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About IHSPIJSP Credits

People with a History: An Online Guide to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History
John Boswell Page

Site Maintainer: Paul Halsall
©1997


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Introduction

There has been a huge outpouring of research on lesbian, gay and bisexual history, as well as the newer "queer studies", in the past fifteen years. [See the Bibliographical Guide to Lesbian and Gay History for evidence.] But the field is awash with controversies, controversies, it must be said, which advance our knowledge on all fronts. The central questions raised address the nature and possibility of a "history of homosexuality". Some scholars assert that "homosexuality" as a discrete identity is a very modern western construction (although the dates suggested by these scholars vary considerably). Others argue that there have always been "homosexuals" with some self-awareness, but even they would acknowledge that the large, highly visible and open "gay and lesbian community: of the past few decades is a new development in history.

For those who argue that "gays and lesbians" are a new creation, the only "gay and lesbian history" that can really deserve the name is the history of the modern political and social movement. In practice, however, even those who argue this way accept that homosexual activity in the past was widespread (however conceived at the time) and that this past is of interest to modern lesbians and gays. An analogy may be made here with "national" histories: there was no "English nation" before the late middle ages - the idea of "nation" is itself a late development - and yet the history of both Roman Britannia and Anglo-Saxon and earlier medieval England is fairly studied as contributing to the history of the modern English nation. In the same way the lives and activities of those who were sexually active, or attracted to, members of the same sex, as well as the attitudes of others towards them may fairly be said to constitute a history of interest to modern lesbians, gays and bisexuals.

But what makes up "modern lesbian, gay and bisexual" [hereafter "LGB"] identity? Clearly "sexuality" - broadly understood as sexual activity and understandings of such activity - plays an important part. The history of sexuality, and especially homosexual activity, is a subject for LGB history. Some indeed would seek to limit LGB history to a history of sexual activity. It does not seem accurate, however, to restrict modern understandings of LGB identities to sex. There are, and have been, societies in which same-sex sexual activity has been widespread but has had little or no emotional significance [as with some modern prison homosexuality]. But a preference for, or orientation to, homosexual activity is only part of modern LGB identities. Just as important is an emphasis on emotional contact and partnership with another person of the same sex [called "homoaffectionalism" by author Paul Hardman]. Social surveys of modern lesbians and gays in couples show this clearly: the relationships continue to be emotionally central to participants even if sexual activity after a number of years becomes minimal or non-existent. On the other hand, in modern European and American societies emotionally intense same-sex relationships -- sometimes called "friendship" in the past -- have very limited, if any, public role. It is not uncommon for people to claim that they have "hundreds of friends", a nonsensical statement if "friend" were to have its significance in ancient and medieval European discourses. There is thus some reason to claim the history of friendship is of special interest to modern LGBs, who preserve with their subcultures a tradition of intense emotional same-sex friendship, both with sexual partners and with others.

The "History of (Homo-)Sexuality" and "Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual History"

Traditional history has sought to understand past and present societies with categories of analysis such as politics, thought, economics, and, at least since Karl Marx, class. In the past twenty or so years other categories of analysis, not considered important in the past, have appeared as significant to many historians. Perhaps the most important of these is gender. To these historians Gender is the cultural meaning given to the rather limited facts of biology. One aspect of gender analysis consists in looking at how "men" and "women", "masculinity" and "femininity", are understood in a society - and at how such understandings play out in people's lives. Another, even newer, aspect of gender analysis looks at issues of sexual behavior and sexuality.

Although Western medievalist, John Boswell, who legitimated lesbian and gay history as a field of study in his book Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (1980) famously advanced the theory that "Gay people" have always and everywhere existed, this has not been widely accepted by scholars. Since 1980 a very specific theory the history of sexuality as it applies to homosexuals, has come to be accepted by the majority of historians working in the field. The model now is this:

  • Homosexual behaviors exist in most societies, and in most, including European society until about 1700, homosexuality falls into two main patterns (at least for men.) One pattern is based on age-dissonant sexual dominance; an older man (not always very much older by the way) will take a conventionally "male" role in a sexual relationship with a younger male, but will not, in doing so, be regarded as any different from other "male" men in general society. The second common pattern is based on gender-dissonant sexual dominance; this means that in a number of societies there were "biological" males who lived as "non-males" throughout their lives, and these people can also be the sexual partners of "male" men without the "men" loosing any status. The Native American berdache is perhaps the most famous example of a widespread phenomenon.
  • Around 1700, in Western Europe a change took place. A subculture of effeminate men arose in major cities, men who identified themselves as different. The word "molly" was used in London and other words elsewhere. Although they were prepared to have sex with "male" men these "mollies" were also prepared to have sex with each other. This is not, it seems, common across various societies. Some historians have called this the emergence of a "third gender".
  • Since "a third gender" is not the model of modern homosexuality in the West, there has been a question of when the "modern homosexual" emerged. Many writers have argued that that the medicalization of homosexuality in the late nineteenth century resulted in the creation of a new creature - the "modern homosexual" (and the "modern heterosexual"!) What distinguishes "homo-" and "heterosexuals" from earlier models of sexuality is that they are in strict opposition to each other, and are defined not by gender role, or even sexual role, but by "sexual orientation". Certainly in Germany in the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century there was a clear notion of homosexuality, and a political movement based on it.
  • A major recent readjustment of this theory, resulting from the work of George Chauncey in his recent Gay New York. Chauncey has called into question the last part of the traditional formulation. He argues that elite terminology and labels (also known as "medicalization") had no immediate effect on the mass of working class New Yorkers (with the suggestion that this was probably true elsewhere.) That although there were, eventually, some self-identified "queers", until as late 1940 [!] it was common for working-class men to have "male role" sex with other men ["fairies"] without in any way feeling that they were "homosexual". What happened around 1940, the Chauncey-amended model says is that, first, more and more of the mass of the population began to identify as "heterosexual" and see any homosexual behavior as transgressive; and secondly among self-identified "queers" a shift in desired sexual partner took place. Previously "queers" had tended to prefer "male" men but now "queers" began to prefer other "queers" as sexual partners.
  • It was this emergence of a social identity of "homosexual" which enabled lesbian and gay people to come together, recognize each other, and begin a social movement for legal, political and social equality.

As can be seen current discussion amongst historians focuses on the history of Western sexuality. It would also seem to imply that there were no "homosexuals", or "heterosexuals", in the past nor in other cultures [there was of course always homo- and heterosexual behavior]. In reading the various texts from other cultures below, readers might consider if the current dominant model applies as widely as its proponents suppose?

"Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual History" and Same-Sex Friendship

Lesbian history has long been roiled by the issue of "Romantic friendship" - with Lillian Faderman's Surpassing the Love of Men (in which she discusses women's romantic friendships). The question posed comes down to this "Does it matter whether they had sex?" It turns out that there is more evidence of lesbian sex than Faderman may have noticed (see Emma Donahue's book on Early Modern British Lesbian), but for "gay" history this has seemed less of a problem: there is no shortage of evidence about sexual activity between men in the past. If we want to restrict history for gay people to the history of same sex activity, we can do so. The result might be a sorry story of oppression, appearances in court, and Bohemian exceptions, but it is there.

But is this all there is, or is the wider topic of male-male emotional relationships also part of "gay" history? This is the real issue with the whole debate over Boswell's Same Sex Unions. In fact the issue of "Romantic friendship" between men is shaping up as a real panel-buster at conferences [perhaps we need a book "Surpassing the Love of Women" to discuss it?]. When we ask the question "Does it matter if they were having sex?", we have to ask "matter to whom [?]?". And if we have "Romantic Friendship" plus "socially created kinship" minus-"demonstrated or publically validated sexual activity", as seems to have been the case with adelphopoiia, what exactly are we dealing with? Clearly it is not unambiguous "gay history".

Some writers have argued that "homosociality, homoeroticism, and homosexuality are analytically distinct". In response, I would note that almost anything can be distinguished from anything else, and, to use a medieval terminology, nominalism is surely more accurate that realism in discussions of human relationships. If one wanted, I am sure one could make an argument that "homo-whatever" relationships between modern mid-American white men were qualitatively distinct from interracial relationships in LA, and then go on to insist that since they are analytically distinct, they should not be "confounded" by "gay historians". The issue, of course, is who makes the distinctions. All sorts of perspectives can be taken on this: sometimes mere whim is involved, at other times social power relations are involved. As far as I am concerned, history is written to be read: it involves narratives and analyses of current concern. So, why should we choose to argue that "homosociality, homoeroticism, and homosexuality" are analytically distinct? I think that there is no justification for distinguishing homoeroticsm and homosexuality as areas of analysis.

I am more prepared to listen to arguments about homosociality, so nicely misrepresented by the word "friendship", as a necessarily distinct phenomenon, but would ask what is gained and what is lost making the distinction? Does making the distinction make the past clearer or more obscure? Or is some sort of analytic tension required? I would argue that in the modern Western construction of homosexuality, traditions of romantic friendship have played crucial roles: in writers such as John Addington Symonds, Walt Whitman, a real gay tradition of reading Plato's Symposium, and so forth. In other words, there is a direct and demonstrable historical appropriation of traditions of romantic friendship by nineteenth and early twentieth century homosexual men which precedes "gay" and "gay history".

FIN

INVITATION TO CONTRIBUTE

If you have texts which could be added to this page, please consider sending them to me at halsall@bway.net. Texts can include texts from the past, or papers you have written about homosexuality, bisexuality, or transgendering in history.


Contents


Chapter 1: History and Theory

For teachers of courses on LGBT subjects an important choice is always whether to address "events and people" or "theory" first. In most areas of history this is simply not an issue: courses focus on periods and any relevant "theory" -- for example, Marxist economics, Whig politics -- is discussed as it come up. But LGBT history almost from the outset has been intertwined with complex discussions about what makes a "homosexual". It is also true that much of the evidence about "homosexuality" in the past survives in sources which have long been of interest to philologists, philosophers, and literary critics. The result is that the field is awash with jargonistic discussions. These discussions are not, however, pointless, and have raised basic questions about the entire arena of the history of human sexuality.

