I published an essay in the National Post this weekend about deaf culture.

I’ve made friends with people in the silent world since March this year, and constantly became more and more enamoured with their language, their music and their spirit. I’ve never come across a group of kids with such a brazen attitude towards life – read all about it here.

As I describe in the piece, their language is astoundingly complex and versatile – it still floors me, especially how regional it is and how many different variations you can find in the UK alone.

Little did I know when I was writing this piece – and I wish I had – that the gay deaf community has its own lexicon, “Gay Sign Variation”. And it’s brilliant. This handy guide outlines some of the linguistic and grammatical rules of the dialect – and this is my favourite:

“Another common feature among the men was to sign with their elbows close to their body. Of the 21 men recorded, 16 of them displayed this feature. This is quite opposite to masculine Deaf males who would use a much more open and forward style of signing. It has been commented, jokingly that “this is to ensure their handbag doesn’t slip off their arm whilst signing” (personal communication, Jackson, 2008). This in itself is a ‘camp’ comment and one,which could be described as ‘tongue in cheek’.”


“Go away” – gay sign variant on the top, normal BSL on the bottom.