Understanding "LGBT" - Chapter GayTranslated by Choi Siu-wa, Edited by Karen L., Written by Wing
This time it is Gay’s turn in the series of "LGBT" after the previous brief introduction about Lesbian.
In medical terms, gay and lesbian are described as homosexual. The word "gay" originally means "happy" but it is no longer used to mean "happy" in modern daily life.
It has to be traced back to the 19th century at least (or even earlier) that the word "gay" acquired a meaning connected to sex. Male and female prostitutes were called "gay" for their bright-colored and beautiful clothing in the Victorian Britain. Later, "gay boys" became the form of address of all male homosexuals.
In the United States, the word "gay" may be derived from the hobo community. A young hobo, also called "a gay cat" or "a geycat", usually had to be on friendly terms with another elder and experienced hobo to get a chance to learn and live. As sexual relationship is part of it, "gay cat" turned to the meaning of "young homosexual". The insiders of homosexuals did not start to use this form of address until the WWII.
The word "gay" has commonly been used to address male homosexual since the rise of the Gay Liberation Movement in 1970 and it is also a form of address that the insiders accept. You cannot say "he is a gay" which is a common wrong use as the word "gay" is an adjective. The right way to say should be "he is gay", meaning "he is a homosexual". However, we should be aware that "gay" and "homosexual" are the most common uses. Although it is easy to list 10 or even more words about homosexual in American spoken language, only "gay" and "homosexual" do not carry a tone of vilification, and that is the reason why the mass widely accept these two words.
Tracing it back in history, there are a great deal of records of male homosexuals in ancient Eastern and Western culture, such as the marriage of Athenian Pausanias and the tragedian Agathon in the Classical Greece period, Long Yang Jun in the Chinese Warring States period, the relationship between the Emperor Ai of Han and Dong Xian in the Chinese Han Dynasty, etc. Thus we can see that male homosexuality has existed since in ancient times.
It is not hard to discover the dark side when we are tracing events in our history. Homosexuals received rather serious persecutions during the past thousands of years, and there were still large scale persecutions even in the early modern period. During the Nazi period in Germany, homosexuality prohibition has became one of the targets in the Nazi party platform since Hitler’s rise to power. Both organisations of homosexuals and scholarly works of homosexuality and sexology has been banned since 1933. Homosexuals in the Nazi party were killed.
According to estimates, there were 1.2 million open male homosexuals in Germany in 1928. From 1933 to 1945, about 100,000 males were registered as homosexuals by the police, and around half of them were convicted. Most of them were put in normal prisons, but 5,000 to 15,000 people were estimated to be imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. There is no clear number of deaths at the current moment but Ruediger Lautman, a well-known scholar, estimates that the death rate of homosexuals imprisoned in concentration camps was up to 60%. The homosexuals in prisons were treated cruelly by the arresters and were also persecuted by the other prisoners. This awful incident of persecution was neither recorded nor narrated in history books.
After persecutions for so many years and decades of affirmative movements, the mass has already accepted the existence of male homosexuals. However, the public in Hong Kong has considerable misconceptions towards our gay friends because Hong Kong people did not try to understand and were misled by TV series. It sometimes causes them to offend the homosexuals without any notice. "A man who wears an earring in his left ear is cool but in his right ear is gay," a saying within Hong Kong's community. This saying shows the misconception the public has because there is no such saying in the homosexuals' community.
Some may say, "all the gays are sissy. That’s what the TVB series shows us!" [Translator's note: TVB is a free-to-air TV broadcasters in Hong Kong] In fact, you cannot judge whether a pair of handsome guys is gay just by watching them in the street if they are not having intimate behaviour. The others may say, "many gays are actually very cool!" But I can say that not everyone is cool, at least for my gay friends.
"How do you differentiate the male and female role in a gay relationship?" The roles in homosexual may vary and it is not a simple black-and-white matter. It is not appropriate to explain a same-sex relationship with a male-and-female mode. For example, some couples' relationship is about care-taking and care-receiving. In their jargon, it is "an elder brother" and "a younger brother" respectively. Although it is common to see this kind of mode, it is fairly flexible that sometimes they exchange their role. Besides, a considerable amount of homosexual couples opts for the "equal" mode. They do not like the difference of role but the feeling of equal. Mutual respect is important in a relationship. People should be treated equally regardless of homosexuality or heterosexuality. Of course there are still many other different misconceptions that is too much to be listed here. The only way to shift it right relies on the mass's initiative to care about the gay friends around them and to avoid being misled by TV series and magazines.
In the end, I would like to recommend you a video about how a stranger hugs a gay person, which is really touching one. By and large, homosexuals are just normal people like everybody else.
(Photo: Passion Times)
(Photo: Passion Times)