WHY ARE THESE PAGES BLUE?
While many Russians now use the English "gay" to refer to
homosexual men, the native slang term, "goluboy," means "blue":
hence the background color of these pages and the title of our anthology:
Out of the Blue. "Goluboy" means not just "blue," but
"light blue," the color of a clear sky and of most blue eyes (Russian
is the only European language to make an obligatory difference between this
shade and navy [sinii], as others do between pink and red).
The source of the connection between "blue" and homosexuality
is obscure, though some suggest it may be through association with "blue
blood" (golubaya krov'), since homosexuality was sometimes perceived
as peculiar to the nobility. According to Kozlovsky (see
Bibliography), who cites Meylakh, "The Language of Homosexuals
(The Argot of Russia's Homosexual Subculture)." V International Congress
of Psychoanalysis (NY, 1982, MS), the term first appeared in the 1950s,
though it was registered in the 1940s in camp slang (that's prison camp,
not the fun kind!) in "golubaya lenta" [blue ribbon], which designated
a passive homosexual. Other interpretations suggest gay men were partial
to blue underwear, or that it is a reference to Alexei Tolstoy's story "Zolotoi
kliuchik," in which a girl named Mal'vina has blue hair. Mal'vina is
a popular nickname among Russian gays. Yet another possibility is that the
usage is related to "golubchik," a term of endearment roughly
equivalent to "my dear" and derived from the word for dove, from
which the color name is also derived. (OCS golomb', related to L columba;
there seems to be some doubt as to whether the dove was named after the
color or vice-versa!)
And while speakers of English may associate "blue" with sadness
(the blues, feeling blue), Russians connect "goluboy" with happiness
(more like "rosy" in English: "golubaya mechta," a "blue
dream," is something wonderful, longed for, practically unattainable).
And there was a wonderful nostalgic song of the 60s-70s by Sergei & Tatiana
Nikitin: "Kogda my byli molodye..." -- when we were young, which
rhymes with "Fontany byli golubye" -- the fountains were blue.