation closely linked to digital currencies. Blockchain is disrupting the status quo because it is a distributed ledger that allows a group of people to independently confirm the legitimacy of transactions like those involving money, property, or even votes.
The use of immutable records to safeguard rights, such as land titles in Honduras, has caused widespread panic among those in positions of authority. This is because it moves the international community closer to eliminating centralized institutions like banks and governments, which could lead to individuals exercising more control over their personal finances, civil liberties, and privacy in the near future.
The world has moved closer to eliminating the role of banks and governments as “men in the middle.”
In an effort to help the LGBT community protect their identities in areas of the world where they face persecution, to harness the economic clout of the LGBT community, and to ensure that the voices of the LGBT community are heard, Christof Wittig, the creator of Hornet, the world’s second largest gay social network, has established the LGBT Token, a form of cryptocurrency.
In the struggle against HIV, for more economic freedom, or even just to be heard, the unification of LGBT voices has always been an essential aspect of the gay liberation movement.
Technology like virtual private networks (VPNs) and blockchain has also played a role in the emergence of these new online communities. They’ve made it easier for the LGBT community to meet new people, talk about pressing topics, and feel safe doing so.