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Additional info for Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940
Charles Nesbitt, a medical student from North Carolina who visited the city around 1890, took the slummer's tour with a friend. " Such men dressed in male attire at the Slide, he discovered, but still sat for company as their transvestite counterparts did elsewhere. Intrigued, Nesbitt asked one of the men, known as "Princess Toto," tO'join his table; to his surprise, he found the fellow "unusually intelligent" and sophisticated. " Nature had made him this way, Toto assured the young medical student, and there were many men such as he.
I'm wicked. "q~ And Cary Grant's famous line in thc 1938 film Bringil/g Up Btluy pbycd on several of these meanings: he leapt into the air, flounced his arms, and shrieked "I just went gay all of a sudden," /lot bcca use he had fallen in love with a lIlan, but bccause he was asked why he had put on a woman's nightgown. · The word's use by the "flaming faggots" (or "fairies"), the most prominent figures in homosexual society, led to its adoption as a code word by "queers" who rejected the effeminacy and overtness of the fairy but nonetheless identified themselves as homoscxual.
As Will Finch, who came out into the gay world of limes Square in the 1930s, noted in his diary in 1951, "The word 'queer' is becoming [or coming to be regarded asl more and more derogatory and lislless and less lIsed by hU9t1ers and trade and the homosexual, especially the younger ones, and the tefm 'gay' [is] taking its place. I loathe the word, and stick to 'queer,' but am constantly being reproved, especially in so denominating myself. "44 Younger men rejected queer as a pejorative name that others had given them, which highlighted their difference from other men.