gay, straight, or lying

Garson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Jan 4 07:22:15 UTC 2012

Thanks for an interesting question and article, Neal. Here is an
earlier cite for a variant phrasing of the three-way disjunction.

Cite: 1997 October 14, The Advocate, Searching for that perfect pair
of genes by Dean Hamer, Start Page 65, Quote Page 66, Published by
Here Publishing. (Google Books full view)

[Begin excerpt]
Sexologists like to joke that there are just three sexual orientations
— gay, straight, and liar — but the real world is populated by many
people who are in between.
[End excerpt]

Here is one possible way in which the phrase may have evolved. Someone
stated "each person is gay, straight or bisexual". This evoked the
retort "each person is gay, straight, or a liar". The implicit
three-way disjunction is "each person is gay (and willing to
acknowledge it), straight (and willing to acknowledge it) or a liar
who claims to be bisexual".

Note, I am not stating that this is my opinion! Also, these simplistic
disjunctions do not include intersex people, asexual people etcetera.

Also note, in this analysis the phrase initially was applied to all
people and not to bisexuals exclusively. This accords with the use in
the Advocate. The podcast hosts that Neal refers to apparently applied
the phrase to bisexuals.

On Wed, Jan 4, 2012 at 12:09 AM, Neal Whitman <nwhitman at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Neal Whitman <nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET>
> Subject:      gay, straight, or lying
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> My question on the blog: Why do those who don't believe in bisexuality say
> bisexuals are "gay, straight, or lying" instead of "gay or straight and
> lying"?
> The earliest I've seen it in print is 2003, but it was supposedly common
> among gay men before then.
> Neal
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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