Troll (gay slang)

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In the notorious "meatrack" on Fire Island Pines, New York, a man trolls for sexual action. A man racking himself in The Meatrack on Fire Island.jpg
In the notorious "meatrack" on Fire Island Pines, New York, a man trolls for sexual action.

Troll and trolling are slang terms used almost exclusively among gay men to characterize gay, bisexual and questioning or bi-curious men who cruise or "wander about looking" [1] for sex or potential sex partners or experiences "in a notably wanton manner and with lessened standards of what one will accept in a partner." [2] The term can be used positively or negatively depending on the speaker, usage and intent and can describe the person or the activity. Although often referring to "an unattractive older gay man" [3] and although troll as a slur "is primarily a visual, not a behavioral" judgment, [4] the phrases can be used for anyone who is trolling regardless of the putative troll's age or perceived attractiveness.

Contents

Pejorative use

As a verb, "to troll" is not necessarily pejorative, with "trolling for sex" merely a synonym of cruising for sex.

The same is not true of "troll" as a noun describing a person, usually an elderly or unattractive gay male (a "troll") aggressively seeking younger partners ("twinks" or "chickens"). This usage carries all of the negative connotations associated with "dirty old man" outside the gay community; editorialists in the gay press also occasionally cite this usage as evidence that a gay community which values youth and physical attraction is marginalising its elderly. [5] [6]

Origin and historical usage

A troll is a fearsome member of a race of creatures from Norse mythology that have achieved international recognition and become stock characters in popular culture. Troll cows ill jnl artlibre.png
A troll is a fearsome member of a race of creatures from Norse mythology that have achieved international recognition and become stock characters in popular culture.

Troll as gay slang is amongst the lexicon of the cant Polari used in the gay subculture in Britain which has become more mainstream with transcontinental travel and online communication. There is still debate about how Polari originated but its origins can be traced back to at least the 19th century.

The term troll probably became equated with cruising because a troll is a "creature of Scandinavian folklore depicted as a devilish imp who lives in dark places and 'patrols' in an endless search." [2] "The word trolla in Swedish means ‘to charm or bewitch’." [7] Or perhaps from trolling as trolling for fish: Cast a wide net and hook whatever you can.

"As a Polari word, troll can mean ‘to walk effeminately’, or ‘to walk, seeking sex’." [7] Trolling can be used almost interchangeably with cruising [8] and like much of Polari usage was probably meant to disguise what was being talked about because being gay was (and in some contexts still is) taboo and discussing gay sex in any public area can be risky.

The word "troll" has remained unfamiliar even to many gay men in Britain, who have never heard, used, or needed to use the term. Regular customers in the same gay bar might have different takes on the usage – one simply referring to cruising, another referring to a negative version of a troll as a someone who "will have your skin crawling in seconds with his lascivious looks and raunchy repartee," [9] another meaning older gays who prefer to troll for younger guys. [10] [11]

Variations on troll exist. A gay culture author asserts that trolley-dolly may be "derived perhaps from a combination of lalies and troll. A trolley-dolly (contemporary gay slang) is a gay flight attendant." [12] Some[ who? ] say, however, that the phrase references the duty-free and drinks trolleys pushed by flight attendants; many people also use the phrase to refer to female flight attendants and in the UK it is often applied to supermarket checkout operators.

"Trolling" is also a term used for generations among fishermen in boats, to describe the way they let a line with a hook and bait on the "fishing line" follow along behind the boat moving slowly, hoping that this slow baiting of the fish will result in a catch. In Gay sub-cultural slang usage would often be coded to seem as though the speaker was talking about "fishing behavior'" but the "gay slang" usage decodes the message to mean "cruising for sex" and luring the potential contacts [catch]. The homosexual "cruising" could be called "trolling" to mean moving along slowly and letting potential contacts ["catches"] have opportunity to "take the bait" i.e. connect for sex. It does also carry the implicit meaning of being a behavior done by older less desirable men seeking sex in public places, but younger people may use the term either to describe serious sexual hunting, or to make light of it, and by using the term "trolling" to put a humorous light on what is considered to be a somewhat socially questionable behavior. [13]

Etiquette

Depending on the culture the men are in, the setting, time of day (or evening), how comfortable they are about their sexuality and their intentions will all affect the trolling experience. Some men are still coming out or even a virgin to same-sex experiences; some societies punish gays with prison, public humiliation and even death. So having the appearance of just walking through the area or using a restroom comes in handy until those there for sexual fulfillment can let their guard down as it becomes obvious everyone is there with like-minded goals. For regular areas or “troll haunts” that are frequented by a recurring group of trolls there is a general rule that "as in most gay male settings, the young, the muscular, and the unfamiliar are more sought." [14]

