Oh, the things you will discover while reading about going on a cruise!
As I sat here reading about straight men lingering around at “Friends of Dorothy” Parties on cruise ships I wondered, ‘who the f*ck is Dorothy’? This is all the research I found.
via Yahoo! Answers
It’s super old-school gay code. We used to get beaten up and/or killed if people knew we were gay, so we found ways to see if others were like us without getting ourselves killed. If we asked, “Are you a friend of Dorothy’s?” it meant, “You look gay to me, are you?” If the response was, “Dorothy who?” we knew the person was probably not gay, or at least hadn’t come out yet. If they said, “Oh yes, Dorothy and I go waaaay back!” or whatever, well, you knew.We were very careful back then, who we revealed our ‘secret identities’ to. We had to be, it just wasn’t as open as it is now.
There are several theories for the origins of this term. The most likely reason is that it is named for Dorothy Parker (1893 – 1967), a famous gay rights ally and icon who inspired a variety of slang terms within the queer community. Parker’s witty, trenchant writing was often littered with euphemisms which were later adopted by the gay community, making it easy for people to identify each other without explicitly stating their orientation. People have been describing themselves as friends of Dorothy since the 1930s, lending credence to this theory.
Others link the term to Judy Garland, who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Garland herself was quite an icon in the gay community, and the character of Dorothy is often noted for her acceptance of diversity and differences. Furthermore, a rather effeminate character in the movie, the Cowardly Lion, identifies himself as a “friend of Dorothy,” although he was of course referring to the character, not to his sexual orientation.
via ‘Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the US Military‘
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 there actually was some woman named Dorothy at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military personnel, so they launched an enormous and futile hunt for the elusive “Dorothy”, hoping to find her and convince her to reveal the names of gay servicemembers.
‘A Friend of Dorothy’ (1994) – Winston arrives at NYU as a freshman, knowing he’s gay and wondering where that fact will lead him. He falls hard for Tom, his temporary roommate who’s soon to leave for L.A., and it’s a big risk to express these feelings. Meanwhile, temptations and opportunities abound in the Village: sex in public toilets, uninhibited people at parties, and knowing Act-uppers. Plus, there are misinterpreted signals, like the ones Winston gets from a Moonie. With help from his hometown friend Anne, Winston keeps his equilibrium and finds the perfect place to meet someone: the Judy Garland rack at Tower Records.
Are you a friend of Dorothy’s?
Images via LegendaryBallroomScene