origin of "Bruce" implying "gay"?

Gerald Cohen gcohen at UMR.EDU
Wed Jan 28 02:02:38 UTC 2004

At 12:48 PM -0500 1/27/04, Mark A. Mandel wrote:
>Someone on another list I subscribe to wrote:
>         >>>
>This is where "Bruce" as a synonym for a gay man came from.  As in
>"Bruce Wayne."  Wertham said that the arrangement where Bruce Wayne and
>Dick Grayson live together was a gay man's wet dream.  Hence the
>appearance in some parts of the Batman Mythos of Bruce's elderly aunt
>(disremember her name) to provide some sort of female presence.
>         <<<
>What's known about the origin of this -- well, I wouldn't call it a
>synonym, but a snide implicator?
>-- Mark A. Mandel

  Bruce Rodgers' _The Queens' Vernacular: a Gay Lexicon_ (1972,
San Francisco: Straight Arrow Books) has two relevant items:

p.95 "Bruce"---under "George (hetero sl) male homosexual, 'Oh,
George, you're gorgeous'---Syn. Bruce; Cy; Oscar"

p. 102 "Bruce the hairdresser"---under "hairbender [=] hairdresser;
hairstylist; beautician... Syn. Bruce the hairdresser (hetero sl.)..."

    Also, Jonathon Green's _Cassell's Dictionary of Slang_, 2000, has:
"bruce 1. [1940s-70s] [gay] a term of address among male homosexuals
[cf. Agnes]. 2. [1980s+] (US campus) a male who thinks he is suave
and sophisticated but really is not. [Bruce is seen as a 'typical'
gay name; ?its potential, in camp usage, for being lisped]"

The term isn't listed in HDAS.

Gerald Cohen

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