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12/01/2011

Dropping four syllables, stigma: NYT writer ponders past clumsiness

by Jeremy Hooper

In an interesting City Room post, New York Times writer Ralph Blumenthal looks back on his push, back in 1972, to get the Grey Lady to update its language:

Screen Shot 2011-12-01 At 1.43.43 PmSNIP: Three quarters of a buck. About 75 percent of a column, 600 words if I was lucky. But, oh, I was cautioned, it was not the gay march, it was the homosexual march.

The homosexual march?

I dreaded to write that. Even then it marked me as woefully out of step with the zeitgeist. There was a leaden quality to the phrase, a sniffy retrograde disapproval.

No, I objected, they call themselves gays.

FULL: Before They Were Gay (at Least in Print) [NYT -- City Room]

Now, nearly forty years later, gay is the industry standard for everyone but the social conservatives, who tend to only write the word if they can first ensconce it between fear quotes. Which is fine, whatever. They can surround us with every punctuation mark on a querty keyboard, if they so wish. By childishly refusing to tighten their copy they will only write themselves into the margins, further halting their attempts to edit us out of the world's record.

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