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Larry Houston

Behavior
and
Not a Person
There is a wealth of cross-cultural evidence that
point to the existence of numerous patterns of
homosexuality varying in origins, subjective states and
manifest behaviors. But the paramenters of the
discussion are still best framed as who one is, a
homosexual, or what one does, homosexuality. The
support for the latter is the strongest. The truth be told,
the former is the truth.
Behavior and Not a Person
Larry Houston

Behavior
and
Not a Person

www.banap.net
Copyright © 2017 Larry Houston. All rights reserved.
Published at www.banap.net.
Behavior and Not a Person

Articles on banap were first published in 2005. In 2012


banap underwent a major revision, with the addition of new
information and articles. This revision will continue and be
ongoing. The revision is banap 2. The largest two sections are
banap 1 and banap 2 that directly address homosexuality. Two
things will not change; the articles will still come from a historic
perspective. More importantly it will continue the emphasis that
it is homosexuality, what one does and not homosexual, who one is.
Now in 2017 banap is undergoing a third major revision.
This revision is banap 3 and will not be comprised of new
information, rather, it is the information from banap 1 and banap
2. This information is presented in a new emphasis and focus.
It consists of a home page and eight main sections. The new
section banap 3 is comprised of fifteen articles. The
information is not new. Rather they are fifteen articles which
have been taken from banap 1 and banap 2. The first nine
articles are related to the idea of essentialism or social
constructionism. The idea of assimilation or liberation connects
the last six articles together.
What is homosexuality? Homosexuality is an illegitimate
attempt to meet the legitimate need for intimacy in same-
sex relationships. Overcoming homosexuality is more than
stopping, it is replacing, that is stopping and adding. There are
different pathways leading one into homosexuality and likewise
there are different pathways to overcoming homosexuality.
The section Overcoming Homosexuality contains articles
helpful not only to those struggling with homosexuality, but
also to anyone who desires a better understanding of
homosexuality. Larry Houston who is writing the articles on
this web site self-identifies as a former homosexual. His story
may be read in the article Larry’s story. A second article is about
Larry facing discrimination at Harvard University for being an ex-
gay. Following stories published in The Harvard Crimson student
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newspaper, Larry received national attention. Here are links for
four stories published in The Harvard Crimson student
newspaper.
www.thecrimson.com/article/2001/9/27/can-this-man-make-you-
straight
www.thecrimson.com/article/2001/10/18/college-investigates-
annenberg-cook-pa-united
www.thecrimson.com/article/2001/11/20/university-officials-break-
silence-on-ex-gay
www.thecrimson.com/article/2003/5/19/ex-gay-chef-makes-dc-
lobbying-trip
The section banap 1 will contain the original information in
three subsections, Inventing a “Homosexual” and Identifying a
“Homosexual”. Both Identifying and Inventing have 10 articles each
in them. The third subsection Articles, is 4 articles that are
longer, more extensive, and with more information.
The section banap 2 will contain five subsections. This is
information about homosexuality in history. Four subsections
are about homosexuality in the countries of Ancient Greece,
Great Britain, France, and Germany. The fifth subsection is
about sodomy, the term used to describe homosexuality before
the word ‘homosexual’ was coined in the late 1860s.
Sexology is a section of six articles. There is an article
about Alfred Kinsey. One article is focused on the book by
Arnold Davidson, The Emergence of Sexuality. Historical
Epistemology and the Formation of Concepts. This book details how
with the emergence of a new style of reasoning came entirely
new kinds of sexual diseases and disorders, allowing for what
we now call sexology, the study of sex. Two articles are a
chronological list of sexologists, scientist who study sexology.
The last two articles are titled Sexology, and are about the study
of sex.
The section Politics has three subsections. The subsection,
“Lobbying”, are informational handouts Larry gave to members
of the United State Congress and the Legislature of the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The dates the handouts were
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delivered chronologically organize these articles. The second
subsection, ‘Legal’, are the actual documents filed by Larry in a
legal challenge in the Middlesex County Circuit Court. Larry
filed a legal challenge to Goodridge, which was the successful
legal challenge that resulted in same-sex marriage becoming
legal in Massachusetts. The last subsection, “Articles”, is articles
that are longer, more extensive and with more information of
relevant topics.
A Bibliography is in its own section. It is an extensive 76-
page bibliography in two parts. The bibliography is organized in
alphabetical order using the author’s last name. One part is the
references for Articles and Journals. The second part is the
references for books. The references for the books used for
banap.net have been divided alphabetically into four articles, A-
D, E-L, M-R, S-Z. These references do not include any sources
that have a strong bias against homosexuality or a strong bias
for homosexuality that Larry has read.
The final main section on banap is HIV/AIDS. This disease
is very important when it comes to a discussion of
homosexuality. HIV/AIDS is a significant consequence of
homosexual behavior, no matter the spin or sugar coating that
is put on it. The highest risk behavior to acquiring HIV/AIDS
is passive anal intercourse. A very good source of information
about HIV/AIDS is found on a federal government web site,
www.cdc.gov/hiv/default.html. The following was obtained from
accessing this web site on March 25, 2015.
“Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men
(MSM) represent approximately 2% of the United States
population, yet are the population most severely affected by
HIV. In 2010, young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24 years)
accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons
aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all gay and
bisexual men. At the end of 2011, an estimated 500,022 (57%)
persons living with an HIV diagnosis in the United States were
gay and bisexual men, or gay and bisexual men who also inject
drugs.” (www.cdc.gov/hiv/default.html)
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New HIV Infections. “In 2010, gay and bisexual men
accounted for 63% of estimated new HIV infections in the
United States and 78% of infections among all newly infected
men. From 2008 to 2010, new HIV infections increased 22%
among young (aged 13-24) gay and bisexual men and 12%
among gay and bisexual men overall.”
(www.cdc.gov/hiv/default.html)
HIV and AIDS Diagnoses. “In 2013, in the United States,
gay and bisexual men accounted for 81% (30,689) of the 37,887
estimated HIV diagnoses among all males aged 13 years and
older and 65% of the 47,352 estimated diagnoses among all
persons receiving an HIV diagnosis that year.”
(www.cdc.gov/hiv/default.html)
The parameters of a discussion of homosexuality are best
framed in the following way. Who one is, a homosexual, or
what one does, homosexuality. The support is strongest for
the latter. The two quotes below are by a man who self-
identifies as gay. John D’Emilio was a university professor,
author, and a gay historian. He too agrees that it is homosexuality,
what one does. Homosexuality is an illegitimate attempt to
meet the legitimate need for intimacy in same-sex
relationships.
“There is another historical myth that enjoys nearly
universal acceptance in the gay movement, the myth of the
eternal homosexual. The argument runs something like this:
Gay men and lesbians always were and always will be. We are
everywhere; not just now, but throughout history, in all
societies and all periods. This myth served a positive political
function in the first years of gay liberation. In the early 1970s,
when we battled an ideology that either denied our existence or
defined us as psychopathic individuals or freaks of nature, it
was empowering to assert that we are everywhere. But in recent
years it has confined us as surely as the most homophobic
medical theories, and locked our movement in place. Here I
wish to challenge this myth. I want to argue that gay men and
lesbians have not always existed. Instead they are a product of
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history, and have come into existence in a specific historical era.
Their emergence is associated with the relations of capitalism; it
has been the historical development of capitalism-more
specifically, its free-labor system-that has allowed a large
numbers of men and women in the late twentieth century to
call themselves gay, to see themselves as part of a community
of similar men and women, to organize politically on the basis
of that identity.” (D’Emilio, Making Trouble: Essays on Gay
History, Politics, and the University, p. 5)
“I have argued that lesbian and gay identity and
communities are historically created, as a result of a process of
capitalist development that has spanned many generations. A
corollary of this argument is that we are not a fixed social
minority composed for all time of a certain percentage of the
population. There are more of us than one hundred years ago,
more of us than forty years ago. And there may very well be
more gay men and lesbians in the future. Claims made by gays
and nongays that sexual orientation is fixed at an early age, that
large numbers of visible gay men and lesbians in society, the
media, and the schools will have no influence on the sexual
identities of the young are wrong. Capitalism has created the
material conditions for homosexual desire to express itself as a
central component of some individuals’ lives; now, our political
movements are changing consciousness, creating the ideological
conditions that make it easier for people to make that choice.”
(D’Emilio, Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the
University, p. 12)
It is very interesting and surprising to read what has been
written by those advocating for homosexuality and those who
self-identify a homosexual. The following two quotes have been
taken from the book After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its
Fear and Hatred of the Gays in the 90s.
The authors of this book published in 1989 self-identify as
gay. Kirk graduated from Harvard University in 1980. Madsen has
taught on the faculty of Harvard University. He is a public-
communications expert, designed commercial advertising for
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Madsen Avenue, and guided strategy for the Positive Images
Campaign. This campaign was the first national gay advertising
effort in American. The following quote from the introduction
of their book along with the title of the book perhaps gives a
very strong indication of the authors’ belief in a homosexual
agenda. Perhaps this may be their motivation for writing the
book.
“In short, the gay lifestyle – if such a chaos can, after all,
legitimately be called a lifestyle – it just doesn’t work: it doesn’t
serve the two functions for which all social framework evolve:
to constrain peoples’ natural impulses to behave badly and to
meet their natural needs. While its impossible to provide an
exhaustive analytic list of all the root causes and aggravants of
this failure, we can asseverate at least some of the major causes.
Many have been dissected, above, as elements of the Ten
Misbehaviors; it only remains to discuss the failure of the gay
community to provide a viable alternative to the heterosexual
family.” (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will
Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gays in the 90s, p. 363)
“The campaign we outline in this book, though complex,
depends centrally upon a program of unabashed propaganda,
firmly grounded in long-established principles of psychology
and advertising.” (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America
Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gays in the 90s, p. xxvi)
Deliberate deceit and deception, along with emotional
rhetoric are very effective media and political lobbing tactics.
Dishonesty only goes so far. I have found most effective is to
ask for and be a part of an honest, meaningful, and open
conversation. But when it comes to homosexuality it is very
difficult to have one, and when one begins with those
advocating for homosexuality it quickly ends. For me
homosexuality is very emotional and personal, I self-identify as
a former homosexual.

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Before Homosexuality: Sodomy

Same-sex sexual acts have a history; today they are called


homosexuality. Before homosexuality they were called sodomy.
In England during the reign of King Henry VIII sodomy
became a civil offense with the passage of the buggery Act of
1533. In Germany in the late 1860s the transition from a
religious model to a medical model for same-sex sexual acts
begin. It was at this time the term homosexual came about.
“Specific sexual behaviors, to be sure, were named,
categorized, and judged. This was nothing new. They had been
for more than a thousand years. The most famous example of
this is the term sodomy.” (Blank, Straight: The Surprisingly Short
History of Heterosexuality, p. 2)
“What sodomy and buggery represented and homosexuality
was only part of these was rather the disorder of sexual
relations that, in principle at least could break out anywhere.”
(Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England, p. 25)
“Sodomy entailed improper usage (because a non-sexual
organ was used for sex) or aim (non-procreative sex).”
(Crawford, European Sexualities, 1400-1800, p. 156)
“Sodomy was a religious issue and a criminal problem.”
(Crawford, European Sexualities, 1400-1800, p. 200)
“There is a tendency for discussions of male homosexuality
to merge with discussions of the crime of sodomy and for both
to focus on male-to-male anal sex. But this is highly misleading.
’Sodomy’ as defined by religion and law included a range of
condemned practices, ’a way to encompass a multitude of sins
with a minimum of signs’, as one critic has cleverly expressed
it.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p.
60-61)
“Sodomy as defined by religion and law included a range of
condemned practices, a way to encompass a multiple of sins
with a minimum of signs as one critic has cleverly expressed it.”

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(Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p.
61)
“In ancient and early medieval writings, ‘Sodomites’ (from
the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 18-19)
were comprehended as enemies of God and the Christian
religion. Sodomy was a theological category, alongside and
analogous to ‘blasphemy’.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before
Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 61)
“Well into the late medieval and early modern periods
sodomy was often unhelpfully described as ‘that unspeakable
sin’ or ‘that unmentionable vice’.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before
Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 61)
“Despite the term’s enduring flexibility, from the twelfth
century sodomy was increasingly associated with sex acts
between men.” (Phillips and Reay; Sex Before Sexuality: A
Premodern History, p. 62)
“Ever since the twelfth century sodomy anal intercourse
either between males or between men and women, as well as
intercourse with animals – had been a crime mixti fori, that is, a
crime punishable by both ecclesiastical and secular authorities.”
(Meer, Sodomy and the Pursuit of a Third sex in the Early Modern
Period, p. 139 in Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual
Dimorphism, Culture and History, edited by Gilbert Herdt)
“Before the eighteen-century, then, it was conceivable that
any man or woman might engage in the unnatural act of
sodomy, as part of a more generalized bisexual behavior.
Sodomites were not fundamentally different from anyone else.
They were simply sinners who engaged in a particular vice, like
gamblers, drunks, adulterers, and the like.” (Merrick and Ragan,
Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 12)
“Although in the eighteenth century the word homosexual
was not yet invented, certain behaviors between the same sexes
were similar to those we recognize now, despite being viewed
somewhat differently by their own respective societies. The
term sodomy was used to describe buggery between two men,
but it also included anal sex between a man and a woman, and
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between a person and an animal. These three categories of
sodomy, seen as ‘crimes against nature’ and against God, were
deemed sinful and illegal.” (Peakman, p. 10 in A Cultural History
of Sexuality in the Enlightenment, edited by Julie Peakman)
“Unlike theologians, who discussed the ‘most infamous
vice’ only in vague terms, legists defined sodomy much more
precisely. In common speech¸ sodomy had several meanings. It
could signify, on one hand, anal sex, whether homosexual or
heterosexual, or, on the other, sexual relations between two
members of the same sex. When they wrote about sodomy,
jurists specified that they meant sexual relations between
persons of the same sex.” (Merrick and Ragan, Homosexuality in
Modern France, p. 9)
“In the older sense, sodomy surpassed all other crimes; in
its sinfulness it also included all of them: from blasphemy,
sedition, and witchcraft, to the demonic. It was, as many
extracts declare, the crime without a name; language was
incapable of sufficiently expressing the horror of it. The
category was a repository for many items, yet in the eighteenth
century a highly specific portrait of an individual, and of a
group, was increasingly displacing an undiscriminating, demonic
generalization.” (McCormick, editor, Secret Sexualities: A
Sourcebook of 17th and 18th Century Writing, p. 118)
“Sodomy surpassed all other crimes. In its sinfulness it also
included all of them, blasphemy, sedition, witchcraft, the
demonic: it is yet without a Name: What shall it then be called?
There are not Words in our Language to expressive enough of
the Horror of it. The foregoing suggests, however, a degree of
insecurity about the range of the activity, and what it ought to
be called. It was terrible in its sublimity, but unnamed in its
sublimation. What was changing was that a specific kind of
portrait of an individual was taking over from a theological
category of generalized evil.” (McCormick, editor, Sexual
Outcasts: 1750-1850, Volume II: Sodomy, p. 5)
“For several hundreds of years, the institutions of the
majority considered homosexuality something a person did and
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called it sodomy, buggery, or a crime against nature. During the
nineteenth century, a conceptual shift occurred, and a few
individuals began to talk about homosexuality as something a
person was. A new vocabulary was invented for these persons.
Urning, invert-homosexual.” (Mondimore, A Natural History of
Homosexuality, p. 248)
“Homosexuality, and by implication homosexuals, have
been placed outside prevailing social structures as defined by
most theological, legal, and medical models. In Western culture,
homosexual activity was first categorized as a sin. With the rise
of materialism and the decline of religion, it became a
transgression against the social, not the moral order: a crime.”
(Bronski, Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility, p. 8-9).
“There is, however, a crucial distinction between traditional
concepts of sodomy and modern concepts of homosexuality.
The former was seen as a potentiality in all sinful nature, unless
severely execrated and judicially punished (it is striking, for
example, that death penalties for many crimes were abolished in
the 1820s, but not for sodomy). Contemporary social sciences
have treated homosexuality as the characteristic of a particular
type of person, a type whose specific characteristics (such as
inability to whistle, penchant for the color green, adoration of
mother or father, age of sexual maturation, ‘promiscuity’) are
exhaustively detailed in many twentieth-century textbooks.”
(Weeks, Movements of Affirmation: Sexual Meanings and Homosexual
Identities, p. 71 in Passion and Power: Sexuality in History, editors
Kathy Peiss and Christina Simmons with Robert A. Padgug)
Before Homosexuality: Sodomy
Sodomy/sodomite were the words used to define and
describe same-sex sexual acts or behavior before the concept of
homosexuality/homosexual. Sodomy was at first a generally
specific act, a sexual one, which became more broadly used as
an ecclesiastical offence, a category covering a wide range of
transgressive acts that was any activity that challenged the
Nature of the church-state authority.

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Many authors have claimed that the model of sodomy as a
sinful act was replaced by a model of the sodomite as a sexual
identity in the eighteen-century. Traditional male sodomy was
the anal penetration of a young boy by an adult man; the new
sodomites were men of equal age. The traditional sodomite
seduced both women and boys, and was considered to be
masculine. The new sodomites had an exclusive interest in their
own sex, and were considered to be effeminate.
The English monarchy in a struggle with the Papacy of the
Roman Catholic Church created their own state religion, the
Church of England and also started taking legal, secular
jurisdiction of individuals and their behavior. Sodomy came
under secular state control in 1533 through the Buggery Act of
1533.
“Sodomy was a religious issue and a criminal problem.”
(Crawford, European Sexualities, 1400-1800, p. 200)
“The dual definition of sodomy led to endless confusion in
the public mind, as well as in law courts throughout Europe
when civil law later replaced church control of sexual
misconduct cases.” (Gilbert, Conceptions of Homosexuality and
Sodomy, p. 62 in Western History in Historical Perspectives on
Homosexuality, editors Salvatore J. Licata, Ph.D. and Robert P.
Peterson)
“Clearly when we come across a writer using the words
sodomy or buggery in relation to homosexuality we do the
words less than justice if we simply disregard their other
meanings. The one word was used because the one concept was
intended, and this was a broader concept than simply
homosexuality. The notion underlying these passages was not
homosexuality but a more general notion: debauchery; and
debauchery was a temptation to which all, in principle at least
were subject.” (Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England, p. 16
“Because of the historical silence surrounding the subject of
homosexuality, it is not all that easy to determine what was
being punished in the past. One thing is clear, however: The
words sodomy and sodomite had dual meanings. On one hand
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sodomy referred to unspecified sexual relations between males,
and on the other hand it meant a particular mode of sexuality,
usually anal sex. Understanding the dual nature of sodomy is an
important antidote to the false assumption made by so many
scholars that there was only one meaning, a relational one.”
(Gilbert, Conceptions of Homosexuality and Sodomy in Western History,
p. 61-62 in Historical Perspectives on Homosexuality, edited by
Salvatore J. Licata, Ph.D. and Robert P. Petersen)
“On the one hand, historians confirmed sodomy’s
capaciousness: it means masturbation, several of forms of
same-sex sexual behavior, bestiality, non-procreative sex (oral
or anal most commonly) between a man and a woman, or any
form of sex in which conception was impossible.” (Crawford,
The Sexual Culture of the French Renaissance, p. 4)
“There was also a more narrow use of the term sodomy.
This was its application almost wholly to sex between males.
Even here there were possibilities for confusion and national
variations. In some countries, all genital contact between males
might be considered sodomitical. In other places, it was
necessary to prove anal penetration and ejaculation for a
successful prosecution. Again through, practice differed from
legal definitions. The reality was sodomy (or buggery) was most
often used to refer to any genital contact between individuals of
the same sex (though lesbianism was extremely rare and only
seems to have been included as an after-thought). Most of the
other crimes technically under the rubric of sodomy had more
specific terms (e.g. bestiality, masturbation) which were used
more frequently.” (Naphy, Sex Crimes From Renaissance to
Enlightenment, p. 104)
“Sodomy, defined as anal penetration or any sexual act that
did not intend procreation, was until the eighteenth century a
sin for which the death penalty could be imposed. The
’philosophes’ of the Enlightenment criticized the severe
penalties for sodomy and indeed this ’infamous crime’
disappeared from many lawbooks after the criminal code
reform in France: France itself in 1791 the Netherlands in 1811,
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Bavaria in 1813.” (Hekma, A History of Sexology: Social and
Historical Aspects of Sexuality, p. 175-176 in From Sappho to De
Sade, edited by Jan Bremmer)
Sodomy: What One Does: Behavior
“Sodomy as defined by religion and law included a range of
condemned practices, a way to encompass a multiple of sins
with a minimum of signs as one critic has cleverly expressed it.”
(Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p.
61)
“Despite the term’s enduring flexibility, from the twelfth
century sodomy was increasingly associated with sex acts
between men.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A
Premodern History, p. 62)
“The history of ‘sodomy’ as a tool of political control is
unavoidable, but should not deflect from our abiding concern
with histories of sex and desire between men. The nature of
surviving sources, with few descriptions in court records from
before the fifteenth century, means that most of our remaining
examples come from the late medieval or early modern periods.
Viewed sexually, sodomy was excessive rather than perverted
sex, part of a propensity to loss of control rather than a specific
tendency: Bernardino of Siena said in the 1420s that all
‘unbridled and crazy young men’ were prone to sodomy
because of their acute lust.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before
Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 65)
“People were not accused in the premodern courts of being
homosexual; nor was homosexuality a cause of defamation or
sexual slander. Men were punished for buggery and sodomy,
but these infractions were generally considered the excesses of
mankind in general rather than the practices of a specific
group.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern
History, p. 86)
“Initially, sodomy was a theological construct, serving only
intermittently to refer to a clear variety of sexual activity or to
bring into focus the behaviour of a particular kind of person.”
(Mills, Male-Male Love and Sex in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, p.
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14 in A Gay History of Britain Love and Sex Between Men Since the
Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook)
“Sodomy was a massively meaningful category in medieval
culture, but partly to the extent that it was not clearly defined –
it was not consistently or inevitably associated with a distinct
configuration of sexual partners, or even with a particular kind
of sexual act.” (Cook, A Gay History of Britain Love and Sex
Between Men Since the Middle Ages, p. 23)
“In general usage, sodomy was not an exact term and did
not merely refer to a specific sexual act. Rather, it described the
whole range of homosexual behavior, sexual or otherwise,
which belonged, as one Regency pamphlet put it, to the ancient
lechers of Sodom and Gomorrah. This Biblical idiom was as
commonplace in the nineteenth century as it had been in the
previous ones. It implied that sodomites shared both the
practices and the fate of the inhabitants of that mythical city
and that sodomy represented all that was terrible, nameless and
immoral about them.” (Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and Diseases, 1800-
1914, p. 111 in A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men
Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook)
“Sodomy was the name, taken from the Bible, for an
unmentionable sin that was defined as any lustful act which
could not result in procreation within marriage. From the
thirteen-century, it was not only a sin, but also a capital crime.
Sodomy included extramarital heterosexuality, non-vaginal
sexual acts, all forms of same-sex behaviour, bestiality,
masturbation and so forth. The best-known examples of
persecution of sodomy were directed against males having anal
sex with other males.” (Hekma, Same-sex relations among men in
Europe, 1700-1990, p. 79 in Sexual Cultures in Europe: Themes in
Sexuality, editors Franz X. Eder, Lesley A. Hall and Gert
Hekma)
“The early Church punished sodomy much like other sins,
with long penances. But what they understood as sodomy did
not map into our present-day division between heterosexual
and homosexual. The definition of sodomy rested on the
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distinction between natural and unnatural acts. For clerics, the
distinction was between sex for procreation within marriage, an
unfortunate necessity, and sex that was not for procreation,
which could include oral or anal sex between a man and a
woman, or a man and a man.” (Clark, A History of European
Sexuality, p. 73-74)
“Sexual acts not geared toward procreation were commonly
referred to as sodomy. In addition to homosexual intercourse,
this term might cover anal contact between man and woman,
coritus interruptus, bestiality, and even sexual intercourse
between Christians and non-Christians (Greenberg 1988, p.
274-275; Gilbert, 1985).” (Oosterhuis, Stepchildren of Nature:
Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry, and the Making of Sexual Identities, p. 21)
“Sodomy was an act, defined either as any sexual act outside
of marriage, which did not lead to procreation or as anal
penetration, with males, females, or beasts. It had nothing to do
with sexual identities.” (Eder, Hall and Hekma, Sexual Cultures in
Europe: Natural Histories, p. 11)
“The classical age with which we are concerned did not
recognize the word homosexuality but did recognize the legal
notion of sodomy-an act of varied anal contact or penetration
of a man, woman, or beast.” (Delon, The Priest, the Philosopher,
and Homosexuality in Enlightenment, p. 122 in Tis Nature’s Fault:
Unauthorized Sexuality during the Enlightenment, editor Robert
Purks Maccubbin)
“Furthermore, the prevalence of homosexual conduct is
attested by the fact that sodomy was regarded from early times
as an ecclesiastical offence, although it did not become a felony
and thus subject to ordinary criminal jurisdiction until the reign
of Henry VIII.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p. 349)
“The strictures against sodomy in the early modern period
applied to nonvaginal penetration of any kind, though in
practice the juridical consequences of marital, bestial, and same-
sex sodomy often differed dramatically. By the second half of
the eighteen-century, I would argue, same-sex eroticism had
begun to serve as the focal point of social anxieties formerly
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invested in a broader definition of sodomy.” (Merrick and
Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 61)
“In the early modern phase (here roughly before 1688), the
term sodomy covered any activity that challenged the Nature of
the church-state authority. The logic of sodomy’s deviation
from the feudal order was precise but the category covered a
wide range of transgressive acts: witchcraft, usury, political
dissent, nonconformity, any kind of nonreproductive, non-
matrimonial sexuality, and exogamous social relations, for
example with Jews or Muslims (Bredbeck, p. 2-23). By the late
eighteen-century, sodomy more or less, narrowed to mean a
male-male erotics typified by anal penetration (buggery).”
(Shapiro, Of Mollies: Class and same-Sex Sexualities in the Eighteen
Century, p. 159 in In a Queer Place: Sexuality and Belonging in British
and European Contexts, editors Kate Chedgzoy, Emma Francis
and Murray Pratt)
“Theoretically, sodomy was a fairly general term for most
types of crimes that were deemed to beral if it was any position
other than the missionary (face-to-face, man on top, woman on
her back).” (Naphy, Sex Crimes From Renaissance to Enlightenment,
p. 103-104)
“It is noteworthy that in medieval law and in Christian
teachings, sodomy could include opposite-sex as well as same-
sex contacts, and contacts with nonhuman animals.”
(Greenberg, Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications,
p. 183 in The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political
Economy, editors Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“Associated in the seventeenth century with anal
intercourse-between two men, a man and a woman, or between
a human and an animal-in the course of the eighteenth century,
sodomy came to denote specifically sex between men.” (Bauer,
Sex, Popular Beliefs and Culture, p. 176 in A Cultural History of
Sexuality, Volume 4, editor Julie Peakman)
“In the seventeenth century, sodomy was regarded as a
monstrous sin against nature and was seen to incorporate three
sexual activities, all considered abnormal. These involved anal
- 20 -
intercourse between men, anal intercourse between a man and a
woman, and any intercourse with animals. Sodomy was
therefore a crime of which anyone could be capable, like
murder or blasphemy. Yet a subtle shift in attitudes occurred in
the following century, when sodomy became more closely
associated with sexual activity between two men. It also came to
describe a particular type of individual rather than an act itself.”
(Peakman, Lascivious Bodies: A Sexual History of the Eighteenth
Century, p. 148)
“Sodomy was sodomy no matter whom it involved.
Sodomy could take place between a man and a woman, two
men, two women, or some other combination of partners. A
sodomite was not a kind of person but a person who
committed a particular type of sin. In the same way that a
unsurer committed the act of moneylending or a murderer
committed the act of killing, a sodomite committed the act of
sodomy. It was not an identity, but a rap sheet.” (Blank, Straight:
The Surprisingly Short History of Heterosexuality, p. 2)
“During the early modern period, sodomy was not well-
defined, nor was the concept of male eros derived from
classical history. The first was a term of contempt, the other
one for reverence. Between these two conceptualizations there
existed a gray zone which seems to be have used by sodomites,
an undefined free area that could cover (to give only some
examples) mutual masturbation and intercural intercourse.”
(Hekma, Sodomites, Platonic Lovers, Contrary Lovers: The Backgrounds
of the Modern Homosexual, p. 436 in The Pursuit of Sodomy: Male
homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe, edited by
Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma)
“If anything the medieval has left us with a challenge worth
noting-unlike homosexuality or the homosexual, the term
sodomy or sodomite rarely invited identification or self-
identification.” (Puff, Sodomy in Reformation Germany and
Switzerland, 1400-1600, p. 11)

- 21 -
Sodomite: Who One Is: a Person
“Although the legal and religious definition of sodomy
referred only to certain sexual acts, especially anal intercourse,
of which anyone, in theory, was regarded as being capable,
within urban subculture in Britain, France, and the Netherlands,
a more specific sodomitical role evolved as early as the first half
of the eighteenth century.” (Oosterhuis, Stepchildren of Nature:
Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry, and the Making of Sexual Identities, p. 241)
“Homosexuals had always existed in England, though the
word homosexual was not current until the nineteenth century.
They were called sodomites, a term which emphasized the
biblical injunction against them because it reminded everyone
of Gods destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.” (Goldsmith,
The Worst of Crimes: Homosexuality and the Law in Eighteenth-Century
London, p. 5-6)
“The sodomite of the traditional European culture which
existed between the 12th and 17th centuries had been a man
who had sex with both boys and women.” (Trumbach,
Compared in Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality by Dennis
Altman, p. 153)
“Sodomy, again, followed a traditional pattern of periods of
toleration interspersed with vicious persecution and moral
panics. The change during the eighteen-century, from the image
of the foppish but still, even hyper-, masculine bisexual libertine
to that of the effeminate sodomite, was influenced by the
hardening of categories already mentioned, concurrent with the
emergence of a visible homosexual subculture in large cities
such as London.” (Hall, Sexual Cultures in Britain: Some Persisting
Themes, p. 33 in Sexual Cultures in Europe: National Histories, edited
by Franz X. Eder, Lesley A. Hall and Gert Kekma)
“Previously, to be sexually daring meant having sex with just
about anyone (especially, women and adolescent males). By the
middle of the eighteenth century, men only desired women.
The sodomite became a creature who only desired men and
became known as a molly, a word that had originally meant

- 22 -
whore.” (Naphy, Sex Crimes From Renaissance to Enlightenment, p.
105)
“There has been a spirited discussion on the history of
sodomy, especially concerning the eighteen-century, to explain
the rise of the prosecutions and changes in representations.
Many authors have claimed that the model of sodomy as a
sinful act was replaced by a model of the sodomite as a sexual
identity at that time. Traditional male sodomy was the anal
penetration of a young boy by an adult man; the new sodomites
were men of equal age. The traditional sodomite seduced both
women and boys, and was considered to be masculine. The new
sodomites had an exclusive interest in their own sex, and were
considered to be effeminate. As the fop, the promiscuous
womanizer, had been the example of the feminine man before
1700, the sodomite replaced him as deviant in gender and
sexual roles. A concept of sexual identity replaced a concept of
unbridled lust and unmentionable sin. In the major cities of
north-western Europe, this sexual identity expressed itself in
subcultures with their own meeting places, languages, customs,
and so forth.
The model of the queen as a sexual identity, it is argued,
took over from the model of sodomy as sexual act.” (Hekma,
Same-sex relations among men in Europe, 1700-1990, p. 80 in Sexual
Cultures in Europe: Themes in Sexuality, editors Franz X. Eder,
Lesley A. Hall and Gert Hekma)
Buggery Act of 1533: Secular State Control
The Buggery Act of 1533, formally An Act for the
punysshement of the vice of Buggerie (25 Hen. 8 c. 6), was an
Act of the Parliament of England that was passed during the
reign of Henry VIII. It was the country’s first civil sodomy law,
such offences having previously been dealt with by the
eccleiastical courts. The Act defined buggery as an unnatural
sexual act against the will of God and man. This was later
changed by the courts, buggery became defined to include only
anal penetration and bestiality.

- 23 -
“Sodomy was not a crime in common law until 1533 when
the Act for the Punishmentof the Vice of Buggery was
introduced. Buggery remained a capital offense in England until
1861, the last execution taking place in 1835.” (Peakman,
Lascivious Bodies: A Sexual History of the Eighteenth Century, p. 151
“As we have seen, sodomy had been made a civil offence in
1533 by Henry VIII, a law confirmed during the reign of
Elizabeth I. Although the 1533 Act did not attempt to define
what was meant by buggery, later jurists attempted to specify
what the act of sodomy actually described in law.” (Cocks,
Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.
32)
“It was a short piece of legislation, which originated in the
House of Lords, declaring the detestable and abominable Vice
of Buggery committed with mankind or beast to be a felony
subject to the penalties of death and loss of property
customarily suffered by felons, without the benefits of clergy,
which meant that offenders in holy orders could not claim to be
tried in ecclesiastical courts.” (Hyde, The Other Love: An
Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain, p. 39)
“The Act (25 Henry VIII, c. 6) was repealed in 1547 by
Edward VI, along with other legislation passed in his father’s
time, but it was re-enacted in 1562 (5 Elizabeth c. 17), when
Parliament ordained that it was to be perpetual. It remained a
capital offence until the beginning of the nineteenth century,
when the death penalty was abolished for this as for many other
offences at the instigation of Sir Robert Peel, then Home
Secretary.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p. 350)
“The Buggery Act remained the basis of legislation for
prosecuting acts of anal sex between men until 1967. When sex
between two men in private was decriminalised for men over
21, the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 did not distinguish
between anal sex and other forms of sexual contact between
men. It is arguable that this legislation, in 1967, was the first
English law to distinguish a class of men who sex with other
men. The 1967 legislation accommodated the sexual lifestyles
- 24 -
of men who, as long as they conducted their various and
consenting sexual acts in private and the sexual encounter
numbered no more than two persons, would not be
prosecuted.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain,
1861-1913, p. 94)
Sodomy/Sodomite Becomes
Homosexuality/Homosexual
“It was during the 19th century that the sodomite – a
‘criminal before God’, guilty of an infamous act that deserved
the supreme penalty – gave way to the ‘homosexual’, who did
wrong against society, but was also ‘sick’, ‘perverse’,
‘degenerate’, and as much a case for medical treatment as for
the law courts.
In fact, it was medical and psychiatric theories more than
any other factor that contributed to the ‘specification’ of
homosexuality, to use Michel Foucault’s terminology. For a
long time, medical literature on the subject was marked by a
clash of contradictory definitions and by a multiplicity of
competing terms, all claiming to come closest to what actually
constituted homosexuality (inversion, uranism, unisexuality,
bisexuality, psychic hermaphrodism, contrary sexual feeling and
so on). In their effort to establish a proper classification of
homosexuality, doctors and psychiatrists set out in search of
physiological ‘proofs’ that would pinpoint the sexual orientation
of the patient.” (Tamagne, The Homosexual Age, 1870-1940, p.
167 in Gay Life and Culture: A World History, editor Robert
Aldrich)
“The state does not create homosexuality, yet it does seek to
construct its significance, regulate and control it and indeed all
sexuality, though most vehemently male homosexuality. Male
homosexual practices have occurred across all centuries in all
societies¸ yet the male homosexual identity and more
particularity the gay man and the gay community are a more
recent phenomenon.” (Edwards, Erotics and Politics: Gay Male
Sexuality, Masculinity and Feminism, p. 15)

- 25 -
“The pursuit of sodomy in early modern Europe brought to
the fore some very important changes in the conceptualization
and practice of homosexuality. The eighteenth century was a
key age for the revision of ideas on sodomy and for the self-
awareness of sodomities, especially in northwestern Europe.”
(Hekma, Sodomites, Platonic Lovers, Contrary Lovers: The Backgrounds
of the Modern Homosexual, p. 433 in The Pursuit of Sodomy: Male
homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe, edited by
Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma)
“Although the foundations for change were laid in the
eighteenth century, the transition from the religious model to
the medical model of homosexuality occurred mainly during the
nineteenth and took firm hold during the first half of the
twentieth century. It has been argued that one of the casual
factors for the change was the attempt of certain elements in
the medical to bolster traditional attitudes toward sex-attitudes
that were being challenged by new rationalism of the period.”
(Hubert, The Third Sex Theory of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, p. 103 in
Historical Perspectives on Homosexuality, edited by Salvatore J.
Licata, Ph.D. and Robert P. Petersen)
“In his recent book The History of Sexuality, Michel Foucault
makes some distinctions that are important for historians of
homosexuality. Foucault correctly notes that such terms such as
homosexuality and homosexual are modern, originating in the
late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This linguistic
development stemmed not from some arbitrary desire to find a
new word to replace the earlier ones, but rather from the recent
creation by society of a new class of deviants. Suddenly there
were homosexuals – a group of males who because of heredity
or childhood training chose to seek sexual partners from
members of their own sex. The sodomite had been someone
who sinned by performing a deviant social act. The homosexual
was not a sinner in the old religious sense but someone with an
identifiable lifestyle revolving around the choice of sexual
partners of the same sex. The distinction is important, for it
marks the beginning of the treatment of a segment of the
- 26 -
population as a race apart.” (Gilbert, Conceptions of Homosexuality
and Sodomy in Western History, p. 61 in Historical Perspectives on
Homosexuality, edited by Salvatore J. Licata, Ph.D. and Robert P.
Petersen)
“There is, however, a crucial distinction between traditional
concepts of sodomy and modern concepts of homosexuality.
The former was seen as a potentiality in all sinful nature, unless
severely execrated and judicially punished (it is striking, for
example, that death penalties for many crimes were abolished in
the 1820s, but not for sodomy). Contemporary social sciences
have treated homosexuality as the characteristic of a particular
type of person, a type whose specific characteristics (such as
inability to whistle, penchant for the color green, adoration of
mother or father, age of sexual maturation, ‘promiscuity’) are
exhaustively detailed in many twentieth-century textbooks.”
(Weeks, Movements of Affirmation: Sexual Meanings and Homosexual
Identities, p. 71 in Passion and Power: Sexuality in History, editors
Kathy Peiss and Christina Simmons with Robert A. Padgug)
“If anything the medieval has left us with a challenge worth
noting-unlike homosexuality or the homosexual, the term
sodomy or sodomite rarely invited identification or self-
identification.” (Puff, Sodomy in Reformation Germany and
Switzerland, 1400-1600, p. 11)
“‘The sodomite was a renegade [or ‘backslider’]; the
homosexual is now a species’, as David Halperin captures this
same sentence. A generation of researchers translated a
somewhat paradoxical formulation, especially in the standard
English translation, into a road map on how to do research on
the history of homosexuality – a productive misunderstanding,
one might say, in which social histories often-enough passed as
histories of discourse and vice versa.
Yet the proviso to distinguish between sexual acts- acts
committed with-out identities – and sexual selves centered in
sociosexual identities has profoundly shaped the histotiography
on same-sex eroticism among males ever since.” (Puff, After the
History of (Male) Homosexuality, p. 18 in After the History of
- 27 -
Sexuality: German Genealogies With and Beyond Foucault, editors
Scott Spector, Helmut Puff, and Dagmar Herzog)
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A. Padgug.

- 32 -
The Sodomite Becomes a Molly

The nature of homosexual acts in European society before


1700, as understood by most anthropologists, historians, and
sociologists consisted of homosexual behavior in the majority
of human societies that was organized by differences in age or
in gender. This homosexual behavior was an adult male taking
the active role and an adolescent male the passive role. The
individuals were notice by their behavior sodomy and neither
was given the identity as a sodomite. Nor did either individual
lose their masculine status. Homosexual behavior was
something that mankind in general was capable of doing. A
dramatic change occurred in the beginning of the eighteenth
century. Homosexual behavior became associated with a
particular group with its own sense of self, an identity or
subculture that emphasized effeminacy.
A new kind of sodomite, molly could be identified by name
in early 1700 England. This molly was an effeminate man who
desired sexual relations only with men or boys. They adopted a
woman’s characteristics, speech, walk and even attire. In earlier
times a male could have sexual relations with either a woman or
an adolescent male. He was not given the specific name a molly.
But was notice because of his sexual behavior, sexual relations
with both women and adolescent boys and this behavior was
characterized as sodomy when it was with another male.
Before this time, it was presumed there were three kinds of
bodies (men, women, and hermaphrodites), but there were only
two kinds of gender (male and female). Now for men there
were two kinds of bodies (men and women) and three kinds of
gender (male, female and sodomite/molly). The male category
consisted of adolescent, adult man, and sodomite. This new
gendered system came about because of the sexual relations this
sodomite/molly had, sexual desire with other males of varying
ages. Although many mollies in their public lives were married

- 33 -
and even had fathered children, in their private lives they were
mollies.
What brought about this transformation has not been given
a satisfactory explanation. One possible factor could be the
growth of equality between men and women that came about as
part of the emerging modern European culture in northwestern
Europe around the 1700. This modernization was an economy
based on public credit, religious skepticism and the
enlightenment, romantic marriage and the tender care of
children.
“Previously, to be sexually daring meant having sex with just
about anyone (especially, women and adolescent males). By the
middle of the eighteenth century, men only desired women.
The sodomite became a creature who only desired men and
became known as a molly, a word that had originally meant
whore.” (Naphy, Sex Crimes From Renaissance to Enlightenment, p.
105)
“In almost all modern Western discussions of the
relationship of biological sex to gender and of the female
gender to the male, the presumption is made that there are two
biological sexes, man and woman, and two genders, female and
male. But this is not so in all cultures, and it has not always
been so even in Western culture. The paradigm of two genders
founded on two biological sexes began to predominate in
Western culture only in the early eighteenth century. It was a
product of the modern Western gender system, which makes it
peculiarly difficult for Westerners to see that this paradigm is
not inherent in the empirical observation of the world. The
paradigm of two sexes and two genders can be tied to the
beginnings of modern equality between the two legitimated
genders. It appeared probably throughout the modernizing
societies of northwestern Europe, in France and the
Netherlands, for example, and certainly in England, as this
essay snows. But the new paradigm of the early eighteenth
century was not really one of two genders. There was a third
illegitimate gender, namely, the adult, passive, transvestite and
- 34 -
effeminate male, or molly, ‘who was supposed to desire men
exclusively’.” (Trumbach, London’s Sapphists: From Three Sexes to
Four Genders in the Making of Modern Culture, p. 111 in Third Sex
Third Gender Beyond Sexual Dimorphism, in Culture and History,
edited by Gilbert Herdt)
“In the course of the eighteen-century, there was an
emerging sense of the need to define sexual roles. Anatomical
distinctions were not in themselves sufficient, because
transgression of sexual roles was mirrored by the affection of
behaviour, mannerisms, or luxury of dress which properly
belonged to the other sex.” (McCormick, editor, Sexual Outcasts:
1750-1850, Volume II: Sodomy, p. 3)
“In the course of the eighteenth century it was possible to
discern an increasing consciousness of the need to define
gender differences and sexual subdivisions. A dominant feature
of the early eighteenth century was the emergence of the
‘effeminate’ man who was not definable merely by his
foppishness. The ’molly’ or homosexual represented an
aberrant personality, a lifestyle. As a group, their constitution
hinged on mimicry of women, affectation and same-sex
relationships; such representations placed them beyond natural
essentialist categories; they could not be included in the ‘system
of nature’. Sodomitical practices were, above all, unnatural and
artificial.” (McCormick, editor, Secret Sexualities: A Sourcebook of
17th and 18th Century Writing, p. 117)
“Notably, Trumach asserts that emergence of a Third Sex
revolutionized the whole gamut of sexual and social relations in
Enlightenment England: the new form of exclusively male
desire transformed notions of masculinity, since men now
sought to distinguish themselves from unmanly sodomites. As a
consquence, the mollies helped to crystallize heterosexuality,
with its concomitant rise in male adultery and female
prostitution.” (Puff, Sodomy in Reformation Germany and
Switzerland, 1400-1600, p. 4-5)
“Randolph Trumbach, who for the past thirty years has
been the major contributor to empirical findings about
- 35 -
homosexuality in eighteenth-century England, continues to
claim that, ‘in the first decade of the eighteenth century... a
profound transformation had occurred in the nature of sexual
attraction in the societies of western Europe’. Before this time,
he claims, the model was that of the bisexual libertine whose
relationships were age-structured; afterward, it was that of the
effeminate ‘molly’, who was exclusively homosexual, and whose
relationships were mostly with similar-age adult partners. But
Trumbach remains unconvinced by the theories whether of the
economic, psychological, or postmodern varieties put forward
to account for this change, concluding that ‘no one at the
present moment has any satisfactory explanation as to why this
transformation occurred’. At the present time, many issues that
the more doctrinaire theorists claimed to have resolved a dozen
years ago are being subjected to more nuanced reconsideration
and revision.” (Norton, Homosexuality, p. 60 in A Cultural History
of Sexuality in the Enlightenment, edited by Julie Peakman)
“What remains is to bring the threads of the argument
together. In his now classic article The Birth of the Queen: Sodomy
and the Emergence of Gender Equality in Modern Culture, 1600-1750,
Randolph Trumbach argued that ‘in traditional European
societies, men who did not restrict their sexual experience to
marriage usually had sex with both adolescent boys and female
whores’. However, a change took place in the sex/gender
system after 1700, he posited, as modern society evolved, and
‘the appearance of the English molly and his European
counterparts would therefore indicate that male and female
roles had begun to grow more nearly equal. Building on the
work of Lawrence Stone, Trumbach contented that this
development represented a major shift in attitudes toward male
homosexuality and that it occurred within the context of the
emergence of companionate marriage and the domesticated
family in western culture. Now “the molly could find partners
among a majority of adult males. The molly was therefore a wall
of separation between genders rather than bridge’. Finally,
Trumbach suggested that society perceived the molly as a ‘new
- 36 -
kind of sodomite who was identified principally by his
effeminate manner’.
Gert Hekma in a recent essay, Homosexual Behavior in the
Nineteenth-Century Dutch Army, challenged aspects of Trumbach’s
finding. He suggested that evidence or the ‘queen model’ was
only to be discovered in the last decade of the nineteenth
century in the Netherlands and that it was only one of ‘a variety
of forms. Gay history has been preoccupied with general
trends, such as making of the homosexual or the queen model,
where specific and historical and local trends are disregarded’.”
(Fout, Forbidden History: The State, Society, and Regulation of
Sexuality in Modern Europe, p. 208-209)
“‘Molly’ is the word that most gay men used to refer to one
another for more than 150 years a longer period of usage than
that enjoyed by the quasi-scientific modern term ‘homosexual’.
The nearest modern equivalent to the word ‘molly’ is the word
‘gay’. In a study of social interactions in which sex played only a
part, albeit an important part, such terms as ‘molly’ and ‘gay’ are
preferable to ‘homosexual’ because they have a greater
resonance, and encompass a wider range of ambiguous
references which are appropriate to the wider issues of social
rather than specifically sexual behaviour. Other modern words
that have the same meaning as ‘molly’ are ‘queer’, ‘fairy’,
‘faggot’ and ‘queen’. During the eighteenth century, the terms
used most frequently for gay men were ‘mollies’, which derives
from slang for a female prostitute, ‘sodomites’, ‘buggerers’ and
‘indorsers’, which derives from boxing slang for ‘to cudgel on
the back’. All these terms were used interchangeably, just as in
modern times the labels ‘homo’, ‘queer’, ‘poof/pouf’ were
applied indiscriminantly, depending more on the class of people
who used the term than on the people to whom they applied
the term.” (Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture
in England, 1700-1830, p. 14)
“The material from 1709 makes it even clearer that
contemporaries were beginning to see a kind of sodomite
different from the men who frigged and sodomized boys and
- 37 -
advised them to try lewd women. The new sodomites met as
clubs in taverns, and they called themselves (according to Ned
Ward) mollies. It is a word probably related to molly, which
meant a female prostitute; it starts a long tradition in English
language usage whereby the slang terms for prostitutes in one
generation subsequently are appropriated for sodomites (e.g.,
queen, punk, gay, faggot, fairy, and fruit). It makes clear that the
sodomite viewed himself, and was seen by others, no longer as
a rake but as a species of outcast woman.” (Trumbach, The Birth
of the Queen: Sodomy and the Emergence of Gender Equality in Modern
Culture, 1660-1750, p. 137 in Hidden From History: Reclaiming the
Gay and Lesbian Past)
“Among the men who participated in social networks
forming in early modern England and Europe, one finds a
phenomenon present in some bands and tribal societies as well
as in classical antiquity but seems to have largely disappeared
for a thousand years: male effeminacy joined with
homoeroticism. Medieval and Renaissance sodomites did not
generally cross-dress, or adopt women’s mannerisms.
The re-emergence of male effeminacy is best documented in
England at the beginning of eighteenth century, where
effeminate men were sufficiently well-known to be given a
specific name, mollies. They gathered in taverns, where they
crossed-dressed and mimicked women.” (Greenberg,
Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications, p. 186 in The
Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy, editors
Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“A revolution in the gender relations of Western societies
occurred in the first generation of the eighteenth century, and it
is the purpose of this book to describe its consequences for the
sexual behavior of most men and women. Around 1700 in
northwestern Europe, in England, France, and the Dutch
Republic, there appeared a minority of adult men whose sexual
desires were directed exclusively toward adult and adolescent
males. These men could be identified by what seemed to their
contemporaries to be effeminate behavior in speech,
- 38 -
movement, and dress. They had not, however, entirely
transformed themselves into women but instead combined into
a third gender selected aspects of the behavior of the majority
of men and women.” (Trumbach, Sex and the Gender Revolution,
Volume One: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment
London, p. 3)
“In the thirty years after 1700 it becomes possible to
identify a new kind of sodomite in English society who (in the
slang of the streets) was called a molly. A molly was an
effeminate adult man who desired to have sex only with men or
boys. His speech and gait were similar to a woman’s; his clothes
tended to be elegant and he occasionally dressed as a woman,
for a ball. Among his fellow mollies, he was often known by a
woman’s name. Some men like the Princess Seraphina always
dressed as women, they were; referred to by everyone as she
and her, and they lived by prostitution. All mollies differed
from the effeminate men of both traditional systems. They were
closest in role to someone like the North American berdache.
But whereas it was legitimate for the Native American berdache
to be penetrated by the men and boys from the majority, in the
modern system the molly was supposed to be strictly avoided
by the men and boys from the majority. The molly did desire
such men, sometimes as their only object, but the men who
yielded were concerned to hide this very carefully since any
contact with a molly could be used to put them into that
despised category. Mollies also had sex (and perhaps mainly)
with each other, whereas the berdaches strictly avoided each
other. Mollies also differed from the two types of passive men
in age-structured systems because it was no longer the case that
most sexual acts between males were between men and boys. It
is true that adult mollies sometimes pursued boys and that for a
while in the early eighteenth century there continued to be men
who desired both women and boys. It was also the case that
throughout the next three centuries some men in totally male
institutions such as prisons or ships at sea satisfied themselves
with boys who were present. But it was no longer acceptable
- 39 -
for a boy to be passive. Boys among themselves talked with
constant horrified fascination about mollies, but a boy
approached by such a man tended to panic. Masturbation was
severely discouraged with threats of mental and physical debility
because it led males to a fascination with their penises instead
of with women’s bodies.” (Trumbach, The Heterosexual Male in
Eighteenth-Century London and his Queer Inactions, p. 105 in Love,
Sex, Intimacy, and Friendship Between Men, 1550-1800, editors
Katherine O’Donnell and Michael O’Rourke)
“Sodomy is being used as a general term of censure for
perverse sexual pleasures. Yet the mutation of new sexual
identities was central to the grotesque sexual dynamic that
playfully subverted categories, confronting the dull standard
with the exciting hybrid. In Alan Bray’s analysis of
homosexuality at the beginning of the eighteen-century, There
was now a continuing culture to be fixed on and an extension
of the area in which homosexuality could be expressed and
therefore recognized: clothes, gestures, language, particular
buildings and particular public places.” (McCormick, editor,
Sexual Outcasts: 1750-1850, Volume II: Sodomy, p. 9)
“Michel Rey has contended that some of these sodomites
developed a distinctive life-style by the mid-1700s. They formed
a community of men from all social classes whose sexual
orientation shaped and defined a collective identity. The men
cruised for sex in streets and parks and met together nightly in
taverns. They mimicked aristocratic refinement by adopting
effeminate mannerisms and sometimes took female
nicknames.” (Merrick and Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France,
p. 80)
“Recent studies dealing with sodomy in pre-industrial
England have usually focused upon the development of a
sodomitical subculture within the lower and lower-middle
classes. Mary McIntosh, Alan Bray, and Randolph Trumbach,
while disagreeing over the timing, concur that by 1700 there
had developed in London a reasonably well-developed
sodomitical culture replete with special walkways, parks, and
- 40 -
molly houses (inns in which the almost exclusively subculture
was tolerated in part or all of the premises). Some molly-house
patrons employed a special vernacular and displayed deviate
mannerisms, usually of an effeminate nature. London, with a
population of a half-million, was unique among English cities in
being able to provide the anonymity seemingly required to
create a subculture.” (Rubini, Sexually and Augustan England:
Sodomy, Politics, Elite Circles and Society, p. 349 in The Pursuit of
Sodomy: Male homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe,
edited by Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma)
“Early modern historians have taken Focault much more to
task. Alan Bray, working on seventeenth-century London
argued that spaces such as taverns and molly houses made
deviant practices comparatively safe. They enabled men to
identify each other and themselves through specific culture
habits and practices, many of which diverge from standard
expressions of masculinity and sexuality. Pet names, sartorial
markers, rituals (sometimes mocking social dominant ones),
contributed to men being able to recognize each other.
Recognition was crucial to sexual identity formation.”
(Crawford, European Sexualities, 1400-1800, p. 200)
“As a molly, the early eighteen-century homosexual
rendered himself monstrous by importing qualities that
properly belonged to the other sex; either he monstrously
erased his sexual organs, making it redundant to his
preferences, giving up his manhood and turning to foppish
effeminacy; or using his orifice improperly, he became more
monstrous still, as a sodomite.” (McCormick, editor, Sexual
Outcasts: 1750-1850, Volume II: Sodomy, p. 9)
“As a ‘molly’, the early eighteenth-century homosexual
rendered himself monstrous. He erased his productive sexual
organ; he made it redundant to accepted preferences; gave up
his manhood; turned to foppish effeminacy. Alternatively, in
using his orifice ’improperly’ he became more monstrous still, a
sodomite, and a forerunner of the homosexual.” (McCormick,

- 41 -
editor, Secret Sexualities: A Sourcebook of 17th and 18th Century
Writing, p. 121)
“The category of the Molly lacked the copia of sodomy; it
updated the grotesqueness of its self-definition by building on
more modern anxieties about mixture, the shifting, and the
unstable. According to Michel Foucault, Homosexuality
appeared as one of the forms of sexuality when it was
transposed from the practice of sodomy onto a kind of interior
androgyny, a hermaphrodism of the soul. The sodomite had
been a temporary aberration: the homosexual was now a
species. Although the theory is superficially attractive, it takes
little account of the heterogeneous explanatory discourse which
went into the construction of the hermaphrodite. Rousseau and
Porter are nearer to the available historical evidence in their
conclusion that official attitudes to homo-eroticism harden,
turning the occasion sin of buggery into the more terrifying
stereotype of the sodomite. Grotesque sexuality blended the
categories of male and female, constructing a perilous gender
hybridization. How could this shifting category be described in
such a way to identify, control, and prohibit it? The grotesque
notion of the sodomite as demonic beast belonged to a
grotesque idiom that was rather outdated and outmoded; yet
the older form persisted throughout the period.” (McCormick,
editor, Sexual Outcasts: 1750-1850, Volume II: Sodomy, p. 5)
“The molly can in some respects be considered the product
of a natural and inevitable mutation within the prevailing
culture. If identity and behaviour could be fashioned or
constructed and then naturalized (as in homo economicus) then
it followed that other reconstructions, at the fringes, might also
seek to naturalize themselves. In a passing reference to
Sodomy, Swift ad suggested in Gullliver’s Travels that sodomy
was entirely the production of art and reason. Sexually was
increasingly constructed not on the basis of sex but on the
ground of self-legitimation and pluralizing of desire.”
(McCormick, editor, Sexual Outcasts: 1750-1850, Volume II:
Sodomy, p. 8)
- 42 -
“In the texts chosen for this volume we can discern the
continuing presence of a sodomitical subculture throughout the
later eighteen and early nineteen-century. Attitudes to sodomy
hardened in terms of an offence to manners and morals; but
increasingly its regulation was as much social ostracism as
prosecution. The changing nature of marriage was one factor.”
(McCormick, editor, Sexual Outcasts: 1750-1850, Volume II:
Sodomy, p. 11)
“This new four-gender paradigm helped lead to the
beginning of distinct sexual identities. It does not mean that the
sodomite and sapphist were like late-nineteen-century inverts or
late twentieth-century gays and lesbians. But, especially in the
case of sodomites, they began to see themselves as being
different from other people. With the birth of the new
sodomite, sodomitical subcultures developed in many Western
European cities, including Paris.” (Merrick and Ragan,
Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 12)
“Recent studies dealing with sodomy in pre-industrial
England have usually focused upon the development of a
sodomitical subculture within the lower and lower-middle
classes. Mary McIntosh, Alan Bray, and Randolph Trumbach,
while disagreeing over the timing, concur that by 1700 there
had developed in London a reasonably well-developed
sodomitical culture replete with special walkways, parks, and
molly houses (inns in which the almost exclusively subculture
was tolerated in part or all of the premises). Some molly-house
patrons employed a special vernacular and displayed deviate
mannerisms, usually of an effeminate nature. London, with a
population of a half-million, was unique among English cities in
being able to provide the anonymity seemingly required to
create a subculture.” (Rubini, Sexually and Augustan England:
Sodomy, Politics, Elite Circles and Society, p. 349 in The Pursuit of
Sodomy: Male Homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe,
edited by Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma)
“Moving into the public sphere of sexuality, the available
literature indicates that a diversity of sexual practices was
- 43 -
available. Yet the mutation of new sexual identities was central
to the grotesque sexual dynamic that playfully subverted
categories, confronting the completeness of taxonomy with the
exciting hybrid. In Alan Bray’s analysis of homosexuality at the
beginning of the eighteenth century, there was now a
continuing culture to be fixed on and an extension of the area
in which homosexuality could be expressed and therefore
recognised; clothes, gestures, language, particular buildings and
particular public places.” (McCormick, editor, Secret Sexualities:
A Sourcebook of 17th and 18th Century Writing, p. 120)
“These changing concepts do not mean, of course, that
those who engaged in a predominantly homosexual life style did
not regard themselves as somehow different until the late
nineteenth century. There is evidence for the emergence of a
distinctive male homosexual subculture in London and one or
two other cities from the late seventeenth century, often
characterized by transvestism and gender-role inversion. By the
mid-nineteenth century, it seems the male homosexual
subculture at least had characteristics not dissimilar to the
modern, with recognized cruising places and homosexual
haunts, ritualized sexual contact, and a distinctive argot and
‘style.’” (Weeks, Movements of Affirmation: Sexual Meanings and
Homosexual Identities, p. 72 in Passion and Power: Sexuality in
History, editors Kathy Peiss and Christina Simmons with Robert
A. Padgug)
“From about 1700, a well-organized homosexual subculture
became evident in the city of London. It was patronized by
men who used specialized slang (for instance, ‘picking up
trade’), frequented homosexual cruising areas, and engaged in
effeminate behavior among themselves. They socialized in
coffeehouses and taverns called molly houses, where they sang
and danced together, behaved in a disorderly fashion, and
sometimes got ‘married’. In Britain, molly houses seem to have
been established only in London though there were networks
of homosexuals in cities such as Warrington and Bristol.”

