Gay Song Five – Bing Crosby goes 'Gay for Pay'
Note: for this series of postings, the term 'Gay Song' refers to music written to/for/by or about Gay men or women. A second category also deals with music identified as Gay because it speaks to the heart of the Gay Experience.
So to make this easier, I will call them Gay in the 1st Degree (to/for/by/about), or Gay in the 2nd Degree (like Judy Garland singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow).
Gay in the 2nd degree is Bing Crosby's gloriously camp Gay Love! Positively dripping with innuendo, the languorous beat (….off beat, really) bobs along like a pair of lovers getting up to some hanky panky on the porch swing (in Ole Argentina!). People in the life back in 1929 knew exactly what this song was about, and that it was marketed to them. Gay money, in case you did not know it, has always been green
As for the use of the word 'gay' in the lyrics, sadly when it comes to matters of LGBT history, homo-deniers have struck again and printed information designed to obscure the origins of our cultural heritage. What is known for sure is that Cary Grant uttered the immortal line: "I just went Gay all of a sudden!" This was in 1938, and Grant adlibbed the line for the film Bringing Up Baby. The image on screen left no doubt as to what he meant (…he was wearing a lady's dressing gown at the time, and did a little leap in the air for emphasis).
Now, how would Mr. Grant know such an insider's term? *clears throat* Cary's long-term partnership with another Hollywood heartthrob, Randolph Scott, was an open 'secret' for decades.
Thank you Gay Love! We owe you a lot.
So, what do you think?
 Here, when I say well-documented, I mean well-documented! For Grant and Scott's love, see Full Service by Scotty Bowers (New York 2012), Completely Queer: the Gay and Lesbian Encyclopedia (New York 1998), Queers in History (Dallas 2009), and Vito Russo's classic, The Celluloid Closet (New York 1987). Also see Russo's book for the use of Gay in Bringing Up Baby. For the currency of Gay as a term for same-sex loving people before 1929, see Carter Bealer's first-hand accounts of being out in the Nineteen-teens and Twenties. His witty diary entries show Gay was not such a big deal at the time. Jeb and Dash: a Diary of Gay Life 1918-1945 (Boston 1993).