Friend of Dorothy

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Judy Garland in her role as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz is one of two likely origins for the phrase "friend of Dorothy" referring to a gay man or LGBT person.

In gay slang, a "friend of Dorothy" (occasionally abbreviated FOD) is a term for a gay man.[1] The phrase dates back to at least World War II, when homosexual acts were illegal in the United States. Stating that, or asking if, someone was a "friend of Dorothy" was a euphemism used for discussing sexual orientation without others knowing its meaning. A similar term "friend of Mrs. King" (i.e. Queen) was used in England, mostly in the first half of the 20th century.[2]

Origins[edit]

The precise origin of the term is unknown and there are various theories.[3] Most commonly, it is stated that "friend of Dorothy" refers to the film The Wizard of Oz because Judy Garland, who starred as the main character Dorothy, is a gay icon. In the film, Dorothy is accepting of those who are different. For example the "gentle lion" living a lie, "I'm afraid there's no denyin', I'm just a dandy lion."[4][5] Others claim that the phrase refers to celebrated humorist and critic Dorothy Parker, who included some gay men in her famous social circle[citation needed].

Misunderstanding[edit]

In the early 1980s, the Naval Investigative Service was investigating homosexuality in the Chicago area. Agents discovered that gay men sometimes referred to themselves as "friends of Dorothy." Unaware of the historical meaning of the term, the NIS believed that there actually was some woman named Dorothy at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military personnel, so they launched an enormous and futile hunt for the elusive "Dorothy", hoping to find her and convince her to reveal the names of gay servicemembers.[6]

Current usage[edit]

The name of this cafe, Dorothy's Sister, in Ponsonby, Auckland's 'gay quarter', is a play on the slang term.

Starting in the late 1980s, on several cruise lines, gay and lesbian passengers began approaching ship staff, asking them to publicise gatherings in the daily cruise activity list. As the cruise lines were hesitant to announce such things so blatantly in their daily publications, they would list the gathering as a "Meeting of the Friends of Dorothy". The use of this phrase likely comes from the cruise directors who were also familiar with and using the "Friends of Bill W." phrase in their programs to tell members of AA that there were support group meetings on the trip.

Such meetings have expanded in popularity and frequency over the years. Now, many cruise lines will have multiple "FOD" events, sometimes as many as one each night.[7]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leap, William; Tom Boellstorff (2003). Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globalization and Gay Language. University of Illinois Press. p. 98. ISBN 0-252-07142-5. 
  2. ^ New York Times
  3. ^ Gay-2-Zee: A Dictionary of Sex, Subtext, and the Sublime, By Donald F. Reuter
  4. ^ Brantley, Ben; New York Times: Jun 28, 1994. pg. C.15.
  5. ^ Paglia, Camille. Judy Garland As a Force Of Nature; New York Times: Jun 14, 1998.
  6. ^ Shilts, Randy (1993). Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press. p. 387. ISBN 0-312-34264-0. 
  7. ^ Guaracino, Jeff (2007). Gay and lesbian tourism : the essential guide for marketing (1st ed.). Amsterdam: Elsevier/Butterworth-Heinemann. ISBN 0-7506-8232-9. 

Further reading[edit]

  • Chauncey, George (1994). Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890–1940. New York: Basic Books.
  • Duberman, Martin (1993). Stonewall. New York: Dutton. Lesbian and gay life before and after Stonewall, as seen by six contemporaries.
  • Duberman, Martin, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. (eds) (1989). Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. New York: NAL Books. Twenty-nine essays covering aspects of the gay and lesbian world from ancient to contemporary times.
  • Grahn, Judy (1990). Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds. Boston: Beacon Press. Explores the use of language to define gay and lesbian culture by examining stereotypes as access points into history.
  • Katz, Jonathan (1992). Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.: a Documentary History. Rev. Ed. New York: Meridian.
  • Marcus, Eric (1992). Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945–1990: An Oral History. New York: HarperCollins.

External links[edit]