- 44 -
(Norton, Homosexuality, p. 63 in A Cultural History of Sexuality in
the Enlightenment, edited by Julie Peakman)
“In the early eighteen-century homosexual subculture drew
together a number of characteristics that typified the
grotesque’s relation of heterogeneity to the main or ‘official’
culture: the grotesque and ridiculous of dress and pantomime;
the definition of spaces and subsequent encroachments upon
them; Grub Street threatened threaten official literary culture in
a way that the ‘molly houses’ threatened traditional sexual
mores. The city, itself often characterized as grotesque,
provided a site for these exchanges.” (McCormick, editor,
Sexual Outcasts: 1750-1850, Volume II: Sodomy, p. 10-11)
“This book is a history of the emergence and development
of the gay subculture in England, from the late seventeenth
century through the early nineteenth century. The first
organized gay community seems to have grown up within the
remarkably short period of a single generation. Though
homosexuals have existed during all periods of history, it is not
until about 1700, at least in England, that we learn about gay
men gathering together within a structured social organization
that can properly be called a subculture.” (Norton, Mother Clap’s
Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830, p. 17)
“Throughout this study, I will be using the term ‘subculture’
in its sociological meaning, to define a body of social
institutions and patterns of behaviour shared by a group of
people who identify themselves as part of that group, who have
several significant factors in common, and who are viewed as
‘deviant’ or significantly different from those in the mainstream
of a larger, enclosing culture. Such subcultures usually have the
following major characteristics: (1) social gatherings attended
exclusively by members sharing some significant factor, (2) a
system of communication between members which is not
generally recognized by the larger society; (3) specialized
vocabulary or slang, used to reinforce a sense of membership in
the group or to establish contact secretly; (4) self-identification
with other members in the group, reinforced by common
- 45 -
patterns of behaviour which distinguish the members from
society at large; and (5) a self-protective community of shared
sympathy caused by being ostracized by society for being
different.” (Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture
in England, 1700-1830, p. 13-14)
“One of the most interesting subjects in the history of
sexuality is the sudden appearance, about three hundred years
ago, of a well-organized gay subculture in the city of London.
This was patronized by recognizably modern gay men or, to use
the term they used themselves, mollies who used gay slang
amongst themselves, who frequented specialized gay cruising
areas, who engaged in campy behaviour amongst themselves,
and who developed an extensive network of gay clubs, where
they socialized with one another, singing and dancing together,
and otherwise behaving in a disorderly fashion. All of this is
documented by a substantial body of historical data, especially
the records of the Old Bailey, which contain about 85 trials for
homosexual offences and about 50 trials for, homosexual-
related blackmail. To this we can add hundreds of newspaper
reports and dozens of satirical pamphlets. This material has
been used by gay historians as a resource for situating modern
gay culture within a historical context, and even for establishing
’roots’ or anchoring modern gay identity on historical
foundations. It is also used by historians of sexuality in general,
for understanding the changing historical contexts in which
sexuality is experienced and regulated.” (Norton, Mother Clap’s
Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830, p. 13)
“I have avoided doctrinaire theorizing about why the gay
subculture emerged when it did. It may be sufficient to see it as
a natural result of urbanization. At the beginning of the
eighteenth-century London had become, the largest city in
Europe, the result of a dramatic rise in population during the
last quarter of the seventeenth century and the first quarter of
the eighteenth century. There are no reliable statistics before
1800, but the population is believed to have reached about
750,000 by 1725; this was large enough to accommodate
- 46 -
specialized subgroups of many sorts, and to provide greater
opportunity for men of shared interests to associate with one
another.” (Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture
in England, 1700-1830, p. 18-19)
“The other factor that helped to develop the gay subculture
so rapidly was its unified class structure. The urbanization of
this period, and especially the expansion of commerce,
facilitated the creation of a lower middle class of small
shopkeepers and tradesmen, and the artisans and working class
that served them. Although I will not ignore the role played by
artistocrats and gentlemen, the gay subculture throughout most
of the eighteenth century consisted almost entirely of members
of these working classes, as illustrated by a list of their
occupations: servants (messenger boy, chairman, coachman,
footman, waiter, waterman), artisans or skilled craftsmen
(cabinet maker, gilder, peruke maker, tailor, fan maker,
upholsterer), tradesmen (fruit seller, butcher, hardware dealer,
woolen draper), suppliers of services (barber, tavern keeper,
porter, postboy), workers of various skills (candle maker, wool
comber, silk dyer, blacksmith), and not a few soldiers, but
relatively few schoolmasters or gentlemen of independent
means. Some degree of class exploitation undoubtedly took
place, particularly on the fringes of the royal court, and soldiers
have always prostituted themselves to gentlemen with money,
but the molly houses themselves catered almost exclusively for
what are now called the respectable working classes.” (Norton,
Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-
1830, p. 19)
“Almost all of the men who participated in the subculture
of molly houses were small-time tradesmen and artisans:
brewers, candle-makers, cabinetmakers, grocers, publicans,
tailors, wig-makers, upholsterers, drapers, coachmen, and
servants of various sorts. A large majority of men who were
prosecuted for having sex in a public place exhibited ordinary
masculine demeanors and had masculine-type occupations
(such as butchers or coal merchants). Most of these men were
- 47 -
part of the respectable working class who had found their social
and sexual center in the molly house. However, once inside
these establishments’ relative privacy, they dropped their social
facades and adopted camp or effeminate mannerisms,
mimicking the voices of women and having mock ‘bitch’
fights.” (Norton, Homosexuality, p. 67 in A Cultural History of
Sexuality in the Enlightenment, edited by Julie Peakman.)
“All we can really say for certain is that around 1700 the
British gay subculture was discovered and revealed in the public
prints: it was not ‘born’, it was exposed. What is spoken of as
’the birth of the queen’ by the historian Randolph Trumbach
and others should really be recognized as merely the beginning,
of public knowledge about the queen and his subculture. Or, to
put it another way, the alleged birth of the subculture may be
nothing more than the birth of efficient policing and
surveillance, and also the birth of the popular press.” (Norton,
Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-
1830, p. 107)
“The widespread appearance of gay subcultures across
Europe around the year 1700 is almost certainly linked not to
the rise of ‘capitalism’ or ‘modernity’, but to the rise of
surveillance. Efficiently organized ‘police forces’ hardly existed
before then. The subculture was uncovered as a result of new
social regulations rather than created by some tenuous link with
economic structures or changing gender conceptions. The
discovery of the homosexual subculture of Paris is due entirely
to the use of mouches (agents provocateurs) and pederasty
patrols, (patrouilles de pederastie) by the police in the early
1700s.” (Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in
England, 1700-1830, p. 108)
“Yet it was important to realize that the construction of the
category of the homosexual was a brutal matter. The category
of the molly was not merely anomalous, it was an outrageous
and offensive departure from official norms, undermining the
characteristic; manliness of the nation. Many felt that
insufficient action was being taken against those who were
- 48 -
undermining moral and social values. The sodomy associate
with being a molly led to organized action of the Society for the
Reformation of Manners.” (McCormick, editor, Sexual Outcasts:
1750-1850, Volume II: Sodomy, p. 7)
“What we know about homosexual history depends very
much upon who tells us about it. Virtually everything we know
about homosexuals during the first third of the eighteenth
century can be linked directly to the activities of the Society for
Reformation of Manners.” (Norton, Mother Clap’s Molly House:
The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830, p. 106)
“The Society for Reformation of Manners played an
important role in simultaneously revealing and suppressing the
gay subculture during the opening years of the eighteenth
century. Phrases such as ‘the birth of the queen’ or ‘the birth of
the gay subculture’ somewhat overstate the case, because the
phenomenon before us may represent not the sudden
appearance of the mollies, but their sudden discovery. ‘Without
the existence of the Society for Reformation of Manners,
modern historians would have virtually no knowledge about the
world of the eighteenth-century mollies.’” (Norton, Mother
Clap’s Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830, p.
68-69)
“I do not believe that a changing conceptualization or
‘ideology’ of homosexuality has much to do with this ‘birth’,
except in so far as this public exposure was usually connected
to the activities of a moral reform movement. The evidence
does not warrant an inference that around 1700 there was a
sudden change either in any alleged ‘roles’ played by
homosexuals or in the social perception of homosexuality. The
simple fact of the matter is that around 1700 there was a
sudden formation of affiliated Societies for Reformation of
Manners and these Societies actively searched out and revealed
and prosecuted homosexual behaviour. Our knowledge of
molly behaviour exactly parallels the activities of these Societies.
The ‘shift’ is not a shift in homosexual ‘role’, but a shift in
prosecution practices. ‘We know hardly anything about
- 49 -
homosexual subcultures before 1690 when the Societies for the
Reformation of Manners were formed.’” (Norton, Mother Clap’s
Molly House: The Gay Subculture in England, 1700-1830, p. 107-
108)

- 50 -
Homosexuality in Ancient Greece
Section One

Homosexuality in Ancient Greece will be comprised of


three sections. They will deal with Greek sexuality in general,
adult homosexual activity, pederasty and compares our modern
western society to that of ancient Greece. The third section
deals with Greek Philosophers and Greek laws pertaining to
homosexuality in Ancient Greece. Section two will deal with
Greek pederasty, which was mostly limited to the male
members of the upper class in Ancient Greece. This first
section discusses Ancient Greece sexuality in general,
homosexuality in Ancient Greece and the kinaidos who was an
adult male that took the passive role in homosexual behavior.
What, then, can we conclude about homosexuality in the
modern American culture if one only listens to those on the
political left, from those on the political right, or from the
various court cases? One may find a fourth view when the issue
of homosexuality is on a ballot up for vote. Two contradictory
outcomes have been the result depending on whether the
question has been an issue of discrimination or the definition of
marriage. In an overwhelming majority of times when the vote
has been to change the definition of marriage to include same-
sex couples the results have been not to change the historical
definition of marriage of one man and one woman. There have
been more favorable outcomes when the question is
discrimination against homosexuals. So then our modern
American culture view of homosexuality is very similar to that
of ancient Greece as seen in the following quotes by historians
David Cohen and Bruce Thornton.
“What, then, is one to conclude about a culture whose laws
expressed a deep-rooted anxiety about pederasty while not
altogether forbidding it? A culture in which attitudes and values
ranged from the differing modes of approbation represented in
Plato’s Symposium to the stark realism of Aristophanes and the
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judgment of Aristotle that homosexuality is a diseased or
morbid state acquired by habit and comparable to biting
fingernails or habitually eating earth or ashes? A culture is not a
homogeneous unity; there was no one ‘Athenian attitude’
towards homoeroticism. The widely differing attitudes and
conflicting norms and practices which have been discussed
above represent the disagreements, contradictions and anxieties
which make up the patterned chaos of a complex culture. They
should not be rationalized away. To make them over into a
neatly coherent and internally consistent system would only
serve to diminish our understanding of the ‘many-hued’ nature
of Athenian homosexuality.” (Cohen, Law, Society and
Homosexuality in Classical Athens, p. 21)
“What, then, is one to conclude about a culture whose laws
expressed a deep rooted anxiety about pederasty while not
altogether forbidding it. A culture in which attitudes and values
range from the differing modes of approbation represented in
Plato’s Symposium to the stark realism of Aristophanes and the
judgment of Aristotle, that in a man, the capacity to feel
pleasure in a passive sexual role is a diseased or morbid state,
acquired by habit, and comparable to biting fingernails or
habitually eating earth or ashes. A culture is not a homogeneous
unity; there was no one Athenian attitude towards
homoeroticism. The widely differing attitudes and conflicting
norms and practices which have been discussed above
represent the disagreements, contradictions, and anxieties
which make up the patterned chaos of a complex culture. They
should not be rationalized away. To make them over into a
nearly coherent and internally consistent system would only
serve to diminish our understanding of the many-hued nature
of Athenian homosexuality.” (Cohen, Law, Sexuality, and Society:
The Enforcement of Morals in Classical Athens, p. 201-202).
“Investigations into homosexual behaviour in the past are
always dependent on the manner in which particular
contemporary groups or individuals conceptualized and
discussed the practice. Such representations of homosexuality
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could assume various forms, depending on the medium in
which they appeared. In Greece, for example, the speeches
made during trials in which people were indicted for their
sexual behaviour provide strongly moralistic representations of
homosexuality that are necessarily legal in tone. Then there
were the comedies of Aristophanes, which were intended to
amuse ordinary Athenian theatre audiences. There were also
philosophical discourses, with their keenly didactive moralizing
nature. Erotic poems were recited during parties, and scenes
depicted on Greek vases, objects of everyday use, are also a
very important source on the homosexual behaviour of the
contemporary public. By means of signs and symbols,
recognizable to many contemporaries, these vase-paintings tell
us something about the Greeks’ sexual desires, actions and
norms. Finally, we also have at our disposal medical texts by
physicians who attempted to understand the biological
dimensions of sexuality.” (Hupperts, Homosexuality in Greece and
Rome, p. 29 in Gay Life and Culture: A World History, edited by
Robert Aldrich)
“First, most of the writing on ancient sexuality these days
grinds the evidence in the mill of an advocacy agenda&
supported by some fashionable theory that says more about the
crisis of Western rationalism than it does about ancient Greece.
Thus we are told that the Greeks saw nothing inherently wrong
with sodomy between males as long as certain protocols of age,
social status, and position were honored, an interpretation
maintained despite the abundance of evidence, detailed below
in Chapter 4, that the Greeks-including pederastic apologists
like Plato-were horrified and disgusted by the idea of male
being anal ling penetrated by another male and called such
behavior against nature. One purpose here is to get back to
what the Greeks actually say without burying it in polysyllabic
sludge.” (Thornton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, p.
xiii)
“There can be no doubt that the development of
homosexuality was connected with the rise of the gymnnasis
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and arenas in which boys practised the five exercises of the
pentathlon, which comprised wrestling, the foot-race, leaping,
throwing the discus and hurling the javelin. Others were boxing
and the pancration, a mixture of fist-fighting and wrestling. The
competitors were always naked and watched by admiring
spectators.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 65)
“One thing is certain: homosexuality was associated in the
Greek mind with the separation of the sexes, military ethos,
male nudity, physical culture, and gymnasis. The education of
boys consisted of physical training as much as scholarship and
the arts, and it took place in the gmnasia. The word comes
from gymnos, which means naked. Boys spend a great part of
the day racing and wrestling there, naked or lightly clad.”
(Karlen, Sexuality and Homosexuality: A New View, p. 31-32)
“Once one looks beyond the literary apologists for
homosexuality in ancient Greece, one finds a widespread
attitude of mockery and disgust. Homosexual behavior was
probably often practice with shame, false bravado or secrecy.”
(Karlen, Sexuality and Homosexuality: A New View, p. 35)
“The point of all of this is not to prove that homosexuality
is vicious or pernicious, but that in ancient Greece
homosexuality was considered a deviation; it was given positive
value only by a minority of homosexuals, bisexuals and
apologists. Neither did its presence in Greece have any
relationship to social, artistic or political health. The fact that
homosexuality was a factor in the lives of great men only speaks
for its prevalence among the leisured, literate elite from which
artists and statesmen came. A permissive or positive view of
homosexuality must find other grounds than the myth that
made everything Greek praiseworthy.” (Karlen, Sexuality and
Homosexuality: A New View, p. 38)
“If ancient Greeks and Romans were concerned with the
social and political implications of their sex acts, modern
westerners have become obsessed with desires object. The
West has been largely preoccupied with whom people had sex,
ancients with the question of excess or over-indulgence, activity
- 54 -
and passivity.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A
Premodern History, p. 17)
Sex was viewed as directional, and having two roles,
active and passive
While this article is written to discuss the homosexuality,
specifically Greek pederasty, a discussion of how the Greeks
saw sexuality must be understood. In our modern
understanding of sexuality, except in cases of abuse such as
rape, the partners are equals. But this was not the case in
ancient Greece. First there was a fundamental inequity in favor
of the free male in relationship to boys, women and slaves.
Secondly this resulted in sex having a directional quality, with
an anatomic imperative, again in favor of the free male. Sex was
something he did to someone else and what he used to do it
with, his male sex organ, the penis. Thirdly, sex had
active/passive roles, one partner was the penetrator and the
second partner was penetrated. Thus the ancient Greeks may be
seen as having a greater acceptance for bisexuality.
“For the ancients, many historians agree, sexuality was not a
separate realm of experience, the core of private life; instead it
was directly linked to social power and status. People were
judged by public behavior, for which there were clear roles;
marriage, for instance, was a duty that bore no necessary
relationship to erotic satisfaction. Socially powerful males
(citizens) enjoyed sexual access to almost all other members of
the society (including, in Greece, enslaved males, younger free
males, foreigners, and women of all classes).” (Clausen, Beyond
Gay or Straight, p. 51)
“First, the expression of sexuality was centered on a
fundamental inequity, not only in male-female relationships, but
also between male partners in a homosexual relationship.”
(King, Sowing the Field: Greek and Roman Sexology, p. 29 in Sexual
Knowledge Sexual Science: The History of the Attitudes in Sexuality,
editors Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich)
“In Greece the sexual relationship was assumed to be a
power relationship, where one participant is dominate and the
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other inferior. On one side stands the free adult male; on the
other, women, slaves, and boys. Sexual roles are isomorphic
with social roles; indeed, sexual behavior is seen as a reflection
of social relationship not as itself the dominant theme. Thus it
is important for us to remember that for the Greeks it was ones
role, not ones gender, that was salient. Sexual objects come in
two different kinds not male and female but active and
passive.” (Downing, Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 135-
136)
“In the late twentieth century it became fashionable to
assume that penile penetration expressed the power of the
penetrator and subordination of the penetrated (Foucault
1976/80-1984/6; Keuls, 1985; Parker, 1992). Many studies then
concluded, rightly I feel, that men had sexual access to all those
beneath them in society (unmarried females, non-citizen males,
slaves; Richlin, 1992, p. xviii; Sutton 1992; p. 5); only proper
women and citizen males were off limits.” (Younger, Sex in the
Ancient World From A to Z, p. xiv)
“Although sexual pleasure and marriage were not
necessarily linked, sexuality and domination most certainly
were. Far from being a mutual experience, sexual activity always
had a directional quality for the Greeks. Sex was something one
did to someone, and anatomic imperative dictated that it was a
man (or more precisely the penis) that did the doing.”
(Mondimore, A Natural History of Homosexuality, p. 7)
“In both Greece and Rome, as the most recent studies have
correctly argued, the fundamental opposition between different
types of sexual behaviour was not the heterosex/homosexual
contrast, but the active/passive contrast, the former category
activity being characteristic of the adult male, while the latter
passivity was reserved for women and boys.” (Cantarella,
Bisexuality in the Ancient World, p. x)
“Athenians viewed the love of a man for a girl or woman as
something not altogether different from love for a boy or a
man. These were two forms of sexual desire eros, either of
which could be more appropriate for particular individuals at
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certain junctures in their life. Few Greeks took the view that the
man who loved a boy had a different nature from the
heterosexual man. In the course of an Athenian’s life, both
forms of sexuality could appear together or in succession. The
Greek language had not established separate terms for
‘heterosexuality’ and ‘homosexuality’, and so the question of
sexual identity was not a pressing concern. There is no mention
in the evidence of any discrimination or of a subculture, and
there is no sense of ‘coming out’.
What does appear to have been of great importance was the
role that one assumed during the sexual act. Simply stated, a
man was expected to behave like a man. He was expected to be
in control and ought not to allow himself to be dominated. The
man must be the penetrator, whether it be vaginal, anal, oral or
intercrural (between the thighs).” (Hupperts, Homosexuality in
Greece and Rome, p. 33 in Gay Life and Culture: A World History,
edited by Robert Aldrich)
“The ancient world, both Greek and Roman, did not base
its classification on gender, but on a completely different axis,
that of active versus passive. This has one immediate and
important consequence, which we must face in the beginning.
Simply put, there was no such emic, cultural abstraction as
homosexuality in the ancient world. The fact that a man had sex
with other men did not determine his sexual category. Equally,
it must be emphasized, there was no such concept as
heterosexuality. The application of these terms to the ancient
world is anachronistic and can lead to serious
misunderstandings. By the fifth time one has made the
qualification, The passive homosexual was not rejected for his
homosexuality but for his passivity, it ought to become clear
that we are talking not about homosexuality but about
passivity.” (Parker, The Teratogenic Grid, p. 47-48 in Roman
Sexualities, editors Judith P. Hallett and Marilyn B. Skinner)
“As we remarked earlier, the Greeks showed a pronounced
tendency to attach greatest importance to (indeed, to glorify)
the sexual instinct itself rather than the particular object;
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consequently they were much freer than modern men to vary
sexual objects on their relative merits. Greek culture, unlike
modern cultures, imposed on adult males no limitations as to
the choice of sexual objects per se, and the only perversions
remarked by the comic poets (reflecting, we may be sure,
community opinion) are cases in which sexual acts other than
vaginal intercourse, otherwise perfectly acceptable, are pursed
to excess (see Cratin, p. 152, for example) or practiced in an
inappropriate setting.” (Henderson, The Maculate Muse, p. 205)
“The third, closely related, feature is the importance of
penetration; the main distinction in all sexual encounters, heter-
or homosexual, was presented as being between penetrator and
penetrated.” (King, Sowing the Field: Greek and Roman Sexology, p.
30 in Sexual Knowledge, Sexual Science: The History of the Attitudes to
Sexuality, editors Roy Porter and Mikulas Teich)
“Scholarly debates endure on the question of whether
Athenians and indeed other Greeks condoned most forms of
consensual male-male sexual contact provided they respected
broader social hierarchies including age, status and citizenship,
or instead celebrated only chaste love between men and were
more morally dubious about penetration. Despite ongoing
controversy, it appears that in both the early modern Ottoman
and ancient Athenian, contexts the active and passive in the sex
act were conceived differently. Those prone to committing
sodomy exhibited moral failure rather than sexual pathology in
ways that will become familiar from the pages below.” (Phillips
and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 5)
“The Greeks associated sexual desire closely with other
human appetites the desire for food, drink, and sleep and saw
all these appetites as entailing the same moral problem, the
problem of avoiding excess.” (Downing, Myths and Mysteries of
Same-Sex Love, p. 134)
“The Greek sexual ethic emphasized not what one did, but
how one did it; it involved not an index of particular forbidden
acts but an inculcation to act with moderation.” (Downing,
Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 135)
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Homosexuality in Ancient Greece
“The ancient Greek and Latin languages have no word that
can be translated as homosexual, largely because these societies
did not have the same sexual categories that we do. Our
concepts and categories of sexual expression are based on the
genders of the two partners involved: heterosexuality when the
partners are of the opposite sex, and homosexuality when the
partner are of the same sex. In other times and among other
peoples, this way of thinking about people simply doesn’t seem
to apply-anthropologists, historians, and sociologists have
described many cultures in which same-sex eroticism occupies a
very different place than it does in our own.” (Mondimore, A
Natural History of Homosexuality, p. 3-4)
“Ancient Greece is often cited as an example of a
civilization in which homosexuality was accepted as normal,
even encouraged. This is not quite true. All males were
expected to make love to women, to marry, and to sire a family,
whether or they had a male lover or not. Moreover, love and
sex between adult males was thought to be a bit ridiculous. The
norm was for an adult male to have a relationship that lasted
several years with an adolescent boy. When the boy reached
maturity, he, then, was also expected to take a young lover.”
(Goode, Deviant Behavior, p. 193-194)
“Homosexuality was a universally recognized sexual option
throughout the ancient world, particularly in Dorian areas,
where it seems to have had a religious, ethical, and legal
sanction and to have been more a part of man’s everyday public
life than was the case in Athens.” (Henderson, The Maculate
Muse, p. 204)
“The second feature is more applicable to classical Greece
culture. Male homosexual activity was, to some extent, seen as
normal, but only if it was kept within certain clearly defined
social parameters. Relationships between equals in age were
frown upon. In classical Athens, homosexual relationships
ideally had some features of an initiation rite, between a young,
beardless boy and an older mentor. However, even such
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relationships were hedged round with etiquette regarding the
process of courtship and the giving and receiving of gifts and
other signals, while a deep-rooted anxiety about pederasty was
expressed in classical Athenian law. Aristotle argues that any
enjoyment of what he saw as the subordinate, defeated role of
the passive partner in a homoerotic relationship was unnatural;
on Athenian vase-paintings, the passive partner is never showed
with an erection. The Athenian figure of the kinaidos, the man
who actually enjoys the passive role, is presented as a scare-
figure, both socially and sexually deviant.” (King, Sowing the
Field: Greek and Roman Sexology, p. 30 in Sexual Knowledge, Sexual
Science: The History of the Attitudes to Sexuality, editors Roy Porter
and Mikulas Teich)
“The model of classical Athenian homosexual culture that
continues to be the most influential is firmly based on that put
forward by Sir Kenneth Dover in his 1978 book Greek
Homosexuality. The views he developed there reached an
audience beyond that of classical scholarship when they were
taken up (in somewhat misunderstood form) by Michel
Foucault in his 1984 book L’usage des plaisirs (translated in 1985
as The Use of Pleasure). The model might be summarized in the
following terms. Male homosexual acts normally took place
between an erastes (lover), a young man, ideally a bachelor, and
an eromenos (beloved), a beardless, adolescent boy between the
ages of twelve and eighteen. Both would belong to the elite.
The erastes would court the eromenos with such things as
hunting gifts and, if successful, consummate his desire through
anal sex. As the boy turned to manhood in the period between
the ages of eighteen and twenty the transitional period of life
associated with service as an ephebe (a border-guard) he would
himself cease to be a passive partner and pursue other boys in
turn. Later on, by around the age of thirty, he would give up
homosexual activity altogether in favor of marriage. The role of
the erastes was one of dominance, the role of the eromenos one
of subjection, and they participated in a zero-sum game of
social advantage and disadvantage. As a result, the pursued boy
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was in a morally precarious situation, but he could retain his
honor so long as he was extremely discriminating in his
acceptance of a lover, took extravagant gifts for his favors but
money on no account, and did not make any show of enjoying
the anal sex. The lover would use his dominant position to give
the boy valuable help, material or ethical, in becoming a full
adult member of the community, as is reflected in Plato’s
Symposium. So far as the Athenians were concerned, only an
extremely deviant grown man would put himself in the role of
the eromenos, and those who did, whether as prostitutes (as
Timarchus was alleged to have been in a well-known speech of
Aeschines) or as kinaidoi (men who simply enjoyed and sought
to receive anal sex, were conceptualized as effeminate and
reviled, and at Athens the former group was deprived of at least
some citizen rights.” (Gilbert, Conceptions of Homosexuality and
Sodomy in Western History, p. 37-38 in A Cultural History of
Sexuality, Volume I: In The Classical World, editors Mark Golden
and Peter Toohey)
“Both of these explanations of homosexuality-as either an
unnatural perversion of sex or an excessive expression of its
essential nature-can be found in ancient Greek literary remains.
Choosing one of the two to the exclusion of the other, which is
often the practice among modern scholars, oversimplifies the
complexity of attitudes attested in the evidence.” (Thorton,
Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, p. 101)
“The ambiguity and complexity of Greek attitudes toward
homosexuality can be seen first in the various speculations
about its origins, which oscillate between the poles of culture
and nature. Whatever its source, though, habitual, passive
homosexuality is clearly considered an aberration, a disorder
linked to violence and disease, even the supposedly accepted
institution of pederasty.” (Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient
Greek Sexuality, p. 101-102)
“Whether the origins of homosexuality are to be found in
nature or history, though, it clearly is problematic, even in its
presumably accepted forms of pederasty, a phenomenon
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needing to be accounted for mythically in the crime of Laius.”
(Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, p. 103)
“One of our difficulties when reading about ancient Greece
is that the most common manifestation of homosexuality in the
evidence concerns pederasty, the quasi-ritualized, transient,
physical and emotional relationship between an older male and
a youth, an activity we view as criminal. Very little, if any,
evidence from ancient Greece survives that shows adult males
(or females) as couples involved in an ongoing, reciprocal
sexual and emotional relationship in which sex with women (or
men) is moot and the age difference is no more significant than
it is in heterosexual relationships. Thus the evidence from
ancient Greece involves either man-youth homosexuality (the
idealized social relationship we will discuss in Chapter 8), or
more precisely defined passive homosexual or kinaidos, the
adult male who perversely enjoys being penetrated by other
males and who has sex with women only because of societal
pressure. These two categories, as we will see, are not as
mutually exclusive as they might appear, which accounts for the
anxiety tingeing even the most enthusiastic ancient celebrators
of pederasty.” (Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek
Sexuality, p. 100
“In the first place it appears extremely likely that
homosexuality of any kind was confined to prosperous and
aristocratic levels of ancient society. The masses of peasants
and artisans were probably scarcely affected by habits of this
kind, which seem to have been associated with a sort of
snobbery.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 62)
“In Athens, for a boy to have a homosexual relationship
with an adult was considered not only acceptable, but also,
under certain conditions, socially approved.” (Cantarella,
Bisexuality in the Ancient World, p. 17)
“By the time Athens entered period of her greatest power in
480 B.C., male homosexual practices were undoubtedly
common and socially tolerated, but were they sanctioned? The
age of pederastic innocence was over and a certain anxiety
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about the subject can be traced in art and literature. The
misgivings expressed over male homosexuality usually
concerned either homosexual prostitution or the possibility of
homoerotic relations between peers.” (Keuls, The Reign of the
Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Greece, p. 287)
“The above outline of the homosexual ethos in Athens
shows that it underwent a fundamental change between the
Archaic and the Classical ages. The archetypal homosexual
relationship was that between a childlike or prepubescent boy
and a mature man. The contact had strong paternal overtones,
and it involved affectionate response from the child partner and
mild sexual response from the pubescent partner. The original
image of the ideal beloved did not include any feminine traits.
In general, the sexual approach was frontal and the copulation
intracrural.
The period when this pattern took shape was the Archaic
age of Athens, before the greatest flowering of Attic culture.
During the fifth and fourth centuries this patterned became
compromised and led to male prostitution by citizens and to
adult male love affairs; both of these practices were consistently
stigmatized as socially unacceptable. Anal sex, generally
associated with obscenity and coarse behavior, were the
common form these discredited types of homosexual contact.”
(Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Greece, p.
298-299)
“This was especially so if the youth allowed himself to be
penetrated, an act considered unworthy of a man and a free
citizen, and one which could threaten his citizenship.” (Bishop
and Osthelder, Sexualia From Prehistory to Cyberspace, p. 208)
“The situation was totally different in the case of grown
equals, however. Whereas the Dorian boy would attain
manhood through his submission, the grown man who
submitted to another man would lose his manliness and
become effeminate, exposed to shame and scorn.” (Vanggard,
Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p. 89)

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“Regardless of actual behavior patterns, anal copulation
between two males was equated with sex between two adults,
not between a mature man and a young boy, and it was
obviously not approved.” (Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual
Politics in Ancient Greece, p. 291)
“Homosexuality, then, to the Greeks is a historical
innovation, a result of the depraved human imagination and
vulnerability to pleasure.” (Thornton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient
Greek Sexuality, p. 102)
“Already in 1964 Dover sounded the themes of his later
publications: the centrality of Athenian law-court speeches; due
attention to painted pottery; distinctions of genre, context,
class, between beliefs and behaviors; the tendentious use of
terms of personal abuse (such as prostitute) in political
propaganda; and above all, the contrast between the older,
active erastes and his passive junior partner in a homosexual
pair, the eromenos. These Dover saw as essentially two stages
in the social development of a Greek citizen rather than as life-
long identities.” (Golden and Toohey, editors, Sex and Difference
in Ancient Greece and Rome, p. 6-7)
“Occasional exceptions need not undermine completely the
general integrity of the model. But a more serious challenge to
it has been mounted by James Davidson in an article first
published in 2001. Davidson endorses from the Doverian-
Foucauldian consensus the notion that a loss of honor on the
part of an eromenos or, for that matter, on the part of anyone
engaged in homosexual activities could ensue from a perceived
failure of self-mastery (enkrateia, sophrosyne) in initially
yielding to a relationship or in the conduct of it thereafter. A
boy or man could demonstrate such a failure of self-mastery by
yielding too readily or too eagerly, by yielding to many lovers at
once or at random, or, most damagingly, by accepting money to
yield in other words, by becoming a prostitute. But Davidson
decries what he sees as the fallacy of the ‘polarity of
penetration’ upon which the Dover-Foucault model otherwise
depends. The notion that the anal penetrator was a ‘winner’ and
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the anally penetrated was, to an equal and complementary
degree, a ‘loser’ in a zero-sum game of social advantage and
disadvantage is to Davidson anachronistic and without warrant
in the evidence for classical Athens. And, he maintains, there is
insufficient evidence for the contention that the normal mode
of sex between erastes and eromenos was the anal penetration
of the latter by the former.” (Gilbert, Conceptions of Homosexuality
and Sodomy in Western History, p. 39 in A Cultural History of
Sexuality, Volume I: In The Classical World, editors Mark Golden
and Peter Toohey)
Kinaidos
In ancient Greece there is one particular adult male who is
identified with homosexual behavior. The Greeks had a name
for this individual, kinaidos. This individual was the one who
took the passive receptive role in the male homosexual
behavior of anal intercourse.
In doing so by being willing to take the passive, submissive
role he was seen as unworthy to be a free man, and more like a
male prostitute. As a result forfeited his right as a citizen to
hold office. The man who would allow himself to be anally
penetrated it was thought would also subject himself to the
abuse of alcohol, eating, money, or power.
“An adult male was not supposed to take the receptive role.
According to Plutarch, ‘Those who enjoy playing the passive
role we treat as the lowest of the low, and we have not the
slightest degree of respect for them’. The passive role was the
role played by a woman, a youth, or a slave; it was shameful for
an adult man-though not for a youth or a slave. A youth’s
subordination to an older man was natural and temporary, and
a slave by definition subordinate to his master.” (Greenberg,
Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications, p. 181 in The
Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy, editors
Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“Of those who surrendered to desires, none provoked more
extreme outrage than the class of sexual degenerates known
variously as katapugons or kinaidoi, the latter term apparently
- 65 -
succeeding to the semantic field of the former some time
around the beginning of the fourth century.” (Davidson,
Courtesans & Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens,
p. 167)
“Another male image, the kinaidos, was totally negative.
This was the man who was represented as acting in an
effeminate fashion, by implication taking the passive role in sex
because he could not control his appetites. The male prostitute
or kinaidos was very different from our modern notion of the
homosexual. The male prostitute was not expelled from society
because, like the female prostitute, he provided a sexual service,
albeit a shameful one. A man was not seen as born a kinaidos
or male prostitute-it was a role he acquired.” (Clark, Desire: A
History of European Sexuality, p. 22)
“What we find is the kinaidos as emblem of unrestrained
compulsive sexual appetite, of surrender to the chaos of natural
passion that threatens civilized order, a traitor to his sex, a
particularity offensive manifestation of eros’s power over the
masculine mind that is responsible for creating and maintaining
that order in the face of natures chaos.” (Thorton, Eros: The
Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, p. 101)
“But in nearly every genre of Greek literature the kinaidos’s
appetite is sterile, useless, good only for pleasure, rendering the
male prone to other appetites, for money or power, that also
threaten culture and its discriminating categories, particularly if
he is a citizen responsible in some measure for the political
functioning of the city.” (Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient
Greek Sexuality, p. 101)
“The situation was totally different in the case of grown
equals, however. Whereas the Dorian boy would attain
manhood through his submission, the grown man who
submitted to another man would lose his manliness and
become effeminate, exposed to shame and scorn.” (Vanggard,
Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p. 89)
“Once we have accepted the universality of homosexual
relations in Greek society as a fact, it surprises us to learn that if
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a man had at any time in his life prostituted himself to another
man for money he was debarred from exercising his political
rights.” (Dover, Classical Greek Attitudes to Sexual Behavior, p.
122-123 in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome, editors
Mark Golden and Peter Toohey)
“In so far as the passive partner in a homosexual act takes
upon himself the role of a woman, he was open to the
suspicion, like the male prostitute, that he abjured his
prescribed role as a future solider and defender of the
community.” (Dover, Classical Greek Attitudes to Sexual Behavior,
p. 125 in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome, editors
Mark Golden and Peter Toohey)
“As a rule, the only sexual practice attacked as a demeaning
perversity is passive anal sex by men¸ the wide-asses
(euryproktoi) who willingly submit to another man’s
assertiveness. In this society, any form of submissiveness was
considered unworthy of a free man. While all understood that a
woman is naturally to be penetrated by a man, it was considered
only for a slave or male prostitute to submit in this way to
another male.” (Garrison, Sexual Culture in Ancient Greece, p. 161)
“A man who enjoys playing the receptive partner is
derogated as a prostitute and as having forfeited his right as a
citizen to hold office. The assumption is that a man who would
willingly make himself available would do anything! Only slaves,
women, and foreigners would willingly choose to be treated as
objects.” (Downing, Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 139)
“Whether created by history or nature, childhood sexual
abuse or deformed seminal ducts, the man who enjoys anal
penetration by another man is an aberration, a volatile locus of
potential social disorder that like the woman he resembles must
be dealt with.” (Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek
Sexuality, p. 105)
“The protocols explain why. Since sexual activity is
symbolic of (or constructed as) zero-sum competition and the
restless conjunction of win, the kinaidos is a man who desires
to lose. Contrary to all social junctions prescribing the necessity
- 67 -
of men to exercise their desires in a way that shows mastery
over self and others, the kinaidos simply and directly desires to
be mastered.” (Winkler, Laying Now the Law: The Oversight of
Men’s Sexual Behavior in Classical Athens, p. 186 in Before Sexuality:
The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient Greek World,
editors David M. Halperin, John J. Winkler and Froma I.
Zeitlin)
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Routledge Taylor and Francis Group. London and New York,
2005.

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Homosexuality in Ancient Greece
Section Two

Pederasty
After discussing how the Greek’s viewed sex in general, and
specifically homosexuality, along with the kinaidos, the man
who is the passive receptive partner in anal intercourse we now
will discuss the Greek practice of pederastry, the love of boys.
Ideally pederasty did not have a sexual component, but was a
rite of passage and an educational mode for an adult male (not a
biological father) to take on the role of mentor for a young
male entering puberty, growing and maturing into an adult
male, who as a free male citizen was to be a political leader in
the Greek city-state. Pederasty served the role for the moral and
political formation of young men. More importantly it was not
a private affair between two individuals but was a public affair
for the benefit of all.
“The pederastic form of same-sex relationships was a
prominent feature of ancient Greece and Roman civilization. In
these civilizations, male erotic interest in persons of the same
sex was generally assumed to be universally present and
psychologically normal, but not exclusive.” (Greenberg,
Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications, p. 181 in The
Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy, editors
Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“Indeed, the classicist Halperin confines his discussion of
what he terms pederasty or ’active’ sodomy to penetration of a
subordinate male by a social and/or age superior, with its
associated hierarchies of penetrator/penetrated,
superior/inferior, masculine/feminine and active/passive.”
(Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p.
70-71)
“The core of this interpersonal dynamic is a pedagogic
relationship between the inspirer and the inspired, terminology
shared by the Greeks and the Etor of New Guinea (Dover,
- 72 -
1978; Kelly, 1976). The younger man enters an erotic
apprenticeship that immerses him in male culture and gender
functions transmitted as a collective lore to new adherents.
Consistent with the one way socialization process is role
differentiation: The younger male is a recipient and the older,
the provider, a role contrast that generally structures anal and
oral intercourse. Unlike the Nyakyuas, the ancient model is a
fundamentally intergenerational sexual dynamic in which
exclusively homosexual younger men become bisexual in
adulthood by acquiring wives and youthful lovers.
The ancient model finds its highest development in the early
imperial societies of Greece, China, Byzantium, and medieval
Persia where social class complicates the inequality between
adult and youth.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections
on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 21-22 in
The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to
Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“For Greeks the essence of the personal morality lay in
avoiding excess and passivity; it was they experience only
special moral scruples. We have already described some of
those elaborate conventions which surrounded Greek
pederasty. They reveal, in an acute form, Greek anxieties about
passivity and excess. However, the boy, just because he had not
yet achieved manly status could, if briefly, avoid the stigma of
passivity and be an admissible object of pleasure. For the adult
male, it was a challenge to his self-control: to direct the boy
towards manhood and transform the relationship from one of
love to friendship. In a sense it was a question of stylistics, of
the manner of the relationship. One fashioned one’s morality in
the course of living.” (Copley, Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-
1980, p. 27-28)
“The ancient Greeks, as is widely known, had a custom
which they called paiderastia, or pederasty, consisting of erotic
relations between adult men and adolescent boys.” (Lear and
Cantarella, Images of Ancient Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods,
p. xv)
- 73 -
“The word pederasty is derived from the Greek
paiderasteia, literally meaning the love of boys. In English
pederasty has come to signify almost exclusively the practice of
sexual inversion. But in Greek literature paiderasteia is used to
refer to both to pure, disinterested affection and to physical
homosexual relations.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 62)
“In the Greek language the word paederasty had not this
ugly sound it has for us to-day, since it was regarded simply as
an expression for one variety of love, and had no sort of
defamatory meaning attached to it.” (Licht, Sexual Life in Ancient
Greece, p. 413)
“I hope that sufficient documentary evidence has been
given to show that paiderasty was cultivated by heterosexually
normal men in ancient Greece, where it did not presuppose an
inversely homosexual type of personality. It was not considered
a transgression, to be tolerated, nor was it felt to betoken to any
laxity in moral standards; it was a natural part of the life-style of
the best of men, reflected in the stories of the gods and heroes
of the people.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the
Male World, p. 32)
“In Ancient Greece, homosexuality was described as
pederasty, and was an integral part of life of the polis because it
was a culture that allowed the norm to function. It therefore did
not preclude relations with women, which was based on the
reproductive order, and was based upon the division between
an active principle and passive principle: a free man and a slave,
a boy and a mature man and so on. Its function was, in other
words, initiatory. Only the men had the right to practice
pederasty, and the hierarchy precluded any equality between the
partners. But a homosexual who refused to have anything to do
with women was regarded as abnormal because he infringed the
rules of the polis and the family institution.” (Roudinesco, Our
Dark Side: A History of Perversion, p. 33)
“The core of this interpersonal dynamic is a pedagogic
relationship between the inspirer and the inspired, terminology
shared by the Greeks and the Etor of New Guinea (Dover,
- 74 -
1978; Kelly¸ 1976). The younger man enters an erotic
apprenticeship that immerses him in male culture and gender
functions transmitted as a collective lore to new adherents.
Consistent with the one way socialization process is role
differentiation: The younger male is a recipient and the older,
the provider, a role contrast that generally structures anal and
oral intercourse. Unlike the Nyakyuas, the ancient model is a
fundamentally intergenerational sexual dynamic in which
exclusively homosexual younger men become bisexual in
adulthood by acquiring wives and youthful lovers.
The ancient model finds its highest development in the early
imperial societies of Greece, China, Byzantium, and medieval
Persia where social class complicates the inequality between
adult and youth.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections
on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 21-22 in
The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to
Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“As we have seen, Greek pederasty fundamentally differed
in form and function from modern sexuality. Admittedly, the
Greek situation offered great opportunities to those males
whose sexual interest mainly concerned other males, but this
preference had to be limited to boys and, moreover, the passive
and active roles in these relationships were sharply defined. In
addition, this preference had to be propagated with moderation,
without completely excluding the opposite sex. At the same
time, the aspect of initiation into the adult world illuminates an
even more important difference between Greek pederasty and
modern ways of homosexuality. Whereas modern homosexuals
often occupy a marginal position in society and are regularly
considered to be effeminate, in Greece it was pederasty that
provided access to the world of the socially elite; it was only the
pederastic relationship that made the boy into a real man. The
Greeks, then, certainly knew of Greek love’ and their interest in
boys was never purely platonic, but they did not, in any sense,
invent homosexuality!” (Bremmer, Greek Pederasty and Modern

- 75 -
Homosexuality, p. 11 in From Sappho to De Sade, Jan Bremmer,
editor)
“This shows that not only writers but also painters are
aware of the fact that in order to maintain its proper character,
pederasty has rules.” (Lear and Cantarella, Images of Ancient
Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods, p. 192)
“Paiderasty served the highest goal education (paideia). Eros
was the medium of paideia, uniting tutor and pupil. The boy
submitted and let himself be taken in the possession of the
man.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male
World, p. 87)
“But it was only after the formation of the city that the
Greeks took to loving other men, and more particularly boys?
Male homosexuality in Greece, in fact or at least its most
socially and culturally significant forms was, in practice,
pederasty, and was extremely widespread. The problem if its
origins remains open.” (Cantarella, Bisexuality in the Ancient
World, p. 4)
“In Athens, homosexuality (which as we know was really
pederasty, in the sense the sexual relationship between and
adult and a young boy) held an important position in the moral
and political formation of young men, who learned from their
adult lovers the virtues of a citizen.” (Cantarella, Bisexuality in the
Ancient World, p. viii)
“Such pederasty was supposed to transmit manly virtues of
mind and body from nobleman to young lover (Vangaard,
1972).” (Karlen, Homosexuality in History, p. 79 in Homosexual
Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal, editor Judd Marmor)
“While for the Dorians the purpose of the love relationship
was the development of a warrior, for the Athenians it was the
vehicle through which males were educated in the values,
beliefs and manners important to the Athenians, and through
which the young man was introduced into adult male society.
The relationship served a socializing function, whereby the
youth, as companion to an older man, learned how to comport
himself in society, how to enjoy the pleasures of life, and how
- 76 -
to bring self-control and moderation to the enjoyment of those
pleasures. With the guidance of his mentor/lover, the boy
began cultivation of what were to the Greeks the all-important
virtues of courage, temperance, justice and wisdom. Though the
boy received a basic education in such areas as reading and
writing from a tutor, or in later times a primary school which he
would attend until his early teens, it was through his
relationship with his lover that he acquired knowledge and
experience in the world of the Athenian citizen, became
conversant in politics, civic virtues and philosophy, and acquire
an appreciation of the arts. This educational emphasis reflected
the Athenian view that civic strength rested not just on military
might, but on a citizenry composed of educated and virtuous
men.” (Neil, The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human
Societies, p. 163)
“For instance, in ancient Greece, homosexual relationships
between older men and younger men were commonly accepted
as pedagogic. Within the context of an erotic relation, the older
man taught the younger one military, intellectual, and political
skills. The older men, however, were also often husbands and
fathers. Neither sexual relationship excluded the other. Thus,
although ancient Greek society recognized male homosexual
activity, the men in these relationships rarely defined
themselves as primarily homosexual.” (Escoffier, American
Homo: Community and Perversity, p. 37)
“An adult in ancient Greece and Rome standardly took a
prepubescent youth for a partner, an adolescent whose body
hair had not yet begun to grow. In Greece, relations with a
citizen youth were ideally supposed to have a pedagogical
function. The older lover was supposed to teach his beloved
how to be a virtuous citizen. At the same time, the older lover
was supposed to marry and have children, though some may
have not done so. Sexual relations might also be had with
members of other subordinate categories, such as slaves.”
(Greenberg, Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications,

- 77 -
p. 181 in The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political
Economy, editors Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“So these love relationships were not private erotic
enterprises. They took place openly before the eyes of the
public, were regarded as of great importance by the state, and
were supervised by its responsible authorities.” (Vanggard,
Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p. 39)
“They were tied together in a pact equally compelling for
both. It was the obligation of the erastes always to be an
outstanding and impeccable example to the boy. He should not
commit any deed that would shame the boy. His total
responsibility to the boy made him dependent on the boy in
ways far beyond the purely erotic. He was judged by the
development and conduct of the boy. Even in regards to the
bodily aspect of the relationship the boy could assert himself
against his tutor.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in
the Male World, p. 88)
“Many scholars have written much about early paiderastra-
since Homer does not mention it, some scholars argue that it
must be an innovation of the later Iron Age. Scholars than
looked for causes (population control [Percy, 1996], or a
byproduct of athletic nudity [Scanlon, 2002]). Paiderastra,
however, is not homosexuality; it is a coming-of-age rite, and as
such it has anthropological parallels that situate it in a stage of
state-formation, at the tribal level. In that case, paiderastria
should originate in the Bronze Age (Cantarella, 1992, p. 5), and
I myself would put its development no later than the Middle
Bronze Age (ca. 1900-1600 BCE).” (Younger, Sex in the Ancient
World From A to Z, p. xv)
“The practice born in the Greek gymnasium to which
Cicero refers to is not homosexuality but paiderastia, the
courtship of free youths by older males, and the central issue
was status rather than gender.” (Williams, Roman Homosexuality:
Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity, p. 64)
“The abundant surviving literature composed by the
ancients in praise of pederasty always assumes it to be an affair
- 78 -
of minds, not bodies, a pure, Platonic love, as still call it today,
from which carnality is excluded. It was declared that Eros in
such cases would not tolerate the presence of his mother
Aphrodite. For Eos, as we have already suggested, symbolized
the passion of the soul, and Aphrodite fleshly unions, whether
homosexual or not.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 67)
“Instead the homosexual connection favored by the Greeks
was not so much homoerotic as pederastic; the archetypal
relationship was between a mature man at the height of his
sexual power and need and a young, erotically underdeveloped
boy just before puberty. The standard Greek nomenclature
gives the older, aggressive partner the title of the lover (erastes)
and the young, passive male that of the beloved (eromenos).”
(Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Greece, p.
275)
“The term used to describe the sexual pursuit of adolescent
males by adult males was ’paederastia’. In stark contrast to
modern attitudes towards sex between teachers and students,
paederastia was usually conceptualized as a pedagogic and erotic
mentoring relationship between an adult male, the ‘erastes’
(lover), and a young, passive ‘pais’ (boy) called the ‘eromenos’
(beloved), usually between 12 and 17-20 years old (though
professional teachers and trainers, often former slaves, were not
allowed to seduce their students, nor were slaves allowed to
seduce young free-born males). Often presented as a normal
part of the education of a young man, paederastia
institutionalized a relationship in which the mentor instructed
the boy in philosophical matters and general knowledge, and
prepared him for his citizenship role.” (Mottier, Sexuality: A
Very Short Introduction, p. 12)
“The model of socially validated homosexuality was
paiderastia (following Thorkil Vanggaard, I will use this form to
avoid identifying the Greek practice with the associations
pederasty has in our world), the love of an older man for a
youth (by older man, here we mean mostly men in their
twenties, while youths were adolescents.) The context was the
- 79 -
gymnasium, where youths went to exercise (and display) their
physical gifts, and the older men went to watch, appreciate and
select. The arena was an upper-class one paiderastia was
essentially an aspect of the paideia, the training for citizenship
of aristocratic youths. (That same-sex love tended to be
mocked in comedy, an art form that attracted the masse may
indicate it played a less focal role in their lives.” (Downing,
Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 137)
“As is well known, to define it simply as a homosexual
relationship (as was customary in the past) would be to falsify
reality, attributing to the Greeks a concept which did not exist
in their world. Today, it is generally accepted among scholars
that an adult man in ancient Greece could with, little or no risk
of social disapproval, express sexual desire for another male, so
as long as the desired male was an adolescent (pais), whom the
adult loved within the context of the socially codified and
positively valued relationship which we call pederastic. This
kind of relationship took place, then, between an active adult
and a passive boy, though by activity and passivity – this is an
important aspect of the question-the Greeks understood not
necessarily and not only sexual roles, but also and above all
intellectual and moral roles.” (Lear and Cantarella, Images of
Ancient Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods, p. 1-2)
“Sexual roles in these relationships were prescribed. The
boy was expected to show affection to his older lover, but not
to respond sexually.” (Greenberg, Transformations of
Homosexuality-Based Classifications, p. 181 in The Gender/Sexuality
Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy, editors Roger N.
Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“To facilitate the understanding of the Hellenic love of
boys, it will be as well to say something about the Greek ideal
of beauty. The most fundamental difference between ancient
and modern culture is that ancient is throughout male and that
the woman only comes into the scheme of the Greek man as
mother of his children and as manager of household matters.
Antiquity treated the man, and the man only, as the focus of all
- 80 -
intellectual life. This explains why the bringing up and
development of girls was neglected in a way we can hardly
understand; but boys, on the other hand, were supposed to
continue their education much later than is usual with us. The
most peculiar custom, according to our ideas, was that every
man attracted to him some boy or youth and, in the intimacy of
daily life, acted as his counselor, guardian, and friend, and
prompted him in all manly virtues. It was especially in the Doric
states that this custom prevailed, and it was recognized so much
as a matter of course by the State that it was considered a
violation of duty by the man, if he did not draw one younger to
him, and a disgrace to the boy if he was not honoured by the
friendship of a man. The senior was responsible for the manner
of life of his young comrade, and shared with him blame and
praise.” (Licht, Sexual Life in Ancient Greece, p. 418)
“It is beyond dispute, therefore, shocking as the fact may
appear, that homosexuality contributed to the formation of the
moral ideal which underlies the whole practice of Greek
education. The desire in the older lover to assert himself in the
presence of the younger, to dazzle him, and the reciprocal
desire of the latter to appear worthy of his senior’s affection
necessarily reinforced in both persons that love of glory which
always appealed to the competitive spirit of mankind. Love-
affairs accordingly provided the finest opportunities for noble
rivalry. From another point of view the ideal of comradeship in
battle reflects the entire system of ethics implied in chivalry,
which is founded on the sentiment of honour.” (H.-I. Marrou,
Histoire de l’éducation dans l’Antiquité, p. 58-59)
“But the apprenticeship to courage and the love of honour
and glory, important as they were to the Greeks, comprised
only a part of Greek education. For lovers claimed that they
participated actively in all the moral and intellectual
development of their loved ones.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient
Greece, p. 87)
“Basic to the understanding of the nature, meaning, and
importance of paiderasty is the following:
- 81 -
Firstly, the age difference between the erastes and his
eromenos was always considerable. The eraste was a grown
man, the eromenos still an immature boy or youth.” (Vanggard,
Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p. 43)
“Secondly, as has been demonstrated, an ethical basis was
essential for the Dorian relationship.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A
Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p. 43)
“Thirdly, the homosexuality of the paidersty relationship
had nothing to do with effeminacy. On the contrary, among the
Dorians the obvious aim of education was manliness in its most
pronounced forms. Refinement in the manner of dressing and
in regards to food, house, furniture, or other circumstances of
daily life was looked upon with contempt. Contemporary as
well as later sources agree in stressing that it was among the
warlike Dorians in particular that paidersty flourished.”
(Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p.
44)
“Fourthly, Dorian paiderasty was something entirely
different from homosexuality in the usual sense in which we
use the term, as inversion (see definition on page 17). We have
repeatedly pointed out that ordinary men regularly cultivated
paiderasty and active heterosexuality at the same time. Men who
stuck exclusively to boys and did not marry were punished,
scorned, and ridiculed by the Spartan authorities, and treated
disrespectfully by the young men.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol
and Its History in the Male World, p. 44)
“From the point of view of many older male lovers, boys
and girls were equally desirable, but elite girls were secluded at
home, while boys went to school and exercised nude at the
gymnasium. Teenage male youths were seen as the most
beautiful objects of desire, muscular yet, still hairless, smooth-
skinned, with the small, delicate penises adult Greek men
regarded as erotic. Since they were young they did not have the
status of adult males and could be seen as somewhat feminine.
When boys reached the age where they began to sprout beards
and public hair, when their skin grew coarse they seemed much
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less desirable; they acquired the status of citizens, and might
pursue their own young male lovers before they married.”
(Clark, Desire: A History of European Sexuality, p. 23)
“If we are to draw conclusions from what has been said as
to the ethics of Greek love of boys, the following emerges as an
undeniable fact: The Greek love of boys is a peculiarity of
character, based upon an aesthetic and religious foundation. Its
object is, with the assistance of the State, to arrive at the power
to maintain the same and at the fountain-head of civic and
personal virtue. It is not hostile to marriage, but supplements it
as an important factor in education.” (Licht, Sexual Life in
Ancient Greece, p. 445)
“Although the Greeks believed that the same desire
attracted one to whatever was desirable, they nonetheless
thought this desire entailed particular problems when it arose in
a relationship between two males of distinct age cohorts, one of
whom had not received yet achieved the status of adult citizen.
The disparity was what gave the relationship its value-and what
made it morally problematical. An elaborate ritualization of
appropriate conduct on the part of both participates was
designed to give such relationships a beautiful form, one that
would honor the youth’s ambiguous status. As not yet a free
adult male, he was an appropriate object of masculine desire; as
already potentially a free citizen, his future subjectively must be
honored. The active role can only be played by the older
partner, but the younger partner must be treated as free to
accept or reject his suitor. Thus the Greeks believed that the
relationship should be designed so as to provide an opportunity
for the younger to begin to learn the self-mastery that would be
expected of him as an adult. The older man’s desire was seen as
unproblematic; what was difficult was how to live that desire in
such a way that its object might in turn become a subject.”
(Downing, Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 138)
“Despite general social acceptance of paederastic
relationships, the fact that free-born boys were future citizens
entailed a certain degree of moral preoccupation about social
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status. It was therefore crucial to observe sexual etiquette in this
area. In particular, boys were not expected to experience sexual
desire in the paederastic relationship. If they conceded sexual
favours to the older man, this was expected to be out of ’philia’
- friendship, respect, and affection for the suitor. It was thought
proper that boys should submit only after a respectably long
and sometimes expensive courtship. Deriving sexual pleasure
from-male-to-male sex could open the boy up to accusations of
’feminine’ shamelessness and ’less than male behaviour’ (given
women’s supposedly voracious appetite for sexual pleasure).”
(Mottier, Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction, p. 12)
“The truth is that pederasty is a vice encouraged by
abnormal social conditions, such as life in military camps or
purely masculine communities. Society was essentially
masculine in the classical period of Greek civilisation, even
outside of Sparta. Homosexuality in fact develops wherever
men and women live separate lives and differences in education
and refinement between the sexes militate against normal sexual
attraction. The more uncompromising such separation and
diversity become, more widespread homosexuality will be.”
(Flaceleitere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 215-216)
erastes and eromenos
In a pederastic relationship there were two partners, the
older one was called the erastes and the younger was the
eromenos. The relationship was to end when the younger one
was around 18 years of age, when he started growing facial hair.
While the relationship began about the time the younger one
started puberty. After the relationship ended the younger,
eromenos, was expected to marry, and then he could then
become the erastes to a younger partner. The relationship was
based a mutual liking of both partners towards one another.
Ideally, more importantly the older, erastes, was always to have
the best interest of the younger, eromenos, in mind. Thus, this
was not a sexual relationship, but one of educating and training
the younger by the older to be a successful adult male in Greek
society.
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“In Athens, the adult man socialized the boy into adult male
society and the adolescent expressed his gratitude by granting
his erasted (favor (kharis), sexual license, even intercrural
intercourse. Only the erastes was meant to experience Love
(eros); the eromenos should experience friendship (philia; but
see Johns, 1982, p. 101; DeVires, 1997; Halperin, 1997, p. 45-
54).” (Younger, Sex in the Ancient World From A to Z, p. 92)
“The erastes, adult male lover, would offer gifts, such as the
apple (with its erotic significance) or a rooster, or more
extravagantly, a horse or chariot to his young male beloved, the
eromenos. In vessels probably intended for symposia, painters
depicted sex between men and youths as intercrural intercourse,
the man’s penis inserted between the boy’s thighs. It would
have been shameful for the boy to submit to anal sex. This
behavior continued in classical fifth- and fourth- century
Athens, but it had to be carefully modulated. A man gained
honor by aggressively pursuing and conquering a boy, but if the
boy surrendered for money, than he would lose honor. It was
shameful for a father or guardian to prostitute his own son, and
if he did so, the boy had no obligation to support him in his old
age.” (Clark, Desire: A History of European Sexuality, p. 23)
“Furthermore, it is only the desire to play the active role
that is regarded as natural. The younger male yields to the
older’s importunities out of admiration, compassion, or
gratitude but is expected to feel neither desire or enjoyment.”
(Downing, Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 139)
“Though youths were taught to resist, they were also taught
that it was acceptable to yield to the worthy eremenos. They
could take it for granted that their taking on the roles of erastes
and later eromenos would be acceptable to their fathers and
uncles-as long as they followed the rules for playing those roles,
played their assigned role within the highly stylized pursuit-and-
flight pattern.” (Downing, Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love,
p. 139)
“It is important to remember that the erastes/eromenos
relationship was an idealized model for sexual contact between
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males and that the realities of passions may have more closely
resembled the lusty comedies of Aristophanes. It is probably
erroneous to assume that intracrural intercourse the exclusive
form of intimacy between males among the ancient Greeks.”
(Mondimore, A Natural History of Homosexuality, p. 9)
“Among ancient Greeks, sexual contact between males of
the same social group was scrupulously concerned with status
and was played out according to rules that assured neither party
was degraded or open to accusations of licentiousness. The
idealized sexual partnership between men consisted of an active
older and a passive younger partner. While the older took
pleasure in the sexual act, the younger partner was not expected
to. The two roles were distinguished by having different labels;
the older partner was called the erastes and the younger the
eromenos.” (Mondimore, A Natural History of Homosexuality, p.
8)
“The eromenos, clearly, is not represented as a victim or a
person who passively submits. He is, instead, a person whose
dignity is emphasized not only in the literature but also in vase
iconography, and he participates actively in the exchange which
is at the foundation of the erotic relationship.” (Lear and
Cantarella, Images of Ancient Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods,
p. 192)
“To conclude on this point: the minimum age is around
twelve or thirteen years of age, but the sanction that applies to
those who don’t respect that are entirely social.” (Lear and
Cantarella, Images of Ancient Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods,
p. 5)
“There remains the problem of the maximum age: at what
age I it become inappropriate to continue to be a beloved?
Strato indicates a precise age: seventeen. But he was not
referring to a legally established age; he was referring to the age
at which the boy ceased to be desirable because he lost his
attractions. At seventeen, more or less, his body assumed the
characteristics of an adult male, the most obvious of which was
the hair that grew on his face, his thighs, and his chest. At this
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point, no one would court him any more: he had ceased to be a
paiskalos (beautiful boy).” (Lear and Cantarella, Images of Ancient
Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods, p. 6)
“The age of a beloved boy seems always to have been
between 12 and twenty.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p.
68)
“As a rule the first sign of down on the chin of the beloved
deprived him of his lover.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p.
68)
“As a rule the lover in these associations was a mature man
less than forty years of age.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece,
p. 68)
“When discussing the Greek love of boys, one thing
especially must not be forgotten: that it is never a question of
boys (as we mostly use the word), that is, of children of tender
age, but always of boys who are sexually mature, that is, who
have reached the age of puberty.” (Licht, Sexual Life in Ancient
Greece, p. 416)
“Paiderastia, the eroticized socialization of an adolescent
boy into Greek male society by an adult man (contrast Roman
boy-love), especially in the sixth and fifth century BCE
(Aristophanes; Homoeroticism; Sexual Attitudes). The
adolescent (11-18) was the eromenos (beloved, or paidika, kid);
the man (late 20s-early 30s) was the erastes (lover) perhaps the
boy’s maternal uncle (Bremmer, 1983; Iolaus).” (Younger, Sex
in the Ancient World From A to Z, p. 91)
“The relationship would continue from its inception when
the boy was young (eleven years old, Straton) to the time when
he begins to get facial hair (Plutarch, Erotikos 770b-c) and is
inducted into the military, at age eighteen.” (Younger, Sex in the
Ancient World From A to Z, p. 92)
“However much the Greeks at all times approved of the
relation between man and youth that rested upon mutual liking,
they in the same manner rejected it if the boy sold himself for
money.” (Younger, Sex in the Ancient World From A to Z, p. 437)

- 87 -
“As we have seen in chapter 4, the most celebrated variety
of homoeroticism was a traditional social construct long before
the Classical period began. It was something men of the better
class did together apart from women of the better class. As
often in sexual relationships, there was an understood
distinction of roles; the older partner, the initiator and
aggressor, the active lover, or erastes, dominated the younger,
passive, modest eromenos. The role of the erastes was to
comport himself with moderation and restraint, whereas the
young eromenos was to display no sexual desire of his own,
reciprocating his lover’s eros with simple goodwill, philia. If he
accepted a lover’s attention he was perceived to grafify
(kharizesthai) his suitor out of gratitude (kharis) rather than
sexual desire, but the gratitude was less for love of gives (never
for money) than for the older man’s time and attention. In
return for being gratified through intercrural sex (as in fig.
5.12), the older man would introduce the younger boy to adult
society and social skills; through this means the eromenos
would take his place in the male world of wellborn aristocrats,
the beautiful and good kalokagathoi. For the adolescent boy, it
was both an education in the customs of his class and a rite
passage to privileged society.” (Garrison, Sexual Culture in
Ancient Greece, p. 157)
“They were tied together in a pact equally compelling for
both. It was the obligation of the erastes always to be an
outstanding and impeccable example to the boy. He should not
commit any deed that would shame the boy. His total
responsibility to the boy made him dependent on the boy in
ways far beyond the purely erotic. He was judged by the
development and conduct of the boy. Even in regards to the
bodily aspect of the relationship the boy could assert himself
against his tutor.” (Vanggard, Phallos, A Symbol and Its History in
the Male World, p. 88)
“The relationship between erastes and eromenos was seen
as having an educational and moral function, to be apart the
youth’s initiation into full manhood. Therefore, it was a
- 88 -
disgrace not to be wooed -although also a shame to yield to
easily. The lover became responsible for the youth’s
development and honor. Because the more mature partner was
assumed to be motivated by true regard his beloved’s well-
being, and because what was wanted was love and consent, not
simply sexual satisfaction, rape, fraud, or intimidation were
disallowed (indeed proof of coercion was grounds for
banishment). The two shared fame and shame.” (Downing,
Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 139)
“The relationship rarely continued (Male Homosexuality).
Both partners were expected to marry, the erastes soon after his
paiderastic relationship ceased. The eromenos thus could be the
erastes of another eromenos (Peisistratos).” (Younger, Sex in the
Ancient World From A to Z, p. 92)
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Homosexuality in Ancient Greece
Section Three: Greek Philosophers

