flaming

Today’s Scenes from a Multiverse (link here):

Jon Rosenberg’s comment:

I’m not saying bad puns are crimes. I’m just saying they should be.

Now a few words about the adjective  flaming.

From the OED2 draft additions of Dec. 2006 on flaming:

slang (orig. U.S.). Freq. depreciative. Designating a man whose homosexuality is conspicuous or apparent, esp. because of his flamboyant or effeminate mannerisms or clothing. Freq. in flaming faggot, flaming queen.

Cites:

1941   G. Legman in G. W. Henry Sex Variants II. 1165   Flaming,..obviously homosexual; using cosmetics, wearing flamboyant clothes and suede or high-heeled shoes, and generally affecting exaggeratedly feminine mannerisms in order to announce, and attract attention to one’s homosexuality.

1969   J. Crumley One to Count Cadence 238   What a flaming queen he is, honey.

1992   Los Angeles Times (Electronic ed.) 15 Oct.,   As they find out that everybody isn’t a ‘flaming faggot’ with sequins and five-inch heels coming into town on a Friday night, their attitudes change.

2003   Daily Tel. (Sydney, Austral.) (Nexis) 15 Jan. 2   The debonair but not mincing Will wasn’t nearly as flaming as your traditional sitcom gay stereotype.

Glossing flaming in terms of flamboyant is interesting, since flamboyant is a mid-19th century borrowing from French — literally, ‘flaming, blazing’ — first used for things resembling flames (especially in architecture) and then metaphorically extended even further. The relevant sense from NOAD2 (the OED needs updating here):

(of a person or their behavior) tending to attract attention because of their exuberance, confidence, and stylishness: a flamboyant display of aerobatics | she is outgoing and flamboyant, continuously talking and joking.
• (esp. of clothing) noticeable because brightly colored, highly patterned, or unusual in style.

The metaphorical extension of flaming itself, to ‘highly coloured, highflown; startling, extravagant’ (OED2) goes back at least to 1609, well before flamboyant was borrowed from French. But the specialization of flaming to gay contexts is even more recent, as you can see above, so it makes sense to understand this use of flaming via the metaphorical flamboyant.

One Response to “flaming”

  1. Robert Says:

    I wonder, too, if the alliteration of “flaming faggot” is a factor in its popularization.

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