I mentioned this briefly in a post already on are traps gay? and so I wanted to follow up with some actual proof of my claim. My claim being that “gay” as a word only exists because of society’s desire to say “that right there? that’s bad, that’s gay.” Although the word “gay” today is a little more positive and has been ‘taken back’ by people who use it – there is still a sense of “that’s bad, it’s gay” around – especially in regards to trans people.
So lets take a quick look at the history of the word “gay”. Originally it was a word that meant something like carefree, happy or bright and showy. Which all seems fairly positive and good, so how could it ever be considered bad you ask? Well I shall tell you. Around the time gay started to become to mean homosexual, a huge cultural shift was about to occur. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the first recorded uses of the words “gay” meaning homosexual, was in 1941. The quotation is as follows:
Gay, an adjective used almost exclusively by homosexuals to denote homosexuality, sexual attractiveness, promiscuity..or lack of restraint, in a person, place, or party. Often given the French spelling, gai or gaie by (or in burlesque of) cultured homosexuals of both sexes.
G. Legman Lang. Homosexuality in G. W. Henry Sex Variants II. 1167
Obviously the huge cultural shift was as a result of World War II. A lot of the countries who played a part in the war came out of it with a fairly different national identity. Warfare had reached this new height, this terrible height and its fair to say that we were all a bit shaken. We had to start getting serious about stuff, we had no other choice but to pull our war torn countries up by their bootstraps, there was no time for “carefree”, no time for “bright and showy”. Hedonism was officially on the naughty step and it was time to stick to the straight and narrow.
Gay had already come to mean homosexual because of its use by homosexuals for that purpose. Homosexuality being considered a mental illness at the time sure didn’t help anything, but the connotations of gay meaning carefree in a society that had no time to be carefree and was desperate to enforce order over a country thrown into chaos for years helped push the the negativity towards gay people up even more. It stopped just being this happy-go-lucky, carefree, bright and showy, camp, effeminate kind of person, it started being something that you had a moral obligation to stamp out.
A disturbing example of this would be in 1952 when Alan Turing, wartime code-breaker and father of the thing you’re reading this on was caught being gay. His contributions to Britain were incredible, though this didn’t stop him from being arrested for gross indecency, for being gay. This lead to him being offered imprisonment, or chemical castration. He chose chemical castration. Which is all very much beyond fucked up.
It wouldn’t be until 1967 where laws in the UK started to ease up on homosexuality with the Sexual Offences Act. In essence, this was somewhat a legalisation of gayness, but not exactly. I won’t go too much into detail here, but eventually gayness was totally legalised.
Though attitudes towards gay people have improved significantly, the same few things consistently pop up when you talk to people who are genuinely homophobic. You may even have heard of one of the buzzwords – degeneracy. It would be foolish to not appreciate how this harks back to the “regeneracy” culture of post-war societies and their moral obligation to push people into being on the straight and narrow for the good of the nation!
This is all why I think that we should drop the sexuality labels in general, historically speaking they’ve served no positive purpose and only been used to divide. Even in modern day times they’re used that way too to some degree, though admittedly there is a far more positive attitude around these words also. Nowadays I don’t really feel they serve any major purpose other than to virtue signal about how inclusive you are or if you’re playing the identity politics game to signal how “”””oppressed”””” you are- neither of which I’m interested in.
I’d like to end on a question, why say “I don’t suck dicks, that’s gay” – why not just say “I don’t suck dicks”? What is the function and purpose of adding “that’s gay” into that sentence? Hit me up in the comments or over on the Twotter.