"Gay" in 1933; also "author's sexuality"

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Feb 17 16:29:56 UTC 2013

At 2/17/2013 07:34 AM, Shapiro, Fred wrote:
>The OED's first unambiguous citations for _gay_ 'homosexual' are
>dated 1941.  There are other citations going back as far as 1922,
>printed by the OED in square brackets,  that use the word _gay_ in a
>homosexual context but could be examples of other meanings of
>_gay_.  I do not claim that the citation below is an unambiguous
>example, but it certainly belongs in the square-bracket category.
>1933 _Baltimore Afro-American_ 21 Oct. 17 (ProQuest Historical
>Newspapers)  The products engendered by union of these decadents of
>changing sexes is generally an unenviable type of degeneracy
>characterized by homicidal or homosexual proclivities.  Sissies,
>fairies, pansies gay, The woods are full of them today.

A little more thought about removing the bracket from the above:

1)  The text explicitly includes "homosexual".  And it says
"characterized by homicidal or homosexual proclivities" -- did anyone
in 1933 really see "sissies [etc.]" as homicidal?  (Logic tells me:
"homicidal or homosexual; not homicidal; therefore homosexual.")

2)  The association of the other terms with homosexuality precedes 1933:
      sissy:  as "effeminate", 1887--
      fairy:  5.c, 1895--
      pansy:  3.b, 1926--

3)  And, of course, proof that I had not "interpreted
anachronistically in the light either of the context ... or of
knowledge about an author's sexuality" about the later, 1938 quote
from "Bringing up Baby".  :-)

P.S.  Should "author's sexuality" be replaced by "subject's
sexuality"?  In the 1922 quotation from G. Stein, she is writing
about two other people.


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