"gay" again

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jul 31 22:05:24 UTC 2006

When I was in basic training, "be queer for" was used as an insult directed
at anyone who slipped up and locked eyes with a member of the cadre:
"What're you looking at me for, soldier? You queer for me?" This was a
question with no correct answer. Obviously, yes would be the wrong answer,
but if you said no, it was an insult to the cadre-member, implying that you
found him physically beneath your standard of masculine beauty. Your only
recourse was to say nothing and drop down and give him twenty push-ups
without waiting to be told.

You were supposed to use the thousand-yard stare and look *through* the
members of the training cadre, not *at* them, whenever their gaze happened
to fall upon you.


On 7/31/06, Arnold M. Zwicky <zwicky at csli.stanford.edu> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Arnold M. Zwicky" <zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "gay" again
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Jul 29, 2006, at 2:59 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> > Not sure if this has been noted here before, but one recent semantic
> > development on the "gay" front is the construction "be gay for" =
> > 'have an unseemly or exuberant affection for (someone or
> > something)'...
> i don't recall having seen this one -- i might just not have noticed
> it -- but i have noticed "be queer for" in this sense.  an
> interesting sense development: the component of attraction remains,
> while the sexual component vanishes.
> arnold
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out
the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon

Frederick Douglass

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list