A review of the surviving historical written records from the


three greatest philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle will
show that they regarded homosexual conduct as intrinsically
immoral. Therefore they would have rejected the idea of a
modern gay identity.
“All three of the greatest Greek philosophers, Socrates,
Plato, and Aristotle, regarded homosexual conduct intrinsically
immoral. All three rejected the linchpin of modern gay ideology
and lifestyle.
At the heart of the Platonic-Aristotelian and later ancient
philosophical rejections of all homosexual conduct, and thus of
the modern gay ideology, are three fundamental theses: (1) The
commitment of a man and a woman to each other in the sexual
union of marriage is intrinsically good and reasonable, and is
incompatible with sexual relations outside of marriage. (2)
Homosexual acts are radically and peculiarly non-martial, and
for that reason intrinsically unreasonable and unnatural. (3)
Furthermore, according to Plato, if not Aristolte, homosexual
acts have a special similarity to solitary masturbation, and both
types of radically non-martial act are manifestly unworthy of the
human being and immoral.” (Finnis, Law, Morality, and Sexual
Orientation, p. 33)
“Philosophers such as Xenophon, Plato, and Aristotle
expressed this attitude in a more radical form, and consequently
were only prepared to accept pederastic relationships in their
nonsexual form. Thus they attempted at least theoretically to
put an end to the ancient tendency to sexually abuse boys and
youths.” (Detel, translated by David Wigg-Wolf, Foucault and
Classical Antiquity Power, Ethics and Knowledge, p. 135)
Plato
“But Plato at least understood the myth to finger Liaus as
the inventor of homosexuality. In the Laws, the Athenian
- 93 -
Stranger, tacking the difficult problem of regulating sexual
passion, the cause of myriad evils both for the individual and
whole states, says that following nature legislators should make
the law as was before Liaus, when sex with men and youths as
though they were women (a reference no doubt to sodomy)
was forbidden on the model of animals, which Plato mistakenly
believed restricted sex to procreation. Plato sees the state of
nature as one where homosexuality does not exist, sex between
males thus being an unnatural invocation whose origin is Laius.
This would be consistent with Peisandros, who calls Laius’s
passion a lawless eros, lawless in the sense of contrary to natural
law, an interpretation supported by another epithet Peisandros
uses, atheniton, which means lawless in the sense of contrary to
established customs, the unwritten laws handed down by the
gods before history, not those legislated by men. Nor is Plato’s
view of homosexuality as unnatural merely a consequence of his
old age. In the earlier Phadrus, one of the great encomia to
pederasty, he likewise calls same-sex gratification lawless and
criticizies the lesser soul that cannot see the form of beauty in a
handsome boy and so is not ashamed to pursue pleasure against
nature.
Homosexuality, then, to the Greeks is a historical
invocation, a result of the depraved human imagination and
vulnerability to pleasure.” (Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient
Greek Sexuality, p. 102)
“The pederastic milieu of the gymnasium, where young men
exercised naked, was considered a Spartan invention, along with
the innovation of rubbing olive oil on the body before
exercising, to protect the skin but also no doubt to increase the
athlete’s erotic allure. Plato’s Athenian Stranger indulges these
culture stereotypes when he holds the Dorians responsible for
corrupt[ing] the pleasures of sex which are according to nature,
not just for men but for beasts. Again Plato see homosexuality
as a historical phenomenon, an enormity arising out of the
inability to control a pleasure defined as against nature because
it is its own end rather than serving the goal of procreation.
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Later in the Laws he again condemns homosexuality, along with
adultery and heterosexual sodomy, on the grounds of being not
according to nature because it does not lead to procreation.”
(Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, p. 103)
“Plato’s distaste for homosexuality is shared by his
contemporary Xenophen, a great admirer of the Spartans who
is anxious to resolve them of their traditional responsibility for
legitimizing homosexuality. The mythical lawgiver of Sparta,
Lcyurgus, Xenophon tells us, forbade physical intimacy
between the boy and his admirer, categorizing homosexuality
with other crimes like incest. Like Plato, Xenophon considers
sexual relations between men a depravity that all right-thinking
men should abhor as much as they would incest.” (Thorton,
Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, p. 103)
Aristotle
“Although Aristotle, as we saw, implies the Dorians
invented homosexuality, elsewhere he recognizes that
homosexuals can be born as well as made. Either way, though,
they are a deviation from the norm. While discussing the
Nichomachean Ethics why some unpleasant or disgusting
practices are pleasurable, he says that some diseased things
result from nature or habit, and he instances pulling out one’s
hair, nail-biting, eating coals or earth, and sex between males.
The latter, he notes, often results from childhood sexual abuse.
Such persons are no more unrestrained in their sexual behavior,
than a woman, whether they are made that way by nature or the
disease of habit. Despite Aristotle’s tolerant and objective tone,
homosexuality is still characterized as a disease (nosematodie), a
compulsive, unpleasant, and destructive behavior akin to
manias like eating dirt or chewing one’s fingernails. Even
pederasty, that supposedly accepted institution of the city-state,
is here seen as possibly contributing to what Aristotle considers
a morbid condition. Today’s kinaidos is yesterday’s eromenos
or boy-favorite.” (Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek
Sexuality, p. 104)

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“The Aristotelian corpus offers other evidence for the belief
that homosexuality results from a physiological deformity
brought about by either nature or habit. A bizarre passage from
the Problems explains why a man would find pleasure in being
anally penetrated-obviously in the Greek mind a disturbing
anomaly, needing some explanation. Starting from the
assumption that every form of excretion has a region in the
body from which it is secreted, the write explains that the
passive homosexual, due to some damage to the ducts that take
semen to the testicles and penis, is unnaturally constituted and
so has semen collect in his anus. This damage could be a result
of an inborn deformity or childhood sexual abuse. The
collected fluid caused by desire, a desire that cannot be gratified
because there is no way to discharged the accumulated semen.
Hence the catamite seeks out anal intercourse in order to relieve
the swelling. The writer goes on to note that boys subjected to
anal intercourse will become habituated to it, thus associating
pleasure with the act. Environment and childhood experience
play a major role in creating the passive homosexual by
deforming the body.” (Thorton, Eros: The Myth of Ancient Greek
Sexuality, p. 104-105)
Physiognomy
“The pseudo-Aristotelian Physiognomy similarly describes
the effects of passive homosexuality on the body: The
effeminate man is drooping-eyed, knock = kneed, his head
hanging on one shoulder, his hands carried upturned and
flabby. He wriggles his loins as he walks, or tries not to, and he
looks furtively. Both these passages, like the ones in Plato, see
homosexuality as a deformed condition brought about by a
natural disorder or by habit-something, in short, abnormal, not
quite the practice accepted by and fully integrated into society
that some modern scholars believe it to be.” (Thorton, Eros: The
Myth of Ancient Greek Sexuality, p. 105)
Greek Laws
Also there are written records of legal provisions regulating
various forms of homoerotic behavior. These legal provisions
- 96 -
may be may be grouped into three categories. The first group
has been mentioned before, legal provisions surrounding male
prostitution. The male lost the right to address the Assembly
and to participate in other areas of civil life if he engaged in
homosexual intercourse for gain. These legal provisions against
male prostitution also applied to pederasty. A second group
addressed laws relating to education and courtship. General
provisions concerning sexual assault comprised the third group
of laws that may apply to all sexual behavior, whether it was
heterosexual or homosexual in nature.
Concerning pederasty itself, numerous laws addressed it,
and in various ways throughout Greece. But because pederasty
was mostly limited to the ruling class and pederasty therefore
for the most part was socially acceptable in practical terms the
laws were rarely enforced. Exceptions were in cases where
within the ruling class enforcement of the laws were used to
gain political advantage in disputes.
“But in Greece, though pederasty was forbidden by law in
most cities, it had become so fashionable that no one troubled
to conceal it. On the contrary, such tendencies were respected
and even approved.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 63)
“We are clearly in a different realm from the romantic
pursuit of young men in their teens by young men in their
twenties known as paederasty, an activity well illustrated on
Athenian vases of the late sixth and early fifth centuries B.C.E.
and portrayed in Plato’s dialogues as an experience sometimes
heartbreaking, sometimes delicious, but always of general
interest and approval. In paederasty, as Dover, Golden, and
Foucault have carefully demonstrated, a variety of conventions
combined to protect the junior partner from the stigma of
effeminacy, of being a kinaidos.” (Winkler, Laying Now the Law:
The Oversight of Men’s Sexual Behavior in Classical Athens, p. 186 in
Before Sexuality: The Construction of Erotic Experience in the Ancient
Greek World, editors David M. Halperin, John J. Winkler and
Froma I. Zeitlin)

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“As Dover has aptly observed (1978, 88 f.), the same kind
of two-faced morality must have governed homosexual
seduction that controls heterosexual relations in most societies;
pursuit and seduction are sanctioned, the yielding to seduction
is not. Athens went to great lengths to protect its handsome
young sons from men preying on their beauty; stringent
measures were built into the legal system to prevent boys from
falling into prostitution. However since love gifts and social
favors were part of the pederastic pattern, it must have been
difficult to determine exactly at which point prostitution
began.” (Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient
Greece, p. 296)
“All the same, at Athens, a whole body of laws existed for
the purpose of restraining the spread of pederasty. This
legislation probably dated back to the time of Solon. It aimed
among many other things at keeping male lovers out the
schools and exercising arenas so far as possible. (See Aeschines,
Against Timarchus, 9-11.) But laws can do very little to
suppress widely disseminated and inveterate habits.”
(Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 67)
“The available evidence points to a certain Athenian
nervousness regarding all types of homosexual encounters.
Solon’s laws concerning homosexuality, for which our chief
source is Aeschines speech Against Timarchus, attempted to
regulate its practice and to protect Athenian citizens from
sexual abuses: slaves could not indulge in homosexuality
willingly or unwillingly or frequent the palaestras; free persons
could not be prostituted or violated; and fathers were
encouraged to protect their sons from seduction by employing
guardians to watch out for their best interests, at least until they
reached an age at which they could make intelligent decisions
regarding the conduct of their lives.” (Henderson, The Maculate
Muse, p. 204-205)
“From Aeschines speech it is possible to perceive
something of the code of behavior that surrounded the carrying
out of such affairs. Love affairs between men and boys or
- 98 -
between grown men could, depending on the circumstances, be
licentious and depraved or noble and chaste. If a man
conducted the affair high-mindedly, without any kind of
payment and out of proper regard for his lover’s beauty and ...,
then no one could blame him for satisfying his desires. But if a
man prostituted himself for payment or made a habit of
surrendering his body or pursuing young men for purely
sensual purposes, than he could legitimately be called to
account for lewdness.” (Henderson, The Maculate Muse, p. 205)
“An important turning-point is indicated by the name of
Solon (Aeschines, Tim., 138; Charicles, ii, 262 ff.), who, himself
a homosexual, issues important laws for the regulation of
paederasty, providing in the first place, especially, that a slave
might not have connection with a free-born boy. This shows
two things: first, that paedophilla was recognized in Athens by
the legislator, and secondly that the legislator did not consider
the feeling of superiority of the free born to be diminished by
intimate relations with a slaves. Further, laws were issued
(Aeschines, Tim., 13-15) which were intended to protect free-
born youths from abuse during their minority. Another law
deprived those of their civic rights who incited free boys to
offer their charms for sale professionally; for prostitution has
nothing to do with paedophilla, of which we are speaking here,
and in which we must rather think always only of a voluntary
relationship that is based upon mutual affection.” (Licht, Sexual
Life in Ancient Greece, p. 452-453)
“Solon, the famous lawgiver and chief archon at Athens in
594/3 B.C., is alleged to have instituted two pieces of moral
legislation in Athens pertaining to homosexuality in the
gymnasium. The first prohibits slaves from activities of the
gymnasium and from having freeborn slaves as lovers.”
(Scanlon, Eros and Greek Athletics, p. 212)
“A second Solonian law, this probably dating to the late
fifth century, prescribes hours for opening and closing schools
and palaestrae to discourage homosexual liaisons from taking

- 99 -
place there in the dark or without the presence of the proper
supervisors.” (Scanlon, Eros and Greek Athletics, p. 213)
“The Athenians themselves were not unaware of these
ambiguities and contradictions. To begin with: according to the
Xenophon, Greeks were well aware of that laws and customs
regarding pederasty varied widely between different states.
Some prohibited it outright, others explicitly permitted it. In the
Symposium Plato put into the mouth of Pausanias an
econcomium of love which explicitly addresses the conflicts
within Athenian norms and customs pertaining to pederasty.
Whereas for the rest of Greece these laws and customs are clear
and well defined, explains Pausanias, those of Sparta are
poikilos, intricate, complicated, subtle. He comments that
Athenian legislation in this are is admirable, but difficult to
understand; the difficulty consists in the simultaneous
approbation and censure which social norms and legal rules
attach to the pursuit of a pederastic courtship.” (Cohen, Law,
Society and Homosexuality in Classical Athens, p. 152 in Sex and
Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome, editors Mark Golden and
Peter Toohey)
“The legal provisions regulating various forms of
homoerotic behaviour may be grouped in three categories: laws
relating to prostitution; laws relating to education and
courtship; and finally, general provision concerning sexual
assault. These are only categories of convenience, however, and
there can be considerable overlap between them. The laws
concerning male prostitution may be considered first. One
statue partially disenfranchised any Athenian citizen who
prostituted himself, whether as a boy or as an adult; he lost his
right to address the Assembly and to participate in other
important areas of civic life. Secondly, if a boy was hired out for
sexual services by his father, brother, uncle or guardian, they
were subject to a public action, as was the man who hired him.
Thirdly, a general statue prohibited procuring and applied any
free-born child or woman.” (Cohen, Law, Society and

- 100 -
Homosexuality in Classical Athens, p. 153 in Sex and Difference in
Ancient Greece and Rome, editors Mark Golden and Peter Toohey)
“The second category of laws pertained to education and set
out a series of detailed prohibitions designed, among other
things, to protect schoolboys from erotic attentions of older
males. These laws regulated all the contacts which boys had
with adult males during the period at school, and provided for
an appointment of public officials to ensure that proper order
was maintained. According to Aeschines, the law forbade the
schools to open before sunrise or to stay open after dark, and
strictly regulated who might enter and under what
circumstances. Finally, another law prohibited slaves from
courting free boys.” (Cohen, Law, Society and Homosexuality in
Classical Athens, p. 153-154 in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece
and Rome, editors Mark Golden and Peter Toohey)
“The third kind of statutory prohibition is rather more
problematical than the first two and has received scant attention
in regard to regulation of homoerotic conduct. Here I referto
the law of hubris (outrage or abuse). Current scholarship on
pederasty commonly asserts that there was no law prohibiting
an Athenian male from consummating a sexual relationship
with a free boy without using force or payment. This point is
usually adduced as the cornerstone of the standard
interpretation. This interpretation ignores, however, a series of
questions concerning the legal context of pederastic sexuality
which, to my knowledge has never been asked. Did the
Athenian law acknowledge an age of consent in its
conceptualization of sexual assault and seduction? If the
consent of the boy was not a bar to prosecution, did any
consummated sexual relationship with a boy fulfill the required
elements of the offence? Did Athenian law have some notion
equivalent to statutory rape in modern legal systems, where
consent is the crucial issue in definition of rape offenses? An
affirmative answer to any of these questions would require one
to reassess the standard view that the active role in pederastic
relationships was absolutely free from any taint of
- 101 -
disapprobation.” (Cohen, Law, Society and Homosexuality in
Classical Athens, p. 154 in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and
Rome, editors Mark Golden and Peter Toohey)
“The set of legal norms embodied in these statues reflects a
social order which encompassed a profound ambivalence and
anxiety in regard to male-male sexuality; a social order which
recognized the existence and persistence of such behaviour, but
was deeply concerned about the dangers which it represented.
The chief of these dangers was the corruption of the future of
the polis, represented by the male, participated in sexual
intercourse with men were believed to have pros children of
citizen families. Boys who, under certain circumstances
participated in sexual intercourse with men were believed to
have acted for gain and to have adopted a submissive role
which disqualified them as potential citizens. Likewise, adult
citizens who prostituted themselves were subject to the same
civic disabilities and opprobrium. These laws represented one
of the severest sanctions which such a society could impose,
and they reflect the level of concern for the preservation of the
citizen body.” (Cohen, Law, Society and Homosexuality in Classical
Athens, p. 156-157 in Sex and Difference in Ancient Greece and Rome,
editors Mark Golden and Peter Toohey)
“Scholars usually do not refer to hubris in connection with
pederasty because they believe hubris to require violent insult
and outrage. They have not paid sufficient attention, however,
to the way in which the law of hubris may have provided for
the principle criminal penalties for rape. But although rape is
often characterized as hubris, so is seduction. Euphiletus, for
example, refers to the hubris which the lover of his wife has
committed against him (Lysias 1.4, 17, 25) and an oration of
Demosthenes involves a prosecution for hubris (hubreos
graphe) brought by a son on account of the seduction of his
mother.
Such contexts perfectly match Aristotle’s definition of
hubris as any behaviors which dishonors and shames the victim
for the pleasure or gratification of the offender (Rhetoric, 1387b).
- 102 -
Indeed, it is in this connection that Aeschines introduced the
law of hubris into the catalogue of statutes which he
enumerated as regulating paederasty in Athens in the fourth
century B.C. In fact, when he first refers to the law of hubris he
characterizes it as the statute which includes all such conduct in
one summary prohibition: If anyone conmmits hubris against a
child or man or woman or anyone free or slave. ... (Aeschines 1,
15). Accordingly, Athenian sources qualify both rape and
seduction of women and children as acts of hubris, for both
violate the sexual integrity and honor of the family.” (Cohen,
Law, Sexuality, and Society: The Enforcement of Morals in Classical
Athens, p. 178-179)
“The violation of a free boy was hubris, or wanton
disregard of the rights of another, and could lead to the death
penalty. Apparently fathers scolded and schoolmates teased
boys who had lovers. But we do not know how often these
relationships were sexual; they might have been twilight
moments, frequently occurring yet rarely acknowledged.”
(Clark, Desire: A History of European Sexuality, p. 23)
We can now in conclusion say homoerotic behavior in
ancient Greece and our modern western culture has much more
in common and for the most part it is in agreement. There is
great confusion and disagreement. The whole idea of the
societal acceptance and legalization of homosexual behavior is
the agenda and focus of homosexuals themselves and those on
the liberal political left. Attempting to bring about the
acceptance and change, the social and legal tolerance of
homosexuality by a minority upon the majority. When viewed
in the context of the defining marriage to allow same-sex
marriage, and voting by the general population homosexual
behavior is not approved.
Though one important difference when comparing
homosexuality between the two is that concerning the sexual
component to pederasty, sex between adult males and
adolescent boys is legally and socially not allowed in modern
western society.
- 103 -
“As we have seen, Greek pederasty fundamentally differed
in form and function from modern sexuality. Admittedly, the
Greek situation offered great opportunities to those males
whose sexual interest mainly concerned other males, but this
preference had to be limited to boys and, moreover, the passive
and active roles in these relationships were sharply defined. In
addition, this preference had to be propagated with moderation,
without completely excluding the opposite sex. At the same
time, the aspect of initiation into the adult world illuminates an
even more important difference between Greek pederasty and
modern ways of homosexuality. Whereas modern homosexuals
often occupy a marginal position in society and are regularly
considered to be effeminate, in Greece it was pederasty that
provided access to the world of the socially elite; it was only the
pederastic relationship that made the boy into a real man. The
Greeks, then, certainly knew of Greek love’ and their interest in
boys was never purely platonic, but they did not, in any sense,
invent homosexuality!” (Bremmer, editor, Greek Pederasty and
Modern Homosexuality, p. 11 in From Sappho to De Sade)
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Homosexuality in France

“Homosexuality, far from being a monolithic Western


construct in this period, varied considerably from society to
society in the West, both in terms of its visibility, particularly in
discourse, and the difference in attitudes toward sex between
people of the same sex. Each of the societies and regions of
Europe had, on close examination, a bricolage of contradictions
and differences in attitudes toward homosexuality, even among
scientists. Thoroughgoing comparative studies of
homosexualities in differing European societies in the age of
empire remain to be researched and written. Nonetheless, the
scholarship within national contexts for this period is well
developed enough to provide here a survey synthesis of context
for the legal, moral, and medical differences between European
societies in this respect. It must be stressed that this survey
concentrates in particular upon the social and cultural context
of male homosexualities.” (Brady, Homosexuality: European and
Colonial Encounters, p. 50 in A Cultural History of Sexuality, Volume
5: In The Age of the Empire, Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier,
editors)
“The fear of effeminacy, sexual perversions, and
homosexuality was common throughout western Europe in the
decades prior to 1914. This widespread public concern was
certainly stimulated by growing military tensions, a number of
prominent homosexual scandals, and the multiple strains put on
sex roles by the social and political emancipation of women.
These influences produce in Germany and England the same
kind of antihomosexual animus that existed in France, blunting
the impetus of fledgling homosexual rights movements, and
encouraging defensive denials by homosexuals and their
defenders that homosexuality was incompatible with manliness
or constituted a threat to national security.” (Nye, Masculinity
and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France, p. 125)

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In Homosexuality in History a modern western European
focus will come from the nations of France, Great Britain and
Germany. The emphasis will be on the time period from the
late middle years of the nineteen-century to World War II. In
this section the nation of France will be discussed. Of the three
nations the most interesting thing is that in France there was no
law against homosexuality beginning in 1810. The majority of
the information about homosexuality in France is from Robert
A Nye, Horning Professor of the Humanities and Professor of
History Emeritus European Intellectual History Department of
History at Oregon State University.
“The mildness of censorship in France was a legacy of the
French Revolution. Certainly French psychiatric and sexological
literature was direct and often explicit. But French publications
lacked the empirical documentation of bourgeois and elite case
studies that characterized most German scholarship. There
were no influential French autobiographical works comparable
to Ulrichs’s pamphlets, published to inform popular opinion,
mobilize a homosexual community, or influence political
debate. Nor was there a French equivalent of the Scientific-
Humanitarian Committee, since, of course, adult same-sex
erotic relationships had been fully decriminalized in France.
The collaborative relationship between medical science and
bourgeois subjects that characterized German sexology and the
activism it inspired was largely missing in France. The limited
contact of French medical professionals to non-institutionalized
homosexuals in short, their ignorance of the French
homosexual subcultural also accounts for the paucity of
ethnographic description in French studies.” (Beachy, Gay Berlin
Birthplace of a Modern Identity, p. 93)
“Indeed, the French were second to none in the era 1880-
1910, when the sexual perversions were being catalogued and
described by the first European pioneers. Alfred Binet, Jean-
Martin Charcot and Valentin Magnan, Benjamin Ball and many
others provided clinical accounts of inversion, fetishism,
exhibitionism, bestiality, sadism and other phenomena. French
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experts differed from students of sexuality elsewhere by
resisting the notion that sexuality could be conceived as a force
or drive independent of an individual’s sex or sex organs, for
which Freud provided the classic arguments in his 1905 book
Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, and by generally disparaging
the quality of non-heterosexual, non-intromissive sex
(Davidson, 1987; Nye, 1993). Freud argued on behalf of an
organic drive, the libido, which was not programmed for any
particular combination of sexual aim and object but gained its
orientation in the course of an individual’s life experience. For
French sexologists, however, sexual aim and object were
naturally embodied in sexual individuals, making normal male a
wish to insert his genitals in normal female B and her wish to
be penetrated genitally by same. Thus, while sexological
reformers elsewhere often defended the sexual vigour and
masculinity of homosexual inverts, French sexologists
expressed their defence of beleaguered gallic heterosexually by
formulating contemptuous descriptions of homosexual sexually
as hypotrophic and degraded, and above all as effeminate
(Rosario, 1996).” (Nye, Sex and Sexuality in France since 1800, p.
96-97 in Sexual Cultures in Europe: Natural Histories, editors Franz
X. Eder, Lesley Hall and Gert Hekma)
“It is important to note that the late nineteenth-century
medical conception of homosexuality was constructed in
France without the benefit of the word homosexual. Claude
Courouve has shown that the word (homosexualitat) was
neologism coined by a German-speaking doctor, K. M. Benkert
in 1869. The term circulated in German medical circles for a
number of years and did not become current in French as
homosexualite until the late 1890s. Until that time, and many
years afterward, French doctors discussed male same-sex love
in ways that built on older words or medical models. Before
coining the word invert in 1882, the two favored words were
pederasty and sodomy. Pederasty seems to have been regularly
used to refer to the seduction of boys by adult males, and was a
staple term of forensic medicine, but by the end of the century
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was used occasionally in connection with adult homosexuality,
provoking objections from etymological purists like
André Gide. Sodomy had an imprecise and old-fashioned
biblical quality that made it more popular in literature than
science. Once invert began to be applied to adult males,
sodomy was used more exclusively to refer to bestiality. The
term uranist or urning, coined by the German jurist
Karl-Heinrich Ulrichs in the early 1860s never caught on in
French, nor did the concept of the third sex, which was popular
among German sex reformers.” (Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes
of Honor in Modern France, p. 108)
“Long before the eighteen-century, the French words
pederast (literally, an adult male who has sex with boys) and
sodomite (strictly speaking, a man who engages in buggery [anal
intercourse]) had lost their etymological precision and in
common parlance referred broadly to any male who had sexual
relations of any kind with another male of any age.” (Merrick
and Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 80-81)
“In strict legal terms, sodomy was any sexual act not leading
to procreation, including fellation, anal intercourse and even
bestiality. In common usage, however, sodomy meant sexual
relations between two persons of the same sex (usually male).
Men who engaged in sodomy were ‘sodomites’ or (more rarely)
‘buggers’. By the latter half of the eighteenth century,
‘pederasts’ (with no connotation of cross-generational sex) had
become the more usual term. People also used euphemisms like
‘vile creatures’ (infames) or (more humourously) ‘men of the
cuff’ (gens de la manchette) or ‘knights of the cuff’ (chevaliers
de la manchette), possibly an allusion to the fancy cuffs worn
by effeminate aristocrats. Homosexuality (the word dates only
from 1869) was then called sodomy, buggery, pederasty or even
‘the philosophical sin’, because of either the alleged practices of
ancient Greek philosophers or the supposedly lax morality of
Enlightenment thinkers who rejected Church teachings.
Homosexual acts were ‘anti-physical’, which is to say outside
the natural order; by extension this made homosexuals ‘anti-
- 111 -
physicals’.” (Sibalis, Homosexuality in Early Modern France, p. 212
in Queer Masculinities, 1550-1800: Siting Same-Sex Desire in the
Early Modern World, editors Katherine O’Donnell and Michael
O’Rourke)
“To what extent was the discussion of homosexuality in
France culturally specific? In many ways, it parallels that
elsewhere in Europe. It was subject to similar underlying forces,
such as the purity movement, the fear of decadence;
demographic concerns were, however, stronger in France.
Enquiries into its aetiology took on a similar shape, with
analogous divide between those who emphasized
environmental factors. For France, as elsewhere, the historian is
concerned for to describe modes of categorization of the
homosexual and here France, by the beginnings of the Third
Republic¸ was in many ways more sophisticated than England,
yet proved remarkably provincial in its neglect of more
scientific and subtle modes of analysis undertaken in Austria
and Germany. If there was a culturally specific content to the
debate in France, it lay in the absence of any criminal charge for
homosexual acts in private, in contrast to England and
Germany.” (Copley, Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-1980, p.
135)
“Historians of homosexuality in France have recognized a
cultural specificity to social, legal, and medical attitudes toward
homosexuality in this period. As Antony Copley argues,
representations of homosexuality in scientific discourse were
much more prevalent, prominent, and sophisticated than in
England. As we have seen, publication of such scientific
discourses on homosexuality was nigh impossible in Britain in
the period in question. This notwithstanding, French scientific
treatises proved ‘remarkably provincial’ and neglected more
subtle modes of analysis being developed by sexologists in
Austria, Germany, and Italy in the late-nineteenth and early-
twentieth centuries. In one fundamental respect, the debates in
France were differentiated from those in Britain, the German
states, and Austria; acts of sex between consenting adult males
- 112 -
were legally tolerated. The Code Napoleon had ensured that
since 1805, acts of sex between men in private were not
criminal offenses. Nonetheless, local statutes and regulation of
offenses against public decency, particularly after 1848, ensured
that acts of sex between men in public places, such as urinals
and parks, and male prostitution were criminalized, and that
male homosexuality in the late-nineteenth century became
heavily associated with criminality and ‘moral degeneracy’.”
(Brady, Homosexuality: European and Colonial Encounters, p. 50-51
in A Cultural History of Sexuality, Volume 5: In The Age of the
Empire, Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier, editors)
“Eighteen-century law and public opinion remained largely
intolerant of unnatural acts, whether insubordination within
marriage, masturbation, or sodomy.” (Merrick and Ragan,
Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 58)
“It exemplifies a persistent and deep antipathy toward
unconventional sexuality in nineteenth-century France. The
legislators of the Constitutional Assembly decriminalized
sodomy in 1791, but this change did not make it socially
acceptable.” (Merrick and Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France,
p. 95)
“The problem with this otherwise persuasive account is that
it does not apply to French sexology, if we may group French
writers on sex and reproduction under that rubric. The older
style of psychiatric reasoning persisted well into the twentieth
century in French literature, including attachments to
heterogenitality and anatomical models.” (Nye, Masculinity and
Male Codes of Honor in Modern France, p. 104)
“In the late nineteenth century, French medical
commentators generally saw homosexuality as a scourge on a
nation suffering from a low birthrate and emasculated by the
Prussian army in 1870. As is now well-known, medical men first
defined ‘homosexuality’ as a form of selfhood as a means of
identifying and differentiating some people from others at the
end of the century. According to Michel Foucault, the
homosexual was invented as part of the more general expansion
- 113 -
of demographic surveys, laws, and medical tracts aimed at
controlling sexuality in the interests of capitalist and competing
secular nationalists.” (Dean, The Frail Social Body Pornography,
Homosexuality, and Other Fantasies in Interwar France, p. 132)
“Despite the existence of a number of shared assumptions
that united sexologists across national borders, there were
significant differences in national sexological traditions prior to
1914, indicative of the extent to which national political
concerns shaped scientific research agendas. In France,
anxieties about a declining birth-rate led sexologists to cast the
perversions, especially homosexuality, as deviations from, and
threats to, heterosexual norms that needed to be bolstered as a
matter of national urgency.” (Waters, Sexology, p. 44-45 in
Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality, editors
H. G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook)
“As we have seen, until 1894 French medical writers on
inversion had stressed several points: inversion was a variety of
degenerate insanity characterized by hysterical gender-crossing;
it was a form of primitive nervous activity; it was frequently
criminal.” (Rosario, The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of
Perversity, p. 100)
“Throughout the nineteenth century the French were
committed to organicist and neurogential theories of sexuality.
To certain extend they remained attached to such biological
conceptualizations of gender and sexuality.” (Rosario, The Erotic
Imagination: French Histories of Perversity, p. 166)
“Robert Nye claims that in France to the extent there was
any coherent paradigm explaining homosexual difference
doctors were wedded to the idea that homosexuality was a form
of libidinal weakness. Moreover, the French tended to attribute
homosexual desire to anatomical anomalies rather than psychic
states, even when they insisted the anomaly was acquired; that
is, consciously chosen or a product of circumstances like
gender-segregated environments.” (Dean, The Frail Social Body
Pornography, Homosexuality, and Other Fantasies in Interwar France, p.
139)
- 114 -
“Indeed, I wish to advance a stronger point still: that
French psychiatrists and sexologists were encouraged by the
domestic environment to represent the sexual perversions,
especially homosexuality, in a unique and particularly
unsympathetic way. When French sexology is contrasted with
sexology elsewhere in Europe, notable differences emerge that
help explain why French work in this field made only a
marginal contribution to modern concepts of sexual
enlightenment and tolerance. As I have argued with the case of
sexual identity, bourgeois ideals of masculine honor were
similarly influential in shaping the nature as well as the social
response to the perversions, in this instance through the
projection of keenly felt masculine anxieties onto the bodies
and minds of men who engaged in unconventional sexual
behavior.” (Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern
France, p. 100)
“I wish to contend here that this process of medicalizing
and pathologizing sexual identity was more widely and deeply
developed in France than elsewhere in Europe in the years
around the turn of the century. The model of perversions that
French doctors favored, particularly as it applied to
homosexuality, differed in important aspects from ones
adopted elsewhere, and was considerably less generous in its
judgments.” (Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern
France, p. 102-103)
“But there are signs that the French, who produced a huge
body of writing on sex and sexuality, were out of step with the
main stream of the new field.” (Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of
Honor in Modern France, p. 103)
“The Germans had invented and monopolized the study of
contrary sexual sensation until the 1880s, so it is hardly
surprising that French writers still burning with animosity in the
wake of the Franco-Prussian war-referred to the inversion as
the German vice (Dubarry, 1896b). Nationalist rivalry was as
fierce and vituperative over the study of inversion as over other
scientific and political issues. The initial French foray into
- 115 -
research on inversion was launched in 1882 with Charcot and
Magnan’s articled mentioned at the beginning of this chapter.
They not only reviewed foreign publication on the new
disorder, but also presented new clinical material and laid out a
theory of inversion pathology strongly at odds with the German
hypotheses.” (Rosario, The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of
Perversity, p. 84)
“Medical language and reasoning played an important part
though not exclusive role in shaping this public discourse in
France, as it did elsewhere in Europe and America. It is my
view that the case for the distinctiveness of the French outlook
on sexual deviance may be most readily demonstrated by
examining this medical language and reasoning in detail. In
arguing thusly, I do not wish to be misunderstood to be
attributing to doctors or to medical discourse a sovereign power
to shape the norms of society. It seems clear enough that the
professional status and public mission of medical science gave
its practitioners unique leverage on the subject of sexual
aberration, but my aim here is to demonstrate, as I have already
suggested, that medicalization of sexual deviance, particularly
male homosexuality, took different forms in France than
elsewhere in Europe and placed its emphasis on different
things.” (Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern
France, p. 108)
France lacked homosexual reform movement and
homosexual militancy
In France, due to no specific legal prohibition of
homosexuality, there was no homosexual reform movement
advocating for homosexuality nor did homosexuals themselves
organize into advocacy groups. In France, the model presented
was an individualistic model, less assertive and centered on
exceptional figures. Another difference was that discussions of
homosexuality in France tended to be confined to the literary
sphere, which was considered to be a private sphere, unlike that
of political writings.

- 116 -
“In France, the influence of a German-style militancy
remained very limited, partly because against the law, and partly
because any attempt by homosexuals to assert themselves as a
community always came up against the republican, universuliste
model of the state, which recognized only individuals and not
minority groups.” (Tamagne, Florence, The Homosexual Age,
1870-1940, p. 177 in Gay Life and Culture: A World History, editor
Robert Aldrich)
“The difference between France and Germany was not only
the absence in France of a reform movement on the Hirschfeld
model, but also that medical experts, while prolix in discussing
homosexuality, did not provide the rich body of case histories
that gave homosexuals a voice even if distorted by the
interpretations of the doctors who published them.” (Jackson,
Living in Arcadia: Homosexuality, Politics, and Morality in France from
the Liberation to AIDS, p. 26)
“Besides, homosexual militancy did not really take hold in
England and France before the Second World War. Liberation
took different forms in those two countries. In England,
attempts were made to form homosexual organizations, but
they were only a sidebar to the ‘cult of homosexuality’ which
characterized the period. And finally, compared to the
democratic and militant German models, France presented an
individualistic model, less assertive and centered on exceptional
figures.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin,
London, Paris, 1919-1939, Volume I, p. 81)
“Unlike Germany and England, France did not experience
the formation of homosexual movements in this time period.
Perhaps the tolerant legal context accounts for their reticence
with regards to associations-there was no repressive laws on the
books that required a concerted fight; but French individualism
also played a role. The communal approach, more typical for
the Anglo-Saxon or Germanic countries, was not part of the
French make up. Asserting homosexual rights was thus left to a
few key figures, who personally identified with the homosexual

- 117 -
cause.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin,
London, Paris, 1919-1939, Volume I, p. 123)
“Also, while France did have an organized homosexual
subculture, there was no militancy and French homosexuals
remained determinedly individualistic. That is certainly due to
the more favorable social climate than in the neighboring
countries, but it also had to do with a certain political
immaturity. Discussion on homosexuality remained confines to
the literary sphere, consideration to be a private sphere unlike
that of political writing or social lampoons.” (Tamagne, A
History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939,
Volume I, p. 143)
“Already in the inner-war period, there were many ways of
affirming oneself as a homosexual or lesbian as a militant
protestor, as in Germany, through subversive integration, as in
England, or via sensual individualism, as in France.” (Tamagne,
A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-
1939, Volume I, p. 144)
Laws
Even though in France there was no legal prohibition of
homosexuality, it was still not socially acceptable. Two ways in
which the French law regulated homosexuality were statues that
condemned public offenses against decency and which made it
a crime to corrupt young people.
“There have been no anti-sodomy laws in France since
1791, but in the legal imagination pornography and
homosexuality were so inextricable that anti-obscenity law, as
we have seen, was used to censor material with homosexual
content, as well as to repress homosexual sex acts as violations
against decency.” (Dean, The Frail Social Body Pornography,
Homosexuality, and Other Fantasies in Interwar France, p. 131)
“In the new Penal Code, approved by the Constituent
Assembly in September 1791, there was no reference to
Ancient Regime laws on sodomy, and this lack of any mention
of crimes against nature might be read as tolerance of

- 118 -
homosexuality.” (Copley, Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-1980,
p. 24)
“In the autumn of 1791 the French Constituent Assembly
promulgated a new penal code abolishing the criminalization of
sodomy, a decision confirmed by the Napoleonic Penal Code
of 1810. Since 1791 same-sex relations between adults have
been illegal in France.
The significance of the decriminalization of sodomy should
not be overemphasized. The issue was never specifically
debated by the assembly, and the decision was probably a
fortuitous consequence of the general project to secularize the
legal code by eliminating offenses like blasphemy, heresy, and
sacrilege that were seen as relics of religious superstition.”
(Jackson, Living in Arcadia: Homosexuality, Politics, and Morality in
France from the Liberation to AIDS, p. 20)
“Unlike prostitution, there was no legal regulation of
sodomy per se because the Constitution Assembly in 1791 had
abrogated Old regime laws concerning crimes against nature.
Nevertheless, police continued to arrest men suspected of
sodomitic solicitation under the Penal Code of 1810: Article
330 (which condemned public offenses against decency) and
Article 334 (which made it a crime to corrupt young people).
Public concern about and private titillation over sodomy had
grown since the Enlightenment with the emergence of
sodomitic subcultures and the proliferation of pornography. In
eighteenth-century Paris, undercover agents (known as
mouches and pederasty patrols) had entrapped suspected
sodomites.” (Rosario, The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of
Perversity, p. 72-73)
“In fact, it was the Constituent Assembly of 1789-91 that
abrogated French antisodomy laws in 1791, and Napoleonic
legislation merely incorporated this previous reform. Moreover,
Napoleon’s government never showed itself particularity
tolerant of homosexual activity. Determined to enforce the
highest moral standards in France, Napoleonic officials
sometimes ignored the inconvenient fact that the law no longer
- 119 -
penalized crimes against nature. Whenever they deemed
unconventional sexual behavior a threat to public morals, they
did not hesitate to take repressive action against pederasts and
sodomites.” (Merrick and Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France,
p. 80)
“In fact, the legislators never provided any explanation for
this omission, which they even debated. Enlightenment
philosophy may have guided the legislators, but it is more likely
that the decriminalization of sodomy was simply a fortuitous
and unforeseen consequence of their secularization of criminal
law.” (Merrick and Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 82)
“The Constitutional Assembly actually voted two distinct
law codes in 1791. The Penal Code of 1791 (25 September – 6
October) covered felonies, that is, series offenses, punishable
by more than two years in prison and tried by a jury in the
criminal courts. The Code of Municipal Police and Correctional
Police, more commonly known as the Law of 19-22 July 1791,
covered misdemeanors, that is, lesser offenses tried without the
benefit of jury by judges in the correctional courts.” (Merrick
and Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 82)
“The Penal Code of 1791 included no sex crime other than
rape, which French jurisprudence defined as a crime whose
victim was necessarily a female. On the other hand, the Law 19-
22 July 1791 dealt with public offenses against decency and
alluded very indirectly to same-sex sexual relations. Chapter II,
Article 8 declared, ‘Those accused of having committed a gross
public indecency, by a public offense against the decency of
women, by unseemly actions, by displaying or selling obscene
images, of having encouraged debauchery, or having corrupted
young people of either sex, will be immediately arrested.’”
(Merrick and Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 82-83)
“In sum, legislation adopted during the Revolutionary and
Napoleonic period did not outlaw pederasty and sodomy in and
of themselves. It merely criminalized sexual assault, public
offenses against decency, encouragement of debauchery, and

- 120 -
corruption of young people of either sex.” (Merrick and Ragan,
Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 83)
“The Napoleonic code, which from 1810 was the legal
instrument for France (and Holland, Belgium, and Italy) laid
down no penalty for sodomy or homosexual acts. The code
punished only rape, child molestation, and public outrage to
bonnes moeurs (indecent behavior), preferring in matters of
sexual comportment the same guiding principles that fueled the
civil rights agenda of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, to
wit: All that is not expressly forbidden by the law is permitted.
More out of a consistent vision of the role of law than for any
other reason, no statutory emendations were made respecting
homosexual behavior until a mild law under Vichy in 1941.
What rights might discontented homosexuals claim in an
atmosphere of such legal forbearance?” (Nye, The History of
Sexuality in Context: National Sexological Traditions, p. 392-393)
“From the time of the shaping of the criminal code in the
Napoleonic era, French lawmakers had been reluctant to
overturn the libertarian dimension of the code that permitted
(any) sexual activities between (any) consenting adults, unlike
nineteenth-century legislation elsewhere in Western Europe that
sought to ban unnatural sexual relations carried out in public or
in private. Providing they carried out their lovemaking in
private, French homosexuals did not have to dread arrest or
scandal until the Vichy regime, though even then the law of
1942, extended by the DeGulle government after the war,
targeted only pedophiles by raising the age of consent to
twenty-one.” (Merrick and Ragan, Homosexuality in Modern
France, p. 231)
“One paradox of France, then, was that a more liberal legal
context engendered a more conservative, and inhibited, medical
approach to homosexuality than in Germany.” (Jackson, Living
in Arcadia: Homosexuality, Politics, and Morality in France from the
Liberation to AIDS, p. 26)

- 121 -
Sexology in France
In the late nineteen-century a new field of medicine and
science was just beginning, sexology. Some of the leading
advocates for this new field were homosexuals themselves.
“To an extraordinary extent early sexology was associated
closely with movements aimed at sexual reform, in particular
efforts to abolish or revise harsh laws outlawing homosexual
behavior. In some cases, men who were themselves
homosexuals among them Magnus Hirschfeld in Germany and
Edward Carpenter in England initiated these movements,
combing political activity with efforts to gather and disseminate
enlightened medical knowledge on homosexuality.” (Nye, The
History of Sexuality in Context: National Sexological Traditions, p.
390)
“Robert A. Nye outlines a number of geopolitical,
demographic and cultural factors to explain the privileged status
fetishism occupied in French psychiatry in the 1880s and 1890s.
These factors correspond to what Foucault describes as the
‘socialization of procreative behavior’, and include cultural
anxieties about the size, health and quality of the population,
which was shrinking at that time, as well as ‘long-term concerns
with reproductive fertility, male impotence, and sexual
exhaustion’. However, Nye’s argument illuminates only why
French doctors were concern with non-reproductive sexuality
as such; it does not explain why fetishism rather than
homosexuality or sadism should have become the master
perversion.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion: Sexual Deviance
in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 80)
“Despite the existence of a number of shared assumptions
that united sexologists across national borders, there were
significant differences in national sexological traditions prior to
1914, indicative of the extent to which national political
concerns shaped scientific research agendas. In France,
anxieties about a declining birth-rate led sexologists to cast the
perversions, especially homosexuality, as deviations from, and
threats to, heterosexual norms that needed to be bolstered as a
- 122 -
matter of national urgency. Sexology in Germany and Austria
was increasingly associated with movements of sexual reform,
especially aimed at abolishing or revising the laws against
homosexuality.” (Waters, Sexology, p. 44-45 in Palgrave Advances
in the Modern History of Sexuality, editors H. G. Cocks and
Matt Houlbrook)
“Whilst the field of French psychiatry, into which early
sexology was embedded, was shaped by more general processes
related to the advent of industrialization and secularization,
such as bureaucratization, professionalization and a growing
scientistic belief in the explanatory power of biological models,
the demographic concerns relating to waning fertility rates as
well as political anxieties about the loss of military power in the
ongoing French-German rivalry were some of the factors that
led to the emergence of a distinctively French tradition of
sexological writing.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion: Sexual
Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 63-64)
“Unlike its German and British counterparts, French
sexology was never tied to activism and legislative change, but
instead ’put special emphasis on a familialist ethic and stressed
the centrality of reproductive fertility. At least in part, this can
be explained by the fact that, in contrast to the situation in most
other European nation states, homosexuality was not outlawed
under the Napoleonic Code.” (Schaffner, Modernism and
Perversion: Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p.
63.)
“Many French sexologists tend not to differentiate as
strictly between the aim and object of the sexual drive as their
European colleagues: what counts for them is above all the
departure from the procreative aim as such. Another specificity
of the French sexological discourse is the predilection to
classify all perversions under a single nosological entity, a
‘master perversion’ such as inversion in the case of Jean-Martin
Charcot and Valentin Magnan, and fetishism in the case of
Alfred Binet.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion: Sexual
Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 64-65)
- 123 -
“Many ensuing French sexological theories were
predominantly materialist-biological in outlook, focusing on the
anatomical-neurological origins of perversion.” (Schaffner,
Modernism and Perversion: Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature,
1850-1930, p. 66)
“I think there are three major reasons for the unique
trajectory of French sexology. The first may be formulated as
an irony.
The Napoleonic code, which from 1810 was the legal
instrument for France (Holland, Belguim and Italy) laid down
no penalty for sodomy or homosexual acts.” (Nye, The History of
Sexuality in Context: National Sexological Traditions, p. 393)
“Second, the French after 1860 or so were experiencing an
extraordinary slackening of their birth rate, so that by the late
1880s their population had virtually stopped growing, in
contrast to the burgeoning demographic expansion elsewhere in
the industrialized west.” (Nye, The History of Sexuality in Context:
National Sexological Traditions, p. 393)
“Third, in 1870 the French experienced a major military
defeat by the Prussians and watched helplessly as a huge and
demographically vigorous new nation took shape on their
eastern frontier.” (Nye, The History of Sexuality in Context:
National Sexological Traditions, p. 393)
Homosexuality and Psychiatry in France
“As this summary of medical writings demonstrate, the
dominant experts in the field were French or German (even if
the word inversion was invented by the Italian Arrigo Tamassia
in 1878). Although French and German writers shared much in
common, their approaches affected by the different national
contexts.” (Jackson, Living in Arcadia: Homosexuality, Politics, and
Morality in France from the Liberation to AIDS, p. 24-25)
“In France medical experts operated in a difference context.
First, homosexuality was not illegal, and as we have seen, many
believed that the law was too liberal. Second, French elites were
increasingly preoccupied with the physical degeneration of the
race-especially the fear of alcoholism, syphilis, and TB.”
- 124 -
(Jackson, Living in Arcadia: Homosexuality, Politics, and Morality in
France from the Liberation to AIDS, p. 25)
“Three years earlier, in 1882, Magnan co-authored an article
entitled Inversion du sens genital (Inversion of the Genital Sense) with
Jean-Martin Charcot (1825-1893), the famous chief physician at
the Salpetriere Hospital, founder of modern neurology and
inventor of hysteria, with whom, amongst many others, Freud,
Binet and Proust’s father had studied. ... Charcot and Magnan
use ‘inversion’ as a master trope for a sexual instinct that has
gone astray, fixating itself on inappropriate sexual aims. They
explain inversion as a pathological state produced by hereditary
factors, and emphasize repeatedly that ‘inversion of the genital
sense’ lies at the heart of all sexual perversions – it is the
explanatory key, not just for homosexuality, but also for cases
of sexual obsession with white aprons, night bonnets or boot
nails.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion Sexual Deviance in
Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 68)
“In France, Brouardel, Lacassagne, Chevalier and
Raffalovitch studied homosexuality. Raffalovitch published a
major work in 1896, Uranism and Unisexuality. Nevertheless
Jean Martin Charcot (1825-1893) and Victor Magnan (1835-
1916) were the first Frenchmen to abandon the criminal model
of homosexuality in favor of a medical and pathological model.
They authored the first publication on the subject, Inversion du
sens genital et autres perversions sexuelles, initially published in
numbers 7 and 12 of the Archives de neurologie in 1882. Their
theories were still being discussed in the inter-war period.
French psychiatrists looked at sexual inversion primarily as
it related to hysteria, and homosexuality was studied only in
relation to neurosis; this bias skewed their conclusions in an
inevitably perverse and pathological direction. Homosexuality
was only an isolated symptom of a general disorder,
‘degeneracy’.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe:
Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939, Volume I, p. 212)
“An all-important shift in attitudes towards homosexuality
came with the new approach of psychiatric medicine, above all
- 125 -
with the work of Drs Charcot and Magnan, a shift from a
criminal model for the homosexual to a pathological one.”
(Copley, Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-1980, p. 135-136)
“In terms of aetiology, the psychiatrists were firm advocates
of heredity over environmental factors. They wrote of an innate
predisposition, some physiological impulse in the brain, which
would sooner or later be triggered off by some external
phenomenon.” (Copley, Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-1980, p.
139)
“Psychoanalysis saw itself in the morally neutral tradition of
nineteenth-century positivism. Freud himself can be quoted as
seeing homosexuals as neither criminal, nor sick. Yet
psychoanalysis, nevertheless, defined homosexuality as a
neurotic condition.” (Copley, Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-
1980, p. 151)
“Finally, unlike Krafft-Ebing or Albert Moll, who
assiduously expanded, updated and re-edited their major works,
the majority of French psychiatrists wrote only a single article
or monograph on the subject.” (Schaffner, Modernism and
Perversion Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p.
65)
“My primary contention in this essay is the following: that
the concept of fetishistic perversion first arose in French
psychiatry and was only later integrated into psychiatric
nosologies elsewhere, including that of Sigmund Freud, where
is his historical investigation will terminate. But why France? I
hope to explain how a pressing cultural anxiety about the health
and size of their population provoked the French to consider
how and why fetishistic deflections of the sexual instinct
occurred. I hope to show how long-term concerns with
reproductive fertility, male impotence, and sexual exhaustion
influenced the status fetishistic perversions possessed in pre-
World War I psychiatry.” (Nye, The Medical Origins of Sexual
Fetishism, p. 14 in Fetishism as Cultural Discourse, edited by Emily
Apter and William Pietz)

- 126 -
“French psychiatrists turned their interest toward the
perversions; about the same time psychiatrists did so elsewhere;
and as was the case in England, Austria, Germany,
homosexuality seems to have been a primary driving force in
the creation of new nosologies. But the outcome of this process
was markedly different in France. No medical champions of
male love appeared, and the medical characterizations of it were
qualitatively different and characterized by far less generosity.
Rather than try to provide a lengthy narrative of these
developments - as I have already done elsewhere (Nye, 1989b,
p. 32-51). I will summarize the main points of contrast between
the psychiatric treatment of homosexuality in France and other
countries.” (Nye, The History of Sexuality in Context: National
Sexological Traditions, p. 398)
“First, French sexology remained firmly committed to the
model of degeneracy, which had become something of a native
medical tradition by the 1890s (Pick, 1989, p. 37-108; Nye,
1974, p. 141-170).” (Nye, The History of Sexuality in Context:
National Sexological Traditions, p. 398)
“A second point of contrast is that psychiatrists insisted on
measuring the sexual perversions as departures from a
procreative sexual norm, thus grounding sexuality in sex and
recognizing no distinction between aim and object (Nye, 1989a,
p. 65-66).” (Nye, The History of Sexuality in Context: National
Sexological Traditions, p. 398)
“Third, by viewing sexual inversion as a fetishistic
perversion, French psychiatrists invariably considered inverts to
be lacking in normal quantum of masculine genital sexual
energy. Thus effeminacy – whether considered in terms of
hermaphroditic genital stigmata, underdeveloped secondary sex
characteristics, or feminine attitudes or gestures became clinical
evidence for the condition.” (Nye, The History of Sexuality in
Context: National Sexological Traditions, p. 399)
“Finally, French psychiatrists were so sensitive to the
implication of homosexuality and perversion in their nation that
they invariably presented the problem as a cultural crisis of
- 127 -
grave proportions.” (Nye, The History of Sexuality in Context:
National Sexological Traditions, p. 399)
“I will consider three final medical themes that suggest the
uniqueness of the French conception of the homosexual, and
carry the consideration of homosexuality into the 1920s and
1930s.” (Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern
France, p. 116)
“First is the persistent reluctance of French medicine to
distinguish between sexuality; and sex Arnold Davidson uses
the Oxford English Dictionary to date the use of the first
appearance of the word sexuality; in English, a usage which first
appears in 1879 in a British gynecological textbook. The first
use of sexuality in the modern; sense in French is identified in
Le Grand Robert and the Grand Larousse as 1924, both in
reference to Freud’s Three Essays, which first appeared in
French the year before.” (Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of
Honor in Modern France, p. 116)
“Second, one might have well expected the growth of a
French psychoanalytic movement to have popularized Freud’s
new conception of sexuality, but even here the story before
1945 suggest more continuity with the older views than
conversation to the new.” (Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of
Honor in Modern France, p. 116)
“Third, lest us consider homosexuality in Greek antiquity as
a touchstone for European sexologists. French medical
commentators could not bring themselves to adopt a relativistic
perspective, despite a French tradition of admiration of
antiquity in no wise inferior to other European countries.”
(Nye, Masculinity and Male Codes of Honor in Modern France, p. 116)
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University Press. Manchester and New York, 1999.
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France, 1942-present. Palgrave MacMillan. New York, 2009.
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Morality in France from the Liberation to AIDS. The University of
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McCaffrey, Enda. The Gay Republic Sexuality, Citizenship and
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Merrick, Jeffrey and Bryant T. Ragan Jr., editors.
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Sexological Traditions Science in Context 4, 2 (1991), p. 387-406.
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and London, 1993.
Nye, Robert A. Sex and Sexuality in France Since 1800, p. 91-
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X. Eder, Lesley Hall and Gert Hekma. Manchester University
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O’Donnell, Katherine and Michael O’Rourke. Queer
Masculinities, 1550-1800: Siting Same-Sex Desire in the Early Modern
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Provencher, Denis M. Queer French: Globalization, Language,
and Sexual Citizenship in France. Ashgate. Burlington, VT and
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Rosario, Vernon A. The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of
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Schaffner, Anna Katharina. Modernism and Perversion: Sexual
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Modern History of Sexuality, editors H. G. Cocks and Matt
Houlbrook.

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Homosexuality in Great Britain
Section One

This is the first of three sections, Homosexuality in Great


Britain. Like other European countries and the United States
there was a visible homosexual subculture, due to the rise of the
large city in Great Britain, but there were notable exceptions in
how homosexuality was expressed and related to the English
society. Homosexual acts were illegal and the new scientific
field of sexology was less accepted. In Great Britain
homosexuality was expressed as the cult of homosexuality.
Homosexuality was spread in the public schools, the
universities, and the intellectual circles. It became a fashion, a
life style, a sign of recognition in certain classes and certain
circles. Homosexuality had to be seen in its relationship with
the English expression of masculinity. Which resulted in male
homosexuality, remaining a phenomenon the state preferred to
ignore. Yet, the English society as a whole was well aware
homosexuality and homosexual behavior as it was expressed in
the daily lives of the citizens. This was as a result of
urbanization, the rise of large population centers, the growing
cities.
Great Britain differs from the Continental states of Europe.
“It will be apparent by now that the title of this book might
almost have been But Not in Britain. In England especially,
sodomites seem to have been treated more harshly than
elsewhere. Whatever the causes Protestant morals, the rise of
the nuclear family, early industrialization reinforcing the sexual
division of labor the main observable difference in English
attitudes is the ease with which connections were made
between sodomy and other sins. In England, a sodomite was
never just a sodomite.” (Robb, Strangers: Homosexual Love in the
19th Century, p. 189)
“Continental states affected by the Codes Napoleon were
able to tolerate the legality of sex between men on grounds of
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the right to contract between male citizens.” (Brady, Masculinity
and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 27)
“It is arguable that the legal and medical construction of
homosexuality in Britain described by Weeks dates from the
1950s, and not from the late Victorian period. The British
legislature and British society had stoutly resisted the
developments in legal and scientific classification of
homosexuality that had prevailed in other states, such as
Germany and the United States. In doing so, the British could
foster ideals of masculinity and manliness, in which the
phenomenon of sex between men was perceived as exceedingly
rare, compared societies.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 115)
“Different legal practices and moral traditions have had
highly significant effects. In Britain, in contrast to France,
homosexual behavior per se (not just prostitution) was regarded
as a problem.” (Weeks, Inverts, Perverts, and Mary-Annes: Male
Prostitution and the Regulation of Male Homosexuality in England in the
Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, p. 116 in Historical
Perspectives on Homosexuality, editors Salvatore J. Licata, Ph.D.
and Robert P. Peterson)
“The public and private code in Labouchere’s Amendment
marks the fundamental difference between English and French
law on gross indecency between men at this time. Whilst in
England it was the acts themselves that were at issue, in France
it was whether they might be overlooked and cause specific
offence.” (Cook, Law, p. 73 in Palgrave Advances in the Modern
History of Sexuality, editors H. G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook)
Sexology
“Studies of sex between men proliferated in states such as
France, the German Empire, the Austrian Empire and Italy.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 26)
“The new sexology and its categorization of the deviant
appeared to many yet another dubious continental import.”

