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Friends of dorothy

Today I learned that American gay men were referring to themselves as “friends of Dorothy” starting from the times of the second world war. Back then homosexuality was illegal and therefore this phrase was used to cover it. While this sounds harmless, according to Wikipedia1 in the 1980s it actually triggered an investigation by the National Investigative Service (NIS) to find said “Dorothy” as the “friends of Dorothy” were spreading across the US military. Obviously this wasn’t successful as it was a made up code word with possible relations to books like the Wizard of Oz.

I came across that when a screenshot of said Wikipedia section was shared on Mastodon. And while it might sounds ridiculous and funny in a retro perspective, back then it probably wasn’t. And given that even today people fear discrimination when talking openly about being gay, it puts a quite serious tone on the whole topic.

  1. And a book source I didn’t verify