Friday, 2 January 2009

Origin of words: Coming out and cruising

"Like much of campy gay terminology, 'coming out' was an arch play on the language of women's culture -- in this case the expression used to refer to the ritual of a debutante's being formally introduced to, or 'coming out' into the society of her cultural peers. ... An article published in the Baltimore Afro-American in the spring of 1931 under the headline
'1931 Debutantes bow at local 'pansy ball' drew the parallel explicitly and unselfconsciously." George Chauncey in Gay New York, the Making of the gay male world, 1890-1940

Dutch gay men in the early 18th century coined the word "kruisen", and their favourite cruising grounds were the quays along the waterfront. In Amsterdam in the 1760s many sodomites were arrested in the public toilets built next to the city’s numerous bridges; favourite toilets were given nicknames, such as The Old Lady and The Long Lady. In 18th-century London, gay men were regularly arrested in the Lincoln’s Inn bog house, on the east side of New Square, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The Savoy bog house was used so regularly by gay men that members of the Society for the Reformation of Manners often posted themselves outside and could be sure of making an arrest there. And in the Temple bog house in 1707 a hole had been deliberately cut in the partition wall between two stalls – making it the first recorded glory hole. Rictor Norton A History of Gay Sex

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