[Ads-l] Further Antedating of the Term "Gay"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Tue Oct 13 01:15:10 UTC 2020

I have previously traced the term "gay," meaning homosexual, back to 1934, and that 1934 citation is now included in the OED as their earliest citation for the term.  Now I notice the following citation:

1931 _Broadway Brevities_ 2 Nov. in Hugh Ryan _When Brooklyn Was Queer_ (2019) 156   (heading) Third Sex Plague Spreads Anew ! Sissies Permeate Sublime Social Strata as Film Stars and Broadwayites Go Gay ... Brooklyn Navy Yard Center of Flagrant Camping for Gobs and Society Slummers.

I have not seen the _Broadway Brevities_ article itself.  I am aware that "to go gay" can have sexual meanings other than referring to homosexuality -- _Green's Dictionary of Slang_ has entries for it in the meaning "to commit adultery" and in the meaning "to pursue a career as a prostitute."  But the citation above seems to be clearly referring to homosexuality and the adultery and prostitution meanings do not seem applicable.

Fred Shapiro
YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)

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

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