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.

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