Great Job, Internet!: A flamboyant discussion of cinema’s code words for homosexuality

Call them “eccentric,” “curious,” “inquisitive,” or “improbable.” Just don’t actually call them gay or lesbian, at least not in a movie. That was the unspoken but widely followed rule in Hollywood for decades. Homosexuality was once known as “the love that dare not speak its name,” a turn of phrase adopted from the work of English poet Lord Alfred Douglas. The movies had plenty of other names for gay and lesbian characters, however, as discussed in a thread at MetaFilter. The jumping-off point for the thread is a pair of semi-satirical articles from 2015 by Mallory Ortberg: “Code Words For ‘Gay’ In Classic Films” and “Code Words For Lesbianism In Classic Films.” Ortberg’s lists, written in collaboration with “left-handed whisperer Connor Goldsmith,” contain a mixture of real and made-up examples, and both get sillier as they go along. Some real doozies here include: “in the way of uncles …

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