Today in LGBT History – September 12

Kelly and I are leaving on a long adventure, over three weeks in various countries in Europe including a bike trip on each of the Dalmatian Islands on the coast of Croatia. I’m very excited about it. Everything is set but I’m stressing over clothes: what to take, what I don’t really need. I usually take cruises so number of suitcases are irrelevant. This time, we need to travel light: one backpack and one medium-size suitcase. It’s going to happen with room to spare…somehow!

What to do today to resist: Sign up at http://standup.indivisibleguide.com to get calls to action on how you can stand up for immigrants on your home turf.


Today in LGBT History – September 12

1857, UK – The word gay, which appears in a pictured cartoon in Punch magazine, is used to refer to prostitution. It arrived in English during the 12th century from Old French gai, most likely deriving ultimately from a Germanic source. In English, the word’s primary meaning was “joyful”, “carefree”, “bright” and “showy”, and the word was very commonly used with this meaning in speech and literature. For example, the optimistic 1890s are still often referred to as the Gay Nineties. The title of the 1938 French ballet Gaîté Parisienne (“Parisian Gaiety”), which became the 1941 Warner Brothers movie, The Gay Parisian, also illustrates this connotation. It was apparently not until the 20th century that the word was used to mean specifically “homosexual,” although it had earlier acquired sexual connotations. The word may have started to acquire associations of immorality as early as the 14th century, but had certainly acquired them by the 17th. By the late 17th century it had acquired the specific meaning of “addicted to pleasures and dissipations”, an extension of its primary meaning of “carefree” implying “uninhibited by moral constraints”. A gay woman was a prostitute, a gay man a womanizer, and a gay house a brothel. The use of gay to mean “homosexual” was often an extension of its application to prostitution: a gay boy was a young man or boy serving male clients. Similarly, a gay cat was a young male apprenticed to an older hobo, commonly exchanging sex and other services for protection and tutelage. The application to homosexuality was also an extension of the word’s sexualized connotation of “carefree and uninhibited”, which implied a willingness to disregard conventional or respectable sexual mores. Such usage, documented as early as the 1920s, was likely present before the 20th century, although it was initially more commonly used to imply heterosexually unconstrained lifestyles, as in the once-common phrase “gay Lothario.” A passage from Gertrude Stein’s Miss Furr & Miss Skeene (1922) is possibly the first traceable published use of the word to refer to a homosexual relationship. Bringing Up Baby (1938) was the first film to use the word gay in apparent reference to homosexuality. By the mid-20th century, gay was well established in reference to hedonistic and uninhibited lifestyles and its antonym straight, which had long had connotations of seriousness, respectability, and conventionality, had now acquired specific connotations of heterosexuality. In the case of gay, other connotations of frivolousness and showiness in dress (“gay apparel”) led to association with camp and effeminacy. This association no doubt helped the gradual narrowing in scope of the term towards its current dominant meaning, which was at first confined to subcultures. Gay was the preferred term since other terms, such as queer, were felt to be derogatory. Homosexual is perceived as excessively clinical, since the sexual orientation now commonly referred to as “homosexuality” was at that time a mental illness diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). The sixties marked the transition in the predominant meaning of the word gay from that of “carefree” to the current “homosexual”.

1889 – Film star Maurice Chevalier (September 12, 1888 – January 1, 1972) is born in Paris. He was a French actor, cabaret singer and entertainer. He is perhaps best known for his signature songs, including “Louise”, “Mimi”, “Valentine”, and “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” and for his films, including The Love ParadeThe Big Pond and Love Me Tonight. His trademark attire was a boater hat, which he always wore on stage with a tuxedo. He was in a long term relationship with his valet, Felix Paquet.

1964 – Chip Kidd (born September 12, 1964) is born. He is an author, editor, and graphic designer, and is perhaps best known for the iconic covers of the novels Jurassic Park and Batman: Black and White.

1970 – “Lola,” the Kinks song about transvestism, enters the Billboard Top 40 where it stays for 12 weeks

1992 American actor Anthony Perkins (April 4, 1932 – September 12, 1992), known for his role as Norman Bates in the Psycho movies, dies from AIDS. He had exclusively same-sex relationships until his late 30s, including with actors Rock Hudson and Tab Hunter; artist Christopher Makos; dancer Rudolf Nureyev; composer/lyricist Stephen Sondheim; and dancer-choreographer Grover Dale. Perkins has been described as one of the two great men in the life of French songwriter Patrick Loiseau.


Let your voice speak out and change the world! 

 

Warmly,

Ronni

 

(Historical information obtained from a variety of sources including QUIST at facebook.com/quistapp, Back2Stonewall.com, Lavender Effect, DataLounge.com, Arron’s Gay Info, All Things Queer, RS Levinson, Amara Das Wilhelm, Safe Schools Coalition, and/or Wikipedia. If you wish to edit an item or add an item, please send an email to me at ronnisanlo@gmail.com. Thanks!)

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