A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from May 08, 2019
Lavender Set

"Lavender” is/was an LGBTQ nickname, and the term “lavender set” was used for the community. “L.I. cops have started a campaign to rid Fire Island of its lavender set” was printed in the Courier-Post (Camden, NJ) on July 14, 1949. “The victim, well known among the lavender set because of his pronounced effeminate characteristics” was printed in The Afro-American (Baltimore, MD) on July 16, 1949. “Lavender set” has been infrequently used since 1980.

Similar names to “lavender set” include “gay set,” “homo set” and “swish set.”


(Oxford English Dictionary
lavender, n.2 and adj.
[frequently as attributive use of sense Additions.] figurative. Refined, genteel, sentimental; hence (esp. of a man) effeminate, homosexual.
1928 S. O’Casey Let. 15 June (1975) I. 280 I am very sorry..that I have hurt the refined sentimentalities of C. W. Allen by neglecting to use the lavender..language of the 18th and 19th centuries.
1973 C. Williams Man on Leash i. 1 He had no flowers to deposit on the grave and would have felt too uncomfortable and self-conscious in such a lavender-gesture anyway.

14 July 1949, Courier-Post (Camden, NJ), “It Happened Last Night” by Earl Wilson, pg. 31, col. 3:
L.I. cops have started a campaign to rid Fire Island of its lavender set.

16 July 1949, The Afro-American (Baltimore, MD), “‘Twilight’ Love Between Two Men Ends in Murder,” pg. 12, col. 4:
The victim, well known among the lavender set because of his pronounced effeminate characteristics was found in a dying condition at the corner of New Jersey Avenue near P Street, by a passerby identified as Willie Monroe.

24 May 1951, Newsday (Long Island, NY), “Appeals Court Sees Sash Slayer’s Lawyer Act Out Duff Death Scene” by Val Duncan, pg. 29, col. 3:
Robbins, dilettante pianist, socialite and fair haired boy of the lavender set is serving 7-1/2 to 15 years in Sing Sing, following his conviction of manslaughter on May 31.

6 June 1951, Variety (New York, NY), “House Reviews—Apollo, N. Y.,” pg. 22, col. 2:
Patterson & Jackson score handily with blending of taps, quips and parodies. Team’s asset is their beefy appearance, each weighing more than 250 pounds, and although Jackson goes overboard ribbing the lavender set, overall effect pleases.

14 November 1951, Springfield (MA) Union, “On Broadway” by Walter Winchell, pg. 8, col. 5:
The gendarmes padlocked 3 East Side spots last week. The Lavender Set is in agony.

30 May 1953, The Daily Argus-Leader (Sioux Falls, SD), Walter Winchell column, pg. 4, col. 4:
The Ocean Beach (Fire Island) Gay-Set is due for a large shock. The town hired a detective agency (with power of arrest) to rid the place of wild-lavenders.

2 October 1955, The Washington Post and Times Herald (Washington, DC), “Walter Winchell...Chatter From Broadway, pg. J6, col.
Shocking news about Calcutta’s top character: Once rumored to have been highly interested in a British noblewoman, official British sources now learn he is much more interested in the Lavender set.

Google Books
1965, Fact magazine, g. 26:
lavender adj. Homosexual. Commonly used by heterosexuals, as in “lavender set.”

20 February 1970 The Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), “Broadway First Night” by William A. Raidy, pg. 22, col. 1:
An amusing visit with the lavender set
(The comedy Norman, Is That You?”—ed.)

Google Books
Anthropological Linguistics
Volume 14
1972
Pg. 104:
*LAVENDER (adj. ): Homosexual. Commonly used by heterosexuals, as in ‘the lavender set’.

22 September 1974, San Francisco (CA) , “Stage,” Datebook sec., pg. 3, col. 1:
TUBSTRIP
(At the Enterprise, 430 Mason)
Calvin Culver, better known as Casey Donovan in the all-male porno films “Casey,” The Boys in the Sand,” and “The Back Row,” plays the attendant in a homosexual bathhouse called “Boystown.” This acts as the setting for this play, an attempt at a upbeat “Boys in the Band” that winds up more like the “My Little Margie” of the lavender set, crossed with “As the World Turns.”

27 July 1986, Marietta (GA) Daily Journal, “Reader comment,” pg. 9B, col. 3:
... most of us have more important and meaningful things about which to worry than what the lavender set is up to ...
(...)
SCOTT CHADWICK
Marietta

Google Books
About Time:
Exploring the Gay Past

By Martin B. Duberman
New York, NY: Meridian
1991
Pg. 222:
Within television and radio there is a thriving “lavender” set which tries, whenever possible, to find work for those willing to put their all into their work.

Google Books
Christopher Street
Issue 180
1992
Pg. 10:
“You probably won’t get a lick of work done there,” my friend, Mrs. Chatterton, said. “They say this Mady person puts up loads of the lavender set every weekend.”

Google Books
Stages of Desire:
Gay Theatre’s Hidden History

By Carl Miller
London, UK: Cassell
1996
Pg. 12:
Yet things are not as they were when Tip-Off exposed Broadway’s ‘lavender set’.

Google Books
Gendered Pasts:
Historical Essays in Femininity and Masculinity in Canada

Edited by Kathryn McPherson, Nancy M. Forestell and Cecilia Louise Morgan
Toronto, ON: University of Toronto Press
2003
Pg. 165:
‘The homo set’, ‘the swish set’, ‘the lavender set’, ‘the gay set’, ‘the wrist-slapping set’, and ‘the gay boys’ were but a few of the popular combinations used to denote local gay communities.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityWorkers/People • Wednesday, May 08, 2019 • Permalink