Origin of "flamer"?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Dec 14 15:45:35 UTC 2006

At 9:26 AM -0600 12/14/06, Scot LaFaive wrote:
>I know of "flamer" as a gay man

more accurately = overtly effeminate gay man?  As
far as I can tell from the sources (including
Bruce Rodgers's _Gay Talk_ lexicon), it didn't
pick up on orientation as such, at least within
the gay world, but on effeminacy.  I could be
wrong, though.

>and I remember first hearing it sometime in
>the mid-90's, though I never heard a good reason why that word was chosen.
>If I had to guess I'd say it came from "flamboyant," since that's what it's
>always meant to me: a man who is flamboyantly gay.


So would, say, ex-Gov. McGreevey of N.J. be a
flamer?  Or the other members of the vast
majority of non-flamboyantly gay gay men?  What
of effeminate men who aren't in fact gay?

>HDAS has it to 1972.
>>From: Pam Norton <pcnorton at YAHOO.COM>
>>Reply-To: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Subject: Origin of "flamer"?
>>Date: Wed, 13 Dec 2006 22:54:42 -0800
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Pam Norton <pcnorton at YAHOO.COM>
>>Subject:      Origin of "flamer"?
>>    My 19 year old daughter has just informed me that there is a term
>>"flamer," not referring to flaming on the internet, but referring to gay
>>people. I have never heard of this, although I have heard of "flaming" as
>>an adjective equivalent of "flamboyant". She swears this is "old" usage,
>>e.g. from the '80's. I can see how this meaning would develop but does
>>anyone know the origin (and is it from the 80's?). I can't believe I've
>>never heard of this, so my feeling is that it's got to be something from
>>her generation. True?
>>Pam Norton
>>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>WIN up to $10,000 in cash or prizes – enter the Microsoft Office Live
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