After posting my last Blog I received the following e-mail from the UK and I hope the writer won’t mind my broadcasting it but I thought it interesting and worth repeating.
“Thanks for the interesting piece about the film, Skoonheid.
Interesting that the prize is called "Queer Palm".
Derogatory words have been used against us since the Semitic religions began, including that aberration of true Christianity, the Pauline version normally accepted as mainline Christianity today. The favourite among gay-bashers is "queer".
They are used to somehow dehumanise us. Give us an appellation that somehow implies we are not proper people, but somehow weird and "sick", and the next step is you can abolish our freedoms, put us into concentration camps or insane asylums, impound our property, hang us, burn us at the stake (in France only 400 years ago, gay men, if they weren't upper clergy or high aristocrats would have their tongues torn out with red-hot pincers before being burnt alive - to make sure they didn't confess and thus get into "heaven").
As someone (I think John Lauritsen - find him on the net) has written, the last thing a gay man hears, before he has his teeth kicked in or his head smashed open, is "fucking queer".
There are several, used by what Christopher Isherwood called "the enemy". Australians used to call them "squares". I call them "heteros" or "dismals". Some still cling to "normal", as though we're abnormal.
I am astounded at the glee with which some gay people have decided to "reclaim" some of these insulting appellations, "queer" being their favourite.
But there is one word that we were using to describe ourselves for decades, perhaps for centuries, and until 1970s, without the Dismals' being aware of it, namely "gay". The word is not a variant of the word that means light-hearted and carefree, though I am sure that overtone is always present, because it does describe us, too.
In this sense, it is cognate with the German and Dutch word "geil", pronounced differently in the two languages and meaning "horny" (US) "randy" (British); this relationship makes me wonder just how long the word would have been used in the perforce secret gay world before it surfaced generally in gay bars and pubs throughout the English-speaking world in the 1930s, when gradually the threat of persecution was receding. We know it was used in the 18th century to describe something sexually off-colour.
English and German or Dutch were last mutually intelligible almost a thousand years ago, but there have been several waves of German and Dutch immigration into England and Scotland since then. As I do not regard myself as "queer" or "bent" and the heteros as "straight", I describe myself as "gay", and avoid the pseudo-clinical term "homosexual" when I can, as I do not regard myself as "sick", either.
I'd love to see the film, but I'm pretty sure it's unlikely to surface here, though the town is full of dentists and doctors with Afrikaans names and S.A. degrees.”
Any comments? I believed ‘gay’ in earlier times was used to denote a prostitute.