A troll's intention will also influence actions and outcomes ranging from casual sex in a more private area to exhibitionism like masturbating to group sex, fulfilling a sexual fantasy or even the voyeuristic thrill of watching someone else have public sex. Some are looking to: perform fellatio either directly or through a glory hole, receive it, or switch roles; perform or receive anal sex; participate in group sex or a BDSM experience even including gang bangs; or simply to watch others perform sex acts. [15]

A regular public bathroom at a college, public library, shopping mall, train station or even a public park could be a higher risk trolling venue while more private venues like nightclubs, bars, [16] offices and even churches add to the sexual excitement for some escalating the experience with more taboo environments. For some potentially getting caught is almost better than the sex itself.

Public sex is often illegal, but enforcement varies from lax and rarely enforced to the aggressive pursuit of entrapment, even at disproportionate financial expense to the police force. [17] Victims of other crimes, such as mugging or assault/gay bashing, during cruising also see varying support from police in different regions, from supportive to dismissive and insulting. [18] [19] Cases of police brutality against gay men found cruising cause further distrust of law enforcement in the gay community, although it is used on the Internet often. [17]

See also

Related Research Articles

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Heterosexuality is romantic attraction, sexual attraction or sexual behavior between persons of the opposite sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, heterosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attractions" to persons of the opposite sex; it "also refers to a person's sense of identity based on those attractions, related behaviors, and membership in a community of others who share those attractions." Someone who is heterosexual is commonly referred to as straight.

Polari is a form of slang or cant used in Britain by some actors, circus and fairground showmen, professional wrestlers, merchant navy sailors, criminals, sex workers, and the gay subculture. There is some debate about its origins, but it can be traced back to at least the 19th century and possibly as far as the 16th century. There is a long-standing connection with Punch and Judy street puppet performers, who traditionally used Polari to converse.

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Cottaging Gay slang term

Cottaging is a gay slang term, originating from the United Kingdom, referring to anonymous sex between men in a public lavatory, or cruising for sexual partners with the intention of having sex elsewhere. The term has its roots in self-contained English toilet blocks resembling small cottages in their appearance; in the English cant language of Polari this became a double entendre by gay men referring to sexual encounters. See also gay beat in Australian English.

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Cruising for sex Walking or driving around a neighborhood in search of sex

Cruising for sex, or cruising, is walking or driving about a locality, called a cruising ground, in search of a sex partner, usually of the anonymous, casual, one-time variety. The term is also used when technology is used to find casual sex, such as using an Internet site or a telephone service.

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Bareback (sexual act) Physical sexual activity, especially sexual penetration, without the use of a condom

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A chickenhawk or chicken hawk is slang used in American and British gay culture to denote older males who prefer younger males for partners, who may less often be called "chickens", i.e., the prey of the chickenhawk. Other variations include chicken queen and chicken plucker.

Glory hole Hole in a wall or partition to engage in sexual activities

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Trade is a gay slang term which refers to the casual partner of a gay man or to the genre of such pairings. Men falling in the category of "trade" are not gay-identified. Historically the motivations may at times include a desire for emotional fulfillment and admiration, but the term often refers to a straight man who partners with a gay man for economic benefit, either through a direct cash payment or through other, more subtle means. Trade originally referred to casual sex partners, regardless of sexuality as many gay and bisexual men were closeted, but evolved to imply the gay partner is comparatively wealthy and the partner who is trade is economically deprived. Examples of this include wealthy Englishmen finding partners among deprived Cockneys in 1930s London.

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In gay slang, queen is a term used to refer to a flamboyant or effeminate gay man. The term can either be pejorative or celebrated as a type of self-identification.

Coprophilia Sexual paraphilia involving feces

Coprophilia, also called scatophilia or scat, is the paraphilia involving sexual arousal and pleasure from feces.

<i>Twink</i> (gay slang) Gay slang for attractive male from late teens to early twenties

Twink is gay slang for a young man in his late teens to early twenties whose traits may include: general physical attractiveness; a slim to average build; and a youthful appearance that may belie an older age.

Sloppy seconds is a slang phrase for when a man has sexual intercourse with a female or male partner who already has received another man's penis in the relevant orifice and is therefore wet or "sloppy". The phrase buttered bun is sometimes used to refer to said orifice. The practice is also referred to as a "wet deck".

References

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  19. Muir, Hugh (15 May 2007), "Officers' homophobia hampered murder investigations, says review", Guardian, London