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(Porter and Hall, The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual Knowledge
in Britain, 1650-1950, p. 158)
“In Britain, however the initial influence of sexology should
not be exaggerated; it enjoyed only marginal status in medical
circles while Sexual Inversion, the first volume of Ellis’Studies,
was prosecuted as an obscene book.” (Waters, Sexology, p. 45 in
Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality, editors H. G.
Cocks and Matt Houlbrook)
“French and German specialists in the 1880s began to
produce more sophisticated interpretations of sexual
perversion, a key argument being that the aberrant act simply
represented the particular stage of a deviant’s development.
These doctors, in regarding the act as a mere symptom and in
paying greater attention to the specific type of individual who
carried it out, accordingly turned away from biological towards
psychological explanations. Whereas it had been once said in a
tautological way that a pervert was one who performed
perverse acts, now researchers such as Valentine Magnan
declared that the importance of such acts was that they were
due to a diseased central nervous system and a symptomatic of
a morbid category of person. Perverts suffered, claimed the
doctors, from congenital rather than acquired illness; they were
responsible yet could be cured. Some perverts particular the
humiliated fetishists were presented by the doctors as often
causing more pain to themselves than to the community. Most
importantly, progressive doctors asserted that a variety of
deviant practices, once regarded as choices; made by the sinful
or immoral, were actually involuntary symptoms of the
individual’s entire personality. Thus the sex experts created in
the latter decades of the nineteenth century an entirely new
nomenclature to describe the species they had discovered: the
exhibitionist, the transvestite, the voyeur, the homosexual, the
sadist and the masochist. Countless psuedo-scientific treatises
popularized the notion that whole subcultures were populated
by potentially dangerous others.” (McLaren, Twentieth-Century
Sexuality: A History, p. 92)
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Homosexuals: Expressing themselves
“Besides, homosexual militancy did not really take hold in
England and France before the Second World War. Liberation
took different forms in those two countries. In England,
attempts were made to form homosexual organizations, but
they were only a sidebar to the cult of homosexuality which
characterized the period. And finally, compared to the
democratic and militant German models, France presented an
individualistic model, less assertive and centered on exceptional
figures.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin,
London, Paris, 1919-1939, Volume I, p. 81)
“Already in the inner-war period, there were many ways of
affirming oneself as a homosexual or lesbian as a militant
protestor, as in Germany, through subversive integration, as in
England, or via sensual individualism, as in France.” (Tamagne,
A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-
1939, Volume I, p. 144)
“Although closely tied to the development of the German
homosexual scene, the cult of homosexuality was specific to
England, and particularly to the years 1919-1933. The
traditional aversion to homosexuality gave way, in certain
sectors of the society, to a tolerance that soon shifted to
approval, and then to adulation. Homosexuality was spread in
the public schools, the universities, and the intellectual circles.
It became a fashion, a life style, a sign of recognition in certain
classes and certain circles. The cult of homosexuality in
England was the basis by which homosexuals gained entry into
certain British institutions and began to permeate the literature,
thereby imperceptibly molding the society.” (Tamagne, A
History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939,
Volume I, p. 145)
Masculinity and Homosexuality
“Maintenance of masculinity as a social status affected and
influenced cultural and social perceptions of the phenomena of
sex and sexuality between men.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 25)
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“Neither more or less concerned with protecting and
bolstering the requirements of masculinity amongst British men
than the public, the authorities attempted to resist clarification
or investigation of the crimes of sex between men. To allow
clarification would have offered official recognition that the
phenomenon existed amongst British men at all.” (Brady,
Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 103-
104)
“By 1900, British masculinity was being deliberately
projected, by both political parties, as the pre-eminent moral
exemplar, throughout the expanding Empire and in comparison
to its Continental neighbors. Also, masculinity as a social status
had increasingly become an inspiration for and expectation of,
enfranchised working-class men. It would have been
unthinkable, in this context, to question this image in the kind
of debate that would be needed legally to clarify or classify a
homosexual type or class.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 117-118)
“Masculinity as a social status required men to undertake
onerous and often conflicting responsibilities. Public
acknowledgement of the existence of sexuality between men,
even in pejorative terms, would have recognized an alternative
to acceptable masculinity. This would have threatened and
undermined the basis of British society. British politicians and
moralists reinforced notions that success of British society and
the unparalleled power and extent of the Empire was due, in
part, to the moral fitness of its men.” (Brady, Masculinity and
Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 214)
“The existence of sex and sexuality between men created a
dilemma in a society that placed so much emphasis on the
family and the responsibilities and expectations of individual
males heads of the household.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 25)
“To the British, sex between men threatened the structure
of the family and flouted the work ethic. If recognized and
tolerated, the phenomenon had the potential to tempt some
- 135 -
men away from their procreative duties to their wives. Sexuality
between men and its communitarian overtones also threatened
the ability of independent men to maintain work, trade,
commerce and politics.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 214)
“Institutions of British authority, such as national
newspapers, government, the legislature and profession of
medicine, place so much emphasis on this expectation of
masculinity and masculine behaviour, that it had a direct effect
on how British people regarded sex between men. As the
following chapters demonstrate, sex and sexuality between men
were tactily well-understood phenomena. Nonetheless, it is
striking in comparison to Continental states, how little public
discourse of this matter was conducted or tolerated. Discourse
of this nature was ignored or suppressed in order to preserve
and present masculinity in this country as free from unnatural
practices between men.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 26)
Homosexuality and the Government
“The entire matter of sex between males remained a
phenomenon the state preferred to ignore. Policies to
distinguish between crimes of bestiality, sodomising of boys
and sodomy between men, were only conducted when the
Home Office was forced to do so.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 217)
“The medical professions, the judiciary, the police and the
government went to considerable lengths to suppress and resist
any form of learned discussion of the matter of sexually
between men. Historiography in this field has argued that
medicine and law constructed, in apparent harmony, a
pejorative category of the male homosexual in these years. This
may be the case, up to a point, in states such as nineteenth-
century Germany or Austrian Empires. However, in Britain, the
medical professions and judiciary colluded to ensure that not
even the articulation of a pejorative concept of the homosexual

- 136 -
existed.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain,
1861-1913, p. 154)
“The awareness demonstrated before 1885 of sexuality
between men and its guises are indicative of a pervasive and
tacit culture understanding. The levels of indictments for the
crime in the nineteenth century indicate urban dwellers were
willing to use the justice system to punish these outrages against
what was considered masculine. The justice system and the law,
on the other hand, demonstrably lagged behind or attempted to
ignore this cultural development.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 103)
“Similarly, Weeks emphasis on a single Home Office series
of files results in a misinterpretation of state control of sex
between men and the shaping of a prejorative homosexual
identity in the late nineteenth century. Weeks’presentation of
his historical evidence asserts that a pattern of development in
the Home office then translated into legislation in 1885. This
fits the argument for the legal construction of the homosexual
category in the late nineteenth-century Britain, which in turn
crystallized notions of this category in the public imagination in
the late 1880s and 1890s. However, the examination of much
broader evidence indicates that perceptions of sexuality
between men were much more developed amongst urban
populations throughout the second half of the nineteenth
century than this historiography suggests.” (Brady, Masculinity
and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 102)
“Whilst in many cases the legal, medical and scientific fields
of knowledge complemented each other, they also frequently
jostled for position. The emergent science of sexology in the
late nineteenth century, for example, presented theories of
homosexuality as pathology or intrinsic condition which were
incompatible with the judicial conception of criminal sexual acts
rather than identities. The uneasy relationship between the two
was compounded by the sexologists intent to speak candidly
about sex and sex problems in ways which could be seen to
contravene English obscenity legislation. The embryonic
- 137 -
sexology movement in England was partly stifled by the
prosecution of George Bedborough for selling Havelock Ellis’s
Sexual Inversion in 1897 and by the restrictions place on the
English translation of Iwan Bloch’s Sexual Life of Out Times in
1908. Such cases were a deterrent to other writers and
publishers, and sexology remained chiefly a continental science
until at least the First World War.” (Cook, Law, p. 79 in Palgrave
Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality, edited by H. G. Cocks
and Matt Houlbrook)
“Through the reporting and editing of court cases, the
newspaper press produced a version of the homosexual and
revealed the places he frequented¸ his putative domestic
arrangements and his concomitant disregard for a middle-class
ordering of public and private realms a disregard tacitly
legitimated by the wording of the Labouchere Amendment
itself. However, the relationship between homosexuality and
the city as described in these accounts was also fraught with
contradictions. In the major scandals, which endured in the
public memory, and minor cases, which came as weekly
reminders of them, there was the sense of a highly sensitized
and vigilant public and police force on the one hand, and on
the other of an embedded subculture which was tacitly accepted
and even approved. The courts and the newspapers suggested
purges and the scope for eradication, yet also revealed an
entrenched network. Such dichotomy indicated the
unacceptable nature of these activities whilst also advertising
their existence as an integral part of city life. This was vital to
the maintenance of the status quo.” (Cook, London and the
Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 71-72)
“The courts and press were largely uninterested in the
arguments about inherent sexual identity being propounded by
sexologists.” (Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality,
1885-1914, p. 59)
“Contrary to what many historians claim, legislative
developments in late nineteenth-century Britain did not
construct a legal category of the male homosexual or all male
- 138 -
homosexuals as a class. Similarly, science and medicine in
Britain did not construct a pathologised category of the
homosexual. These disciplines distinctively eschewed attempts
to develop inversion theorization and rejected Continental
developments in this field. This notwithstanding, historians
have emphasised that the legal-medical classification of male
homosexuality prevalent in Britain in the 1950s originated in
the late nineteenth century. The concept of the male
homosexual pathology or normality amongst many British
doctors in the 1950s can be traced to nineteenth-century
developments in sex-psychology. This concept amongst British
psychiatrists and a grudging acceptance of the ideas of Feud
and Ellis, was a development of the years following the Second
World. This book has attempted to demonstrate that the
pejorative medico-legal construction of modern homosexual
identities was a Continental European and North America
development, stoutly resisted in Britain. Nineteenth-century
British society could not contemplate permitting discussion of
the phenomenon, even in pejorative terms, for fear of giving
credence and admitting that the phenomenon existed among
British men at all.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in
Britain, 1861-1913, p. 157)
“Similar ambivalence is detectable in the attitudes of
Britain’s scientific community towards the matter of sexuality
between men. In many respects, British scientists had the
potential to be at the forefront of the quest to understand the
phenomenon in scientific terms. British philosophers ad
scientists fostered the intellectual conditions for a science of
inversion theorization. The ideas of Malthus and Darwin had a
direct effect in stimulating and expanding an already extant
scientific enquiry of same-sex sexuality on the Continent.
Darwin’s thinking, in particular, provided the analytical basis for
the discipline of inversion theorization. However, Continental
inversion theorists worked in societies where the milieu of the
homosexual was, more or less, acknowledged. The ideas of
theorists, such as Ulrichs and Kraft-Ebbing, were controversial,
- 139 -
but tolerated and widely disseminated.” (Brady, Masculinity and
Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 217)
Urbanization: Rise of cities
“Whatever secrets about emerging same-sex roles the molly
houses may deliver will come from examining the social
conditions involved in London’s rapid growth, from 200,000 in
1600 to slightly less than 600,000 in 1700 and 675,000 by 1750,
as a key node for English naval commerce. Despite high
mortality and overseas emigration rates, London grew at
England’s expense as agrarian enclosures pushed rural plebeians
into the city to service the harbour trades.” (Shapiro, Of Mollies:
Class and same-Sex Sexualities in the Eighteen Century, p. 160 in In a
Queer Place: Sexuality and Belonging in British and European Contexts,
editors Kate Chedgzoy. Emma Francis and Murray Pratt)
“By the beginning of the eighteenth century the picture had
changed, especially in the capital. In 1700 London had a
heterogeneous population of nearly 700,000. There were
therefore enough homosexuals to form corteries. They found
one another in up to twenty cruising grounds scattered across
the town from Wapping to Westminster, making themselves
know to each other by signs, such as using handkerchiefs and
patting the back of the other’s hand. The convenient
assumption disappeared that confirmed sodomites were solitary
beings, maybe spawned by the Devil, hardly ever encountered
by the majority of the population. In a climate of heightened
interest in everything to do with sex, English heterosexuals
looked around them and discovered the mollies. The word
molly described an effeminate homosexual, who liked dressing
up in women’s clothes and was possibly known by a girl’s name
Kitty or Mary, or fancifully grand ones such as the Countess of
Camomile and the Queen of Bohemia. There were also molly
houses, which were not brothels but clubs, some of them with
several dozen members who met, in various venues all over
town, to hold parties and make love.” (Goldsmith, The Worst of
Crimes: Homosexuality and the Law in Eighteenth-Century London, p.
6)
- 140 -
“As a number of critics and historians have shown, the rise
of the city increasingly provided a network large enough for
secret sex to become organized. G. S. Rousseau (1985, p. 143)
has pointed to this expansion within the city, concluding that
Earlier the outcry had been directed at the stage as a spawning
ground for this detestable breed, but in the 1720s, the fields for
breeding has diversified. The fear of the increased occurrences
of sodomy (among other vices) led to the creation of societies
for the reformation of manners and the Society for promotion
of Christian Knowledge. These were to play an active role in
bringing sodomy to light in a range of prosecutions at the
beginning of the eighteenth century. They published manuals
for the collection of information and the presentation of it to
magistrates in such a way as to guarantee prosecution (Norton,
1992; Bristrow, 1977).” (McCormick, editor, Secret Sexualities: A
Sourcebook of 17th and 18th Century Writing, p. 51-52)
“London had undergone massive expansion in the
seventeen century, and by 1700 had a population of around
600,000, twenty times more than the next largest town in
England. By the time on the raid on the White Swan in 1813,
one and a quarter million people lived in the city. This meant
that a greater degree of anonymity could be maintained as men
moved between places and identities. The growth of the city
also meant there were increasing numbers of men who might
take part in homosexual activities, allowing a subcultural
network to become more organized and integrated into city life
– and for a series of places to gain a reputation for their
popularity with Mollies and sodomites.” (Cook, London and the
Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 9-10)
“Homosexual behaviour was thus incorporated into the
visual economy of the city during the eighteen century. Parks,
churchyards, places of commercial exchange and the Molly
clubs were marked out as meeting places, and effeminacy and
theatricality observed as defining characteristics of men seeking
sex with other men.” (Cook, London and the Culture of
Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 12)
- 141 -
“The real and fictional paths of Boulton, Park and Saul trod,
together with those of the men discussed earlier, indicates an
entrenched relationship between the city and homosexuality
well before 1885.” (Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality,
1885-1914, p. 22)
“Homosexuality was woven into the fabric of urban culture.
Depictions of homosexuality activity involved the centers of
leisure and entertainment, spaces of masculine and social
reform, and symbols of urban innovation, like stations¸ trains
and trams.” (Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-
1914, p. 39)
“It is remarkable also, in the context of its European
neighbours, how little legislative arrangements for punishing
sex between men changed in Britain in the nineteenth and
twentieth centuries. However, British society did experience
profound structural transformations during the century. After
1850, Britain became the first predominantly urban society.
Britain also was the first industrial nation.” (Brady, Masculinity
and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 27)
“Reproach towards sex between men after 1861 was
ambivalent and often contradictory. There was an increasing
willingness, particularly in urban spaces, to report sexual acts
between men to the authorities. Urban dwelling had become,
after 1850, the mode of living for the majority of the
population.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain,
1861-1913, p. 51)
“The nineteenth-century urban dweller would undoubtedly
have understood the modern meaning of bestiality. Instead, the
urban dweller differentiated this crime from sex between men,
not through alienation from animals, but for specific social
purposes. Tacit awareness of the existence of sexuality between
men was widespread in society, particularly amongst urban
dwellers, and an established notion before the Stella and Fanny
trail in 1987. In a predominately urbanized society that,
increasingly, expected men to marry, irrespective of class, there
was little room for the toleration of sexual between males. The
- 142 -
uxorious focus of masculinity as a social status excluded and
characterized masculine traits that threatened its stability. The
man, who engaged in sex with other men, was arguably the
most destabilizing of all.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 52)
“Metropolitan sodomy indictments did not abate in this
period and the earliest evidence of modern homosexual self-
making emanates from these years, so sex and sexuality
between men clearly did not disappear.” (Brady, Masculinity and
Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 53)
“The Times reporting of cases of unnatural crime
throughout the 1860s provides valuable insights into the level
of understanding of sex between men, at least amongst its
journalists and readership. Also, the participants in the reported
trials tended to be among the lower or middling social ranks,
indicating understanding of sex between men lower down on
the social scale and a willingness to report incidents to the
authorities. The Times demonstrate no discernable pattern in
the reporting of unnatural crime in the 1860s other than that
the abhorred unnatural crime referred exclusively to sex
between men.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in
Britain, 1861-1913, p. 63)
“However, there are fundamental problems in the research
and analysis of the development in legal control of sex between
men in nineteenth-century. Significant recent specialist works,
such as Cock’s, challenges the assumptions inherent in Cohen’s
and Weeks’ studies, that prosecutions of sex between men
somehow exploded in proportion and meaning in the late
1880s. Cock demonstrates that sodomy indictments in England
increased significantly after 1800 and that the interpretation of
sodomy in urban indictments meant, almost exclusively,
sexuality between men throughout the nineteenth century.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 86)
“This chapter confirms Cock’s basic argument and critically
examines the research and interpretation offered by Cohen and
- 143 -
Weeks of the legislative changes surrounding sexuality between
men. Both historians present their analysis of legal
developments and their implications, in a highly mechanical
framework of historical change.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 86-87)
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Lutz, Deborah. Pleasure Bound Victorian Sex Rebels and the New
Eroticism. W. W. Norton & Company. New York and London,
2011.
McCormick, Ian, editor. Secret Sexualities: A Sourcebook of 17th
and 18th Century Writing. Routledge. London and New York,
1997.
McLaren, Angus. Twentieth-Century Sexuality: A History.
Blackwell Publishers Oxford, UK and Malden, Massachusetts,
1999.
Porter, Roy and Lesley Hall. The Facts of Life: The Creation of
Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950. Yale University Press.
New Haven and London, 1995.
Robb, Graham. Strangers: Homosexual Love in the 19th Century.
Picador. London, 2003.
Shapiro, Stephen. Of Mollies: Class and same-Sex Sexualities in
the Eighteen Century, p. 155-176 in In a Queer Place: Sexuality and
Belonging in British and European Contexts, editors Kate Chedgzoy,
Emma Francis and Murray Pratt.
Weeks, Jeffrey, B.A., M.Phil. Inverts, Perverts, and Mary-Annes:
Male Prostitution and the Regulation of Male Homosexuality in England
in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries, p. 113-134 in
Historical Perspectives on Homosexuality, editors Salvatore J. Licata,
Ph.D. and Robert P. Peterson.
- 145 -
Homosexuality in Great Britain
Section Two: Legislation

Legislation
This is the 2nd section in the History of Homosexuality in Great
Britain. Legislation against homosexuality first became a
function of the state with the Buggery Act in 1533. Prior to this
it was the role of the church to regulate homosexuality and it
was called sodomy. The next change came with the Offences
Against the Person Act in 1828 and 1861. A further change and an
important one came with the passage of the Criminal Law
Amendment Act in 1885, particularly Section 11. With this
legislation acts of gross indencency between males whether
committed in public or private was a misdemeanour and was
liable to imprisonment for up two years. This change expanded
the definition of a homosexual act while at the same time
making it easier for the prosecution of homosexuality. A fourth
piece of legislation, the Official Secrets Acts in 1889 indirectly
dealt with homosexuality.
“Legislation against sodomy was in place and enforced well
before the Criminal Law Amendment Act was passed in 1885. The
pre-existing legislation was based on the 1533 statue against
sodomy with mankind or beast and had been modified in the
course of the nineteenth century. In 1828 it was re-enacted in
the Offenses Against the Person Act, a piece of legislation which
covered murder, abortion, rape, and sex with girls under twelve.
Further offenses were added to the Act in 1861 and sodomy
was dealt with a new unnatural offenses subsection. The death
penalty was replaced with imprisonment for between ten years
and life, whilst attempted sodomy or any decent assault upon
any male person carried a sentence of between three and ten
years imprisonment or up to two years with hard labour. When
the Criminal Law Amendment Act was added to the statue books
in 1885 these existing measures remained in place and section
11 - the so-called Labouchere Amendment came as an ill-defined
- 146 -
addendum.” (Cook, London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-
1914, p. 42)
“In England¸ from the reign of King Henry VIII to that of
Queen Victoria, those convicted of the abominable crime of
buggery or sodomy were liable to suffer death and in practice
frequently did so. In 1861 (1889 in Scotland) the maximum
penalty was changed to life imprisonment. By the Criminal Law
Amendment Act of 1885, homosexual acts of gross indecency not
amounting to buggery, which had hitherto not been regarded as
a crime at all, were made subject to a maximum of two years in
imprisonment with hard labour.” (Hyde, The Other Love: An
Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain, p. 5)
“British legislation, on close examination, was archaic and
highly ambivalent in respect to any kind of homosexual
category. The Buggery Act of 1553 remained the basis for
legislation until 1967. Also, the infamous Criminal Law
Amendment of 1885 simply made all sex acts between all males
criminal, rather than indicating any kind of special legal
classification. In comparison, Continental states appeared to
tolerate a burgeoning scientific discourse on the matter.
Legislation in these states either allowed consensual sex
between male adults, or had legislative arrangements that were
more tolerant than Britain. For instance, France had
decriminalized sex between consulting adult males with the
implementation of the Codes Napoleon 1805. Also, the Codes
Napoleon were adopted by Italy in 1889.” (Brady, Masculinity and
Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 27)
“There is little to suggest in the legal framework for
prosecuting sex between men that the British legislature, in the
late nineteenth century, purposively constructed through a law
concept of a homosexual identity. Labouchere’s amendment to
the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1885 did not, as historians
have claimed, create a legal definition of a homosexual type that
then, in turn, constructed notions of this type amongst the
general public. The general public, or at least significant
sections of urban dwellers demonstrated, throughout the
- 147 -
second half of the nineteenth century, a well-developed and
tacit understanding of the guises and location of this sexuality.
These males offended and threatened developing perceptions
of what was required to attain full adult masculinity. The
legislature perpetuated, throughout the second half of the
nineteenth century, an archaic, highly inefficient and ambivalent
legal framework for prosecuting sex between males. The
importance of protecting and bolstering masculinity as central
to gender and class structures meant that it was not in the
interests of the British state to enquire to deeply or to prosecute
this crime efficiently. Even the legislation controlling males
soliciting males in 1898 only classified the guilty as vagabonds
and rogues, along with pimps, dossers, beggars and female
prostitutes. Legal clarification and classification of sexuality
between males would have revealed and publicized that this
sexuality existed at all.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 115-116)
1. Buggery Act 1533
The Buggery Act of 1533, formally An Acte for the
punysshement of the vice of Buggerie (25 Hen. 8 c. 6), was an
Act of the Parliament of England that was passed during the
reign of Henry VIII. It was the country’s first civil sodomy law,
such offences having previously been dealt with by the
ecclesiastical courts. The Act defined buggery as an unnatural
sexual act against the will of God and man. This was later
defined by the courts to include only anal penetration and
bestiality. The Act remained in force until its repeal in 1828.
Buggery remained a capital offence in England and Wales until
the enactment of the Offences against the Person Act 1861; the last
execution for the crime took place in 1836.
“It was a short piece of legislation, which originated in the
House of Lords, declaring the detestable and abominable Vice
of Buggery committed with mankind or beast to be a felony
subject to the penalties of death and loss of property
customarily suffered by felons, without the benefits of clergy,
which meant that offenders in holy orders could not claim to be
- 148 -
tried in ecclesiastical courts.” (Hyde, The Other Love: An
Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain, p. 39)
“Furthermore, the prevalence of homosexual conduct is
attested by the fact that sodomy was regarded from early times
as an ecclesiastical offence, although it did not become a felony
and thus subject to ordinary criminal jurisdiction until the reign
of Henry VIII.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p. 349)
“The Act (25 Henry VIII, c. 6) was repealed in 1547 by
Edward VI, along with other legislation passed in his father’s
time, but it was re-enacted in 1562 (5 Elizabeth c. 17), when
Parliament ordained that it was to be perpetual. It remained a
capital offence until the beginning of the nineteenth century,
when the death penalty was abolished for this as for many other
offences at the instigation of Sir Robert Peel, then Home
Secretary.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p. 350)
“The Buggery Act remained the basis of legislation for
prosecuting acts of anal sex between men until 1967. When sex
between two men in private was decriminalised for men over
21, the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 did not distinguish between
anal sex and other forms of sexual contact between men. It is
arguable that this legislation, in 1967, was the first English law
to distinguish a class of men who sex with other men. The 1967
legislation accommodated the sexual lifestyles of men who, as
long as they conducted their various and consenting sexual acts
in private and the sexual encounter numbered no more than
two persons, would not be prosecuted.” (Brady, Masculinity and
Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 94)
“However, in the eighteen century the judiciay went by laws
passed by the Tudor monarchs. In the first of these, a
temporary measure passed in 1553, buggery with man or beast
became a capital offense. This ruling was made perament in
1540. It was than refined during the reign of Edward VI, only
to be repealed by Mary Tudor, along with other new legislation
that had been passed by Henry VIII. Under Elizabeth I it was
placed on the statue books again in 1562 where it stayed until
1861 when it was decided to replace the death penalty for
- 149 -
convicted offenders with imprisonment for at least ten years,
and possibly for life.” (Goldsmith, The Worst of Crimes:
Homosexuality and the Law in Eighteenth-Century London, p. 31)
“As we have seen, sodomy had been made a civil offence in
1533 by Henry VIII, a law confirmed during the reign of
Elizabeth I. Although the 1533 Act did not attempt to define
what was meant by buggery, later jurists attempted to specify
what the act of sodomy actually described in law.” (Cocks,
Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.
32)
2. Offences Against the Person Act 1828, 1861
The Offences against the Person Act 1828 (also known as Lord
Lansdowne’s Act) was an Act of the Parliament of the United
Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It consolidated
provisions related to offences against the person (an expression
which, in particular, includes offences of violence) from a
number of earlier statutes into a single Act. It was one of a
number of criminal law consolidation Acts known as Peel’s
Acts passed with the object of simplifying the law. Further
changes were made to this legislation in 1861.
“In Sir Robert Peel’s Offences Against the Person Act of
1828, the requirement of proof was disminished to evidence of
penetration only, which resulted in an increase in convictions.
Nonetheless, the retention of the capital charge meant that
juries were still reluctant to convict for unnatural offenses, as
men continued to be hanged until 1836 for sodomy and the
charged remained a capital indictment until 1861.” (Brady,
Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 60)
“The Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, finally removed
the capital charge for sodomy.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 61)
“The 1861 Act had removed the capital indictment for
sodomy, but retained the archaic Buggery Act of 1533 as the basis
for legislation. The 1861 Act stipulated that sentences for
convictions of sodomy should be life imprisonment with penal
servitude. In addition, the Act stimulated the minimum
- 150 -
sentence, which must be no less than ten years penal servitude.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 96)
“Until 1861 sodomy was punishable by death; in that year
the penalty was reduced to penal servitude of between ten years
and life; but less homosexual practices were not then illegal.”
(Hichens, Oscar Wilde’s Last Chance – The Dreyfus Connection, p.
34)
“The major legislative changes were in 1828, 1861, 1885 and
1889. The first of these changed the requirements of evidence
in sodomy trials from penetration and emission in the body to
penetration only. The 1861 Offences Against the Person Act
formally abolished the death penalty for sodomy and
introduced instead life sentences of penal servitude. It also
formalized the maximum and minimum sentences for indecent
assault by introducing a prison term of between two and ten
years as the standard sentence. In 1885, Labouchere’s
amendment ostensibly introduced the new offence of gross
indecency, but did not enlarge the scope of the law any further.
Neither did it affect sentencing practice in a noticeable fashion.
The law regarding soliciting was changed in 1889, making it
possible to prosecute someone for importuning a homosexual
offence.” (Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the
Nineteenth Century, p. 30-31)
3. The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885
The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885 or ‘An Act to make
further provision for the Protection of Women and Girls, the
suppression of brothels, and other purposes’ was the latest in a
25-year series of legislation in the United Kingdom beginning
with the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 that raised the age of
consent and delineated the penalties for sexual offences against
women and minors. It also strengthened existing legislation
against prostitution and recriminalised male homosexuality.
“The specific purpose of the Criminal Law Amendment Act
had been effective prosecution of the prepetrators of the widely
publicised scandal involving the prostitutionof young girls.”
- 151 -
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 94)
“The Criminal Law Act, 1885, raised the age of female
consent, while incorporating the notorious Labouchere
Amendment altering the existing laws criminalizing buggery.
The penalty of imprisonment for ten years to life, reduced from
death (never imposed since the 1830s) in 1861, was lowered in
1885 to two years’ hard labor, but applied to all consenting
homosexual acts between adults in private creating a blackmail
charter.” (Porter and Hall, The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual
Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950, p. 224-225)
“In 1885, however, Parliament passed an act to protect
women and young girls from being victimized and to suppress
female brothels, and on to this was tacked at the last moment
an amendment which made gross indecency between adult
males a misdemeanour punishable by two years in prison hard
labour. This was initiated by a radical Member of Parliament,
Henry Labouchere, Old Etonian, nephew of a lord, who saw
his main role in Parliament as being the exposure of fraud and
scandal in high places. He was editor of a weekly paper, Truth,
a nineteenth-century version of Private Eye, like which he was
much involved in suits for libel. It was under his amendment
that ten years later Wilde was to be convicted.” (Hichens, Oscar
Wilde’s Last Chance – The Dreyfus Connection, p. 34)
“Until the Act came into force, on 1 January 1886, the
criminal law was not concerned with alleged indecencies
between grown-up men committee in private. Everyone knew
that such things took place, but the law only punished acts
against public decency or conducted tending to the corruption
of youth. The Bill in question, entitled, A Bill to make further
provision for the protection of women and girls, the
suppression, of brothels and other purposes, was introduced
and passed in the House of Lords without any reference to
indecency between males. In the Commons, after a second
reading without comment, it was referred to a committee of the
whole House. In committee Mr Labouchere moved to insert
- 152 -
into the Bill the clause which ultimately became section 11 of
the Act, creating the new offence of indecency between male
persons in public or private. Such conduct in public was, and
always had been, punishable at common law. There was no
discussion, except that one member asked the Speaker whether
it was in order to introduce at that stage a clause dealing with a
totally different class of offence to that against which the Bill
was directed. The Speaker having ruled that anything could be
introduced by leave of the House, the clause was agreed to
without any further discussion, the only amendment moved
being one by Sir Henry James with the object of increasing the
maximum punishment from twelve to twenty-four months,
which was also agreed to without discussion.” (Hyde, The Trials
of Oscar Wilde, p. 12)
“As originally drafted this measure was designed in the
words of its title to make further provision for the protection of
women and girls, the suppression of brothels and other
purposes and it was brought in by the Government as the direct
result of a powerful press campaign carried on by the Liberal
journalist W. T. Stead against juvenile prostitution and white
slavery. Its principal provision was the raising of the age of
consent for young girls from thirteen to sixteen. In its original
form, as introduced in the House of Lords, the Criminal Law
Amendment Bill made no mention of homosexuals acts, since it
was not concerned with this subject at all. After going through
all stages in the Lords, the bill went to the Commons, where it
was referred to a committee of the whole house after passing its
second reading. The committee stage was taken late at night on
August 6, 1885, which was to prove a fateful date in the history
of English criminal jurisprudence.
Henry Labourchere, the Liberal-Radical M. P. and editor of
the popular journal Truth, had put down an amendment on the
order paper to insert the following new clause:
Any male purpose who, in public or private, commits, or is
a party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to
procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross
- 153 -
indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of a
misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof, shall be liable, at
the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not
exceeding one year with or without hard labour.” (Hyde, The
Other Love: An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality
in Britain, p. 134)
“Wilde was prosecuted to conviction under the Criminal
Law Amendment Act, 1885, Section 11, which made
homosexual acts between consenting males a criminal offence
whether committed in public or in private, the section in
question having been proposed by Henry Labouchere, editor of
Truth, and agreed to in a thinly attended House in the small
hours of an August morning on the eve of the parliamentary
summer recess.” (Hyde, A Tangled Web: Sex Scandals in British
Politics and Society, p. 208)
“It was this Act which included the infamous Lebouchere
Amendment. While sodomy had ceased to be a capital crime in
1861, though still penalized by life imprisonment, this Act
broadened the definition of homosexual crime to include even
consensual acts between adults in private, while reducing the
penalty to two years (opposed to the higher sentence imposed
on acts often legally defined as attempted sodomy).” (Hall,
Sexual Cultures in Britain: Some Persisting Themes, p. 39 in Sexual
Cultures in Europe: National Histories, editors Franz X. Eder,
Lesley Hall and Gert Hekma)
“With the passage of the Labouchere Amendment in Britain
in 1885, private acts of gross indecency between men became
criminalized; while the unification of Germany in 1871 resulted
in the adoption of the # 152 formerly # 143) of the Prussian
Criminal Code throughout the German States, which, is
paragraph # 175 of the Imperial Criminal Code, banned
fornication [Unzucht] between male persons’.” (Ivory, The
Homosexual Revival of Renaissance Style, 1850-1930, p. 16)
“The other purpose was met by the ineffably awful clause
XI, the Labouchere amendment, which made illegal all types of
sexual activity between males (not just sodomy, as hitherto),
- 154 -
and irrespective of either age or consent. It is not clear whether
this was a genuine attempt to deal with male prostitution, or a
Purity measure, opportunistically and irrelevantly tacked on to
the Bill, or whether it was Labouchere’s way of trying to
overturn a Bill he disliked by a ridiculously extravagant
amendment. Whatever the intention, the effect of its enactment
is clear: Britain ended up with a proscription going far beyond
anything else in any other country at the time. Italy and the
Netherlands actually abolished punishment for consenting
adults in private in the late 1880s, while it took the advent of
Hitler to make Germany follow the new British model.”
(Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience, p. 65)
“Similarly, section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of
1885, which criminalized all acts of gross indecency between
men, has been seen not merely as a legislative event, but as a
piece of legislation which shaped the conduct and
understanding of male-male relationships for both external
observers and the men involved. The law’s public authority,
writes Nancy Cott, frames what people can envision for
themselves and can conceivably demand state decree becomes
more important to the way we envisage and experience intimacy
and the putatively private world of the senses.” (Cook, Law, p.
65 in Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality, editors H.
G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook)
“The Criminal Law Amendment Act was passed, as we have
seen, on the back of mass protest, section 11 of the act which
criminalized acts of gross indecency between men was a last
minute addition, made by the maverick Member of Parliament
Henry Labouchere and introduced and passed in a chamber
that was virtually empty. It was not the subject of government
comment and was barely mentioned in press coverage of the
act’s passing. Neither did it significantly add to the available
statues that could be deployed against men having sex with
other men, all of which remained in force. The amendment was
symptomatic of confusion rather than intentionality in the
making of laws on sex in England, and raises the key question
- 155 -
of whose will this law but also other laws enshrined.” (Cook,
Law, p. 79 in Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality,
edited by H. G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook)
“A further change in the law followed in 1885, when the
Liberal PM and journalist Henry Labouchere introduced a
clause to the Criminal Law Amendment Act that year.
Labouchere’s amendment, as it came to be known, stated that
any male person, who, in public or private, commits... any act
of gross indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of
a misdemeanour and punishable by up to two years in prison.
What gross indecency actually meant in law was never specified
in the legislation, but the courts seemed to have merely added it
to existing offences and used it to describe consenting acts
which fell short of sodomy. This is how it was applied in the
trial of Oscar Wilde, at any rate.” (Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and
Diseases, 1800-1914, p. 112 in A Gay History of Britain: Love and
Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook)
“Although historians have described homosexual offences
before, the question of what forms of behaviour actually
constituted a crime at the beginning of the nineteen century is
still relatively unclear. This lack of clarity is partly of the
consequence of the retrospective interpretations of those, like
the Liberal MP Henry Labouchere, who took it upon
themselves to change the law and thereby reinvigorate public
morals. On 6 August 1885, Labouchere moved his now
notorious amendment outlawing acts of gross indecency
between men both in private and in public. He justified his
clause by arguing that before 1885, the law was insufficient to
deal with it, because the offence had to be proved by an
accessory, and many other offences very much of the same
nature were not regarded as crimes at all. He had therefore
provided the means by which Parliament armed the guardians
of public morality with full powers to deal with this offence.”
(Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth
Century, p. 17)

- 156 -
“In spite of Labouchere’s claims, it is now clear that his
efforts did not change the law in a dramatic fashion.” (Cocks,
Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.
17)
“As we have seen, Labouchere’s amendment in 1885 did
not revolutionise the law or move its focus from sexual acts to
particular homosexual types of people as had been frequently
claimed.” (Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the
Nineteenth Century, p. 31)
“Weeks, Cohen and others regard changes in British
legislation, particularly the 1855 Labouchere Amendment to the
Criminal Law Amendment Act, as the classification and
categorization of a homosexual species in legal arrangements.
Nevertheless, as Montgomery-Hyde’s work highlights, the
sixteenth-century Buggery Act remained the basis for legislation
in proscribing sex between men until its repeal in 1967.
Alternations to this legislation in the nineteenth century
certainly widened its scope to establish in law that all sexual acts
between men were criminal. But the legislation that criminalized
sex between men in the period in question never, in essence,
distinguished between bestiality, heterosexual sodomy or
homosexual sex. This ambivalence in the legal definitions up to
1967 defiles the medico-legal analysis of a purposive, legislative
categorization of the homosexual.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 52)
“However, there is little or no sense of historical agency in
Weeks’ or Cohen’s studies that would offer an insight to the
highly incidental nature of the inclusion of Clause 11 in the
Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. There is also little sense of
the actions of individuals in policy making in the Home Office,
the government department that had the responsibility for
interpreting and implementing the changes in legislation. Cohen
and Weeks present both the legislature and the Home Office as
monolithic and faceless engines of purposive intent in the
control of sex between men. This chapter, instead, analyses the
conflict, chaos and ambivalence that existed amongst ministers
- 157 -
and administrators at the Home Office in the late nineteenth
century, in respect to control and punishment of sex between
men.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-
1913, p. 87)
“In many respects, the inclusion of Clause 11 in the Criminal
law Amendment Act of 1885 cannot be viewed as a purposive
attempt by the state to construct a pejorative homosexual type
through legislation. However, historians such as Cohen and
Weeks emphasise the effects of this legislation, once
implemented, on broader perceptions of a homosexual identity.
Undoubtedly, the inclusion of Clause 11 did have some cultural
effects.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain,
1861-1913, p. 93)
“The introduction of Clause 11 in 1885 did ensure a catch-
all of sexual acts between males. However, in 1885, British
legislation did not create a specific legal category of a legal class
or type of men who would have sex with other men. Instead,
legislation criminalized, through the Buggery laws and Clause
11 in combination, a cascade of sexual acts perpetrated by any
man, ranging from anal penetration of other males (and
bestiality and the anal penetration of women) to mutual
masturbation between males.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 97)
“In addition, all male homosexuals were not, in any respect,
defined as a class in any legal arrangements following
Labouchere’s Amendment.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 112)
“Clause 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act was not, as
historians often claim, a revolution in jurisprudence. Nor did it
replace or supersede the Buggery laws as the basis of legislation.
There was little in the legal framework to suggest that the
legislature purposively constructed a homosexual category.
Indeed, it is remarkable how little British legislation altered in
this respect. Even the addition of Clause 11, without debate, to
the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1885 did not, as historians
claim, create a legal definition of a homosexual type that then,
- 158 -
in turn, constructed notions of this type to amongst the public.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 216)
4. Official Secrets Acts 1889
This legislation dealt indirectly with homosexuality in Great
Britain. This act allowed for keeping information from being
publicly disclosed for 100 years. It was used to keep
government information closed mainly foreign and military
secrets, but also any information chosen by the government.
This included information about trials of homosexual related
offenses.
“Home Offices dossiers of sentencing policies for bestiality
and sodomy between men were some of the first to be closed
using the Official Secrets Acts in 1889, along with foreign and
military secrets. These dossiers contain materials on this issue
relating to the late 1880s and were closed in 1889 using the one
hundred year closure rule, the most stringent tool secrecy
available to government. Another series of dossiers, containing
material about prosecution of sex between men relating to the
late 1870s, 1880s and the 1890s, but compiled between 1892
and 1898, were finally closed using the one hundred year rule in
1889. These dossiers, containing invaluable insights into late
Victorian official attitudes towards the matter of sex between
men, only became available in for view in 1989. The secrecy
surrounding this material is indicative of the imperative to keep
the discussion of sexuality between men out of the public
domain, utilizing the rarely implemented one hundred year rule.
The late Victorian administrations largely succeeded in this aim,
as the bulk of this historically important material does not even
appear, even in recent historiography.” (Brady, Masculinity and
Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 91)
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Hyde, H. Montgomery. A Tangled Web: Sex Scandals in British
Politics and Society. Constable. London, 1986.
Hyam, Ronald. Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience.
Manchester University Press. Manchester and New York, 1992.
Ivory, Yvonne. The Homosexual Revial of Renaissance Style.
Palgrave Macmillan. Basingstoke England and New York, 2009.

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Porter, Roy and Lesley Hall. The Facts of Life: The Creation of
Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950. Yale University Press.
New Haven and London, 1995.

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Homosexuality in Great Britain
Section Three: Scandals

Homosexuality in Great Britain: Scandals


This is the third sections in Homosexuality in Great Britain.
The time period being covered is when the concept of the
modern homosexual identity was coming into existence. What
was scandalous then, today could still be considered scandalous.
What was a part of the homosexual culture then is still a part of
the homosexual culture today, cross-dressing and sexual
relations between adults and adolescents. Today the term is
transgender, a concept that only now in the 2nd generation of
the modern homosexual movement is being advocated for as a
normal gender/sexual identity. How quickly will follow the
advocating for sex between adults and adolescents as being
normal sexual behavior? One only needs to study history and
specifically here speaking of homosexuality read a book
published in 1989, After the Ball How America Will Conquer
Its Fear and Hatred of gays in the ‘90s, by two self-identified
homosexuals.
“When you’re very different, and people hate you for it, this
is what you do: first you get your foot in the door, by being as
similar as possible; then, only then – when your one little
difference is finally accepted – can you start dragging in your
other peculiarities one by one. You hammer the wedge narrow
end first. As the saying goes, Allow the camel’s nose beneath
your tent, and his whole body will soon follow.” (Kirk and
Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and
Hatred of Gays in the ’90s, p. 146)
Scandals
“In these lines, Wilde ventriloquizes Lady Bracknell in order
to allude, obliquely and across gender, to a then notorious
transvestite/ homosexual scandal, in which two men Frederick
Park (aka Fanny) and Ernest Boulton (aka Stella) were arrested
in drag in front of the Strand Theatre and later prosecuted for
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conspiracy to commit a felony-the felony being of course
sodomy. Argued before Lord Chief Justice Cockburn, the case
Regina v. Boulton and others opened on 9 May 1871, lasted for
six days, aroused immense public interest, including extensive
newspaper coverage, and resulted, thanks to paucity of
evidence, in acquittal. Along with the Cleveland Street Scandal
of 1889, the Boulton and Park case was Victorian England’s
most prominent homosexual discursive event prior to the Wilde
trails of 1895.” (Craft, Another Kind of Love: Male Homosexual
Desire in English Discourse, 1850-1920, p. 122
“The Cleveland Street scandal exposed the sexual
exploitation in a West End male brothel of young telegraph
messenger lads, one whom was under 16 years of age. The
exposure of this scandal undoubtedly gained momentum in all
the newspapers because of the connection between the male
brothel and some of its clients, who were of the highest social
and political standing. But the attraction for the press was,
initially, the corrupting of telegraph boys by their elders.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 96)
“The three infamous Wilde trials five years later ran from 3
April to 25 May 1895. The first was a libel action taken by
Wilde against the Marquis of Queensberry, who had left a card
with the words posing as a sodomite [sic] for Wilde at his club,
the Albemarle. During the trial Queensberry and his team set
out to substantiate their plea of justification, prompting Wilde
to withdraw. As a result of the revelations in the libel case
Wilde was arrested, along with Alfred Taylor, one of his
associates, and charged under the Labouchere Amendment.
The two men were tried together between 29 April and 1 May,
but the jury could not agree on a verdict and the judged ordered
a retrial. This time Wilde and Taylor were tried separately, with
Taylor’s case heard first. The Solicitor General, Sir Frank
Lockwood, took up the case for the prosecution and the two
men were found guilty and sentenced to the maximum term of

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two years imprisonment with hard labour.” (Cook, London and
the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 51)
“One of the consistent themes during Wilde’s trials was the
youthfulness of his sexual partners, almost all of whom were
under the age of twenty-one and some were around sixteen or
seventeen.” (Robins, Oscar Wilde, The Great Drama of His Life:
How His Tragedy Reflected His Personality, p. 129)
1. 1871 Stella and Fanny
“Historians have tended to assume that no one knew of or
saw sodomy in the mid-nineteenth-century city and that, as a
result, no one knew what to make of cross-dressers like Ernest
Boulton and Frederick Park. The trial of these female
impersonators, and their subsequent acquittal on the charge of
conspiring to commit sodomy, is now one of the central parts
of any history of male homosexuality and is justly one of the
most famous criminal trials of the nineteenth century.
In April 1870, Ernest Boulton and Federick Park, dressed in
women’s clothes and in character as Stella and Fanny, were
arrested as they left the Strand theatre. It emerged at the
committal hearings that they had been in the habit of attending
fancy dress balls in fashionable hotels and walking the West
End in female attire, under the gaze of police, since at least
1867. They had even attended the 1869 Varsity boat race in
women’s clothes. It was soon revealed that Boulton had been
living with a penurious aristocrat named Lord Arthur Clinton,
who was the son of the fourth Duke of Newcastle, a former
government minister.” (Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual
Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p. 105)
“One of the most sensational trials of the century involved
two of the most famous cross-dressers in Victorian Britain.
Federick Park and Ernest Boulton were from respectable
backgrounds, Park being the son of a judge and Boulton the
son of a suburban clerk, but both were shown to have lived at
the centre of a group of men who dressed, and in some cases,
lived, as women. Their alleged crime was conspiring with
others, both known and unknown, to commit sodomy.”
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(Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and Diseases, 1800-1914, p. 121 in A Gay
History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages,
editor Matt Cook)
“The great homosexual scandal of the mid-Victoria period
involved another Member of Parliament, thirty-year-old Lord
Arthur Clinton, third son of the fifth Duke of Newcastle who
sat for Newark in the House of Commons. Living in the same
lodgings as Lord Arthur were two young men, Ernest Boulton,
aged twenty-two, the son of a London stockbroker, and his
inseparable companion, Frederick William Park, aged twenty-
three, whose father was a Master in the Court of Common
Please. Boulton and Park were both transvestite homosexuals,
who liked to play female parts in amateur theatricals and
frequently appeared in public dressed as women, rouged and
painted, in low cut dresses. Bouton, familiarly known as Stella
was an effeminate looking youth, extremely musical and the
possessor of a fine soprano voice. A servant in the lodgings
deposed that she thought Boulton was Lord Arthur’s wife and
certainly his lordship did nothing to dispel this idea; on the
contrary the evidence showed that he had visiting cards printed
in the name of Lady Arthur Clinton and a seal engraved with
the name Stella. Park, who was known as Fanny, was also on
terms of intimacy with Lord Arthur, as appeared in some of his
letters which the police seized.” (Montogomery, A Tangled Web:
Sex Scandals in British Politics and Society, p. 83-84)
“The Stella and Fanny trail has preoccupied the attentions
of all historians of British homosexuality. However, most
historians have, almost invariably, tended to concentrate on the
last of the trials of Regina v. Boulton and Others in
Westminster Hall in April and May of 1871. The ambivalence in
definitions of sodomy and apparent confusion amongst
authorities about the existence of sexuality between men in the
Westminster Hall trial has led most historians since Weeks to
conclude that there was little understanding of sex and sexuality
between men in British society at this time. This argument fits
neatly, in chronological terms¸ into arguments for the medico-
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legal construction of the homosexual towards the end of the
century.
However, the most recent study of the Stella and Fanny
trials by Charles Upchurch, strongly criticises the emphasis of
studies by Neil Bartlett, Weeks, Sinfield and innumerable other
works... [which] rarely move beyond the sensationalism of the
1871 newspaper reporting.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 68-69)
2. 1889 Cleveland Street scandal
“In the Cleveland Street scandal of 1889-1890 the police
and the courts faced criticism for their handling of suspects, as
will be shown later, and there was a lengthy exchange in
parliament about the case which drew attention to an apparent
increase in homosexual activity in the city.” (Cook, London and
the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 47)
“The Cleveland Street scandal was a protracted affair,
involving three trails and heated exchanges in parliament. It
began in July of 1889 when Charles Swinscow, a fifteen-year-
old telegraph boy working from the General Post Office
headquarters in St Martin-le-Grand, admitted being paid for sex
with men at 19 Cleveland Street, just north of Oxford Street.
Charles Hammond the proprietor of the Cleveland Street house
fled abroad once he had been implicated by Swinscow, but his
accomplice Charles Veck and the supposed ringleader at the
GPO, Henry Newlove were tried at the Old Bailey on 18
September 1889, under the Labouchere Amendment. They
were sentenced to nine and four months with hard labor
respectively, but the case went unreported.” (Cook, London and
the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 50)
“The Cleveland Street scandal exposed the sexual
exploitation in a West End male brothel of young telegraph
messenger lads, one whom was under 16 years of age. The
exposure of this scandal undoubtedly gained momentum in all
the newspapers because of the connection between the male
brothel and some of its clients, who were of the highest social
and political standing. But the attraction for the press was,
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initially, the corrupting of telegraph boys by their elders.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 96)
“The affair began on 4 July 1884, when a Post Office
messenger named Charles Swinscow was found to be in
possession of more money than he could have earned
legitimately. He was questioned and admitted that he had
received the money as payment for having sex with men at
Number 19 Cleveland Street, off Tottenham Court Road.
Another messenger named Alfred Newlove had induced
Sinscow and at least two others to go to the house with him for
the same reason. The house was run by a man named Charles
Hammond, assisted by the self-styled Reverend George Veck,
and its clients according to the Telegraph boys were army
officers, businessmen and aristocrats. On 7 July Newlove was
arrested. Attempts were also made to arrest Hammond but he
had already escaped to France and eventually ended up in
Seattle. The house at Number 19 was found by the police to be
closed.” (Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the
Nineteenth Century, p. 145)
“Five years later, similar charges of cover-up and vices in
high places rocked the Tory government and its supporters in
England. The affair began in the unlikely environment of the
postal sorting office at Mount Pleasant in central London. This
office, in London¸ sent out an army of youthful, uniformed
messengers to deliver telegrams throughout the city, By the
1800s, these youths, some as young as 14, were notorious for
the fact that their principal sideline was prostitution. When one
of them, Charles Swinscow, was discovered to have the
suspiciously large sum of eighteen schillings in his possession,
alarm bells began to ring. On being questioned about the
money, Swinscow admitted that another Telegraph boy named
Alfred Newlove had persuaded him to go to a house in
Cleveland street, just north of Soho, in order to have sex with
men for money. The house, at number 19, was run by two men,
Charles Hammond and the self-styled Reverend George Veck.
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Its clients, according to Swinscow, were army officers,
businessmen and aristocrats, among them Lord Euston and
Lord Arthur Somerset, the latter an enquerry to the Prince of
Wales and the son of the Duke of Beaufort. That was not all, as
some of the boys hinted that Prince Albert Victor, known as
Eddy the son of the Prince of Wales and second in line to the
throne, was also one of Hammond’s customers.” (Cocks, Secrets,
Crimes, and Diseases, 1800-1914, p. 131-132 in A Gay History of
Britain: Love and Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt
Cook)
“Once a man began to dabble, he discovered speedily that
there were brothels where men and boys could be hired. This
thriving underground world burst onto a rapt public when
arrests were made at a whorehouse at 19 Cleveland Street in
July 1889. The police stumbled onto the establishment in a kind
of haphazard, pell-mell manner. It all started with the
investigation into thefts at the central post office. A nineteen-
year-old telegraph messenger boy, Charles Swinscow, was
questioned by the police because he was spending more money
than he could possibly earn as a messenger (these were the days
before credit cards). Swinscow admitted quite openly that he
and a number of other boys (including the wonderfully named
Ernest Thickbroom) had been recruited by Harry Newlove (!), a
former messenger, to perform all manner of sex acts with
middle- and upper-class men at Cleveland Street. Most of these
boys had started in on this life with some sexual fun in the
lavatory at the central post office, with Newlove.” (Lutz,
Pleasure Bound Victorian Sex Rebels and the New Eroticism, p. 178-
179)
“Dubbed the Cleveland Street Affair after the small West
End street where, at number 19, a male brothel proffering
young postal employees to an upper-class and often titled male
clientele became the center of a controversy that not only
implicated severally highly placed men (including Prince Albert
Victor, second in line to the throne) in a web of – to use the
Public Prosecutor’s words – unnatural lust, but also put both
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the state prosecution and the public newspaper coverage
themselves on trial. The circumstances of the affair are rather
complex: on 4 July 1889, while pursuing an investigation of a
small theft from the Central Telegraph Office, the police
interrogated a fifteen-year messenger boy named
Charles Swinscow who appeared to have more money in his
possession than his meager salary could account for. Under
questioning Swinscow revealed that he had earned the money
by going to bed with gentleman at the house in Cleveland Street
run by a man called Charles Hammond. He also volunteered
that he knew of at least two other telegraph boys who had
pursued similar outside employment and noted that they had all
been introduced to the practice by another messenger, Henry
Newlove (!). These revelations led to a further investigation
culminating in the prosecution of Newlove and an older man,
George Veck, for procuring boys to commit diverse acts of
grow indecency with another [male] person. The third man,
Charles Hammond was also indicted but fled the country to
avoid persecution.” (Cohen, Talk on the Wilde Side: Toward a
Genealogy of a Discourse on Male Sexualities, p. 121-122)
“Towards the middle of the eighties a male brothel was
opened by a certain Charles Hammond in a house at 19
Cleveland Street, off Tottenham Court Road. It was soon doing
highly successful business, its patrons including various
aristocratic and well-to-do homosexuals, including, so it was
rumoured, a member of the British royal family. (The suspected
royalty was the twenty-five year old Prince Eddy, later Duke of
Clarence, eldest son of the Prince of Wales.) A particular
speciality of the house in Cleveland Street was telegraph boys¸
who were willing to go to bed with the customers¸ besides
delivering telegraphs, for which in those days they only earned a
few shillings a week. There was also more than a hint of
blackmail about the place.
The police got on to Hammond’s trail after being called by
in by the postal authorities to investigate the disappearance of
some money from the General Post Office in the summer of
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1889. Suspicion fell on one of the telegraph boys, who was
observed to have more money to spend than his modest weekly
earnings permitted. The boy was questioned by the police and
under interrogation confessed that he had got money from
Hammond, and that he was not the only one to receive
payment for obliging Hammond’s customers. Other lads were
questioned in turn, among them one called Algernon Alleys,
who had received a number of comprising letters from a certain
Mr. Brown.” (Hyde, The Other Love, p. 123-124)
“Hammond was thus indicted along with Newlove and
Veck on thirteen counts of procuring six boys-Wright,
Swinscow, Thickbroom¸ Perkins, Barber and Allies-to commit
divers acts of gross indecency with another person between 20
December 1888 and 25 March 1889. There were also counts
charging conspiracy to commit the same offense. In addition
Veck was specifically charged with committing acts of gross
indecency with Allies and Barber, contrary to section 11 of the
Criminal Law Amendment Act, and Newlove with similar acts
with Swinscow as well as attempted buggery of Wright.” (Hyde,
The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 47)
“Newlove and Veck were tried, on 18 September, for
procuring the Telegraph boys and attempting to commit
sodomy and were respectively sentenced to four and nine
months imprisonment.” (Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual
Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p. 145)
“At the end of August, in an attempt to collect
corroborating evidence against Somerset, the police went to
interview another boy named in the enquiry, Algernon Allies,
who was living with his family at Sudbury in Suffolk.
Unfortunately for them, Allies had been tipped off about their
visit and had destroyed a number in incriminating letters.”
(Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth
Century, p. 145)
Charles Hammond, 34 years old. He was a professional
male prostitute, blackmailer and brothel-keeper. Hammond was
married to a French prostitute known as “Madame Caroline”,
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by whom he had two sons. Occupied the house at 19 Cleveland
Street from the latter part of 1888 until his flight to Paris on 6
July 1889 and then to American in October 1889 and settled in
Seattle. He fled to Paris and then to America with a boy named
Ames.
George Daniel Veck, 39 years old. Veck was an ex-Post
Office employee who posed as a clergyman and lived with
Hammond at 19 Cleveland Street. He was sentenced to 9
months hard labor under Clause 11 in the Criminal Law
Amendment Act of 1885.
Algernon Edward Allies, 18 years old. Allies lived and
worked as a waiter at the Marlbough Club and was dismissed
for stealing. Allies then lived at 19 Cleveland Street with
Hammond before moving home with his parents. He was
befriended by Lord Arthur Somerset at the Marlbough Club
where Somerset was a member and given money for support by
him for sexual favors, which Allies reported to the police. Allies
was under police protection for several months.
“He was a good-looking curly-haired youth of twenty who
had been out of a job for the past six months or so during that
time had been living at home with his parents. Before that he
had been employed as a house boy in the Marlborough Club,
where he had attracted the attention of Lord Arthur Somerset.
He had also stolen some money from the club premises as a
result of which he was arrested and charged with theft. He
appealed to Lord Arthur for help, and instead of being sent to
prison, he was bound over, Lord Arthur going surety for his
good behaviour.” (Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 35-36)
George Barber: “But there was a boy there aged seventeen
who gave his name as George Barber and described himself as
Veck’s Private Secretary.” (Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p.
34)
George and Veck lived together after Veck had left 19
Cleveland Street. Veck also passed him off as his son.
Henry Horace Newlove, 17 years old. Newlove worked as a
clerk in the GPO Secretary’s office. He initiated and committed
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sexual acts with Swinscow and Wright in a basement lavatory in
the General Post Office.
Telegraph boys: 1) William Meech Perkins. Telegraph boy at
the General Post Office, procured by Newlove for Hammond,
suspended from duty and dismissed in December of 1889. 2)
Charles Thomas Swinscow, 15 years old. Telegraph boy at the
General Post Office, swore information against Lord Arthur
Somerset, suspended from duty and dismissed in December of
1889. 3) Charle Ernst Thickbroom, 17 years old. Telegraph boy
at the General Post Office, swore information against Lord
Arthur Somerset, suspended from duty and dismissed in
December of 1889. 4) George Alma Wright, 17 years old.
Telegraph boy at the General Post Office, procured by
Newlove for Hammond, suspended from duty and dismissed in
December of 1889.
Lord Arthur Somerset: Lord Arthur was a Major in the
Royal Horse Guards and superintendent of the Prince of Wale’s
stables and known familiarly as Podge. He was the 3rd son of
the 8th Duke of Beaufort. Somerset left England permanently,
18 October 1889, resigning his commission and appointment in
the Prince of Wale’s household prior to the issue of a warrant
for his arrest. He eventually settled at Hyeres on the French
Riviera, where he died and was buried.
3. 1895 Oscar Wilde trials
“Four days after the first night, on 18th February, he drove
with a witness to the Albemarle Club in Dover Street, of which
Oscar was a member, and left his card with the Hall Porter to
be handed to Oscar. On the card he wrote the words: To Oscar
Wilde, posing as a sodomite [sic]. It transpired later that the
offending word, whether because of its mis-spelling, or because
he was unfamiliar with it, did not convey any meaning to the
Hall porter; the circumstances were, however, so unusual, that
he put it in an envelope, addressed it to Oscar Wilde, Esq. And
stuck it in the letter-rack in the hall. And it was there Oscar
received it ten days later, on his return from visiting friends in
the country. Here it was that he made the fatal mistake that
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ruined him. He should have torn up the card, dismissed the
incident from his mind and let Queensbury brood on in his
fury.” (Holland, Oscar Wilde and His World, p. 102)
“The facts of the case are well known and amply
documented and commented on. Wilde’s trials progressed
through three phases: the action for criminal libel he intitated
against the Marquess of Queensbury; his persecution for sexual
offenses as codendant with Alfred taylor, which ended in a
hung jury; and a second trial of him alone leading to his
conviction for ‘gross indecency’ and imprisonment for two
years at hard labor. Two aspects of Wilde’s case distinguished it
from the earlier scandals involving love between men: his
memorable writing and his extraordinary celebrity.” (Kaplan,
Sodom on the Thames, Sex, Love, and Scandal in Wilde Times, p. 226)
“The three infamous Wilde trials five years later ran from 3
April to 25 May 1895. The first was a libel action taken by
Wilde against the Marquis of Queensberry, who had left a card
with the words posing as a sodomite [sic] for Wilde at his club,
the Albemarle. During the trial Queensberry and his team set
out to substantiate their plea of justification, prompting Wilde
to withdraw. As a result of the revelations in the libel case
Wilde was arrested, along with Alfred Taylor, one of his
associates, and charged under the Labouchere Amendment.
The two men were tried together between 29 April and 1 May,
but the jury could not agree on a verdict and the judged ordered
a retrial. This time Wilde and Taylor were tried separately, with
Taylor’s case heard first. The Solicitor General, Sir Frank
Lockwood, took up the case for the prosecution and the two
men were found guilty and sentenced to the maximum term of
two years imprisonment with hard labour.” (Cook, London and
the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 51)
“Wilde was prosecuted to conviction under the Criminal
Law Amendment Act, 1885, Section 11, which made
homosexual acts between consenting males a criminal offence
whether committed in public or in private, the section in
question having been proposed by Henry Labouchere, editor of
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Truth, and agreed to in a thinly attended House in the small
hours of an August morning on the eve of the parliamentary
summer recess.” (Hyde, A Tangled Web: Sex Scandals in British
Politics and Society, p. 208)
“It is likely that Wilde first became a practicing homosexual
in 1886 as the result of his meeting Robert Ross; the latter
subsequently admitted to Frank Harris that he was the first boy
Oscar ever had, and there seems to be no reason to doubt this
statement, confirmed by a similar admission to Arthur
Ransome, for whose well-known critical study of Wilde Ross
supplied considerable information.” (Hyde, The Other Love, p.
141)
1st trial: Wilde vs Queensberry
“The cause of Oscar Wilde’s first dramatic appearance at
the Old Bailey was the friendship he had formed with Lord
Alfred Douglas, third son of the eighth Marquess of
Queensbury. The father objected to this association on his
son’s part, and after numerous attempts to break it up, Lord
Queensbury finally resorted to a characteristically vulgar and
offensive action which was calculated to bring the issue to a
head. On the afternoon of 18th February 1895 he called at
Wilde’s club in London and left with the porter a card in which
he had written some defamatory words. Wilde was handed the
card on his next visit to the club, and, having taken legal advice,
he embarked on the course which was eventually to land him in
prison and his friend in exile.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde,
p. 62)
“The case of Oscar Wilde versus the Marquess of
Queensbury opened at the Old Bailey on 3 April 1895. As
might be expected a suit between a world-famous dramatist and
a notorious and highly eccentric sportsman who was also a lord
attracted a great attention, and the court was full to
overflowing, although there were no ladies present.” (Hichens,
Oscar Wilde’s Last Chance – The Dreyfus Connection, p. 49)
“On 3rd April the case of Regina v. the Marquess of
Queensbury was opened at the Old Bailey before Mr Justice
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Henn Collins and lasted three days, at the end of which Sir
Edward Clarke, seeing the hopelessness of the position,
withdrew from the case and a formal verdict of Not Guilty was
returned in Queensbury favour. From that point the real
debacle began.” (Holland, Oscar Wilde and His World, p. 105)
“On hearing them, Humphreys before taking the case asked
if there was any truth in Queensberry’s libelous accusation.
Oscar said there was not; a warrant was obtained; and on
March 2 Queensberry was arrested, and charged at the
Marlborough Street Police Court with criminal libel. The case
was then adjourned for a week.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p.
143)
“The judge insisted on a straightforward verdict of guilty or
not guilty: Carson, Clarke, and the judge all agreed on a not-
guilty verdict for Queensberry, which the judge directed the jury
to bring in.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p. 154)
“Finally Carson, with the coolness of a poker player,
produced his trump card; he said he would call as witnessed the
boys who had been procured for Wilde. Oscar was thereby
forced on the defensive and Carson had the upper hand. What
enjoyment was it to you to entertain grooms and coachmen?
The pleasure for me was being with those who are young,
bright, happy, careless and free. I do not like the sensible and I
do not like the old. From this moment he was no longer
believed when he posed as the champion of youth. Besides he
had just shocked the Victorians by something far more
important than his attachment to Lord Alfred, he had
transgressed the social code: a gentleman does not sit at the
same table with people of lower orders, he can give them tips,
but not cigarette-cases, He had betrayed his class and for that
he would not be forgiven.” (Jullian, Oscar Wilde, p. 321)
2nd trial: Regenia v. Wilde and Taylor on 22 counts of
gross indecency
“The country had in effect allowed Oscar to leave and he
had not done so. Now it was to visit upon him all the wrath of
the English in one of the periodical fits of morality which
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Macaulay had found so ridiculous in Byron’s time seventy years
earlier.” (Morely, Oscar Wilde, p. 119-120)
“Schematically, the judicial process can be chronicled as
follows: After his initial arrest (5 April) and subsequent formal
indictment (25 April) for committing acts of gross indecency
and conspiring to commit such acts along with Alfred Taylor-an
unemployed gentleman of Wilde’s acquaintance who had
recently run through a small inheritance, arrested on 6 April,
and additionally charged with procuring young men for Wilde-
the two defendants were remanded to police custody without
bail until the indecisive conclusion of the first prosecution on 1
May.” (Cohen, Talk on the Wilde Side: Toward a Genealogy of a
Discourse on Male Sexualities, p. 175-176)
“The following morning, 6 April, Wilde was charged at Bow
Street with offences under what became known as the
blackmailer’s charter namely Section 11 of the Criminal Law
Amendment Act, 1885, for the protection of minors it having
been established in court that some of the panthers were less
than 18.” (Morely, Oscar Wilde, p. 119)
“On April 6, Oscar appeared in police court to be charged
under a section of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885,
which involved offenses against male persons.” (Kronenberger,
Oscar Wilde, p. 161)
“When it opened Oscar and Alfred Taylor were linked
together under a single indictment of twenty-five counts that
involved gross decency, conspiracy, and misconducts with
young men.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p. 163)
“Wilde and Taylor were charged under a single indictment
containing twenty-five counts and alleging: (a) the commission
of acts of gross indecency by both men contrary to the Criminal
Law Amendment Act, 1885, section 11; and (b) conspiracy to
procure the commission of such acts by Wilde. There was a
further charge against Taylor of having acted as a procurer for
Wilde. The first nine counts of the indictment referred to
misconduct with the two Parker brothers; the next three to
Federick Atkins; two more incidents at the Savoy Hotel; two to
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the young man Sidney Mavor; three to charges of conspiracy;
five to the blackmailer Alfred Wood; and the last to Wilde’s
conduct in regard to Edward Shelly. In regard to Taylor, the
most series counts in the indictment charged him with
attempting to commit the felony of sodomy with both the
Parkers. To all these counts the prisoners pleaded not guilty.”
(Hyde, Oscar Wilde: A Biography, p. 234)
“Oscar’s trial started on 26th April and lasted five days, at
the end of which the jury disagreed and a verdict of Not Guilty
was returned on certain counts. So the whole wretched business
had to be gone through again, about three weeks later.”
(Holland, Oscar Wilde and His World, p. 105)
“Clarke made an eloquent closing speech asking for a
renowned and accomplished man of letters (happily he had not
seen the one to Bosie) to be freed of any connection with the
perjurer and blackmailers trying to ruin his reputation, and the
jury was sent out; but (and this remains some tribute to Clarke’s
skills as an advocate) they failed to agree on a verdict.” (Morely,
Oscar Wilde, p. 125)
“The trial lasted five days. Sir Edward Clarke protested that
the charge of conspiracy was unfair, for, should it be
maintained, the two defendants who sat together in the dock,
could not be called as witnesses. This the judge ruled against,
but Clarke obtained an acquittal on the charge itself.”
(Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p. 163-164)
“The Hellenist’s discourse alone was a scaffold strained to
its limits by the task of supporting the imaginary of criminalized
and pathologized late-nineteenth-century homosexuals becomes
clear if we return to Wilde’s speech from the dock about ‘the
love that dare not speak its name’ and place it in its immediate
context-the final day of Wilde’s first trial on 22 counts of gross
indecency. The speech is made at the end of three days of
unrelenting testimony regarding Wilde’s sexual encounters with
young men. Witnesses have described his proclivities
graphically; how he had anal intercourse with them, fondled
their genitalia, tried have them perform fellatio on him, or
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enjoyed having them – in the words of Charles Parker – ‘[toss]
him off’, and hotel workers have described the ‘peculiar’ stains
left on the sheets in Wilde’s rooms. Nineteen people have
helped the prosecution argue its case that Wilde indulged
regularly in ‘abominable traffic’, ‘sodomy’, ‘filthy practices’ and
vice.’” (Ivory, The Homosexual Revival of Renaissance Style, 1850-
1930, p. 16)
“Before the jury retired to consider their verdict, Mr Justice
Charles put four questions to them which he then wrote down
and handed to the foreman”
1. Do you think that Wilde committed indecent acts with
Edward Shelley and Alfred Wood and with a person or persons
unknown at the Savoy Hotel, or with Charles Parker?
2. Did Taylor procure or attempt to procure the
commission of these acts or any of them.
3. Did Wilde and Taylor or either of them attempt to get
Atkins to commit indecencies?
4. Did Taylor commit indecent acts with Charles Parker or
William Parker?
The jury then withdrew, and at the foreman’s request the
judge ordered that they should be provided with a reasonable
amount of food and drink to sustain them during their
deliberations. It was just after half-past one when they filed out
into the jury room. They returned to court at a quarter-past
five, having sent a message to the judge that they had arrived at
a negative finding in regard to the third question above, but
they disagreed about the remainder.” (Hyde, Oscar Wilde: A
Biography, p. 266)
“But after not quite four hours the jury returned to the
courtroom, having found it impossible to agree.”
(Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p. 166)
“Before they left the box, the jury returned a formal verdict
of ‘Not guilty’ on the counts relating to Atkins, and also on
those concerning Mavor, which had been struck out of the
indictment on the judge’s directions for lack of evidence, as well
as the conspiracy counts, which had been withdrawn by the
- 178 -
prosecution. This disposed of nine counts in all, out of a total
of twenty-five in the indictment which the prisons had to
answer.” (Hyde, Oscar Wilde: A Biography, p. 267)
3rd trial: The second criminal trial against Wilde
“The second trial opened on May 20 at the Old Bailey.”
(Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p. 170)
“Standing in the dock on May 22, Oscar pleaded Not Guilty
to the charges against him, which was now reduced to acts of
gross indecency with three men who were named and two who
were unknown.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p. 171)
“Wilde entered the dock at the Old Bailey to stand trial for
the second time on 22 May 1895. There were certain notable
differences from the previous occasion. The counts relating to
Aktins and Mavor had likewise disappeared, and with them the
testimony of these youths-Atkins, because he had perjured
himself in the witness box, and Mavor, because he had
persisted in denying that any indecencies had ever taken place
between himself and Wilde. Nevertheless, the accused still had
a formidable series of eight accounts to meet. Four of these
charged him with committing acts of gross indecency with
Charles Parker at the Savoy Hotel, St. James’s Place, and
elsewhere; two counts charged him with committing similar
offences with unknown persons in the Savoy Hotel; one count
related to alleged indecency with Wood in Tite Street; and the
final count concerned Shelly.” (Hyde, Oscar Wilde: A Biography,
p. 277)
“Wilde entered the dock at Old Bailey to stand trial for the
second time on 22 May 1895. There were certain noticeable
differences from the previous occasion. The defendant no
longer had to meet any charges of conspiracy. The counts
relating to Atkins and Mayor had likewise disappeared from the
indictment, and with the testimony of these two youths –
Atkins, because he had perjured himself in the witness box, and
Mayor, because he had persisted in denying that any indecencies
had ever taken place between himself and Wilde. Nevertheless,
the accused still had a formable series of eight counts to meet.
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Four of these charged him with committing acts of gross
indecency with Charles Parker at the savory Hotel, St James’s
Place, and elsewhere; two counts charged him with committing
similar offences with unknown persons in the Savory Hotel;
one count related to alleged indecency with wood in Tite Street;
and the final count concerned Shelley.” (Hyde, The Trials of
Oscar Wilde, p. 233-234)
“There had been twenty-five counts against the two
prisoners when they were tried jointly. In the second trial,
which began on 20 May before Mr Justice Wills and in which
the prisoners were tried separately, the counts against Taylor
were reduced to fourteen and those against Wilde to eight, this
being due mainly to the dropping of the conspiracy counts by
the prosecution.” (Hyde, Lord Alfred Douglas: A Biography, p. 87-
88)
“But very soon after this they returned to deliver their
verdict: Oscar was found guilty of the seven charges against
him in the indictment.” (Kronenberger, Oscar Wilde, p. 173)
“The second trial started on 20th May at the Old Bailey
before Mr Justice Wills and a jury of 12 men. It was dreary
repetition of the first trial and dragged on for 6 days. The judge
was obviously against Oscar from the very start and he summed
up dead against him. The jury bought in a verdict of guilty, and
the learned judged addressed Oscar Wilde with such venom as
has seldom been heard in a British Court of Law:
‘... It is no use for me to address you. People who can do
these things must be dead to all sense of shame ... I shall be
expected to pass the severest sentence that the law allows. In
my judgment it is totally inadequate for such a case as this. The
sentence of this Court is that you be imprisoned and kept to
hard labour for two years.’” (Holland, Oscar Wilde and His World,
p. 109)
Bibliography
Brady, Sean. Masculinity and the Construction of Male
Homosexuality in Modern Britain Before the First World War, p. 115-

- 180 -
120 in Masculinity and the Other: Historical Perspectives, editors
Heather Ellis and Jessica Meyer.
Ellis, Heather and Jessica Meyer, editors. Masculinity and the
Other: Historical Perspectives. Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Newcastle upon Tyne, UK, 2009.
Harris, Frank. Oscar Wilde. Michigan State University Press.
1959.
Hichens, Mark. Oscar Wilde’s Last Chance – The Dreyfus
Connection. The Pentland Press. Edinburgh, Cambridge,
Durham, USA, 1999.
Holland Vyvyan. Oscar Wilde and His World. Charles
Scribner’s Sons. New York, 1960.
Hyde, H. Montgomery. The Trials of Oscar Wilde. Dover
Publications, INC. New York, 1962.
Hyde, H. Montgomery. The Other Love: An Historical and
Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain. Heineman.
London, 1970.
Hyde, H. Montgomery. Oscar Wilde: A Biography. Farrar,
Staus and Giroux. New York, 1975.
Hyde, H. Montgomery. The Cleveland Street Scandal. W. H.
Allen. London, 1976.
Hyde, H. Montgomery. Lord Alfred Douglas: A Biography.
Methuen. London, 1984.
Hyde, H. Montgomery. A Tangled Web: Sex Scandals in British
Politics and Society. Constable. London, 1986.
Jullian, Philippe. Translated by Violet Wyndham. Oscar
Wilde. The Viking Press. New York, 1969.
Kaplan, Morris B. Sodom on the Thames, Sex, Love, and Scandal
in Wilde Times. Cornell University Press. Ithaca and London,
2005.
Kronenberger, Louis. Oscar Wilde. Little, Brown and
Company. London and Toronto, 1976.
Morley, Sheridan. Oscar Wilde. Holt, Rinehart and Winston.
New York, 1976.

