NYT: The Term "Homosexual" Is Going Extinct
"Homosexual," a term often cited as being a first cousin of "colored," has been in sharp decline since 1995 and might soon vanish from mainstream culture completely, according to a New York Times feature published on the weekend.
In the early 2000s, when same-sex marriage was a brand-new concept, gays were routinely described in mainstream media as homosexuals. Today, use of the word is less and less frequent. A Google Books scan shows a sharp decline in its use in recent years after peaking around 1995.
Scholars expect the use of the term to eventually fall away entirely.
“These shifts always reflect a change in sensibility,” said Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist who teaches at Berkeley. “That’s what happened when ‘Negro’ yields to ‘black’ and ‘African-American.’ It’s just an old-fashioned word that denotes a generally neutral but old-fashioned sensibility.”
The LGBT community has been split and spirited in a debate over reclaiming "fag" from homophobes, but I don't foresee similar polarizing attempts from the community to rebrand and revive "homosexual" as fashionable. It's charged and reductive, and those who use it in the future will be met with the apologies and eye-rolls that accompany the "sorry about my grandparents, they haven't quite caught up with the times" sentiment.
What do you think about "homosexual" becoming an endangered word in contemporary language, Instincters?
(Be sure to check out the fascinating Times feature, which details the term's turbulent, eye-opening history.)