The Editor looks back at the year 2012 in Polari Magazine and how it has explored the LGBT subculture. Part 5 looks at the ideas that drive Polari.
Part 5: Polari’s Credo
Polari is an online magazine about arts, culture and community. We believe that to understand the LGBT subculture – or subcultures, to be more accurate – it is important to look back to the past in order to look forward to the future, to see where we have come from in order to make sense of where we are going. The reason that we chose the name Polari – which no one in the media was using at the time we adopted it – was that it signalled just that.
This is from a press release sent out to journalists and potential writers in April 2007:
Preceding the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England & Wales (1967), Polari was a vocabulary for the initiated. As Paul Baker notes in his introduction to his Fantabulosa: A Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang, “because being openly homosexual was dangerous, the need for a language that protected gay men, and at the same time acted as a kind of ‘gaydar’ by allowing them to recognise others, was extremely useful.”
The magazine takes its name from this vocabulary as it intends to focus on sustaining the link between the present and a common gay heritage, thus looking back whilst looking forward. The experience of gay sexuality is multi‐faceted, and complex – it is about navigating a culture from the margins; it is about what is revealed to others, and what is, at the same time, hidden; it ￼￼has therefore always had its own language in order to navigate both the mainstream and an alternative to that mainstream. In so doing it developed a subculture of its own.
It’s what we set out to do, and it is what we’ve been doing for over 4 years. And the British Library agrees: “We select and archive sites to represent aspects of UK documentary heritage and as a result, they will remain available to researchers in the future,” an email from its Web Archivist stated. Polari is now archived by the British Library as a site “of cultural importance”. That is better than any other form of recognition we could have achieved this year.
At the end of May, Polari started to publish a series of articles that looked at what has been said about LGBT people through the ages in order to map out an accessible path through queer history. The articles are framed around quotations from works that talked about same-sex desire.
The series started with a few words about the way we live now, and important quotations from 2011-2012.
The series really got underway in the piece A Queer History: First Words About Homosexuality.
The most recent Queer History article looks at the history of homosexuality in Imperial China. The series will continue in 2013.
The opinion columns written by Paul Baker have endeavoured to make sense of the social and political debates of the year. His commentary is informed, intelligent and funny.
What does it mean when straight people say, “I don’t mind as long as you don’t shove it down my throat”? What does it tell you about the person saying it.
The homophobic newspaper columnist is still with us – witness the increasingly deranged monologues of the dread Melanie Phillips – and in this article Paul Baker looks back at the history of institutionalised homophobia in newspapers.
In the wake of Stonewall’s bus campaign – Some People Are Gay, Get Over It, all over the city on the side of London buses – the Core Issues Trust started to mix up the phrase “ex-gay” with “post gay”. What was that all about?
Big Brother, not usually a subject for Polari, proved surprisingly pro-LGBT this year. And in honour of this, Paul Baker said:
The Homotopia Festival is one of the most exciting and innovative queer arts and culture programmes in Europe. Polari‘s Michael Langan talked to its Artistic Director.
There has to be more to gay subculture than the hedonism of the gay scene: that is the subject of Gay Utopia and The Quest, a life-coaching & storytelling workshop community project.
In this piece about the slang Polari – or language variant, to be more precise – the editor celebrates its history and its humour.
The Polari team, with Clayton Littlewood and David Benson, talked to the BBC World Service about Polari and what it means.
Fun Is Important!
It’s a serious enterprise being an arts, culture and community magazine, and humour is fundamentally important to that.
In the weekly WTF?! Friday pieces, Polari takes a look at 7 search terms from 7 days. It’s funny, and intriguing, and at times seriously WTF?
To celebrate the season, Polari asked David Benson to read from the Polari Bible. In the style of Kenneth Williams.
Clementine, the Living Fashion Doll, is a wonder of the modern world, and here she takes you to Christmas Island to bring in the season. Year and in and year out, Clementine is the greatest star in the Polari firmament.
Polari Magazine turned 4 on December 03, 2012. It is now operating under the Community Interest Company Polari Arts, and is committed to running projects in 2013 that will be all about understanding and conserving LGBT heritage. 2013 is going be an important year for Polari Magazine.