Language Before Stonewall

Language, Sexuality, History

  • William L. Leap

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Language, Gender and Sexuality book series (PSLGS)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-ix
  2. William L. Leap
    Pages 1-79
  3. William L. Leap
    Pages 81-151
  4. William L. Leap
    Pages 153-213
  5. William L. Leap
    Pages 215-300
  6. William L. Leap
    Pages 301-408
  7. William L. Leap
    Pages 409-416
  8. Back Matter
    Pages 417-424

About this book


This book explores the linguistic and social practices related to same-sex desires and identities that were widely attested in the USA during the years preceding the police raid on the Stonewall Inn in 1969. The author demonstrates that this language was not a unified or standardized code, but rather an aggregate of linguistic practices influenced by gender, racial, and class differences, urban/rural locations, age, erotic desires and pursuits, and similar social descriptors. Contrary to preconceptions, moreover, it circulated widely in both public and in private domains. This intriguing book will appeal to students and academics interested in the intersections of language, sexuality and history and queer historical linguistics.

William L. Leap is Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at American University and Affiliate Professor in the Center for Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Florida Atlantic University, USA.


Sexuality Gender USA Linguistic practices Queer linguistic history Historical linguistics Homosexual language research Secret language Polari

Authors and affiliations

  • William L. Leap
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnthropologyAmerican UniversityWashington, D.C.USA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020
  • Publisher Name Palgrave Macmillan, Cham
  • eBook Packages Social Sciences
  • Print ISBN 978-3-030-33515-1
  • Online ISBN 978-3-030-33516-8
  • Buy this book on publisher's site