Following on from last week’s blog in recognition of LGBT+ History Month (‘L’ is for Lesbian), this week’s blog is ‘G’ is for Gay. So far there have been some great events happening in aid of LGBT+ History; if you didn’t make it to any of these, please don’t worry – we have an updated summary of events coming up later in this blog!
So… where does the word ‘gay’ come from?
The word ‘gay’ seems to have its origins around the 12th century, derived from the Old French word ‘gai’. The word’s original meaning meant something to the effect of ‘joyful’, ‘carefree’ or ‘bright and showy’.
However, around the early parts of the 17th century, the word began to be associated with immorality.
Fast forward to the 19th century and the word ‘gay’ referred to a woman who was a prostitute, and a ‘gay man’ was someone who slept with a lot of women (ironically enough!).
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.
By 1955, the word ‘gay’ officially acquired the new added definition of meaning ‘homosexual males’.
Gay men themselves seem to have been the driving force behind this new definition, as many felt (and many still do), that the term ‘homosexual’ was (and is) far too clinical, sounding like some kind of disorder!
As such, it was common amongst the gay community for people to refer to one another as ‘gay’ decades before this was a commonly known definition.
Since then, ‘gay’ meaning ‘homosexual male’, has steadily driven out all the other definitions that have floated about through time.
Fortunately, society now appears to be on a precipice where, for many, sexuality no longer exclusively defines who you are; sexuality is only one of many ways to define yourself, and calling yourself ‘gay’ increasingly carries less and less meaning beyond the gender of your sexual partner.
In this new world, the way we understand and use the word ‘gay’ may shift again, losing the meaning and identity it has acquired in recent years.
But, as Seb Buckle, author of ‘The Way Out: A History of Homosexuality in Modern Britain’ points out: “it is only by understanding the origins of the labels we so often use to define ourselves and others that we can begin to think about how we really want to be defined, and how we want to define others”.
Well Known Gay Celebrities
Sam Smith is an English singer-songwriter. He first came into focus after featuring on Disclosure’s first breakthrough single ‘Latch’, and his work in the music industry led to 6 Grammy award nominations, of which he won 4. In 2014, Smith publicly acknowledged he was gay, and thanked previous relationships for inspiring him to write music that won 4 Grammys.
Matt Bomer is an American actor, well known for his work in ‘Light’ (2001), the TV series ‘Chuck’, and his lead role in the USE Network series ‘White Collar’. Bomer has been married to publicist Simon Halls since 2011, and first publicly acknowledged he was gay in 2012. Matt and Simon now have 3 children and 2 twins.
Neil Patrick Harris
Neil Harris is a well-known American actor, producer, comedian, singer and TV host, most recognised for his character Barney Stinson in the television comedy TV series ‘How I Met Your Mother’. It was in 2006 that Harris came out as gay, saying ‘I am happy to dispel any rumors or misconceptions and am quite proud to say that I am a very content gay man living my life to the fullest and feel most fortunate to be working with wonderful people in the business I love’.
‘The Imitation Game’ is a 2014 British-American historical thriller starring Benedict Cumberbatch, a British cryptanalyst known as Alan Turing. The film portrays the real life story of Turing, and how he helped to decrypt German intelligence and ultimately assist the government and shorten World War II by 2 years or more. The film documents the life of Turing, a gay man in the 1950s, when romantic relationships between men were illegal, and you could actually be arrested if ‘caught’. In both the film, and real life, Turing was convicted in 1952 of indecency and chose to undergo chemical castration instead of going to jail. In 2009, Gordon Brown made a public apology on behalf of the government for the way he was treated, and Queen Elizabeth II granted Turing a posthumous pardon in 2013.
Important dates for your diary
12th February: LGBT+ Cake Sale
A cake sale to raise money for the LGBT+ charity ‘Schools OUT’;
11 – 2pm, Cardiff University’s Students union, opposite Starbucks.
17th February: Lunchtime seminar with Canon Jeremy Pemberton
Jeremy has recently been through an employment tribunal in relation to taking up a post as a hospital chaplain after marrying his same-sex partner;
12.30 – 13.30pm, Room 0.01, Psychology Tower Building, Park Place, Cardiff.
22 February: Ruth Hunt Talk and Q&A Session
Ruth Hunt is Chief Executive of Stonewall, an organisation dedicated to supporting and empowering LGBT+ people to be themselves. Ruth will be talking and taking questions about her career and her own experiences of being a lesbian and catholic.
5.30pm: Refreshments and Networking; 6pm: Talk and Q&A;
Hadyn Ellis Building Lecture Theatre, Cardiff.
This talk will focus on Hollywood movies, specifically bible epics and gay identities in America in the 1930’s;
6pm, Main Building Council Chamber, Park Place, Cardiff.
LGBT+ History Month Events Calendar details all of the events happening this month.
Don’t forget to look out for the flying Rainbow Flag
The Rainbow Flag will be flying above the Main Building for the month of February, and we would love you to share photos of/with the flag via facebook/twitter!
- For Facebook, please like @studentlifecu and share your photo with us, or tag @studentlifecu
- For Twitter, follow @studentlifecu and tweet your photo, and tag in @studentlifecu
Jo, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing Team
Counselling, Health & Wellbeing
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The Student Support Centre has a range of services dedicated to helping students make the most of their time at University, including: Advice & Money, Careers & Employability, Counselling, Health & Wellbeing, Disability & Dyslexia and International Student Support.
For further details of services, events, opening times and more find us on the University Intranet.