Welcome to the latest puzzle in my ongoing series, Eyes Open, inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and other civil rights protests.
It’s Pride Month, and sadly, bigots and morons come out of the woodwork to complain, just as they do for Black History Month, International Women’s Day, and any other events where minority groups and people who have suffered from systemic oppression are encouraged to celebrate who they are.
During Pride Month, they ignorantly cry “what about heterosexual pride month?”, completely missing the fact that being straight is almost never a reason someone gets bullied, abused, mistreated, oppressed, or murdered. Members of the LGBTQIA+ community know this better than most.
For decades and decades, they had to operate in the shadows. Gathering places were secret, hidden behind innocuous fronts. In many places, including England, where homosexuality was stigmatized and criminalized well into the 1960s, gay people not only had to be careful with how they behaved, but how they spoke as well.
Gay men and women employed coded language to not only identify themselves, but to communicate with each other safely. One of the ways they did so was the slang language Polari.
Polari is an informal mixture of Romance languages, Yiddish, Romani, and slang words derived from sailors, thieves, and Cockney rhyming. Abbreviations, backward-speak, and other adaptations of language were part of Polari’s constant evolution. And some of the words popularized through the use of Polari are still in circulation today.
Today’s puzzle is about honoring how LGBTQIA+ culture has journeyed from the shadows into the light, and how what used to be coded language is now familiar slang for so many people.
[Click this link to download a PDF of this puzzle.]
If you have suggestions for more topics for me to cover in future puzzles, please let me know. If you’re a person of color and you’d like to share a puzzle of your own, or to collaborate with me on a puzzle, please let me know.
If you’re a member of the LGBTQ community, and you have ideas, please let me know. If you’re a trans person, or a non-binary individual, and you feel underrepresented in puzzles, please let me know.
I would like this to become something bigger, but hopefully, this is at the very least a start.
Thank you for reading. Thank you for standing up, speaking up, and fighting the good fight.
Support LGBTQIA+ people.
Black lives matter.
AAPI lives matter.