Is there any other neutral word for a homosexual male? The word gay is, I think, quite neutral, but it sounds very funny to me because in German it's the imperative from 'go'. So, you say 'geh' (spoken as 'gay') if you want someone to go out.

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    Informational note: "gay" is generally an adjective. The noun is "gay man." Jan 23, 2013 at 22:21
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    Lately, especially in news media, "gay" has been used as a noun as well. More specifically, "gays" has been used quite frequently to refer to the entire homosexual community, both male and female. Jan 25, 2013 at 17:57
  • English "gay" sounds nothing like German "geh'".
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2016 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


I think the most neutral word is indeed gay, which can be used for both sexes (even though gay woman is not widely used, in favour of lesbian). From Wikipedia:

The most common terms are Gay (both men and women) and Lesbian (women only). [...]

Some organizations (e.g. Safe Schools Coalition) discourage the usage of homosexual in everyday usage, as it might sound too clinical:

Homosexual: Avoid this term; it is clinical, distancing and archaic. Sometimes appropriate in referring to behavior (although same-sex is the preferred adj.). When referring to people, as opposed to behavior, homosexual is considered derogatory and the terms gay and lesbian are preferred, at least in the Northwest.


In the English language, all other words meaning homosexuality would be considered offensive to almost all.

The only neutral word is gay, and this never used to mean homosexual - the meaning changed, albeit a long time ago.

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    I'd ask where "queer" now stands. I've heard gay people use it and at first thought it analogous to when black people use the "n" word. But then I saw it used in more mainstream contexts such as a cable show title "Queer eye for the straight guy", gay men helping straight men with fashion makeovers. Is queer no longer pejorative? Feb 11, 2013 at 13:59
  • @JoeTaxpayer: I addressed the issue of "queer" in my answer below.
    – Tom Au
    Apr 21, 2013 at 22:10

During the 1960s (at least in the United States), the discussion (and practice) of sex exploded, following introduction of birth control devices such as the pill.

As a result, there were a number of "cross over" words used to accommodate the new volume of dialog. Two of those words, queer and gay, were used to describe homosexuality.

The acceptability of these words derived from their previous connotations. "Queer" meant "strange" prior to the 1960s. So when used to describe homosexuality, it had the connotations of "strange" sexuality (from a heterosexual point of view). "Gay" had the much more pleasant connotaton of "happy" in its earlier usage, so it is much more "neutral" in its new context.

There is no more positive word than "gay," and few, if any, that are even as "neutral."

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    "Gay" comes from its (obsolete) meaning, "prostitute", not directly from the meaning "happy".
    – Jon Hanna
    Sep 28, 2015 at 11:11
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    @JonHanna: But since nobody has ever heard of the word "gay" being used for "prostitute", that doesn't really matter. BTW. I'd love to see evidence for that. And could you what you propose the connection between "prostitute" and "homosexual" would be?
    – gnasher729
    Apr 12, 2016 at 19:50
  • @gnasher729 but people had heard the word used for prostitutes, users of prostitutes, and other sexually promiscuous people when they started using it as an insult for homosexuals, and an insult is what it was when it was reclaimed. As for your claim that you'd love to see the evidence for that, where have you looked so far?
    – Jon Hanna
    Apr 13, 2016 at 8:49

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