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Robins, Ashley H. Oscar Wilde, The Great Drama of His Life:
How His Tragedy Reflected His Personality. Sussex Academic Press.
Brighton, Portland and Toronto, 2011.
Winwar, Frances. Oscar Wilde and the Yellow’ Nineties. Harper
and Brothers Publishers. New York and London, 1940.

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Homosexuality as a Crime

In this series, Homosexuality as a crime, the majority of the


information and sources are from England. In the recent few
years coming from England has been a significant interest in
masculinity, resulting in the publication of numerous articles
and books, which includes new historical information on the
issue of homosexuality. What is of particular importance is that
unlike most of the earlier historical research on homosexuality
that was conducted and published by those whom self-identify
as gay/lesbian, these more recent sources of information are by
historians and sociologists who do not self-identify as
gay/lesbian.
“Homosexuality, and by implication homosexuals, have
been placed outside prevailing social structures as defined by
most theological, legal, and medical models. In Western culture,
homosexual activity was first categorized as a sin. With the rise
of materialism and the decline of religion, it became a
transgression against the social, not the moral order: a crime.”
(Bronski, Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility, p. 8)
“British legislation, on close examination, was archaic and
highly ambivalent in respect to any kind of homosexual
category. The Buggery Act of 1553 remained the basis for
legislation until 1967. Also, the infamous Criminal Law
Amendment of 1885 simply made all sex acts between all males
criminal, rather than indicating any kind of special legal
classification. In comparison, Continental states appeared to
tolerate a burgeoning scientific discourse on the matter.
Legislation in these states either allowed consensual sex
between male adults, or had legislative arrangements that were
more tolerant than Britain. For instance, France had
decriminalized sex between consulting adult males with the
implementation of the Codes Napoleon 1805. Also, the Codes
Napoleon were adopted by Italy in 1889.” (Brady, Masculinity
and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 27)
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“Contrary to what many historians claim, legislative
developments in late nineteenth-century Britain did not
construct a legal category of the male homosexual or all male
homosexuals as a class. Similarly, science and medicine in
Britain did not construct a pathologised category of the
homosexual. These disciplines distinctively eschewed attempts
to develop inversion theorization and rejected Continental
developments in this field. This notwithstanding, historians
have emphasised that the legal-medical classification of male
homosexuality prevalent in Britain in the 1950s originated in
the late nineteenth century. The concept of the male
homosexual pathology or normality amongst many British
doctors in the 1950s can be traced to nineteenth-century
developments in sex-psychology. This concept amongst British
psychiatrists and a grudging acceptance of the ideas of Feud
and Ellis, was a development of the years following the Second
World. This book has attempted to demonstrate that the
pejorative medico-legal construction of modern homosexual
identities was a Continental European and North America
development, stoutly resisted in Britain. Nineteenth-century
British society could not contemplate permitting discussion of
the phenomenon, even in pejorative terms, for fear of giving
credence and admitting that the phenomenon existed among
British men at all.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in
Britain, 1861-1913, p. 157)
“Why at the turn of the century was it felt necessary to
criminalize a type of person-the homosexual-rather than a
specific acts that anyone might commit? In part because a host
of commentators, fearful of the social changes associated with
an increasing urbanized, bureaucratized world, had raised the
cry that masculinity was at risk. Viewing their overcivilized,
increasingly feminized world as unhealthy, such observers
viewed men with feminized tendencies with unprecedented
loathing. Self-doubts instead of confidence in short fueled the
strident Victorian claims that there existed clear-cut male and
female roles, to be male was assertive; to be female, passive.
- 184 -
Inversion was determined to consist of a reversal of such roles.
Therefore the homosexual, it was believed, would necessarily be
effeminate and given to wearing women’s clothes; the lesbian
would be mannish.” (McLaren, Angus, The Trials of Masculinity:
Policing Sexual Boundaries, 1870-1930, p. 219)
“Until 1855 the only law dealing directly with homosexual
behavior was that relating to sodomy and legally, at least, little
distinction was made between sodomy between man and
woman, man and beast, and man and man. This had been a
capital crime from the 1530s, when the state incorporated
traditional ecclesiastical sanctions into law as part of the many
assumption of many of the powers of the Medieval church.”
(Weeks, Movements of Affirmation: Sexual Meanings and Homosexual
Identities, p. 71 in Passion and Power: Sexuality in History, editors
Kathy Peiss and Christina Simmons with Robert A. Padgug)
“The changing legal and ideological situations were crucial
markers in this development. The 1861 Offences Against the
Person Act removed the death penalty for sodomy (which had
not been used since the 1830s), replacing it by sentences of
between ten years and life. But in 1885 the famous Labouchere
Amendment to the Criminal Law Amendment act made all
male homosexual activities (acts of gross undency) punishable
by up to two years in hard labor. And in 1889, the laws on
importuning for immoral purposes were tightened and
effectively applied to male homosexuals (this was clarified by
the Criminal Law Amendment act of 1912 with respect to
England and Wales-Scotland has different provisions). Both
acts significantly extended the legal controls on male
homosexuality. Though formally less severe than capital
punishment for sodomy, the new legal situation probably
affected a much wider circle of people. A series of sensational
scandals, culminating in the trials of Oscar Wilde, drew a sharp
dividing line between permissible forms of behavior, but at the
same time the publicity given to these trials contributed to the
new creation of male homosexual identity.” (Weeks, Movements
of Affirmation: Sexual Meanings and Homosexual Identities, p. 72-73
- 185 -
in Passion and Power: Sexuality in History, editors Kathy Peiss and
Christina Simmons with Robert A. Padgug)
Legislation
“Legislation against sodomy was in place and enforced well
before the Criminal Law Amendment Act was passed in 1885.
The pre-existing legislation was based on the 1533 statue
against sodomy with mankind or beast and had been modified
in the course of the nineteenth century. In 1828 it was re-
enacted in the Offenses Against the Person Act, a piece of
legislation which covered murder, abortion, rape, and sex with
girls under twelve. Further offenses were added to the Act in
1861 and sodomy was dealt with a new unnatural offenses
subsection. The death penalty was replaced with imprisonment
for between ten years and life, whilst attempted sodomy or any
decent assault upon any male person carried a sentence of
between three and ten years imprisonment or up to two years
with hard labour. When the Criminal Law Amendment Act was
added to the statue books in 1885 these existing measures
remained in place and section 11 – the so-called Labouchere
Amendment came as an ill-defined addendum.” (Cook, London
and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 42)
“There is little to suggest in the legal framework for
prosecuting sex between men that the British legislature, in the
late nineteenth century, purposively constructed through a law
concept of a homosexual identity. Labouchere’s amendment to
the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1885 did not, as
historians have claimed, create a legal definition of a
homosexual type that then, in turn, constructed notions of this
type amongst the general public. The general public, or at least
significant sections of urban dwellers demonstrated, throughout
the second half of the nineteenth century, a well-developed and
tacit understanding of the guises and location of this sexuality.
These males offended and threatened developing perceptions
of what was required to attain full adult masculinity. The
legislature perpetuated, throughout the second half of the
nineteenth century, an archaic, highly inefficient and ambivalent
- 186 -
legal framework for prosecuting sex between males. The
importance of protecting and bolstering masculinity as central
to gender and class structures meant that it was not in the
interests of the British state to enquire to deeply or to prosecute
this crime efficiently. Even the legislation controlling males
soliciting males in 1898 only classified the guilty as vagabonds
and rogues, along with pimps, dossers, beggars and female
prostitutes. Legal clarification and classification of sexuality
between males would have revealed and publicized that this
sexuality existed at all” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality
in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 115-116)
1) Buggery Act of 1533
“The Buggery Act of 1533, formally An Acte for the
punysshement of the vice of Buggerie, was an Act of the
Parliament of England that was passed during the reign of
Henry VIII. It was the country’s first civil sodomy law, such
offences having previously been dealt with by the courts of the
Catholic Church. The Act defined buggery as an unnatural
sexual act against the will of God and man. This was later
defined by the courts to include only anal penetration and
bestiality. The Act remained in force until its repeal in 1828.
Buggery remained a capital offence in England and Wales until
the enactment of the Offences against the Person Act 1861; the
last execution for the crime took place in 1836.
As will be seen, popular prejudice against homosexuality
throughout Britain has largely derived from the Bible and
Biblical interpretation, as it has in America. But in the legal
sphere, the enactments of the two principal statues penalizing
homosexual behaviour-in 1533 and 1885-were to a great extent
fortuitous, and as drafted they were not primarily designed to
punish homosexuals for their heinousness of their acts. The
earlier statue was an example of power politics aimed at the
Church by Henry VIII’s minister Thomas Cromwell. The
declared purpose of the Act of 1885 was to protect women and
girls from the perils of prostitution and white slavery, and the
clause concerning gross indecency between consenting male
- 187 -
adults in private was only slipped into the measure as the result
of an amendment moved by a Private Member in the course of
a late sitting of the House of Commons, the significance of
which was not generally appreciated at the time. Neither statue
was inspired by any particular wish of the legislature to punish
homosexual behaviour, but originated in quite different
considerations.” (Hyde, The Other Love: An Historical and
Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain, p. 5-6)
“Furthermore, the prevalence of homosexual conduct is
attested by the fact that sodomy was regarded from early times
as an ecclesiastical offence, although it did not become a felony
and thus subject to ordinary criminal jurisdiction until the reign
of Henry VIII.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p. 349)
“It was a short piece of legislation, which originated in the
House of Lords, declaring the detestable and abominable Vice
of Buggery committed with mankind or beast to be a felony
subject to the penalties of death and loss of property
customarily suffered by felons, without the benefits of clergy,
which meant that offenders in holy orders could not claim to be
tried in ecclesiastical courts.” (Hyde, The Other Love: An
Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in Britain, p. 39)
“As we have seen, sodomy had been made a civil offence in
1533 by Henry VIII, a law confirmed during the reign of
Elizabeth I. Although the 1533 Act did not attempt to define
what was meant by buggery, later jurists attempted to specify
what the act of sodomy actually described in law.” (Cocks,
Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.
32)
“The Act (25 Henry VIII, c. 6) was repealed in 1547 by
Edward VI, along with other legislation passed in his father’s
time, but it was re-enacted in 1562 (5 Elizabeth c. 17), when
Parliament ordained that it was to be perpetual. It remained a
capital offence until the beginning of the nineteenth century,
when the death penalty was abolished for this as for many other
offences at the instigation of Sir Robert Peel, then Home
Secretary.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p. 350)
- 188 -
“However, in the eighteen-century the judiciay went by laws
passed by the Tudor monarchs. In the first of these, a
temporary measure passed in 1553, buggery with man or beast
became a capital offense. This ruling was made perament in
1540. It was than refined during the reign of Edward VI, only
to be repealed by Mary Tudor, along with other new legislation
that had been passed by Henry VIII. Under Elizabeth I it was
placed on the statue books again in 1562 where it stayed until
1861 when it was decided to replace the death penalty for
convicted offenders with imprisonment for at least ten years,
and possibly for life.” (Goldsmith, The Worst of Crimes:
Homosexuality and the Law in Eighteenth-Century London, p. 31)
“In England¸ from the reign of King Henry VIII to that of
Queen Victoria, those convicted of the abominable crime of
buggery or sodomy were liable to suffer death and in practice
frequently did so. In 1861 (1889 in Scotland) the maximum
penalty was changed to life imprisonment. By the Criminal Law
Amendment Act of 1885, homosexual acts of gross indecency
not amounting to buggery, which had hitherto not been
regarded as a crime at all, were made subject to a maximum of
two years in imprisonment with hard labour.” (Hyde, The Other
Love: An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality in
Britain, p. 5)
“The Buggery Act remained the basis of legislation for
prosecuting acts of anal sex between men until 1967. When sex
between two men in private was decriminalised for men over
21, the Sexual Offenses Act of 1967 did not distinguish
between anal sex and other forms of sexual contact between
men. It is arguable that this legislation, in 1967, was the first
English lawto distinguish a class of men who sex with other
men. The 1967 legislation accommodated the sexual lifestyles
of men who, as long as they conducted their various and
consenting sexual acts in private and the sexual encounter
numbered no more than two persons, would not be
prosecuted.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain,
1861-1913, p. 94)
- 189 -
2) Offences Against the Person Act: 1828, 1861, 1885,
1889
“The major legislative changes were in 1828, 1861, 1885 and
1889. The first of these changed the requirements of evidence
in sodomy trials from penetration and emission in the body to
penetration only. The 1861 Offences Against the Person Act
formally abolished the death penalty for sodomy and
introduced instead life sentences of penal servitude. It also
formalized the maximum and minimum sentences for indecent
assault by introducing a prison term of between two and ten
years as the standard sentence. In 1885, Labouchere’s
amendment ostensibly introduced the new offence of gross
indecency, but did not enlarge the scope of the law any further.
Neither did it affect sentencing practice in a noticeable fashion.
The law regarding soliciting was changed in 1889, making it
possible to prosecute someone for importuning’ a homosexual
offence.” (Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the
Nineteenth Century, p. 30-31)
“These changing concepts do not mean, of course, that
those who engaged in a predominantly homosexual life style did
not regard themselves as somehow different until the late
nineteenth century. There is evidence for the emergence of a
distinctive male homosexual subculture in London and one or
two other cities from the late seventeenth century, often
characterized by transvestism and gender-role inversion. By the
mid-nineteenth century, it seems the male homosexual
subculture at least had characteristics not dissimilar to the
modern, with recognized cruising places and homosexual
haunts, ritualized sexual contact, and a distinctive argot and
style.” (Weeks, Movements of Affirmation: Sexual Meanings and
Homosexual Identities, p. 72 in Passion and Power: Sexuality in
History, editors Kathy Peiss and Christina Simmons with Robert
A. Padgug)
“In Sir Robert Peel’s Offences Against the Person Act of
1828, the requirement of proof was disminished to evidence of
penetration only, which resulted in an increase in convictions.
- 190 -
Nonetheless, the retention of the capital charge meant that
juries were still reluctant to convict for unnatural offenses, as
men continued to be hanged until 1836 for sodomy and the
charged remained a capital indictment until 1861.” (Brady,
Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 60)
“The Offences Against the Person Act of 1861, finally
removed the capital charge for sodomy.” (Brady, Masculinity and
Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 61)
“The 1861 Act had removed the capital indictment for
sodomy, but retained the archaic Buggery Act of 1533 as the
basis for legislation. The 1861 Act stipulated that sentences for
convictions of sodomy should be life imprisonment with penal
servitude. In addition, the Act stimulated the minimum
sentence, which must be no less than ten years penal servitude.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 96)
“Ed Cohen and Jeffrey Weeks have suggested that this
provision marked a departure in the legal status of
homosexuality in that it was directed specifically at sexual
relations between men; sodomy, on the other hand, could occur
with man, woman or beast. However, given that the attempted
sodomy and indecent clause of the 1861 Act referred
specifically to male persons it was in fact less of a decisive shift
than they suggest.” (Cook, London and the Culture of
Homosexuality, 1885-1914, p. 42)
3) Clause 11 in the Criminal Law Amendment Act of
1885
“The Criminal Law Amendment Act 1885, ‘An Act to make
further provision for the Protection of Women and Girls, the
suppression of brothels, and other purposes’, was the latest in a
25-year series of legislation in Great Britain beginning with the
Offences against the Person Act 1861 that raised the age of
consent and delineated the penalties for sexual offences against
women and minors. This act also strengthened existing
legislation against prostitution and recriminalised male
homosexuality. The other purpose was met by clause XI, the
- 191 -
Labouchere amendment, which made illegal all types of sexual
activity between males (not just sodomy, as hitherto), in public
and in private, and irrespective of either age or consent.
The specific purpose of the Criminal Law Amendment Act
had been effective prosecution of the prepetrators of the widely
publicised scandal involving the prostitutionof young girls.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 94)
“As originally drafted this measure was designed in the
words of its title ‘to make further provision for the protection
of women and girls, the suppression of brothels and other
purposes’, and it was brought in by the Government as the
direct result of a powerful press campaign carried on by the
Liberal journalist W. T. Stead against juvenile prostitution and
white slavery. Its principal provision was the raising of the age
of consent for young girls from thirteen to sixteen. In its
original form, as introduced in the House of Lords, the
Criminal Law Amendment Bill made no mention of
homosexuals acts, since it was not concerned with this subject
at all. After going through all stages in the Lords, the bill went
to the Commons, where it was referred to a committee of the
whole house after passing its second reading. The committee
stage was taken late at night on August 6, 1885, which was to
prove a fateful date in the history of English criminal
jurisprudence.
Henry Labourchere, the Liberal-Radical M. P. and editor of
the popular journal Truth, had put down an amendment on the
order paper to insert the following new clause:
Any male purpose who, in public or private, commits, or is
a party to the commission of, or procures or attempts to
procure the commission by any male person of, any act of gross
indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of a
misdemeanour, and being convicted thereof, shall be liable, at
the discretion of the court, to be imprisoned for any term not
exceeding one year with or without hard labour.” (Hyde, The

- 192 -
Other Love: An Historical and Contemporary Survey of Homosexuality
in Britain, p. 134)
“After the Criminal Law Amendment Bill had been given an
unopposed second reading in the Commons-it had already
passed through all its stages in the Lords-Stead sent Labouchere
a report of the prevalence of male homosexuality, which
suggested to Labouchere that he might put down an
amendment on the order paper designed to make homosexual
acts between men not amounting to buggery or sodomy a
criminal offense, whether in public or private. Buggery, or
sodomy (as it was called in Scotland), had been a capital offense
from the time of Henry VIII in 1533 until 1861, when life
imprisonment was substituted as the maximum penalty.”
(Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, p. 16-17)
“The Criminal Law Amendment Act was passed, as we have
seen, on the back of mass protest, section 11 of the act – which
criminalized acts of gross indecency between men was a last
minute addition, made by the maverick Member of Parliament
Henry Labouchere and introduced and passed in a chamber
that was virtually empty. It was not the subject of government
comment and was barely mentioned in press coverage of the
act’s passing. Neither did it significantly add to the available
statues that could be deployed against men having sex with
other men, all of which remained in force. The amendment was
symptomatic of confusion rather than intentionality in the
making of laws on sex in England, and raises the key question
of whose will this law but also other laws enshrined.” (Cook,
Law, p. 79 in Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality,
edited by H. G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook)
“Wilde was prosecuted to conviction under the Criminal
Law Amendment Act, 1885, section 11,which made
homosexual acts between consenting males a criminal offense
whether committed in public or private, the section in question
having been proposed by Henry Labouchere, editor of Truth,
and agreed to in a thinly attended House in the small hours of
an August morning on the eve of the parliamentary summer
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recess.” (Montogomery, A Tangled Web: Sex Scandals in British
Politics and Society, p. 208)
“The Criminal Law Act, 1885, raised the age of female
consent, while incorporating the notorious Labouchere
Amendment altering the existing laws criminalizing buggery.
The penalty of imprisonment for ten years to life, reduced from
death (never imposed since the 1830s) in 1861, was lowered in
1885 to two years hard labor, but applied to all consenting
homosexual acts between adults in private creating a blackmail
charter.” (Porter and Hall, The Facts of Life: The Creation of Sexual
Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950, p. 224-225)
“The other purpose was met by the ineffably awful clause
XI, the Labouchere amendment, which made illegal all types of
sexual activity between males (not just sodomy, as hitherto),
and irrespective of either age or consent. It is not clear whether
this was a genuine attempt to deal with male prostitution, or a
Purity measure, opportunistically and irrelevantly tacked on to
the Bill, or whether it was Labouchere’s way of trying to
overturn a Bill he disliked by a ridiculously extravagant
amendment. Whatever the intention, the effect of its enactment
is clear: Britain ended up with a proscription going far beyond
anything else in any other country at the time. Italy and the
Netherlands actually abolished punishment for consenting
adults in private in the late 1880s, while it took the advent of
Hitler to make Germany follow the new British model.”
(Hyam, Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience, p. 65)
“A further change in the law followed in 1885, when the
Liberal PM and journalist Henry Labouchere introduced a
clause to the Criminal Law Amendment Act that year.
Labouchere’s amendment, as it came to be known, stated that
any male person, who, in public or private, commits... any act
of gross indecency with another male person, shall be guilty of
a misdemeanour and punishable by up to two years in prison.
What gross indecency actually meant in law was never specified
in the legislation, but the courts seemed to have merely added it
to existing offences and used it to describe consenting acts
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which fell short of sodomy. This is how it was applied in the
trial of Oscar Wilde, at any rate.” (Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and
Diseases, 1800-1914, p. 112 in A Gay History of Britain: Love and
Sex Between Men Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook)
“With the passage of the Labouchere Amendment in Britain
in 1885, private acts of gross indecency between men became
criminalized; while the unification of Germany in 1871 resulted
in the adoption of the # 152 formerly # 143) of the Prussian
Criminal Code throughout the German States, which, is
paragraph # 175 of the Imperial Criminal Code, banned
fornication [Unzucht] between male persons.” (Ivory, The
Homosexual Revival of Renaissance Style, 1850-1930, p. 16)
“In spite of Labouchere’s claims, it is now clear that his
efforts did not change the law in a dramatic fashion.” (Cocks,
Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth Century, p.
17)
“In many respects, the inclusion of Clause 11 in the
Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885 cannot be viewed as a
purposive attempt by the state to construct a pejorative
homosexual type through legislation. However, historians such
as Cohen and Weeks emphasise the effects of this legislation,
once implemented, on broader perceptions of a homosexual
identity. Undoubtedly, the inclusion of Clause 11 did have some
cultural effects.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in
Britain, 1861-1913, p. 93)
“The introduction of Clause 11 in 1885 did ensure a catch-
all of sexual acts between males. However, in 1885, British
legislation did not create a specific legal category of a legal class
or type of men who would have sex with other men. Instead,
legislation criminalized, through the Buggery laws and Clause
11 in combination, a cascade of sexual acts perpetrated by any
man, ranging from anal penetration of other males (and
bestiality and the anal penetration of women) to mutual
masturbation between males.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 97)

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“Weeks, Cohen and others regard changes in British
legislation, particularly the 1855 Labouchere Amendment to the
Criminal Law Amendment Act, as the classification and
categorization of a homosexual species in legal arrangements.
Nevertheless, as Montgomery-Hyde’s work highlights, the
sixteenth-century Buggery Act remained the basis for legislation
in proscribing sex between men until its repeal in 1967.
Alternations to this legislation in the nineteenth century
certainly widened its scope to establish in law that all sexual acts
between men were criminal. But the legislation that criminalized
sex between men in the period in question never, in essence,
distinguished between bestiality, heterosexual sodomy or
homosexual sex. This ambivalence in the legal definitions up to
1967 defiles the medico-legal analysis of a purposive, legislative
categorization of the homosexual.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 52)
“In addition, all male homosexuals were not, in any respect,
defined as a class in any legal arrangements following
Labouchere’s Amendment.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 112)
“As we have seen, Labouchere’s amendment in 1885 did
not revolutionise the law or move its focus from sexual acts to
particular homosexual types of people has had been frequently
claimed.” (Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the
Nineteenth Century, p. 31)
“Clause 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act was not,
as historians often claim, a revolution in jurisprudence. Nor did
it replace or supersede the Buggery laws as the basis of
legislation. There was little in the legal framework to suggest
that the legislature purposively constructed a homosexual
category. Indeed, it is remarkable how little British legislation
altered in this respect. Even the addition of Clause 11, without
debate, to the Criminal Law Amendment Act in 1885 did not,
as historians claim, create a legal definition of a homosexual
type that then, in turn, constructed notions of this type to

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amongst the public.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality
in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 216)
“However, there is little or no sense of historical agency in
Weeks or Cohen’s studies that would offer an insight to the
highly incidental nature of the inclusion of Clause 11 in the
Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. There is also little
sense of the actions of individuals in policy making in the
Home Office, the government department that had the
responsibility for interpreting and implementing the changes in
legislation. Cohen and Weeks present both the legislature and
the Home Office as monolithic and faceless engines of
purposive intent in the control of sex between men. This
chapter, instead, analyses the conflict, chaos and ambivalence
that existed amongst ministers and administrators at the Home
Office in the late nineteenth century, in respect to control and
punishment of sex between men.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 87)
“Until the Act came into force, on 1 January 1886, the
criminal law was not concerned with alleged indecencies
between grown-up men committee in private. Everyone knew
that such things took place, but the law only punished acts
against public decency or conducted tending to the corruption
of youth. The Bill in question, entitled, A Bill to make further
provision for the protection of women and girls, the
suppression, of brothels and other purposes was introduced
and passed in the House of Lords without any reference to
indecency between males. In the Commons, after a second
reading without comment, it was referred to a committee of the
whole House. In committee Mr Labouchere moved to insert
into the Bill the clause which ultimately became section 11 of
the Act, creating the new offence of indecency between male
persons in public or private. Such conduct in public was, and
always had been, punishable at common law. There was no
discussion, except that one member asked the Speaker whether
it was in order to introduce at that stage a clause dealing with a
totally different class of offence to that against which the Bill
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was directed. The Speaker having ruled that anything could be
introduced by leave of the House, the clause was agreed to
without any further discussion, the only amendment moved
being one by Sir Henry James with the object of increasing the
maximum punishment from twelve to twenty-four months,
which was also agreed to without discussion.” (Hyde, The Trials
of Oscar Wilde, p. 12)
“Similarly, section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act
of 1885, which criminalized all acts of gross indecency between
men, has been seen not merely as a legislative event, but as a
piece of legislation which shaped the conduct and
understanding of male-male relationships for both external
observers and the men involved. The law’s public authority,
writes Nancy Cott, frames what people can envision for
themselves and can conceivably demand state decree becomes
more important to the way we envisage and experience intimacy
and the putatively private world of the senses.” (Cook, Law, p.
65 in Palgrave Advances in the Modern History of Sexuality, editors
H. G. Cocks and Matt Houlbrook)
“Although historians have described homosexual offences
before, the question of what forms of behaviour actually
constituted a crime at the beginning of the nineteen century is
still relatively unclear. This lack of clarity is partly of the
consequence of the retrospective interpretations of those, like
the Liberal MP Henry Labouchere, who took it upon
themselves to change the law and thereby reinvigorate public
morals. On 6 August 1885, Labouchere moved his now
notorious amendment outlawing acts of gross indecency
between men both in private and in public. He justified his
clause by arguing that before 1885, the law was insufficient to
deal with it, because the offence had to be proved by an
accessory, and many other offences very much of the same
nature were not regarded as crimes at all. He had therefore
provided the means by which Parliament armed the guardians
of public morality with full powers to deal with this offence.”

- 198 -
(Cocks, Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the Nineteenth
Century, p. 17)
“It was this Act which included the infamous Lebouchere
Amendment. While sodomy had ceased to be a capital crime in
1861, though still penalized by life imprisonment, this Act
broadened the definition of homosexual crime to include even
consensual acts between adults in private, while reducing the
penalty to two years (opposed to the higher sentence imposed
on acts often legally defined as attempted sodomy).” (Hall,
Sexual Cultures in Britain: Some Persisting Themes, p. 39 in Sexual
Cultures in Europe: National Histories, editors Franz X. Eder,
Lesley Hall and Gert Hekma)
4) Official Secrets Acts in 1889
“Institutions of British authority, such as national
newspapers, government, the legislature and profession of
medicine, place so much emphasis on this expectation of
masculinity and masculine behaviour, that it had a direct effect
on how British people regarded sex between men. As the
following chapters demonstrate, sex and sexuality between men
were tactily well-understood phenomena. Nonetheless, it is
striking in comparison to Continental states, how little public
discourse of this matter was conducted or tolerated. Discourse
of this nature was ignored or suppressed in order to preserve
and present masculinity in this country as free from unnatural
practices between men.” (Brady, Masculinity and Male
Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 26)
“This was reinforced and strengthened with the passage of
the Official Secrets Acts in 1889. It was an act to officially
discourage and limit homosexuality the acknowledgement of
homosexuality. Great Britain did not follow and support what
was taking place on Continental Europe, where the acceptance
and discussion of homosexuality was conducted and tolerated.
Home Offices dossiers of sentencing policies for bestiality
and sodomy between men were some of the first to be closed
using the Official Secrets Acts in 1889, along with foreign and
military secrets. These dossiers contain materials on this issue
- 199 -
relating to the late 1880s and were closed in 1889 using the one
hundred year closure rule, the most stringent tool secrecy
available to government. Another series of dossiers, containing
material about prosecution of sex between men relating to the
late 1870s, 1880s and the 1890s, but compiled between 1892
and 1898, were finally closed using the one hundred year rule in
1889. These dossiers, containing invaluable insights into late
Victorian official attitudes towards the matter of sex between
men, only became available in for view in 1989. The secrecy
surrounding this material is indicative of the imperative to keep
the discussion of sexuality between men out of the public
domain, utilizing the rarely implemented one hundred year rule.
The late Victorian administrations largely succeeded in this aim,
as the bulk of this historically important material does not even
appear, even in recent historiography.” (Brady, Masculinity and
Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913, p. 91)
Bibliography
Brady, Sean. Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britian,
1861-1913. Palgrave Macmillan. Basingstoke, England & New
York, 2005.
Bronski, Michael. Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility.
South End Press. Boston, 1984.
Cocks, H. G. Nameless Offences: Homosexual Desire in the
Nineteenth Century. I. B. Tauris Publishers. London and New
York, 2003.
Cocks, H. G. and Matt Houlbrook, editors. Palgrave Advances
in the Modern History of Sexuality. Palgrave MacMillian. New York,
2006.
Cook, Matt. London and the Culture of Homosexuality, 1885-
1914. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK, New York,
Melbourne, Madrid and Cape Town, 2003.
Eder, Franz X., Lesley A. Hall and Gert Hekma, editors.
Sexual Cultures in Europe: Natural Histories. Manchester University
Press. Manchester and New York, 1999.

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Goldsmith, Netta Murray. The Worst of Crimes: Homosexuality
and the Law in Eighteenth-Century London. Ashgate. Aldershot,
Brookfield, USA, Singapore & Sydney, 1998.
Ivory, Yvonne. The Homosexual Revial of Renaissance Style.
Palgrave Macmillan. Basingstoke England and New York, 2009.
McLaren, Angus. The Trials of Masculinity: Policing Sexual
Boundaries, 1870-1930. The University of Chicago Press.
Chicago & London, 1997.
Peiss, Kathy and Christina Simmons with Robert A.
Padgug. Passion and Power: Sexuality in History. Temple University
Press. Philadelphia, 1989.
Porter, Roy and Lesley Hall. The Facts of Life: The Creation of
Sexual Knowledge in Britain, 1650-1950. Yale University Press.
New Haven and London.

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Homosexuality as a Disease

The transition from a religious model to a medical model


began in the eighteen-century, continued through the nineteen-
century, and finally took firm hold during in the first half of the
twentieth century. Abnormal sexuality or sexual deviance was
no longer understood primarily in terms of sinful and moral
behavior, but increasingly categorized as either natural or
unnatural: healthy and sick, normal and pathological, were the
new measurements in the latter half of the nineteen-century. It
was the doctors, replacing the ministers of religion who
stimulated this new awareness. Whereas before questions
relating to sexual behavior were previously negotiated in the
domains of theology, law and philosophy, and assessed with
recourse to notions of sin, crime and moral failure, sexual
deviance gradually became a concern of physicians and
psychiatrists.
The term homosexual derived from medicine and only
slowly replaced the traditional sodomite. This new medical
analysis of homosexuality helped demarcate a clear boundary
between normal and abnormal sexuality. The category of the
homosexual derived from medicine was defined as a product of
disease, degeneracy and moral inversion. The homosexuals
were seen not as sinners or criminals, but as abnormal
individuals who were in need of a cure. Now the emphasis was
placed on his psychological makeup, his looks, and bodily
structure rather than a simple practice of individual unnatural
sex acts.
“While homosexual behavior can be found in all societies,
though with very different cultural meanings, the emergence of
‘the homosexual’ as a cultural construct can be traced to the late
seventeenth and early eighteenth century in urban centers of
north-west Europe (Trumnach, 1989a, 1989b) and also linked
with the rise of capitalism (D’Emilio, 1983) medical and
psychiatric discourses provided the concept and labels of
- 202 -
homosexuality and inversion from the 1860s, ...” (Ballard,
Sexuality and the State in Time of Epidemic, p. 108 in Rethinking
Sex: Social Theory and Sexuality Research by Connell and Dowsett)
“Several years ago my colleagues and I reported the
overwhelming definitional and sampling confusion that
pervaded research on homosexuality (Shively et al, 1984). That
confusion only deepens the farther research on homosexuality
moves away from homosexual acts and continues to engage in
the futile task of searching for the causes of a defective
condition or a status or a personal identity or an enduring,
ineffable emotional inclination revealed in fantasy, none of
which is accessible to observation. Once we understand that the
biomedical and psychological research is looking for the cause
of acts, which are largely circumstantial, then its futility is clear.
If we return to the focus on homosexual acts, as in the original
Kinsey reports, then we can arrive at some agreements as to
what it is that we are attempting to describe or explain - an
ancient axiom of historical and scientific research.” (De Cecco,
Confusing the Actor With the Act: Muddled Notions About
Homosexuality, p. 412)
“For not until he sees homosexuals as a social category,
rather than a medical or psychiatric one, the sociologists can
begin to ask the right questions about the specific content of
the homosexual role and about the organization and functions
of homosexual groups. All that has been done here is to
indicate that the role does not exist in many societies, that it
only emerged in England towards the end of the seventeenth
century, and that, although the existence of the role in modern
America appears to have some effect on the distribution of
homosexual behavior, such behavior is far from being
monopolized by persons who play the homosexual role.”
(McIntosh, The Homosexual Role, p. 192)
“Historians underscore an important distinction between
homosexual behavior and homosexual identity. The former is
said to be universal, whereas the latter is viewed historically
unique. Indeed, some historians hold that a homosexual identity
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is a product of the social developments of late nineteen-century
Europe and the United States. Any event, it seems fair to say
that a unique construction of identity crystallized around same-
sex desire between 1880 and 1920 in America.
The modern western concept of the homosexual is,
according to some historians, primarily a creation of late
nineteenth-century medical-science discourses. In the context
of elaborating systems of classification and descriptions of
different sexualities, as part of a quest to uncover the truth
about human nature, the homosexual is said to have stepped
forward as a distinct human type with his/her own mental and
physical nature.” (Seidman, Embattled Eros: Sexual Politics and
Ethnics in Contemporary America, p. 146)
“Homosexual identity emerged reactively to the new claims
of late nineteenth century science, and the state, in relation to
the classification and management of human sexuality as a
whole.” (Watney, Emergent Sexual Identities and HIV/AIDS in
Aggleton, Davies and Hart, AIDS: Facing the Second Decade, p.
14)
“The biological model of sexuality saw homosexuals not as
sinners or criminals, but as abnormal individuals who were in
need of a cure. Although some sexologists, including Ellis, saw
homosexuality as inborn but not a disease, much of sexual
science has been preoccupied with problematizing and
investigating these ‘marginal’ sexualities, and with thinking
about how to ‘correct’ the perceived pathologies through
therapy, and chemical and surgical interventions, including
castration.” (Mottier, Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction, p. 39-
40)
“In modern western history the category of the homosexual
originates primarily from late-nineteenth-century notions,
derived from medicine, that defined same-sex desire as the
product of disease, degeneracy, and moral inversion. These
notions created an imagine of a woman trapped in a man’s
body or of a male body with female brain – a third sex apart

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from the rest of humanity.” (Herdt, Same Sex, Different Cultures:
Gays and Lesbians Across Cultures, p. 18)
“In the late nineteen-century avatar homosexuality was a
psychological and medical phenomenon with pathological
mental and physical underpinnings. From the turn of the
century, Freudian psychology and American psychoanalysis
portrayed it as a mental state caused by early childhood trauma,
one that led to the individual’s failure to achieve adult genital
heterosexuality. With the advent of gay, lesbian and bisexual
studies, particularly in the last two decades, homosexuality has
been investigated as a historical, political, social, and cultural
phenomenon. More recently, as seen in the articles in this
collection, it has been revisited as biological state.” (De Cecco,
and Parker, editors, Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire: The Biology of
Sexual Preference, p. 19)
“The sexological ‘discovery’ of the homosexual in the late
nineteen-century is therefore obviously a crucial moment. It
gave a name, an aetiology, and potentially the embryos of an
identity. It marked off a special homosexual type of person,
with distinctive physiognomy, tastes and potentialities. Did,
therefore, the sexologists create the homosexual? This certainly
seems to be the position of some historians. Michel Foucault
and Lillian Faderman appear at times to argue, in an unusual
alliance, that it was the categorisation of the sexologists that
made the ‘homosexual’ and the ‘lesbian’ possible. Building on
Ulrichs belief that homosexuals were a third sex, a woman’s
soul in a man’s body, Westphal was able to invent the contrary
‘sexual feeling’, Ellis the ‘invert’ defined by a congenital
anomaly, and Hirschfeld the ‘intermediate sex’; the sexologists
definitions, embodied in medical interventions, created’ the
homosexual. Until sexology gave them a label, there was only
the half-life of an amorphous sense of self. The homosexual
identity as we know it is therefore a production of social
categorisation, whose fundamental aim and effect was
regulation and control. To name was to imprison.” (Weeks,

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Jeffery, Sexuality and Its Discontents: Meanings, Myths and Modern
Sexualities, p. 92-93)
“Sexology’s legacy for homosexual rights was a mixed bag.
On the one hand, it offered promise in terms of naturalizing
homosexuality as a biologically based or developmentally
determined variation of human sexuality. It therefore followed
that homosexuals should be accorded equal rights. Indeed,
medical specialists generally supported homosexual rights
activists in campaigning for repeal of penal laws against
homosexuality. On the other hand, biologizing and
pathologizing homosexuality established a distinct medical
classification, akin to categorization of physical and mental
diseases. And medical nosologies were created to identify
disease entities that, once differentiated, would lead to
appropriate treatment. ... Moreover, biological and
psychological reductionism masked the cultural, social, and
historical contexts of homosexuality. ... The sexological
discovery of homosexuality was both a response to and a
source of constructing gay and lesbian identities. Self-defined
homosexual men and woman existed before the sexologist
labeled them. In fact, physicians appropriated the label
homosexuality put forth by Kertbeny in 1869. The sexologists
learned about homosexuality from what they observed in their
patients and read about in police reports, judicial proceedings,
and newspaper accounts. The medical classification, in turn,
produced effects on the people who were objects of inquiry.
The very act of classification reinforced the grassroots sense of
group identity among those who were part of the growing gay
and lesbian communities of the late nineteen and early
twentieth centuries. Not only did the work of the sexologists
reify existing identities and cultural patterns, but it also served
as sources for redefinition and resistance. Sexual subjects used
the scientific discourse for their own purposes.” (Minton,
Departing From Deviance, p. 13)
“The terms homosexual and homosexuality did not exist
until the second half of the 1860s when they first appeared in
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Central Europe. They were invented by a German-Hungarian
publicist and translator who opposed German sodomy laws, K.
M. Benkert.
Writing under the noble name of his family, Karoly Maria
Kertbeny, he first used the term homosexual in private
correspondence in 1868 and in two anonymous German
pamphlets in 1869 (Herzer, 1985). He invented this term to
distinguish those who participated in same-gender sexual
behavior from those who engaged in male-female sexual
behavior. He associated ‘homosexuality’ with sickness and
deviance, but not with sin or criminal behavior (Bullough, 1994;
Donovan, 1992). Kertbeny also invented the term
heterosexuality in 1869 (Herzer, 1985). The contrasting pair of
words, heterosexual and homosexual, were not popularized,
however, until the 18805. Krafft-Ebing (1892) adopted and
popularized the term homosexual. Toward the end of the
nineteenth century, both terms moved from German to other
European languages (Dynes, 1990c). They were introduced into
the English language in 1897 (Bardis, 1980). In the early years
of the twentieth century, the popularity of the term homosexual
escalated through its use by Havelock Ellis (1942) and Magnus
Hirschfeld (1948).” (Hunter, Shannon, Knox and Martin,
Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Youths and Adults, p. 7)
“Until roughly 1900 the dominant explanation of male
homosexuality, proposed by the homosexual lawyer and
classicist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs in the 1860’s, was that
homosexual men had a women’s soul enclosed in a male body
[anima muliebris in corpore virili inclusa] (Hekma, 178). Ulrichs
defined male homosexuality as an inborn trait located in the
brain (and in later works, in the testicles). The Berlin
psychiatrist Karl Westphal dubbed this phenomenon sexual
inversion and defined it as a psychopathological condition. This
view of male homosexuality was widely influential.” (Dean,
Sexuality and Modern Western Culture, p. 22)
“Through their contradictory logic, the early theories of
male homosexuality struggled to ascertain the relationship
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between sex and gender. Sexologists and homosexual rights
advocates both insisted and denied that homosexuals were
different: if they were morally, emotionally, and (at least in
appearance) physically like heterosexuals, how could doctors
account for their congenital difference? And if they were not
congenitally different, than how were they different (in the case
of Brand and Friedlander, the most manly men)?” (Dean,
Sexuality and Modern Western Culture, p. 25)
“In this paper I have hoped to demonstrate that the analytic
model of male homosexuality is a scientific paradigm with
cultural origins and a historical place in the world of sex
research that is not absolute.” (Friedman, The Psychoanalytic
Model of Male Homosexuality: A Historical and Theoretical Critique, p.
515)
“The category of the homosexual also emerged in
nineteenth-century sexology. Previously, argued Foucault,
authorities regarded men who had sex with men as committing
a sin or seriously criminal act, but they thought the devil might
ensare any man into such behavior authorities did not see these
men, claimed Foucault, as having a specific personality type.
But in the late nineteenth-century¸ sexologists began to
diagnose the homosexual; as a type of personality.” (Clark, The
History of Sexuality in Europe: A Sourcebook and Reader, p. 4)
“Although the foundations for change were laid in the
eighteenth century, the transition from the religious model to
the medical model of homosexuality occurred mainly during the
nineteenth and took firm hold during the first half of the
twentieth century. It has been argued that one of the casual
factors for the change was the attempt of certain elements in
the medical to bolster traditional attitudes toward sex-attitudes
that were being challenged by new rationalism of the period.”
(Hubert, The “Third Sex” Theory of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, p. 103 in
Historical Perspectives on Homosexuality, edited by Salvatore J.
Licata, Ph.D. and Robert P. Petersen)
“The attitudinal shift described by Proust neatly illustrates
the nineteenth-century replacement of predominantly Christian
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taxonomies of sexual sin with biological and psychological
based primarily on congenital, psychiatric and legal conceptions
of the modern subject.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion:
Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 2)
“To summarise this study, the history of homosexuality in
western society over the previous century is crudely classified
here, using my terminology, into five interrelated phases or
developments: damnation, criminalisation, medicalisation,
regulation, and reform. Moreover, there is perhaps a sixth
developing at present following the medico-political impact of
the AIDS epidemic (see Chapter 7). Importantly, all of these
phases or developments not only interact and connect, they, to
an extent at least, coexist and are all in evidence, alive and
kicking, in today’s contemporary society. The question centres
then, more on the rise and fall of these developments and of
their dominance or decline. Consequently, artificial as they are,
they remain valid heuristic devices.” (Edwards, Erotics & Politics:
Gay Male Sexuality, Masculinity and Feminism, p. 16-17)
“Each term corresponds to a particular moment in the
history of Western sexuality and to a social perspective on sex
between women and sex between men. Sodomy alludes to a
religious conception, especially the interdiction of same-sex
behavior by monotheistic religions. Homosexuality was a
product of 19th-century scietism, of the medicalization of
sexuality, and of a new emphasis on psychological make-up
rather than a simple practice of unnatural acts. Homophile
which semantically shifted the focus from sex to love, found
favor with campaigners promoting tolerance and acceptance,
and with those who sought the seamless integration of
individuals with same-sex urges into wider society. Gay and
lesbian were preferred by activists who, along with feminists,
ethnic groups and other minorities, galvanized the new social
movements from the 1960s onwards.” (Aldrich, Gay and Lesbian
History, p. 11-12 in Gay Life and Culture: A World History, editor
Robert Aldrich)

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“Homosexuality, and by implication homosexuals, have
been placed outside prevailing social structures as defined by
most theological, legal, and medical models. In Western culture,
homosexual activity was first categorized as a sin. With the rise
of materialism and the decline of religion, it became a
transgression against the social, not the moral order: a crime.
After Freud, homosexual behavior – under the auspices of
medicine and psychology-was understood as a sickness, which
was physical, psychological, or both depending on the theory.
Although new categories were invented for homosexual
behavior, they did not totally replace the old. For many today it
remains a sin, a crime, and a disease.
Homosexual behavior has existed throughout history.
Because of moral and social taboos there is very little written
material explicitly discussing the feelings or attitudes of persons
engaged in such activity. It is therefore difficult to know if gay
people historically experienced their sexual activity as a series of
isolated acts or if they formed a sense of identity of which their
sexuality was an integral part.
The evolution of a homosexual identity is necessary to the
development of a homosexual culture. Although this sense of
identity may have existed earlier, it was only after the
formulation of the medical model, in the later part of the
nineteenth century, that a distinct homosexual identity emerged.
Before the nineteenth century, some have argued there were
homosexual acts, but no homosexuals. The new medical
perception of sexuality in relation to the individual and not in
relation to the moral or social order was the social change that
allowed homosexual identity to come out. Sexuality was viewed
as an intrinsic part of the personality structure. New trends in
social thinking promoted the idea of the individual as a social
entity as equally or more important than the larger social
structures and conditions which shaped society and culture.
Because the religious, social, and legal prohibitions against
homosexuals did not disappear, homosexual identity retained its
stigma. However, although identified and defined as outcast,
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the homosexual counterculture developed a positive gay
identity.” (Bronski, Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility, p.
8-9)
“Whereas earlier historians have understood the
medicalization of sexuality as a change of attitudes and labels
only-for them, unchanging deviant sexual behaviors and
feelings were no longer regarded as unnatural, sinful, or
criminal but simply became diseases, relabeled and or
medicalized by physicians – Foucault and other social
constructivist historians have challenged this interpretation.
They are not only critical of the view espousing that the medical
model was a scientific step forward, but they also argue that the
conception of nonreproductive sexuality as a sign of sickness
was not merely a substitution for earlier denouncements of
such activities as immoral. They emphasize that medical
theories entailed a fundamental metamorphosis of the social
and psychological reality of sexual deviants from a form of
behavior to a way of being: irregular sexual acts were not just
viewed as immoral, but as the manifestation of an underlying
morbid condition. Inspired by Foucault, a number of
sociologists and historians have geared their research toward
the making of the modern homosexual, stressing that in the last
decades of the nineteenth century, sexual deviance became a
matter of personal identity (Plummer, 1981; Hekma, 1987;
Greenberg, 1988; Muller, 1991; Rosario, 1997).” (Oosterhuis,
Stepchildren of Nature: Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of
Sexual Identity, p. 2 and 7)
“In this book I will argue that Kraft-Ebing’s sexual
pathology played a key role in the historic construction of the
modern concept of sexuality. As far as the scientific discussion
about sexuality is concerned, Sigmund Freud was not the
radical pioneer is often thought to be. Freud built on medical
theories of sexuality that had been formulate between 1870 and
1900, Kraft-Ebing’s being one of the most influential. Whereas
other scholars have defined sexual modernism mainly as a
reaction against Victorian prohibitions, in my view it is not only
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an ideology of sexual liberation, but even more an
epistemological transformation, an individualization and
psychologization of sexuality (cf. Robinson, 1976; Davidson,
1987 & 1990; Showalter, 1991). The emergence of sexual
identity is central to the modernization of sexuality. However,
to believe that a transformation of such magnitude was caused
merely by medical theories and practices would be overrating
the power of the medical paradigm.” (Oosterhuis, Stepchildren of
Nature: Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of Sexual Identity, p.
9)
“The radical implication of Foucault’s reasoning is that
before, say, 1870 deviants like homosexuals, masochists,
fetishists, and transsexuals did not exist, nor did their
counterparts, normal heterosexuals. If this contention can be
defended at all, it is still problematic that new sexual categories
and identities are too easily seen as mere constructions of
physicians. In other words, the disciplining effects of medical
interference with sexuality are overemphasized. Individuals,
labeled as patients and perverts, are mainly presented as passive
victims of a medical juggernaut, with no other choice than to
conform to medical stereotypes. Yet, the exclusive focus on the
disciplinary constructions of medical discourse has resulted in a
neglect of individual voices and the sociopsychological
formation of sexual subjectivity.” (Oosterhuis, Stepchildren of
Nature: Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of Sexual Identity, p.
11)
“In theories of medicalization, the relationship between
doctors and patients is often conceptualized in a one-sided way.
The medical profession is generally depicted as a coherent,
overpowering social force that imposes its definitions, methods,
and techniques on society, making people completely
dependent on the whims of physicians. Of course, medically
defined categories and symptoms may help individuals to order
and make sense of their vague sensations and confusing
experiences, but that does not mean that individual meanings
automatically and only follow medical thinking.” (Oosterhuis,
- 212 -
Stepchildren of Nature Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of
Sexual Identity, p. 12)
“Quasi-scientific concerns about what was regarded as
sexually abnormal, such as ‘perversion’ and masturbation, long
predated the late-nineteenth century. Julie Peakman argues that
perversion existed as a moral category associated with sex as
early as the late-seventeenth century. But in the quest to
develop greater critical insights into sexual phenomena, the
investigation of sexuality underwent a distinct semantic shift in
the nineteenth century. Sexual perversion was defined from the
1830s most often as a form of ‘moral insanity’, a disorder of the
emotions, instincts, and will caused by neurological or other
organic problems. Ivan Crozier suggests that this association of
perversions with moral insanity made sexuality an obvious
concern for the newly emergent profession of psychiatry in the
nineteenth century. The new science of sexology posed
questions of sexual deviance in novel ways. As Arnold
Davidson demonstrates, sexology grappled with sexual deviance
as a psychic identity rather than with the assessment of sexual
practices or physical signs. This shift away from the description
of sexual behaviors was consistent with a broader transfer of
interest in the nineteenth century from the consequence of acts
to their causes, and a general preoccupation with impulses that
drive behaviors.” (Brady, Homosexuality: European and Colonial
Encounters, p. 45-46 in A Cultural History of Sexuality, Volume 5: In
The Age of the Empire, Chiara Beccalossi and Ivan Crozier,
editors)
“In fact, it was medical and psychiatric theories more than
any other factor that contributed to the specification of
homosexuality to use Michel Foucault’s terminology. For a long
time, medical literature on the subject was marked by a clash of
contradictory definitions and by a multiplicity of competing
terms, all claiming to come closest to what actually constituted
homosexuality (inversion, uranism, unisexuality, bisexuality,
psychic hermaphrodism, contrary sexual feeling and so on).”

