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However, the phrase "gay nineties" was already well-established as an epithet for the decade (a film entitled The Gay Nineties; or, The Unfaithful Husband was released in the same year).
The song also drew on familiar satires on Wilde and Aestheticism dating back to Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience (1881).
A passage from Gertrude Stein's Miss Furr & Miss Skeene (1922) is possibly the first traceable published use of the word to refer to a homosexual relationship, though it is not altogether clear whether she uses the word to mean lesbianism or happiness: The song title alludes to Oscar Wilde, who famously wore a green carnation, and whose homosexuality was well known.
A cartoon from Punch magazine from 1857 illustrating the use of "gay" as a euphemism for prostitution.
One woman says to the other (who looks glum), "how long have you been gay?
The first name Gay is still occasionally encountered, usually as a female name although the spelling is often altered to Gaye.
(795th most common in the United States, according to the 1990 US census). The first name of the popular male Irish television presenter Gabriel Byrne was always abbreviated as "Gay", as in the title of his radio show The Gay Byrne Show.When another character inquires about his clothes, he responds "Because I just went gay..of a sudden!"  However, since this was a mainstream film at a time when the use of the word to refer to homosexuality would still be unfamiliar to most film-goers, the line can also be interpreted to mean "I just decided to do something frivolous".It derives via the Old French gai, from the Latin gaius, or possibly from a Germanic source.