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Laura LaPlant, Janet Jobless, and Petunia Patrolman: Selections From A Gay Lexicon


Has somebody recently called you Miss Fairgrounds or wished you a Happy Easter, Sugar... in June? You can find out what they meant in the basement of Jefferson Market Library.

Published in 1972 by Straight Arrow Press, Bruce Rodgers's The Queens' Vernacular: A Gay Lexicon offers an exhaustive and often hilarious collection of gay slang, mostly from the 1950s, '60s, and early '70s, though some are earlier. Rodgers worked for years compiling more than 12,000 entries.

In the book's forward, editor Douglas Mount describes the collection process of "interviews with hundreds of informants whom Bruce Rodgers sought out in bars, steam baths, dance halls, public johns and on street corners." Most of the thousands of definitions can't be revealed here, but can be viewed in Jefferson Market Library's reference collection, or at the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building.

Here are a few terms, pulled straight from the lexicon, to get you started:

advance a storm (kwn SF, black gay sl, 70) to work up a sweat from dancing or other forms of exertion. "I'm advancing a small storm, girl; this funky pigeon is too much!" 

darling Daisy Dumpling (kwn SF, 70) the epitome of middle class femininity; legally wedded wife. "I do hope he doesn't bring his darling Daisy Dumpling with him, or we'll have to admire the pink booties she's been knitting for the last two years"

God help us all and Oscar Wilde (proverb, Brit gay sl) a quick prayer for the earth's poor souls with an additional indulgence for Oscar Wilde

Many listings denote a time when homophobia was much more socially accepted, and gays often faced harassment by police:

Lilly Law (camp) the police, crime-fighters paid to protect us from each other (muggers, rapists, etc.) and not from ourselves. "Lilly Law's gonna getcha if you don't watch out!"

Bobsey Twins, Dolly Sisters or the Gold Dust Twins: two cops making their beat in a prowl car

And if you want to know what any of the terms in this blog's title mean... you'll have to come to the Library to find out!


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