- 213 -
(Tamagne, The Homosexual Age, 1870-1940, p. 167 in Gay Life
and Culture: A World History, editor Robert Aldrich)
“At the end of the 19th century it was theorists of
degeneracy who held sway: figures such as Richard von Kraft-
Ebing (Psychopathia Sexualis, 1885) and Albert Moll (Contrary
Sexual Feeling, 1891), followed by thinkers who included Otto
Weininger (Sex and Character, 1903) and Max Nordau, a disciple
of Cesare Lombross (Degeneration, 1895).” (Tamagne, The
Homosexual Age, 1870-1940, p. 167-168 in Gay Life and Culture: A
World History, editor Robert Aldrich)
“Around this time, homosexuality was defined as a
perversion which might be innate (the born invert) and
therefore could not be viewed as a criminal activity, but which
also might be acquired (through seduction, prostitution and
vice) and therefore should be given appropriate treatment.
Although some psychiatrists, such as Jean-Martin Charcot and
Victor Magnan (whose article in the Archives de neurology in
1882), stressed the virle qualities of their patients, the majority
of doctors agreed that there were incontrovertible signs of
femininity in homosexuals.” (Tamagne, The Homosexual Age,
1870-1940, p. 168 in Gay Life and Culture: A World History, editor
Robert Aldrich)
“At the end of the eighteenth century the medical world
adopted the Church’s view of homosexuality, and it became an
illness, or at least a disability, which could be diagnosed by
clinical examination.” (Aries, Philippe, Thoughts on the History of
Homosexuality, p. 66 in Western Sexuality Practice and Precept in Past
and Present Times, editors Philippe Aries and André Bejin)
“Although the foundations for change were laid in the
eighteenth century, the transition from the religious model to
the medical model of homosexuality occurred mainly during the
nineteenth and took firm hold during the first half of the
twentieth century. It has been argued that one of the casual
factors for the change was the attempt of certain elements in
the medical to bolster traditional attitudes toward sex-attitudes
that were being challenged by new rationalism of the period.”
- 214 -
(Hubert, The Third Sex Theory of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, p. 103 in
Historical Perspectives on Homosexuality, edited by Salvatore J.
Licata, Ph.D. and Robert P. Petersen)
“The argument of a biological instead of divine nature
directed thinking about sex from the late eighteen-century, as
the examples of gender and onanism also indicate.” (Hekma,
Same-sex relations among men in Europe, 1700-1990, p. 82 in Sexual
Cultures in Europe: Themes in Sexuality, Eder, Franz X., Lesley A.
Hall and Gert Hekma, editors)
“Since the eighteenth century, the norm has been a
powerful force in the regulation of sex, restricting the normal
sexuality to heterosexuality and the family. Sexuality outside of
this norm became deviant sexuality and the object of severe
public regulation. The authority of the norm was reinforced by
the medical and psychiatric professions and by the enforcement
of laws dealing with perversions, these replaced the authority of
the church in the regulation of sexual behavior.” (Pronger, The
Arena of Masculinity Sports, Homosexuality, and the Meaning of Sex, p.
86)
“The words ‘homosexuality’ and ‘lesbian love’ do not
predate the second half of the nineteenth-century. Moreover, it
was only in this period that the medical professions began to
consider homosexuality a perversion the study of which
belonged in the field of sexual psychopathology. Such
developments strongly suggest that homosexuality as we know
it is a recent phenomenon.” (Bremmer, Greek Pederasty and
Modern Homosexuality, in From Sappho to De Sade, editor Jan N.
Bremmer)
“The attitudinal shift described by Proust neatly illustrates
the nineteenth-century replacement of predominantly Christian
taxonomies of sexual sin with biological and psychological
based primarily on congenital, psychiatric and legal conceptions
of the modern subject.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion:
Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 2)
“Whilst the majority of nineteenth-century sexologists were
interested in establishing firm parameters for what is healthy
- 215 -
and normal ex negativo, it was precisely the activity of
challenging conceptions of such seemingly natural standards
which made the arena of the perverse so appealing to modernist
writers, many of whom began to revalorize conceptions of the
perversions at the beginning pf the twentieth century, paving
the way for a shift from the notion of sexual deviance to that of
sexual difference.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion: Sexual
Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 4)
“A scientia sexualis emerged at that time as a new scientific
field of investigation which combined insights from medicine
and forensic science, psychiatry and psychology, anthropology,
biology and genetics. Sexology constituted a systematic attempt
to identify, classify and contain the proliferation of the sexual
perversions. Whilst questions relating to sexual behaviour were
previously negotiated in the domains of theology, law and
philosophy, and assessed with recourse to notions of sin, crime
and moral failure, sexual deviance gradually became a concern
of physicians and psychiatrists. Pre-modern sexual deviance was
essentially seen as a crime against nature. The Church
delineated the parameters of what was natural, and the state and
the community policed the boundaries. In the second half of
the nineteenth century, however, sexual deviance was no longer
understood primarily in terms of sinful and moral behaivour,
but increasingly categorized as either natural or unnatural:
healthy and sick, normal and pathological, emerged as the new
yardsticks in the field.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion:
Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 4-5)
“The preoccupation with perversion is a specifically modern
phenomenon, the product of various political, sociological,
cultural and technological processes which can be subsumed
under the term modernity commonly seen to be a period
commencing with the French Revolution in 1789.” (Schaffner,
Modernism and Perversion: Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature,
1850-1930, p. 5)
“Most of these perversions are directly linked to specifically
modern socio-political transformations, such as shifts in
- 216 -
conception of gender roles, the emergence of the notions of
individualism and romantic love, the widening division between
public and private life, the rapid rise of consumer culture and
growing urbanization. Urbanization and industrialization
facilitated the emergence of subcultures, weakened the
influence of the family and the rural community, and loosened
the distinctions between classes and the sexes.” (Schaffner,
Modernism and Perversion: Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature,
1850-1930, p. 11)
“In terms of aetiology, the psychiatrists were firm advocates
of hereditary over environment. They wrote of an innate
predisposition, some physiological impulse in the brain, which
would sooner or later be triggered off by some external
phenomenon.” (Copley, Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-1980, p.
139)
“The medical stereotype of homosexuality had fixed the
homosexual in place during the nineteen-century: his so-called
abnormality was no longer confined to individual sexual acts,
but was part of his psychological makeup, his looks, and bodily
structure.” (Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality Middle-Class Morality
and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe, p. 37)
“The term homosexual derived from medicine and only
slowly replaced the traditional sodomite during the second half
of the nineteen-century.” (Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality
Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe, p. 25)
“Homosexuals provide a particularly useful example of how
the line between the normal and abnormal was to be ever more
closely drawn through the rise of respectability and its emphasis
on manliness. They were thought to symbolize not only the
confusion of sexes but also sexual excess-the violation of a
delicate balance of passions.” (Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality
Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe, p. 25)
“Indeed as the nineteen century progressed, it was the
doctors who did the most to stimulate awareness of
homosexuality as a social concern; to some extent they replaced
the ministers of religion as guardians of normality.” (Mosse,
- 217 -
Nationalism and Sexuality Middle-Class Morality and Sexual Norms in
Modern Europe, p. 27)
“The medical analysis of homosexuality during the
nineteenth century helped demarcate a clear boundary between
normal and abnormal sexuality. Forensic medicine came to the
aid of judges and juries trying to enforce the laws against
sodomy by developing a stereotype for use in identifying
homosexuals.” (Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality Middle-Class
Morality and Sexual Norms in Modern Europe, p. 27)
“The modern sexual perversions, which include
homosexuality, sadism, masochism, fetishism, voyeurism and
exhibitionism, preoccupied the cultural imagination, and were
first systemically defined by Kraft-Ebbing and later canonized
by Freud in Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, first published
in 1905. As distinctly modern medico-psychological
constructions, these so-called perversions are bound up with
central concerns of secular modernity, for they emerge from
and are responses to, specific cultural, historical, political and
scientific dynamics.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion: Sexual
Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 2-3)
“Today it is common place to identify inversion as a
radically new sexual identity and the invert as the intermediate
ancestor to the modern homosexual. The birth of the invert is
more historically complex, however, for he did not spring fully
formed from the mind of German physicians in 1869. This
chapter will show how Charcot and Magnan molded inverts out
of prior neurological and medicolegal theories concerning
pederasts, hysterics, and neurodegenerates-figures who were
culturally and socially recognized in the late nineteenth century.
The emerging medical investigation of perverted sexual
instincts was not simply an isolated, objective research program
but also a manifestation of larger cultural concerns beyond the
hospital. Therefore, my genealogy from the pederast to the
homosexual interweaves biomedical theories and extra scientific
strands of influence professional concerns, class and gender
anxieties, natalist preoccupations, national rivalries, and literary
- 218 -
controversies.” (Rosario, The Erotic Imagination: French Histories of
Perversity, p. 70-71)
“Whereas earlier historians have understood the
medicalization of sexuality as a change of attitudes and labels
only-for them, unchanging deviant sexual behaviors and
feelings were no longer regarded as unnatural, sinful, or
criminal but simply became diseases, relabeled and or
medicalized by physicians – Foucault and other social
constructivist historians have challenged this interpretation.
They are not only critical of the view espousing that the medical
model was a scientific step forward, but they also argue that the
conception of nonreproductive sexuality as a sign of sickness
was not merely a substitution for earlier denouncements of
such activities as immoral. They emphasize that medical
theories entailed a fundamental metamorphosis of the social
and psychological reality of sexual deviants from a form of
behavior to a way of being: irregular sexual acts were not just
viewed as immoral, but as the manifestation of an underlying
morbid condition. Inspired by Foucault, a number of
sociologists and historians have geared their research toward
the making of the modern homosexual, stressing that in the last
decades of the nineteenth century, sexual deviance became a
matter of personal identity (Plummer, 1981; Hekma, 1987;
Greenberg, 1988; Muller, 1991; Rosario, 1997).” (Oosterhuis,
Stepchildren of Nature: Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of
Sexual Identity, p. 2)
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Homosexuality as a Political Identity

“In short, the gay lifestyle – if such a chaos can, after all,
legitimately be called a lifestyle – it just doesn’t work: it doesn’t
serve the two functions for which all social framework evolve:
to constrain people’s natural impulses to behave badly and to
meet their natural needs. While it’s impossible to provide an
exhaustive analytic list of all the root causes and aggravants of
this failure, we can asseverate at least some of the major causes.
Many have been dissected, above, as elements of the Ten
Misbehaviors; it only remains to discuss the failure of the gay
community to provide a viable alternative to the heterosexual
family.” (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will
Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gays in the 90s, p. 363)
“Not all societies have a culture of sexual identity. In truth,
the notion that individuals define themselves by their sexual
desire or behavior is a rather exceptional social occurrence.”
(Pennington and Sojika, The Revolt Against Sexual Identity, p. 81 in
The Social Construction of Sexuality by Steven Seidman)
“In the 1990s, a new queer lesbian and gay emerged. The
queer challenged the hetero-homosexual binary and a culture
organized around separate, bounded sexual identities. Queer
argue that the very notion of separate gender and sexual
identities creates unnecessary divisions and inequalities. These
identities serve to control us by demanding that we confirm to
constraining norms of masculinity or femininity or being
straight or gay. In this regard, queers challenge the aim of a
movement bent on normalizing a homosexual identity. Such a
movement, they argue, reinforces a culture of sexual and gender
division and regulation.” (Pennington and Sojika, The Revolt
Against Sexual Identity, p. 85-86 in The Social Construction of
Sexuality by Steven Seidman)
“No matter how much identities provide an anchor for us
and a basis for group formation, they control us, tell us how to
be, and force us to repudiate aspects of ourselves.” (Pennington
- 223 -
and Sojika, The Revolt Against Sexual Identity, p. 86 in The Social
Construction of Sexuality by Steven Seidman)
Homosexuality today expressed in a gay and lesbian identity
may possibly be viewed as another model of homosexuality.
Just as the others are historically and culturally specific so is the
modern gay and lesbian. Being a gay and lesbian is not a unitary
construct that is culturally transcendent across all societies
today. A gay and lesbian is a social political identity limited to
modern western cultures, although this gay and lesbian identity
is gradually being expressed and adopted in other parts of the
world. In this article it is the United States that is the specific
emphasis. There may be references and quotes refereeing to
other English speaking countries. But as seen in the above
quotes there are already modern day challenges to a gay and
lesbian political identity.
“Historical and anthropological research has shown that
homosexual persons (i.e. people who occupy a social position
or role as homosexuals) do not exist in many societies, whereas
homosexual behavior occurs virtually in every society.
Therefore we must distinguish between homosexual behavior
and homosexual identity. One term refers to one’s sexual
activity per se (whether casual or regular); the other word
defines homosexuality as a social role, with its emotional and
sexual components.” (Escoffier, American Homo: Community and
Perversity, p. 37)
“The search for a theory of gay identity originated among
gay Left intellectuals. Starting from an ethnic model of history
that at first assumed an already existing identity or social group,
they eventually discovered that homosexuals were historically
constructed subjects.” (Escoffier, Jeffrey, American Homo
Community and Perversity, p. 62)
“We should employ cross-cultural and historical evidence
not only to chart changing attitudes but to challenge the very
concept of a single trans-historical notion of homosexuality. In
different cultures (and at different historical moments or
conjunctures within the same culture) very different meanings
- 224 -
are given to same-sex activity both by society at large and by the
individual participants. The physical acts might be similar, but
the social construction of meanings around them are
profoundly different. The social integration of forms of
pedagogic homosexual relations in ancient Greece have no
continuity with contemporary notions of homosexual identity.
To put it another way, the various possibilities of what
Hocquenghem calls homosexual desire, or what more neutrally
might be termed homosexual behaviors, which seem from
historical evidence to be a permanent and ineradicable aspect of
human sexual possibilities, are variously constructed in different
cultures as an aspect of wider gender and sexual regulation. If
this is the case, it is pointless discussing questions such as, what
are the origins of homosexual oppression, or what is the nature
of the homosexual taboo, as if there was a single, causative
factor. The crucial question must be: what are the conditions
for the emergence of this particular form of regulation of sexual
behavior in this particular society?” (Weeks, Against Nature, p.
15-16)
“Transcending all these issues of lifestyle was the potent
question of the gay identity itself. The gay identity is no more a
product of nature than any other sexual identity. It has
developed through a complex history of definitions and self-
definition, and what recent histories of homosexuality have
clearly revealed is that there is no necessary connection between
sexual practices and sexual identity.” (Weeks, Sexuality and Its
Discontents: Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities, p. 50)
“The idea of a gay and lesbian identity sexual identity has
been formulated over the last two decades. Historically it is the
product of the gay and lesbian liberation movement, which,
itself, grew out of the Black civil rights and women’s liberation
movements of the fifties and sixties. Like ethnic identities,
sexual identity assigns individuals to membership in a group,
the gay lesbian community. Although sexual identity has
become a group identity, its historical antecedents can be traced
to the nineteen-century notion that homosexual men and
- 225 -
women, each representative of a newly discovered biological
specimen, represented a third sex. Homosexuality, which had
been conceived primarily as an act was thereby transformed
into an actor. (De Cecco, 1990b). Once actors had been created
it was possible to assign them a group identity. Once a person
became a member of a group, particularly one that has been
stigmatized and marginal, identity as an individual was easily
subsumed under group identity.” (De Cecco and Parker, The
Biology of Homosexuality: Sexual Orientation or Sexual Preference, p.
22-23 in Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire: The Biology of Sexual
Preference, editors De Cecco and Parker)
“The configuring of the meaning of homosexuality by its
advocates into a lifestyle alternative or minority status, and the
movement of lesbians and gay men into the social center
parallels the transformation of the social role of the African-
Americans and women during the same period.” (Seidman,
Embattled Eros, p. 148-149)
“On the one hand, lesbians and gay men have made
themselves an effective force in the USA over the past several
decades largely by giving themselves what the civil rights
movement had: a public collective identity. Gay and lesbian
social movements have built a quasi-ethnicity, complete with its
own political and culture institutions, festivals, neighborhoods,
even its own flag. Underlying that ethnicity is typically the
notion that what gays and lesbians share – the anchor of
minority rights claim is the same fixed, natural essence, a self
with same-sex desires. The shared oppression, these
movements have forcefully claimed, is denial of the freedoms
and opportunities to actualize this self. In this
ethiniclessentialist politic, clear categories of collective identity
are necessary for successful resistance and political gain.”
(Gamson, Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct?, p. 516)
“Lesbian and gay historians have asked questions about the
origins of gay liberation and lesbian feminism, and have come
up with some surprising answers. Rather than finding a silent,
oppressed, gay minority in all times and all places, historians
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have discovered that gay identity is a recent, Western, historical
construction. Jeffrey Weeks, Jonathan Katz and Lillian
Faderman, for example, have traced the emergence of lesbian
and gay identity in the late nineteenth century. Similarly John
D’Emilio, Allan Berube and the Buffalo Oral History Project
have described how this identity laid the basis for organized
political activity in the years following World War II.
The work of lesbian and gay historians has also
demonstrated that human sexuality is not a natural, timeless
given, but is historically shaped and politically regulated.”
(Duggan, History’s Gay Ghetto: The Contradictions of Growth in
Lesbian and Gay History, p. 151-152 in Sex Wars, edited by
Duggan and Hunter)
“It isn’t at all obvious why a gay rights movement should
ever have arisen in the United States in the first place. And it’s
profoundly puzzling why that movement should have become
far and away the most powerful such political formation in the
world. Same gender sexual acts have been commonplace
throughout history and across cultures. Today, to speak with
surety about a matter for which there is absolutely no statistical
evidence, more adolescent male butts are being penetrated in
the Arab world, Latin American, North Africa and Southeast
Asia then in the west.
But the notion of a gay identity rarely accompanies such
sexual acts, nor do political movements arise to make demands
in the name of that identity. It’s still almost entirely in the
Western world that the genders of one’s partner is considered a
prime marker of personality and among Western nations it is
the United States – a country otherwise considered a bastion of
conservatism – that the strongest political movement has arisen
centered around that identity.
We’ve only begun to analyze why, and to date can say little
more then that certain significant pre-requisites developed in
this country, and to some degree everywhere in the western
world, that weren’t present, or hadn’t achieved the necessary
critical mass, elsewhere. Among such factors were the
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weakening of the traditional religious link between sexuality and
procreation (one which had made non-procreative same gender
desire an automatic candidate for denunciation as unnatural).
Secondly the rapid urbanization and industrialization of the
United States, and the West in general, in the nineteen-century
weakened the material (and moral) authority of the nuclear
family, and allowed mavericks to escape into welcome
anonymity of city life, where they could choose a previously
unacceptable lifestyle of singleness and nonconformity without
constantly worrying about parental or village busybodies
pouncing on them.” (Duberman, Left Out, p. 414-415)
“I have argued that lesbian and gay identity and
communities are historically created, the result of a process of
capitalist development that has spanned many generations. A
corollary of this argument is that we are not a fixed social
minority composed for all time of a certain percentage of the
population. There are more of us than one hundred years ago,
more of us than forty years ago. And there may very well be
more gay men and lesbians in the future. Claims made by gays
and nongays that sexual orientation is fixed at an early age, that
large numbers of visible gay men and lesbians in society, the
media, and schools will have no influence on the sexual
identities of the young, are wrong. Capitalism has created the
material conditions for homosexual desire to express itself as a
central component of some individuals lives; now, our political
movements are changing consciousness, creating the ideological
conditions that make it easier for people to make that choice.”
(D’Emilio, Capitalism and Gay Identity, p. 473-474 in The Lesbian
and Gay Studies Reader by Henry Abelove, Michele Aine Barale
and David M. Halperin)
There is a wealth of cross-cultural evidence that point to the
existence of numerous models of homosexuality varying in
origins, subjective states and manifest behaviors. But the
parameters of the discussion are still best framed as who one is,
a homosexual, or what one does, homosexuality. The support
for the latter is the strongest.
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“Descriptions of the Greeks, the berdaches, and the Sambia
should make us a little unsure about our categories homosexual
and heterosexual – least, they should make us think more
carefully about what we mean by these words. But if we are a
little confused about categories, perhaps we can agree on a few
simple facts about human sexuality: (1) same-sex eroticism has
existed for thousands of years in vastly different times cultures;
(2) in some cultures, same-sex eroticism was accepted as normal
aspect of human sexuality, practiced by nearly all individuals
some of the time; and (3) in nearly every culture that has been
examined in any detail, a few individuals seem to experience a
compelling and abiding sexual orientation toward their own
sex.” (Mondimore, A Natural History of Homosexuality, p. 20)
“The reality is that this gay identity, a pattern of essentially
exclusive male homosexuality familiar to us which has been
exceedingly rare or unknown in cultures that required or
expected all males to engage in homosexual activity. So I would
argue this gay identity should be seen as a model of
homosexuality, as a social movement, a political identity, and a
life-style. Therefore the psychosocial conditions of being gay
today must be understood in their own cultural place and
historical time.
Psychological theory, which should be employed to describe
only individual mental, emotional, and behavioral aspects of
homosexuality, has been employed for building models of
personal development that purport to mark the steps in an
individual’s progression toward a mature and egosyntonic gay
or lesbian identity. The embracing and disclosing of such an
identity, however, is best understood as a political phenomenon
occurring in a historical period during which identity politics
has become a become a consuming occupation.” (De Cecco,
Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire: The Biology of Sexual, Preference, p.
21)
“Being gay cannot be seen as a monolithic and invariant
identity label culturally valid for ancient cultures and societies.
As has been repeatedly stated, historically and culturally the
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pattern was for heterosexuality, marriage, and procreation.
Although there have been cases, which are exceptions to the
norm, instances of adult same sex behavior, and when they
took place, they are almost always tolerated, and looked down
upon with disapproval.
Certainly the gay movement is specialized somewhat to class
and urban social formations, and it must be seen from the
perspective of the decontextualization of sex. Only by
disengaging sexuality from the traditions of family,
reproduction, and parenthood was the evolution of the gay
movement a social and historical likeihood. (Herdt, 1987b).”
(Herdt, Developmental Discontuntinuties and Sexual Orientation Across
Cultures, p. 224 in Homosexuality/Heterosexuality Concepts of Sexual
Orientation, edited by McWhirter, Sanders and Reinisch)
“It is the myth of gay identity, the belief that homosexuals
are a different kind of people.
Gay identity is one of the great working myths of our age.
Even though it is based on the ideas of gender and sex that
have more to do with folklore than science, it occupies a central
position in the beliefs and principles that govern our behaviors.
It is a significant element of our social organization of gender
and sexuality. The myth holds us all in thrall, not just those who
have adopted the gay role.
We begin with the premise that there exists an evident
distinction between (1) homosexual feelings, (2) homosexual
behavior, and (3) the homosexual role. The argument presented
here is that homosexual feelings play a minor part in becoming
gay, which is chiefly is the result of adopting the homosexual
role.
Being gay is always a matter of self-definition. No matter
what your sexual proclivities or experience, you are not gay
until you decide you are.” (DuBay, Gay Identity: The Self Under
Ban, p. 1-2)
“The gay myth is responsible for the creation of the gay
community, which is an assemblage, not of people who share
the same sexual orientation (they don’t), but of those who have
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adopted the gay role. Underlying the many facets of gay life is
an overriding concern with the gay role. The conversation and
behavior of gay-identified individual reveals that what
distinguishes them from others is not their sexual identity but
their identity, their consciousness of being a people set apart.
And what sets them apart is their joint commitment to a role
created by a society solely for the purposes of controlling and
isolating behaviors.” (DuBay, Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban, p.
2-3)
“Gay people there are, and some are indeed different, but it
is not their sexuality that makes them different. Their real
differences, as significant as they may be, are now submerged in
the emphasis of the gay myth on sexual difference. If anything,
it is their sexuality that they have most in common with all
humans. We can end this introduction with one more appeal
added to countless others, an appeal almost totally ignored by
the academic and medical establishments: Gayness, unlike the
medical term homosexuality, has nothing to do with sex or
sexual orientation. It concerns a wide range of divergent
behaviors that set some people apart from others in their
appearance, gender behavior, emotional sensibilities, intellectual
powers, and their perspective of the world.” (DuBay, Gay
Identity: The Self Under Ban, p. 12)
“Even today in our ‘modern western culture’, accepting a
gay identity is a developmental discontinuity in our society.
Heterosexuality still continues to be the norm. A ‘gay identity’
began evolving within large population centers in the late
nineteenth century. In the United States there was rapid growth
as the result of the coming together of large groups of men to
fight in World War Two. These men from rural and small town
America began knowing ‘others just like themselves’. It has
been more recent, since the 1960s that there has been the
emergence of the individuals who do not marry, but accept the
idea of being single and gay. Before this time most individuals
would be married and their homosexuality was expressed in
sexual acts with members of the same sex. Perhaps the largest
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milestone in the emergence of a modern ‘gay identity’ took
place on June 12, 1969, in New York City at a gay bar called
Stonewall Inn. This was an act of resistance, a riot by drag
queens mourning the death of Judy Garland. Stonewall was a
group of effeminate men, wearing women’s clothes resisting
police authority, during a raid on the gay bar. This event is
often linked with the beginning of the gay liberation movement.
Stonewall
In short, the political and cultural environment had
undergone a liberalizing shift which had created the
opportunity for the emergence of a mass homosexual
movement.” (Engel, The Unfinished Revolution: Social Movement
Theory and the Gay and Lesbian Movement, p. 38)
“Ironically, when the uprising finally occurred, many people
failed to recognize its significance. Looking back, however,
there is no denying that what began, as a skirmish at a
Greenwhich Village bar became the harbinger for a new
movement of human rights. Detailed accounts of Stonewall
have taken on the quality of myth, as more people remember
being there than could have possibly have fit in the tiny grimy
bar. It is generally accepted that a diverse group of bar patrons,
led by the drag queens who were Stonewall regulars,
spontaneously began to fight back during a police raid. The
resistance turned into a riot, which lasted for several days.”
(Kranz and Cusick, Gay Rights: Revised Edition, p. 35)
“The years leading up to Stonewall saw a breach in the
assimilationist attitudes of the docile homophiles of the
previous generation in favour of more revolutionary ones of
people who craved more purely sexual freedom.” (Archer, The
End Gay, p. 91)
“But in the 1960s and 1970s, the gay movement broke
decisively with the assimilationist rhetoric of the 1950s by
publicly affirming, celebrating, and even cultivating homosexual
difference.” (Chauncey, Why Marriage? The History Shaping Todays
Debate Over Gay Equality, p. 29)

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“An event that took place on June 12, 1969, in New York
City at a gay bar called, the Stonewall Inn, had great social and
cultural historical significance in the development of the
concept of the modern homosexual who soon adopted what is
known as a gay identity. This was an act of resistance, a riot by
drag queens mourning the death of Judy Garland. It was a
group of effeminate men, wearing women’s clothes resisting
police authority, during a raid on the gay bar. What started out
as a typical raid by the police, a shake down for bribery from a
gay bar turned out much differently. This event is often linked
with the beginning of the gay liberation movement. It should be
noted that it was a fringe group of homosexuals, and not
representative individuals of the homosexual community at
large who displayed this physical resistance.
Stonewall was an act of resistance to police authority by
multiracial drag queens mourning the death of Judy Garland,
long divinized by gays. Therefore Stonewall had a cultural
meaning beyond the political: it was a pagan insurrection by the
reborn transvestite priests of Cybele.” (Paglia, Vamps and
Tramps, p. 67)
“In the 1970s gay liberation was the name of a major
theoretical challenge to assimilation as well as minoritization.
Early activists and writers argued that gay liberation could
transform all sexual and gender relations; they argued against
marriage and monogamy and against existing family structures
(Altman, 1981; Jay and Young, 1972).” (Phelan, Sexual Strangers:
Gays, Lesbians, and Dilemmas of Citizenship, p. 108-109)
“Gay liberation had somehow evolved into the right to have
a good time-the right to enjoy bars, discos, drugs, and frequent
impersonal sex.” (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for Good: The
Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p. 445)
“After the 1969 Stonewall riots, a homosexual emancipation
movement emerged. This movement, called gay liberation,
resulted from a clash of two cultures and two generations-the
homosexual subculture of the 1950 and 1960s and the New
Left counterculture of 1960s youth. Ideologically, the camp
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sensibility of the 1950s and early 1960s had served as a strategy
of containment; it had balanced its scorn for the principle of
consistency with a bitter consciousness of oppression in a
framework that offered no vision of historical change. The gay
liberationists, who had rarely had much appreciation for
traditional gay life, proposed a radical cultural revolution.
Instead of protecting the right to privacy, gay liberation radicals
insisted on coming out – the public disclosure of one’s
homosexuality – which then became the centerpiece of gay
political strategy.” (Escoffier, American Homo Community and
Perversity, p. 58)
American Psychiatric Association
“Another historically significant event in the development
of the concept of the modern homosexual occurred in the early
1970s. This was the decision in 1973 by the APA, American
Psychiatric Association, to remove homosexuality from the lists of
sexual disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
Homosexual advocates acknowledge the hijacking of science
for political gain.
Why was it decided at this specific point in time that
homosexuality was not pathological after being listed as one for
23 years? For certain it was not a decision based upon new
scientific evidence, for there was very little to support
homosexuality. It was as a result of a three-year social/political
campaign by gay activists, pro-gay psychiatrists and gay
psychiatrists, not as a result of valid scientific studies. Rather
the activities were public disturbances, rallies, protests, and
social/political pressure from others outside of the APA upon
the APA. There also was a sincere belief held by liberal-minded
and compassionate psychiatrists that listing homosexuality as a
psychiatric disorder supported and reinforced prejudice against
homosexuals. Removal of the term from the diagnostic manual
was viewed as a humane, progressive act. A third influencing
factor was an acceptance of new criteria to define psychiatric
conditions. Only those disorders that caused a patient to suffer
or that resulted in adjustment problems were thought to be
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appropriate for inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
Adding to the push for removal was an acknowledgment of the
extraordinary resistance of homosexuality to psychiatric
intervention, for overcoming homosexuality. Some passions
and prejudices were involved with this decision as well. In
actuality this action was taken with such unconventional speed
that normal channels for consideration of the issues were
circumvented. This was a time period of great social upheaval
and change, civil rights for blacks, the Vietnam war, and of
course, the sexual revolution. Though the Board of Trustees
voted 13 to 0, a referendum sent to 25,000 APA members only
25% responded, and of these only 58% favored removing
homosexuality from the list of disorders. Follow up surveys of
the members of the APA continued to show that many
members consider homosexuality to be pathological and a
disorder. Also APA members report that the problems of
homosexuals had more to do with their inner conflicts then
with stigmatization by society at large. It is not what is now
termed homophobia. Ronald Bayer in his book, Homosexuality
and the American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis covers in depth
the removal of homosexuality by the APA from the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders.
The decision of the American Psychiatric Association to delete
homosexuality from its published list of sexual disorders in
1973 was scarcely a cool, scientific decision. It was a response
to a political campaign fueled by the belief that its original
inclusion as a disorder was a reflection of an oppressive
politico-medical definition of homosexuality as a problem.”
(Weeks, Jeffery, Sexuality and Its Discontents: Meanings, Myths and
Modern Sexualities, p. 213)
“It was the militant organization of homosexuals, not any
scientific breakthrough, that led to the removal of
homosexuality from the list of diseases of the American
Psychiatric Association in 1974.” (Weeks, Sexuality, p. 85)
“Of course, to mount this counterattack, gays and lesbians
must challenge authority of scientists, and that is exactly what
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gay rights activists did when they campaigned to have
homosexuality removed from the APA’s list of mental
disorders. In fact, those activists argued that homosexuality is
not a disease but a lifestyle choice. Although that argument was
successful in the early 1970s, the political climate has changed
in such a way that gay rights advocates no longer want
homosexuality to be thought of as an immutable characteristic,
and the gay gene discourse helps them in this effort.” (Brookey,
Reinventing the Male Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay
Gene, p. 43)
“In 1973, by a vote of 5,854 to 3,810, the diagnostic
category of homosexuality was eliminated from the Diagnostic
and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) of the American
Psychiatric Association (Bayer, 1981).” (Donohue and Caselles,
Homophobia: Conceptual, Definitional, and Value Issues, p. 66 in
Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to
Harm, editors Wright and Cummings)
“Perhaps the greatest policy success of the early 1970s was
the American Psychiatric Association’s 1973-74 decision to remove
homosexuality from its official Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
list of mental disorders. This decision did not come about
because a group of doctors suddenly changed their views; it
followed an aggressive and sustained campaign by lesbian and
gay activists.” (Rimmerman, From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian
and Gay Movements in the United States, p. 85-86)
“Writing about the 1973 decision and the dispute that
surrounded it, Bayer (1981) contended that these changes were
produced by political rather than scientific factors. Bayer argued
that the revision represented the APA’s surrender to political
and social pressures, not new data or scientific theories
regarding on human sexuality.” (Donohue and Caselles,
Homophobia: Conceptual, Definitional, and Value Issues, p. 66 in
Destructive Trends in Mental Health: The Well-Intentioned Path to
Harm, editors Wright and Cummings)
“The APA’s very process of a medical judgment arrived at
by parliamentary method set off more arguments than it settled.
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Many members felt that the trustees, in acting contrary to
diagnostic knowledge, had responded to intense propagandistic
pressures from militant homophile organizations. Politically we
said homosexuality is not a disorder, one psychiatrist admitted,
but privately most of us felt it is.” (Kronemeyer, Overcoming
Homosexuality, p. 5)
“The removing of homosexuality as a sexual disorder was as
a result of a three year long social/political campaign by gay
activists, pro-gay psychiatrists and gay psychiatrists, not as a
result of valid scientific studies. Rather the activities were public
disturbances, rallies, protests, and social/political pressure from
within by gay psychiatrists and by others outside of the APA
upon the APA. The action of removing homosexuality was
taken with such unconventional speed that normal channels for
consideration of the issues were circumvented. This action
taken in the APA had dramatic consequences on psychosexual
life according to Charles Socarides in a article published in The
Journal of Psychohistory, Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: The Issue of
Homosexuality. Socarides writes the removal of homosexuality
from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual was a false step with
the following results.
This amounted to a full approval of homosexuality and an
encouragement to aberrancy by those who should have known
better, both in the scientific sense and in the sense of the social
consequences of such removal.” (Socarides, Charles W., Sexual
Politics and Scientific Logic: The Issue of Homosexuality, p. 320-321)
“In this article he described a movement within the
American Psychiatric Association that through social/political
activism which resulted in a two-phase radicalization of a main
pillar of psychosocial life. The first phase was the erosion of
heterosexuality as the single acceptable sexual pattern in our
culture. This was followed by the second phase of the raising of
homosexuality to the level of an alternative lifestyle. As a result
homosexuality became an acceptable psychosocial institution
alongside heterosexuality as a prevailing norm of sexual
behavior.
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In essence, this movement within the American Psychiatric
Association has accomplished what every other society, with rare
exceptions, would have trembled to tamper with, a revision of
the basic code and concept of life and biology: that men and
women normally mate with the opposite sex and not with each
other.” (Socarides, Charles W., Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic:
The Issue of Homosexuality, p. 321)
“The hijacking of science in the APA by those advocating
for homosexuality has now taken a very interesting twist. Thirty
years later after this decision by the APA, Robert L. Spitzer,
M.D. who was instrumental in the removal of homosexuality in
1973 from the lists of sexual disorders in the Diagnostic and
Statistical Manual is once again facing the anger of others. The
first time was by those who opposed the normalization of
homosexuality. Now after publishing the results of a study
showing that some people may change their sexual orientation
from homosexual to heterosexual, it is those advocating for
homosexuality. Dr. Spitzer’s study and peer commentaries were
published in the October 2003 issue of the Archives of Sexual
Behavior.
An additional personal parallel-the anger that has been
directed towards me for doing this study reminds me of a
similar reaction to me during my involvement in the removal of
the diagnosis of homosexuality from DSM-II in 1973.” (Spitzer,
Reply: Study Results Should Not Be Dismissed and Justify Further
Research on the Efficacy of Sexual Reorientation Therapy, p. 472)
“This action taken in the APA had dramatic consequences
on psychosexual life according to Charles Socarides in a article
published in The Journal of Psychohistory, Sexual Politics and Scientific
Logic: The Issue of Homosexuality. He described a movement
within the American Psychiatric Association in which through
social/political activism resulted in a two-phase radicalization of
a main pillar of psychosocial life. The first phase was the
erosion of heterosexuality as the single acceptable sexual
pattern in our culture. This was followed by the second phase
being the raising of homosexuality to the level of an alternative
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life. As a result homosexuality became an acceptable
psychosocial institution alongside heterosexuality as the
prevailing norm of behavior.
In essence, this movement within the American Psychiatric
Association has accomplished what every other society, with rare
exceptions, would have trembled to tamper with, a revision of
the basic code and concept of life and biology: that men and
women normally mate with the opposite sex and not with each
other.” (Socarides, Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: The Issue of
Homosexuality, p. 321)
“More recent events have shown interesting perspectives.
There has been the formation of NARTH, National Association
for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality in 1992 that was in
response to the growing threat of scientific censorship. In May
of 2001 Dr. Robert L Spitzer reported a study that
homosexuality may sometimes be changeable. Dr Spitzer was
the psychiatrist who headed the APA committee that led to the
1973 removal of homosexuality from the APA’s list of
disorders. These events coincide with a growing influential
movement of people who have overcome homosexuality, and
are usually self-identify as ex-gay.
Another aspect of the development of sexual orientation
and identity which would seem to require investigation is the
reduction of the percentage of men and women engaging in
homosexual behavior with age. A significant percentage of the
medical students and male twins investigated by McConaghy
and colleagues (1987, 1994) reported that they were not
currently aware of homosexual feelings they experienced in
adolescence indicating homosexual feelings diminished or
disappear with age in a proportion of the population.”
(McConaghy, Unresolved Issues in Scientific Sexology, p. 300)
Overcoming Homosexuality
“There are individuals who overcome homosexuality and
they do so in multiple ways. But what is of great interest are
those individuals who choose to continue to self-identify as gay
or lesbian but have as their objects of sexual activity members
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of the opposite sex. The following are examples of such people
who have made public declarations. JoAnn Loulan was a
prominent lesbian activist in the seventies and eighties who met
and fell in love with a man in the late nineties, and even
appeared on a 20/20 television episode in 1998. Jan Clausen,
also a lesbian activist, writes in two of her books Beyond Gay or
Straight, Apples and Oranges of a sexual relationship with a man.
This latter book is autobiographical. She began a long-term
monogamous relationship with a man in 1987. In England
Russell T. Davies wrote Queer as Folk and also wrote for British
TV the show Bob and Rose airing in September 2001. This
second show is about a gay man who falls in love with a woman
and has a sexual relationship with her. This series was based on
a friend of Davies, Thomas, who was well known in the
Manchester, England gay scene. Bert Archer who identifies as a
gay male in his book The End of Gay (and the Death of
Heterosexuality), writes of his sexual relationship with a woman.
He also gives examples of other gay men who have similar
experiences.
Of most interest is the actual result of this latest attempt
beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s to define
homosexuality as a one size fits all type of homosexuality, a gay
and lesbian identity. What was at first an attempt to see two
sexual identities, heterosexual and homosexual has been a birth
of multiple sexual identities. It is a fracturing of a one single
sexual identity homosexual into multiple sexual identities and
heterosexuality.
What these examples illustrate is that homosexual and
heterosexual are socially constructed categories. There are no
objective definitions of these words; there is no Golden
Dictionary in the Sky that contains the real definitions. These
are words, categories we made up.” (Muehlenhard, Categories and
Sexualities, p. 102-103)
“Although the radicalised movement of self-affirming
lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people and others
proclaimed the desire to end the homosexual and indeed the
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heterosexual (Altman 1071/1993) – that is to get rid of
redundant and oppressive categorisations – the reality was
different. Since the early 1970s, there has been considerable
growth of distinctive sexual communities, and of what have
been called quasi-ethnic lesbian and gay identities, and the
proliferation of other distinctive sexual identities from bisexual
to sado-masochistic, and many other subdivisions (Epstein,
1990). Difference has apparently triumphed over convergence,
identity or similarity. The rise of queer politics from the late
1980s can be seen as both a product of and a challenge to these
developments, rejecting narrow identity politics in favor of a
more transgressive erotic warfare. (Warner, 1993; Seidman,
1997) – while at the same time, ironically, creating a new, post-
identity identity of queer.” (Weeks, Heaphy and Donovan, Same
Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments, p. 14)
“Yet perhaps the most enabling breakthrough in the study
of premodern sexualities over the last decade has been precisely
the rejection of easy equations between sexual practice and
individual identity. In the wake of Foucault’s famous dictum –
‘The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the
homosexual was now a species’ (1990, p. 43) – scholars have
recently brought to light a vast array of homoerotic discourses
in the premodern West that were neither filtered nor
constrained by modern sexual identity categories. In the words
of David Halperin, Before the scientific construction of
sexuality as a supposedly positive, distinct, and constitutive
features of individual human beings ... Certain kinds of sexual
acts could be individually evaluated and categorized (1990, p.
26). While gay and lesbian history in the 1970s and early 1980s
aimed primarily at either identifying, the last decade has seen
the focus shift to erotic acts, pleasures, and desires, to
homoeroticism itself as a pervasive and diverse cultural
phenomenon rather than the closeted practice of a homosexual
minority (see Hunt, 1994).” (Fradenburg and Lavezzo, editors,
Premodern Sexualities, p. 243-244)

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“On the one hand, lesbians and gay men have made
themselves an effective force in the USA over the past several
decades largely by giving themselves what the civil rights
movement had: a public collective identity. Gay and lesbian
social movements have built a quasi-ethnicity, complete with its
own political and culture institutions, festivals, neighborhoods,
even its own flag. Underlying that ethnicity is typically the
notion that what gays and lesbians share – the anchor of
minority status and minority rights claim – is the same fixed,
natural essence, a self with same-sex desires. The shared
oppression, these movements have forcefully claimed, is denial
of the freedoms and opportunities to actualize this self. In this
ethiniclessentialist politic, clear categories of collective identity
are necessary for successful resistance and political gain.”
(Gamson, Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct?, p. 516 in
Sexualities: Critical Concepts in Sociology, Volume II, editor Ken
Plummer)
“That Way. That Sort. The whole modern gay movement,
form the mid- to late-Mattachine-style homophilia to Gay is
Good, to Queer Nation and OutRage! to Ellen, Queer as Folk and
beyond, has been a struggle first to define, than to justify
and/or celebrate and/or revel in, than to normalize what was
still thought of by many as being That Way. And there have
been wild successes, genuine victories resulting in real progress
being made in very short spans of time in thinking and acting
on sexuality and human relationships. But there’s a forgotten,
ignored, or perhaps never acknowledged baby in the bathwater
the Movement’s been assuming: the possibility of a sexual
attraction that is neither or exclusively based on anatomy nor
especially relevant to your sense of self. It’;s an idea that the
lesbian communities have been dealing with for some time,
something about which they have a lot to teach the rest of us.”
(Archer, The End of Gay (and the Death of Heterosexuality), p. 17-
18)
“Such was the heady agenda of gay liberation. By the mid-
1970s, however, it was evident that the agenda encouraging
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people to come out and be proud of being gay was not
working. Reports of casualties gay related suicides and beatings,
illnesses and death from alcohol and drug use were not
declining. The mortality rate of gay people dying from hepatitis
was staggering: 5,000 a year according to some accounts. New
infectious diseases were appearing, including devastating
internal parasites that added to the already alarming incidences
of other sexually transmitted diseases.
Worse, gay people did not seem to be coalescing into the
productive lifestyle envisioned by the early leaders of the
movement. Where was Whitman’s vision of a land where men,
women, children would join in a continuous celebration of life
and the body electric? What we saw instead was an escalating
spread of promiscuity, prostitution, and pornography. Our
liberated community was rapidly becoming an exploited
community. Gay society founded itself with less and less to be
proud of. The march of gay rights seemed to slow down, and
with the arrival of AIDS, was stopped dead in its tracks.”
(DuBay, Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban, p. 131)
“In short, the gay lifestyle – if such a chaos can, after all,
legitimately be called a lifestyle – it just doesn’t work: it doesn’t
serve the two functions for which all social framework evolve:
to constrain people’s natural impulses to behave badly and to
meet their natural needs. While it’s impossible to provide an
exhaustive analytic list of all the root causes and aggravants of
this failure, we can asseverate at least some of the major causes.
Many have been dissected, above, as elements of the Ten
Misbehaviors; it only remains to discuss the failure of the gay
community to provide a viable alternative to the heterosexual
family.” (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will
Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gay’s in the 90s, p. 363)
Bibliography
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- 243 -
Beach, Frank A., editor. Human Sexuality in Four Perspectives.
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Bishop, Clifford and Osthelder, Xenia. Sexualia From
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Clausen, Jan. Beyond Gay or Straight: Understanding Sexual
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Cohen, David. Law, Sexuality, and Society: The Enforcement of
Morals in Classical Athens. Cambridge University Press.
Cambridge, England, 1991.
Covino, John, editor. Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science and
Culture of Homosexuality. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Lanham, Maryland, 1997.
D’Emilio, John. Capitalism and Gay Identity, p. 467-476 in The
Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader, editors Henry Abelove, Michele
Aine Barale and David M. Halperin. Routledge. New York and
London, 1993.
Diamant, Louis and Richard D. McAnulty, editors. The
Psychology of Sexual Orientation, Behavior, and Identity: A Handbook.
Greenwood Press. Westport, Connecticut, 1995.
Dickeman, Mildred, Ph.D. Reproductive Strategies and Gender
Construction: An Evolutionary View of Homosexualities in If You
Seduce a Straight Person, Can You Make Them Gay?, John P. De
Cecco, Ph.D. and John P. Elia, Ph.D. (cand.), editors. The
Haworth Press, Inc. New York, 1993.
DuBay, William H. Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban.
McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers. Jefferson, NC and
London, 1987.
Duberman, Martin. Left Out. South End Press. Cambridge,
MA, 2002.
Duggan, Lisa and Nan D. Hunter. Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent
and Political Culture. Routledge. New York & London, 1995.
Downing, Christine. Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love.
Continuum Publishing Company. New York, 1989.

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Escoffier, Jeffery. American Homo: Community and Perversity.
University of California Press. Berkeley, Los Angeles and
London, 1998.
Finnis, John. Law, Morality, and Sexual Orientation, p. 31-43 in
Same Sex: Debating the Ethics, Science, and Culture of Homosexuality.
John Covino, editor. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Lanham,
Maryland, 1997.
Flaceleliere, Robert. Love in Ancient Greece. Greenwood Press,
Publishers. Westport, Connecticut, 1973.
Fone, Byrne. Homophobia: A History. Metropolitan Books.
New York, 2000.
Fradenburg, Louise and Carla Lavezzo, editors. Premodern
Sexualities. Routledge. New York and London, 1996.
Gamson, Joshua. Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct?, p.
515-537 in Sexualites: Critical Concepts in Sociology, Volume II,
edited by Ken Plummer. Routledge. London and New York,
2002.
Garrison, Daniel H. Sexual Culture in Ancient Greece.
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Goode, Erich. Deviant Behavior, Second Edition. Prentice-
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Hallet, Judith and Marilyn B. Skinner. Roman Sexualities.
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Halperin, David M., John J. Winkler and Froma I. Zeitlin,
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Harvey, John F., O.S.F.S. The Truth About Homosexuality: The
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Seidman, Steven. Embattled Eros. Routledge. New York,
1992.
Siker, Jeffery S., editor. Homosexuality in the Church.
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Socarides, Charles W. Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: The
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1992.
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Weeks, Jeffrey. Against Nature: Essays on History, Sexuality, and
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- 247 -
Homosexuality? International Conference on Gay and Lesbian
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Uitgeverij An Dekker/Schorer, Amsterdam, 1989.

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Homosexuality as a Sin

Same-sex sexual acts have a history; today they are called


homosexuality. Before homosexuality they were called sodomy.
In England during the reign of King Henry VIII sodomy
became a civil offense with the passage of the buggery Act of
1533. Many authors have claimed that the model of sodomy as
a sinful act was replaced by a model of the sodomite as a sexual
identity in the eighteen-century. In Germany in the late 1860s
the transition from a religious model to a medical model for
same-sex sexual acts begin. It was at this time the term
homosexual itself was coined.
“Citing a few biblical references, theologians censured
sodomy as one of the most heinous sins, whether committed by
men or women. ... In theological discourse this offense was
closely tied to religious heterodoxy. One of the most common
slang words for sodomite, bougre (bugger), was derived, in fact,
from the twelfth-century Bulgarians, who were viewed as both
heretics and deviants. The association between heresy and
sodomy proved long lasting.” (Merrick and Ragan,
Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 8-9)
“Initially, sodomy was a theological construct, serving only
intermittently to refer to a clear variety of sexual activity or to
bring into focus the behaviour of a particular kind of person.”
(Mills, Male-Male Love and Sex in the Middle Ages, 1000-1500, p.
14 in A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men Since the
Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook)
“Furthermore, the prevalence of homosexual conduct is
attested by the fact that sodomy was regarded from early times
as an ecclesiastical offence, although it did not become a felony
and thus subject to ordinary criminal jurisdiction until the reign
of Henry VIII.” (Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde, p. 349)
“In general usage, sodomy was not an exact term and did
not merely refer to a specific sexual act. Rather, it described the
whole range of homosexual behavior, sexual or otherwise,
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which belonged, as one Regency pamphlet put it, to the ancient
lechers of Sodom and Gomorrah. This Biblical idiom was as
commonplace in the nineteenth century as it had been in the
previous ones. It implied that sodomites shared both the
practices and the fate of the inhabitants of that mythical city
and that sodomy represented all that was terrible, nameless and
immoral about them.” (Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and Diseases, 1800-
1914, p. 111 in A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex Between Men
Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook)
“Sodomy was the name, taken from the Bible, for an
unmentionable sin that was defined as any lustful act which
could not result in procreation within marriage. From the
thirteen-century, it was not only a sin, but also a capital crime.
Sodomy included extramarital heterosexuality, non-vaginal
sexual acts, all forms of same-sex behaviour, bestiality,
masturbation and so forth. The best-known examples of
persecution of sodomy were directed against males having anal
sex with other males.” (Hekma, Same-Sex Relations Among Men in
Europe, 1700-1990, p. 79 in Sexual Cultures in Europe: Themes in
Sexuality, editors Franz X. Eder, Lesley A. Hall and Gert
Hekma)
“Before the eighteen-century, then, it was conceivable that
any man or woman might engage in the unnatural act of
sodomy, as part of a more generalized bisexual behavior.
Sodomites were not fundamentally different from anyone else.
They were simply sinners who engaged in a particular vice, like
gamblers, drunks, adulterers, and the like.” (Merrick and Ragan,
Homosexuality in Modern France, p. 12)
“The early Church punished sodomy much like other sins,
with long penances. But what they understood as sodomy did
not map into our present day division between heterosexual
and homosexual. The definition of sodomy rested on the
distinction between natural and unnatural acts. For clerics, the
distinction was between sex for procreation within marriage, an
unfortunate necessity, and sex that was not for procreation,
which could include oral or anal sex between a man and a
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woman, or a man and a man.” (Clark, A History of European
Sexuality, p. 73-74)
“Sexual acts not geared toward procreation were commonly
referred to as sodomy. In addition to homosexual intercourse,
this term might cover anal contact between man and woman,
coritus interruptus, bestiality, and even sexual intercourse
between Christians and non-Christians (Greenberg, 1988, p.
274-275; Gilbert, 1985).” (Oosterhuis, Stepchildren of Nature:
Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry, and the Making of Sexual Identities, p. 21)
“Sodomy was an act, defined either as any sexual act outside
of marriage, which did not lead to procreation or as anal
penetration, with males, females, or beasts. It had nothing to do
with sexual identities.” (Eder, Hall and Hekma, Sexual Cultures in
Europe: Natural Histories, p. 11)
“The attitudinal shift described by Proust neatly illustrates
the nineteenth-century replacement of predominantly Christian
taxonomies of sexual sin with biological and psychological
based primarily on congenital, psychiatric and legal conceptions
of the modern subject.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion:
Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 2)
“Homosexuality, and by implication homosexuals, have
been placed outside prevailing social structures as defined by
most theological, legal, and medical models. In Western culture,
homosexual activity was first categorized as a sin. With the rise
of materialism and the decline of religion, it became a
transgression against the social, not the moral order: a crime.”
(Bronski, Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility, p. 8-9)
Bibliography
Bronski, Michael. Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility.
South End Press. Boston, 1984.
Clark, Anna. Desire: A History of European Sexuality.
Routledge Taylor & Francis Group. New York and London,
2008.
Cook, Matt, editor. A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex
Between Men Since the Middle Ages. Greenwood World Publishing.
Oxford/Westport Connecticut, 2007.
- 251 -
Eder, Franz X., Lesley A. Hall and Gert Hekma, editors.
Sexual Cultures in Europe: Themes in Sexuality. Manchester
University Press. Manchester and New York, 1999.
Eder, Franz X., Lesley A. Hall and Gert Hekma, editors.
Sexual Cultures in Europe: Natural Histories. Manchester University
Press. Manchester and New York, 1999.
Merrick, Jeffrey and Bryant T. Ragan, Jr., editors.
Homosexuality in Modern France. Oxford University Press. Oxford
& New York, 1996.
Oosterhuis, Harry. Stepchildren of Nature: Kraft-Ebing,
Psychiatry, and the Making of Sexual Identity. University of Chicago
Press. Chicago, 2000.
Schaffner, Anna Katharina. Modernism and Perversion: Sexual
Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930. Palgrave
Macmillan. Great Britain, 2012.

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Models of Homosexuality

The idea of who one is, a homosexual, or what one does,


homosexuality, may be better understood if we see not types of
homosexuality, but model of homosexuality. Working from the
perspective, models of homosexuality and studying previous
cultures and societies will help us to better understand
homosexuality as experienced today. But it will not help answer
the moral question of homosexuality today or in the past. This
is an introductory article to articles that will be followed by four
more articles. These four articles will present models of
homosexuality: Homosexuality as a Sin; Homosexuality as a Crime,
Homosexuality as a Disease and today Homosexuality as a Political
Identity.
“Homosexuality, and by implication homosexuals, have
been placed outside prevailing social structures as defined by
most theological, legal, and medical models. In Western culture,
homosexual activity was first categorized as a sin. With the rise
of materialism and the decline of religion, it became a
transgression against the social, not the moral order: a crime.
After Freud, homosexual behavior – under the auspices of
medicine and psychology-was understood as a sickness, which
was physical, psychological, or both depending on the theory.
Although new categories were invented for homosexual
behavior, they did not totally replace the old. For many today it
remains a sin, a crime, and a disease.” (Bronski, Culture Clash:
The Making of Gay Sensibility, p. 8)
“As we have seen, cultural understandings of sex have, in
the West, been shaped by three models: the moral/religious
model, the biological model, and the social model of sexuality.
Although these three models have, historically, emerged
successively, it is important to emphasize that they are still co-
present today. Moral, biological, and social understandings of
sexuality continue to have a great influence on the ways in
which sexual meanings are organized in society, politics, and in
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our everyday lives. They have important implications for the
ways in which we conceptualize our sexual behaviours and
identities, as well as the possibilities for personal and political
transformation.” (Mottier, Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction, p.
48)
“Western approaches to sexual matters fall into three
dominant paradigms, each of which continues to exert its
influence even as it is replaced by the next. In pre-industrial
European societies the regulation of sexual behaviour, like
moral behaviour generally, was primarily a religious or spiritual
issue. Christian teaching explains the purpose of sex – for
procreation – and the place for sex – in holy matrimony. With
the birth of the scientific study of ‘sexuality’ in mid-nineteenth
century Europe, however, doctors and scientists would
gradually usurp the role of the Church in teaching courts and
communities the nature and causes of sexual normality and
sexual deviance. The authoritative voice on sexual matters
moved away from the spiritual arena to talk of ’nature’ and the
imperatives of biology: the sexual became synonymous with the
biological. This second paradigm has been seriously challenged
– although not overturned – in recent decades. Perceptions of
‘nature’ and ‘biology’ are now themselves explored as ‘social
constructions’; the old binaries biological/social,
nature/nurture, sex/gender have been undermined. On this
view, our experiences of the body and its desires are produced
externally through the range of social discourses and
institutions which describe and manipulate them.” (Segal,
Straight Sex: Rethinking the Politics of Pleasure, p. 72-73)
Each term corresponds to a particular moment in the
history of Western sexuality and to a social perspective on sex
between women and sex between men. Sodomy alludes to a
religious conception, especially the interdiction of same-sex
behavior by monotheistic religions. Homosexuality was a
product of 19th century scietism, of the medicalization of
sexuality, and of a new emphasis on psychological make-up
rather than a simple practice of unnatural acts. Homophile
- 254 -
which semantically shifted the focus from sex to love, found
favor with campaigners promoting tolerance and acceptance,
and with those who sought the seamless integration of
individuals with same-sex urges into wider society. Gay and
lesbian were preferred by activists who, along with feminists,
ethnic groups and other minorities, galvanized the new social
movements from the 1960s onwards.” (Aldrich, Gay and Lesbian
History, p. 11-12 in Gay Life and Culture: A World History, editor
Robert Aldrich)
“Since the 1960s the study of homosexuality has undergone
massive changes. In the first place, whereas Western sexology,
medicine and psychiatry have tended to view it as a trans-
historical and unchanging category which could be investigated
in different cultures at different times, a new wave of
sociological and political research has led to the arresting thesis
that the concept of the homosexual has been invented in
modern times, and does not exist in other cultures and other
periods in history.” (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of
Sexuality, p. 146)
“The only conclusion to be drawn is that the problem in
understanding this in the way the question is put: in terms of
the history of homosexuality, there is no answer. The reason is,
quite simply, that there is no linear history of homosexuality to
be written at all, any more than there is of the family or indeed
sexuality itself. These things take their meaning from the
varying societies which give them form; if they change it is
because these societies have changed.” (Bray, Homosexuality in
Renaissance England, p. 104)
“Male homosexuality has a history, but this history consists
principally of sodomites and buggers, pederasts and catamites,
berdaches and contrary lovers rather than homosexuals or gays
in the modern sense.” (Gerard and Hekma, The Pursuit of
Sodomy: Male homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe,
p. 1)
“Over the past decade and half, numerous historical,
sociological, and theoretical studies have explored the
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emergence of lesbian and gay identities, subcultures,
communities, and politics. The historicizing project of this
generation of research has revealed not only the discontinuities
between cultural conceptions of homosexuality across time and
space but also the ways in which various sustained attempts to
gain knowledge of sexuality are themselves constitutive of that
bodily domain of pleasure, power, and personal identity now
regarded as sexuality.” (Bravmann, Queer Fictions of the Past:
History, Culture and Difference, p. 5)
“At base, all contributors to this book would argue that the
homosexual is not a type of person who has been with us in
various guises throughout all time and space; he and she are not
simply beings that we are slowly discovering and understanding
better. On the contrary, our starting point contents that specific
ways of experiencing sexual attractions and gender behaviour
are bound up with specific historical and cultural milieux.
Indeed in some environments sexual attraction and gender may
not even be sensible categories; to members of those worlds
such a way of seeing may be outside their frame of
possibilities.” (Plumber, editor, The Making of the Modern
Homosexual, p. 12)
“The implication of this argument is that homosexuality as
we know it simply did not exist prior to the seventeenth
century, nor will it be found to be structured in a similar fashion
in other cultures. Homosexual experiences may be universal,
specific homosexual roles are not.” (Plumber, Building a Sociology
of Homosexuality, p. 23 in The Making of the Modern Homosexual,
editor Kenneth Plumber)
“I want to suggest, however, that we began thinking about
the making of the modern homosexual not as a fact but as an
argument, fundamentally as a narrative with serious
implications for addressing issues historically. Rather than
simply describing an historical process¸ accounts of the past
themselves help make or construct the fiction of the modern
homosexual.” (Bravmann, Queer Fictions of the Past: History,
Culture and Difference, p. 5)
- 256 -
“Inevitably then, the term homosexuality has shifting
connotations throughout this study. The conception of
homosexuality that it works towards is neither an essential
identity, as envisaged by Gide for instance, nor exactly the
modern constructed identity postulated most notably by Michel
Focault and others. Rather it denotes a cluster of things with
more or less specific cultural locations, but with a history which
is wider, more diverse, and more complex than the essentialist
or constructionist view allows. It includes cultures, institutions,
beliefs, practices, desires, aspirations, and much else, and
changes across all of theses. Hence homosexual as I use it is
always provisional and context-dependent.” (Dollimore, Sexual
Dissidence: Augustine to Wilde, Freud to Focault, p. 32)
“Approaching sex as social has made possible new historical
and sociological perspectives on sex. For example, until recently
it was assumed that the homosexual was a separate sexual and
human type that has always existed; the only variation in history
was how different societies responded to this sexual minority.
In contrast, the new social approach has led scholars to
document considerable changes in the very meaning of
homosexuality. Historians of the United States have shown
how homosexuality changed from a behavior (sodomy) in the
nineteenth century, to a deviant individual identity (homosexual
or lesbian) in the early twentieth century, to a positive social
identity (gay or lesbian) today.” (Seidman, The Social Construction
of Sexuality, Second Edition, p. x)
“Today there is a large class of historical research offering
varied interpretations of homosexuality. Independent scholar
Jonathan Ned Katz produced two pioneering books, Gay
American History and the Gay/Lesbian Almanac, which he
documented the changing meaning of homosexuality in the
United States. He found that between colonial times and the
1970s, the meaning of homosexuality changed from a behavior
(sodomy), to a type of gender deviance (invert), to an abnormal
personality (the homosexual), and finally to an affirmative social

- 257 -
identity (gay/lesbian).” (Seidman, The Social Construction of
Sexuality, Second Edition, p. 28)
“If changes in the definition of prostitution can be
discovered, so can they for homosexuality. Mary McIntosh
(1968) has pointed out that the concept of homosexual is a
relatively recent historical construct, which came into use
around the turn of the century, an insight further elaborated by
Weeks in much of his work (e.g. 1977 and this volume). The
word homosexual was only coined in 1869, and did not come
into common usage until the 1880s and 1890s (Weeks, 1979, p.
164). This is not to say that there was no homosexual behavior
prior to that: there certainly was, but it did not constitute an
identity. Similarly, two women living together in the nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries would have assumed to be friends
(Smith-Rosenberg, 1975); by the middle of the twentieth
century, they would more likely be called lesbians. Their
behavior might, in fact, not be very different; what changed was
how it was labeled (Faderman, 1982).” (Caplan, The Cultural
Construction of Sexuality, p. 5)
“The category of the homosexual also emerged in
nineteenth-century sexology. Previously, argued Foucault,
authorities regarded men who had sex with men as committing
a sin or seriously criminal act, but they thought the devil might
ensare any man into such behavior authorities did not see these
men, claimed Foucault, as having a specific personality type.
But in the late nineteenth-century¸ sexologists began to
diagnose the homosexual; as a type of personality.” (Clark, The
History of Sexuality in Europe: A Sourcebook and Reader, p. 4)
“Although the foundations for change were laid in the
eighteenth century, the transition from the religious model to
the medical model of homosexuality occurred mainly during the
nineteenth and took firm hold during the first half of the
twentieth century. It has been argued that one of the casual
factors for the change was the attempt of certain elements in
the medical to bolster traditional attitudes toward sex-attitudes
that were being challenged by new rationalism of the period.”
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(Hubert, The Third Sex Theory of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, p. 103 in
Historical Perspectives on Homosexuality, edited by Salvatore J.
Licata, Ph.D. and Robert P. Petersen)
“The attitudinal shift described by Proust neatly illustrates
the nineteenth-century replacement of predominantly Christian
taxonomies of sexual sin with biological and psychological
based primarily on congenital, psychiatric and legal conceptions
of the modern subject.” (Schaffner, Modernism and Perversion:
Sexual Deviance in Sexology and Literature, 1850-1930, p. 2)
“To summarise this study, the history of homosexuality in
western society over the previous century is crudely classified
here, using my terminology, into five interrelated phases or
developments: damnation, criminalisation, medicalisation,
regulation, and reform. Moreover, there is perhaps a sixth
developing at present following the medico-political impact of
the AIDS epidemic (see Chapter 7). Importantly, all of these
phases or developments not only interact and connect, they, to
an extent at least, coexist and are all in evidence, alive and
kicking, in today’s contemporary society. The question centres
then, more on the rise and fall of these developments and of
their dominance or decline. Consequently, artificial as they are,
they remain valid heuristic devices.” (Edwards, Erotics and
Politics: Gay Male Sexuality, Masculinity and Feminism, p. 16-17)
“To facilitate the presentation of the cross-cultural cases, I
use a model that takes into account five widely agreed on forms
of same-gender relations around the world. These forms are (1)
age-structured relations as the basis for homoerotic
relationships between older and younger males, (2) gender-
transformed homoerotic roles that allow a person to take the
sex/gender role of the other gender, (3) social roles that permit
or require the expression of same-gender relations as a
particular niche in society, (4) western homosexuality as a
nineteenth-century form of sexual identity, and (5) late-
twentieth-century western egalitarian relationships between
persons of the same gender who are self-consciously identified

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as gay or lesbian for all of their lives.” (Herdt, Gilbert, Same Sex,
Different Cultures: Gays and Lesbians Across Cultures, p. 22-23)
Using the present in the past
Those advocating for homosexuality, trying to find support
from history for a homosexual person and not seeing it just as
homosexuality, homosexual behavior are too often forcing our
modern view of homosexuality/homosexual on to and into the
cultures and societies of the past. They are using modern ideas,
definitions and terms to describe the homosexual behavior in
historical cultures and societies. When in reality those peoples
had ways of living that are not relevant for us today. And those
advocating for homosexuality would certainly not want to live
today as people lived in the past.
“In fact, a good many of the cross-cultural investigations
have been, explicitly or implicitly, aimed at mustering support
for one or another interpretation of our homosexuality rather
than at laying bare the meaning of theirs.” (Whitehead, The Bow
and the Burden Strap: A New Look at Institutionalized Homosexuality
in Native North America, p. 80 in Sexual Meanings: The Cultural
Construction of Gender and Sexuality, editors Sherry B. Ortner and
Harriet Whitehead)
“The error of reading the present into the past is well
known and yet common in the historical enterprise, as
evidenced by examples cited here. Advice to respect the
integrity of the past is hardly earthshaking, but it seems
particularly important to remind historians who are studying
sexual deviance to exercise some caution in their admirable
attempts to write the history of homosexuality. While empathy
for other times is difficult to achieve in the best of
circumstances, it is particularly difficult in this case because of
the secrecy and ambiguity surrounding the subject of deviant
sexuality and because of the consequent paucity of data. Yet
scrupulous historical accuracy is essential; indeed, it is the only
way in which we will begin to understand not only
homosexuality as a forbidden relationship but sodomy as a
forbidding mode of sexual activity.” (Gilbert, Conceptions of
- 260 -
Homosexuality and Sodomy in Western History, p. 66-67 in Historical
Perspectives on Homosexuality, edited by Salvatore J. Licata, Ph.D.
and Robert P. Petersen)
“We argue that historians of premodern sex will be
constantly blocked in their understanding if they use the terms
and concepts applicable to sexuality since the late nineteen-
century. The key words qualified in successive chapters
heterosexual, homosexual, lesbian, pornography are products of
a particular historical moment modernity and are best reserved
for it. There is nothing at all revolutionary or exception about
our analysis, although our readers will see that it runs counter to
the assumptions (assumed is the most accurate description) of
many historians. If one attempts to understand the past on its
own terms and to refuse to see sex and sexuality as somehow
excluded from historical specificity, and if so much about our
world is different from that of Athens in the fourth century
BCE, or France in the twelfth century, or England in the
seventeenth century, we should not be surprised to find a
fundamentally different sexual regime there as well. Sex, as so
many others have also argued, is a historical construct.”
(Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 8-
9)
“This leaves the historian in a quandary. Modern categories
may well be misleading but merely adopting those of the period
is no real solution: there is no guarantee that they will be used
appropriately, which is the essence of the matter.” (Bray,
Homosexuality in Renaissance England, p. 17)
“Whatever solution one adopts, the problem is a salutary
warning: the terms in which we now speak of homosexuality
cannot be readily translated into those of the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries. There was a breadth in the concepts
used that, at the onset, should put us on our guard. We need to
carry our preconceptions lightly if we are to see in renaissance
England more than the distorted image of ourselves.” (Bray,
Homosexuality in Renaissance England, p. 17)

