two notes on MSM

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Wed Dec 22 20:18:11 UTC 2004

On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 11:35:22 -0800, Arnold M. Zwicky
<zwicky at CSLI.STANFORD.EDU> wrote:

>1.  first, an antedating, though only from 2001 to 1996.  this from a
>correspondent in england:
>‘Wanted: Aids Education Field Worker(s) for Men who have Sex with Men
>(MSM). [
] The Cottaging or Cruising Project (COC) is an experimental
>health promotion [
] seeking to employ two gay or bisexual men to
>conduct fieldwork in identified public sex environments (PSE’s) in
>Barnet, Brent and Harrow.’
>–Barnet Healthcare NHS Trust advertisement, reprinted in The Guardian
>Weekend, 28 December 1996, 22
>again, in a social services context.
>i don't have the resources or the experience to do searches of the
>required sort, so this antedating exercise is open for anyone who'd
>like to try it.

Earliest cite I can find on Proquest is from Jan. '93:

Los Angeles Times, Jan 3, 1993, p. 25
Joel B. Tan, a Chinese-Filipino immigrant, is program coordinator for the
Asian Pacific AIDS Intervention Team, a nonprofit organization that
provides education on HIV and AIDS to the Asian-Pacific Islander
community. He was interviewed by Mary Helen Berg.
Monthly we pick several sites where we can find gay and bisexual Asian men
and we go to straight bars now where we can find what we call MSM - men
who have sex with men but who don't identify as gay or bisexual.

Nexis has some UK cites from later in '93, referring to a controversial
dance production by Lloyd Newson:

Financial Times, Oct 14, 1993, p. 13
MSM at the Nottingham Playhouse is dance theatre about men having sex in
public lavatories. It takes its title from the psychologists' term for men
who have sex with men, and its material from 50 interviews collated by the
Physical Theatre Company, DV8.
Sunday Times, Oct 17, 1993
The subject of MSM, which is the title of Lloyd Newson's new work for his
DV8 Physical Theatre company, given its British premiere last Tuesday at
the Nottingham Playhouse and now touring, is cottaging. No, it's nothing
to do with the charms of restful weekends in the country. MSM is a
sociologists' tag for Men who have Sex with Men in public lavatories. In
this area of human experience, the loo is called a cottage (in Britain,
that is - Americans have christened it, in the same context, the tea
The Independent, Nov 6, 1993, p. 52
MSM ("Men who have Sex with Men") is a comprehensive term devised by
sociologists who discovered that a lot of men who have sex with men do not
identify as gay or bisexual. The piece centres on encounters in public
lavatories (colloquially - and quaintly - known as "cottages"), a topic
that is largely taboo, even within the gay world.

--Ben Zimmer

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