Date: Thu, 29 Feb 1996 22:04:36 -0500 From: Al Futrell Subject: Re: gaycat, gay > 1. I think it extremely unlikely that GAY 'homosexual' is related to the term > GAYCAT that Al describes; and I notice that Ron offers no evidence besides his own belief on this. He doesn't dispute that gaycat was a term used for homosexual (albeit a special type of homosexual), but he feels that any connection between gaycat and gay is unlikely. Why is it unlikely? The quotation below explains that the term was not part of the subculture, perhaps, but that doesn't mean there isn't a connection. Terms often take on different connotations once they enter the lexicon of a subgroup. "Gaycat" may not have been part of the "homosexual" lexicon and thus wouldn't appear in cult novels, but it was a term used by criminals to refer to homosexuals. It doesn't look like much of a stretch to clip it back to "gay." Maurer collected "gay" in the 40's within the drug subculture. I am curious as to why Ron feels that the two terms have separate etymologies. "Gay" has a long history of being a term of derision with sexual overtones. A "gay house" has long been a brothel. Grose (at least the 1811 rewrite) has a "gaying instrument" for penis. Henley and Farmer list several uses of "gay" in the 19th century, all of which relate to venery, including "avoir la cuisse gaie: to be addicted to the use of men." Clearly, some uses of "gay" refer to women, but always to women of questionable morals (strumpet, prostitute, mistress). In that regard I would note that the underworld used the term 'gal-boy' and 'gaycat' to mean the same thing. A gaycat was a passive pederast, much like a "punk" is in prison, and performed a task not unlike that which prostitutes perform. It is not surprising that the term would NOT be used by the homosexual community, but it seems quite surprising that given these uses of "gay" and "gaycat" that in the 20th century we would conclude no common history.... I confess that I haven't done a full scale search for the term, as Ron may have, and I certainly haven't studied it in a context that he write about, but what little I know about it seems to suggest to me that "gay" and "gaycat" have some common roots. > 2. Even written transcripts of likely conversations from the 1930s and > earlier do not use GAY 'homosexual'--nor do any of the gay cult novels of the > 1920s and 1930s--though they do use GAY often in other senses. (RANDOM HOUSE > DICTION ARY OF SLANG lists one possible cite from such a novel, but I dispute > it and it is at gesrt ambiguous.) Al Futrell - al[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] University of Louisville - Department of Communication