homosexual, a person whose affectional and sexual orientation is towards members of the same sex. Although the word applies to both women and men (the differentiation is sometimes reinforced: gay man, lesbian woman), there is a sense that gay has been appropriated by men; many female homosexuals prefer to be known as lesbians ((From Lesbos; there is no corresponding eponym for a gay male.)
Etymology: In 13 th century France, gai / gahi refered to the cult of courtly love , a euphemism of the time for same-sex love, and gai / gaiol was a homosexual lover. In 17 th England, gay expanded from its earlier meaning of cheerful to include men with a reputation for promiscuity. Gay Lothario appeared the English in 1703. In the 18 th century the word gay was often allied to a women or girls to mean promiscuos or prostitutes; to be gay / gay in the legs (groin or arse) meant to be promiscuous; gaying it meant to copulate; a gaying instrument was a penis, a gay house was a brothel. In the 1890s, gay meant carefree, informal; to get gay meant to take (hetero)sexual liberties unimaginable just a decade earlier. The adoption of that word by homosexuals for self description originated during WWII, possibly by the adaptation of gey cat or gay cat , a prison and hobo slang term in the 1930s for a male homosexual, especially the homosexual companion of an older tramp. From Lawrence Paros in The Erotic Tongue (1984): ' Gay did not become associated with simulsex (early-20 th C.) activity until the early part of the twentieth century, and then it was primarily underground. It didn't go public with this meaning until 1925, with the gay boy in Australia, and 1935 in the United States in the film Bringing Up Baby , in which Cary Grant donned a dress and commented how he had gone gay. Between 1955 and 1960, it captured everyone's fancy, culminating in the joyous outburst of the seventies.' Cary Grant, dressed in Katherine Hepburn's pink negligé, is aked by the aunt why is he so dressed; he jumps high up and shouts: ' Because I suddenly went gay! '
(2) Vladimir Ivanoff (Robin Williams) a recent Russian immigrant to the US confronts a man who has been following him on the streets of New York in Moscow on the Hudson (1984):-- Vlad: ' FBI? '-- Man: ' FBI? No.'-- Vlad: ' KGB? '-- Man: ' KGB? No... G-A-Y.'-- Vlad: 'G?...A?...Y?... No! '
(3) Rachel (Liza D'Agostino) and Loretta (Nancy Allison Wolfe) in Bar Girls (1994):-- Rachel: ' Do you think I'm gay? '-- Loretta: ' What do you mean? '-- Rachel: ' Well, how do you know for sure? '-- Loretta: ' You just know that's all. It's like being French. Either you are or you're not.'
(4) Pino (Anthony de Sando) and a lesbian in Kiss Me Guido (1998):-- Pino: ' You're a lesbian? Hey, I'm sorry. You like girls? That's cool, me too, but you have no desire to do it with a guy? '-- Lesbian: ' Do you? '-- Pino: ' That's disgusting! '-- Lesbian: ' Exactly.'
(5) Murray (Donald Faison) to Cher Hamilton (Alicia Silverstone) about her friend in Clueless (1995): ' Your man Christian is a cake-boy. (...) He's a disco-dancing, Oscar Wilde-reading, Streisand ticket-holder friend of Dorothy. Know what I'm saying? '
2. Showing or characterized by cheerfulness and lighthearted excitement; merry.
3. Bright or lively, especially in color: a gay, sunny room.
4. Given to social pleasures