December 5th, 2008 | Uncategorized

So I’m still obsessively looking for that ancient Times clipping containing their first use of the word “gay” as opposed to “homosexual.” I don’t think it was in the article Sara linked to in the last post. And as I recall, I neglected to date the clipping, so finding it won’t yield any real information anyway. But you know how when you can’t find something, you sort of go crazy? I’m doing that. Maybe it’s just my way of settling down after all the hubbub about the NY Times review of The Essential DTWOF on Wednesday. But look what I ran across while rooting through my “clippings” folder! An article from my local paper from July 1, 1992. The first version was in the morning edition. The second, in the afternoon edition.

martina, am & pm

63 Responses to “serendipity”

  1. LA Steve says:

    Damn! I don’t know when was the last time something made me bark with such startled glee BEFORE COFFEE. Actually I hadn’t thought it possible.

  2. Debs says:

    Wow. That’s very, very funny. I’m imagining the conversation that went down at the paper’s offices that day as they frantically rushed to change it.


  3. NYCgirl says:

    Very funny. I save everything too, which really annoys my gf. Thinks like justify it all, though! I look forward to seeing the other clipping when you find it (and I know you will!).

  4. Anonymous says:

    HAAAA! Classic.

  5. Also, in my clippings file I found a clipping of an article about filing your clippings!

  6. NLC says:

    Pity the poor headline-writer…

    Not exactly on topic, but to add a favorite example of a phrasing being revised, mainly because the language changed out from under the writer:

    The Revised Standard Version [RSV] is a standard modern English translation of the Bible. Some time later an “updated edition” (the New Revised Standard Version [NRSV]) was published.

    Anyway, in Second Corinthians there’s a passage where St Paul, in trying to prove his status as an Apostle, lists the sufferings that he has undergone (“Three times I was beaten with rods, three times I was shipwrecked, …etc, etc.”).

    In the NRSV (published in the mid-90s) one item was updated to read as:
    “…once I received a stoning.”

    In the earlier RSV (published in 1952), this had been rendered as:
    “…once I was stoned.”

  7. Juliet says:

    Love the cuttings!

    For those of you on the US side of the pond, you might be interested (or appalled) to know that Martina is currently (well, for the next 15 minutes anyway, it finishes tonight) participating in the truly terrible ‘I’m a celebrity…get me out of here!’ in the UK.

    So if you want to bask in some Martina nostalgia and can put up with some of the trashiest TV on record in order to do so, you can probably watch back episodes here:

    As ridiculous as it all is, watching her jump between cars suspended over a lake on the 29th November was kinda hot.

    WARNING: DO NOT, I repeat NOT, google or read any tabloid coverage of her appearance – it is as appallingly homophobic as it ever was. *sigh*

  8. chriso says:

    That is too, too funny. I love catching things like that in newspapers. I have a cell phone pic of an issue of the SF Chronicle where the banner headline had the word “OYMPIC” instead of “OLYMPIC”.

  9. K8ie says:

    The front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer on the morning of Nov. 22 carried the headline “Obama to tap Clinton” (for Sec of State). I thought it was pretty funny (obviously, I read it as echoing the frat-boy idiom “I’d tap that”) but I was too afraid of seeming juvenile to point it out to anyone.

  10. Anonymous says:

    This may not be the clipping you were looking for, but see here for probably the first usage (1963) of “gay” in the New York Times meaning “homosexual.”

  11. Ellen O. says:


    Nice work in locating that article and the clips! Amazing reading.

    It is good to see how far we’ve come–while remembering how far we still need to go.

  12. the squealer says:

    ah… the days of the two daily papers- I miss that!

  13. Mabel says:

    Martina just came second on a UK reality game show. George Takei was third. I am not quite sure how this all fits in with the time line of queer recognition. And I am not sure whether it paints an altogether positive or negative picture of human society.

  14. R says:

    lol…it’s up there with that sign that read “lesbians against Bush’ at some anti George W Bush march

  15. ksbel6 says:

    I know exactly what you mean about not finding things. It makes me crazy!

  16. Ginjoint says:

    Anonymous, that article! Hysterical (in both meanings of the word) and sad. And check this:

    “Inverts are to be found in every conceivable line of work from truck driving to coupon clipping.”

    Dang, had I been alive and adult back then, I coulda clipped coupons for a living?! I wonder if this article may also be the Times’ first mention of gaydar, although they don’t call it that.

  17. R says:

    reading you

  18. Bookbird says:

    Ginjoint, it’s probably not grocery coupons. “Coupon cutters” at this time generally means people living off of investments. Bonds used to have little bits at the bottom which you had to send off in order to get your money.

    So the article is saying that gays are at all levels of society, from elites to lowly blue-collar workers.

