Three Pride moments

Pride Month is past, and so is the Fourth of July (US Independence Day), but my postings on these celebrations will go on for some time. Today, three images for Pride: the art of the flag; penguins at work; and the M&S sandwich.

It’s a grand old flag / It’s a high-flying flag. Specifically to celebrate Pride events and the 50th anniversary of Stonewall: this rainbow composition taking off on the famous Iwo Jima photograph from World War II:

(#1) Gay Pride composition by Alvaro — Alvaro Limon Lopez, diseñador grafico y rapero (graphic designer and rapper), ca. 25 years old, living in Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico (across the river from Brownsville TX), @AlvaroArtz on Twitter

A carefully done formal composition, compressing as much of the LGBT community as possible into four figures: a black man, a woman, a leatherman, and a drag queen.

About the original, from Wikipedia:


Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima is an iconic photograph taken by Joe Rosenthal on February 23, 1945, which depicts six United States Marines raising a U.S. flag atop Mount Suribachi, during the Battle of Iwo Jima, in World War II.

The photograph was first published in Sunday newspapers on February 25, 1945. It was extremely popular and was reprinted in thousands of publications. Later, it became the only photograph to win the Pulitzer Prize for Photography in the same year as its publication, and came to be regarded in the United States as one of the most significant and recognizable images of the war.

… The image was later used by Felix de Weldon to sculpt the Marine Corps War Memorial, which was dedicated in 1954 to all Marines who died for their country and is located in Arlington Ridge Park, near the Ord-Weitzel Gate to Arlington National Cemetery and the Netherlands Carillon.

Proud and professional: rainbow penguins on parade. Since Stonewall, pretty much all scientific and academic fields have developed gay / lgbt / queer organizations of one kind or another. Linguistics has at least three: since 1991, OUTiL, OUT in Linguistics (originally a social organization and mailing list, now a closed Facebook group); beginning in 1993, the Lavender Languages and Linguistics conferences; and now an LSA Special Interest Group on LTBGQ+ Linguistics, currently managed as a mailing list.

In polar studies / research there’s Pride in Polar Research (and probably others, but I know about this one through Chris Waigl, at U AK Fairbanks, and it’s of totemic, spheniscid, interest to me):

(#3) Penguin from the south, polar bear from the north, united in rainbow pride

On the two iconic figures: from my 1/20/19 posting “Know your Prideful polarities”, a Pride in Polar Research caution for for Penguin Awareness Day 2019:

(#4) There are detailed pointers in the 1/20 posting

Other rainbow penguins on this blog:

— in my 9/1/16 posting “Penguin Pride”, from the Pilsner Inn (in SF)


— from my 2/21/19 posting “For gay penguins, science, and Canada!”, Stan and Olli at the Berlin Zoo:


Elsewhere, rainbow penguins abound, in many forms. Two CafePress examples from this richesse:

(#7) Rainbow penguin mousepad

(#8) Rainbow penguin t-shirt

What do you get when you add guac(amole) to a BLT? A really proud sandwich, like this Marks & Spencer item:

(#9) Gay guacamole! (No, I don’t know why blue in the flag has been replaced by black)

This came to me on Facebook from David Horne — a composer who lives in Manchester (England) and teaches at RNCM — who got it as a Pride present from his partner Omar. It’s special for Pride, part of a M&S campaign for charity — which has, however, not been universally applauded in the British lgbt world.

From the (UK) Pink News on 5/2/19, “M&S launch LGBT sandwich and it’s dividing opinion”:

British supermarket chain Marks and Spencer (M&S) has launched a new “LGBT” sandwich, filled with lettuce, guacamole, bacon and tomato.

But the pride-themed snack has caused a stir with social media users, who have been debating whether or not they agree with it.

The conversation began when a picture of the sandwich with the caption “M&S threw the first artisanal sandwich at Stonewall,” went viral on Twitter:.


The supermarket released the BLT-plus-guacamole sandwich to raise money for the Albert Kennedy Trust, a charity dedicated to helping homeless LGBT+ youth.

The retailer says it has donated £10,000 to the charity, and will be making a further £1,000 donation to another charity called BeLong to Youth Services in Ireland.

Some posters suggested gay people should just steal the sandwich (presumably on the grounds that the sandwich really belongs to us), one claimed to be enraged at being equated to a sandwich, still others complained about the price and the salt content, and one said it was an insult to the lesbian community (assumed to be uniformly vegetarian) because of the bacon.

I found the venom in these comments surprising. Was it just general antipathy towards mass-market retailers, or was there some special animus towards M&S making a pitch to lgbt people. (Is this pitch viewed as insincere, as a mere marketing ploy, or as an attempt to paper over past disregard of or active disdain for our community? Or what?)

The gay avocado. Just on the chance that guacamole the foodstuff or guacamole the noun or guac the clipping of that noun had some gay associations, I searched on “gay guacamole” and came across this remarkable Urban Dictionary entry:

avacado: A homosexual who is indiscernibly gay. Because avacados are fruits, but do not look or taste much like fruits, the term is applied to gay people who do not fit the “Will & Grace” stereotypes. [Example:] A bad dresser and NFL fanatic, you would never guess that Jacob was an avacado. Posted by omouallem 1/16/07

Let me get the nonsense out of the way.

