Student or Learner
Can I substitute "a male homosexual" for a gay and "a female homosexual" for a lesbian?
Can't "a gay" be a woman too?
I suggest you not use gay as a noun in any case.
I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.
***** NOT A TEACHER *****
(1) You have asked a very sensitive and delicate question that must be
answered in a very careful manner.
(2) If you wish to be "socially correct," I believe that people now refer
to the GLBT community, i.e., gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender
(3) Here in the United States, I believe, people who wish to be
"socially" correct refer to someone as being "gay" or "a gay." I agree with
the other posters that the word can apply to both males and females.
(4) If you come to the United States and keep referring to people as
"homosexual," some people would interpret that as meaning that you
do not approve of that particular orientation. For example, there are
some organizations and individuals that oppose that orientation and
refuse to use the word "gay." They feel that using the word would
show approval of that particular orientation. They often criticize the
"homosexual lifestyle" or "homosexual agenda."
Bottom line: If you do not wish to hurt anyone's feelings or
anger anyone, you should stay with the noun/adjective gay.
P.S. Of course, in medical or psychological literature, it would
not be an insult to use the word homosexual (if, for example, the
writer were also referring to heterosexuals).
It's political correctness, but of a rather benevolent kind. The idea is to not turn people into things (There's a split infinitive for ya.). Once he becomes "a gay" rather than "a human being", we can treat him like an object, and we have defined him narrowly. All he is now is this thing that is other than us, and we have put him at a distance. A "gay man" remains a man. Sometimes I sound like a teacher or preacher.