Gay & Queer

Lynne Murphy M_Lynne_Murphy at BAYLOR.EDU
Wed Aug 25 16:55:25 UTC 1999

One  good (I think) source on these words is Wayne Dynes' _Homolexis_
(1985, Saber Monograph #4, NY: Scholarship Committee of the Gay Academic
Union).  I only have a few xeroxed pages of it, but some of the things
it says about gay:

- considerable argot uses among homosexuals 1920s-60s.
- no evidence of it (to mean 'homosexual', that is) in Romance languages
until after American/English influence in 1970s.
- "Despite assertations to the contrary, thus far not one unambiguous
attestation of the word to refer to homosexual men has surfaced from the
nineteenth century.  Any new evidence purporting to cite _gay_ in the
present sense must be carefully scrutinized.  It is unlikely that it
will bear serious examination."

The stuff on queer in this source is rather brief, but notes that
"queer" was common in England in the 1920s (I think--the prose is a bit
ambiguous re: date), producing Cockney slang phrases with "beer" in

Lynne, who, unlike Barry, thinks Swaziland is a great vacation spot


M. Lynne Murphy, Assistant Professor in Linguistics
Department of English, Baylor University
PO Box 97404, Waco, TX 76798 USA
Phone:  254-710-6983     Fax:  254-710-3894

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