The gay life of libertine sexual promiscuity was described vividly by a Victorian gentleman in his autobiography, My Secret Life. In the late twentieth century, homosexuality advocates chose to reclaim the word "gay" as a badge of honor, implying that promiscuity and immorality were acts of courage deserving approval from the mainstream.
- The word gay in the 1890s had an overall tinge of promiscuity -- a gay house was a brothel. The suggestion of immorality in the word can be traced back to 1637. 
- A triumph of consciousness-raising has been the homosexual hijacking of the word "gay". I used to mourn the loss of gay in (what I still think of as) its true sense. But on the bright side (wait for it) gay has inspired a new imitator, which is the climax of this article. Gay is succinct, uplifting, positive: an "up" word, where homosexual is a down word, and queer, faggot and pooftah are insults. 
In My Secret Life, the word "gay" referred especially to prostitutes, who often consorted with either sex.  In the latter half of the 20th century, the Sexual Revolution began to mainstream the word gay, with the result that American society is split. Around half view homosexuality in positive and affirmation terms, while others continue to condemn it on Biblical grounds.
Homosexual activism and the United States
- 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.