Greenwich Village’s gay community has been well known since at least the early 1900s. The Village has been called the home of “long-haired men” (gays) and “short-haired women” (lesbians) since at least 1917. The “long-haired men and short-haired women” term has been credited to American playwright and author Samuel Merwin (1874-1936).
“Home of short-haired women and long-haired men” has been only infrequently used since the 1960s, when the terms “gay” and “lesbian” became popularly used.
Wikipedia: Greenwich Village
Greenwich Village (/??r?n?t?/ GREN-itch, /??r?n-/ GRIN-, /-?d?/ -ij) often referred to by locals as simply “the Village,” is a neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan, New York City. In the 20th century, Greenwich Village was known as an artists’ haven, the Bohemian capital, the cradle of the modern LGBT movement, and the East Coast birthplace of both the Beat and ‘60s counterculture movements. Groenwijck, one of the Dutch names for the village (meaning “Green District”), was Anglicized to Greenwich. Two of New York’s private colleges, New York University (NYU) and the New School, are located in Greenwich Village.
29 April 1917, San Francisco (CA) Examiner, pg. 10W, col. 5 ad:
(The Trufflers film.—ed.)
Samuel Merwin thus described the habitation of “The Trufflers” to five million readers of Cosmopolitan Magazine. His series of stories made Greenwich Village famous. No visit to New York is quite complete without a sight of America’s Latin Quarter. From Mr. Merwin’s stories Essanay has made a five-reel photoplay feature of unusual excellence. It shows life as it is lived “in the village,” with its “long-haired men and short-haired women.”
4 November 1917, New York (NY) Tribune, pt. 4, pg. 1, col. 1:
The Greenwich Village Theatre will open its season on Thursday, November 15, in the new playhouse at Fourth Street And Seventh Avenue. It is asserted that the organization is not going to be one of long-haired men and short-haired women.
22 December 1917, Judge (New York, NY), pg. 16, col. 2:
I was agreeably surprised by the absence of that affectation which characterizes most things connected with Greenwich Village. In the audience, to be sure, there were a number of long-haired men and short-haired women, but what transpired on the stage was sincere, straightforward, true.
14 February 1954, Sunday News (New York, NY), “Bulldozers in Bohemia” by Worth Gatewood, pg. 21C, col. 4:
The tolerant Village long ago acquired a reputation as a haven for homosexuals. Guides on the rubberneck buses acknowledged it by bawling as they passed Sheridan Square: “And now we’re in Greenwich Village. home of short-haired women and long-haired men.” The reputation has stuck to this day, although there probably are fewer members of the Gay Set—as they call themselves—in the Village now than there were a decade ago. Their principal hangouts are in uptown saloons on the “bird circuit.”
Greenwich Village Catholics:
St. Joseph’s Church and the Evolution of an Urban Faith Community, 1829-2002
By Thomas J. Shelley
Washington, DC: The Catholic University of America Press
The frequent mention in the press of “long-haired men” and “short-haired women” in the Village may have been a veiled reference to gays and lesbians. Needless to say, neither of these words was ever used in print.
A Global History of Love between Women
By Leila J. Rupp
New York, NY: NYU Press
Lesbians and gay men found tolerance in an unconventional environment, and the Village gained a reputation as the home of “long-haired men” and “short-haired women.”