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Word Count: 453
The word gay originated from the Old High German word gahi which means rapid and impetuous In the twelfth century the word gahi gave rise to the Middle French word gai meaning merry and happily excited The English word gay was borrowed from the Middle French word gai in the fourteenth century The word gay greatly reflects the cultural changes in English speaking countries In English the word was used to indicate excessive heterosexual activity However today the word gay is often applied to male homosexuals Before the 1900s gay had been used as both positive and negative terms Many authors used gay to indicate cheerfulness Edward was the handsomest the gayest and the bravest prince in Christendom 1843 Lytton Last Bar I i In the seventeenth century gay acquired a similar but more sinister meaning of addicted to social pleasures and dissipations In the eighteenth-century play The Fair Penitent Nicholas Rowe the creator of the play called the main character Lothario Gay Lothario Lothario had become more generic for a seducer However this sense of gay had almost always been applied to men exhibiting vigorous heterosexualityAfter the 1900s the definition of gay has evolved to imply homosexuality In the 1920s the devil-may-care sense of gay gave rise to gaycat a term originated in hobo slang meaning a young and inexperienced tramp The young hobo needed to attach himself to a veteran in the community in order to survive The relationship between the youth and the older man often turned into a sexual liaison However gay as an independent adjective meaning homosexual surfaced in the early 1900s After World War II as social attitude toward sexuality began to change homosexuals applied the term gay to themselves openly Since the 1950s the understanding of the homosexual sense of gay had evolved greatly Gay not only means exhibiting homosexuality but can also apply to things that are related to or used by homosexuals such as gay bar
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