Discussions:

Reviews:

  • David M. Halperin: Eribon, D.: Michel Foucault [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Didier Eribon, Michel Foucault, trans. Betsy Wing. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991
  • Kathryn Gutzwiller: Halperin, D.M., One Hundred Years of Homosexuality [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] David M. Halperin. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality: and Other Essays on Greek Love New York and London: Routledge, 1990. [A gushing review]
  • Amy Richlin: Halperin, D.M.: One Hundred Years of Homosexuality [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] David M. Halperin. One Hundred Years Of Homosexuality: and Other Essays on Greek Love. New York and London: Routledge, 1990. [Less gushing]
  • Alison .M. Keith: Winkler, J.J.: The Constraints of Desire[Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] John J. Winkler. The Constraints of Desire. The Anthropology of Sex and Gender in Ancient Greece. New York & London: Routledge, 1990.
  • Review of Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, Epistemology of the Closet (1990) [At Berkeley]
    One of the most influent books on queer theory.
  • Websites:

    • Queer Frontiers [At USC]
      An important "Queer Theory" site.
    • LeFonque's PostModern Hotspots [At coc.com.au]
      Contemporary Philosophy, Critical Theory and Postmodern Thought Resources.
    • Foucault Home Page [At CSUN]
      Discussion of the work of French philosopher Michel Foucault has been central to some recent historiography of LGBT's. This is probably the best Foucault site, and has links to others. The links page here provides references to sites concerned with the other divinities of "theory" - Nietzsche, Lacan, Heidigger, Derrida, Deleuze. Some would argue it is all a commentary on Nietzsche.
    • The Gay Gene [At AOL]
      A site run by Chandler Burr for "both scientists and non-scientists. It contains articles and links to ongoing studies. Much of the "critical theory" aspect of discussion about LGBT history has been founded on the assumption that "sexuality" is a human "social construction". This notion does have solid backing from anthropological data. A major challenge to the "constructionist" position has arisen with the publication of a number of different studies which suggest that homosexuality has a genetic basis in at least some people.
    • The Scientific Debate on Homosexuality [At Dallas Net]
      Slightly "lighter" than the Gay Gene site.
    • Scientific Inquiries into Sexual Orientation [At CMU]

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 2: The Ancient Near East and Egypt

    The oldest human cultures complex enough to be called "civilizations" seem to have emerged in Ancient Iraq and Turkey, and in Egypt. The basic historical distinction between the two areas is that Egypt had a more or less continuous "national" history from the earliest Pharoahs until the rise of Islam, while Iraq, Syria and Anatolia, being much more geographically exposed, were homes to succeeding and not entirely continuous cultures - Sumeria, Akkad, Babylon, Assyria, Persia, Seleucia, to name only a few.

    Despite the immense time covered, research into homosexuality seems to have only just begun for these areas, and this is a section of this page that will be developed as more information becomes available. So far much of the discussion is based on Biblical texts, and on the assumption that the hostility of the Hebrew Bible to homosexual practice reflects homosexual activities associated with the surrounding religions.

    An area which need more research is evidence of "homoaffectionalism" in these ancient societies: that is relationships based on desire but not necessarily sexual. The epic story of Gilgamesh contains one very important story in this regard.

    Discussions:

    • None as yet

    Texts:

    • The Book of Ani, or the Egyptian Book of the Dead [At Upenn]
      The is the full text in E. Wallis Budge's translation. Homosexual activity is addressed in the "Negative Confession". Search for "lain with men".
    • Contendings of Horus and Seth [trans Edward F. Wente, in The Literature of Ancient Egypt, ed. William Kelly Simpson, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1972), 108-26
      The struggled between these two gods (Seth was brother and murderer of Horus's father Osiris) in this New Kingdom literary text, has distinct homosexual overtones - based on who was dominating whom.
    • Mesopotamian Law and Homosexuality
    • Epic of Gilgamesh [extended summary] [At WSU]
      Only a long summary is available online. Note that in Tablet I: Cols. 5-6, Gilgamesh relationship with Enkudu is explicitly said to be like that "with a wife". Some versions, especially summaries, elide the homoeroticism of the text..
    • The Promise of Inanna to Gender Variants, [At Gallae Page At Azstarnet]
    • Myth of Cybele and Attis, [At Gallae Page At Azstarnet]
    • Avesta Vendidad: Fargard 8 - Zoroastrian Law Book on Homosexuality [At Avesta Homepage, with links to text in original language]
      There is some difficulty in dating Zoroastrian scriptures. The Gathas, the presumed writings of Zoroaster, are silent on the subject. The legal texts here were collected in the Vendidad, circa 250-650 CE, and are overtly hostile to male homosexual activity. It has been suggested that they are the root of the Hebrew Scripture's condemnation - they contain the phrase "Lies with mankind as womankind" for instance. This depends on the assumption that Vendidad is a collection is of much earlier texts. But given the dates the influence may have been from the Hebrew texts. There is a general discussion of Zoroastrianism and Homosexuality on the net.
    • Coptic Spell: For a Man to Obtain a Male Lover, Egypt, [poss. 6th C. CE]

    Web sites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 3: Ancient Greece

    For modern western gays and lesbians, Ancient Greece has long functioned as sort of homosexual Arcadia. Greek culture was, and is, highly privileged as one of the foundations of Western culture and the culture of sexuality apparent in its literature was quite different from the "repression" experienced by moderns. The sense of possibility the Greek experienced opened up can be seen in a scene in E.M. Forster's Maurice where the hero is seen reading Plato's Symposium at Cambridge.

    It would be too simple, however, to see Greek homosexuality as just a more idyllic form than modern versions. As scholars have gone to work on the -- plentiful -- material several tropes have become common. One set of scholars (slightly old-fashioned now) looks for the "origin" of Greek homosexuality, as if it were a new type of game, and argues that, since the literature depicts homosexual eros among the fifth-century aristocracy, it functioned as sort of fashion among that group. This is rather like arguing that because nineteenth-century English novels depict romance as an activity of the gentry and aristocracy, other classes did not have romantic relationships. Another, now more prevalent, group of scholars argue that term "homosexual", referring they say to sexual orientation, is inappropriate to discussions of Greek sexual worlds. Rather they stress the age dissonance in literary homoerotic ideals, and the importance of "active" and "passive" roles. Some stress these themes so intently that it comes as a surprise to discover that we now the names of quite number of long-term Greek homosexual couples.

    As a result of such scholarly discussions, it is no longer possible to portray Greece as a homosexual paradise. It remains the case that the Greek experience of eros was quite different from experiences in the modern world, and yet continues, because of Greece's persistent influence on modern norms to be of special interest.

    Discussions:

    Reviews:

  • Jennifer Neils: Robertson, Martin: The art of vase-painting in classical Athens. [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Robertson, Martin, The art of vase-painting in classical Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992.
  • Earl Jackson Jr : Amy Richlin, ed.: Pornography and Representation in Greece [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Amy Richlin, ed. Pornography and Representation in Greece and Rome. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1991.
  • Thomas M. Falkner: Strauss: Fathers and Sons [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Barry S. Strauss, Fathers and Sons in Athens. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993.
  • Michael W. Haslam: M.L. West, ed.: Iambi et Elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantati vol. [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] M L. West, ed., Iambi et Elegi Graeci ante Alexandrum cantati vol. II, editio altera. Oxford University Press, 1992.
  • Ellen Greene: Williamson: Sappho's Immortal Daughters [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Margaret Williamson, Sappho's Immortal Daughters. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1995.
  • Brad Inwood & Mark Timmins: Dean-Jones: Women's Bodies [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Lesley Ann Dean-Jones, Women's Bodies in Classical Greek Science. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994.
  • Froma I. Zeitlin: Rabinowitz: Anxiety Veiled (II) [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Nancy Sorkin Rabinowitz, Anxiety Veiled: Euripides and the Traffic in Women. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1993.
  • Gunhild Viden: Berggren/Marinatos, edd.: Greece and Gender [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Berggren, Brit & Marinatos, Nanno (edd.), Greece and Gender. Bergen: Papers from the Norwegian Institute at Athens 2, 1995.
  • David Rosenbloom: Boegehold/Scafuro: Athenian Identity and Civic Ideology [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Alan L. Boegehold and Adele Scafuro (edd.), Athenian Identity and Civic Ideology. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994.
  • Keith DeVries: Kilmer, Greek Erotica [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Martin F. Kilmer, Greek Erotica. London: Duckworth, 1993. 286; figs.
  • David M. Schaps: Loraux: Experiences of Tiresias [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Loraux, Nicole, The Experiences of Tiresias: The Feminine and the Greek Man. Translated by Paula Wissing. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995.
  • Richard Hamilton: Garland, R.: The Greek Way of Life: (Richard Hamilton) [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Robert Garland. The Greek Way of Life: From Conception to Old Age. London: Duckworth 1990.
  • Richard Hamilton: Review of O. Murray ed. Sympotica: A Symposium on the Symposion. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990. [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews]
    Long summary review on the nature of a symposium.
  • Anton Bierl: Craik, E.M. (ed.): Owls to Athens: (Anton Bierl) [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Owls to Athens: Essays on Classical Subjects Presented to Sir Kenneth Dover, edited by E. M. Craik. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990.
  • M.L. Lang: Cohen, David, Law, Sexuality and Society: The Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens (M.L. Lang) [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] David Cohen. Law, Sexuality and Society: The Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991.
  • Pamela Gordon: Swain, Hellenism and Empire [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Swain, Simon, Hellenism and Empire: Language, Classicism, and Power in the Greek World AD 50-250. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.
  • Ralph Hexter: Wilhelm, ed.: Gay and Lesbian Poetry [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] James J. Wilhelm, ed., Gay and Lesbian Poetry: An Anthology from Sappho to Michaelangelo. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities, vol. 1874. New York and London: Garland Publishing, 1995.
  • James J. Claus: Bing, P. and Cohen, R. trans.,: Games of Venus [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Games of Venus. An Anthology of Greek and Roman Erotic Verse from Sappho to Ovid, Introduced, Translated, and Annotated by Peter Bing and Rip Cohen, Routledge: New York and London, 1991
  • Donald Lateiner: Versnel: Transition and Reversal in Myth and Ritual [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] H.S. Versnel. Transition and Reversal in Myth and Ritual. Inconsistencies in Greek and Roman Religion II. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1993.
  • Texts:

    For Greek texts, in addition to complete English texts (when available), there are also links, where possible, to PERSEUS, an Internet resources which gives access to texts in both English and hyper-linked Greek.

