semicolon wrote: Can anybody tell me why this is such a popular phrase? I mean, if the dictionary defintions of gay and lesbian are to be trusted, lesbianism is a type of homosexuality -- that is, a subset. Within the big circle of homosexuality exist the two smaller circles of male homosexuality and female homosexuality. And yet, the phrase "gays and lesbians" perseveres.
I may actually have an answer for your conundrum, semicolon.
People in general don't find female homosexuality as 'scary' as male homosexuality. It may be a guy thing, since I've found men to be more homophobic as a group when compared to women. Actually, many straight men get turned on by two women going at it, to the point where women-on-woman action appears in many popular adult videos. Put a man-on-man scene in there, and you've lost 90 percent of your market.
Take a look at the offensive slang used against homosexuals. I'd wager you can think of five times as many offensive terms for gay men than you can for lesbians. I believe the term gay is used to describe homosexual males because it's one of the few terms that do not have such a negative connotation. For example:
Note: Several friends of mine who were gay used these terms back in the late 1970's to early 1980's to describe each other in a non-offensive way.
- John Smith is gay.
- John Smith is a homo.
- John Smith is a fag.
Which one of the above has the least offensive wording? While this may vary by culture and language, the English language is morphing, and when one starts using a term as an adjective, it tends to pick up a different shade or colour. I believe this is the case where gay and lesbian are concerned. The old terminology has tainted the language pool to the point where describing a homosexual male as a gay man is the least offensive method.