Images Captured behind the scenes at Miss Gay Supreme, 2021.
“Gayle” is an argot or pseudo-language that arose in the South African LGBTQI+ community somewhere in the mid-60s. Originally termed “moffietaal”, Gayle’s origins have often been debated, with some suggesting it may have arisen as a prison language. The language was most likely developed within the LGBTQI+ communities of colour, particularly the coloured gay community of District 6, as a way for its members to look out for each other in heterosexual spaces or other public spaces where their safety was at risk. Gayle would later spread to the white LGBTQI+ communities, and continue to be appropriated in various ways in mainstream South African culture.
“Gayle” is a notable example of a secret language. Its primary purpose was to enable open communication within the LGBTQI+ communities and facilitate activities within the community. Functioning as a sort of code, Gayle allowed the LGBTQI+ community to speak openly and freely, without detection in the public eye, during the Apartheid era when the government monitored and censored their activities.
Gayle is characterised as a conglomerate of Afrikaans and English, with its most distinct feature being the use of popular women’s names as code words for activities, which would have otherwise been outlawed if discussed openly.
*all prints are made on A3 Hahnemuhle 300+gsm paper with border.
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