    Philosophical Views of Eros

    • Plato (427-347 BCE): The Symposium (complete in one file, English)
      The classic discussion of the nature of "eros". This text provided a cultural basis for many educated homosexuals in later eras.
    • Plato (427-347 BCE): The Symposium,[At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
    • Plato (427-347 BCE): Phreadrus, (complete in one file, English), [At UPenn]
      Plato's use of homosexual eros, and the figure of the Charioteer of the soul, has been of lasting importance in positive conceptions of homosexual love.
    • Plato (427-347 BCE): Phreadrus,[At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
    • Plato (427-347 BCE): The Laws (excerpts)
      Plato, although seeing eros as fundamentally homosexual in the Symposium, adopted a more negative view here. He describes homosexual sex as "unnatural".
    • Plato (427-347 BCE): The Laws, 636bff [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
    • Aristotle (384-322 BCE): Homosexuality in The Politics (excerpts). The Full text of The Politics is available [At MIT]
    • Aristotle (384-322 BCE): Homosexuality in The Nichomachean Ethics [Bk. VII, C. 5]
    • Aristotle (384-322 BCE): "Friendship" in The Nichomachean Ethics [Bk VIII]
      The Full text of The Nichomachean Ethics is available [At MIT]
    • Demosthenes (384-322 BCE): Erotic Essay, [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
    • Demosthenes (384-322 BCE): Against Androtion 58 [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
    • Sextus Empiricus (c. 200 CE): Outline of Pyrrhonism, 1:152, 3:199

    Homosexuality in Literature

    • Homer (c.850 BCE), Achilles Meets the Ghost of Patroclus, Illiad 23, [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      Although Homer does not present Achilles and Patroclus as homosexually active, later Greeks assumed that they were.
    • Sappho (late 7th C. BCE): Poems, [At Sappho.com]
      The first poet to call the moon "silvery", very few of Sappho's poems survive (only one in its entirety). But her poems are among the best evidence we have of Lesbian love in antiquity.
    • Sappho (late 7th C. BCE): Poems [At PSU]
    • Sappho (late 7th C. BCE): Poems [At U. Wisconsin]
    • Theognis (first half 6th C. BCE): "To Kurnos"
    • Solon (c.638-558 BCE): "Boys and Sport"
    • Pindar (518- after 446 BCE): Ode on Theoxenos
    • Aristophanes (c.445-c.385 BCE): The Clouds (complete in one file, English), [At MIT]
    • Aristophanes (c.445-c.385 BCE): The Clouds, [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      Although overtly "homophobic" at times, Aristophanes assumes homosexuality is both common and a normal aspect of human sexuality.
    • Aristophanes (c.445-c.385 BCE): The Knights (complete in one file, English), [At MIT]
    • Aristophanes (c.445-c.385 BCE): The Knights, [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
    • Aristophanes (c.445-c.385 BCE): The Thesmophoriazusae (complete in one file, English), [At MIT]
    • Aristophanes (c.445-c.385 BCE): The Thesmophoriazusae, [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
    • Theocritus (c.320-c.260 BCE): Idylls 12 and 29 (trans. Edward Carpenter)
      Idylls 5, 12, 26, 30 are all autobiographical. See also 13, and 23. The originator of pastoral or bucolic poetry. Idyll 12:30 describes a homosexual kissing contest at the Diocleia festival at Megara.
    • Achilles Tatius (2nd C. CE): Women unfavourably compared with boy lovers. Egypt, 2nd cent. CE, from Leucippe and Clitophon 2.37.5-9, 38.1-3. G [At UKY]
      From a debate between defenders of heterosexual and homosexual intercourse in one of the most popular ancient Greek novels.

    Homosexuality in Historiography

    • Herodotus (c.490-c.425 BCE): Histories 1.135 Go here for beginning of text. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      On Persian pederasty as borrowed from the Greeks.
    • Thucydides (c.460/455-c.399 BCE): on Aristogeiton and Harmodius, from The Peloponnesian War. Full Text available at MIT.
    • Xenophon (c.428-c.354 BCE): Anabasis 7.4.7, Go here for beginning of text. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      On Episthenes and a boy.
    • Xenophon (c.428-c.354 BCE): Cyropeadia 7.1.30, Go here for beginning of text. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      On the value of comrades and lovers in battle. See also Anabasis 1.8.25, Anabasis 1.9.31 for accounts of Cyrus' friends dying with him.
    • Xenophon (c.428-c.354 BCE): Memorabilia 2.6.28 Go here for beginning of text. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      Socrates' description of himself as "experienced in the pursuit of men". In 1.3.12 he describes the effect of love on him.
    • Xenophon (c.428-c.354 BCE): Symposium 8, Go here for beginning of text. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      Section 8 begins an extended discussion of love, primarily homosexual.
    • Xenophon (c.428-c.354 BCE): Constitution of Sparta, 2:13. Go here for beginning of text. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      On Spartan homosexuality. The whole of Const.Sparta 2 is about the education of Spartan youths is of interest.
    • Aeschines (c.390-c.322 BCE): Against Timarchus (complete in one file, English)
      A legal brief delivered by Aeschines against a political opponent. It is among the most revealing of all texts on Greek attitudes to homosexuality.
    • Aeschines (c.390-c.322 BCE): Against Timarchus, [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
    • Timaeus of Tauromenium (c.356-260 BCE): History of Sicily
      Discusses pederasty among the "Tyrrhenians". He specifically states that neither "active" nor "passive" sex was considered objectionable.
    • Strabo (64 BCE-after 24CE): Geography 10.4.20-21 - Go here for beginning of text. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      Quoting Ephoros on Cretan homosexuality and rituals.
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE): On The Sacred Band of Thebes, from Life of Pelopidas
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE): Life of Pelopidas, (complete) [At Virginia Tech]
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE): Life of Solon, [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      [1.3] explains how Solon forbade pederasty to slaves. [1.4] discusses Peistratus' lover Charmus.
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE): Life of Lycurgus (complete) [At Virginia Tech]
      An important text for Spartan pederasty and sexual life in general..
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE): Life of Alexander, (complete) [At Virginia Tech]
      An account of Alexander's life which makes clear his intimacy with Hephasteion. Alexander's favourite Bagoas is also describes, including a famous scene in which Alexander was called on by a crowd to kiss Bagoas in public. He did.
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE): Parallel Lives, (complete in English) [At Virginia Tech]
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE): Erotic Essay, esp. #5
      Although Plutarch discusses without any horror homosexual lover in his Lives, here he is opposed to pederasty.
    • Pausanias (c. 160 CE): Description of Greece 1.30.1 Go here for beginning of text. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      The story of Timagoras and Meles and the altar of Love built by Charmus. Refers to love between Athenian citizens and metics (resident aliens).
    • Pausanias (c. 160 CE): Description of Greece 9.23.1 [At Perseus]
      On the hero-shrine of Iolaus at Thebes. Cf. Pindar: Olympian Odes 7:84 and Scholia.
    • Pseudo-Apollodorus (2nd C. CE: Library 3.5.5. [At Perseus, in English, with Greek text accessible]
      On the Abduction of Chrysippus by King Laïus of Thebes, sometimes said to have "invented" pederesty.
    • Athenaeus (c. 200 CE): The Deipnosophists, Book 13:601-606
      The report of a Roman dinner party, in fact a weaving together of anecdotes, it includes a wealth of gossip about homosexuals in antiquity.
    • Philostratus: The Life of Apollonius of Tyana: Of Eunuchs and of Passion [At magna.com.au]
      Eunuchs were an important part of Greco-Roman gender systems. Here Appollonius discusses their sexual appetites with the king of Bablyon.

    Images of Homosexuality and Homoeroticism

    websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 4: Ancient Rome

    Discussions:

    Reviews:

    Texts: Literary

    • Catullus (84-54 BCE): Selected Poems, selections, trans. John Porter, [At Univ. of Saskatechewan]
    • Catullus (84-54 BCE): Carmina 63, on the Gallae, [At Gallae Page At Azstarnet]
      In English and Latin
    • Catullus (84-54 BCE): 9, 15, 16, 24, 33, 38, 47, 48, 56, 61, 80, 81, 99
    • Catullus (84-54 BCE): Complete Poems, in Latin [At obscure.org]
    • Tibullus (c.55-19 BCE): Elegies, I:4, 8, 9
    • Horace (65-8 BCE): Satires:1,2,11, 113ff
    • Horace (65-8 BCE): Epodes XI
    • Horace (65-8 BCE): Odes IV, 1 and 10
    • Ovid (43BCE-17CE): Metamorphoses 9:666-797
      The story of Iphis and Ianthe. One of the most important Roman presentations of lesbianism, but somewhat problematic in its details.
    • Ovid (43 BCE-17CE): Metamorphoses 10 (excerpts)
      Male gods who love male humans: Zeus and Ganymede, Apollo and Hyacinth.
    • Ovid (43 BCE-17CE): Metamorphoses full text of Dryden translation, [At Virginia Tech]
    • Ovid (43 BCE-17CE): Amores, selections, trans. John Porter, [At Univ. of Saskatechewan]
    • Ovid (43 BCE-17CE): Art of Love esp. 2. 663-746 and 3.769-812.
      Generally about heterosexual love, but with specific comparisons with the love of youths.
    • Virgil (70-19 BCE): Aeneid 9 [At EWAC]
      Virgil tells of the heroic deaths of the lovers Nisus and Euralus.
    • Virgil (70-19 BCE): Eclogues, Complete. In English, trans. Dryden] [At Virginia Tech]. Another version in HTML is available [At UMD]
      See especially Eclogue II -On Corydon and Alexis. Love, not just sex, is the issue here. Also see Eclogue VII.
    • Virgil (70-19 BCE): Eclogues Complete, In Latin [At intellinet.com]
    • Valerius Maxiumus (early 1st Cent CE): The History of Damon and Pythias from De Amicitiae Vinculo
    • Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE): Natural Questions 1.16.1-3
      Seneca discusses a man who likes to be "passive" in sex.
    • Seneca (4 BCE-65 CE): Moral Letters 122
      What "natural" and "unnatural" meant to a stoic philosopher.
    • Petronius Arbiter (d.65 CE): Satyricon, 16-25 (p. 31-38 Arrowsmith), 126-140 (p. 142-163 Arrowsmith).
    • Martial (c.40-103 CE): Epigrams
    • Statius (c.40-c.96 CE): Sylvae Book 2
    • Juvenal (early 2nd C. CE): Satire II - Against Hypocritical Queens [At Classics Homepage. In Latin]
    • Juvenal (early 2nd C. CE): Satire IX, [At Classics Homepage. In Latin]
      On male hustlers.
    • Lucian (c.115-189 CE) [writes in Greek]: Toxaris
      A dialogue between a Greek and a Scythian about customs of "philia" (friendship). The text is of major interest in assessing the play of same-sex "friendship" in the history of sexuality. While sexual activity is not made the focus, desire for the "friend" is a focal concern.
    • Lucian (c.115-189 CE) [writes in Greek]: Charidemus
      A discussion of the nature of beauty - of males.
    • Lucian (c.115-189 CE) [writes in Greek]: Dialogue of the Courtesans 5
      An important discussion of Lesbianism.
    • Ps.-Lucian (Lucian c.115-180 CE) [writes in Greek]: The History of Orestes and Pylades, from Amores or Affairs of the Heart
      Although there has been a recent emphasis on the age-dissonant and time-limited nature of Greek homosexual relationships, Orestes and Pylades were presented as models for reciprocal and lasting eros.

