Friend of Dorothy

In gay slang, a "friend of Dorothy" (occasionally abbreviated FOD) is a term for a gay man. [cite book
coauthors=Tom Boellstorff
title=Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globilization and Gay Language
publisher=University of Illinois Press
] The phrase dates back to at least World War II, when homosexual acts were illegal in the United States. Stating that, or asking if, someone was a "friend of Dorothy" was a euphemism used for discussing sexual orientation without others knowing its meaning. The origin of the term is unknown and there are various theories. [ [ Gay-2-Zee: A Dictionary of Sex, Subtext, and the Sublime] , By Donald F. Reuter] A similar term "friend of Mrs King" (ie Queen) was used in England, mostly in the first half of the 20th century. [ [ New York Times] ]

Most commonly "friend of Dorothy" has been linked to the film "The Wizard of Oz" because Judy Garland, who starred as the main character Dorothy, is a gay icon. In the film, Dorothy is accepting of those who are different. For example the "gentle lion" living a lie, "I'm afraid there's no denyin', I'm just a dandy lion." [Brantley, Ben; "New York Times": Jun 28, 1994. pg. C.15.] [Paglia, Camille. "Judy Garland As a Force Of Nature"; New York Times: Jun 14, 1998.]

This theory of origin, although more widespread, may have more prevalence as the movie and related media stories eclipsed the other possible source, New York City's celebrated humorist, critic and "defender of human and civil rights" Dorothy Parker. [cite book
title=Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere
location=New York, NY
isbn=1 85984 786 2
] Parker, whose rise to popularity was largely limited to literary circles and geographically to New York, predates the popular movie by at least a decade and at a time when gay men had to be more covert so the phrase could have been in use but likely not recorded as such. Thus the phrase could retain its euphemistic meaning even if the commonly understood etymology transferred from Parker to the universally-known movie icon and even-larger celebrity Garland. With World War II gay men and lesbian women served throughout the services and traveled worldwide,cite web
title=The Roots of Gay Oppression: The Second World War
publisher=International Socialist Review
date=September–October 2004, Issue 37
url =
] potentially spreading the phrase through oral history.cite web
title=Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two
publisher=New York: Plume
date=1991, p. 30
url =

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 a woman named Dorothy was at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military personnel. The NIS launched an enormous hunt for Dorothy, hoping to find her and convince her to reveal the names of gay servicemembers. [cite book
title=Conduct Unbecoming: Gays & Lesbians in the U.S. Military
publisher=St. Martin's Press
location=New York, NY

Dorothy Parker etymology

Parker had many gay fans, and was well known for her quick wit and use of sarcasm as well as social activism. During World War II many U.S. and British servicemen started meeting and forming friendships while serving in Europe. Living in fear of discovery and persecution, many began using the code language that Dorothy Parker used commonly in her writings as a form of social networking. In conversation and in letter writing, phrases like "simply divine", "fabulous" and "nelly" began to be used by men, who later brought its use back to the United States. [Berube, Allan. "Coming Out Under Fire"; The Free Press (MacMillan Inc.) 1990.] ["Either Way, Giuliani Is a 'Friend of Dorothy"; Los Angeles Times: Sep 8, 2001. pg. B.20.] Some terms have survived to this day, including the term "Friend of Dorothy" which is still sometimes used by gay men to refer to and identify each other.

Being a friend of Dorothy also is meant to say that you are on a quest to find a man. As Dorothy was on her quest to find the “wizard”. Men asking others if they were a friend of Dorothy’s were asking “are you in search of a man.”

Current usage

Starting in the late 1980s, on several cruise lines, gay passengers began approaching ship staff, asking them to publicise gatherings in the daily cruise activity list. As the cruise lines were hesitant to announce such things so blatantly in their daily publications, they would list the gathering as a "Meeting of the Friends of Dorothy". Such meetings have expanded in popularity and frequency over the years. Now, many cruise lines will have multiple "FOD" events, sometimes as many as one each night.

