Inconsistency in LGBTQ Terms

As you probably saw in the last post, I’ve spent a bunch of time recently working with all the LCSH that are about, or related to, queer folks. There are many terms that aren’t accurate, in-use by people, or even available.

But despite those oversights, willful or otherwise, an oddity that I noticed was an inconsistency about the use of the term ‘gay’.

There’s a term, ‘Gays’ (whose preferred heading used to be ‘Homosexuals’), which is a BT of ‘Gay men’ as well as ‘Lesbians’ (which itself is a UF for ‘Gay women’). So it would seem that under LCSH ‘Gays’ is a non-gender specific (though binary, as LCSH has no terms as of yet to express any people outside of the gender binary) meant to encompass all gay people.

This usage isn’t unheard of at all outside LCSH, indeed I used to hear ‘gay marriage’ pretty often until ‘same-sex marriage’ became more prevalent. I assume a healthy dose of societal-misogyny and sexism worked to elevate the term traditionally used for men, to be the term used for both men and women.

But the problem is how inconsistent LCSH is about this — consider the following:

Gays–Nazi persecution (May Subd Geog)
UF   Gay Holocaust
Gay men–Nazi persecution
Holocaust, Gay
Nazi persecution of gay men
Nazi persecution of gays

‘Gays’ here is standing in for ‘Gay men’!

There’s also several headings beginning with ‘Gay and lesbian’ ex:

‘Gay and lesbian studies’

‘Gay and lesbian dance parties’

So which is it, LCSH? Does ‘gay’ encompass both gay men, and lesbians? Or is ‘gay’ a shorthand for ‘gay men’?


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