    Texts: Historical

    • Polybius (c.200-after 118 BCE) [writes in Greek]: Histories VI: 37.9
    • Cicero (106-43 BCE): Second Philippic Against Anthony 18
    • Cicero (106-43 BCE): Laelius, or on Friendship [At CMU]
    • Livy (59 BCE-17 CE): Histories 8: 28
      Livy's account of the homosexual affair in 428 AUC/326 BCE which led to the abolition of imprisonment for debt in Rome. A creditor tried to force a debtor to have sex with him and this enraged the public.
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE) [writes in Greek]: On Sulla and Metrobius, the full text of the Life of Sulla also available [At MIT]
    • Plutarch (46-120 CE): Life of Anthony, (complete) [At Virginia Tech]
      Early sections describe Anthony's early affair with Curio.
    • Suetonius (b.c.70-d. after 121 CE): Julius Caesar 2, 45-53
      Caesar - every man's woman, and every woman's man!
    • Suetonius (b.c.70-d. after 121 CE): Augustus 68-71
    • Suetonius (b.c.70-d. after 121 CE): Tiberius 42-45
      Not a nice guy. The old Loeb version kept this in Latin.
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Caligula 24-25, 36
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Nero 27-29.
      Includes an account of Nero's two homosexual "marriages".
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Galba 22.
      Galba as an older homosexual who prefers other older men.
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Otho 12.
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Vitellius 3-5
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Titus 2-3, 7
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Domitian Domitian 7-8, 18-22
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Life of Tibellus [Attrib.]
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Life of Vergil [Attrib.]
    • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Life of Horace [prob. not by Suetonius.]
    • Tacitus (b. 56/57-d.after 117 CE): On Homosexuality, selections from The Annals
    • Tacitus (b. 56/57-d.after 117 CE): The Annals, Full Text [At MIT]
    • Battakes and the Plebian Tribune, A Gallus before the Senate, [At Gallae Page At Azstarnet]
    • Soranus (2nd. C. CE) [wrote in Greek], On Pathics, as summarized in Caelius Aurelianus: On Acute Diseases and on Chronic Diseases IV.9.131-137
      Vern Bullough thought this passage a counter to the apparent proliferation of homosexuality in other literature since it seeks to counter doubts that "passive" homosexuals exist. Its interest is much wider, as Soranus presents his opinion that passive homosexuality, and lesbianism, is a "disease of the mind" and hereditary.

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 5: Early Christianity

    There is no area of discussion about homosexuality which is more contentious than the interrelationship of Christianity and homosexuality. The whole issue is irretrievably bound up with modern concerns because of Christianity's continued importance. On one hand there are conservative Christians who insist that modern Christian hostility to gays has a continuous tradition and that this is a good thing. On another hand the notion that Christianity caused homophobia was very important to early gay scholars working to explain gay oppression. But it has also turned out to be the case, in the United States at least, that the phenomenon of gay churches has been so successful that in almost every area they are the largest GLB organizations. LGB Christians have been unwilling to surrender the comforts of their faith and LGB Christian scholars, seeking to find a space for themselves in their past have challenged the orthodoxies of both conservative Christians and radical gays.

    There is no doubt that Christian writers in every century have voiced criticism, sometimes virulent and obscene criticism, of homosexual activity and of "homosexuals" or other gender transgressive groups. The counter to this has not been to deny such voices, but to seek for more positive aspects of Christian history. And there is little doubt that this positive history also exists: even in the virulently anti-homosexual polemic of John Chrysostom, for instance, one finds evidence of entire Christian communities [in Antioch] which were unworried about homosexuality. Even the Bible itself, it turns out, contains "pro-gay" texts.

    How much one reads such discussions as "history" and how much as modern theological discussion is an interesting question.

    The discussion is now, however, moving beyond these fairly fixed positions. There is now increasing exploration of gender, both homosexual and heterosexual, as an important metaphor in Christian discourse. The person of Christ, a forgiving deity, who bleeds in order to nourish, and whose body is quite literally penetrated on the cross often ends up being described in a variety of "queer" ways: as a mother hen, as a eunuch, as a lover. When Christian writers tried to discuss female sanctity, they repeatedly end up by transgendering, or "queering" as a modern literary "theorist" might say, the holy woman in question: there is no higher praise for a Christian saint than that she has a "male soul in a female body", as Gregory of Nyssa says about his sister Makrina. Startling indeed to those who recognize this as a term for modern lesbianism. And when Christian authors tried to make sense of males in love with a male God, they end up asserting that the male soul is feminine (as indeed it is grammatically in both Greek and Latin), and that it is penetrated by God to bring forth the child of salvation.

    These sorts of discussions are not comfortable for either religious conservatives, gay radicals, or even gay Christians looking for gay ancestors. What the discussions are doing is opening up new pathways to an appreciation of the "queerness" of the world's most popular religion.

    Discussions:

    Texts: Biblical

    • Biblical Texts, listing of all texts. [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
    • Full text of all Bible texts. KJV. [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
    • Pro-Gay Bible Texts - Introduction, [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
    • All the Pro-Gay Texts, [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
    • All the Eunuchs of the Bible, [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
      There is some evidence that the major sexual minority of Biblical times was eunuchs - yet on the whole the Bible is pro- eunuch, It certainly has a lot of them.

    Texts: Patristic

    • The Didache (1st C. CE), or The Teaching of the Twelve Apostles, [At American U.]
      One of the earliest Christian texts to condemn pederasty
    • The Secret Gospel of Mark
      References, and some of the text, of this "special edition" of The Gospel of Mark were included in a letter of Clement of Alexandria. Some have argued that the text is witness to intense homoeroticism among early Christians, including - controversially - Jesus.
    • Letter of Barnabus, [At American U.]
      Chapter 10 attempts a "spiritual" explanation of the food codes of the Mosaic Law. It connects the forbidding of hares with a prohibition against "unnatural lusts", apparently, according to John Boswell, because the hare was supposed to grow a new anus each year.
    • Apocalypse of Peter [1st half 2nd C.]
      Discusses male and female homosexuals being tortured in Hell.
    • Acts of Thomas excerpts, [Early 3rd C.]. The full text is available at the Non-Canonical Homepage
      Discusses male and female homosexuals being tortured in Hell.
    • Apocalypse of Paul [Also known as the Vision of Paul] [3rd C.]
      Discusses male and female homosexuals being tortured in Hell.
    • Conciliar Legislation
    • Passion of SS. Sergius and Bacchus (3rd C. CE) [At CMU]
      The story of the martyrdom of two soldier saints. In this version, the earliest, they are clearly indicated as emotionally tied. In the later "Metaphrastic" version they are referred to as erotic "lovers"
    • Church Fathers on Gender Variance, [At Gallae Page At Azstarnet]
      This is an interesting compilation of comments, especially from Tatian, on gender variance. Unfortunately no citations are given. Moreover, the page is devoted to showing Christian hostility to gender variance, but the historical reality was considerably more complex. There is an interesting reference to Lesbian marriage as well!
    • Clement of Alexandria (d.c.215 CE): Paidogogus 2:10 - On Hares, Hyenas and Homosexuality
      Unfortunately the most interesting parts here are in Latin.
    • Clement of Alexandria (d.c.215 CE): Paidogogus 3:3 - On Effeminate Men and Masculine Women
      A very interesting text which includes some suggestion of Lesbian marriage in Egypt.
    • Clement of Alexandria (d.c.215 CE): Paidogogus 3:4 - On Women and Effeminate Men
      Clement seems to describe "fag-hags" in the Third century.
    • Clement of Alexandria (d.c.215 CE): Paidogogus 3:5 - On Behavior in Bathhouses
    • Clement of Alexandria (d.c.215 CE): Stromateis 4:8 - On Equality and Inequality of the Sexes
      The "effeminates" are lower than men and women.
    • St. Paulinus of Nola (353-431 CE): To Ausonius
      A beautiful love poem by Paulinus.
    • St. Augustine (354-430 CE): from the Confessions
      On his relationship with another man.
    • St. Augustine (354-430 CE): Confessions, (full text) [At Wheaton College]
    • St. Augustine (354-430 CE): Confessions, (full text - more modern translation) [At Medieval Sourcebook]
    • St. Jerome (c.347-420 CE), Letter LV, [At Wheaton College]
      A woman may not divorce her husband on account of his vices, even if he is a sodomite!

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 6: Byzantium

    One of the oddities Byzantine studies is that it has long attracted homosexual scholars, but virtually none of them have written about Byzantine homosexuality. There may be reason for this - in comparison with the mass of information about Ancient Greek and Roman homosexuality, the thousand years of Byzantine culture is poorly served. Entire classical genres disappeared - plays, satires, secular philosophy. There has been, instead, a legal tradition to explore; rather a lot of monastic regulation; and the occasional comments in elite historiography on homosexual activity by some emperors. John Boswell's Same Sex Unions rather surprisingly (to Byzantinists at least) for a time has made Byzantine liturgical manuscripts a focus of much interest.

    But there is considerable room for further exploration. A number of saints lives reveal diverse opinions, and relatively little shock, about homosexuality (usually "andromania" in these sources), but they have not been fully exploited. Some saints lives also discuss homoerotic pairings with little comment. Although certainly not sexually active, it is also common to find Byzantine saints paired with each other in relationships which can be analyzed from the perspective of desire - "friendship" hardly begins to describe what they are about.

    Other texts which may yield more are the small number of Byzantine romances now coming under increased scrutiny. It may be thought that hey are about "heterosexuality", but much current scholarship in western literature suggests that this will not be a satisfactory way in which to evaluate them.

    Byzantium also supported an important sexual category not common in modern life - the eunuchs who rose to prominence in Church and state. There was even a monastery specifically for eunuchs. Comments on this group, as with any liminal group, help explain a society's gender expectations.

    Finally, it cannot be overlooked that ancient texts tend to survive in Byzantine made copies. Which texts were copied, how often, and where are all answerable questions which may yield insight into Byzantine mores. While they did not write much homoerotic literature, they did copy it and, presumably, read it. Why?

