Thursday, 4 November 2010

"The Gays": Style Is All

The Guardian has just published the third edition of Guardian Style.
Fagburn is slightly obsessed with style guides and books about words, and is so sad he's reading this one - his most favourite - from cover to cover.
On page 128 we find the following entry:
gay should be used an adjective rather than a noun: a gay man, gay people, gay men and lesbians, not "gays and lesbians"
Fagburn loves the fact that an entry in a guide to good writing contains a howler - you may want to read it again, it should read "should be used as an adjective".
But anyway, your correspondent is in full agreement with the above - using "gay" as a noun or "gays" jars - nobody uses it in everyday speech, unless they're spectacularly out of touch.
It's become a joke, symbolising clumsiness and cluelessness, of someone not being "down with the gays".
Hence "the only gay in the village" in Little Britain, and Fagburn and others' ironic use of the phrase "the gays".
But it's a rule that The Guardian regularly breaks - cue miffed email from me.
They've just done it again.
Spain's gays and lesbians to stage 'kiss-in' during pope's visit
This might be understandable if it was used as the shorthand style that headlines are often written in, but it carries on in the text of the article.
"Spanish gays and lesbians will welcome Pope Benedict XVI to their country at the weekend with a massive homosexual kiss-in to be staged in front of Barcelona's cathedral."
The offence is compounded by the appearance of the hilariously old-fashioned "homosexual" in the same sentence.
Who says that anymore?
Apart from The Daily Telegraph, obviously.


  1. A nice tweet back from Guardian Style...

    "@Fagburn Quite right. We will try to do better in future - old habits die hard with some journalists, even at the Guardian. Love your blog."


  2. In today's Guardian; "[Mario] Gomez is the first leading player to urge his homosexual colleagues to go public..."

    The report also claims; "it is estimated that about 10% of players are gay."
    Oh please. By who?????????