While ASL has been around for centuries, LGBTQ-related signs are only recently becoming more common. For deaf LGBTQ people, learning queer sign language is empowering and increases accessibility. Moreover, it is also part of the larger movement to reclaim labels such as “gay” and “queer,” which were once considered offensive.
How to Say Gay in Sign Language
To sign gay, hold your dominant hand up to your chest with the thumb up, similar to a "thumbs up" gesture. Then, move the thumb a few times right and left. Note that this is different from the sign for pain, which requires a fist and swaying of the thumb.
Alternatively, you can fingerspell the word gay by tapping the letter “G” on your chin or spelling it out, one letter at a time. Another option is to make an open 8 with the middle finger, and flick it toward the back of your head, which can be interpreted as “gay.” Regardless of which version you use, remember to always keep a lovely smile on your face while communicating in BSL. Smiles connect people, and can be a powerful tool to defuse tension or misunderstandings.