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    • Coptic Spell: For a Man to Obtain a Male Lover, Egypt, [poss. 6th C.]
    • John Chrysostom (d. 407 CE): Sermon on Romans 1:26-27, = Homily 4 [At Wheaton College]
    • John Chrysostom (d. 407 CE): Against the Opponents of Monastic Life 3
      No friend of homosexuals, Chrysostom nevertheless reveals apparent acceptance of homosexual activity among Antiochene Christians.
    • Justinian I: Novel 77, [538 CE] and Novel 141, [544 CE]
      Includes texts of earlier Roman legislation.
    • Procopius (c.500- d. after 562 CE): The Secret History, (complete text) [At Medieval Sourcebook]
      Includes a sympathetic account of Justinian's attacks on homosexuals
    • John Malalas: World History 18:18, (excerpt)
      On two bishops tortured for homosexual activity
    • John Nesteutes ("the Faster") (d.595 CE): Penitential, Migne PG 88, 1893C
      Distinguishes between three kinds of homosexual acts - giving, getting, doing both. Unlike ancient Greek views, it was more acceptable to be "passive".
    • The Ecloga on Sexual Crimes (8th Cent.), [Eclogues 17.33][At Medieval Sourcebook]
    • Theophanes: Chronographia, 443.15
      On Nicephorus I
    • Theodore of Studium (late 8th/early 9th C. CE): Reform Rules, [At Medieval Sourcebook]
    • Arethas: Scholia
      Apparently Arethas was the first to use "Lesbian" in its modern sense (although Lucian did connect female homosexuality with the island).
    • Two Versions of Rite of Adelphopoiia [At Medieval Sourcebook]
    • The Life of St. Theodore of Sykeon (7th Cent.), Chapters 134-135.
      An adelphopoiia relationship is established between St. Theodore and Patriarch Thomas of Constantinople.
    • Chin Bratotvoreniyu [At QRD]
      Old Church Slavonic text of the Rite of Brotherhood, abbreviated, with standard liturgical prayers (most of Litany, Antiphons, etc.) omitted. Cf. Jacobus Goar, Euchologion (1st ed., Paris 1647; 2nd ed., Venice 1730), pp. 706-709, s.v. "Akolouthia eis Adelphopoiian Pneumatiken." From: Velikii Potrebnik, printed by Edinovertsii in Moscow (Now called Belokrinitsky Hierarchy of Old Rite), in the year 1904. Transcribed by Nikita Syrnikov. Translated by Fr. Basil Isaacks April 1, 1995.
    • Church of Greece on Adelphopoiia [At QRD]
    • Life of Andrew Salos
    • Life of Basil the Younger
    • Life of Mary the Younger (10-11th C )
    • Michael Psellus (11th C.): On Basil II
    • Michael Psellus (11th C.): On Constantine VIII
    • Michael Psellus (11th C.): On Constantine IX Monomachus

    Weblinks:

    • Byzantium: Byzantine Studies on the Internet
    • Roz Moz
      This is a site on modern Greek Gays and Lesbians. Extensive bibliographical guides.
    • Kalliarda: The Gay Greek Dialect [At Roz Moz]
      Not clear how far back this patois goes back. It contains between 3000-5000 words. This site contains examples, and .WAV files and is based on Elias' Petropoulos, Kaliarda, an Etymological Dictionary of Greek Homosexuals' Slang, (Athens: Nefeli, Athens, 1980)

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 7: Latin Christian Middle Ages

    Discussions:

    Reviews:

    • Keith Busby: John Baldwin, The Language of Sex [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] John W. Baldwin. The Language of Sex: Five Voices from Northern France around 1200. Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press, 1994.
    • Elaine E. Whitaker: Gender Rhetorics [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Gender Rhetorics: Postures of Dominance and Submission in History. Ed. Richard C. Trexler. Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies 113. Binghamton, NY: CEMERS, 1994.
    • Jeffrey Jerome Cohen: Feminist Approaches to the Body [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Feminist Approaches to the Body in Medieval Literature, edited by Linda Lomperis and Sarah Stanbury. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993.
    • Alison Taufer: Louise Mirrer: Women, Jews, and Muslims ... Reconquest Castile[Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Louise Mirrer, Women, Jews, and Muslims in the Texts of Reconquest Castile. Series: Studies in Medieval and Early Modern Civilization. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1996
    • Paul Pascal: Gaisser: Catullus and His Renaissance Readers [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] Julia Haig Gaisser. Catullus and His Renaissance Readers. Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1993
      On the reconstruction of Catullus' text after its medieval mauling.
    • Penelope Rainey: Walsh, ed.: Love Lyrics from the Carmina Burana [Review at Bryn Mawr Reviews] P.G. Walsh (ed.), Love Lyrics from the Carmina Burana. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, l993.
    • Michael Rocke: Forbidden Friendships - summary [At OUP]
      Short summary of Rocke's important book on sexuality in Renaissance Florence.

    Texts: Religious

    Texts: Historical

    Texts: Literary

    Websites:

    • None as yet

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 8: Islam

    Islam was the last of the great world cultures to emerge. With regard to homosexuality there are polar contrasts. On the one hand The Qur'an seems to condemn homosexuality unequivocally, on the other Muslim societies have shown a great deal of tolerance. From the sexually explicit poems of Al-Andulus [Muslim Spain], to the sexual comedy of The Arabian Nights, to the ecstatic loving of Sufi mystics, to modern Morocco and Tunisia - the Islamic world looked benevolently on men who love [usually younger] men. In India, according to Richard Burton, it was among Muslims, not Hindus, that homosexual eros was most accepted.

    The first thing to note is that in some respects Islam has been the most sex-positive of the great world religions: the Christ and the Buddha were both sexually abstinent, but Muhammad was sexually active with a number of wives, and had children. Sex itself was not a bad thing, nor was abstinence desirable.

    This sex-positivity of Islam is a starting point for further consideration. So far, until very recently at least, research does not seem to have gone beyond the basics, nor to have escaped the colonialist gaze. The situation is likely to change.

    Discussions:

    • Richard Burton: Terminal Essay, from his edition of the Arabian Nights.
      Burton' compilation of data on variety of societies was meant to explain some of the stories in The Nights. In doing so, he provided first overview of Islamic homosexuality.
    • Edward Carpenter (1884-1929): Iolaus: An Anthology of Friendship [chapter on Arabia and Persia], with extracts from Rumi, Hafiz and Saadi.
    • Islam and Homosexuality [At Islam Homepage]
      An extremely homophobic article which claims Islam never tolerated homosexuality.

    Texts

    Websites:

    • Islam Homepage
      One of the best Islamic sites, but not sympathetic to gays.

    Chapter 9: Ancient and Medieval Jews

    Discussions:

    Texts

    • Medieval Spanish Jewish Homoerotic Poetry: Selection

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 10: China, Japan and Korea

    Discussions:

    Texts

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 11: India

    It has proved to be extraordinarily difficult to find much infromation about South Asian homosexuality. Some relevant documents are under "Islam", (including Richard Burton's Terminal Essay, in which he claims that homosexual activity was common in Indo-Muslim culture but not Hindu cultures). See also the Buddhist references collected under "China and Japan).

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    • Vatsyayana: Kama Sutra, Part 2. Chap 9, 1883 trans. by Richard Burton. [At Bibliomania.com]
      On "Mouth Congress" and "different types of eunuchs".
    • The Vinaya [Buddhist Monastic Precepts]

    Websites:

    • Shri Krishna as Kali and Lalita [At Hubcom.com]
      Although the sexual relationships of Indian gods often follow heterosexual expectations, the individual God/dess may change form and be incarnate as another. This story could be read as gay, lesbian, or multiply transgendered.
    • Tantrik Links [At Hubcom.com]
      Tantricism was the "short path" to Enlightenment in Hinduism and Buddhism. Sexual ecstasy was a particularly important feature, often represented by heterosexual "yab-yum" figures.

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 12: Native American Societies

    There are modern "Gay American Indians" whose self-definition seems pretty much the same as other gay and lesbian Americans. What is of interest in this section is the tradition in many different Native American societies of socially validated gender-divergent roles. Some groups essentially allowed children to choose their gender. A male child who chose female clothes, for instance, would be raised as a female, and would marry man. In some societies analogous roles were open to female children. The general term for these individuals is "berdache" - a colonialist French word, derived from Persian, - but which has retained its utility give the great variety of Native American terms for the practice.

    Some writers have objected to what they see as the appropriation of the "berdache" by modern gay people, and by writers such as Will Roscoe (whose books are probably the most widely read on the subject). While this complaint has some justification, it could be made about any past group seen as relevant to the history of "homosexuality" but where the societal definition was in terms of gender-identity rather than sexual orientation.

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 13: Early Modern Europe

    The great distinction between "modern" and "ancient and medieval" history lies in the quantity of available sources. In pre-modern culture we rely primarily on literary and legal sources to understand homosexuality. Both types of source are highly distorting. Although we can - with care - outline the contours of some "homosexual" subcultures in pre-modern societies, such efforts always remain tentative.

    From the late fifteenth century in Europe this all changes. Large amounts of source material begins to survive, and new sorts of material at that. Most important are court records - especially when full trial records remain. So great are the survivals in some Italian cities that statistical surveys of the data are possible (for which see the work of Michael Rocke and Guido Ruggiero in the bibliography). The sources are not perfect, but now a social history is possible.

    Real progress has been made for some parts of Europe - especially Italy. Other areas remain less well investigated. But debates are now flourishing about what exactly was the social "identity" of homosexually active men (there is still not enough evidence to document Lesbian subcultures until much later than for males).

    At the same time, the types of "homosexual source" we have for previous societies continued to be produced. Plays and poems are less central to our conception of homosexuality in this period, but they remain important. Especially because we now have evidence about audience and styles/occasions of performance, socially significant inferences can be made. This data cannot be disgarded.

    Discussions:

    Texts: Legal and Historical

    • The Law in England, 1290-1885, texts of the major laws.
    • The Act of 1533, which first made buggery a crime under English Criminal Law [jpeg image]
    • Homily Against Adultery and Whoredom, from Short-Title Catalogue 13675. Renaissance Electronic Texts 1.1.1994 Ian Lancashire (ed.) [At U. Toronto]
      With some discussion of Sodom! But Among Our Own Selves, 1728 [At Rictor Norton's website]
    • Molly Exalted, 1763 [At Rictor Norton's website]
    • Documents of Early Modern Queer History [At Rictor Norton's website]
      [Rictor Norton has informed me that "During the coming few months I hope to add pages on various broadside ballads, satires and trials, e.g. John Dunton's The He-Strumpets, 1710; The State of Rome, 1739; Love in the Suds, 1772; excerpts from Sodom and Onan; a molly trial of 1709; a molly trial of 1707; A Sapphick Epistle, 1777; the Latin Epitaph on Bob Jones, 1773; A Dialogue Concerning Venus, 1691, and Jenny Cromwell's Complaint Against Sodomy, 1690s."]
    • Montaigne: A Homosexual Marriage in Rome, [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook].
      Account of a gay marriage in 16th-century Rome by Montaigne.

