Ms. /Gay - NYTIMES

Kathleen Miller millerk at NYTIMES.COM
Mon May 24 13:42:11 UTC 1999

The NY Times 1976 style book says, "Ms. as an honorific, use it only in
quoted matter, in letters to the editor and, in news articles, in passages
discussing the term itself."

The current style book says, "[*]Ms. Use this title in second and
subsequent references to a woman who prefers it or whose marital status is
unknown to us. If we know a woman's marital status but not her choice of
title, use Mrs. or Miss."

The first Ms. I can find in our database that does not fit into any of the
1976 catagories is: December 21, 1980,   "Ms. Schook hopes and expects that
similar programs will become a permanent feature of all future ANA
       By Ed Reiter

And this is from the editors on August 5, 1984 in response to a Safire (ON

"From the Editors,

Some days the Title Question appears to claim more time - and ignite more
passion - than the East-West arms race.

We accept anyone's choice - in this case, Geraldine Ferraro's choice - of a
professional name. But a titleis not part of the name. Publications vary in
tone, and the titles they affix to names will differ accordingly.
The Times clings to traditional ones ( Mrs., Miss and Dr., for example). As
for Ms. - that useful
 business-letter coinage - we reconsider it from time to time; to our ear,
it still sounds too contrived for news writing.

Among traditional titles, why not heed the bearer's choice, assuming it
isn't deceitful? Representative
Ferraro's Mrs. seems no more a matter of ''right'' or ''wrong'' than the
preferences of Beverly Greenough (Miss Sills), Joan Dunne (Miss Didion),
Diana Silberstein (Miss Ross), Meryl Gummer (Miss Streep) or Dr. Henry A.
Kissinger (who favors Mr. ).

As Mr. Safire might put it, they're all entitled."

As for gay the 1976 style book says,"Do not use as a synonym for homosexual
unless it appears in the formal capitalized name of an organization, or in
quoted matter."

Today we are told," [*]gay (adj.). For homosexual, in references to social
or cultural patterns and political issues: gay rights, gay literature, etc.
Homosexual is preferred in specific references to sexual activity or
psychological or clinical orientation. Gay may refer to homosexual men, or
more generally to homosexual men and women. In specific references to
women, lesbian is preferred. If we need to emphasize a distinction, we can
write lesbians and gay men. Do not use gay as a noun."

The first citation I can find is June 1, 1980 "He has certainly been active
throughout his life in various progressive movements from socialism to
pacifism and gay liberation, but I kept wondering how he reconciled such
activities with his other-worldly beliefs"  A SENSUAL MAN WITH A SPIRITUAL

Hope this helps a little.

Kathleen E. Miller
Research Assistant to William Safire
The New York Times

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