[Ads-l] Pan = pansexual

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 30 02:33:04 UTC 2015

On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 8:23 PM, Wilson Gray wrote:
> On Fri, May 29, 2015 at 5:46 PM, Ben Zimmer wrote:
>> the now-offensive "homo".
> When was it inoffensive? Was its use different from that of "lezzie"?

I haven't looked too deeply into this, but my impression is that
"homo" could once be used as a not-necessarily-pejorative alternative
to "hetero". One early (reported) example occurs in _My Father and
Myself_, the memoir of J.R. Ackerley (1896-1967), in which he recalls
a conversation with a Swiss friend named Arnold Lunn in 1918:

"Almost the first mischievous question he shot at me was 'Are you homo
or hetero?' I had never heard either term before; they were explained
and there seemed only one answer."

Then again, Ackerley describes Lunn as "a mocking and amusing fellow"
(who was hetero), so perhaps it was derogatory even then.


Ben Zimmer

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

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