    Texts: Literary

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 14: Nineteenth-Early Twentieth-Century Europe

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    • Jeremy Bentham: "Offences Against One's Self" (c. 1785) [Full text] [At Columbia U.] Bentham's work was one of the earliest modern ethical texts in favor of the rights of homosexuals. The treatise examines the question of what, if any, legal sanctions should be applied against homosexuality.
    • Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895): The Riddle of Man-Manly Love [This is a link to a notice about a translation of the book -- by the first "modern homosexual". ]
    • John Addington Symonds (1840-1893): A Problem in Modern Ethics (London: 1896)
    • Edward Carpenter (1884-1929): The Intermediate Sex: A Study of Some Transitional Types of Men and Women, (London: George Allen & Unwin,1908) Also available in zip form [At Apana.org.au]
    • Edward Carpenter (1884-1929):: Homogenic Love and Its Place in a Free Society 1894
    • Edward Carpenter (1884-1929): Iolaus: An Anthology of Friendship (1909) [Full text] (1902)

    Texts: Literary

    • Anna Seward (1747-1809): Poems on Female Friends
    • Lord (George Gordon) Byron (1784-1824): Don Leon (attrib?)
      The poem is passionate defense of homosexuality, and is usually attributed to Byron
    • Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892): Selected Poetry [At U. Toronto]
    • Walter Pater (1839-1894): Selected Prose [At U. Toronto]
    • Bertram Lawrence (pseud. of J. F. Bloxam): Poem: "A Summer Hour", 1894
    • John Francis Bloxam: Story: The Priest and the Acolyte, 1894
      An extraordinary short story which combines high ritualism, saccharin melodrama, and a quite specific plea for acceptance of difference.
    • Fr. Faber:
    • Gerard Manley Hopkins (1844-1889): Select Poetry [At U. Toronto]
      A gay Jesuit priest and poet. See "Felix Randell" and "The Bugler Boy's First Communion".
    • Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): Ballad of Reading Gaol [At Cbef.gov]
    • Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): The Complete Shorter Fiction & Poems in Prose [At Bibliomania.com]
    • Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): Poems [At Columbia University]
    • Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): Selected Works [At Virginia Tech]
      Includes full texts of Charmides, Dorian Gray, Garden of Eros, and more.
    • Lord Alfred Douglas (1870-1945): Two Poems, 1894
    • A.E. Houseman (1859-1936): A Shropshire Lad [At Columbia U.]
    • Pierre Louys (1870-1925): from Chansons de Bilitis
    • Marcel Proust (1871-1922): A Race Accursed
    • Vincent Bui: Literrature: French Homosexual Literature [At ensta.fr]
      extracts from Racine, Anouilh, Verlaine, Rimbaud, Yourcenar and others. [In French]

    Links

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 15: The German Gay Rights Movement

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    • Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935):
    • Sigmund Freud: Letter to a Mother
      Although the psychoanalytic movement in the US became a major victimizer of homosexuals [through its dedication to the notion of ego-normality], Freud himself, as in this letter to the mother of a homosexual, was much more approving.

    Websites:

    • Magnus Hirschfeld Exhibit
    • Schwules Museum Berlin/Akademie der Künste [The Gay Museum/The Academy of Arts] Goodbye to Berlin? HUNDERT JAHRE SCHWULENBEWEGUNG - 100 YEARS OF GAY LIBERATION - CENTENAIRE DU MOUVEMENT GAI [At www.adk.de]
      An exhibition celebrating the one hundredth anniversary of the founding of the TheWissenschaftliche-humanitäre Komitee (Scientific Humanitarian Committee) in May 1897 in Berlin. There are English and German versions of the site.

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 16: The Nazis and the Gays

    At one time it was fashionable to claim that the Nazis accepted homosexuality. Partly this was a way to slur the Nazis [as if they need slurring], and partly a reflection of the suppressed homoeroticism of Nazi visual expression. What was overlooked until the 1970s, and the publication of a series of articles by James Steakley in the Toronto Body Politic (quite possibly the best bi-weekly ever produced by the modern gay community), was that the Nazis had directed laws, prisons, and the full panoply of the state against homosexuals; had deliberately destroyed the sex research institute set up by Magnus Hirschfeld; and added homosexuals to the list of those to be eliminated. In other words the world managed to "forget" the holocaust of homosexuals.

    In recent years this forgetting has been overcome. Thanks to the efforts of Steakley, Richard Plant and Burchhard Jellonek, as well as the publication by Hans Heger [pseud.] of his memoirs, and the play Bent by Martin Shaw, the suffering of gays under the Third Reich has become well known. Now the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC makes sure to explicate the issues involved.

    The total number of gays killed seems to have been about 15,000 [figures from Jellonek], mostly by being worked to death. Gays were not sent as gays to extermination camps. This is massively smaller than the devastation visited on Jewish, Gypsy and Serbian populations. But documenting the Nazi attacks on homosexuals is not part of a "catch-up" game with Jews, or other groups. It is rather an exposing of the possible effects of dehumanizing any group.

    Recently some members of the American Religious Right [a diverse group that should no more be demonized than any other], have taken to denying the gay holocaust, and in fact asserting that the Nazi part was essentially homosexual. This is nonsense, and not one serious historian countenances the charge. Nevertheless the book - The Pink Swastika - which makes this charge has been subjected to a line by line refutation, available via here.

    Discussions:

    • James Steakley: Homosexuals and the Third Reich, The Body Politic 11, January/February 1974, [At Carleton]
      This was the first important article to discuss the Nazi attack on gays.
    • Harris, Michael J. "Homosexuals in the Holocaust: an Even More Forgotten People." [At Harris' homopage]
    • Christine Mueller: Refutation of Radical Right claims Connecting Gays and Nazis, [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
    • Night of the Long Knives. june 30, 1934, [At HistoryPlace]
      An account of Hitler's attack ond, and removal of Roehm, the SA leader who was homosexual.
    • See also the Table of Contents and homophobic introduction to the book The Pink Swastika discussed by Professor Mueller. . [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
    • Scott Lively/Kevin Abrams: The Pink Swastika [At earthlink.net]
      This is an example of a Radical Religious Right to claim that that Nazi party was "homosexual". The book is a lie, but, since truth is not afraid, I provide an online link to it. A condensed version is also available [At QRD]
    • Eugene Narrett: THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF NAZISM, from The Wanderer, August 8, 1996
      An example of the way the Lively/Abrams book is popularized by the Radical Religious Reich press. This is from the extreme right ring Catholic paper The Wanderer, owned by Paul Weyrich. This article is classcic case of Weyrich's evil. It describes the deaths by working to death of circa 6000 gay men, and then seeks to account for the Nazi's "leniency" by arguing that leading Nazis were gay. A truly sick approach. Fortunately only imbeciles read the Wanderer.
    • Citizens Allied for Civic Action (CAFCA): THE ANNOTATED PINK SWASTIKA [At QRD], Alternative site [At U.Chicago]
      Extensive [600 Kbyte] point by point refutation of the Lively/Abrams book. The effort is worthwhile, but it should be noted that no serious historian takes the Lively/Abrams book seriously as anything other than evidence about the modern American far right [a phenomenon of serious historical interest.]

    Texts:

    • The Nazi Marking/Idenification System [At HistoryPlace]
      This page contains a reproduction of an original document illustrating the various types of triangles/markings assigned to different categories of prisoner.
    • Heinrich Himmler: On Homosexuals
    • Para. 175
      The Nazi laws on homosexual activity.
    • Hans Heger [pseud.]: Daily Life in a Camp, from The Men with the Pink Triangles. [At CMU]
      (Note: Heger is the name of the journalist who wrote the book. The "hero" of the book remains anonymous). See here for a picture of prisoners in Sachsenhausen wearing Triangle badges. [It is not possible to see which color]
    • Pierre Seel: The Death of His Lover
    • Christopher Isherwood: Mr. Norris Changes Trains, extracts. [At Island.net]
      Isherwood, the most well-known English writer on Interwar Berlin describes the atmosphere in Germany.
    • Eugene Kogon:

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 17: Post-WW I Europe to 1990

    Discussions: Entire Period

    Discussions: InterWar Years

    • Frederick Luis Aldama: Lorca's Homographic Poetics of Nationalism, a paper presented at the (DIS)PLACING NATIONALISM CONFERENCE, UC Irvine, 18 May 1996 [At intersource.com]
    • Cabaret Home Page [At Sure.net]
      CSUN Department of Theatre Presents Berlin between the wars at the height of decadence and change

    Discussions: Entire Period since WWII

    • Edmund White: on Jean Genet: Once a Sodomite: Twice a Philosopher, Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review 3:1 (Winter 1996) [At Harvard Gay and Lesbian Review]
    • Mark Finch: Victim Victorious?, City Limits (London), November 1985, [At Planet Out]
      Reviews the history of gay film in the UK.

    Discussions: 1950s

    Discussions: 1960s

    • None as yet.

    Discussions: Gay Rights Movement

    • Andrew Hodges and David Hutter, With Downcast Gays, (1974) [At Oxford U.]
      Full text of an important analysis of the oppression of lesbians and gays.
    • Bob Mellors - Obituary, April 13 1996, The Guardian [At Guardian site]
      A founding Member London GLF. Murdered.

    Discussions: Gay Rights Movement Since Origins

    Discussions: 1970s

    • None as yet.

    Discussions: 1980s

    • Hart Murphy: FOUCAULT'S VIRTUAL PASSION [At www.ctheory.com]
      Review of James Miller, The Passion of Michel Foucault. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1993. Pb: Anchor Doubleday, 1994.

    Discussions: 1990s

    Texts:

    Texts: Literary

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 18: The United States and Canada to c.1900

    Discussions: Whole Period

    Discussions: Colonial Era

    • John G. McClendon: Puritan Jurisprudence: Progress and Inconsistency [At Wavefront.com]
      A paper examining Puritan legal innovation and use of the Bible. Briefly addresses sodomy.
    • Roger Schultz: A Celebration of Infidels: The American Enlightenment in the Revolutionary Era, Contra Mundum No. 1 Fall 1991
      Contra Mundum is a conservative Calvinist magazine. This article points out the Christian framework of much of colonial society, including its sex laws.

    Discussions: Ante-Bellum American [1776-1865]

    Discussions: Late Nineteenth Century

    Texts: Historical

    • Louis Dwight: Sodomy in Boston Prisons, 1824-1826
    • Joseph Smith: Comfort for a Gay Lover 1843
      The founder of Mormonism was not apparently anti-gay.
    • Joshua Speed: Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln:
      Speed was Lincoln's bed-mate for a number of years. Male intimacy was quite possible in the early 19th century without arising suspicions.

    Texts: Literary

    • Herman Melville (1819-1891): Letters to Nathaniel Hawthorne [at www.melville.org]
      Melville's most important emotional relationship seems to have been with Hawthorne. In one letter he claims "your heart beat in my ribs and mine in yours, and both in God's" -an idea of friendship that goes back to Aristotle. The site has links to all Melville's works.
    • Walt Whitman (1819-1892): Leaves of Grass [At Columbia U.
      Singing of the "body electric".
    • Walt Whitman (1819-1892): Leaves of Grass [At Virginia Tech]
    • Emily Dickinson (1830-1886): Lesbian Poems

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 19: Before Stonewall [US and Canada]

    With the advent of the twentieth century the nature of LGBT history changes. As well as literature and court records, we now begin to have access to considerable oral history and recollection. Moreover the period since the late 19th century does indeed seem to have been marked by an increased interest in homosexuality by various elites - lawyers, doctors and a new arrival - "sexologists". The current job of North American LGBT history involves, for a great part, securing and writing down the oral histories before the bearers disappear.