In popular culture

The term is used in the 1995 comedy film "Clueless" by Donald Faison's character Murray when alluding to his suspicion that Justin Walker's character Christian is gay, referring to him as a "disco-dancin', Oscar Wilde-readin', Streisand ticket-holdin' friend of Dorothy." [citeweb |url= |title=Full Quote from Clueless - 1995 | |accessdate=2007-05-20]

It is also used in the TV series "Arrested Development". The Tobias Funke character, presented as a closet homosexual, is nicknamed Dorothy while in prison after causing the suicide of White Power Bill. Another inmate notes that he is like Dorothy and says, "The Wicked Witch is dead! All hail Dorothy!" When we see this inmate later he identifies himself as a friend of Dorothy, as if to say he is part of Tobias' prison gang, a double entendre.

In the TV series "Veronica Mars" the cocky and unhelpful Sheriff Lamb (Michael Muhney) tells Wallace (Percy Daggs III) to "Go see the wizard and ask him for some guts," after Wallace refused to identify some gang members in a robbery, for fear of his own safety. Later, when they run into each other, Lamb asks Wallace, "Do I know you?" and Wallace replies "Yeah, you told me to go see the wizard and ask him for some guts." Lamb asks, "Well did you?" and Wallace says "Yeah. He told me to tell you you're the only sheriff in America he considers a true friend of Dorothy."

One of the gay-themed short films in "" (1995) was titled "A Friend of Dorothy" and was directed by and starred Raoul O'Connell.

In the episode entitled "" in British sitcom "The IT Crowd", "I'm a friend of Dorothy" is a song in "Gay! - A Gay Musical".

ee also

*Gay slang
*Judy Garland as gay icon


Further reading

* Chauncey, George (1994). "Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Makings of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940". New York: Basic Books.

* Duberman, Martin (1993). "Stonewall". New York: Dutton. Lesbian and gay life before and after Stonewall, as seen by six contemporaries.

* Duberman, Martin, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. (eds) (1989). "Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past". New York: NAL Books. Twenty-nine essays covering aspects of the gay and lesbian world from ancient to contemporary times.

* Grahn, Judy (1990). "Another Mother Tongue: Gay Words, Gay Worlds". Boston: Beacon Press. Explores the use of language to define gay and lesbian culture by examining stereotypes as access points into history.

* Katz, Jonathan (1992). "Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.: a Documentary History". Rev. Ed. New York: Meridian.

* Marcus, Eric (1992). "Making History: The Struggle for Gay and Lesbian Equal Rights, 1945-1990: An Oral History". New York: HarperCollins.

External links

* [ Cruise Critic on "Friends of Dorothy"]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Friend of Dorothy — homosexual man (from Dorothy protagonist in the movie The Wizard of Oz , played by Judy Garland, a US actor very popular amongst gay men) …   Dictionary of Australian slang

  • friend of dorothy — Australian Slang homosexual man (from Dorothy protagonist in the movie The Wizard of Oz , played by Judy Garland, a US actor very popular amongst gay men) …   English dialects glossary

  • friend of Dorothy — noun informal a homosexual man. Origin from the name of Dorothy, a character played by the actress Judy Garland (a gay icon) in the film The Wizard of Oz (1939) …   English new terms dictionary

  • friend of Dorothy — /ˈdɒrəθi/ (say doruhthee) noun Colloquial a male homosexual. {from the character Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, played by Judy Garland, a gay icon, in the 1939 film version} …   Australian English dictionary

  • friend of Dorothy — noun A homosexual man …   Wiktionary

  • friend of Dorothy — Noun. A euphemism on the gay scene for a homosexual. Alluding to the gay icon Judy Garland, in the film The Wizard of Oz. Orig. U.S …   English slang and colloquialisms

  • friend of Dorothy — …   Useful english dictionary

  • Dorothy — may refer to: Dorothy (given name), a given name (and list of people with that name) Dorothy, the title of an Old English dance (folk song) by Seymour Smith Dorothy (opera), a comic opera Dorothy (comic book), a comic book based on the Wizard of… …   Wikipedia

  • Dorothy Gale — For the Doctor Who character, see Ace (Doctor Who). Dorothy Gale Oz character Dorothy with the silver shoes (illustration by W. W. D …   Wikipedia

  • Dorothy Hale — Born Dorothy Donovan January 11, 1905 Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA Died October 21, 1938 (aged 33) New York City, New York, USA Spouse Gardner …   Wikipedia

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