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Either Way, Giuliani Is a ‘Friend of Dorothy’

Re “At Giuliani Pad, Towels Say ‘His,’ ‘His’ and ‘His,’ ” Sept. 2: The Times’ delicious report of Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and his gay roommates stumbles on an urban legend. The euphemism “a friend of Dorothy” is not “derived from the gay obsession with Judy Garland.”

Its etymology traces back to Dorothy Parker, screenwriter and Vanity Fair critic. To keep the proceedings lively, Dorothy notoriously invited gays galore to Jazz Age social gatherings, and many of them told friends. During Prohibition, guys whose names weren’t on the guest list crashed the gate as “friends of Dorothy,” an idiom among Manhattan socialites referring to any unfamiliar character. To gays, a rendezvous with a “friend of Dorothy” meant a gay acquaintance in relative safety, in the era before Judy Garland’s funeral sparked the Stonewall riots.

James Roman

Los Angeles

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I commend Mayor Giuliani for openly living with his friends, whatever their lifestyle. I just wonder if he would be doing this if he were currently running for office.

Jon Spevack

Oakland

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