    Discussions: Entire Period

    • Pierre J. Tremblay: The Homosexuality Factor in the Youth Suicide Problem [At netaxs.com]. There is another Mirror Version at QRD [At QRD]
      An extended presentation at the Sixth Annual Conference of the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Banff, Alberta, October 11-14, 1995, (c) Oct. It includes a historical overview of .gay suicide 1930-1995
    • James Sears: Stonewall South [At www.conterra.com/jsears]
      Brief history and timeline of Southern Lesbian and Gay history.

    Discussions: Pre WW II

    Discussions: Whole Post War Period

    • John D'Emilio: Dreams Deferred: The Early American Homophile Movement, The Body Politic 48, November 1978; 50 February 1979, [At Carleton]
    • David L. Kirp: Speak, Gay Memory, The Nation 7/15/96 [At The Nation]
      Reviews of Young Man From the Provinces: A Gay Life Before Stonewall By Alan Helmes, Midlife Queer: Autobiography of a Decade, 1971-1981 By Martin Duberman, Truth Serum. By Bernard Cooper.

    Discussions: 1940s

    Discussions: 1950s

    • William Dubay: Homosexuality: What Kinsey Really Said [At McGill]
      Alfred Kinsey's studies of human sexual behavior revolutionized educated opinion I the 1950s. This article - favorable to Kinsey - explains what he said.
    • History of The Kinsey Institute [At Indiana]
    • Controversy over Kinsey's Research [At Indiana]
      In Fall 1995 the right wing Family Research Council began a series of attacks on Kinsey's research and the Kinsey Institute - attacks which included making films/videos and attempts to defund the institute. This page gives the Institutes response.
    • Mark Y. Herring: Review Article: Phallacies and Other Lies: Freudian Fraud: The Malignant Effect of Freud's Theory on American Thought and Culture, By E. Fuller Torrey (New York, Ny: Harpercollins, 1992), Contra Mundum No. 9 Fall 1993 [At Contra Mundum]
      Contra Mundum is a conservative Calvinist magazine, but not "looney". This article presents the criticisms made by conservatives of Freud, as well as Kinsey and Margaret Mead.
    • The Moral Debate on Homosexuality [At dallas.net]
      This is a link to an anti-gay page. The page is useful though: first, People With a Story takes a stand in favor of openness; second the page points to various right wing articles criticizing the work and methodology of Alfred Kinsey and Evelyn Hooker; third, the page does not point to any of the Kinsey Institute's responses. This one-sidedness is typical of the Radical Religious Right "scholarship" on homosexuality. The article by on Evelyn Hooker by Thomas Landess, (cited as former Academic Dean at the University of Dallas) is an especially good example of weak analysis - it hilariously cites the discredited Paul Campbell as an "analyst" on Hooker's work!.
    • Jim Kepner: The Women of ONE [At USC]
      Kepner documents women involved in ONE, Inc and challenges the notion that before the Daughters of Bilitis started (San Francisco 1955) thehomophile movement, as it was then known, was almost entirely white-male, and the rare women participants were expected to make coffee.."..
    • Harry Hay Profile [At QSanFrancisco]
      Founder of the Mattachine Society and the Radical Faeries. Still alive, but already a mythic figure.
    • Kate Brandt: Lisa Ben: A Lesbian Pioneer, [At Qworld]
      Lisa Ben was a pseudonymous author connected with the Daughters of Bilitis
    • Biography of Del Martin [At Apple.com]
      A founder of the Daughters of Bilitis
    • James T. Sears: Growing up as a Jewish Lesbian in South Florida: Queer Teen Life in the Fifties, from Cultured Youth, ed. Joe Austin (New York: NYU Press, 1997)
      A complex account of the homophobia of the period.
    • Daniel Gomes : "SISSY" BOYS AND "UNHAPPY" GIRLS: CHILDREARING DURING THE COLD WAR [At USSB]
    • Jeff Jones: The Extraordinary Life of Sweet Evening The Life of 1950s Transgendered Male in Kentucky Profiled [At QRD]

    Discussions: 1960s

    • James L. Bauman: Cold War Sources. Reviews in American History 23.4 (1995) 734-738 [At Johns Hopkins]
      Discusses inter alia the pro-Vietnam war columnist Joeseph Alsop, who was queer.

    Texts

    • The Kinsey Scale [At intranet.org]
      Dr. Alfred Kinsey created a scale, graduated between heterosexuality and homosexuality to rate individuals on actual experiences and psychological reactions. It had a major effect on thought about sexuality.
    • Homosexuals in Government, 1950. A brief, but very explicit, excerpt from the U.S. Congressional Record vol 96, part 4 [81st Congress 2nd Session March 29 -- April 24, 1950] [At UPenn]
    • Harry Hay: Our Own Faerie Way Crossroads 42, June 1994 [At Berkeley]
      Harry Hay's recollections of the founding of the Mattachine Society, and the importance of Radical Left politics in its creators' analysis of society.

    Texts: Literary

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 20: Stonewall and All That

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 21: Stonewall to Today [US and Canada]

    Discussions: Entire Post Stonewall Period

    Discussions: 1970s

    Discussions: 1980s

    • Rodney Jackson, THE 80'S IN REVIEW, from The Washington Blade 12/29/89 [AT GLINN]
    • Pat Califia: The Obscene, Disgusting, and Vile Meese Commission Report, 1986 [At CMU]
    • Michael Swift The Gay Revolutionary,from Gay Community News, Feb. 15-21, 1987
      This text, printed in the Congressional Record is cited, apparently verbatim, by the religious right as evidence of the "Gay Agenda". But when they cite it they always omit, as does the CR, the vital preface, which sets the context for the piece. In other words, every other version of this found on the net is part of the radical right's great lie about gay people. (see the "Modern Homophobia" Section below for more on this).

    Discussions: 1990s

    Regional/Local Development

    Organizational Development

    The development of a huge array of diverse LGBT organizations - student, religious, social, cultural, political - is of prime importance in understanding the creation and strengthening of the LGBT movement since 1969. This has hardly been touched on as an area of research. Often the groups are not long lived, or not spectacular, nor even very radical. But their continued proliferation and creation of social and communal threads is impressive. Many of them have taken to documenting their own history on the web - sometimes via time lines, other times via narratives.

    Cultural Tropes

    • Handkerchief Code Page [At Netjojo.com]
      A complete interactive guide to the handkerchief codes used by a few gay men in the late seventies.
    • Bear History Project [At www.tiac.net/users/codybear]
      An archive that seeks to study and document the "bear" movement.
    • Charle's Hynes Radical Sex Page [At fifth-mountain.com]
    • Patricia Leonardi: Review: Last Call at Maud's, Cineaste 20:1 (Wntr, 1993):46 [At UCB]
      On the closing of a famed San Francisco Lesbian Bar
    • Wigstock Page
    • William J. Mann: Courting ritual [At Boston Phoenix]
      On the "imperial court" drag fundraising phenomenon.

    Texts:

    • American Psychiatric Association: Policy Statements on Lesbian and Gay Issues [At APA]
      APA statements over the years on LGBT issues.
    • Legal Age of Consent Around the World [At pinkboard.com.au]
    • Rocky O'Donovan: ECCE HOMO: Ruminations on a Theology of My Queer Body [At www.geocities.com/WestHollywood/1942/ecce.html]
      How the Mormon church dealt with a gay boy in the late 1970s.
    • Stephen Donaldson: Testimony at Massachusetts Legislative Hearing of 5/23/94 [At spr.org].
      On the issue and history of prison rape.
    • Patrick J. Buchanan: Speech Republican National Convention in Houston, Texas, 1992 [At Buchanan.org]
      Virulently homophobic [among other things] speech which helped Bill Clinton win in 1992.
    • Bowers v. Hardwick June 30, 1996 [At QRD]
      The US Supreme Court decision which upheld the legality of US states' sodomy laws.
    • Romer Vs. Evans May 20, 1996 [At glaa.org]
      The extremely important US Supreme Court decision, by Justic Anthony Kennedy, which overturned the anti-gay Colorado 'Amendment 2'. This decision, which incidentally sees the formal use of "gay" and "lesbian" by the highest levels of the US government, finally established the legal foundation for prohibition of anti-gay bias. It specifically accepts that gays and lesbians are a social group worthy of protection.
    • QRD Legal Page
      For other legal decision texts, and commentary, see this regularly updated page at QRD.

    Texts: Literary

    With the rise of the modern LGBT movement literature by and about LGBT's has flourished as never before. Gay bookstores now carry thousands of titles. But at the same time literature has become less central to analyzing historical issues, since so much other data is available. The texts below are ones texts [and links to reviews] which have had an especially important effect on the development of LGB culture.

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 22: The Lesbian and Gay Movement in Europe

    Discussions:

    Texts

    • Gay Liberation Front: Manifesto (London, 1971, as revised 1979)
      Classic example of Gay Liberationist analysis. Parts of it still read as provocative, other parts seem dated - for instance its attack on "butch/femme" culture!
    • James Kirkup: The Love That Dares. [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
      This poem, published in Gay News was [and is] banned in Britain under the use of an ancient blasphemous libel law. The banning was fought, unsuccessfully, all the way to the European Court of Human Rights. Recently attempts have been made to prosecute British websites which link to the American location of this poem, where it is protected by the First Amendment (Thank you Mr. Madison!)..
    • The Alsop Review: Background Information on the Love That Dares [At Hooked.net]
      This page contains British press reports of the closing down of the LGCM website, and some obituaries of Denis Lemon, the editor of Gay News and chief defendant. It also links to the poem and to a picture of Kirkup.
    • Legal Age of Consent Around the World [At pinkboard.com.au]

    Websites:

    • OutRage
      UK activist group web site, with documentation of past and current LGBT issues in the UK.

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 23: The Lesbian and Gay Movement in Australia and New Zealand

    Discussions:

    Texts

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 24: Gay and Lesbian Politics in Latin America

    Discussions:

    • None as yet

    Texts

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 25: AIDS and History

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    • None as yet

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 26: ACT UP

    ACT UP, which began in New York in Spring1987 is important as part of AIDS history, lesbian and gay history, and the history of medicine. For the first time the "victims: of a disease, met with condescension and disdain by governmental and medical establishment successfully organized a political and investigative revolution. In the process ACT UP spun off chapters of its original NY parent all around the globe, a whole series of radical practical help organizations, and revitalized the radicalism of lesbian and gay politics [even as, annoyingly, its largely lesbian and gay members complained each time the NY Times referred to ACT UP as a "gay organization"].

