I was intrigued to find the former President Nixon’s gaffe, “San Francisco is full of ‘fags’ and ‘decorators’” in an old article of Time (June 9, 2010) titled “A brief history of political profanity.”
It appears in the following statement:
“Richard Nixon holds the unofficial record for being the most openly profane U.S. President. - - In a taped 1971 conversation between the President and two of his sides, Nixon called Mexicans “dishonest, “ said that blacks lived “like a bunch of dogs” and that San Francisco was full of “fags” and “decorators.” And that was just one conversation.”
I’m curious to know why “fags” and “decorator” are placed in a pair and in parenthesis.
CED defines ‘decorator’ simply as “a person whose job is to paint the inside or outside of buildings and to do other related work. OED defines it as ‘Am Eng. a person whose job is to design interior of houses by choosing colors, carpet and furnishing. There’s nothing profane or derogative with the definitions of this word.
Does “decorator” have a special meaning other than the above definitions?
I’m interested to know how someone would respond to President Nixon’s usage of the word, ‘decorator’ in his comment, if he or she happened to be a decorator.