Because of sodomy laws and threat of prosecution due to the criminalization of homosexuality, LGBT slang also serves as an argot, a secret language and a way for the LGBT community to communicate with each other publicly without revealing their sexual orientation to others.
Since the advent of queer studies in universities, LGBT slang and argot has become a subject of academic research among linguistic anthropology scholars.
Many terms that originated as gay slang have become part of the popular lexicon. For example, the word drag was popularized by Hubert Selby, Jr. in his book Last Exit to Brooklyn. Drag has been traced back by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to the late 19th Century. Conversely, words such as banjee, while well-established in a subset of gay society, have never made the transition to popular use.