Why Does “Straight” Mean Heterosexual?

From Origin Of Everything.

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When did we start defining sexual orientation and how did that result in "straight" becoming a synonym for "heterosexual"? Today Danielle follows the winding history of the word through medical terms, lavender linguistics, and community slang.

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Created and Hosted by Danielle Bainbridge
Produced by Complexly for PBS Digital Studios

#linguistics #straight #OriginOfEverything


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Origin of Everything is a show about the undertold histories and cultural dialogues that make up our collective story. From the food we eat, to the trivia and fun facts we can’t seem to get out of our heads, to the social issues we can’t stop debating, everything around us has a history. Origin of Everything is here to explore it all. We like to think that no topic is too small or too challenging to get started.

Works Cited:

Eskridge, William N. “A History of Same-Sex Marriage.” Virginia Law Review 79, no. 7 (1993): 1419. https://doi.org/10.2307/1073379.
Herzer, Manfred. “Kertbeny and the Nameless Love.” Journal of Homosexuality 12, no. 1 (July 1986): 1–26. https://doi.org/10.1300/j082v12n01_01.
Outhistory.org. (2019). Karl Kertbeny and Karl Ulrichs · Aspects of Queer Existence in 19th-Century America · OutHistory.org: It’s About Time. [online] Available at: http://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/aspectsofqueerexistence/aspectsofqueerexistencekarlker [Accessed 18 Nov. 2019].
Outhistory.org. (2019). 1901: William Alexander Dorland: "Heterosexuality" · Constructing the Hetero, Homo, Bi System · OutHistory.org: It’s About Time. [online] Available at: http://outhistory.org/exhibits/show/heterohomobi/dorland [Accessed 18 Nov. 2019].
Tavris, C. (2019). Straight Talk. [online] Nytimes.com. Available at: https://www.nytimes.com/1995/04/16/books/straight-talk.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2019].
Doyle, C. (1982). Homosexual Slang Again. American Speech, 57(1), p.74.
Martin, G. (2019). ‘Strait and narrow’ – the meaning and origin of this phrase. [online] Phrasefinder. Available at: https://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/strait-and-narrow.html [Accessed 18 Nov. 2019].
inguisticsociety.org. (2019). This Month in Linguistics History: Lavender Language/Linguistics | Linguistic Society of America. [online] Available at: https://www.linguisticsociety.org/content/month-linguistics-history-lavender-languagelinguistics [Accessed 18 Nov. 2019].
Merriam-webster.com. (2019). Let’s Talk ‘Tea’. [online] Available at: https://www.merriam-webster.com/words-at-play/tea-slang-meaning-origin [Accessed 5 Dec. 2019].
Youtube.com. (2019). YouTube. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbaq_qxjmPw [Accessed 18 Nov. 2019].
Renata Aron, N. (2019). Straight edge: How one 46-second song started a 35-year movement. [online] Medium. Available at: https://timeline.com/straight-edge-movement-67544e6f8d88 [Accessed 20 Nov. 2019].