Tag Archives: Gertrude Stein

The origin of the word “gay” as a euphemism for homosexuality

Loxist bulldyke Gertrude Stein

In the first half of the 20th century, the word “gay” was synonymous with “happy” or “joyous.” Now it refers to homosexuality. How did such a formerly innocent, innocuous term come to be associated with something as unsavory and unsanitary as queer buttsex?

From the Wikipedia article on the word “Gay”:

“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. According to Linda Wagner-Martin (Favored Strangers: Gertrude Stein and her Family (1995)) the portrait, ‘featured the sly repetition of the word gay, used with sexual intent for one of the first times in linguistic history…'”

From the Wikipedia article on Gertrude Stein:

“Gertrude Stein, the youngest of a family of five children, was born in 1874 in Allegheny, Pennsylvania (merged with Pittsburgh in 1907), to well-educated German-Jewish immigrant parents.” [Emphasis added. -IA]

As can be readily seen, use of the word “gay” as a euphemism for homosexuality is yet another instance of the jewing of the English language.