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According to Linda Wagner-Martin (Favored Strangers: Gertrude Stein and her Family (1995)) the portrait "featured the sly repetition of the word gay, used with sexual intent for one of the first times in linguistic history," and Edmund Wilson (1951, quoted by James Mellow in Charmed Circle (1974)) agreed.
Bringing Up Baby (1938) was the first film to use the word gay in apparent reference to homosexuality.
The term was originally used to mean "carefree", "happy", or "bright and showy".
The term's use as a reference to homosexuality may date as early as the late 19th century, but its use gradually increased in the 20th century.
Bisexual: A girl (or guy) who likes both girls and boys. Lesbian: A women who is sexually and emotionally attracted to other women.
For more information, click to read our article on the Top 4 Myths About Bisexuals. Lipstick lesbian: A lipstick lesbian is a woman who loves other women, but also loves her clothes and makeup and shoes.
In mid-20th century Britain, where male homosexuality was illegal until the Sexual Offences Act 1967, to openly identify someone as homosexual was considered very offensive and an accusation of serious criminal activity.
In modern English, gay has come to be used as an adjective, and as a noun, referring to the people, especially to gay males, and the practices and cultures associated with homosexuality.
By the end of the 20th century, the word gay was recommended by major LGBT groups and style guides to describe people attracted to members of the same sex.
In this use, the word rarely means "homosexual", as it is often used, for example, to refer to an inanimate object or abstract concept of which one disapproves.
The extent to which these usages still retain connotations of homosexuality has been debated and harshly criticized.