Gay is a noun or an adjective that primarily refers to a homosexual person or the trait of being homosexual.
The term was originally used to refer to feelings of being "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy". The term's use as a reference to homosexuality may date as early as the late 19th century, but its use gradually increased in the 20th century. In modern English, gay has come to be used as an adjective, and as a noun, referring to the people, especially to males, and the practices and cultures associated with homosexuality.
By the end of the 20th century, the word gay was recommended by major LGBT groups and style guides to describe people attracted to members of the same sex. At about the same time, a new, pejorative use became prevalent in some parts of the world. In the Anglosphere, this connotation, among younger speakers, has a derisive meaning equivalent to rubbish or stupid (as in "That's so gay."). In this use, the word does not mean "homosexual", so it can be used, for example, to refer to an inanimate object or abstract concept of which one disapproves. This usage can also refer to weakness or unmanliness. When used in this way, the extent to which it still retains connotations of homosexuality has been debated and harshly criticized.
Famous quotes containing the word gay:
“How the mother is to be pitied who hath handsome daughters! Locks, bolts, bars, and lectures of morality are nothing to them: they break through them all. They have as much pleasure in cheating a father and mother, as in cheating at cards.”
—John Gay (16851732)
“My brain sang
a rhythm I never dreamt to sing,
I will be gay and laugh and sing,
he is going away.”
—Hilda Doolittle (18861961)
“Coming out, all the way out, is offered more and more as the political solution to our oppression. The argument goes that, if people could see just how many of us there are, some in very important places, the negative stereotype would vanish overnight. ...It is far more realistic to suppose that, if the tenth of the population that is gay became visible tomorrow, the panic of the majority of people would inspire repressive legislation of a sort that would shock even the pessimists among us.”
—Jane Rule (b. 1931)