One Equal World

“Straight” Up

Posted on: October 22, 2013

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If heterosexuals are “straight as an arrow,” what does that imply about non-heterosexual people?
Image: Shutterstock

What’s up with the word “straight?”  Does it ever seem a little offensive that heterosexuals are called straight?  What does that mean for those who are gay or lesbian – that they are somehow crooked?  I mean, if the opposite of straight is bent or crooked, isn’t that sort of what’s implied?

Then again, the word “gay” also means happy or joyful.  It didn’t used to be associated with sexual orientation at all, at least not until the late 1700s.  At that point it started to be associated with people who were happy enough being themselves that they didn’t stick to the norms of the day.

Yet, it soon got tainted with the notion of morally sinful behavior usually associated with prostitution and men who frequented such ladies (still about heterosexual people at this point.)  Later such authors as Oscar Wilde and Gertrude Stein stated using the word as a sly reference to homosexual trysts.

Soon people were using the word gay so as not to have to say “homosexual,” as people in those days were not supposed to talk about such a thing in public.  Later people stopped using the word, though, since they didn’t want to accidentally accuse somebody of being homosexual.  During the 60s and 70s people did start to talk about sexual orientation more and the word stuck.

Some believe that the world “straight” comes from the biblical reference in Matthew 7:14.  It states, “Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way which leadeth to life, and few there be that find it.”

The spelling is different, but many words were spelled differently in the bible and in old-fashioned English.  There are many other references to the word “straight.”

Some are “straight as an arrow,” “on the straight and narrow,” etcetera.  Both refer to following the moral code to a tee.  That would mean to be heterosexual.
The last one is “be straight with me.”  That means be honest and tell me the truth. If you were straight, meaning heterosexual, you would be a better person who is honest and true.

The more I find out about these metaphors and similes, the angrier I get.  It’s frustrating to see only positive references to the world “straight” when there are no such ones for gay people.  Perhaps in 50 years all the words we use now will be obsolete anyway.

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