Sunday, February 25, 2024
Random Random Thoughts

G for Gay

Smiley
Pic via Pixabay

The first time I heard the word gay was during the English class while learning the poem Daffodils by William Wordsworth. The meaning of gay was taught as happy, lively, etc.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

Then somewhere along the way I learned that gay is used as a synonym for homosexual. I never understood how it got from happy to homosexual. My take on it – I guess homosexuals are much lively, happy, cheerful, lighthearted people, not serious or depressed or sad. I don’t understand who wouldn’t want to be gay then!!!

Lets explore the word Gay in detail.

Originated around the 12th century in England, the word Gay is derived from the Old French gai, which in turn was derived from a Germanic word.

Usage Note
In addition to its original and continuing senses of “merry, lively” and“bright or showy,” gay has had various senses dealing with sexual conduct since the 17th century. A gay woman was a prostitute, a gay man womanizer, a gay house a brothel. This sexual world included homosexuals too, and gay as an adjective meaning “homosexual” goes back at least to the late 1930s. After World War II, as social attitudes toward sexuality began to change, gay was applied openly by homosexuals to themselves,first as an adjective and later as a noun. It is no longer considered slang.Today, the noun often designates only a male homosexual and is usually used as a collective plural: gays and lesbians. Usage as a singular noun is uncommon and is sometimes perceived as insulting.
In contrast, gay in the sense “awkward, stupid, or bad” is often used with disparaging intent and perceived as insulting to gay people. Though some have argued that this sense is independent of the “homosexual” sense,and therefore not homophobic, the argument is weakened by the fact that“homosexual” has long been the dominant meaning of gay, and thus permeates its other usages.
References
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/gay?s=t
http://www.todayifoundout.com/index.php/2010/02/how-gay-came-to-mean-homosexual/
http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/gay
Linking this to ABC Wednesday.

 

Vinitha

An IT Professional, an author, an accidental blogger, a lover of words and a recent self-care addict. I love stringing words together, which I lovingly call a poem. You can read my affair with words at Void Thoughts(http://thevoidthoughts.com) and Reflections..(https://www.vinithadileep.com)

0 thoughts on “G for Gay

  1. Yes, it’s interesting how such a word seemed to get changed into meaning something totally different. I just googled it for interest and it comes up with both definitions as you mention above; however, the happy, lively definition is second…I imagine years past it would have been first of the two until it became more commonplace…who knows? <3

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