Beard

Beard is a slang term describing a person who is used, knowingly or unknowingly, as a date, romantic partner (Boyfriend or Girlfriend), or spouse either to conceal infidelity or to conceal one’s sexual orientation.

The term can be used in heterosexual and homosexual contexts, but with increasing acceptance of gay culture, references to beards are seen in mainstream television and movies as well as other entertainment.

In a typical scenario, X and Y are in a supposedly exclusive relationship, but X is actually cheating with Z. However, to keep Y from learning about X’s infidelity, W, the “beard”, pretends to be paired with Z. Such a scenario is a central premise of Woody Allen’s 1984 film ‘Broadway Danny Rose.’ The titular talent agent is the beard, pretending to date Tina, a single woman who is actually having an affair with married singer Lou Canova. By posing as Tina’s date, Danny can bring her to Lou’s performances without drawing attention from Lou’s suspicious wife. The term ‘beard’ is a running gag, used four times (e.g., ‘I’m only the beard’) when Tina’s relatives assume Danny is Tina’s previously mysterious lover.

Recognized usage of ‘beard’ applies to a person who serves to camouflage another’s sexual orientation. An example is a gay man pretending to date a woman, in an effort to conceal his sexuality. Though beard entered wider use in the 1960s, many of the reported lavender marriages (a type of male-female marriage of convenience in which the couple are not both heterosexual and conceal the homosexual or bisexual orientation of one or both spouses) of 1920s in Hollywood, and the similar reported romantic marriage of Rock Hudson (mid-1950s) employed the same usage. In Hudson’s case, Phyllis Gates acted as his beard, to avert the perceived damage that the disclosure of Hudson’s homosexuality might have on his career.

Tags:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s