  19. Sophie in Montreal says:

    Almost on topic, here’s a recent, surprisingly candid New Yorker cartoon with a gay couple at an office party:

  20. The Cat Pimp says:

    My father used to work for a very dry and boring trade newspaper. He enjoyed winging humourous headlines through the Humorless Filter. One he especially liked was a “Brouhaha” about moth pheromones as pest control.

    The NYT article is great. Although I “discovered” DTWOF over 20 years ago in a little science fiction bookstore, I feel the way the writer does – I always loved the diversity of the cast and found them all beautiful in their way.

  21. matthew davis says:

    You can search the NYT archive online. From 1981 many of the articles are free. In the very early 80s, the NYT will use “gay” as a synonym for homosexual but only when it features in quotations from gay people, or else because the group is called Gay Action or Gay Men’s Chorus or whatever , and therefore the Times can’t get around that fact.
    However this early travel guide from January 25, 1981 has a wholly unexpected, casual if discriminatory throwaway comment about gay bars.

    I’ve really enjoyed reading “Essential Dykes” since losing track of it about 10-12 years ago when at university.

    When I found this comic strip by Sharry Fleniken from 1980 I wondered if you’d ever seen it, since it is in many ways so positive for the time:

  22. Speaking of women getting wet ... says:

    Alison, you hafta hafta hafta throw us a bone for Inauguration Day. Maybe just a single panel of everyone doing a last-episode-of-Mary-Tyler-Moore group hug (except Cynthia, who’s off in the corner of the panel).

  23. bstngal says:

    Why is Martina wearing glasses while at a game? Why not wear contacts??? Is there a reason? This is going to bug me!

  24. Amyx says:


  25. Ginjoint says:

    Bookbird – yeah, I figured it had a different meaning then vs. now. And I knew that someone at this blog would tell me what it was. Thanks! What an interesting tidbit.

  26. Donna says:

    I don’t understand what’s wrong with Women Get Wet. It’s so bothersome how everything–*especially* anything having to do with lesbians–gets sexualized by heterosexuals. Seems like just another way make someone feel uncomfortable or dirty. Or maybe my sex drive is so low that all these things everyone else sees as sexual slip under my radar.

    No offense, but I don’t find anything titillating, sexual, or sexy about Martina Navratalova and her opponent getting rained on.

  27. NLC says:


    I can’t speak for anyone else, of course, but I agree with your basic point. There is, of course, nothing particularly wrong with the original headline. Rather, what I find humorous is –not the headline itself– but the fact that the newspaper felt obligated to make the change in the first place (which, in turn, only pointed out a reading of the original headline to which most folks would never have otherwise given a second glance.)

    (But, to given the paper the benefit of the doubt, it’s also true that there are folks who seem to spend much of their lives hanging around out there, searching for opportunities to take offense. 15mins browsing on the internet can give all the evidence necessary.)

  28. LondonBoy says:

    I took a look at the NY Times article. I’d bet good money that it was written by a gay man. The give-away is when he uses the then gay-specific word “cruising” without explanation. What is also interesting is the subtly subversive nature of the article. Although purporting to be neutral, it accepts pretty much all of the comments from the Mattachine Society at face value, and, although also presenting statements from various religions, is surprisingly unquestioning of pro-gay statements. The most interesting statement is in column 3, in the paragraph immediately after the heading “The Borderline Cases”: “… a single homosexual encounter would be unlikely to turn a young man toward homosexuality unless a predisposition already existed in the individual.” This is clever, because it undermines everything that has come before in the article from the Freudians, by in effect saying “well yes, you *may* be turned gay, but the (inherent) predisposition must exist first”. And, of course, any gay man new to NYC would have a far better idea of where to go to meet others after reading this article.

    On the subject of wet women, I have no useful comment, except to note that in London we used to have a Lesbian Strength march the weekend before Pride, which was apparently invariably rained on. The rumour I heard was that one of the organising committee was an avatar of Inanna, the goddess of rain (and love and war).

  29. Kelli says:

    Just the other night, an episode of Craig Ferguson was on, and he was musing about something. [All quotes paraphrased.] “Oh, that gives me an idea for a joke, but I won’t say it.”

    He paused for a moment, then continued: “Now it’s your fault if you think of it. Don’t get offended and write in, saying ‘Craig made an offensive joke’; YOU’RE the one who came up with the joke. It’s your own dirty mind. I didn’t say anything.”

  30. Breena says:

    Very funny! About why she is wearing glasses…I don’t have contacts, but I have heard people say that they dry out or move around. Maybe glasses are more secure.

  31. Riotllama says:

    A nice review in The Stranger, a Seattle weekly.

    also, Is anyone watching Obama’s adorable fireside chatty things? He’s so Roosevelty! New deal us please!

