I asked casually the other day if anyone else said or still says, when giving directions, “gaily forward” instead of (or to correct) saying “go straight”. We said this a lot in the 80s and 90s as part of queer culture, and then I haven’t heard it all that much – though I still say it. To my surprise over 100 people answered and said they also did it, still do it, heard it, or are teaching their kids to say it! Amusing! Others seemed to agree the 80s (even the early 80s) was when they started saying it, and there were many more women than men, but that may be an side effect of my age and the concentration of my friend groups. I wondered if it was something which just spread naturally (“like herpes”, Sean said helpfully) or if it had some canonical source – From the early 80s, that would hardly be a tv show, but possibly a movie or a book. I mean even then what fucking book would it be – I can’t see Beebo Brinker joshing about gaily forward in her Packard on a cross country trip, or whatever, can you???? Or some wounded gay poilu giving Stephen Gordon jolly instructions in a World War I ambulance? I THINK NOT. In this FB thread, Vicki suggested it may be from a song by Judy Fjell, who she called into the thread. I got very excited & started listening to Judy’s songs (women’s music, country style, from the early 80s onward).
Just checked back on this and Judy answered – and added she thought it might be something mentioned in a song by Judy Small, though not necessarily as an origin, but documenting something that was commonly said.
OK, that amps up the amazingness even more because a) Judy Small is Australian and i didn’t realize before this she toured all over the US and Canada in the 80s b) She is also the author of one of my favorite amazing songs, The I.P.D., which I first heard on a mix tape Johanna Lee made me in like, 1991 or 92 (lots of womyn’s music sarcastically interspersed with riot grrrl fare and the tribe 8 song that satirically quotes alix dobkin ) and then when the tape broke I went on a quest to find it again every few years FINALLY succeeding (it was not anywhere i could find until quite recently!)
Maybe I’m overly obsessed with this song but I do get particular music running through my head and I need to hear it again – and this one, I could hear perfectly over two decades without having it anywhere outside of my own brain. If that’s happened to you then you know the pleasure of finally hearing it with your ears again!
Adding to my happiness – she also has a Wikipedia page. Also – unexpectedly, her day job is being a judge.
The song that touches on our original topic, “Turn Right, Go Straight” never says “gaily forward” but does have a biting commentary on going straight.
Anyway – no conclusion to make here other than, I am adding this to the things that are part of queer culture, like the (international and cross-linguistic) gay “lisp” which is really a sort of intonation pattern more than an actual lisp.