Thursday, April 30, 2015
A Gay Clue in Hawaiian Pidgin
During the 1960s and 1970s, no book would admit that gay people exist. At least, none on the shelves of the public library in my factory town, or my small private Lutheran college. I never saw the word "gay" in print. I saw "homosexual" once, in 1976, in a book on prisons.
The first time I saw the word "gay" in an actual book on a shelf in a bookstore: in 1980, when I was visiting my friend Tom in Los Angeles, and we stopped into a bookstore in Japantown. I bought Pidgin to the Max (1980), by Douglas Simonson, an illustrated dictionary of Hawaiian slang.
"Junior nice guy. He get ugly face, but."
"Laters wit' dat joke. Tired, but."
"Wow, dis binto so ono! Scoah, yeah?"
The humorous line drawings showed Hawaiian teenagers and young adults, often male, often cute.
Same sex desire appeared with some frequency. At a stoplight, a guy in a car gazes lustfully at the muscleman in the next lane, who responds: "I owe you money, o' wot?"
One of the entries was Mahu: "guys who like fool around with guys," that is, gay:
"No mess aroun' with dose mahus down Hotel Schtreet, brah! Dose buggahs radical."
That's all. But that was enough to break the silence in 1980.
See also: Wade the Beach Boy Cruises in Hawaii