- 261 -
“The history of homosexuality is highly loaded with
anachronistic, technical and interpretive difficulties on several
levels. First, in the question of definition and conceptualizations
of sexuality, as already pointed out, they are culturally specific
and located in time and space. Consequently, what’s gay today
wasn’t yesterday or isn’t in another society and so on. Second,
this leads on to a question of reinterpretation of the past, or
even reinvention, when the actors concerned are silenced and
can no longer speak and give their meanings and interpretations
of themselves and their situations.” (Edwards, Erotics and Politics:
Gay Male Sexuality, Masculinity and Feminism, p. 16)
Social Role
Homosexuality as seen today has its foundation that best
describes homosexuality as a social role. This way of thinking of
homosexuality is drawn from the social theory of deviancy and
labeling which begin in 1960s. Mary McIntosh is often credited
specifically for describing homosexuality as a social role with
her article The Homosexual Role published in the journal Social
Problems in 1968.
“The categories in fact take what are no more than a group
of more or less closely related acts (homosexual; heterosexual;
behavior) and convert them into case studies of people
(homosexuals; heterosexuals). This conversion of acts into
roles/personalities, and ultimately into entire subcultures,
cannot be said to have been accomplished before at least the
seventeenth century, and as a firm belief and more or less close
approximation of reality, the late nineteenth century. What we
call homosexuality (in the sense of the distinguishing traits of
homosexuals), for example, was not considered a unified sets of
acts, much less a set of qualities defining particular persons, in
pre-capitalists societies.” (Padgug, Sexual Matters: On
Conceptualizing Sexuality In History, p. 261 in History of
Homosexuality in Europe and America, editors Wayne R. Dynes and
Stephen Donaldson)
“Heterosexuals and homosexuals are involved in social roles
and attitudes which pertain to a particular society, modern
- 262 -
capitalism. These roles do have something in common with
very different roles known in other societies-modern
homosexuality and ancient pederasty, for example, share at least
one feature: that participants were of the same sex and that
sexual intercourses often involved-but the significant features
are those are not shared, including the entire range of symbolic,
social, economic, and political meanings and functions each
group of role possesses.” (Padgug, Sexual Matters: On
Conceptualizing Sexuality In History, p. 261-262 in History of
Homosexuality in Europe and America, editors Wayne R. Dynes and
Stephen Donaldson)
“Homosexual and heterosexual behavior may be universal;
homosexual and heterosexual identity and consciousness are
modern realities. These identities are not inherent in the
individual. In order to be gay, for example, more than
individual inclinations (however we might conceive of those) or
homosexual or homosexual activity is required; entire ranges of
social attitudes and the construction of particular cultures,
subcultures, and social relations are first necessary. To commit
a homosexual act is one thing; to be a homosexual is something
entirely different.” (Padgug, Sexual Matters: On Conceptualizing
Sexuality In History, p. 262 in History of Homosexuality in Europe and
America, editors Wayne R. Dynes and Stephen Donaldson)
“The Greeks of the classical period would have agreed with
the general principle, if not with the moral attitude.
Homosexuality and heterosexuality for them were indeed
groups of not necessarily very closely related acts, each of
which could be performed by any person, depending upon his
or her gender, status, or class. Homosexuals and heterosexuals
in the modern sense did not exist in their world, and to speak,
as is common, of the Greeks, as bisexual; is illegitimate as well,
since that merely adds a new, intermediate category, whereas it
was precisely the categories themselves which had no meaning
in antiquity.” (Padgug, Sexual Matters: On Conceptualizing Sexuality
In History, p. 261 in History of Homosexuality in Europe and America,
editors Wayne R. Dynes and Stephen Donaldson)
- 263 -
“There is now plentiful historical evidence to sustain the
statement that whilst heterosexual and homosexual (and many
other sexual) practices may always have existed, clearly
demarcated categories and identities of the heterosexual and the
homosexual are of very recent provenance.
The idea that sexual identities are not simple expressions of
bodily truth but are historical phenomena-and therefore
constantly changing-is itself a relatively recent one, pioneered
largely by feminist and lesbian and gay scholars. Its origins
were, then, largely political, demonstrating the historicity and
potential ephemerality of the categories we take for granted as
natural and inevitable, even as their power were acknowledged.”
(Weeks, History, Desire, and Identities, p. 40 in Conceiving Sexuality:
Approaches to Sex Research in a Postmodern World, edited by Richard
G. Parker and John H. Gagnon)
“Yet, at the same time, we now know from a proliferating
literature that such identities are historically and culturally
specific, that they are selected from a host of possible social
identities, that they are not necessary attributes of particular sex
drives or desires, and they are not, in fact, essential that is
naturally pre-given aspects of our personality (Weeks, 1985). So
there is a real paradox at the heart of the question of sexual
identity. We are increasingly aware, theoretically, historically,
even politically, that sexuality is about flux and change, so that
what we so readily deem as sexual is as much a product of
language and culture as of nature.” (Weeks, Questions of Identity,
p. 31 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality, editor Pat Caplan)
“The homosexual identity, unlike the homosexual act, is a
historical phenomenon. It is not universal, but temporal; it is
not induced, but constructed. Therefore, it supposes the
creation of a specific environment and an awareness that enable
homosexuals to define themselves as a group.” (Tamagne, A
History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939,
p. 207)
“The origin of the homosexual identity is difficult to pin
down. At what moment can one say that a person recognizes
- 264 -
himself as a homosexual? Is it simply that time when he accepts
his sexual preferences, when he calls himself homosexual, or is
it only when he asserts his membership in a homosexual
community, as a political statement? Just as its is hard to say
when one person takes on the identity of a homosexual, it is
hard to say when the homosexual identity was created at all.
Indeed, the date varies, depending on the country, the region
(the notion of a homosexual identity emerges earlier in major
cities than in rural areas) and the social class. (An intellectual
can more readily define himself as a homosexual simply because
he will have access to the debates on the question of
homosexuality, to medical writings, and so forth.” (Tamagne, A
History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939,
p. 207-208)
“Depending on how you look at, the theorists of
homosexuality have assigned a wide range of dates to the birth
of the homosexual identity. For some, the presence of
homosexual signals in clothing and language, and the existence
of meeting places, are enough to mark the existence of a
homosexual identity. If we take that view, the homosexuality
identity must have existed from time immemorial, since one can
find homosexual codes, camouflaged to a greater or lesser
extent, in every society and every era. Others say that the
homosexual identity could only have been constituted very
recently, with the beginnings of gay militancy in the 1970s.
Most historians of homosexuality, however, agree to date
the emergence of a homosexual identity to the end of the 19th
century, when the term homosexual came in to wider use,
doctors defined homosexuality precisely, and condemnations of
homosexual acts were definitely inscribed in the laws of the
European countries.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in
Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939, p. 208)
“Gay sexual activity has not always been the preserve of a
distinct group of people-lesbians and gay men. The existence of
a group of people identified as gay is specific to capitalist
society. This division between heterosexual and homosexual
- 265 -
people connects with the modern distinction which we noted
above, between heterosexuality and homosexuality. Gay sexual
activity has in the past been seen as a universal potential, not as
something embodied in particular individuals. Our present-day
notion of a homosexual would have been recognised in
mercantile capitalist London in the eighteenth century. But in
medieval Europe or ancient Greece, the notion of a
homosexual would simply not have been understood. The
notion of a lesbian or a gay man with a whole set of particular
inbuilt personality traits would have been even more
incomprehensible. We can see then, both the practice of
homosexuality and its repression have varied enormously
between different types of society. This suggests that the
contemporary gay sexuality of which we drew a picture in
Chapter 1 is itself not stable or eternal.” (Gough and Macnair,
Gay Liberation in the Eighties, p. 33)
Homosexual behavior: Two Historical Patterns
From a historical anthropological perspective homosexuality
was institutionalized and exhibited in two patterns; age
structured and gendered role structured. Homosexuality in both
of these two patterns had specific cultural and social roles. In
the discussion of homosexuality, age structured homosexuality
as seen in Greek pederasty and the New Guinea tribal society
are the most common examples. While in gendered role
structure homosexuality the example you will find is the North
America Indian berdache.
“Ethnography evidence, drawn from all continents except
North America, suggests a special propensity for homosexual
relations among unmarried males. It is among males between
boyhood and marriage that homosexuality is often permissible
and sometimes obligatory.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality:
Reflections on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p.
20 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to
Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“Outside of Western culture, homosexual behaviour seemed
to fall into one of two patterns. Adult men, who also married
- 266 -
women, had sexual relations with males, who were in some
cultures were adolescent boys, and who, in others, were adult
men who had permanently adopted a transvestite role situated
somewhere between the other two genders. But the active adult
male partner in these acts maintained his dominant gender
status; adolescent boys left behind their passivity at manhood;
and only the transvestite male undertook a new permanent
gender role as a result of his sexual conduct.” (Trumbach,
Gender and the Homosexual Role in Modern Western Culture: The 18th
and 19th Centuries Compared, in Homosexuality, Which
Homosexuality? by Dennis Altman, p. 151)
“These two styles of institutionalized homosexuality, the
New Guinea and the North American, (which are the two styles
most often encountered in tribal societies) could not be further
apart in their primary meaning, and indeed as far as I am able to
determine, they never coexist. The meaning of each is also
significantly different from the culturally recognized but not
instituted homosexuality of the modern West.” (Whitehead, The
Bow and the Burden Strap: A New Look at Institutionalized
Homosexuality in Native North America, p. 83 in Sexual Meanings:
The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality, editors Sherry B.
Ortner and Harriet Whitehead)
“Thus, whereas the age-structured form is more often
universal but transitory, the trans-gender form applies to only a
few men and women, but more often as a long-term career.”
(Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections on the
Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 31 in The Many
Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual
Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“These relationships fall into two major categories. In the
ancient model, an older male takes a youth in a role-structured
sexual relationship. In the Melanesian model, older bachelors
enter role-defined relationships with younger males, though
some Melanesian societies also show evidence of the ancient
form.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections on the
Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 21 in The Many
- 267 -
Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual
Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“Age-structured homosexuality appears in one slice through
the ethnographic literature. Besides this clearly intra-gender
form is the trans-gender form best known in the Polynesian
mahu and North American berdache (Callender and Kochems,
1983; Jacobs, 1968; Katz, 1976, ch. 4) Juxtaposition of these
macro structures shows that homosexuality is a relationship
with extraordinarily protean content. For participants in age-
graded forms, for example, homosexual relations masculinize
youths, while for trans-gender forms, they are part of the
feminization of male participants.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and
Sexuality: Reflections on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual
Relations, p. 31 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological
Approaches to Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“In the New Guinea case, homosexual is deemed
appropriate because one of the two parties is held to be
deficient in the traits normally associated with his anatomic sex;
in native North America, homosexual practice was deemed
appropriate because one of the two parties was held to be
possessed of traits normally associated with opposite anatomic
sex; and in modern Western culture, homosexual practice,
although not deemed appropriate, gives rise, when it occurs, to
the idea that one or both of the parties involved is mixed
and/or deficient in their expected gender attributes. In a word,
in all three cases, we see some manifestation of the dominance
of heterosexually as the model for sexual exchange.”
(Whitehead, The Bow and the Burden Strap: A New Look at
Institutionalized Homosexuality in Native North America, p. 110 in
Sexual Meanings: The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality,
editors Sherry B. Ortner and Harriet Whitehead)
“It is particularly striking that although many American
tribes had a social category like the berdache, some did not,
suggesting that it is particular social structures that create such
categories, not individual personalities or pre-existent sexual
needs.” (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality, p. 149)
- 268 -
“Another institutionalized from of homosexuality existed in
many American Indian societies. Girls and boys in these
societies could refuse initiation into their adult gender roles and
instead adopt the social role of the other gender. For example,
men who dressed and acted in accordance with the adult female
role were known as two-spirited or berdache (originally the
French term for these Indians). The berdache often married
Indian men. The partners in these marriages did not define
themselves as homosexuals, nor did their societies recognize
them as such, but their marital sex life consisted of homosexual
sexual relations.” (Escoffier, Jeffrey, American Homo Community
and Perversity, p. 37)
“A third characteristic of a berache is that she or he was
allowed to choose a marital partner of the same sex. This is not
necessarily prescribed: female berdaches are known to have
married men, and male ones have married women in both cases
without losing their berdache status. So the element which
determined the identity of the berdache was not the choice of
sexual partner but rather her or his occupation.” (Wiering, An
Anthropological Critique of Constructionis: Berdaches and Butches, p.
224-225 in Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? by Dennis
Altman)
“The phenomenon of the berdache in native American
cultures has attracted considerable attention from
anthropologists, and has sometimes been claimed to be an
analogue of the Western ‘homosexual’. The berdache is a man
in woman’s clothing, carrying out women’s occupations, and
having sex with men. Such men are found in many native
American societies, but the berdache seems to be defined
primarily in terms of female occupation and clothing, and only
secondarily by sexual object choice, whereas in the West
‘homosexuality’ is defined by the latter. Thus the term
‘berdache’ seems more akin to the English term ‘transvestite’.”
(Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality, p. 148)
There has been two great historical shifts in the discussion
of homosexuality, which will be emphasized more in the forth-
- 269 -
coming four articles: Homosexuality as a Sin, a Crime, a Disease and
Today as a Political Identity. The first took place the late 1800’s,
particularly the 1880s and the second in the latter half of the
1900s coming at the end of the 1960s and the beginning of the
1970s. These two shifts were brought about by those who self-
identified as homosexuals, in order to bring about social
change. This social change was for a greater acceptance and/or
tolerance for homosexuality, but more importantly it was a
struggle for the legality of homosexuality. The latter has been
more successful than the former.
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Age-Structured Homosexuality: Pederastic Model

“Male homosexuality has a history, but this history consists


principally of sodomites and buggers, pederasts and catamites,
berdaches and contrary lovers rather than homosexuals or gays
in the modern sense.” (Gerard and Hekma, The Pursuit of
Sodomy: Male homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe,
p. 1)
“Thus, whereas the age-structured form is more often
universal but transitory, the trans-gender form applies to only a
few men and women, but more often as a long-term career.”
(Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections on the
Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 31 in The Many
Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual
Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“Behavior that present-day Western observers identify as
homosexual occurs quite widely in small-scale bands and tribes.
Where such relationships among males are institutionalized,
they commonly take two one of two possible forms. In the
pederastic, semen of an older male is placed in or on the body
of a youth. In some New Guinea and Latin America Indian, the
practice is universal and mandatory. Neither partner is
considered a distinct type of person.” (Greenberg,
Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications, p. 180 in The
Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy, editors
Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“Helmut Puff has distinguished two cultural attitudes to
early modern sodomy: the age- or power-structured system
(especially associated with Mediterranean contexts), where it
mattered who was on top, and the Christian tradition (more
generally noted north of the Alps), which did not distinguish
between penetrator and penetrated in its condemnation of the
practice. The former is most clearly associated with ancient
Greek and Roman pederasty.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before
Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 70)
- 273 -
“Another archetypal case (closer to the remit of this
chapter) is the age-graded, male-male sex of medieval Florence,
where, despite the penalties and the activities of informants, a
majority of Florentine males were involved in sodomitical
activities and homoerotic activity was part of masculine work
and neighbourhood interaction. (Not surprisingly, ‘florenced’
became the European term for sodomized.)” (Phillips and
Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 71)
“Randolph Trumbach has suggested that this world was
part of a European-wide system favouring age-structured sexual
relations between men and male adolescents, and that the shift
away from the age-structured system to the homosexual-
heterosexual division occurred in the eighteenth century in
north-western Europe but later in central and southern and
eastern Europe. It is a seductively neat hypothesis that explains
much that we encounter in this chapter relating to master-
servant interactions and sex with boys.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex
Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 71-72)
“Age-structured homosexuality appears in one slice;
through the ethnographic literature. Besides this clearly intra-
gender form is the trans-gender form best known in the
Polynesian mahu and North American berdache (Callender and
Kochems, 1983; Jacobs, 1968; Katz, 1976, ch. 4). Juxtaposition
of these macro structures shows that homosexuality is a
relationship with extraordinarily protean content. For
participants in age-graded forms, for example, homosexual
relations masculinize youths, while for trans-gender forms, they
are part of the feminization of male participants.” (Adam, Age,
Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections on the Anthropological Evidence on
Homosexual Relations, p. 31 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality:
Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn
Blackwood)
“Outside of Western culture, homosexual behaviour seemed
to fall into one of two patterns. Adult men, who also married
women, had sexual relations with males, who were in some
cultures were adolescent boys, and who, in others, were adult
- 274 -
men who had permanently adopted a transvestite role situated
somewhere between the other two genders. But the active adult
male partner in these acts maintained his dominant gender
status; adolescent boys left behind their passivity at manhood;
and only the transvestite male undertook a new permanent
gender role as a result of his sexual conduct.” (Trumbach,
Gender and the Homosexual Role in Modern Western Culture: The 18th
and 19th Centuries Compared, p. 151 in Homosexuality, Which
Homosexuality? by Dennis Altman)
“In probably all human societies other than those under the
influence of the Christian religion, it has been legitimate for two
males to have sexual relations with each other. There have been
only two restrictions: that the men who had sexual relations
with males also marry women and produce families; that the
adult male in the sexual act always take the active or
penetrator’s role. The second point was guaranteed in one of
two ways. In the first pattern (as in Japan, China, New Guinea,
Australia, some tribal African societies, in Islam, and in the
classical Mediterranean world), the adult male had sexual
relations with an adolescent boy who might be his wife, his
concubine, his lover, or his whore. In the second pattern (to be
found in southern Asia from Polynesia to Madagascar among
the North American Indians, and among some African tribes)
the adult male had sexual relations with a small minority of
adult males who had permanently adopted many (but not all) of
the characteristics of women in speech, gesture, clothes, and
work. Christian Europe, by contrast, had since the twelfth
century made illicit all sexual relations between two persons of
the same gender. Such sexual relations nonetheless occurred.
And when they did so they were enacted within the framework
of the two worldwide human patterns.” (Trumbach, The Birth of
the Queen: Sodomy and the Emergence of Gender Equality in Modern
Culture, 1660-1750, p. 129-130 in Hidden From History: Reclaiming
the Gay and Lesbian Past, edited by Martin Duberman, Martha
Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr.)

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“But in the 1690s opinion changed after a new way of
organizing homosexual desire appeared throughout the
modernizing societies of northwestern Europe, in England,
France, and the Netherlands. No longer did differences in age
justify sexual relations with males in the libertine’s mind.
Instead adult men with homosexual desires were presumed to
be members of an effeminate minority. They were given a
status similar to that of the hijra in Indian society or the
berdache among the North American tribal peoples, who had
passive sexual relations with the majority of males in their
societies. European society had begun to move from one to the
other of the two worldwide systems for organizing homosexual
behavior: from a system in which subordination was achieved
by differences in age to one whose focus was a third-gender
role for a minority of men. In the old system all males had
passed through a period of sexual passivity in adolescence. In
the new system, the majority of males could not conceive of
themselves as passive at any moment; passivity was instead for
the minority, the homosexuals (as they have been called since
the late nineteenth century), who from childhood were
socialized into their deviant role. European societies in the early
eighteenth century gave such sodomites a status equivalent to
that of the most abandoned women. The majority of men were
supposed to avoid any sexual contact with them. But such
contact nonetheless occurred, and when it did, it caused
profound anxiety to adolescents and adult men but also perhaps
profound excitement.” (Trumbach, Sex and the Gender Revolution.
Volume One: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment
London, p. 6)
“Recent work, such as Dover’s (1978) Greek Homosexuality
and Herdt’s (1984) Ritualized Homosexuality in Melanesia,
represents a new order of analysis that explains sexuality as a set
of social relationships constructed from a complex repertoire of
indigenous signifiers. Here same-sex eroticism and bonding is
not deviant in any sense but a predictable outcome of a
particular combination of fundamental categories of age,
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gender, and kinship. The ethnographic literature reveals that
same-sex bonds typically conform to the same kinship codes
that arrange other aspects of life.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and
Sexuality: Reflections on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual
Relations, p. 19-20 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality:
Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn
Blackwood)
“What conclusions can we draw from our survey so far? It
seems clear that among various peoples – Papuans, but also
Greeks and Germans – boys had to pass through a pederastic
stage in order to become fully accepted adults. The reason for
this sexual inversion remains insufficiently analysed, and the
ancient participants themselves have not handed down any
explanation for the practice.” (Bremm, Greek Pederasty and
Modern Homosexuality, p. 10 in From Sappho to De Sade, editor Jan
Bremmer)
Greek Pederasty
After discussing how the Greek’s viewed sex in general, and
specifically homosexuality, along with the kinaidos, the man
who is the passive receptive partner in anal intercourse we now
will discuss the Greek practice of pederastry, the love of boys.
Ideally pederasty did not have a sexual component, but was a
rite of passage and an educational mode for an adult male (not a
biological father) to take on the role of mentor for a young
male entering puberty, growing and maturing into an adult
male, who as a free male citizen was to be a political leader in
the Greek city-state. Pederasty served the role for the moral and
political formation of young men. More importantly it was not
a private affair between two individuals but was a public affair
for the benefit of all.
“The pederastic form of same-sex relationships was a
prominent feature of ancient Greece and Roman civilization. In
these civilizations, male erotic interest in persons of the same
sex was generally assumed to be universally present and
psychologically normal, but not exclusive.” (Greenberg,
Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications, p. 181 in The
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Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy, editors
Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“Indeed, the classicist Halperin confines his discussion of
what he terms pederasty or ‘active’ sodomy to penetration of a
subordinate male by a social and/or age superior, with its
associated hierarchies of penetrator/penetrated,
superior/inferior, masculine/feminine and active/passive.”
(Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p.
70-71)
“The core of this interpersonal dynamic is a pedagogic
relationship between the inspirer and the inspired, terminology
shared by the Greeks and the Etor of New Guinea (Dover,
1978; Kelly, 1976). The younger man enters an erotic
apprenticeship that immerses him in male culture and gender
functions transmitted as a collective lore to new adherents
Consistent with the one way socialization process is role
differentiation: The younger male is a recipient and the older,
the provider, a role contrast that generally structures anal and
oral intercourse. Unlike the Nyakyuas, the ancient model is a
fundamentally intergenerational sexual dynamic in which
exclusively homosexual younger men become bisexual in
adulthood by acquiring wives and youthful lovers.
The ancient model finds its highest development in the early
imperial societies of Greece, China, Byzantium, and medieval
Persia where social class complicates the inequality between
adult and youth.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections
on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 21-22 in
The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to
Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“For Greeks the essence of the personal morality lay in
avoiding excess and passivity; it was they experience only
special moral scruples.) We have already described some of
those elaborate conventions which surrounded Greek
pederasty. They reveal, in an acute form, Greek anxieties about
passivity and excess. However, the boy, just because he had not
yet achieved manly status could, if briefly, avoid the stigma of
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passivity and be an admissible object of pleasure. For the adult
male, it was a challenge to his self-control: to direct the boy
towards manhood and transform the relationship from one of
love to friendship. In a sense it was a question of stylistics, of
the manner of the relationship. One fashioned one’s morality in
the course of living.” (Copley, Sexual Moralities in France, 1780-
1980, p. 27-28)
“The ancient Greeks, as is widely known, had a custom
which they called paiderastia, or pederasty, consisting of erotic
relations between adult men and adolescent boys.” (Lear and
Cantarella, Images of Ancient Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods,
p. xv)
“The word pederasty is derived from the Greek
paiderasteia, literally meaning the love of boys. In English
pederasty has come to signify almost exclusively the practice of
sexual inversion. But in Greek literature paiderasteia is used to
refer to both to pure, disinterested affection and to physical
homosexual relations.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 62)
“In the Greek language the word paederasty had not this
ugly sound it has for us to-day, since it was regarded simply as
an expression for one variety of love, and had no sort of
defamatory meaning attached to it.” (Licht, Sexual Life in Ancient
Greece, p. 413)
“I hope that sufficient documentary evidence has been
given to show that paiderasty was cultivated by heterosexually
normal men in ancient Greece, where it did not presuppose an
inversely homosexual type of personality. It was not considered
a transgression, to be tolerated, nor was it felt to betoken to any
laxity in moral standards; it was a natural part of the life-style of
the best of men, reflected in the stories of the gods and heroes
of the people.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the
Male World, p. 32)
“In Ancient Greece, homosexuality was described as
pederasty, and was an integral part of life of the polis because it
was a culture that allowed the norm to function. It therefore did
not preclude relations with women, which was based on the
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reproductive order, and was based upon the division between
an active principle and passive principle: a free man and a slave,
a boy and a mature man and so on. Its function was, in other
words, initiatory. Only the men had the right to practice
pederasty, and the hierarchy precluded any equality between the
partners. But a homosexual who refused to have anything to do
with women was regarded as abnormal because he infringed the
rules of the polis and the family institution.” (Roudinesco, Our
Dark Side: A History of Perversion, p. 33)
“The core of this interpersonal dynamic is a pedagogic
relationship between the inspirer and the inspired, terminology
shared by the Greeks and the Etor of New Guinea (Dover,
1978; Kelly, 1976). The younger man enters an erotic
apprenticeship that immerses him in male culture and gender
functions transmitted as a collective lore to new adherents.
Consistent with the one way socialization process is role
differentiation: The younger male is a recipient and the older,
the provider,; a role contrast that generally structures anal and
oral intercourse. Unlike the Nyakyuas, the ancient model is a
fundamentally intergenerational sexual dynamic in which
exclusively homosexual younger men become bisexual in
adulthood by acquiring wives and youthful lovers.
The ancient model finds its highest development in the early
imperial societies of Greece, China, Byzantium, and medieval
Persia where social class complicates the inequality between
adult and youth.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections
on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 21-22 in
The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to
Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“As we have seen, Greek pederasty fundamentally differed
in form and function from modern sexuality. Admittedly, the
Greek situation offered great opportunities to those males
whose sexual interest mainly concerned other males, but this
preference had to be limited to boys and, moreover, the passive
and active roles in these relationships were sharply defined. In
addition, this preference had to be propagated with moderation,
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without completely excluding the opposite sex. At the same
time, the aspect of initiation into the adult world illuminates an
even more important difference between Greek pederasty and
modern ways of homosexuality. Whereas modern homosexuals
often occupy a marginal position in society and are regularly
considered to be effeminate, in Greece it was pederasty that
provided access to the world of the socially elite; it was only the
pederastic relationship that made the boy into a real man. The
Greeks, then, certainly knew of ‘Greek love’ and their interest
in boys was never purely platonic, but they did not, in any
sense, invent homosexuality!” (Bremmer, Greek Pederasty and
Modern Homosexuality, p. 11 in From Sappho to De Sade, editor Jan
Bremmer)
“This shows that not only writers but also painters are
aware of the fact that in order to maintain its proper character,
pederasty has rules.” (Lear and Cantarella, Images of Ancient
Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods, p. 192)
“Paiderasty served the highest goal education (paideia). Eros
was the medium of paideia, uniting tutor and pupil. The boy
submitted and let himself be taken in the possession of the
man.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male
World, p. 87)
“But it was only after the formation of the city that the
Greeks took to loving other men, and more particularly boys?
Male homosexuality in Greece, in fact or at least its most
socially and culturally significant forms was, in practice,
pederasty, and was extremely widespread. The problem if its
origins remains open.” (Cantarella, Bisexuality in the Ancient
World, p. 4)
“In Athens, homosexuality (which as we know was really
pederasty, in the sense the sexual relationship between and
adult and a young boy) held an important position in the moral
and political formation of young men, who learned from their
adult lovers the virtues of a citizen.” (Cantarella, Bisexuality in the
Ancient World, p. viii)

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“Such pederasty was supposed to transmit manly virtues of
mind and body from nobleman to young lover (Vangaard,
1972).” (Karlen, Homosexuality in History, p. 79 in Homosexual
Behavior: A Modern Reappraisal, editor Judd Marmor)
“While for the Dorians the purpose of the love relationship
was the development of a warrior, for the Athenians it was the
vehicle through which males were educated in the values,
beliefs and manners important to the Athenians, and through
which the young man was introduced into adult male society.
The relationship served a socializing function, whereby the
youth, as companion to an older man, learned how to comport
himself in society, how to enjoy the pleasures of life, and how
to bring self-control and moderation to the enjoyment of those
pleasures. With the guidance of his mentor/lover, the boy
began cultivation of what were to the Greeks the all-important
virtues of courage, temperance, justice and wisdom. Though the
boy received a basic education in such areas as reading and
writing from a tutor, or in later times a primary school which he
would attend until his early teens, it was through his
relationship with his lover that he acquired knowledge and
experience in the world of the Athenian citizen, became
conversant in politics, civic virtues and philosophy, and acquire
an appreciation of the arts. This educational emphasis reflected
the Athenian view that civic strength rested not just on military
might, but on a citizenry composed of educated and virtuous
men.” (Neil, The Origins and Role of Same-Sex Relations in Human
Societies, p. 163)
“For instance, in ancient Greece, homosexual relationships
between older men and younger men were commonly accepted
as pedagogic. Within the context of an erotic relation, the older
man taught the younger one military, intellectual, and political
skills. The older men, however, were also often husbands and
fathers. Neither sexual relationship excluded the other. Thus,
although ancient Greek society recognized male homosexual
activity, the men in these relationships rarely defined

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themselves as primarily homosexual.” (Escoffier, American
Homo: Community and Perversity, p. 37)
“An adult in ancient Greece and Rome standardly took a
prepubescent youth for a partner, an adolescent whose body
hair had not yet begun to grow. In Greece, relations with a
citizen youth were ideally supposed to have a pedagogical
function. The older lover was supposed to teach his beloved
how to be a virtuous citizen. At the same time, the older lover
was supposed to marry and have children, though some may
have not done so. Sexual relations might also be had with
members of other subordinate categories, such as slaves.”
(Greenberg, Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications,
p. 181 in The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political
Economy, editors Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“So these love relationships were not private erotic
enterprises. They took place openly before the eyes of the
public, were regarded as of great importance by the state, and
were supervised by its responsible authorities.” (Vanggard,
Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p. 39)
“They were tied together in a pact equally compelling for
both. It was the obligation of the erastes always to be an
outstanding and impeccable example to the boy. He should not
commit any deed that would shame the boy. His total
responsibility to the boy made him dependent on the boy in
ways far beyond the purely erotic. He was judged by the
development and conduct of the boy. Even in regards to the
bodily aspect of the relationship the boy could assert himself
against his tutor.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in
the Male World, p. 88)
“Many scholars have written much about early paiderastra-
since Homer does not mention it, some scholars argue that it
must be an innovation of the later Iron Age. Scholars than
looked for causes (population control (Percy, 1996), or a
byproduct of athletic nudity (Scanlon, 2002). Paiderastra,
however, is not homosexuality; it is a coming-of-age rite, and as
such it has anthropological parallels that situate it in a stage of
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state-formation, at the tribal level. In that case, paiderastria
should originate in the Bronze Age (Cantarella, 1992, p. 5), and
I myself would put its development no later than the Middle
Bronze Age (ca. 1900-1600 BCE).” (Younger, Sex in the Ancient
World From A to Z, p. xv)
“The practice born in the Greek gymnasium to which
Cicero refers to is not homosexuality but paiderastia, the
courtship of free youths by older males, and the central issue
was status rather than gender.” (Williams, Roman Homosexuality:
Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity, p. 64)
“The abundant surviving literature composed by the
ancients in praise of pederasty always assumes it to be an affair
of minds, not bodies, a pure, Platonic love, as still call it today,
from which carnality is excluded. It was declared that Eros in
such cases would not tolerate the presence of his mother
Aphrodite. For Eos, as we have already suggested, symbolized
the passion of the soul, and Aphrodite fleshly unions, whether
homosexual or not.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 67)
“Instead the homosexual connection favored by the Greeks
was not so much homoerotic as pederastic; the archetypal
relationship was between a mature man at the height of his
sexual power and need and a young, erotically underdeveloped
boy just before puberty. The standard Greek nomenclature
gives the older, aggressive partner the title of the lover (erastes)
and the young, passive male that of the beloved (eromenos).”
(Keuls, The Reign of the Phallus: Sexual Politics in Ancient Greece, p.
275)
“The term used to describe the sexual pursuit of adolescent
males by adult males was ‘paederastia’. In stark contrast to
modern attitudes towards sex between teachers and students,
paederastia was usually conceptualized as a pedagogic and erotic
mentoring relationship between an adult male, the ‘erastes’
(lover), and a young, passive ‘pais’ (boy) called the ‘eromenos’
(beloved), usually between 12 and 17-20 years old (though
professional teachers and trainers, often former slaves, were not
allowed to seduce their students, nor were slaves allowed to
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seduce young free-born males). Often presented as a normal
part of the education of a young man, paederastia
institutionalized a relationship in which the mentor instructed
the boy in philosophical matters and general knowledge, and
prepared him for his citizenship role.” (Mottier, Sexuality: A
Very Short Introduction, p. 12)
“The model of socially validated homosexuality was
paiderastia (following Thorkil Vanggaard I will use this form to
avoid identifying the Greek practice with the associations
pederasty has in our world), the love of an older man for a
youth (By older man here we mean mostly men in their
twenties, while youths were adolescents.) The context was the
gymnasium, where youths went to exercise (and display) their
physical gifts, and the older men went to watch, appreciate and
select. The arena was an upper-class one paiderastia was
essentially an aspect of the paideia, the training for citizenship
of aristocratic youths. (That same-sex love tended to be
mocked in comedy, an art form that attracted the masse may
indicate it played a less focal role in their lives.” (Downing,
Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 137)
“As is well known, to define it simply as a homosexual
relationship (as was customary in the past) would be to falsify
reality, attributing to the Greeks a concept which did not exist
in their world. Today, it is generally accepted among scholars
that an adult man in ancient Greece could with, little or no risk
of social disapproval, express sexual desire for another male, so
as long as the desired male was an adolescent (pais), whom the
adult loved within the context of the socially codified and
positively valued relationship which we call pederastic. This
kind of relationship took place, then, between and active adult
and a passive boy, though by activity and passivity- this is an
important aspect of the question-the Greeks understood not
necessarily and not only sexual roles, but also and above all
intellectual and moral roles.” (Lear and Cantarella, Images of
Ancient Greek Pederasty: Boys Were Their Gods, p. 1-2)

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“Sexual roles in these relationships were prescribed. The
boy was expected to show affection to his older lover, but not
to respond sexually.” (Greenberg, Transformations of
Homosexuality-Based Classifications, p. 181 in The Gender/Sexuality
Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy, editors Roger N.
Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“To facilitate the understanding of the Hellenic love of
boys, it will be as well to say something about the Greek ideal
of beauty. The most fundamental difference between ancient
and modern culture is that ancient is throughout male and that
the woman only comes into the scheme of the Greek man as
mother of his children and as manager of household matters.
Antiquity treated the man, and the man only, as the focus of all
intellectual life. This explains why the bringing up and
development of girls was neglected in a way we can hardly
understand; but boys, on the other hand, were supposed to
continue their education much later than is usual with us. The
most peculiar custom, according to our ideas, was that every
man attracted to him some boy or youth and, in the intimacy of
daily life, acted as his counselor, guardian, and friend, and
prompted him in all manly virtues. It was especially in the Doric
states that this custom prevailed, and it was recognized so much
as a matter of course by the State that it was considered a
violation of duty by the man, if he did not draw one younger to
him, and a disgrace to the boy if he was not honoured by the
friendship of a man. The senior was responsible for the manner
of life of his young comrade, and shared with him blame and
praise.” (Licht, Sexual Life in Ancient Greece, p. 418)
“It is beyond dispute, therefore, shocking as the fact may
appear, that homosexuality contributed to the formation of the
moral ideal which underlies the whole practice of Greek
education. The desire in the older lover to assert himself in the
presence of the younger, to dazzle him, and the reciprocal
desire of the latter to appear worthy of his senior’s affection
necessarily reinforced in both persons that love of glory which
always appealed to the competitive spirit of mankind. Love-
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affairs accordingly provided the finest opportunities for noble
rivalry. From another point of view the ideal of comradeship in
battle reflects the entire system of ethics implied in chivalry,
which is founded on the sentiment of honour.” (H.-I. Marrou,
Histoire de l’ Education dans l’ Antiquité, p. 58-59)
“But the apprenticeship to courage and the love of honour
and glory, important as they were to the Greeks, comprised
only a part of Greek education. For lovers claimed that they
participated actively in all the moral and intellectual
development of their loved ones.” (Flacelliere, Love in Ancient
Greece, p. 87)
“Basic to the understanding of the nature, meaning, and
importance of paiderasty is the following:
Firstly, the age difference between the erastes and his
eromenos was always considerable. The eraste was a grown
man, the eromenos still an immature boy or youth.” (Vanggard,
Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p. 43)
“Secondly, as has been demonstrated, an ethical basis was
essential for the Dorian relationship.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A
Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p. 43)
“Thirdly, the homosexuality of the paidersty relationship
had nothing to do with effeminacy. On the contrary, among the
Dorians the obvious aim of education was manliness in its most
pronounced forms. Refinement in the manner of dressing and
in regards to food, house, furniture, or other circumstances of
daily life was looked upon with contempt. Contemporary as
well as later sources agree in stressing that it was among the
warlike Dorians in particular that paidersty flourished.”
(Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol and Its History in the Male World, p.
44)
“Fourthly, Dorian paiderasty was something entirely
different from homosexuality in the usual sense in which we
use the term, as inversion (see definition on page 17). We have
repeatedly pointed out that ordinary men regularly cultivated
paiderasty and active heterosexuality at the same time. Men who
stuck exclusively to boys and did not marry were punished,
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scorned, and ridiculed by the Spartan authorities, and treated
disrespectfully by the young men.” (Vanggard, Phallos: A Symbol
and Its History in the Male World, p. 44)
“From the point of view of many older male lovers, boys
and girls were equally desirable, but elite girls were secluded at
home, while boys went to school and exercised nude at the
gymnasium. Teenage male youths were seen as the most
beautiful objects of desire, muscular yet, still hairless, smooth-
skinned, with the small, delicate penises adult Greek men
regarded as erotic. Since they were young they did not have the
status of adult males and could be seen as somewhat feminine.
When boys reached the age where they began to sprout beards
and public hair, when their skin grew coarse they seemed much
less desirable; they acquired the status of citizens, and might
pursue their own young male lovers before they married.”
(Clark, Desire: A History of European Sexuality, p. 23)
“If we are to draw conclusions from what has been said as
to the ethics of Greek love of boys, the following emerges as an
undeniable fact: The Greek love of boys is a peculiarity of
character, based upon an aesthetic and religious foundation. Its
object is, with the assistance of the State, to arrive at the power
to maintain the same and at the fountain-head of civic and
personal virtue. It is not hostile to marriage, but supplements it
as an important factor in education.” (Licht, Sexual Life in
Ancient Greece, p. 445)
“Although the Greeks believed that the same desire
attracted one to whatever was desirable, they nonetheless
thought this desire entailed particular problems when it arose in
a relationship between two males of distinct age cohorts, one of
whom had not received yet achieved the status of adult citizen.
The disparity was what gave the relationship its value-and what
made it morally problematical. An elaborate ritualization of
appropriate conduct on the part of both participates was
designed to give such relationships a beautiful form, one that
would honor the youth’s ambiguous status. As not yet a free
adult male, he was an appropriate object of masculine desire; as
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already potentially a free citizen, his future subjectively must be
honored. The active role can only be played by the older
partner, but the younger partner must be treated as free to
accept or reject his suitor. Thus the Greeks believed that the
relationship should be designed so as to provide an opportunity
for the younger to begin to learn the self-mastery that would be
expected of him as an adult. The older man’s desire was seen as
unproblematic; what was difficult was how to live that desire in
such a way that its object might in turn become a subject.”
(Downing, Myths and Mysteries of Same-Sex Love, p. 138)
“Despite general social acceptance of paederastic
relationships, the fact that free-born boys were future citizens
entailed a certain degree of moral preoccupation about social
status. It was therefore crucial to observe sexual etiquette in this
area. In particular, boys were not expected to experience sexual
desire in the paederastic relationship. If they conceded sexual
favours to the older man, this was expected to be out of ‘philia’
– friendship, respect, and affection for the suitor. It was
thought proper that boys should submit only after a respectably
long and sometimes expensive courtship. Deriving sexual
pleasure from-male-to-male sex could open the boy up to
accusations of ‘feminine’ shamelessness and ‘less than male
behaviour’ (given women’s supposedly voracious appetite for
sexual pleasure).” (Mottier, Sexuality: A Very Short Introduction, p.
12)
“The truth is that pederasty is a vice encouraged by
abnormal social conditions, such as life in military camps or
purely masculine communities. Society was essentially
masculine in the classical period of Greek civilisation, even
outside of Sparta. Homosexuality in fact develops wherever
men and women live separate lives and differences in education
and refinement between the sexes militate against normal sexual
attraction. The more uncompromising such separation and
diversity become, more widespread homosexuality will be.”
(Flaceleitere, Love in Ancient Greece, p. 215-216)

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MSM: Men Who Have Sex with Men Homosexuality

From a historical anthropological perspective homosexuality


was institutionalized and exhibited in two patterns; age
structured and gendered role structured. Homosexuality in both
of these two patterns had specific cultural and social roles. In
the discussion of homosexuality, age structured homosexuality
as seen in Greek pederasty and the New Guinea tribal society
are the most common examples. While in gendered role
structure homosexuality the example you will find is the North
America Indian berdache.
“Outside of Western culture, homosexual behaviour seemed
to fall into one of two patterns. Adult men, who also married
women, had sexual relations with males, who were in some
cultures were adolescent boys, and who, in others, were adult
men who had permanently adopted a transvestite role situated
somewhere between the other two genders. But the active adult
male partner in these acts maintained his dominant gender
status; adolescent boys left behind their passivity at manhood;
and only the transvestite male undertook a new permanent
gender role as a result of his sexual conduct.” (Trumbach,
Gender and the Homosexual Role in Modern Western Culture: The 18th
and 19th Centuries Compared, in Homosexuality, Which
Homosexuality? by Dennis Altman, p. 151)
“The phenomenon of the berdache in native American
cultures has attracted considerable attention from
anthropologists, and has sometimes been claimed to be an
analogue of the Western ‘homosexual’. The berdache is a man
in woman’s clothing, carrying out women’s occupations, and
having sex with men. Such men are found in many native
American societies, but the berdache seems to be defined
primarily in terms of female occupation and clothing, and only
secondarily by sexual object choice, whereas in the West
‘homosexuality’ is defined by the latter. Thus the term

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‘berdache’ seems more akin to the English term ‘transvestite’.”
(Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality, p. 148)
“These two styles of institutionalized homosexuality, the
New Guinea and the North American, (which are the two styles
most often encountered in tribal societies) could not be further
apart in their primary meaning, and indeed as far as I am able to
determine, they never coexist. The meaning of each is also
significantly different from the culturally recognized but not
instituted homosexuality of the modern West.” (Whitehead, The
Bow and the Burden strap: A New Look at Institutionalized
Homosexuality in Native North America, p. 83 in Erotics nd Politics:
Gay Male Sexuality, Masculinity and Feminism, editors Sherry B.
Ortner and Harriet Whitehead)
“To back-translate Sambia sexual culture is to reexamine the
basic principles of late modern sexuality in the West. To
understand Sambia sexual subjectivities, for instance we have to
deconstruct the meanings of homosexuality as a Western
category. While it is true that Sambia practice homoerotic
insemination, they lack the category homosexual and have no
homosexuals to fill the category if they did! That is why I have
backed away from the use of ritual homosexuality as an
inclusive category (Herdt, 1993) in favor of the more particular
but accurate term boy inseminating rites.” (Herdt, Sambia Sexual
Culture Essays, from the Field, p. 17)
It is very interesting to note the change in terms used and
meanings given by those advocating for homosexuality from
their early writings to more current writings. Herdt above
expresses this in the quote. There is less emphasis on it being a
type homosexuality. No longer is there the concept of
institutional homosexuality. Hedt changed from using ritual
homosexuality to boy inseminating rites. The term berdache has
been replaced by the use of two-spirited person.
But seeing MSM as a modern type of homosexuality it is the
homosexual physical activity that is important. Also, it is the
homosexuality emphasis that is seen in the other modern type
of homosexuality Political Identity: Gay and Lesbian. So, in the
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four types of homosexuality now in two older types, age-
structured and transgenderal the homosexuality has been de-
emphasized and in the modern types, Political Identity: Gay and
Lesbian and MSM it is the homosexual physical activity and
behavior that is important.
“One difficulty is that not all homosexually inclined people
want to identify their minority status – or even see themselves
as homosexual. Sexologists, at least since Kinsey, have pointed
out that there is no necessary connection between sexual
behaviour and sexual identity.” (Weeks, Jefffrey, Questions of
Identity, p. 43 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality by Pat
Caplan)
“Sexual identification is a strange thing. There are some
people who identify as gay and participate in the gay
community but do not experience or wish for homosexual
activity. And there are homosexually active people who do not
identify as gay.” (Weeks, Jefffrey, Questions of Identity, p. 43 in The
Cultural Construction of Sexuality by Pat Caplan)
MSM: men who have sex with men
MSM is a term used in medical literature and social research
to identity a specific category of men as a group for research
studies and for tracking sexually transmitted diseases in
epidemiology studies. The term was first created in the 1990s by
epidemiologist in the context of the HIV/AIDS crisis, but the
coining of the initialism by Glick et al. in 1994 signaled the
crystallization of a new concept.
MSM is commonly known as men who have sex with men,
but sometimes it denotes males who have sex with males. This
category of men/males is male persons who engage in sexual
activity with members of the same sex. They are grouped
together regardless of how they self-identify in the common
gay, homosexual or bisexual categories. What sets this group,
MSM, apart is they are identified by their behavior of sexual
activity.
Gay, straight, homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual are
identity-based categories. MSM is a behavior category. This
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distinction was needed as a result of the HIV/AIDS crisis.
Those men who self-identify as gay or bisexual are not always
sexually active with other men, whereas those men who self-
identify as heterosexual/straight may be engaging in sexual
activity with other men. HIV/AIDS results as a consequence of
one’s behavior.
“The term men who have sex with men (MSM) is used in
CDC surveillance systems. It indicates a behavior that transmits
HIV infection, not how individuals self-identify in terms of
their sexuality.” (www.cdc.gov/index.html) See References at the
bottom of the page.
“MSM are not limited to small, self-identified, and visible
sub-populations. MSM and gay refer to different things:
behaviors and social identities. MSM refers to sexual activities
between men, regardless of how they identify, whereas gay can
include those activities but is more broadly seen as a cultural
identity. Homosexuality refers to sexual/romantic attraction
between members of the same sex and may or may not include
romantic relationships. Gay is a social identity and is generally
the preferred social term, whereas homosexual is used in formal
contexts, though the terms are not entirely interchangeable.
Men who are non-heterosexual or questioning may identify
with all, none, a combination of these, or one of the newer
terms indicating a similar sexual, romantic, and cultural identity
like bi-curious.”
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Men_who_have_sex_with_men)
There are consequences to homosexual behavior and
activity. It cannot be denied, although one may try to downplay
them. Sexually transmitted disease are direct consequences.
Receptive anal intercourse is the highest risk behavior for
acquiring HIV/AIDS.
HIV/AIDS
www.cdc.gov/index.html is the source for this information.
Reading the web page may be difficult because sometimes they
talk about two different things, HIV and AIDS. Or they may be
discussing HIV/AIDS as a single thing. At the bottom of the
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web page is a section listed References. They are footnotes of
definitions to explain information found on the web page. So
reading below notice the the headings HIV Infections and HIV
and AIDS Diagonasis. Adding to the confusion are the two
different dates, first is 2010 and the second is 2013.
When they are discussing new HIV infections, it is for 2010,
and it is those that are newly infected with the HIV virus. The
year 2013 is used when discussing estimated HIV infection
diagnoses and the estimated number of persons diagnosed with
AIDS. The disease, AIDS, is the end result of an infection with
the HIV virus.
“Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men
(MSM) represent approximately 2% of the United States
population, yet are the population most severely affected by
HIV. In 2010, young gay and bisexual men (aged 13-24 years)
accounted for 72% of new HIV infections among all persons
aged 13 to 24, and 30% of new infections among all gay and
bisexual men.”
(http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/risk/gender/msm/facts/index.html)
New HIV Infections
“In 2010, gay and bisexual men accounted for 63% of
estimated new HIV infections in the United States and 78% of
infections among all newly infected men. From 2008 to 2010,
new HIV infections increased 22% among young (aged 13-24)
gay and bisexual men and 12% among gay and bisexual men
overall.” (www.cdc.gov/index.html)
HIV and AIDS Diagnoses
“In 2013, in the United States, gay and bisexual men
accounted for 81% (30,689) of the 37,887 estimated HIV
diagnoses among all males aged 13 years and older and 65% of
the 47,352 estimated diagnoses among all persons receiving an
HIV diagnosis that year. In 2013, gay and bisexual men
accounted for 55% of the estimated number of persons
diagnosed with AIDS among all adults and adolescents in the
United States.” (www.cdc.gov/index.html)

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Bibliography
Altman, Dennis, Carole Vance, Martha Vicinus, Jeffrey
Weeks and others. Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? GMP
Publishers. London, 1989.
Glick M., Muzyka B. C., Salkin L. M., Lurie D. (May 1994).
Necrotizing ulcerative periodontitis: a marker for immune deterioration
and a predictor for the diagnosis of AIDS. J. Periodontol. 65 (5): 393-
7.
Herdt, Gilbert. Sambia Sexual Culture: Essays from the Field.
The University of Chicago Press. Chicago and London, 1999.
Horrocks, Roger. An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality. St.
Martin’s Press, Inc. New York, 1997.
Ortner, Sherry, B. and Harriet Whitehead. Sexual Meanings:
The Sexual Construction of Gender and Sexuality. Cambridge
University Press. Cambridge, London, New York, New
Rochelle, Melbourne and Sydney, 1981.
Caplan, Pat, editor. The Cultural Construction of Sexuality.
Tavistock Publications. London & New York, 1987.
www.cdc.gov/index.html

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Political Identity: Gay and Lesbian Homosexuality

Homosexuality today expressed in a gay and lesbian identity


may possibly be viewed as another type of homosexuality. Just
as the others are historically and culturally specific so is the
modern gay and lesbian. Being a gay and lesbian is not a unitary
construct that is culturally transcendent across all societies
today. A gay and lesbian is a social political identity limited to
modern western cultures, although this gay and lesbian identity
is gradually being expressed and adopted in other parts of the
world.
“The search for a theory of gay identity originated among
gay Left intellectuals. Starting from an ethnic model of history
that at first assumed an already existing identity or social group,
they eventually discovered that homosexuals were historically
constructed subjects.” (Escoffier, Jeffrey, American Homo
Community and Perversity, p. 62)
“We should employ cross-cultural and historical evidence
not only to chart changing attitudes but to challenge the very
concept of a single trans-historical notion of homosexuality. In
different cultures (and at different historical moments or
conjunctures within the same culture) very different meanings
are given to same-sex activity both by society at large and by the
individual participants. The physical acts might be similar, but
the social construction of meanings around them are
profoundly different. The social integration of forms of
pedagogic homosexual relations in ancient Greece have no
continuity with contemporary notions of homosexual identity.
To put it another way, the various possibilities of what
Hocquenghem calls homosexual desire, or what more neutrally
might be termed homosexual behaviors, which seem from
historical evidence to be a permanent and ineradicable aspect of
human sexual possibilities, are variously constructed in different
cultures as an aspect of wider gender and sexual regulation. If
this is the case, it is pointless discussing questions such as, what
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are the origins of homosexual oppression, or what is the nature
of the homosexual taboo, as if there was a single, causative
factor. The crucial question must be: what are the conditions
for the emergence of this particular form of regulation of sexual
behavior in this particular society?” (Weeks, Against Nature, p.
15-16)
“Transcending all these issues of lifestyle was the potent
question of the gay identity itself. The gay identity is no more a
product of nature than any other sexual identity. It has
developed through a complex history of definitions and self-
definition, and what recent histories of homosexuality have
clearly revealed is that there is no necessary connection between
sexual practices and sexual identity.” (Weeks, Sexuality and Its
Discontents: Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities, p. 50)
“The idea of a gay and lesbian identity sexual identity has
been formulated over the last two decades. Historically it is the
product of the gay and lesbian liberation movement, which,
itself, grew out of the Black civil rights and women’s liberation
movements of the fifties and sixties. Like ethnic identities,
sexual identity assigns individuals to membership in a group,
the gay lesbian community. Although sexual identity has
become a group identity, its historical antecedents can be traced
to the nineteen-century notion that homosexual men and
women, each representative of a newly discovered biological
specimen, represented a third sex. Homosexuality, which had
been conceived primarily as an act was thereby transformed
into an actor. (De Cecco, 1990b). Once actors had been created
it was possible to assign them a group identity. Once a person
became a member of a group, particularly one that has been
stigmatized and marginal, identity as an individual was easily
subsumed under group identity.” (De Cecco and Parker, The
Biology of Homosexuality: Sexual Orientation or Sexual Preference, p.
22-23 in Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire: The Biology of Sexual,
Preference, editors De Cecco and Parker)
“The configuring of the meaning of homosexuality by its
advocates into a lifestyle alternative or minority status, and the
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movement of lesbians and gay men into the social center
parallels the transformation of the social role of the African-
Americans and women during the same period.” (Seidman,
Embattled Eros, p. 148-149)
“On the one hand, lesbians and gay men have made
themselves an effective force in the USA over the past several
decades largely by giving themselves what the civil rights
movement had: a public collective identity. Gay and lesbian
social movements have built a quasi-ethnicity, complete with its
own political and culture institutions, festivals, neighborhoods,
even its own flag. Underlying that ethnicity is typically the
notion that what gays and lesbians share – the anchor of
minority rights claim – is the same fixed, natural essence, a self
with same-sex desires. The shared oppression, these
movements have forcefully claimed, is denial of the freedoms
and opportunities to actualize this self. In this
ethiniclessentialist politic,clear categories of collective identity
are necessary for successful resistance and political gain.”
(Gamson, Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct?, p. 516)
“Lesbian and gay historians have asked questions about the
origins of gay liberation and lesbian feminism, and have come
up with some surprising answers. Rather than finding a silent,
oppressed, gay minority in all times and all places, historians
have discovered that gay identity is a recent, Western, historical
construction. Jeffrey Weeks, Jonathan Katz and Lillian
Faderman, for example have traced the emergence of lesbian
and gay identity in the late nineteenth century. Similarly John
DEmilio, Allan Berube and the Buffalo Oral History Project
have described how this identity laid the basis for organized
political activity in the years following World War II.
The work of lesbian and gay historians has also
demonstrated that human sexuality is not a natural, timeless
given, but is historically shaped and politically regulated.”
(Duggan, History’s Gay Ghetto: The Contradictions of Growth in
Lesbian and Gay History, p. 151-152 in Sex Wars, edited by
Duggan and Hunter)
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“It isn’t at all obvious why a gay rights movement should
ever have arisen in the United States in the first place. And it’s
profoundly puzzling why that movement should have become
far and away the most powerful such political formation in the
world. Same gender sexual acts have been commonplace
throughout history and across cultures. Today, to speak with
surety about a matter for which there is absolutely no statistical
evidence, more adolescent male butts are being penetrated in
the Arab world, Latin American, North Africa and Southeast
Asia then in the west.
But the notion of a gay identity rarely accompanies such
sexual acts, nor do political movements arise to make demands
in the name of that identity. It’s still almost entirely in the
Western world that the genders of ones partner is considered a
prime marker of personality and among Western nations it is
the United States – a country otherwise considered a bastion of
conservatism – that the strongest political movement has arisen
centered around that identity.
We’ve only begun to analyze why, and to date can say little
more then that certain significant pre-requisites developed in
this country, and to some degree everywhere in the western
world, that weren’t present, or hadn’t achieved the necessary
critical mass, elsewhere. Among such factors were the
weakening of the traditional religious link between sexuality and
procreation (one which had made non-procreative same gender
desire an automatic candidate for denunciation as unnatural).
Secondly the rapid urbanization and industrialization of the
United States, and the West in general, in the nineteen century
weakened the material (and moral) authority of the nuclear
family, and allowed mavericks to escape into welcome
anonymity of city life, where they could choose a previously
unacceptable lifestyle of singleness and nonconformity without
constantly worrying about parental or village busybodies
pouncing on them.” (Duberman, Left Out, p. 414-415.)
“I have argued that lesbian and gay identity and
communities are historically created, the result of a process of
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capitalist development that has spanned many generations. A
corollary of this argument is that we are not a fixed social
minority composed for all time of a certain percentage of the
population. There are more of us than one hundred years ago,
more of us than forty years ago. And there may very well be
more gay men and lesbians in the future. Claims made by gays
and nongays that sexual orientation is fixed at an early age, that
large numbers of visible gay men and lesbians in society, the
media, and schools will have no influence on the sexual
identities of the young, are wrong. Capitalism has created the
material conditions for homosexual desire to express itself as a
central component of some individuals’lives; now, our political
movements are changing consciousness, creating the ideological
conditions that make it easier for people to make that choice.”
(D’Emilio, Capitalism and Gay Identity, p. 473-474 in The Lesbian
and Gay Studies Reader by Henry Abelove, Michele Aine Barale
and David M. Halperin)
There is a wealth of cross-cultural evidence that point to the
existence of numerous patterns of homosexuality varying in
origins, subjective states and manifest behaviors. But the
paramenters of the discussion are still best framed as who one
is, a homosexual, or what one does, homosexuality. The
support for the latter is the strongest.
“Descriptions of the Greeks, the berdaches, and the Sambia
should make us a little unsure about our categories homosexual
and heterosexual -least, they should make us think more
carefully about what we mean by these words. But if we are a
little confused about categories, perhaps we can agree on a few
simple facts about human sexuality: (1) same-sex eroticism has
existed for thousands of years in vastly different times cultures;
(2) in some cultures, same-sex eroticism was accepted as normal
aspect of human sexuality, practiced by nearly all individuals
some of the time; and (3) in nearly every culture that has been
examined in any detail, a few individuals seem to experience a
compelling and abiding sexual orientation toward their own
sex.” (Mondimore, A Natural History of Homosexuality, p. 20)
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The reality is that this gay identity a pattern of essentially
exclusive male homosexuality familiar to us which has been
exceedingly rare or unknown in cultures that required or
expected all males to engage in homosexual activity. So, I would
argue this gay identity should be seen not as a type of
homosexuality, but rather as a social movement, a political
cause, a new form of gender identity, and a life-style. Therefore,
the psychosocial conditions of being gay today must be
understood in their own place and historical time.
“Psychological theory, which should be employed to
describe only individual mental, emotional, and behavioral
aspects of homosexuality, has been employed for building
models of personal development that purport to mark the steps
in an individual’s progression toward a mature and egosyntonic
gay or lesbian identity. The embracing and disclosing of such an
identity, however, is best understood as a political phenomenon
occurring in a historical period during which identity politics
has become a become a consuming occupation.” (De Cecco,
Sex, Cells, and Same-Sex Desire: The Biology of Sexual, Preference, p.
21)
Being gay cannot be seen as being a monolithic and an
invariant identity label culturally valid for ancient and medieval
societies. As has been repeatedly stated, historically and
culturally the pattern was for heterosexuality, marriage, and
procreation. Although there have been cases, which are
exceptions to the norm, instances of adult same sex behavior,
are almost always tolerated, but looked down upon with
disapproval.
“Certainly the gay movement is specialized somewhat to
class and urban social formations, and it must be seen from the
perspective of the decontextualization of sex. Only by
disengaging sexuality from the traditions of family,
reproduction, and parenthood was the evolution of the gay
movement a social and historical likeihood. (Herdt, 1987b).”
(Herdt, Developmental Discontuntinuties and Sexual Orientation Across

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Cultures, p. 224 in Homosexuality/Heterosexuality Concepts of Sexual
Orientation, edited by McWhirter, Sanders and Reinisch)
“It is the myth of gay identity, the belief that homosexuals
are a different kind of people.
Gay identity is one of the great working myths of our age.
Even though it is based on the ideas of gender and sex that
have more to do with folklore than science, it occupies a central
position in the beliefs and principles that govern our behaviors.
It is a significant element of our social organization of gender
and sexuality. The myth holds us all in thrall, not just those who
have adopted the gay role.
We begin with the premise that there exists an evident
distinction between (1) homosexual feelings, (2) homosexual
behavior, and (3) the homosexual role. The argument presented
here is that homosexual feelings play a minor part in becoming
gay, which is chiefly is the result of adopting the homosexual
role.
Being gay is always a matter of self-definition. No matter
what your sexual proclivities or experience, you are not gay
until you decide you are.” (DuBay, Gay Identity: The Self Under
Ban, p. 1-2)
“The gay myth is responsible for the creation of the gay
community, which is an assemblage, not of people who share
the same sexual orientation (they don’t), but of those who have
adopted the gay role. Underlying the many facets of gay life is
an overriding concern with the gay role. The conversation and
behavior of gay-identified individual reveals that what
distinguishes them from others is not their sexual identity but
their identity, their consciousness of being a people set apart.
And what sets them apart is their joint commitment to a role
created by a society solely for the purposes of controlling and
isolating behaviors.” (DuBay, Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban, p.
2-3)
“Gay people there are, and some are indeed different, but it
is not their sexuality that makes them different. Their real
differences, as significant as they may be, are now submerged in
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the emphasis of the gay myth on sexual difference. If anything,
it is their sexuality that they have most in common with all
humans. We can end this introduction with one more appeal
added to countless others, an appeal almost totally ignored by
the academic and medical establishments: Gayness, unlike the
medical term homosexuality, has nothing to do with sex or
sexual orientation. It concerns a wide range of divergent
behaviors that set some people apart from others in their
appearance, gender behavior, emotional sensibilities, intellectual
powers, and their perspective of the world.” (DuBay, Gay
Identity: The Self Under Ban, p. 12)
Even today in our “modern western culture”, being and
acting gay is a developmental discontinuity in our society.
Heterosexuality still continues to be the norm. A “gay identity”
began evolving within large population centers in the late
nineteenth century. In the United States there was rapid growth
as the result of the coming together of large groups of men to
fight in World War Two. These men from rural and small town
America began knowing “others just like themselves”. It has
been more recent, since the 1960s that there has been the
emergence of the individuals who do not marry, but accept the
idea of being single and gay. Before this time most individuals
would be married and their homosexuality was expressed in
sexual acts with members of the same sex. Perhaps the largest
milestone in the emergence of a modern “gay identity” took
place on June 12, 1969, in New York City at a gay bar called
Stonewall Inn. This was an act of resistance, a riot by drag
queens mourning the death of Judy Garland. It was a group of
effeminate men, wearing women’s clothes resisting police
authority, during a raid on the gay bar. This event is often
linked with the beginning of the gay liberation movement.
“After the 1969 Stonewall riots, a homosexual emancipation
movement emerged. This movement, called gay liberation,
resulted from a clash of two cultures and two generations-the
homosexual subculture of the 1950 and 1960s and the New
Left counterculture of 1960s youth. Ideologically, the camp
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sensibility of the 1950s and early 1960s had served as a strategy
of containment; it has balanced its scorn for the principle of
consistency with a bitter consciousness of oppression in a
framework that offered no vision of historical change. The gay
liberationists, who had rarely had much appreciation for
traditional gay life, proposed a radical cultural revolution.
Instead of protecting the right to privacy, gay liberation radicals
insisted on coming out – the public disclosure of one’s
homosexuality – which then became the centerpiece of gay
political strategy.” (Escoffier, American Homo Community and
Perversity, p. 58)
“Stonewall was an act of resistance to police authority by
multiracial drag queens mourning the death of Judy Garland,
long divinized by gays. Therefore Stonewall had a cultural
meaning beyond the political: it was a pagan insurrection by the
reborn transvestite priests of Cybele.” (Paglia, Vamps and
Tramps, p. 67)
A second important event allowing for the idea of a gay
identity was the removal of homosexuality as a psychiatric
disorder. In 1973 the American Psychiatric Association removed
homosexuality from its Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental
Disorders.
“It was the militant organization of homosexuals, not any
scientific breakthrough, that led to the removal of
homosexuality from the list of diseases of the American
Psychiatric Association in 1974.” (Weeks, Sexuality, p. 85)
“The decision of the American Psychiatric Association to
delete homosexuality from its published list of sexual disorders
in 1973 was scarcely a cool, scientific decision. It was a
response to a political campaign fueled by the belief that its
original inclusion as a disorder was a reflection of an oppressive
politico-medical definition of homosexuality as a problem.”
(Weeks, Jeffery, Sexuality and Its Discontents: Meanings, Myths and
Modern Sexualities, p. 213)
Why was it decided at this specific point in time that
homosexuality was not pathological after being listed as one for
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23 years? For certain it was not a decision based upon new
scientific evidence, for there was very little to support
homosexuality. It was as a result of a three-year social/political
campaign by gay activists, pro-gay psychiatrists and gay
psychiatrists, not as a result of valid scientific studies. Rather
the activities were public disturbances, rallies, protests, and
social/political pressure from others outside of the APA upon
the APA. There also was a sincere belief held by liberal-minded
and compassionate psychiatrists that listing homosexuality as a
psychiatric disorder supported and reinforced prejudice against
homosexuals. Removal of the term from the diagnostic manual
was viewed as a humane, progressive act. A third influencing
factor was an acceptance of new criteria to define psychiatric
conditions. Only those disorders that caused a patient to suffer
or that resulted in adjustment problems were thought to be
appropriate for inclusion in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.
Adding to the push for removal was an acknowledgment of the
extraordinary resistance of homosexuality to psychiatric
intervention, for overcoming homosexuality. Some passions
and prejudices were involved with this decision as well. In
actuality this action was taken with such unconventional speed
that normal channels for consideration of the issues were
circumvented. This was a time period of great social upheaval
and change, civil rights for blacks, the Vietnam war, and of
course, the sexual revolution. Though the Board of Trustees
voted 13 to 0, a referendum sent to 25,000 APA members only
25% responded, and of these only 58% favored removing
homosexuality from the list of disorders. Follow up surveys of
the members of the APA continued to show that many
members consider homosexuality to be pathological and a
disorder. Also, APA members report that the problems of
homosexuals had more to do with their inner conflicts then
with stigmatization by society at large. It is not what is now
termed homophobia. Ronald Bayer, in his book Homosexuality
and the American Psychiatry: The Politics of Diagnosis, covers in

