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Jewish World Review Oct. 29, 1999 /19 Mar-Cheshvan, 5760

Greg Crosby

Greg Crosby
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When my wife was
young and Gay -- MY WIFE IS ANGRY at the gay community and I donít blame her. Itís nothing personal, mind you. Let me state for the record that my wife is not homophobic. She has nothing against homosexuals as human beings, as long as they mind their own business and donít hurt anybody. Her problem is not who they are, it is what they are called.

Jane was born at a time (Discretion and self preservation preclude me from mentioning the specific year of her birth, but let us say it was pre-sixties) when being gay meant you were happy and carefree. Homosexuals could be gay, but not necessarily all the time. Heterosexuals could be as gay as homosexuals, sometimes gayer. If a man said, ďIím feeling quite gay today.Ē it didnít mean that he was getting in touch with his feminine side, it only meant he was feeling light-hearted. Gay was a word with no sexual connotation attached to it, only happiness and good times. It was in that more innocent era that Janeís father gave his daughter her middle name -- Gay.

As a child she adored her middle name, partly because of its cheerful meaning and partly because her father chose it. She included it always when writing her name on school papers or introducing herself. She was proud to be Gay long before there was gay pride.

There she was, Jane Gay, minding her own business with her cute little name, when all at once the sixties kicked in (Itís always the sixties, isnít it?). Although the term had been used formerly in the homosexual counterculture, it was not widely known by the general public until then. Suddenly homosexuals were claiming the word as their own. That cheery little innocuous word all at once took on a new meaning. Jokes began. The Gay Caballero --- hahaha.

The Gay Blade---hohoho. Marvin Gaye ---hehehe. And little Jane Gay was forced to become just plain Jane.

In less than a generation, her middle name became synonymous with men who have sex with men, a concept that has about as much relevancy to my wifeís life as Siberian ice fishing. She understandably felt sheíd been robbed of a third of her name. Thereafter, when asked to write out her name in full, she eliminated her middle name and even avoided her middle initial for fear of the dreaded question: ďWhat does the G. stand for?Ē

And what about the rest of us? Heterosexuals can never be gay again -- at least not with a straight face.

Iíve often wondered --- if homosexuals can be gay, why canít lesbians be happy? Or at least pleasant.

Then weíd have the gay and pleasant communities. I wish we could be consistent with this thing. Either letís have the homosexuals and lesbians, or the gays and pleasants. Iím willing to live with it one way or the other, but not all mixed up as it is now. Of course, used in itís most literal definition, homosexual applies to both men and women. A female homosexual, however, is specifically a lesbian, while a male homosexual is a ...what?

There is no specific term that I am aware of for male homosexuality. Which might explain why the word gay was adopted . As of late, though, Iíve heard the word applied to lesbians, too. Now since they already have their own word, I really donít think this is very fair, do you?

Why canít we all just agree on a word for something and stick to it? Homosexual should be a fine word for, well, homosexuals. But homosexuals want to be called gay, and as my liberal friends might point out, ďshouldnít people be allowed to call themselves whatever they want to be called?Ē

Okay, but fair is fair. I do not recall being given the chance to vote on the word ďstraightĒ and I donít particularly care for the term as applied to heterosexuals. Straight sounds like strait laced. Just because I happen not to engage in sex with boys doesnít mean Iím a prude. If heterosexuals are straight, does that mean that homosexuals are crooked?

My wife is neither crooked nor homosexual, but she is Gay. And a Jane Gay by any other name, I would love just as much.


JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. You may contact him by clicking here.


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09/24/99: The Getting Away With It Decade
09/17/99: The Scoop of the Century
09/09/99: Important Millennium Advisory
09/03/99: Ask Mr. Politically Correct Man
08/26/99: Broadcasters, Please mind Your Manners
08/19/99: The Golden Age of Jerkdom
08/12/99: Dressing Down...and Out

©1999, Greg Crosby