Findings for “fag+” in my General Corpus

In the source texts, the terms ‘fag’ or ‘fags’ are applied in a variety of meanings. The relevant instances for this study are the times where the word is used to denote homosexual persons. These denotations are decidedly negative, as can be seen from these examples:

  • (1) Rodwell finally replaced his store windows with shatterproof glass after they had been smashed for the third time, and he said it is not uncommon to arrive at the shop and find that someone has defaced the building with a swastika, or ‘Kill Fags.’[1]
  • (2) “I live in Logan Circle,” said 29-year-old Jeff DeMontier, “and have to deal with the prostitutes daily, and it’s always, ‘Oh, you fag — you give AIDS.’ ” […]He [Rock Hudson] could have covered it [suffering from AIDS] up, said it was cancer . . .Even today, people, politicians don’t come out. They might lose two-thirds of their business. You say you’re a fag and you’re finished.[2]

Using a “fag+” query in AntConc, I found 22 significant collocates with at least 2 occurrences for ‘fag’ or ‘fags’ in a 5L/5R window. Here, I want to focus on three striking collocates, as they form a noteworthy union: ‘basher’, ‘bashing’, and ‘baiting’. The relevant values are given below:

Collocate Freq Freq L Freq R Stat
basher 3 0 3 17.68
bashing 2 0 2 15.87
baiting 3 1 2 14.17


The terms ‘fag-baiting’ and ‘fag-bashing’ or ‘fag-basher’ are used to denote verbal (for the former one) or physical (for the latter two) abuse of homosexuals. For the use of the terms denoting verbal abuse, see for example:

  • (3) Falwell, after all, is a regular Anita Byrant on the subject of homosexuality. In mailings and broadcasts, he appeals to the basest sort of antihomosexual sentiment, couching his demagoguery always in religious terms, raising the specter of “avowed homosexual” teachers seducing school children. Always his justifications for what amounts to plain old fag baiting are either the scriptures or his absolute certainty that God, like him, is, in effect, a bigot.[3]
  • (4) Neither the threat nor the existence of AIDS exonerates what amounts to nothing less than fag baiting or justifies a moral condemnation of the entire homosexual community.[4]

For the use of the terms as denoting physical abuse, see for example:

  • (5) Homosexual activists packed a courtroom today and watched angrily as three juveniles were allowed to remain free on charges of killing a homosexual man who drown after he was thrown from a bridge. David McMannus said of the decision, “It says to every fag-basher this is the time – go out and get them.”[5]
  • (6) The Republican Party has traditionally espoused principles which would allow it to support nonintervention in individual rights . . . but it has become associated with some people who indulge in ‘gay-baiting’ and ‘fag-bashing,’ ” said Bauman.[6]

Bauman’s statements show that these terms are meant to mark people as violent and intolerant, as can be seen from his distancing himself from being called ‘baiter’ or ‘basher’.

  • (7) Bauman, who is practicing law in Easton, Md., acknowledged that during his political career he has twice voted against the interests of homosexuals on specific pieces of legislation. But he said that contrary to popular belief, he had never given speeches or been outspoken on the issue of homosexuality: “I have never been a ‘fag-basher’ or ‘gay-baiter.’[7]
  • (8) But I [Bauman speaking about himself] was no more a vociferous opponent of gay rights than any other conservative. I think it fitted the press’ definition of a conservative to think that they were gay baiters. I never said anything about it for reasons that should be obvious. I am not, as The Baltimore Evening Sun said in an editorial, an ex-fag-basher.[8]

So, interestingly, while the term ‘fag’ itself is apparently used as a derogatory term, words that are used to denote verbal and physical abuse of homosexuals employ the derogatory term ‘fag’ as well, as was shown for ‘fag-baiting’ and ‘fag-bashing’ or ‘fag-basher’. Comparing how ‘baiting’ and ‘bashing’ relate to ‘gay’ should yield interesting results as well, seeing how Bauman used these terms in examples 6, 7, and 8.

[1] Wadler, Joyce. “No, Dorothy, You and Toto Certainly Aren’t in Kansas Anymore.” Washington Post 1 Aug. 1982: 1 A2. Print.

[2] Hall, Carla. Washington Post 27 July 1985: Style G1. Print.

[3] Cohen, Richard. “Demagougery.” Washington Post 31 Aug. 1982: Metro C1. Print.

[4] Cohen, Richard. “AIDS.” Washington Post 16 June 1983: Metro B1. Print.

[5] Washington Post 18 July 1984: A 15. Print.

[6] Murphy, Caryle. “Republican Homosexuals Form Gay Rights Group.” Washington Post 19 May 1984: Metro B8. Print.

[7] Barbash, Fred. “’Yes, I Am Gay’ Bauman Is Joining Homosexual Rights Movement.” Washington Post 3 Aug. 1983: 1 A7. Print.

[8] “On Being Gay and In Politics.” Washington Post 7 Aug. 1983: Outlook C3. Print.