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Friend of Dorothy

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File:Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz trailer 2.jpg

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. The origin of the term is unknown and there are various theories.[2] A similar term "friend of Mrs King" (i.e. Queen) was used in England, mostly in the first half of the 20th century.[3]

Most commonly "friend of Dorothy" has been linked 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]

This theory of origin, although more widespread, may have more prevalence as the movie and related media stories likely eclipsed the other possible source, New York City's celebrated humorist, critic and "defender of human and civil rights" Dorothy Parker.[6] Parker, whose rise to popularity was largely limited to literary circles and geographically to New York, predates the popular movie by at least a decade and at a time when gay men had to be more covert so the phrase could have been in use but likely not recorded as such. Thus the phrase could retain its euphemistic meaning even if the commonly understood etymology transferred from Parker to the universally-known movie icon and even-larger celebrity Garland. With World War II gay men and lesbian women served throughout the services and traveled worldwide,[7] potentially spreading the phrase through oral history.[8]

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 a woman named Dorothy was at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military personnel. The NIS launched an enormous hunt for Dorothy, hoping to find her and convince her to reveal the names of gay servicemembers.[9]

Dorothy Parker etymologyEdit

File:Dorothy parker.jpg

Parker had many gay fans, and was well known for her quick wit and use of sarcasm as well as social activism. During World War II many U.S. and British servicemen started meeting and forming friendships while serving in Europe. Living in fear of discovery and persecution, many began using the code language that Dorothy Parker used commonly in her writings as a form of social networking. In conversation and in letter writing, phrases like "simply divine", "fabulous" and "nelly" began to be used by men, who later brought its use back to the United States.[10][11] Some terms have survived to this day, including the term "Friend of Dorothy" which is still sometimes used by gay men to refer to and identify each other.

Current usageEdit

Starting in the late 1980s, on several cruise lines, gay 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". 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.

File:Dorothy's Friends And Siblings.jpg

In popular cultureEdit

The term is used in the 1995 comedy film Clueless by Donald Faison's character Murray when alluding to his suspicion that Justin Walker's character Christian is gay, referring to him as a "disco-dancin', Oscar Wilde-readin', Streisand ticket-holdin' friend of Dorothy."[12]

It is also used in the TV series Arrested Development. The Tobias Funke character, presented as a closet homosexual, is nicknamed Dorothy while in prison after causing the suicide of White Power Bill. Another inmate notes that he is like Dorothy and says, "The Wicked Witch is dead! All hail Dorothy!" When we see this inmate later he identifies himself as a friend of Dorothy, as if to say he is part of Tobias' prison gang, a double entendre.

In the TV series Veronica Mars the cocky and unhelpful Sheriff Lamb (Michael Muhney) tells Wallace (Percy Daggs III) to "Go see the wizard and ask him for some guts," after Wallace refused to identify some gang members in a robbery, for fear of his own safety. Later, when they run into each other, Lamb asks Wallace, "Do I know you?" and Wallace replies "Yeah, you told me to go see the wizard and ask him for some guts." Lamb asks, "Well did you?" and Wallace says "Yeah. He told me to tell you you're the only sheriff in America he considers a true friend of Dorothy."

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. Leap, William; Tom Boellstorff (2003). Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globilization and Gay Language. University of Illinois Press, 98. ISBN 0252071425. 
  2. Gay-2-Zee: A Dictionary of Sex, Subtext, and the Sublime, By Donald F. Reuter
  3. New York Times
  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. Hitchens, Christopher (2000). Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere. New York, NY: Verso, 293. ISBN 1 85984 786 2. 
  7. Wolf, Sherry (September–October 2004, Issue 37). The Roots of Gay Oppression: The Second World War. International Socialist Review. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.
  8. Bérubé, Allan (1991, p. 30). Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two. New York: Plume. Retrieved on 2007-08-22.
  9. Shilts, Randy (1993). Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press, 387. 
  10. Berube, Allan. Coming Out Under Fire; The Free Press (MacMillan Inc.) 1990.
  11. Either Way, Giuliani Is a 'Friend of Dorothy; Los Angeles Times: Sep 8, 2001. pg. B.20.
  12. Full Quote from Clueless - 1995. www.moviequotes.com. Retrieved on 2007-05-20.

Further readingEdit

  • 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.

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