Gay, Defined Essay

1014 Words Dec 5th, 2012 5 Pages
Liz Schmidt
Kate Brady
English 101
October 9, 2012
Formal definition:
Gay (adj.) merry: happy and carefree; brightly ornamental or colorful; homosexual. (n.) A homosexual. (“gay”)
Synonymous definition:
Gay (syn.) merry, lighthearted, joyful, cheerful, sprightly, jolly, happy, joyous, gleeful, jovial, colorful, bright. (“gay”)
Negative definition:
Gay (adj.) unhappy, lacking color, heavyhearted
Because of the literal definition of the word, people that are homosexual are often seen as “colorful” and “cheerful”.
Etymological Definition:
Gay (n) usually male, homosexual. In middle English, it meant “excellent person” “noble lady” “gallant knight” or “something gay or bright”; “ornament or badge” (“gay”)2

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The slang meaning (homosexual) began to appear in psychological writing in the late 1940’s. At first, the word was used solely among homosexuals themselves, by mostly male prostitutes referring to each other, but also female prostitutes. (“gay-rights movement”) It seems to me that nobody ever really used the term as its true meaning “merry and happy”. However, there are songs in old musicals where they use it that way, so I guess that meaning wasn’t completely extinct. Although the “merry and happy” meaning of gay wasn’t really used a whole lot in the past, we do see the “bright and colorful” meaning in many Christmas songs. One well-known example is in “Deck the Halls”. The lyrics are “Don we now our gay apparel”; this most likely implies that they were dressed in bright colors. Without doubt, the word “gay” has a boundless history and has been used so many different ways in the past. A teenager walks into their favorite store, and immediately spots something they love. They see that the price is much more than they have currently, and furiously groans, “Fifty dollars? That’s gay!” When someone says “that’s gay” about something that they find just plain stupid, why don’t they just say “that’s stupid”? The improper use of this word may offend the homosexual community because it is a lot like calling them stupid. From my observation, this whole “that’s gay” thing started recently, within the last few years. Mostly young people started saying

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