If you are traveling to England/Liverpool, you might want to check this out.
Hello Sailor: Gay life on the ocean wave at the Merseyside Maritime Museum
Who knew that British sailors developed their own secret language?
Polari was secretive language widely used by the British gay community from the 1900s to the 1970s. It was based on slang words deriving from a variety of different sources, including rhyming slang, and backslang (spelling words backwards).
In the eighteenth century it was mainly used in pubs around the London dock area. The language was soon picked up by merchant seafarers and brought back on ship. From the 1930s to 1970s the language was mostly used in gay pubs, theatre and on merchant ships.
The language helped gay men talk to each in front of straight people. It enabled gays to feel like part of an exclusive group. Polari was used in crew shows on ship and some straight shipmates picked up the language from these shows.
Polari was popularised by Julian & Sandy (played by Hugh Paddick and Kenneth Williams) in the 1960s BBC radio comedy show, Round the Horne. In the show the two played a couple of camp out-of-work actors.
In the 1970s the use of polari started declining. The 1967 sexual offences act made homosexuality legal, so there was less need for a secret form of language. The 1970s gay liberation movement found the language to be old fashioned and sexist. However, it was still used on ships up until the 1980s. Today polari is experiencing a mini revival due to recent stage shows of Round the Horne.