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Unconventional knowledges about gay that you can’t learn from books
The word gay (noun or adjective; plural: gay is a way of designating male homosexuals, that is, men who are sexually and emotionally attracted to other men.
The main difference between the names “gay man” and gay (which until the 1970s meant “happy” or “funny” in English) is that the latter is a positive term, imported from English and originally chosen by the gay community of San Francisco (California, United States) to refer to themselves.
Whereas “homosexual” is a neologism, originally in English it had negative connotations related to a pathology, disease. It was coined in 1869 by the Austrian writer Karl-Maria Kertbeny and popularized later by the German psychiatrist Krafft-Ebing.
In Spanish-speaking countries, gay refers almost exclusively to the masculine gender (therefore, it does not apply to lesbian or transgender women), whether they are out of the closet. Transformation and transsexuality are independent phenomena (between yes and with the gays), which may or may not be related; For example, a transsexual man can be both gay and straight and a man who is not gay can be a transformer.9 Although it is also used in some countries to designate or qualify the female gender; to avoid confusion, it is often spoken of «gays and lesbians», although for some interpretations this expression is redundant.
The term “gay” is an Anglicism or loan of Occitan origin and not of the English language, as popularly believed; since in fact that of the derivative of English, refers to assumed homosexuality.11 This term was included in the twenty-second edition of the Dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy (DRAE), 2001 edition. It comes from the Provencal word gai (in Castilian gayo, as in La Gaya science) and means cheerful or rogue. With such sense the poet Antonio Machado uses it in the poem “Portrait” that he published in 1906 in the newspaper El Liberal and that later appeared in his book Campos de Castilla, where he speaks of “gay trinitarian” to indicate that he was not a bird of those who sing happily.
In Victorian England, the term “gay” applied to men who exercised homosexual prostitution, because of the happy way they lived and the way they dressed. Finally, the term gay boy (literally “happy boy”, “prostitute” or “Taxi boy”) became synonymous with homosexuality within the English language.
In Spain, and in colloquial language; low-status homosexual prostitutes are often referred to as “chapero” (one who charges in “badges”, meaning “badges” like loose coins or change). In Argentina, on the other hand, the male prostitute is often referred to as “fucking” or “taxi boy.”
In the cinema, the first film that used this term, was the film Bringing Up Baby of 1938, with Cary Grant.
Gay or homosexual?
A large part of the Spanish-speaking gay associations, long ago opted for the use of the term “gay”, as opposed to homosexual, opting to disseminate its use and including it in their names, as they do COGAM (collective of lesbians, gays, transsexuals and bisexuals of Madrid) and FELGTB (state federation of gays, transsexuals and bisexuals) of Spain, reflecting the predilection for this term of its associates. Similarly, web pages and specialized media in the collective preferably use “gay”. Although there are other associations such as the CHA (Argentine Homosexual Community) of Argentina or the MOVILH Homosexual Liberation Movement of Chile that opt for the other term.