  32. Heidi says:

    To add to the discussion started by Donna above, I thought it was interesting that the paper changed the headline from “Women Get Wet” to “Women Bring Rain”. While the first one does immediately make me think of sex, it’s also a correct description of what happened at the event they’re covering. The second just doesn’t make a lot of sense. The women didn’t bring the rain, they just got rained on. But I supposed “Women Get Rained On” wouldn’t fit in the space allotted.

  33. The Freelance Cartoonist says:

    That was hardcore funny.

  34. Pam I says:

    @LondonBoy, really there were only two wet Lesbian Strength marches, they are just the most memorable. I wrote a report on one which began, three miles is a long way to walk when your shoes are full of water…. Wanna see photos? with the much dryer mixed marches too.

  35. LondonBoy says:

    Pam I:
    Thank you. I loved looking at the pictures of the old marches. The ones from 1985 were particularly moving, as they featured the “Support the Miners” campaign. At the time I was very dubious about the interaction between the two communities (I was, and probably still am, a Thatcherite at heart), but I’ll never forget how representatives of the mining communities came to that march, and how they supported us in return for our support. It was one of the first times a purely straight interest-group with nothing in common with us built bridges to the lesbian and gay community, on the grounds of a shared philosophy.

  36. --MC says:

    Some more praise to throw up on the stack: yesterday’s NYT Books section had a nice encomium from Douglas Wolk about the DTWO4 collection.

  37. felliott says:

    Interestingly, the first instance I find of the use of the word gay, in a manner that is not first preceded in the article by “gay” (you know, with the quotation marks keeping the cooties away from other words), is not much later than the 12/17/1963 artical cited by Anonymous. On 9/17/1964, a theater review refers to actors who are “…murderously funny in a take-off on homosexuals in a gay bar.” The next instance is 3/8/1967 in an article on the “CBS Reports” program on homosexuals. It refers to the program’s change from the original version, “…said to stress the more sensational aspects of the gay life.”

    Of course, both of these citations use gay following the use of homosexual. A question worth pursuing might be: when does the NY Times begin to use gay as the first/primary term?

  38. DeLandDeLakes says:

    Right up there with “While women like Gore, men prefer Bush.”

  39. Ellen O. says:

    Has anyone else seen this? Hilarious satire on Prop. 8.

  40. Ready2Agitate says:

    “My prom!” Cute.

    And nothing like dyke pride march pix do bring some warmth to the throes of freezing New England winter temps. Thx Pam I.!

    Topic-hijack: I’ve been kind of obsessed with “Milk,” the reviews, the interviews, info abt accompanying exhibits in CA, etc. A lot of herstory was left out of the story, but I thought it was surprisingly good.

    ps The NYT just ran an article abt Prop 8-the Musical:
    and then today a quick Q&A with Marc Shaiman, who made the vid:

  41. Ready2Agitate says:

    Wait, was that even a sentence? sorry – you get my gist, I hope.

  42. Birka says:

    I just read this: is anyone going for the “day without a gay” day tomorrow desember 10th???

    what do you think about it?

  43. Alex K says:

    Press clippings: At, a comic in which an artist describes her first steps toward seeing her graphic novel into print, and AB appears (misspelt, but still) as the touchstone of Choosing An Agent Of Excellence.

    It’s also an endearingly drawn story.

  44. Ginjoint says:

    Birka, I would LOVE to participate in that tomorrow, but I also have collection agencies hounding me for unpaid medical bills. (I know, excuses, excuses.) I don’t have any sick days coming to me, so if I don’t show up, I won’t get paid. Traitor to the cause? Probably. I’ll live with it.

    I think I’m also not too into it because in my case, it wouldn’t prove much of a point – my coworkers (and company I work for) are all pretty progressive, so my absence wouldn’t really change any minds or even plant any seeds. Instead, it would only cause aggravation and extra work for people I really like, and I don’t like the thought of that.

    But hey, for you activists out there, here in Chicago there’s an honest-to-Goddess sit-in going on! Laid-off employees of Republic Windows & Doors have occupied the building, saying they won’t leave until Bank of America (which cancelled its financing of Republic even though they were absolutely fine with being bailed out themselves by the government) guarantees them severance pay and accrued vacation pay. So, since Friday, about 200 people have been taking turns occupying the building. Dang, I love to see labor strike back.

  45. Ginjoint says:

    Alex K, not only did I enjoy that link, but the book involved will be a perfect gift for a friend of mine. Someone who’s quite hard to buy for. THANK YOU, Alex! One Christmas gift, down.

  46. Ready2Agitate says:

    “French Milk” — a very cool link indeed (from Alex K. to the artist describing the publishing of her comic memoir). Time to order it from the public library, me thinks…

    And good G-ddess, Ginjoint, you lost yer governor today! – what a schmuck!

