Word of the Gay

*Straight talk on Gay language, one word at-a-time.

Archive for Relationships

#35 “walker”

Throughout history, gay men and straight women have gone together like peanut butter & jelly, peas & carrots, or Cagney & Lacey.  The level of intimacy that can be reached between these two individuals can rival even that of the most star-crossed of lovers.  Now, couple the needs of an older woman who is either single or in a loveless marriage and has vast resources – with that of a younger, attractive man who’s looking to advance his social standing – and you’ve got sheer magic.

“Walker” describes the man in this equation; a young gay man that provides company for older women for the purposes of keeping her company, giving her advice, and escorting her to social events – in lieu of a husband or boyfriend.  A walker will usually accompany a widow or unmarried woman, and act as both company and a sort of handler or aide.  Since the woman is usually “of a certain age” the term also has a double-meaning, which refers to a walker, which is a device used to assist with standing and/or walking.

This term should not be confused either “beard” or “frock,” which both describe individuals (bread-female, frock-male) who are romantically linked to either a gay man (beard) or a lesbian (frock) in order to keep their sexual orientation hidden.  Walkers are not necessarily in (or out of) the closet.

1. noun: A man (usually younger and gay) who is in a non-sexual relationship with an older woman (usually single or widowed), and serves as her social escort, muse, best friend, artistic expert, or confidante.

Ex: “Isn’t that Ms. Weintraub?  I haven’t seen her since her husband passed away last year.  It looks like that walker of hers is going to be out with her even more now.”

Ex: “Well, I saw Doris at two different events with her walker, Lawrence, again this week.”

[Origin: Most likely American or European, and used almost exclusively in high society circles.]

[Related: “beard” (female who acts as a closeted gay man’s companion in public); “frock” (male who acts as a closeted lesbian’s companion).  Examples: George “Gould” Strong & Edith Bouvier Beale; Jack McFarland & Karen Walker.]

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