Over Christmas a friend of mine gave me a copy of The Toronto Star’s Stylebook from 1983. I started paging through it yesterday. Wherein I learned a new word for stripper — ecdysiast (from ecdysis, the process of a snake shedding its skin) — and a deeper definition for the word echelon (a military formation where one unit is ahead and to the right of the next one back).
The Toronto Star defines “gay”, in 1983.
They also have this entry on use of the word gay, a linguistic before-picture. The last line is my favourite.
gay and gays are not yet permitted terms for homosexuals; it is true that homosexuals do refer to themselves as gay, and there is a distinguishable gay community, so the word is in common use; but it’s still not quite accetable to the majority of people who think gay, with its connotation of carefree joy, has been usurped; so don’t, at least not yet, use the word in copy outside of quotes or — and this, admittedly, poses problems — in headlines either; and consider, finally, whether your subject’s sexual orientation is relevant anyway.