    ACT UP achieved its goals [and it did achieve many of them] through spectacular street theater and much hard backroom work. It was quite common in the late eighties to see members slogging away at research in the New York Public Library on a whole array of subjects. It is not often realized that ACT UP's press releases contained as much work as its graphics. Sometimes its tactics shocked: but the shock of ACT UP gave it real power. It got a voice at the table; it reduced health insurance costs; it made needle exchange a viable policy; it transformed the way drugs were assessed. In then end, ACT UP did save lives, even as thousands, including hundreds of its own members, died

    The history of ACT UP is only now being written: its archives are with the NY Public Library and will be open for research. There will be debates about who was important, and what, if anything, went wrong. But it will be a shame if the sheer courage and bravery of its members is ever overlooked. For all the toughness, for all the beatings its members received from the police, no ACT UP member resorted to violence. But more, in the 1980's, an age when college kids around the United States asserted that their highest goal was "to join a financial planning corporation", ACT UP members demonstrated again and again that there is meaning in human lives.

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 27: The Queer Moment

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 28: North America: Current Politics and Strategies

    Discussions:

    Texts: LGB History

    • Archive of Current Press Reports on LGBT Issues [At fc.net]
      An subject-organized, and soon to be searchable, archive of full-text press reports on current lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans* issues: gays in the military; lesbian and gay marriage; legislation: religion - it's all here. Mostly US, but some international coverage.

    Texts: Modern Homophobia

    • Pope John Paul II's war on gays and lesbians. [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
    • Jeff Vos: The Homosexual Threat, 1995 [Full text]Classic homophobic Mein Kampf (although this text is overtly anti-semitic, asserting that Jews are more neurotic than other groups, etc.).
    • William Donahue: Gays, Giuliani, and Catholics. [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook]
      article from CRISIS magazine in which the head of the Catholic League - he has an office next to Cardinal O'Connor - gives his bigoted opinions about the annual NYC Lesbian and Gay Rights March.
    • Homosexual deathstyle
      An example of modern Rightwing homophobia
    • Pastor Peter Daniels: Death Penalty for Homosexuals [At Logoplex]
      A Christian pastor calls for homosexuals to be killed.

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 29: Europe: Current Politics and Strategies

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 30: The Impact of LGBT Identity Politics Outside the West

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Chapter 31: Cross Cultural Themes and Studies

    Discussions:

    • Molefi Asante: Interview on Homosexuality, on THIS WAY OUT [At QRD]
      Asante, a leading proponent of Afrocentrism, had long called homosexuality a western deviation. He has now publically changed his mind, as more information about African gender/sexuality has come to light.
    • Matthew Quest : Afrocentricity vs. Homosexuality: The Isis Papers [At UNM]
      A critique of Frances Cress Welsing's The Isis Papers.
    • Gays: Guardians of the Gates, An Interview with Malidoma Som, M.E.N. Magazine, September 1993 [At Afrinet]
      Malidoma Som is charged by his elders of the Dagara tribe of Burkina Faso with bringing the wisdom of his tribe to the West. His book Ritual: Power, Healing and Community. Malidoma notes "among the Dagara people, gender has very little to do with anatomy. It is purely energetic. In that context, a male who is physically male can vibrate female energy, and vice versa… And this is something that also touches on what has become known here as the "gay" or "homosexual" issue. Again, in the culture that I come from, this is not the issue. These people are looked on, essentially, as people. The whole notion of "gay" does not exist in the indigenous world. That does not mean that there are not people there who feel the way that certain people feel in this culture, that has led to them being referred to as 'gay'…The gay person is looked at primarily as a 'gatekeeper.'"
    • Alex Bruzzone: Erections and Ejaculations: Overcomming the taboo [At Carleton.ca]
      Cross-cultural considerations, including some coments on Herdt's work with the Sambia of Papua New Guinea.
    • Love In World History. An H-Net Discussion [At Hnet]

    Texts:

    • None as yet

    Websites:

    • None as yet

    Back to Contents


    Special Themes 1: Same Sex Marriage

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    • Two Versions of Rite of Adelphopoiia [At Medieval Sourcebook]
    • The Life of St. Theodore of Sykeon (7th Cent.), Chapters 134-135.
      An adelphopoiia relationship is established between St. Theodore and Patriarch Thomas of Constantinople.
    • Chin Bratotvoreniyu [At QRD]
      Old Church Slavonic text of the Rite of Brotherhood, abbreviated, with standard liturgical prayers (most of Litany, Antiphons, etc.) omitted. Cf. Jacobus Goar, Euchologion (1st ed., Paris 1647; 2nd ed., Venice 1730), pp. 706-709, s.v. "Akolouthia eis Adelphopoiian Pneumatiken." From: Velikii Potrebnik, printed by Edinovertsii in Moscow (Now called Belokrinitsky Hierarchy of Old Rite), in the year 1904. Transcribed by Nikita Syrnikov. Translated by Fr. Basil Isaacks April 1, 1995.
    • Church of Greece on Adelphopoiia [At QRD]
    • Montaigne: A Homosexual Marriage in Rome, [At Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Catholic Handbook].
      Account of a homosexual marriage in 16th-century Rome by Montaigne.
    • Metropolitan Community Church: Holy Union Liturgy [At UFMCC]

    Websites:

    Back to Contents

    Special Themes 2: Bisexuality

    In a sense, much of the history claimed by "lesbians and gays" is a history of people who were functionally bisexual. In particular many of the famous names on lists of "famous homosexuals" were sexually active with both men and women. However, it also seems to be true that a clearly, or even hazily, formulated "bisexual" social identity is even more recent than "homosexual" and "heterosexual" identities. I will correct this statement if it is shown to be wrong, but specifically "bisexual" organizations seem only to have existed since the 1970s.

    This relatively new formulation does not mean that there is no "history" of bisexuality. There have been voices in the past which have proclaimed a need for sexual freedom - whether these be the "libertines" of the 16th century, the English "rakes" of the 17th century, or the sexual radicals of the 1960s. It has proved quite possible to be explicitly homo(mono)sexual and fundamentally conservative in sexual expectations. I would take as the most significant aspect of the history of bisexuality not those people who were bisexually active, but those who sought to explore the complexities of human sexual choices.

    Discussions:

    Texts:

    • None as yet

    Websites:

    • Bi.org
      A new dedicated Bisexual site, with a guide to academic resources.
    • Bisexual [At Carleton.ca]
      A Splendid collection of resources, including historical accounts, advice, and current issues..
    • Marquis De Sade Page [At websight.com]
      Reading De Sade is not pleasant. He is genuinely obscene. Nevertheless, in the annals of the search for freedom he has a place. In nothing else, he shows that there are limits.

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    Special Themes 3: Trans* History

    "Trans*" is a complex category to analyze and document historically. In some respects, however, it is easier conceptually than "gay": although homosexual activity is documentable in many societies, it is much harder to document social and psychological ideas about "identity" and "orientation". On the other hand, the existence of neither male nor female gendered people ("transgressive" .or not) is very widely documented throughout many societies and cultures. This includes cross-dressers, women who lived as men, eunuchs, "third sex" people, "two-spirited" people, modern transvestites, modern surgical transsexuals, and so forth.

    Some modern gays and lesbians seek to distance themselves from this trans* history: some gay men in particular have sought to portray their homosexuality as fully "masculine". In fact, modern homosexuals do transgress one of the basic markers of gender identity in modern society, the marker than says masculinity is marked out by having sex with women.

    Discussions:
    [see also under "Native American Societies" for "berdache" discussions]

    Texts:

    Websites:

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    Special Themes 4: Anti-Gay: Gay Criticism of Gay Culture

    There has been a persistant willingness by gay writers to criticise aspects of gay culture, and of lesbian writers to criticise lesbian culture.

    Some of the criticism is probably justified, but elements of sheer intellectual and class-based snobbery towards the lumpen-schwulen play an important part.

    In general these writers live in comparatively safe urban gay environments (London, New York, San Francisco. West Hollywood), have come to terms with their homosexuality long ago, and feel free to offer critiques. Their targets usually (repeatedly in fact), include gay activists, gay commercial culture, gay entertainment, Pride events and so forth. Despite protestations to the contrary, they tend to obliterate the very real struggles still going on for most gays and lesbians (violence, discrimination, religious intolerance), and ignore the benefits of a commercial culture. Above all they create tendentious constructions of gay culture in order to attack.

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    Bibliographies and Lists

    Bibliographies

    Lists

    Timelines

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    LGBT History Related Web Sites

    If a text or source exits at another site, I have merely linked to that site. The fact it is an off-site link is marked every time by square brackets and some indication of where the site is.

    There are now a fair number of LGBT history sites, although none have the reach of People with a History. Here are the ones I know about:-

    General LGBT History Pages:

    Collections of LGB Material

    LGB Museums and Archives - US

    LGB Museums and Archives - Canada

    LGB Museums and Archives - Europe

    • Hall-Carpenter Archives [UK]
      A gay and lesbian archival collection in the United Kingdom, now housed at the London School of Economics.
    • Homodok [The Netherlands]
      English-language site of the Gay / Lesbian Archives and Information Center, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

    Lesbian Specific Sites

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    FAQ: Frequently Asked Questions

    Please do not write to me before you have looked through here. If the answer to any question is on this site, I shall not respond.

    Gay and Lesbian General Interest Questions

    Gay and Lesbian Hostile Questions

    • Gerbils [At QRD]
      Gay men do not put gerbils in condoms into their rectums. People of all sexual orientations do, in fact, put an amazing variety of objects inside themselves, but the Gerbil myth has been especially common. There is no basis in fact for the story.
    • Pedophilia
      There is no topic more controversial than the issue of inter-generational sex. There are many web pages on the net which promote "boy love". I will not link to them. GLAAD and the ILGA [International Lesbian and Gay Association], about as mainstream LGBT organizations as one can find, take a specific stance Against Pedophilia and NAMBLA [Jan 16, 1994, At GLAAD]. Other non-pedophile gays have argued that the issues at least deserved to be raised - for instance the Ad Hoc Spirit of Stonewall [at Actwin.com] group at Stonewall 25. Judged by the boos the pedophile groups meet at LGBT Pride Parades, they have little support in the LGBT community.
      There is nothing specifically homosexual about pedophilia - some pedophiles are attracted to children of the same sex, others to children of the opposite sex, and some to children in general. There is little doubt, furthermore, that the vast majority of cases of childsex involves men, usually fathers or stepfathers, with girls.
      One final point: although historic formulations of homosexual eros often are called "pederasty", as in Greece and Rome, these formulations were NOT about adult-child sex. The proposed younger partners were what we would now call "older teenagers", i.e. young sexually mature adults, not "boys". The advent of industrial society has created a situation in which people reach sexual maturity before they reach social maturity, but this was not the case in the periods when age-dissonant homosexuality was the norm.

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    © 1997, Paul Halsall, halsall@murray.fordham.edu [a picture!]
    Note: I read all mail, and keep much of it, but I will not be able to reply to all notes.