The word gay stems from Victorian London. In My Secret Life, it referred especially to prostitutes, who often consorted with either sex.  In the latter half of the 20th century, the Sexual Revolution sought to rehabilitate or co-opt the word gay as a positive and approving affirmation of homosexuality.
- The book is the ostensibly true-life chronicle of Walter, a Victorian gentleman of moderate means and a truly obsessive desire for sexual experiences. Most of the women Walter has sex with are prostitutes, or "gay women," as he calls them.