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 American slang term originally referred to anyone who acted on behalf of another, in any transaction, to conceal a person's true identity.[1] The term can be used in heterosexual and homosexual contexts, but is especially used within LGBT culture.[2] References to beards are seen in mainstream television and films, and other entertainment.

Concealing sexual orientationEdit

Recognized usage of beard applies to a person who serves to camouflage another's sexual orientation.[3] An example is the woman a gay man pretends to date in an effort to conceal his sexuality. Though beard entered wider use in the 1960s,[Citation needed] many of the reported lavender marriages of the 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 damage that the disclosure of Hudson's homosexuality[4] might have caused to his career. In a 2011 interview, Betty White stated that she often served as a beard to Liberace to counter rumors of his homosexuality.[5] Such relationships can cause legal and emotional issues for both parties, particularly when they end.[6][7]

See alsoEdit


  1. beard: definition of beard in Oxford dictionary (British & World English). (2014-06-03). Retrieved on 2014-06-09.
  2. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedCassell's Dictionary of Slang.
  3. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedPaul Baker. Fantabulosa: The Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang.
  4. Error on call to Template:cite book: Parameter title must be specifiedTyrkus, Michael (1997). . St. James Press.
  5. CNN Official Interview: Betty White: Bea Arthur was not fond of me. youtube. 
  6. Va. Supreme Court recognizes unmarried same-sex couples are legal too.
  7. Gross, Jane. "When the Beard Is Too Painful to Remove", 2006-08-03. 
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