(Image by Jez Dolan)
Fascinating—I'd never heard of Polari, a gay language invented and used by gay men in Great Britain in the '50s and '60s in order to evade detection.
The slang includes common lingo like “chicken” (c'mon, you know what that means) and much more obscure stuff like “vada” (for look at). Allegedly, the word camp even came from Polari.
Via Atlas Obscura:
Polari provided gay men with a subtle way to find one another for companionship and sex. Says Dolan, "if you fancied somebody you’d drop a few words in, see if they picked it up, and go from there.” The code words of Polari, indecipherable to outsiders, made the solicitation process safer, allowing men to approach potential partners without having to reveal their own sexuality.
Among confirmed gay men, however, there was nothing subtle about Polari conversations. The language was used to "recount stories of trade [sex], and cottaging [looking for sex in public bathrooms], and wigs and makeup and who was wearing what and who did what to whom," says Dolan. "It was a way of showing off and bitching and all that kind of stuff.” In Hello Sailor! The Hidden History of Gay Life at Sea, Paul Baker and Jo Stanley write that Polari played a role in “allowing gay men to construct a humorously performative identity for themselves.”
The closest I can come to this is when I once went to a gathering of like-minded sex-seekers, for which we'd all been given a secret word to use because it was held at a large public bar. We were supposed to use that word in conversation to see if the guy we were chatting with was into the same stuff. I was talking to a super cute guy and he brought up the word—but only to say he had been told what was up and could I believe how weird that was?
Yes, I believed.
Too bad—he had a real dolly eek.