Funny that after so many centuries people have lost the meaning of the word gay. People have also forgotten or don’t even care where the word comes from. Old French ‘gai.’ Joyful. Old Spanish ‘gayo.’ Portuguese, ‘gaio.’ There are so many influences and they all basically meant happy.
The G in LGBTQIA+ stands for Gay. What’s interesting is that the word gay, or the colloquial usage of the word, did not mean homosexuality. It meant happy, carefree. Songs have been sung with the word gay and it’s a ‘gay world.’
In the late 17th century the word gay changed to mean someone who is addicted to pleasures and dissipations. Or loose and immoral. Sometimes less uninhibited. Basically, if you were not following the rules and had a great time you were gay.
In the 19th century, gay was meant for men that slept with prostitutes. The term ‘gay it’ meant to go have sex. Today we call it getting laid. This is quite ironic considering that today if you’re gay it means you’re sleeping with another man. Not necessarily a prostitute. And ‘gay it’ nowadays means effeminizing.
Last century, mostly in the 1920s and 1930s, the word was used to describe men who had sex with other men. What’s interesting is that they called the boys ‘gay cat.’ How did they know? Homosexuals called themselves ‘gay’ before it became official in the 1960s.
The word Homosexual seems too clinical. Too stoic and it was difficult to say it and toss it around. By 1955, the word gay referred to homosexual men. So instead of saying, ‘I’m a homosexual,” we say “I’m gay.” It’s cuter, faster, and far less clinical.
So today we can ‘gay it all up.’ However, due to the increasing broadening of the word, we use ‘gay’ very loosely. We use it to describe an entire population with the same likes. We also use it to describe anyone who is not “normal.” Yet, we are all normal, so why the differentiation?
Gay also refers to women who are attracted to women. Also to a community. And of course, to define any kind of action of a man that seems effeminate. “So gay.”
Here’s some trivia for you: In the 1938 movie Bringing Up Baby, Cary Grant wears a feathery robe because he went gay. This is the first movie to use the word Gay to mean a man who is Effeminate.