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The main reason for the continued use of the phrase "gay and lesbian" is, quite simply, the existence of lesbians. In our society, "gay" means almost exclusively male homosexuals. Many activist lesbians dislike being called gay as they feel it deprives them of their separate, unique lesbian identity.

However, there are many opinions on this. There are lesbians who are fine with being called gay, and there are lesbians who will smack you pretty hard.

It's not a conspiracy, and it's not a subtle linguistic quirk.

It's politics, just like everything else.

Also, the dictionary definitions of gay and lesbian are never to be trusted, anymore than you would trust the dictionary definition of "rave".

This is a response to a soon-to-be deleted writeup, which asked why people use the phrase "gay and lesbian". The writer viewed lesbianism as a subset of gayism, and thought the phrase was ridiculously redundant.

semicolon wrote: Can anybody tell me why this is such a popular phrase? I mean, if the dictionary defintions of gay and lesbian are to be trusted, lesbianism is a type of homosexuality -- that is, a subset. Within the big circle of homosexuality exist the two smaller circles of male homosexuality and female homosexuality. And yet, the phrase "gays and lesbians" perseveres.

I may actually have an answer for your conundrum, semicolon.

People in general don't find female homosexuality as 'scary' as male homosexuality. It may be a guy thing, since I've found men to be more homophobic as a group when compared to women. Actually, many straight men get turned on by two women going at it, to the point where women-on-woman action appears in many popular adult videos. Put a man-on-man scene in there, and you've lost 90 percent of your market.

Take a look at the offensive slang used against homosexuals. I'd wager you can think of five times as many offensive terms for gay men than you can for lesbians. I believe the term gay is used to describe homosexual males because it's one of the few terms that do not have such a negative connotation. For example:

  • John Smith is gay.
  • John Smith is a homo.
  • John Smith is a fag.
Note: Several friends of mine who were gay used these terms back in the late 1970's to early 1980's to describe each other in a non-offensive way.

Which one of the above has the least offensive wording? While this may vary by culture and language, the English language is morphing, and when one starts using a term as an adjective, it tends to pick up a different shade or colour. I believe this is the case where gay and lesbian are concerned. The old terminology has tainted the language pool to the point where describing a homosexual male as a gay man is the least offensive method.

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