First, it’s spelled AVOCADO.

Second, the business about avocados being fruits, a peculiar and persistent confusion on the part of some English speakers between the technical botanical term fruit referring to a plant part and the ordinary English term fruit referring to a type of foodstuff. This ambiguity of fruit results from a decision by botanists to technicalize the culinary noun as a term of plant anatomy — an unfortunate (though understandable) decision, in my view, but there it is and it can’t be taken back. From my 6/4/19 posting “perennial, evergreen, hardy”:

Many botanical and zoological terms are specializations — technicalizations — of everyday vocabulary, and some of these (evergreen among them) are felicitous, but (I have maintained on this blog), some are unfortunate. It’s distressing to have to explain to perfectly intelligent people that a strawberry is not, technically, a berry, while a watermelon is — a terminological choice that makes scientists look just silly.

(Note: an avocado is, in this technical vocabulary, a very large berry with a single large seed in it.)

In any case, a fairly large number of things that are, botanically speaking, fruits of plants are, when viewed as foodstuffs, vegetables (and not, as things to eat, fruits):

tomatoes, peppers of all kinds, cucurbits (cucumbers, zucchini, squash, pumpkins), peas and beans, eggplant, olives, okra, and, yes, avocados

Now to something of substance. These things are all, from one point of view, fruits, but from another, not fruits but vegetables. The name of any one of these things could then serve metaphorically to refer to something with a double nature — as an X, from one point of view, and as not an X but a Y, from another point of view.

In particular, the name of any of these fruits-not-fruits could serve metaphorically to refer to a man with a double sexuality — as a fruit (a faggot, a queer, a homo, or a gay (man)) from one point of view (the orientation of his desire), and as not a fruit but as a hetero, or a straight (man) from another point of view (his presentation of self). That is, to refer to a gay man who passes, or can pass, for straight.

In my linguistic experience, there is no simple English expression for such  a man; passer would be a natural (though colorless) choice, but it seems to have no history in this sense. ( I guess I should point out that I am one, though I frequently queer the pitch by displaying identifying symbols and slogans). Meanwhile, omuallem (in the UD entry above) or someone they know has taken the bold step of picking a fruit-not-fruit name as colorful slang for this purpose. Avocado isn’t a bad choice; it has a somewhat exotic feel to it, and while it has some metaphorical slang uses (for breasts and for testicles) these aren’t so common that they’d overshadow a fresh coinage.

So I guess I could be referred to as an avocado. Though the prospect of being mashed up into a party dip is not a pleasant one.


7 Responses to “Three Pride moments”

  1. John Baker Says:

    Are avocados really perceived as vegetables, in the ordinary nontechnical sense? I was aware, but did not particularly care, that avocados are fruits in the technical sense, as are tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, and many others. But I always thought of them as fruits in the culinary sense as well

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Certainly not culinary fruit in North American cuisine. The things are not sweet to the taste and are used in (vegetable) salads, (savory) soups, dipspreads (guacamole being the avocado counterpart of baba ganoush (based on eggplant) and hummus (based on chickpeas)), and sandwiches (where sliced avocado is a component parallel to lettuce and tomato).

      • John Baker Says:

        I think I was influenced by the fact that the avocado is a tree fruit. I can’t think of any other “vegetables” that are tree fruits. (The coconut is sui generis and does not enter into the analysis, as far as I am concerned.)

      • arnold zwicky Says:

        To John Baker: so the avocado is a culinary vegetable that is botanically a tree fruit, probably the only one (though hearts of palm come close). There are plenty of unusual, even unique, things in the world; we just need to roll with that. But avocados are not sweet to the taste and they function as vegetables in North American cuisine, so they’re vegetables (in that cuisine). Just very unusual ones.

        Think artichokes. They’re gigantic flower buds. Of a thistle. But culinarily they’re a vegetable — just an extraordinary type of vegetable.

  2. maxvasilatos Says:

    Because Romance Languages, I’ve always thought of the avocado as the lawyer of food.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Yes, Sp. abogado, Fr. avocat. In fact the Sp. ‘lawyer’ word seems to have influenced the phonological development of English avocado; from NOAD,

      ORIGIN mid 17th century: from Spanish, alteration (influenced by [earlier] avocado ‘advocate’) of aguacate, from Nahuatl ahuacatl.

  3. Mark Mandel Says:

    Re: your last ¶, and your first reply in the comments:

    Some time ago the owner/administrator of a mailing list I subscribe to had to deal with a potentially messy situation on the list. The process involved several rebukes to members, and she apologized for “being something of a PITA” for doing what she had to do. I wrote to her off-list, quoting her wording and adding “I don’t think you would enjoy being smeared with hummus.”
    Her reply was loud and prolonged laughter , expressed in all caps.

    I love it when a pun or a punchline sneaks up on a reader/listener from behind, as it were, and takes them totally by surprise. (Are you familiar with feghoots?)


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: