When did the term gay start

The words gays use for themselves
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  1. Site Information Navigation
  2. History of the Word “Gay”
  3. When Did the Word ‘Gay’ Stop Meaning ‘Happy’ and Start Referring to Homosexuals?
  4. Terminology of homosexuality - Wikipedia

Among some sectors of gay sub-culture, same-sex sexual behavior is sometimes viewed as solely for physical pleasure instead of romantic. Men on the down-low or DL may engage in covert sexual activity with other men while pursuing sexual and romantic relationships with women. The choice of terms regarding sexual orientation may imply a certain political outlook, and different terms have been preferred at different times and in different places. Historian and philosopher Michel Foucault argued that homosexual and heterosexual identities didn't emerge until the 19th century.

Prior to that time, the terms described practices and not identity. Foucault cited Karl Westphal 's famous article Contrary Sexual Feeling as the "date of birth" of the categorization of sexual orientation. In his Symposium , the ancient Greek philosopher Plato described through the character of the profane comedian Aristophanes three sexual orientations, [ example needed ] and provided explanations for their existence using an invented creation myth.

Most of the Symposium' s speeches are intended to be flawed in different ways, with the wise Socrates coming in at the end to correct their errors.

Although this term refers to a specific sex act between women today, in the past it was commonly used to describe female-female sexual love in general, and women who had sex with women were called Tribads or Tribades. As author Rictor Norton explains:. The tribas , lesbian, from Greek tribein , to rub i. The tribade was the most common vulgar lesbian in European texts for many centuries.

Fricatrice , a synonym for tribade that also refers to rubbing but has a Latin rather than a Greek root, appeared in English as early as in Ben Jonson 's Volpone. Its usage suggests that it was more colloquial and more pejorative than tribade. Variants include the Latinized confricatrice and English rubster. Though sodomy has been used to refer to a range of homosexual and heterosexual " unnatural acts ", the term sodomite usually refers to a homosexual male even though the real meaning is of unreproductive sex.

The modern association with homosexuality can be found as early as AD 96 in the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus.

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Lesbian writer Emma Donoghue found that the term lesbian with its modern meaning has been in use in the English language from at least the 17th century. The epic poem by William King , The Toast , uses "lesbian loves" and "tribadism" interchangeably: Named after the Greek poet Sappho who lived on Lesbos Island and wrote love poems to women, this term has been in use since at least the 18th century, with the connotation of lesbian.

In , a London magazine described sex between women as "Sapphic passion". The adjective form Sapphic is no longer commonly used in the English language, but saw a spike in use as LGBT slang during the early 's. Today, pederasty refers to male attraction towards adolescent boys, [12] or the cultural institutions that support such relations, as in ancient Greece.

The word homosexual translates literally as "of the same sex", being a hybrid of the Greek prefix homo- meaning "same" as distinguished from the Latin root homo meaning human and the Latin root sex meaning "sex". The pamphlet was written by Karl-Maria Kertbeny , but published anonymously. It advocated the repeal of Prussia 's sodomy laws. The first known use of homosexual in English is in Charles Gilbert Chaddock 's translation of Richard von Krafft-Ebing 's Psychopathia Sexualis , a study on sexual practices.

Although some early writers used the adjective homosexual to refer to any single-gender context such as an all-girls school , [ citation needed ] today the term implies a sexual aspect.

The term homosocial is now used to describe single-sex contexts that are not of a romantic or sexual nature. The colloquial abbreviation homo for homosexual is a coinage of the interbellum period , first recorded as a noun in , and as an adjective in Today, it is often considered a derogatory epithet [17] and mainstream media outlets restrict its usage. Popular in the s and s and still in occasional use today, particularly in writing by Anglican clergy , [24] the term homophile was an attempt to avoid the clinical implications of sexual pathology found with the word homosexual, emphasizing love -phile instead.

In Norway, the term is still widely used. Not all terms have been used to describe same-sex sexuality are synonyms for the modern term homosexuality. Terms such as gynephilia and androphilia have tried to simplify the language of sexual orientation by making no claim about the individual's own gender identity. However, they are not commonly used. In addition to the stigma surrounding homosexuality, terms have been influenced by taboos around sex in general, producing a number of euphemisms. A gay person may be described as "that way", "a bit funny", "on the bus", "batting for the other team", "a friend of Dorothy ", or "wearing comfortable shoes" for women , although such euphemisms are becoming less common as homosexuality becomes more visible.

The voluntarism of the medieval understanding of sodomy, that sodomites chose sin, gave way to the modern notion of homosexuality as a deep, unchosen characteristic of persons, regardless of whether they act upon that orientation. The effects of these ideas cut in conflicting ways. Since homosexuality is, by this view, not chosen, it makes less sense to criminalize it. Persons are not choosing evil acts. Yet persons may be expressing a diseased or pathological mental state, and hence medical intervention for a cure is appropriate.

They also sought to develop techniques to prevent children from becoming homosexual, for example by arguing that childhood masturbation caused homosexuality, hence it must be closely guarded against. In the 20 th century sexual roles were redefined once again. For a variety of reasons, premarital intercourse slowly became more common and eventually acceptable.

With the decline of prohibitions against sex for the sake of pleasure even outside of marriage, it became more difficult to argue against gay sex.

History of the Word “Gay”

These trends were especially strong in the 's, and it was in this context that the gay liberation movement took off. Although gay and lesbian rights groups had been around for decades, the low-key approach of the Mattachine Society named after a medieval secret society and the Daughters of Bilitis had not gained much ground.

This changed in the early morning hours of June 28, , when the patrons of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in Greenwich Village, rioted after a police raid. In the aftermath of that event, gay and lesbian groups began to organize around the country. Gay Democratic clubs were created in every major city, and one fourth of all college campuses had gay and lesbian groups Shilts, , ch.

When Did the Word ‘Gay’ Stop Meaning ‘Happy’ and Start Referring to Homosexuals?

Large gay urban communities in cities from coast to coast became the norm. The American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its official listing of mental disorders. The increased visibility of gays and lesbians has become a permanent feature of American life despite the two critical setbacks of the AIDS epidemic and an anti-gay backlash see Berman, , for a good survey.


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The post-Stonewall era has also seen marked changes in Western Europe, where the repeal of anti-sodomy laws and legal equality for gays and lesbians has become common. Broader currents in society have influenced the ways in which scholars and activists have approached research into sexuality and same-sex attraction. Some early 20 th century researchers and equality advocates, seeking to vindicate same-sex relations in societies that disparaged and criminalized it, put forward lists of famous historical figures attracted to persons of the same sex.

Historians and researchers sympathetic to the gay liberation movement of the late s and s produced a number of books that implicitly relied on an essentialist approach. In the s and s John Boswell raised it to a new level of methodological and historical sophistication, although his position shifted over time to one of virtual agnosticism between essentialists and their critics. Essentialists claim that categories of sexual attraction are observed rather than created.

Through history and across cultures there are consistent features, albeit with meaningful variety over time and space, in sexual attraction to the point that it makes sense of speak of specific sexual orientations. According to this view, homosexuality is a specific, natural kind rather than a cultural or historical product. Essentialists allow that there are cultural differences in how homosexuality is expressed and interpreted, but they emphasize that this does not prevent it from being a universal category of human sexual expression.

In contrast, in the s and since a number of researchers, often influenced by Mary McIntosh or Michel Foucault, argued that class relations, the human sciences, and other historically constructed forces create sexual categories and the personal identities associated with them. For advocates of this view, such as David Halperin, how sex is organized in a given cultural and historical setting is irreducibly particular Halperin, In a manner closely related to the claims of queer theory, discussed below, social constructionists argue that specific social constructs produce sexual ways of being.

There is no given mode of sexuality that is independent of culture; even the concept and experience of sexual orientation itself are products of history. For advocates of this view, the range of historical sexual diversity, and the fluidity of human possibility, is simply too varied to be adequately captured by any specific conceptual scheme. There is a significant political dimension to this seemingly abstract historiographical debate.

Social constructionists argue that essentialism is the weaker position politically for at least two reasons. Second, social constructionists argue that an important goal of historical investigations should be to put into question contemporary organizing schemas about sexuality. There are related queer theory criticisms of the essentialist position, discussed below. Only an essentialist approach can maintain the project of gay history, and minority histories in general, as a force for liberation. Today natural law theory offers the most common intellectual defense for differential treatment of gays and lesbians, and as such it merits attention.

The development of natural law is a long and very complicated story, but a reasonable place to begin is with the dialogues of Plato, for this is where some of the central ideas are first articulated, and, significantly enough, are immediately applied to the sexual domain. For the Sophists, the human world is a realm of convention and change, rather than of unchanging moral truth.

Terminology of homosexuality - Wikipedia

Plato, in contrast, argued that unchanging truths underpin the flux of the material world. Reality, including eternal moral truths, is a matter of phusis. Even though there is clearly a great degree of variety in conventions from one city to another something ancient Greeks became increasingly aware of , there is still an unwritten standard, or law, that humans should live under. In the Laws , Plato applies the idea of a fixed, natural law to sex, and takes a much harsher line than he does in the Symposium or the Phraedrus.

In Book Eight, the Athenian speaker considers how to have legislation banning homosexual acts, masturbation, and illegitimate procreative sex widely accepted. He then states that this law is according to nature d. Probably the best way of understanding Plato's discussion here is in the context of his overall concerns with the appetitive part of the soul and how best to control it. Plato clearly sees same-sex passions as especially strong, and hence particularly problematic, although in the Symposium that erotic attraction could be the catalyst for a life of philosophy, rather than base sensuality Cf.

Dover, , ; Nussbaum, , esp. Other figures played important roles in the development of natural law theory. Aristotle, in his approach, did allow for change to occur according to nature, and therefore the way that natural law is embodied could itself change with time, which was an idea Aquinas later incorporated into his own natural law theory. Aristotle did not write extensively about sexual issues, since he was less concerned with the appetites than Plato. Probably the best reconstruction of his views places him in mainstream Greek society as outlined above; the main issue is that of active versus a passive role, with only the latter problematic for those who either are or will become citizens.

Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, was, according to his contemporaries, only attracted to men, and his thought had no prohibitions against same-sex sexuality. In contrast, Cicero, a later Stoic, was dismissive about sexuality in general, with some harsher remarks towards same-sex pursuits Cicero, , The most influential formulation of natural law theory was made by Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century.