Friend of Dorothy

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Judy Garland in her role as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz

In gay slang, a "friend of Dorothy" (occasionally abbreviated FOD) is a term for a gay man.[1] The phrase dates back to at least World War II, when homosexual acts were illegal in the United States. Stating that, or asking if, someone was a "friend of Dorothy" was a euphemism used for discussing sexual orientation without others knowing its meaning.

Origin[change | edit source]

The origin of the phrase is most commonly attributed to the movie, The Wizard of Oz because Judy Garland, who starred as the main character Dorothy, is a gay icon. In the film, Dorothy is accepting of those who are different. For example the "gentle lion" living a lie, "I'm afraid there's no denyin', I'm just a dandy lion."[2][3] Others claim that the phrase refers to celebrated humorist and critic Dorothy Parker, who included some gay men in her famous social circle.[source?]

Misunderstanding[change | edit source]

In the early 1980s, the Naval Investigative Service was investigating homosexuality in the Chicago area. Agents discovered that gay men sometimes referred to themselves as "friends of Dorothy." Unaware of the historical meaning of the term, the NIS believed that a woman named Dorothy was at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military personnel. The NIS launched an enormous hunt for Dorothy, hoping to find her and convince her to reveal the names of gay servicemembers.[4]

Related pages[change | edit source]

References[change | edit source]

  1. Leap, William; Tom Boellstorff (2003). Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globalization and Gay Language. University of Illinois Press. p. 98. ISBN 0252071425.
  2. Brantley, Ben (June 28, 1994), New York Times, p. C.15
  3. Paglia, Camille (June 14, 1998), "Judy Garland As a Force Of Nature", New York Times
  4. Shilts, Randy (1993). Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military. New York, NY: St. Martin's Press. p. 387.

Further reading[change | edit source]

  • Chauncey, George (1994). Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940. New York: Basic Books.
  • Duberman, Martin (1993). Stonewall. New York: Dutton. Lesbian and gay life before and after Stonewall, as seen by six contemporaries.
  • Duberman, Martin, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. (eds) (1989). Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. New York: NAL Books. Twenty-nine essays covering aspects of the gay and lesbian world from ancient to contemporary times.
  • Grahn, Judy (1990). Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds. Boston: Beacon Press. Explores the use of language to define gay and lesbian culture by examining stereotypes as access points into history.
  • Katz, Jonathan (1992). Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.: a Documentary History. Rev. Ed. New York: Meridian.
  • Marcus, Eric (1992). Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990: An Oral History. New York: HarperCollins.

Other websites[change | edit source]