    And I keep hearing BoA implicated in so many of these loan foreclosures. There was one in Boston – they refused to accept the terms of a reasonable agreement with a homeowner so she could stay in her home. I wrote a letter to BoA saying I’d close my account with them (how the hell they are backing the Working Assets credit card, I dunno), but then again, they can look me up and see quickly I’m smaller than potatoes, I’m hash browns. Anyhoo, they didn’t respond. Go Republic Windows & Doors!

    And get thee to a Change is Coming house party this wkd, ya’ll!

  47. ksbel6 says:

    I took yesterday day off. I’m lucky…I have plenty of leave coming to me 🙂 It was nice. I hung that picture in the living room I’ve been meaning to get up, caught up on laundry, read lots of my EDTWOF, and watched Ellen.

  48. cybercita says:

    i’ve seen “state by state” get a on a few ten best books of the year lists this past week here in new york. just in case we needed more reasons to be proud of you!

    ellen o, i’m off to watch that vid you posted.

  49. Acilius says:

    Way off topic, in the news New York Governor David Paterson is saying he’s interesting in appointing incoming American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, an out lesbian, to succeed Hillary Clinton in the US Senate. Sounds a bit interesting, don’t you think?

  50. mlk says:

    yes, thanks for the explanation of “coupon clipper.” I thought it referred to housewives clipping coupons to lower the grocery bill — a different way of saying that we’re everywhere 🙂

    what I love about the 2nd headline is how it empowers women . . . we can bring rain (at will)! WOW!!!

  51. Alex K says:

    Press clippings, bis et ter (if AB doesn’t post I may achieve quater and quinquies, yea, even beyond):

    THE TIMES (London) last week named THE ESSENTIAL DYKES TO WATCH OUT FOR among the ten best books of 2008

    and this week reviews the book itself, via Melissa Katsoulis

    — phrases such as “most skilled and intelligent female cartoonist of her generation” (who’s the man / other in competition, then? **SNARK**), “beautifully drawn”, “radical”, “addictive”, and “incomparable” are lavishly scattered throughout a review that concludes, “No one comes close to Alison Bechdel ad any chronicler of women’s lives, gay or straight, would be a fool to try.”

    Let me just reprise my best bit of uranian repartee, again knowing that I won’t meet the AB standard —

    “Yeah! What she said!”

  52. geogeek says:

    Hey, Alison, I keep hearing terrible weather news for your area. Hope you’re warm and not driving. My parents are glad they have a wood stove this week…

  53. Marj says:

    Off topic, but I ordered EDTWOF for my best mate for xmas, and it came this morning. And it’s BEAUTIFUL. Gotta order one for myself, now…

  54. Ian says:

    I’m gonna echo geogeek. We’ve been hearing news of an awful ice storm in the North East USA with powercuts a-go-go. Or should that be a-stop-stop? Anyhoo, do let us know you’re ok AB.

  55. Anonymous says:

    We’re cold but fine here in Northern Vermont. No ice storms or power outages.

  56. NLC says:

    Following up a bit on the above:

    The ice was worse the farther south and east you went.
    (North was mostly snow and way south and near the coast –like around Boston– was apparently much rain).

    The radio reported 36,000 without power in VT, 250,000
    without power in Mass (mostly western MA) and 400,000
    without power in NH (forget how many in Maine).

    Here in Vermont on the Mass border we lost
    power at Midnight Thurs night, and its still off
    now (Sun evening). A couple days without phones.
    (This is me typing at the library.)

    (I suspect my local –very rural– area may have been
    triaged. We’re dark here, but you don’t have to go
    too far to find places with power restored. But my
    fear is that after they got “most” of the local areas
    back on-line they may have moved on to help in other
    areas. Lots of local schools and fire stations have
    opened shelters to help folks without power [fortunately
    we have a generator]. Likewise, someone told me today
    it’s almost impossible to get a room at a local motel
    because of the power/phone crews staying there.)

  57. judybusy says:

    Thanks, Alex K for the “French Milk” tip! I just ordered it from the library.

    I would also like to share an author that many here might like: Catherine Friend. She writes children’s, non-fiction, and lesbian fiction. The non-fiction is about farming; her memoir, “Hit by a Farm” is hilarious, about how her partner realized her dream of farming and how Catherine dealt with it. The fiction is highly entertaining, and she just published “A Pirate’s Heart” a lesbian pirate novel!

    Here is her site: (And yes, I’ve plugged her before, but many months ago. I figured with the new book, worth repeating and getting the word out.)

  58. Squiggle says:

    Where in the world has Alison gone?

  59. Ready2Agitate says:

    I love this ~ don’t disturb her… I’m hoping she’s (gasp) working! (Or otherwise enjoying the acclaim of the Essential and having a good life 🙂 )

  60. Ready2Agitate says:

    ps In absence of the blog I’ve become addicted to little snippets of “Brothers and Sisters” on YouTube (no TV). How pathetic am I?