by LSA Past President (1992) Arnold M. Zwicky, appearing also on his blog).

For LGBT History Month 2019, some notes on a little piece of that history in linguistics, in the loose network of academic acquaintanceship that formed at the Linguistic Institute at UC Santa Cruz in the summer of 1991: OUT in Linguistics, OUTiL, OUTIL (the abbreviation pronounced /áwtǝl/, through some wags joked about its being French outil /uti/ ‘tool’, with the expected sexual slang use). A notice went out on the Institute mailing list for an informal social gathering of the new group, with a characterization that then varied, from occasion to occasion, in its list of invitees; a version from several years later:

    The group is open to lesbian, gay, bisexual, dyke, queer, homosexual, trans, etc. linguists and their friends. The only requirement is that you be willing to be out to everyone on the list as lgbt(-friendly); it’s sort of like wearing a pink triangle.

This was at a Linguistic Institute, so no one was fussy about who counted as a linguist; if you wanted to hang out with rest of us for the summer, you were welcome. Just so with OUTiL; if you wanted to hang out with the rest of us for an hour or two, you were welcome. OUTiL, however, was primarily social, and that was an excellent thing, especially at the time.

The inspiration for OUTiL was in part the activist Women’s Caucus informally associated with the LSA from 1971 (which soon became COSWL, the Committee on the Status of Women in Linguistics, and is now known as COGEL, the Committee on Gender Equity in Linguistics), but primarily the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss. From the Slate article “The First Gay Space on the Internet: It was called soc.motss, and it anticipated how we use social networks today” by David Auerbach on 8/20/14:

    In 1983 programmer Steve Dyer started a discussion forum called net.motss (later soc.motss) on the Usenet newsgroup system. Built in 1980 atop pre-Internet networks such as ARPANET and BITNET, Usenet allowed for creation of hierarchical categories of interest groups (, rec.arts.books, etc.) and public threaded discussions within each group, in much the same way forums and comments work today. The abbreviation “motss” stood for “members of the same sex,” an unflashy acronym that would make it less of a potential target for censorship. University of Colorado–Boulder professor Amy Goodloe, who went on to start many lesbian Usenet groups as well as found and run in 1995, calls soc.motss the first explicitly LGBTQ newsgroup — and possibly the first explicitly LGBTQ international space of any kind.

    … Before the Internet became part of everyone’s life, it often served as a social refuge for people who felt too shy, too unaccepted, too intellectual, or simply too different for everyday culture. Ironically, they would be the pioneers of spaces that allowed for freer, more open self-expression. [Engineer Nelson] Minar feels that soc.motss was something rare, both then and now: “an intelligent place for discussion of gay issues with some sort of filter for thoughtfulness of the members. We were there to discuss opera and culture and Madonna, not to get laid.”

I found soc.motss in 1985 — and joined a widespread community of interesting people of all sorts, in a space where you could talk freely about your lives and about pretty much anything else. The first annual face-to-face gathering — a motss.con — was held in 1988, and the group later shifted from Usenet to a Facebook (closed) group soc-motss.

The intention of OUTiL was to achieve something of this sort on a smaller scale and with a focus related to linguistics. After the Institute, it continued as a mailing list that I managed for a bit, until Ken Hyde at the University of Delaware took over maintaining it. Our information page from 2004 (complete with rainbows, pictured at right).

Eventually, there were t-shirts (pictured below center):

An overview of things at the time, from Bill Leap’s chapter 5, “Studying Lesbian and Gay Languages: Vocabulary, Text-making, and Beyond”, in Out in Theory: The Emergence of Lesbian and Gay Anthropology, ed. by Ellen Lewin and William L. Leap  (Univ. of Illinois Press, 2002):

    Within linguistics, an important event was the creation of OUTIL, the “out in linguistics” list-serve long maintained by Arnold Zwicky and now by his colleagues at the University of Delaware. OUTIL has made it easier for lesbian and gay linguists to organize get-togethers at national and regional meetings, exchange comments on research issues, and keep in touch in other ways. OUTIL also facilitates planning for lesbian and gay language-oriented sessions at meetings, proposed publications and advertised conference sessions and other events of interest to lesbian and gay language scholars. Moreover, OUTIL provides a network of connections for newcomers to lesbian and gay linguistics. (pp. 134-5)

About Ken Hyde, from the Univ. of Delaware English Language Institute faculty site:

    Ken Hyde, Tutoring Center Coordinator, joined ELI in 1994 while working on his graduate degree in Linguistics at the University of Delaware. Before coming to ELI, he earned a Bachelor’s degree in French Comparative Literature from the University of Tulsa and taught courses in French and Instructional Technology at the Tulsa Community College. He also taught French and Spanish privately and worked as a French interpreter. Ken received his M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Delaware. His current research interest is in the application of theoretical models of Linguistics to create effective teaching methods.

OUT in LINGUISTICS — the word OUT made up of the word LINGUISTICS T-shirts

(designed by Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky) available in pink and purple and in various sizes

The old mailing list withered away, but then was revived as a Facebook group. From my 3/1/12 posting “OUT in Linguistics”:

    The old OUT in Linguistics mailing list seems to have died, so I’ve created a Facebook group for this purpose…  It’s a “closed” group: anyone can see the group, but only members can post and see the postings.

And that’s where we are now (with 53 members).

Other LGBT+ resources in linguistics.

First, Lavender Language/Linguistics resources, in particular the academic conferences organized by Bill Leap since 1993. See his LSA linguistics history page on Lavender Language/Linguistics, with its discussion of the distinction between this domain of inquiry and Queer Linguistics.

Second, the more loosely organized, and more social, Queer Linguist(ic)s Network, a Facebook group created in 2016, with this jaunty statement of purpose:

    1. Intended membership – queer* people who are linguists – (any) people who study / research queer linguistics (past, present or future) (*queer here encompassing all non-normative / marginalised gender, relationship, romantic and sexual identities / practices / subjectivities / embodiments and intersex (acknowledging that “queer” is imperfect shorthand with which not all those falling under such an umbrella may identify))

    2. Purpose – supporting – advising – sharing – networking – possibly other stuff as it develops… Posts might include discussion of queer linguistic research and knowledge, as well as issues, specific or general, relating to being queer in the field of linguistics

And third, what began in 2018 as an LSA Special Interest Group on LTBGQ+ Linguistics, convened by Tyler Kibbey and Rusty Barrett, both at the Univ. of Kentucky, originally managed as a mailing list, which has now morphed into COZIL, the Committee on LGBTQ+ [Z] Issues in Linguistics. From Tyler’s 10/9 announcement of COZIL’s creation:

    You can read our formal charges and responsibilities as an open committee on the new committee page. The LSA has also released a brief news item announcing the formation of COZIL. … the first formal meeting of the new committee will be held this January at the 2020 Annual Meeting

Note on LGBT months. (Or LGBTQ or LGBT+, depending on who you read.) In the US and Canada, there are two whole months each year devoted to LGBT matters.

— LGBT Pride Month is June, in memory of the 1969 Stonewall Uprising; it’s centered on Stonewall Day, June 28.

— LGBT History Month is October; from Wikipedia:

    LGBT History Month [first celebrated in 1994] is an annual month-long observance of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender history, and the history of the gay rights and related civil rights movements. LGBT History Month provides role models, builds community, and represents a civil rights statement about the contributions of the LGBT community. Currently, LGBT History Month is a month-long celebration that is specific to the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. In the United States and Canada, it is celebrated in October to coincide with National Coming Out Day on 11 October.