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Kaylah DeLucia

on 21 December 2016

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Transcript of When

How has the word gay changed?
When you hear the word gay, what do you think of?
So what happened?
The word started to acquire sexual connotations in the late 17th century, being used with meaning "addicted to pleasures and dissipation". This was by extension from the primary meaning of "carefree": implying "uninhibited by moral constraints". By the late nineteenth century the term "gay life" was a well-established euphemism for prostitution and other forms of extramarital sexual behavior that were perceived as immoral.
Around the 1920s and 1930s, however, the word started to have a new meaning. In terms of the sexual meaning of the word, a “gay man” no longer just meant a man who had sex with a lot of women, but now started to refer to men who had sex with other men. There was also another word “gay cat” at this time which meant a homosexual boy.
So a word that started out meaning "happy" has ended up being used to dehumanize. Well, language changes, doesn't it? Many would see no problem with a shift driven by everyday speech.

It is a problem, especially for those who are actually gay, and for whom the word forms an important part of identity and sense of self. It might not be obvious to those who aren't. But the casual, insulting use of the word, in schools and elsewhere, hurts us. In fact, it seeps into the subconscious. It fuels people's perception of gay people as wrong or bad.
The only way to change that perception is to educate people on the language they use and how it really affects others.
The word gay actually existed as early as the 12th century with it originating from the Old French word, "gai" . The word originally meant "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy" and was very commonly used with this meaning in speech and literature.

The original meaning of the word gay remained until the late 17th century.
As the 20th century continued people noticed homosexuality more. The word gay in 1955 was officially added in the dictionary to
"of, relating to, or exhibiting sexual desire or behavior directed toward a person or persons of one's own sex; homosexual"
Unfortunately, the word gay among other negative LGBT+ words like faggot or queer have become tools for people to dehumanize those who are homosexual.
Although many people affiliate the word gay with homosexuality, the meaning of the word has changed dramatically over the course of history.
The linguistics behind the word "gay".
It was another way of saying someone was of loose morals and lived an immoral life.
Even in this day and age, with LGBT rights surging forward and popular support for equality growing at a surprising pace, homophobia still remains. One of the best examples of this is the phrase "that's so gay." Thus, the use of the word "gay" became a way to describe something negative, stupid, uncool, or worthy of mockery is appallingly common.
Language is key. Language is everything.
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