Green’s Dictionary of Slang

gay n.1

[gay adj. (6)]

1. a male homosexual; thus gayety n., a state of homosexuality.

[US]R. McAlmon Lodging House (1963) 94: After all he argued to himself, he was sure Miss Gay was not interested in women and Steve [female] would surely start trying to get off with her as soon as she had one cocktail.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 33: The queens swished by in superficial gayety.
[US]Wash. Post and Times Herald 25 Oct. C2/1: The reaction gap between gays and straights to these plays is further.
[US]M. Scorsese Mean Streets [film script] 18: There are only a few customers left in the club, including Michael and two gays.
[UK]T. Blacker Fixx 133: A well-known film star (and undeclared gay).
[UK]N. Cohn Yes We have No 201: The clientele there is mixed – small-time crims, old gays, bikers.
[UK]Observer 9 Jan. 5: Commanding officers will not be expected to tolerate gays mincing across the parade ground.
[UK]H. Mantel Beyond Black 220: This is Surrey. They don’t get many gays.
[SA]IOL News (Western Cape) 4 May 🌐 What kind of father would give away his lovely, educated daughter to a gay?

2. (Aus. Und., also gaylo) a gullible victim, i.e. of a swindler, a ‘civilian’ [no overt sense of homosexuality but a poss. link is hard to ignore].

[Aus]New Call (Perth, WA) 21 Apr. 12/7: [A] young woman [...] informed the company that she had just ‘touched off’ a ‘gay’ which I learned meant that she had picked a man’s pocket.
[Aus]Queenslander (Brisbane) 2 July 4/4: So, out to crop the wisdom I did sow, And with much daring took a ‘gay’ in tow. / But this was all the harvest that I reaped, / I touch the ‘mug’ - he squeals - and in I go!
Smith’s Wkly 21 May 6/4: I remember meeting [...] ‘Tibby,’ greatest of all Australian ‘whizzmen’ (pickpockets). [...] ‘Blime,’ he roared, ‘I been working with a gay (mug), and taking risks in the ‘rort’ (crowd) for a ‘bloodhoon’ who never lifted a ‘leather’ (wallet) in his life’.
S. Baker Aus. Lang. 142: I append a vocabulary supplied to me by an ex-con man. […] Here is his glossary with the Australianisms italicized and some notes on the non-Australian elements: alec, dill, gay, sim, lolly, bunny, and mug.
[Aus]Smith’s Wkly (Sydney) 8 Dec. 22/3: ‘Once,’ said the punter, ‘I was gloomy and glum, / A gig and a gaylo, a nitwit and dumb. / From my ears to the top of my head I was numb’.
[Aus]Cessnock Eagle (NSW) 4 Oct. 4/2: They took a picture to identify me. / Then forty demons said ‘just nod your head and you’ll be free’ / So I pleaded ‘Guilty’ just like a ‘gay’ / Now I’m a boarder out at Long Bay.
[Aus]Truth (Brisbane) 5 Dec. 26/6: ‘What, leave Aussie and go and live in the Old Dart, [...] Strike me lucky, you must think a man’s a real gay!’.
[Aus]J. Ramsay Cop It Sweet 39: GAY: Trickster's victim; Not very smart person.

3. (mainly UK juv.) a term of abuse for an unpopular individual.

[Aus]Aus. Worker (Sydney) 20 Aug. 12/4: O’Connor has never been able to really satisfy himself as to an appropriate name for the class of man who is prepared to bludge on his workmates [...] he has been known to describe these parasites as ‘toads,’ ‘woolly-noses,’ ‘twirps,’ ‘dillpots,’ ‘nit-wits,’ ‘gays’ and ‘scabs’.
[UK]Indep. Education 8 July 2: ‘Gay’ and ‘lezzie’ [...] are generalized terms of abuse, used against youngsters, particularly boys, who deviate from the norm.

4. (US gay) a lesbian.

[US](con. 1940s-50s) Kennedy & Davies Boots of Leather (2014) 7: For both [hetero- and homosexual] communities the term ‘gay’ was more prevalent in the 1950s than in the 1940s.

In compounds

gay-basher (n.) [bash v. (1)]

a person who specializes in beating and terrorizing homosexual men.

[US]L.A. Times 10 Apr. I. 32/5: The San Francisco group is also reaching out to potential gay bashers [OED].
[US] Queer Sl. in the Gay 90s 🌐 Homophobia – Irrational fear of gay people and of homosexuality. George Weinberg, author of Society and the Healthy Homosexual, coined this word in the early 1970’s. It filled a need for gay people at that time because, in one word, it eloquently conveyed the idea that it was gay-bashers, not gays themselves, who had a problem.
[UK]Indep. Rev. 20 Jan. 5: There is still too much homophobia in our society, there are still gay-bashers.
[SA]K. Cage Gayle.
gay-bashing (n.) [bash v. (1)]

(orig. US) the homophobic beating up of homosexual men; thus gay-bash v., to beat up homosexuals.

[US]Body Politic Sept. 21: Gay bashing in New York’s Central Park has been a fact of the cruising life for years.
[US]L.A. Times 6 Mar. I 17/1: It has come to be known in Portland as ‘gay bashing’ – vicious attacks directed at [...] homosexual men.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 21 Aug. 5: Then the whole group started to manhandle me [...] I was going to be gay-bashed. By gays. And I wasn’t even gay.
[UK]Guardian G2 2 Feb. 17: Eager for an out-of-court settlement with the tabloid reporter he allegedly gay-bashed in a LA supermarket.
Gay City News (N.Y.) 15–21 June 1: [pic. caption] Victim of a brutal gay bashing.