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depth the removal of homosexuality by the APA from the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel of Mental Disorders.
This action taken in the APA had dramatic consequences
on psychosexual life according to Charles Socarides in a article
published in The Journal of Psychohistory, Sexual Politics and Scientific
Logic: The Issue of Homosexuality. He described a movement
within the American Psychiatric Association in which through
social/political activism resulted in a two-phase radicalization of
a main pillar of psychosocial life. The first phase was the
erosion of heterosexuality as the single acceptable sexual
pattern in our culture. This was followed by the second phase
being the raising of homosexuality to the level of an alternative
life. As a result, homosexuality became an acceptable
psychosocial institution alongside heterosexuality as the
prevailing norm of behavior.
“In essence, this movement within the American Psychiatric
Association has accomplished what every other society, with
rare exceptions, would have trembled to tamper with, a revision
of the basic code and concept of life and biology: that men and
women normally mate with the opposite sex and not with each
other.” (Socarides, Sexual Politics and Scientific Logic: The Issue of
Homosexuality, p. 321)
More recent events have shown interesting perspectives.
There has been the formation of NARTH, National Association
for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality in 1992 that was in
response to the growing threat of scientific censorship. In May
of 2001 Dr. Robert L Spitzer reported a study that
homosexuality may sometimes be changeable. Dr Spitzer was
the psychiatrist who headed the APA committee that led to the
1973 removal of homosexuality from the APA’s list of
disorders. These events coincide with a growing influential
movement of people who have overcome homosexuality, and
are usually self-identify as ex-gay.
“Another aspect of the development of sexual orientation
and identity which would seem to require investigation is the
reduction of the percentage of men and women engaging in
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homosexual behavior with age. A significant percentage of the
medical students and male twins investigated by McConaghy
and colleagues (1987, 1994) reported that they were not
currently aware of homosexual feelings they experienced in
adolescence indicating homosexual feelings diminished or
disappear with age in a proportion of the population.”
(McConaghy, Unresolved Issues in Scientific Sexology, p. 300)
There are individuals who overcome homosexuality and
they do so in multiple ways. But what is of great interest are
those individuals who choose to continue to self-identify as gay
or lesbian but have as their objects of sexual activity members
of the opposite sex. The following are examples of such people
who have made public declarations. JoAnn Loulan was a
prominent lesbian activist in the seventies and eighties who met
and fell in love with a man n the late nineties, and even
appeared on a 20/20 television episode in 1998. Jan Clausen,
also a lesbian activist, writes in two of her books, Beyond Gay or
Straight, Apples and Oranges, of a sexual relationship with a man.
This latter book is autobiographical. She began a long-term
monogamous relationship with a man in 1987. In England
Russell T. Davies wrote Queer as Folk and also wrote for British
TV the show Bob and Rose airing in September 2001. This
second show is about a gay man who falls in love with a woman
and has a sexual relationship with her. This series was based on
a friend of Davies’, Thomas, who was well known in the
Manchester, England gay scene. Bert Archer who identifies as a
gay male in his book, The End of Gay (and the Death of
Heterosexuality), writes of his sexual relationship with a woman.
He also gives examples of other gay men who have similar
experiences.
Of most interest is the actual result of this latest attempt
beginning in the late 1960s and early 1970s to define
homosexuality as a one size fits all type of homosexuality, a gay
and lesbian identity. What was at first an attempt to see two
sexual identities, heterosexual and homosexual has been a birth
of multiple sexual identities. It is a fracturing of a one single
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sexual identity, homosexual into multiple sexual identities and
heterosexuality.
“What these examples illustrate is that homosexual and
heterosexual are socially constructed categories. There are no
objective definitions of these words; there is no Golden
Dictionary in the Sky that contains the real definitions. These
are words, categories we made up.” (Muehlenhard, Categories and
Sexualities, p. 102-103)
“Although the radicalised movement of self-affirming
lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgendered people and others
proclaimed the desire to end the homosexual and indeed the
heterosexual (Altman 1071/1993) – that is to get rid of
redundant and oppressive categorisations – the reality was
different. Since the early 1970s, there has been considerable
growth of distinctive sexual communities, and of what have
been called quasi-ethnic lesbian and gay identities, and the
proliferation of other distinctive sexual identities from bisexual
to sado-masochistic, and many other subdivisions (Epstein,
1990). Difference has apparently triumphed over convergence,
identity or similarity. The rise of queer politics from the late
1980s can be seen as both a product of and a challenge to these
developments, rejecting narrow identity politics in favor of a
more transgressive erotic warfare. (Warner, 1993; Seidman,
1997) – while at the same time, ironically, creating a new, post-
identity identity of queer.” (Weeks, Heaphy and Donovan, Same
Sex Intimacies: Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments, p. 14)
“Yet perhaps the most enabling breakthrough in the study
of premodern sexualities over the last decade has been precisely
the rejection of easy equations between sexual practice and
individual identity. In the wake of Foucault’s famous dictum-
The sodomite had been a temporary aberration; the
homosexual was now a species (1990, 43) – scholars have
recently brought to light a vast array of homoerotic discourses
in the premodern West that were neither filtered nor
constrained by modern sexual identity categories. In the words
of David Halperin, ‘Before the scientific construction of
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sexuality as a supposedly positive, distinct, and constitutive
features of individual human beings... Certain kinds of sexual
acts could be individually evaluated and categorized (1990, 26).’
While gay and lesbian history in the 1970s and early 1980s
aimed primarily at either identifying, the last decade has seen
the focus shift to erotic acts, pleasures, and desires, to
homoeroticism itself as a pervasive and diverse cultural
phenomenon rather than the closeted practice of a homosexual
minority (see Hunt, 1994).” (Fradenburg and Lavezzo, editors,
Premodern Sexualities, p. 243-244)
“On the one hand, lesbians and gay men have made
themselves an effective force in the USA over the past several
decades largely by giving themselves what the civil rights
movement had: a public collective identity. Gay and lesbian
social movements have built a quasi-ethnicity, complete with its
own political and culture institutions, festivals, neighborhoods,
even its own flag. Underlying that ethnicity is typically the
notion that what gays and lesbians share – the anchor of
minority status and minority rights claim – is the same fixed,
natural essence, a self with same-sex desires. The shared
oppression, these movements have forcefully claimed, is denial
of the freedoms and opportunities to actualize this self. In this
ethiniclessentialist politic, clear categories of collective identity
are necessary for successful resistance and political gain.”
(Gamson, Must Identity Movements Self-Destruct?, p. 516 in
Sexualities: Critical Concepts in Sociology, Volume II, editor Ken
Plummer)
“That Way. That Sort. The whole modern gay movement,
form the mid- to late-Mattachine-style homophilia to Gay is
Good, to Queer Nation and OutRage! to Ellen, Queer as Folk and
beyond, has been a struggle first to define, than to justify
and/or celebrate and/or revel in, than to normalize what was
still thought of by many as being That Way. And there have
been wild successes, genuine victories resulting in real progress
being made in very short spans of time in thinking and acting
on sexuality and human relationships. But there’s a forgotten,
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ignored, or perhaps never acknowledged baby in the bathwater
the Movement’s been sumping: the possibility of a sexual
attraction that is neither or exclusively based on anatomy nor
especially relevant to your sense of self. It’s an idea that the
lesbian communities have been dealing with for some time,
something about which they have a lot to teach the rest of us.”
(Archer, The End of Gay (and the Death of Heterosexuality), p. 17-
18)
“Such was the heady agenda of gay liberation. By the mid-
1970s, however, it was evident that the agenda encouraging
people to come out and be proud of being gay – was not
working. Reports of casualties gay related suicides and beatings,
illnesses and death from alcohol and drug use were not
declining. The mortality rate of gay people dying from hepatitis
was staggering: 5,000 a year according to some accounts. New
infectious diseases were appearing, including devastating
internal parasites that added to the already alarming incidences
of other sexually transmitted diseases.
Worse, gay people did not seem to be coalescing into the
productive lifestyle envisioned by the early leaders of the
movement. Where was Whitman’s vision of a land where men,
women, children would join in a continuous celebration of life
and the body electric? What we saw instead was an escalating
spread of promiscuity, prostitution, and pornography. Our
liberated community was rapidly becoming an exploited
community. Gay society founded itself with less and less to be
proud of. The march of gay rights seemed to slow down, and
with the arrival of AIDS, was stopped dead in its tracks.”
(DuBay, Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban, p. 131)
“In short, the gay lifestyle – if such a chaos can, after all,
legitimately be called a lifestyle – it just doesn’t work: it doesn’t
serve the two functions for which all social framework evolve:
to constrain people’s natural impulses to behave badly and to
meet their natural needs. While it’s impossible to provide an
exhaustive analytic list of all the root causes and aggravants of
this failure, we can asseverate at least some of the major causes.
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Many have been dissected, above, as elements of the Ten
Misbehaviors; it only remains to discuss the failure of the gay
community to provide a viable alternative to the heterosexual
family.” (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will
Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gays in the 90s, p. 363)
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Transgenderal Homosexuality

“In the transgenderal type, one of the parties abandons an


original gender identity. Usually the gender abandon is male,
but sometimes female. The gender-changer may be regarded as
a member of the opposite sex, or as an occupant of a third
gender role. Often, they take a sexual partner of the same
anatomical sex, but this not invariably so. It is gender behavior
and identity, not sexual expression, that is critical in this
classification scheme; our highlighting this phenomenon as
transgenderal homosexualities reveals the priorities of a modern
Western classification scheme not shared by the peoples among
whom this phenomenon is found.
When the gender-changer’s sex partners are of the same sex,
their gender identities are invariably conventional. Where
relationships of this sort are institutionalized, the conventionally
gendered partner is given no special name or identity, but the
gender-changer is considered a distinct type of person.”
(Greenberg, Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications,
p. 180 in The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political
Economy, editors Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
One institutional example is the berdache, among Native
American groups. The role of the berdache, is in a religious
context. This person is spoken of as being two spirited. This is
referred to as transgenderal or gender-reversed homosexuality.
Here typically a male plays out the role of a female. The
berdache would adopt the role of the opposite sex that entailed
adopting the clothing, occupational specializations,
mannerisms, and speech patterns of the opposite gender. The
anatomical sex of these individuals are not question, it is the
mechanism of selection of an individual that is not known. One
controversial thought is that an individual may be selected
because of a genetic predisposition to the role, for example they
have feminine physical traits and characteristics. This is not
unlike the labeling of those in western culture as “gay or queer”
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given by peers today to individuals based on their physical
appearance and mannerisms. They “look and fit” the role. In
these societies heterosexual marriage and parenthood are the
normative. The berache is accepted, but is not the normative.
The gender reversal of this norm therein implies discontinuity
from childhood to adult sexual development. Berache could
marry and have children. For the cultures that allowed for the
berdache the homosexuality was not the most important rather
it was the gender role reversal of adopting the clothing,
occupational specializations, mannerisms, and speech patterns
of the opposite gender.
“Male homosexuality has a history, but this history consists
principally of sodomites and buggers, pederasts and catamites,
berdaches and contrary lovers rather than homosexuals or gays
in the modern sense.” (Gerard and Hekma, The Pursuit of
Sodomy: Male homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe,
p. 1)
“Descriptions of the Greeks, the berdaches, and the Sambia
should make us a little unsure about our categories homosexual
and heterosexual-at least, they should make us think more
carefully about what we mean by these words. But if we are
now a little confused about categories, perhaps we can agree on
a few simple facts about human sexuality: (1) same-sex
eroticism has existed for thousands of years in vastly different
times and cultures; (2) in some cultures, same-sex eroticism was
accepted as a normal aspect of human sexuality, practiced by
nearly all individuals some time of the time; and (3) in nearly
every culture that has been examined in any detail, a few
individuals seem to experience a compelling and abiding sexual
orientation toward their own sex.” (Monimore, A Natural
History of Homosexuality, p. 20)
“It is particularly striking that although many American
tribes had a social category like the berdache, some did not,
suggesting that it is particular social structures that create such
categories, not individual personalities or pre-existent sexual
needs.” (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality, p. 149)
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“By anatomy the berdche was a man, by occupational
pursuit and garb, a woman.” (Whitehead, The bow and the burden
strap: a new look at institutionalized homosexuality in native North
America, p. 88 in Sexual Meanings: The Cultural Construction of
Gender and Sexuality, editors Sherry B. Ortner and Harriet
Whitehead)
“Another institutionalized from of homosexuality existed in
many American Indian societies. Girls and boys in these
societies could refuse initiation into their adult gender roles and
instead adopt the social role of the other gender. For example,
men who dressed and acted in accordance with the adult female
role were known as two-spirited or berdache (originally the
French term for these Indians). The berdache often married
Indian men. The partners in these marriages did not define
themselves as homosexuals, nor did their societies recognize
them as such, but their marital sex life consisted of homosexual
sexual relations.” (Escoffier, Jeffrey, American Homo Community
and Perversity, p. 37)
“Berdache is the name given to North American Indians,
usually male sometimes female, who abandoned the gender
ordinarily associated with their anatomical sex, and laid claim to
the gender associated with the opposite sex. Usually this change
entailed adopting the clothing, occupational specializations,
mannerisms, and speech patterns of the opposite gender
(Angelino and Shedd, 1995; Callender and Kochems, 1983;
Forgery, 1975; Jacobs, 1975; Katz, 1976; Thwaites, 1899,
Whitehead, 1981).” (Greenberg, Why Was the Berdache Ridiculed?,
p. 179 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological
Approaches to Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“Berdache is the concept used by ethnographers for those
individuals in certain native American groups who adopted the
occupation, the behaviour, the clothing, and martial status of
members of the other sex. The word itself is derived from the
French word for a male prostitute.” (Wiering, An Anthropological
Critique of Constructionis: Berdaches and Butches, p. 224 in
Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? by Dennis Altman)
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“A third characteristic of a berache is that she or he was
allowed to choose a marital partner of the same sex. This is not
necessarily prescribed: female berdaches are known to have
married men, and male ones have married women, in both
cases without losing their berdache status. So the element
which detemined the identityof the berdache was not the choice
of sexual partner, but rather her or his occupation.” (Wiering,
An Anthropological Critique of Constructionis: Berdaches and Butches, p.
224-225 in Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? by Dennis
Altman)
“In spite of major differences in gender construction, the
cultural features affecting American perceptions of gender
resemble those in cultures with gender-mixing statuses. The
difference lies in their relative significance. Whitehead (1981)
argues that Native Americans gave most weight to occupation,
followed by dress and demeanor, with choice of sexual object
the least significant feature. American culture, on the contrary,
singles out choice of sexual object as by far the most important
feature. It would seem that, wherever gender-mixing statuses
exist, choice of sexual object has less significance in gender
construction than either occupation or dress and demeanor.
Further, if perceptions of gender emphasize sexual object-
choice as their primary feature, gender construction takes a
form that rules out gender-mixing statuses.” (Callender and
Kochems, Men and Not-Men: Male Gender-Mixing Statuses and Male
Homosexuality, p. 176 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality:
Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn
Blackwood)
“The identity of berdaches, on the other hand, is
determined to a large extend by their activities.” (Wiering, An
Anthropological Critique of Constructionis: Berdaches and Butches, p.
232 in Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? by Dennis Altman)
“Briefly, a berdache can be defined as a morphological male
who does not fill a society’s standard man’s role, who has a
nonmasculine character. This type of person is often
stereotyped as effeminate, but a more accurate characterization
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is androgyny. Such a person has a clearly recognized and
accepted social status, often based on a secure place in the tribal
mythology. Berdaches have special ceremonial roles in many
Native American religions, and important economic roles in
their families. They will do at least some women’s work, and
mix together much of the behavior, dress, and social roles of
women and men. Berdaches gain social prestige by their
spiritual, intellectual, or craftwork/artistic contributions, and by
their reputation for hard work and generosity. They serve a
mediating function between women and men, precisely because
their character is seen as distinct from either sex. They are not
seen as men, yet they are not seen as women either. They
occupy an alternative gender role that is a mixture of diverse
elements.” (Williams, The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in
American Indian Culture, p. 2)
“Although there are important variations in berdache roles,
which will be discussed below, they share a core set of traits
that justifies comparing them.
Specialized work role; Male and female berdaches are
typically described in terms of their preference and
achievements in the work of the ‘opposite’ sex and/or unique
activities specific to their identities.
Gender difference; In addition to work preferences,
berdaches are distinguished from men and women in terms of
temperament, dress, lifestyle, and social roles.
Spiritual sanction; Berdache identity is widely believed to be
the result of supernatural intervention in the form of visions or
dreams, and/or it is sanctioned by tribal mythology.
Same-sex relations; Berdaches most often form sexual and
emotional relationships with non-berdache members of their
own sex.” (Roscoe, Changing Ones Third and Fourth Genders in
Native North America, p. 8)
“The phenomenon of the berdache in native American
cultures has attracted considerable attention from
anthropologists, and has sometimes been claimed to be an
analogue of the Western ‘homosexual’. The berdache is a man
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in woman’s clothing, carrying out women’s occupations, and
having sex with men. Such men are found in many Native
American societies, but the berdache seems to be defined
primarily in terms of female occupation and clothing, and only
secondarily by sexual object choice, whereas in the West
‘homosexuality’ is defined by the latter. Thus the term
‘berdache’ seems more akin to the English term ‘transvestite’.”
(Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality, p. 148)
“Whitehead (1981), comparing gender ideology among
Native American cultures and the contemporary United States,
singles out three crucial features of the berdache status, apart
from the biological distinction of males and females. These
behavioral features are occupation, dress and demeanor, and
choice of sexual object. The features postulated here as defining
a gender-mixing status are similar, but modified to fit a slightly
different context. Thus, we separate dress from demeanor and
conceive sexual behavior differently.
The four features which define gender-mixing statuses for
males are: (1) a distinctively non-male style of dress, usually a
form of transvestism; (2) expression of important traits of
women’s behavior; (3) occupational inversion; and (4) the
absence of sexual relations with others occupying these
statuses.” (Callender and Kochems, Men and Not-Men: Male
Gender-Mixing Statuses and Male Homosexulity, p. 168 in The Many
Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual
Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“In probably all human societies other than those under the
influence of the Christian religion, it has been legitimate for two
males to have sexual relations with each other. There have been
only two restrictions: that the men who had sexual relations
with males also marry women and produce families; that the
adult male in the sexual act always take the active or
penetrator’s role. The second point was guaranteed in one of
two ways. In the first pattern (as in Japan, China, New Guinea,
Australia, some tribal African societies, in Islam, and in the
classical Mediterranean world), the adult male had sexual
- 321 -
relations with an adolescent boy who might be his wife, his
concubine, his lover, or his whore. In the second pattern (to be
found in southern Asia from Polynesia to Madagascar among
the North American Indians, and among some African tribes)
the adult male had sexual relations with a small minority of
adult males who had permanently adopted many (but not all) of
the characteristics of women in speech, gesture, clothes, and
work. Christian Europe, by contrast, had since the twelfth
century made illicit all sexual relations between two persons of
the same gender. Such sexual relations nonetheless occurred.
And when they did so they were enacted within the framework
of the two worldwide human patterns.” (Trumbach, The Birth of
the Queen: Sodomy and the Emergence of Gender Equality in Modern
Culture, 1660-1750, p. 129-130 in Hidden From History: Reclaiming
the Gay and Lesbian Past, edited by Martin Duberman, Martha
Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr.)
“Outside of Western culture, homosexual behaviour seemed
to fall into one of two patterns. Adult men, who also married
women, had sexual relations with males, who were in some
cultures were adolescent boys, and who, in others, were adult
men who had permanently adopted a transvestite role situated
somewhere between the other two genders. But the active adult
male partner in these acts maintained his dominant gender
status; adolescent boys left behind their passivity at manhood;
and only the transvestite male undertook a new permanent
gender role as a result of his sexual conduct.” (Trumbach,
Gender and the homosexual Role in Modern Western Culture: The 18th
and 19th Centuries Compared in Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality?
by Dennis Altman, p. 151)
“Analysis of the berdache and hijra categories throws some
interesting light on Western homosexuality, for nineteenth
century and early twentieth century notions of male
homosexuality often assumed that the homosexual was a
‘feminized’ man. Thus the homosexual was said to love men or
want sex with men because he was like a woman (‘a woman’s

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soul in a man’s body’).” (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study of
Sexuality, p. 149-150)
“Age-structured homosexuality appears in one slice through
the ethnographic literature. Besides this clearly intra-gender
form is the trans-gender form best known in the Polynesian
mahu and North American berdache (Callender and Kochems,
1983; Jacobs, 1968; Katz, 1976, ch. 4) Juxtaposition of these
macro structures shows that homosexuality is a relationship
with extraordinarily protean content. For participants in age-
graded forms, for example, homosexual relations masculinize
youths, while for trans-gender forms, they are part of the
feminization of male participants.” (Adam, Age, Structure, and
Sexuality: Reflections on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual
Relations, p. 31 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological
Approaches to Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“Thus, whereas the age-structured form is more often
universal but transitory, the trans-gender form applies to only a
few men and women, but more often as a long-term career.”
(Adam, Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections on the
Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 31 in The Many
Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual
Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
“The universal claims of the gay myth have seduced
otherwise careful scholars to reinterpret history and
anthropology in the same way, applying our peculiar
explanation of homosexual behaviors to other cultures and
other times. Works on Homosexuality in Greece, for example,
have attempted to explain the homosexual habits of the Greeks
in terms of sexual orientation, an explanation the Greeks
themselves would have found eccentric and probably offensive
(along with our concepts of sexuality another concept of quite
modern origins).
Similar descriptions of the berdaches found among
American Indian societies as a common institutionalized form
of homosexuality are also a mistake. There is no indication that
sexual orientation had anything to do with choosing the life of a
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berdache. North American Indians had a tolerance for gender
ambiguity that provided for more than one gender role without
reference to sexual orientation.
The sexual practices of other societies are frequently similar
in appearance but express quite different beliefs and social
priorities. As anthropologists have told us, no human behaviors
are more flexible, more malleable, or more expressive of the
social structure of society than sexual behaviors, and it does no
good to impose the sexual meanings of one society on others.”
(DuBay, Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban, p. 6)
“These conclusions indicate that equating not-men with
homosexuals is misleading, not only in the case of berdaches
but also for gender-mixing statuses in general. Even the four
statuses discussed here, which required sexual intercourse with
men, qualified this requirement by stressing a particular form of
relationship, either prostitution or marriage, rather than sexual
intercourse itself.” (Callender and Kochems, Men and Not-Men:
Male Gender-Mixing Statuses and Male Homosexulity, p. 168 in The
Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to
Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood)
Bibliography
Adam, Barry D., Ph.D. Age, Structure, and Sexuality: Reflections
on the Anthropological Evidence on Homosexual Relations, p. 1-33 in
The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological Approaches to
Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood.
Altman, Dennis, Carole Vance, Martha Vicinus, Jeffrey
Weeks and others. Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality? GMP
Publishers. London, 1989.
Blackwood, Evelyn, editor. The Many Faces of Homosexuality:
Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual Behavior. Harrington Park
Press. New York and London, 1986.
Callender, Charles, Ph.D. and Lee M. Kochems, Ph.D.
(cand.) Men and Not-Men: Male Gender-Mixing Statuses and Male
Homosexulity, p. 165-78 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality:
Anthropological Approaches to Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn
Blackwood.
- 324 -
DuBay, William H. Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban.
McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers. Jefferson, NC and
London, 1987.
Escoffier, Jeffery. American Homo: Community and Perversity.
University of California Press. Berkeley, Los Angeles and
London, 1998.
Gerard, Kent and Gert Hekma, editors. The Pursuit of
Sodomy: Male homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe.
Harrington Park Press. New York and London, 1989.
Greenberg, David F. Transformations of Homosexuality-Based
Classifications, p. 179-193 in The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture,
History, Political Economy, editors Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela
di Leonardo.
Greenberg, David F., Ph.D. Why Was the Berdache Ridiculed?,
p. 179-189 in The Many Faces of Homosexuality: Anthropological
Approaches to Homosexual Behavior, editor Evelyn Blackwood
Herdt, Gilbert. Same Sex, Different Cultures: Gays and Lesbians
Across Cultures. Westview Press. 1997.
Horrocks, Roger. An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality. St.
Martin’s Press, Inc. New York, 1997.
Jacobs, Sue-Ellen, Wesley Thomas and Sabine Lang, editors.
Two-Spirited People: Native American Gender Identity, Sexuality, and
Spirituality. University of Illinois Press. Urbana and Chicago,
1997.
Lancaster, Roger N. and Micaela di Leonardo, editors. The
Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy.
Rouledge. New York and London, 1997.
Mondimore, Francis Mark. A Natural History of
Homosexuality. The John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore
and London, 1996.
Ortner, Sherry, B. and Harriet Whitehead. Sexual Meanings:
The Sexual Construction of Gender and Sexuality. Cambridge
University Press. Cambridge, London, New York, New
Rochelle, Melbourne and Sydney, 1981.
Roscoe, Will. Changing Ones Third and Fourth Genders in Native
North America. St. Martins Griffin. New York, 1998.
- 325 -
Trumbach, Randolph, The Birth of the Queen: Sodomy and the
Emergence of Gender Equality in Modern Culture, 1660-1750 in
Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, edited by
Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and George Chauncey, Jr.
Whitehead, Harriet. The bow and the burden strap: a new look at
institutionalized homosexuality in native North America, p. 80-115 in
Sexual Meanings: The Cultural Construction of Gender and Sexuality,
editors Sherry B. Ortner and Harriet Whitehead.
Williams, Walter L. The Spirit and the Flesh: Sexual Diversity in
American Indian Culture. Beacon Press. Boston, 1986.

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Types of Homosexuality

Same sex physical sexual activity, homosexuality, can be


historically documented; this activity in and of it is not disputed.
This same sex physical sexual activity, homosexuality, has been
tolerated; but the meaning given to it has been culturally
specific according the individual society in which it takes place.
The norm in all cultures and societies is opposite sex physical
sexual activity, heterosexuality, marriage and procreation. The
idea of a gay identity, (two adults in a homosexual relationship)
is a modern western cultural type of homosexuality. A gay
identity also must be viewed in the social political context in
which gives it its name and form.
Furthermore it was not until near the end of the twentieth
century that a gay liberation movement has emerged and made
homosexuality a controversial issue. Most commonly seen is
that reluctantly societies tolerated some adult male same-sex
relations with even more acceptance of adult female same-sex
relations. While they more generously approved sexual relations
between men and boys with some qualifications: the practice
was understood more or less as a rite of passage which must
end for the man in his late twenties and for the boy in early
teens. In all instances of homosexuality continuing on today,
homosexuality is based on behaviors and same-sex physical
sexual activity, today the emphasis is based on self-identification
as being a homosexual. This homosexual today is a pattern of
essentially exclusive adult same-sex relationships, that
historically and culturally specific to post-modern western
societies.
“Equally diverse are the forms of its acceptance. In one
group of societies homosexual contacts are tacitly allowed or
tolerated for a definite category of people, for example,
adolescent boys or bachelors, or for a definite situation, as
something temporary, unavoidable, or unimportant. In other
societies such contracts are prescribed as a necessary element of
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some sacred rites, for example, in initiation rites. In the third
case homosexual relationships constitute an aspect of a more or
less prolonged social process, like socialization of adolescents.
In the fourth case homosexuality is symbolized as a permanent
life-style with a corresponding social role/identity. Individual
sexual motivation is dependent on these cultural variations.”
(Kon, A Socicultural Approach, p. 278-279 in Theories of Human
Sexuality, editors James H. Geer and William T. O’Donohue)
“Thus whereas homosexual behaviour can be found in
cultures as different as ancient Greece, modern American
prisons and the Melanesian cultures of Papa New Guinea, this
does not equate with the notion of the homosexual as a fixed
social role or condition.” (Horrocks, An Introduction to the Study
of Sexuality, p. 146)
“Homosexual acts are probably universal in humans but
institutionalized forms of homosexual activity are not; and
these depend to a great extent, upon specific historical
problems and outlooks of a culture.” (Herdt, Same Sex, Different
Cultures, p. 55)
“Homosexuality as we know it -that is, long-term
relationships of mutual consent between adults-simply did not
exist before the nineteen century, when it was invented by
scientists to create a pathological condition out of a rarely
practiced behavior (previously known primarily as sodomy) The
construction of the condition made it possible for increasing
numbers of people to identify with it, and eventually to react
against its pathological status.” (Schmidt, Straight and Narrow?, p.
142-143)
“Although same-sex attractions and sexual behavior have
undoubtedly occurred throughout history, lesbian, gay, and
bisexual identities are relatively new (D’Emilio, 1983). The
contemporary notion of identity is itself historically created
(Baummeister, 1986). The concept of a specifically homosexual
identity seems to have emerged at the end of the nineteen-
century. Indeed, only in relatively recent years have large
numbers of individuals identified themselves openly as gay or
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lesbian or bisexual. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual public identities,
then, are a phenomenon of our current historical era.
(D’Emilio, 1983; Faderman, 1991).” (Patterson, Sexual
Orientation and Human Development: An Overview, p. 3)
“Historical and anthropological research has shown that
homosexual persons (i.e. people who occupy a social position
or role as homosexuals) do not exist in many societies, whereas
homosexual behavior occurs in virtually society. Therefore, we
must distinguish between homosexual behavior and
homosexual identity. One term refers to one’;s sexual activity
per se (whether casual or regular); the other word defines
homosexuality as a social role, with its emotional and sexual
components. Such distinction is consciously rooted in historical
and cross-cultural comparisons between homosexuality in
advanced societies and homosexuality in other cultures or eras.”
(Escoffier, American Homo: Community and Perversity, p. 37)
“Lesbian and gay historians also discovered that
homosexual activity frequently took place in some societies
without the presence of people defined as homosexuals, and
that intense homosocial or erotic relationships existed between
people who did not otherwise appear to be homosexuals.”
(Escoffier, American Homo: Community and Perversity, p. 110)
“The cross-cultural data on homosexuality (and almost all it
concerns males alone) is also scarce, of dubious quality and
sometimes difficult to interpret. There are, of course, the
famous instances of widespread male homosexual practices, but
the data are often less than the fame. Classical Greece and some
Arab societies are cases of this sort, and one is forced to
consider the possibility that these examples have as much to do
with cultural stereotyping as with a genuine cultural pattern.”
(Davenport, Sex in Cross-Cultural Perspective in Beach, Human
Sexuality in Four Perspectives, p. 153)
“When contemporary homosexuals invoke history and
anthropology in defense of homosexuality and in opposition to
exclusive and universal heterosexuality, their argument is
empirically shaky. Actually, history and anthropology provide
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no evidence for the tolerance of exclusive homosexuality for
any general population. There is no society that approves of
exclusive homosexuality for the general population, male or
female. Some societies permit a small number of men (less
commonly women) to engage in nothing but homosexual
liaisons, often in conjunction with other roles, such as shamans,
magicians, or sorcerers.” (Goode, Deviant Behavior, p. 193)
Therefore, in the past, homosexuality has not posed the
same issues as today.
“Homosexuality may be the key to understanding the whole
of human sexuality. No subject cuts in so many directions into
psychology, sociology, history, and morality. The incidence, as
well as visibility, of homosexuality has certainly increased in the
Western world in the past twenty-five years. But discussion of it
rapidly became over politicized after the Stonewall rebellion of
1969, which began the gay liberation movement. Viewpoints
polarized: people were labeled pro-gay or anti-gay, with little
room in between. For the past decade, the situation has been
out of control: responsible scholarship is impossible when
rational discourse is being policed by storm troopers, in this
case gay activists, who have the absolutism of all fanatics in
claiming sole access to the truth.” (Paglia, Vamps & Tramps, p.
67)
“Consequently in sections that follow - an exploration of
attitudes and customs of ancient peoples toward same-sex
eroticism the modern concepts of homosexuality or sexual
orientation will be conspicuous by their absence. Within these
cultures, sexual contact between persons of the same sex is not
necessarily seen as characteristic of a particular group or subset
of persons; there is no category or homosexuals. On the
contrary, in some cultures, same-sex eroticism was an expected
part of the sexual experience of every member of society, which
would seem to argue against the existence of homosexuality as a
personal attribute at all.” (Mondimore, A Natural History of
Homosexuality, p. 4)

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“Descriptions of the Greeks, the berdaches, and the Sambia
should make us a little unsure about our categories homosexual
and heterosexual-at least, they should make us think more
carefully about what we mean by these words. But if we are
now a little confused about categories, perhaps we can agree on
a few simple facts about human sexuality: (1) same-sex
eroticism has existed for thousands of years in vastly different
times and cultures; (2) in some cultures, same-sex eroticism was
accepted as a normal aspect of human sexuality, practiced by
nearly all individuals some time of the time; and (3) in nearly
every culture that has been examined in any detail, a few
individuals seem to experience a compelling and abiding sexual
orientation toward their own sex.” (Monimore, A Natural
History of Homosexuality, p. 20)
“The universal claims of the gay myth have seduced
otherwise careful scholars to reinterpret history and
anthropology in the same way, applying our peculiar
explanation of homosexual behaviors to other cultures and
other times. Works on Homosexuality in Greece, for example,
have attempted to explain the homosexual habits of the Greeks
in terms of sexual orientation, an explanation the Greeks
themselves would have found eccentric and probably offensive
(along with our concepts of sexuality another concept of quite
modern origins).
Similar descriptions of the berdaches found among
American Indian societies as a common institutionalized form
of homosexuality are also a mistake. There is no indication that
sexual orientation had anything to do with choosing the life of a
berdache. North American Indians had a tolerance for gender
ambiguity that provided for more than one gender role without
reference to sexual orientation.
The sexual practices of other societies are frequently similar
in appearance but express quite different beliefs and social
priorities. As anthropologists have told us, no human behaviors
are more flexible, more malleable, or more expressive of the
social structure of society than sexual behaviors, and it does no
- 331 -
good to impose the sexual meanings of one society on others.”
(DuBay, Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban, p. 6)
Today as we discuss the topic of homosexuality, we see a
wide variety of expressions of it in the lives of people. So now
the term homosexualities is often applied in the literature on
this topic. When talking about types of homosexualities we
must remember we are taking a “verb” and using it as a “noun”;
using two different parts of speech to label the same idea. I
want to frame the discussion this way, who one is, a
homosexual and what one does, homosexuality. Also as we
discuss types of homosexualities today we are doing so from a
framework of our “postmodern generation” and “western
cultural” lenses. There have become two sides in this
discussion, with a moral line dividing them: a pro-gay side,
(those who support a homosexual identity, including individuals
who accept this identity), and those who oppose this
homosexual or gay identity. So often objectivity has become the
“baby thrown out with the bath water”. Common sense has
been replaced by blind passion. This objectivity has also been
lost in the scientific community. Before accepting the outcome
of a scientific project, we must determine, whether the scientists
have a particular political/societal agenda. Is the scientist
himself accepting a “gay identity”? This present discussion,
types of homosexualities is coming from a sociological
framework, looking for a scientific causation may be found
within my discussion about scientific studies.
Facultative and Obligative Homosexuality
Various authors use several terms in speaking about types of
homosexualities. Sometimes you will see the terms facultative
and obligative used describing homosexuality. The later,
obligative, is considered exclusive homosexuality, a condition in
which a person can only bond or pair with a person of the same
sex. There is no option for bisexual or heterosexual bonding.
Facultative homosexuality is a technical term for sexual
orientation and sexual activity with persons of the same sex.
This term does not exclude sexual relations with members of
- 332 -
the opposite sex; it also may be referred to as bisexuality. The
same-sex physical activity may be engaged in only for sexual
release, power, or control, or in situations where there are no
members of the opposite sex, such as in a prison.
Compulsive, symptomatic, and episodic homosexuality
One author uses three broad categories, compulsive,
symptomatic, and episodic homosexuality. (See John F Harvey,
The Truth About Homosexuality) This last one, episodic
homosexuality is a catchall term and is also called situational or
variational homosexuality. Here an individual participates in
same-sex physical acts (homosexual activity), but they would
normally be heterosexual in their orientation. Homosexual
activity takes place in times or places where heterosexual
activity is not possible, where people are separated by their sex,
for example prisons, schools etc. Also, this homosexual activity
may be seen in children or adolescents who do so out of
curiosity or in learning about sex. Older individuals may engage
in homosexual activity for money, in search of a new thrill,
from indifference to sexual morals, or even in rebellion to
cultural norms.
When speaking about symptomatic homosexuality, one is
acting homosexually as a symptom of a more general
personality problem. The stronger impetus to homosexual
activity is to resolve a personality/relational conflict which has
become sexualized. Three possible areas, though there may be
others, can be summarized. There may be problems of
unsatisfied dependency needs, such as for love and affirmation.
It may be in the area of control issues, seen in unresolved
power or dominance needs. So often this is involved with
sexual abuse as a child, which possibly leads them to abuse
others later on. Boys who are abused by other older males,
often feel because this has happened to them, he must be a
homosexual himself. This self-labeling may result in these
individuals continuing on with a false line of thinking, giving
into homosexual physical acts and accepting the homosexual
identity and behavior.
- 333 -
Compulsive or obligatory homosexuality has its origins with
childhood developmental relational conflicts with their parents
and peers. This category is associated with what is being called
sexual orientation. The child may prefer and exhibit non-gender
conforming behavior, which results in labeling and identifying
with homosexuality. Other typical patterns are a passive, absent,
or rejecting same sex parent. For males it is a strong mother,
overshadowing the father. For females it is often seen as a
result of sexual abuse. For both sexes it may be a result of early
exposure to sex, which is not age appropriate. At a very early
age the individual child sees and feels himself as being different
and not accepted. As a result of relational/emotional needs
become sexualized during puberty. Whatever the impetus that
results into acquiring compulsive homosexuality, its underlying
cause is not of being born a homosexual.
Institutional homosexualities
More often by many authors homosexuality is discussed
within the framework of three types of institutional
homosexualities gender-reversed, role-specialized, and age-
structured to prove a fourth commonly identified
homosexuality the “gay identity”. Many of these authors are
advocates for homosexuality.
“To facilitate the presentation of the cross-cultural cases, I
use a model that takes into account five widely agreed on forms
of same-gender relations around the world. These forms are (1)
age-structured relations as the basis for homoerotic
relationships between older and younger males, (2) gender-
transformed homoerotic roles that allow a person to take the
sex/gender role of the other gender, (3) social roles that permit
or require the expression of same-gender relations as a
particular niche in society, (4) western homosexuality as a
nineteenth-century form of sexual identity, and (5) late-
twentieth-century western egalitarian relationships between
persons of the same gender who are self-consciously identified
as gay or lesbian for all of their lives.” (Herdt, Gilbert, Same Sex,
Different Cultures: Gays and Lesbians Across Cultures, p. 22-23)
- 334 -
Bibliography
Beach, F. A., editor. Human Sexuality in Four Perspectives. John
Hopkins Press. Baltimore and London, 1977.
DuBay, William H. Gay Identity: The Self Under Ban.
McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers. Jefferson ,NC and
London, 1987.
Escoffier, Jeffery. American Homo: Community and Perversity.
University of California Press. Berkeley, Los Angeles and
London, 1998.
Geer, James H. and William T. O’Donohue. Theories of
Human Sexuality. Plenum Press. New York and London, 1987.
Goode, Erich. Deviant Behavior. Prentice-Hall, Inc.
Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 1984.
Herdt, Gilbert. Same Sex, Different Cultures: Gays and Lesbians
Across Cultures. Westview Press. 1997.
Horrocks, Roger. An Introduction to the Study of Sexuality. St.
Martin’s Press, Inc. New York, 1997.
Mondimore, Francis Mark. A Natural History of
Homosexuality. The John Hopkins University Press. Baltimore
and London, 1996.
Patterson, Charolette J. Sexual Orientation and Human
Development: An Overview. Developmental Psychology. 1995, Vol. 31,
No. 1, p. 3-11.
Schmidt, Thomas E. Straight and Narrow? InterVarsity Press.
Downers Grove, IL, 1995.
Paigila, Camille. Vamps & Tramps. Vintage Books. New
York, 1994.

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Gay Male Clones

Throughout history the male homosexual was often based


on non-gender conformity, that is the effeminate male.
Although this still continues today, a rejection of this
stereotyping is seen in the gay male clone. There are two books
written by homosexuals themselves that defines this gay male
clone. Michelango Signorileis is the author of the book Life
Outside. Signorileis writes about gay men, masculinity, the gay
male clone and circuit parties. Martin Levine was a sociologist,
and university professor. The book Gay Macho is an edited
version of Levine’s doctoral dissertation. He died from
complications of AIDS at the age of 42. The gay male clone
was not a representative homosexual, but only one of many
groups among the modern homosexual; gays, lesbians, queers,
and homosexual.
“Clones symbolize modern homosexuality. When the dust
of gay liberation had settled, the doors to the closet were
opened, and out popped the clone. Taking a cue from
movement ideology, clones modeled themselves upon
traditional masculinity and the self-fulfillment ethic.
(Yankelovitch, 1981) Aping blue-collar workers, they butched it
up and acted like macho men. Accepting me-generation values,
they searched for self-fulfillment in anonymous sex, recreational
drugs, and hard partying. Much to activists’chagrin, liberation
turned The Boys in the Band into doped-up, sexed-out, Marlboro
men.
The clone in many ways was, the manliest of men. He had a
gym-defined body; after hours of rigorous body building, his
physique rippled with bulging muscles, looking more like
competitive body builders than hairdressers or florists. He wore
blue-collar garb-flannel shirts over muscle T-shirts, Levi 501s
over work boots, bomber jackets over hooded sweatshirts. He
kept his hair short and had a thick moustache or closely
cropped beard. There was nothing New Age or hippie about
- 336 -
this reformed gay liberationist. And the clone lived the fast life.
He partied hard, taking recreational drugs, dancing in discos till
dawn, having hot sex with strangers.
Throughout the seventies and early eighties, clones set the
tone in the homosexual community (Altman 1982, p. 103;
Holleran, 1982). Glorified in the gay media, promoted in gay
advertising, clones defined gay chic, and the clone life style
became culturally dominant. Until AIDS. As the new disease
ravaged the gay male community in the early 1980s scientists
discovered that the clone life style was toxic: specific sexual
behaviors, even promiscuity, might be one of the ways that the
HIV virus spread in the gay male population. Drugs, late nights,
and poor nutrition weakened the immunity system (Fettner and
Check, 1984).” (Levine, Gay Macho, p. 7-8)
“The clone role reflected the gay world’s image of this kind
of gay man, a doped-up, sexed-out, Marlboro man.
Although the gay world derisively named this social type the
clone, largely because of his uniform look and life-style, clones
were the leading social within gay ghettos until the advent of
AIDS. At this time, gay media, arts, and pornography,
promoted clones as the first post-Stonewall form of
homosexual life. Clones came to symbolize the liberated gay
man.” (Levine, The Life and Death of Gay Clones, p. 70-71 in Gay
Culture in America: Essays from the Field, editor Gilbert Herdt)
“Four features distinguished clones: (1) strongly masculine
dress and deportment; (2) uninhibited recreational sex with
multiple partners, often in sex clubs and baths; (3) the use of
alcohol and other recreational drugs; and (4) frequent
attendance at discotheques and other gay meeting places. Clone
culture with its pattern of sexual availability, erotic apparel,
multiple partners, and reciprocity in sexual technique became an
important organizing feature of gay male life during the 1970s.
It also became a seedbed for high rates of sexually transmitted
diseases as well as frequent transmission of the hepatitis B
virus. Many treated sexually transmitted diseases as a price that
had to be paid for a life style of erotic liberation.” (Jonsen and
- 337 -
Stryker, editors, The Social Impact of AIDS in the United States, p.
261-262)
“A key factor in the formulation and promulgation of the
cult of masculinity that also dismayed the gay liberationist was
that the dominant gender style was now supermasculine. It was
as if the 1960s and the counter culture androgyny never
occurred. Gay male culture was still reeling from the crisis of
masculinity that had affected homosexuals for decades. Gay
men, attracted to the masculine ideas they’d cultivated in the
furtive days prior to Stonewall, seemed now institutionalize and
exaggerate a heterosexual-inspired, macho look. The 1970s
clone was born, and his look exploded on the streets of rapidly
growing gay ghettos in dozens of American cities.” (Signorile,
Life Outside, p. 51-52)
“A whole industry was sprouting from and glorifying this
male culture, with clothing stores like All American Boy on
Castro Street, a gym called Body Works, and dozens of sex
clubs and baths, with names like Animals. The sex clubs catered
to every to every imaginable sexual taste: the leather set; men
who enjoyed being tied up; men who wished to be urinated on.
The bathhouses had once been seen as an expression of gay
liberation, at least among those who equated gay liberation with
sexual abandon. Now, they were celebrating and enforcing the
values that Evans saw parading down the Castro every day: The
Premium was put on physical appearance and conformity.”
(Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for Good: The Struggle to Build a
Gay Rights Movement in America, p. 445)
For the gay male clone, what resulted was not gay liberation
or freedom from alienation by society, but was bondage into
the enforced cult of modern homosexuality.
“For a great many gay men in the urban centers-the
majority of which, some studies since the 1970s have shown,
have hundreds of partners throughout their lives-living the
fantasy has of course all been under the guises of liberation.
Perhaps there is no such thing as true liberation. When we
break from one rigid system, we often create another. It’s true
- 338 -
that most gay men in urban America are not having a life of
enforced heterosexuality, as gay liberationist might call it, with a
driveway, a picket fence, and children to nurture. Many are,
however, instead living a life of enforced cult homosexuality,
with parties, drugs, and gyms ruling their lives.” (Signorile, Life
Outside, p. 26-27)
In New York City, San Francisco, and other large cities
many gay and lesbians had formed large gay communities. So, it
was now possible to live, work, and socialize in what became
gay gehettos. The following quote is making reference to the
opening of, The Saint a large disco for gay males in New York
City.
“It was mailed only to Mailmans’ friends and their friends, a
self-selected group that formed the base of The Saint’s
membership of three thousand. Anyone who wanted to join
had to be referred by a member to the membership office for
screening. The clientele reflected the screening process: nearly
all white, professional in their twenties and thirties, most good-
looking and muscled, with the mustaches and short hair that
were the style of the time.” (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for
Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p.
442-443)
“The streets of San Francisco offered, in theory at least, a
cross-section of America’s male homosexual community, but,
Evans thought, one would never know it to walk down Castro
Street. All these men looked identical, with their short haircuts,
clipped mustaches and muscular bodies, turned out in standard-
issue uniforms of tight faded blue jeans and polo shirts. The
image was one part military, one part cowboy, one part 1950s
suburbia and conformity, and they swaggered down the street,
many aloof and unfriendly, as if their affected distance
enhanced their masculinity.” (Clendinen and Nagourney, Out for
Good: The Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America, p.
444)

- 339 -
Bibliography
Clendinen, Dudley and Adam Nagourne. Out for Good: The
Struggle to Build a Gay Rights Movement in America. Simon and
Schuster. New York, 1990.
Jonsen, Albert R. and Jeff Stryker. The Social Impact of AIDS
in the United States. National Academy Press. Washington, D.C.,
1993.
Levine, Martin P. The Life and Death of Gay Clones, p. 68-86 in
Gay Culture in America: Essays from the Field, editor Gilbert Herdt.
Levine, Martin P. Gay Macho. New York University Press.
New York and London, 1998.
Signorile, Michelangelo. Life Outside. HarperCollins
Publishers. New York, 1997.

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Assimilation or Liberation

Assimilation or liberation is one of two discussions that take


place mainly among homosexuals themselves. The other
discussion is that of essentialism versus social constructionism
in the etiology of homosexuality. A better and more accurate
way of framing this second discussion is who one is, a
‘homosexual’ or what one does, ‘homosexuality’.
The homosexual as a distinct person, which was first
advocated in Germany in the 1860s by homosexuals themselves
seeking legal rights, was next adopted by sexologists and then
by psychiatrists. But it was the American military during World
War II with the psychiatric profession that was to play a leading
role in defining the homosexual in the United States as a
character type, who was sick that persisted until the early 1970s.
The Stonewall Riots in June of 1969 sparked a change, resulting
in homosexuals beginning to speak for themselves. No longer
would they allow others in society to define what it meant to be
a homosexual. By many Stonewall was said to be the beginning
of Gay Liberation. Before Stonewall the homosexual emphasis
was on assimilation in their relationship to the society at large.
After Stonewall homosexual emphasis was sexual liberation in
relationship to the society. But AIDS that begin among male
homosexuals in the late 1970s, resulted in the death of many
those homosexuals advocating for sexual liberation.
“While the discussion of such things as the relationship of
gender to sexuality was limited to scientific, literary, intellectual,
and interested circles – as it was, mostly from the nineteen
century through the Second World War – the link was not
firmly or especially established popularly made. Many pieces of
what would eventually be the popular conception of the early-
modern homosexual (which let’s say dates from the Second
World War to about 1969) were floating independently between
sexologists and psychiatrists. There was the effeminate man or
pansy, there was the pervert and/or psychopath who could be
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expected to commit violent crimes of a sexual nature on any
sort of person at all, and there was the man or woman, not
much spoken of in polite company, who had a tendency to
have sex with others of the same sex. When this was spoken of,
it was in purely non-sexual terms, like the partners on ranches
that Front Runner author Patricia Nell Warren remembers her
father mentioning in Montana when she was a child in the late
thirties and forties, or those urban bachelors and the ubiquitous
maiden aunts and their companions.
What the military did in its rough and ready way was to
mush all these things together into one character type - the
homosexual. The homosexual was now, for all the world to see
an effeminate man (and after the war, a masculine woman) who
had sex with members of the same sex, and was either passively
or actively pathological.” (Archer, The End of Gay (and the Death
of Heterosexuality, p. 105)
“The status of homosexuals changed around the time of
World War II. Prior to this point, identifications with
homosexuality were primarily individual experiences. The
identification of homosexuals as a group was given impetus by
the actions of the military and the federal government who
attempted to identify homosexuals and remove them from
military positions. Early in the war effort, discovered
homosexuals were given dishonorable discharges by the
thousands. Later, those who had served in the war were given a
newly created category of discharge – a general discharge which
was neither honorable or dishonorable (Licata, 1980). The
labeling and singling out of these individuals by the government
helped to create minority status of homosexuals as group and
to promote discrimination against them.” (Heyl, Homosexuality:
A Social Phenomenon, p. 341 in Human Sexuality: the Societal and
Interpersonal Context, edited by Kathleen McKinney and Susan
Sprecher)
“Despite this modicum of sympathy initially extended to
sexual perverts, the military categorically declared homosexual
behavior and proclivities as incompatible with military service.
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Historian Allan Berube (1990) has documented the ill effects of
this military ban on those who managed to stay in the service
and those given dishonorable discharges simply for being
homosexual. The psychiatric profession that dedicated itself to
screening out homosexuals also promised to treat the problem
of homosexuality; as it was perceived to affect the individuals
discharged and the society that would receive them.” (Rosario,
Homosexuality and Science: A Guide to the Debates, p. 89)
This military ban on homosexuals was a result but not the
intent of two psychiatrists. President Roosevelt received a
memo from Harry Stack Sullivan and Winfred Overholser
suggesting a screening process for identifying potential soldiers
who may later suffer from mental health issues. Their intent
was to help prevent a situation that occurred after World War I,
in which men by the thousands required treatment for mental
health issues, including hospitalization that resulted in a
tremendous financial cost and burden. President Roosevelt
accepted this idea and had these two psychiatrists draw up
guidelines, which became known as Medical Circular Number One.
But within one year, both the army and navy had revised the
guidelines, adding homosexuality to the list of deviations
Sullivan and Overholser had said should disqualify those from
military service. This revision resulted in the military for the rest
of the war and decades thereafter, referring to men and women
who engaged or were prone to homosexual activity as sexual
psychopaths. This military ban on homosexuals was the
unintended result of the actions by psychiatrist Harry Stack
Sullivan, who was a homosexual himself.
It was as a result of this military response to homosexuality
and after the war a similar response to homosexuality adopted
by the federal government that led to homosexuals beginning to
organize themselves. Harry Hay and other male homosexuals
founded one such group, the Mattachine Society in 1951 in Los
Angeles. The Daughters of Bilitis founded in 1955 was a similar
organization of female homosexuals. The term ‘homophile’ was
chosen by the homosexuals who founded these groups to be
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used in describing these groups so as to de-emphasis the
difference between homosexuals and other members of society,
that is the difference of sexuality, i.e. who one had sex with.
Homophile Movement
“In its early manifestations, the homophile movement
embraced liberationist principles through the Mattachine Society,
founded in Los Angeles in 1951.” (Rimmerman, From Identity to
Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United States, p. 20
“Homosexuals themselves were divided over what their
emerging sense of group consciousness meant.” (Escoffier,
American Homo: Community and Perversity, p. 41)
“From their early group discussions, these Mattachine
members concluded that homosexuals were an oppressed
cultural minority.” (Escoffier, American Homo: Community and
Perversity, p. 41)
“The cultural minority thesis argued that homosexuals had
developed differently because they had been excluded from
dominant heterosexual culture. The secondary socialization of
homosexuals into distinct subculture helped them to develop
appropriate new values, relationships, and cultural forms
because homosexual life did not fit the patterns of heterosexual
love, marriage, children, etc. upon which the dominant culture
rests. The proponents of the cultural minority thesis recognized
that homosexuals also internalized the dominant culture’s view
of themselves as aberrant and were often force by social stigma
to lead lives of secrecy, hypocrisy, and emotional stress. These
proponents therefore emphasized the need for a critique of this
internalized self-oppression and the development of an ethical
homosexual culture.” (Escoffier, American Homo: Community and
Perversity, p. 42)
A difference in ideology that continues even today quickly
emerged in the Mattachine Society, assimilation verses liberation,
in how homosexuals interacted with society. The assimilation’
strategy encouraged the homosexual to act normal and fit in
with other members of society. This continued the historical
concept of passing, where a homosexual would be thought of
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as a heterosexual in their outward appearance and behaviors.
Whereas a liberation strategy is to encourage the homosexual to
come out acknowledging his homosexuality for all others to see.
A movement in the late 1960s and 1970s, Gay Liberation
adopted this strategy.
Homosexuality in the 1950s: Assimilation
“The split that ultimately occurred between the
organization’s founders and its newer members reflected
serious disagreements over assimilation and liberation, conflicts
that have plagued the movements over the years. The Mattachine
founders envisioned a separate homosexual culture while other
members worried that such a strategy would only increase the
hostile social climate. Instead, they called for integration into
mainstream society. (D’Emilio, 1983, p. 81).” (Rimmerman,
From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United
States, p. 21)
“The alternative assimilationist position sought to achieve
societal acceptance of homosexuals by emphasizing the
similarities between homosexuals and heterosexuals.
Proponents felt that the secondary socialization of homosexuals
resulted from a life given over to hiding, isolation, and
internalized self-hatred. For this reason, homosexuals should
adopt a pattern of behavior that is acceptable to society in
general and compatible with [the] recognized institutions ... of
home, church, and state, rather than creating an ethical
homosexual culture, which would only accentuate the perceived
differences between homosexuals and heterosexuals and
provoke continued hostility. The cultural minority analysis was
hotly debated in the early years of the Mattachine Society, but
after many battles, marked by also by anticommunism, the
assimilationists thesis prevailed and served as the ideological
basis for homosexual rights movement during the 1950s and
1960s.” (Escoffier, American Homo: Community and Perversity, p.
42)
“With the adoption of a civil rights strategy as early as the
creation of the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis in the
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1950s, lesbian and gay movements embraced a minority rights’
approach to political and social change. They framed specific
issues by emphasizing the importance of equality for all human
beings as they identified themselves as a distinct minority
group. They presented lesbians and gays as ordinary people,
eschewing an identity based on behavior.” (Rimmerman, From
Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United
States, p. 49)
Homosexuality in the 1960s: Liberation
“The years leading up to Stonewall saw a breach in the
assimilationist attitudes of the docile homophiles of the
previous generation in favour of more revolutionary ones of
people who craved more purely sexual freedom.” (Archer, The
End of Gay, p. 91)
“Yet the rights-based strategy associated with the civil
rights, women’s and homophile movements came under
increased scrutiny and criticism in light of Stonewall. The
modern gay liberation movement was soon born, built on some
of the same ideas that undergirded the original Mattachine
Society almost twenty years earlier. For those who embraced
gay liberation, a rights-based strategy was far too limited. In
their view, the goal should be to remake society, not merely
reform it (Loughery, 1998, p. 323).” (Rimmerman, From Identity
to Politics: The Lesbian and Gay Movements in the United States, p. 23-
24)
Gay Liberation
“For many homosexuals, gay liberation - and what it means
to be gay – was inextricably linked to sexual freedom. The right
to have sex anytime, anywhere, and with anybody they choose
was, for them, inalienable.” (Andriote, Victory Deferred: How
AIDS Changed Gay Life in America, p. 73)
“In the 1960s and 1970s, the gay and lesbian movement had
pursued many goals – the right to be open about sexual
orientation and the right to be equal in the eyes of religious
bodies and the law. But one of its earliest and most basic
objectives, especially for gay men, was sexual freedom: the right
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to have sexual lives that were untrammeled by the conventions
and limits of social norms.” (Allen, The Wages of Sin: Sex and
Disease, Past and Present, p. 125)
“It is well to remember that AIDS was presaged by prior
epidemics of herpes simplex, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, and
syphilis. The Stonewall riots in New York City, the 1969
crucible from which the movement for gay liberation was cast,
created another social revolution that is no exception to the
medical rule. Coming out of the closet has altered not only our
social perception of homosexuality but its medical face as well.
The sociological manifestations of homosexuality have
changed radically in the recent past. As Jonathan Weber noted,
the incidence of syphilis a few decades ago was almost exactly
equal between men and women but is now found mainly in
homosexual men. Since homosexuality is almost surely as old as
humanity and is present in almost every society, the unusually
high incidence of syphilis among homosexual men today
cannot be ascribed to homosexuality per se but to significant
changes in homosexual behavior in the recent pasts. New
expressions of homosexuality concomitant with the gay
liberation movement have created an unusual and new disease
profile for gay men.
The medical literature is quite explicit about some of these
new manifestations of gay male life.” (Root-Bernstein,
Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 282)
“HIV truly strikes where we live. Its mean of transmission -
sex – is the very thing that to many of us define us as gay men,
drives our politics and our erotics, gives us our modern identity,
provides the mortar of much of our philosophy and
community, animates much of our lives.” (Rotello, Sexual
Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 5)
Male homosexuals
“Indeed, there is no record of any culture that accepted
both homosexuality and unlimited homosexual promiscuity. Far
frome being the universal default mode of male homosexuality,
the lifestyle of American gay men in the seventies and eighties
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appears unique in history.” (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and
the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 225)
“The extensive casual networks of gays engaging in sex
apparently for the sole purpose of sensuous pleasure, and in so
many different ways, went far beyond anything that had
occurred before in the United States or elsewhere or that
anyone could have imagined just a few years previously.
Without question, the sexual style of gay communities in the
1970s and early 1980s was a specific historic phenomenon
(Bateson and Goldsby, 1988, p. 44).” (Rushing, The AIDS
Epidemic: Social Dimensions of an Infectious Disease, p. 27)
“When AIDS hit the homosexual communities of the US,
several studies were conducted by the vigilant CDC to
determine what it was in the homosexual lifestyle which
predisposed to this immunosuppressive condition. There were
really only two things which distinguished the homosexual
lifestyle: the promiscuous sex and the extensive use of
recreational drugs.” (Adam, AIDS: The HIV Myth, p. 127)
“In sum, gay sex institutions and the sexual activity in them
became the functional social equivalent of family, friends, and
community: They promoted social bonds that gave gays a sense
of belonging and social support.” (Rushing, The AIDS Epidemic
Social Dimensions of an Infectious Disease, p. 30)
“Other men who had participated enthusiastically in the life
of the ghetto had grown tired of its anonymity and inverted
values. They questioned why membership in the gay
community had come to require that one be alienated from his
family, take multiple drugs and have multiple sex partners,
dance all night at the right clubs, and spend summer weekends
at the right part of Fire Island. Rather than providing genuine
liberation, gay life in the ghettos had created another sort of
oppression with its pressure to conform to social expectations
of what a gay man was supposed to be, believe, wear, and do.”
(Andriote, Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in
America, p. 24)

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“Gay historian Dennis Altman notes that in the liberated
seventies, when promiscuity was seen as a virtue in some
segments of the gay community, being responsible about one’s
health was equated with having frequent checks for syphilis and
gonorrhea, and such doubtful practices as taking a couple of
tetracycline capsules before going to the baths. To gay men for
whom sex was the center and circumference of their lives, their
only real health concern was that illness would prevent them
from having sex – which, to their way of thinking, meant they
would no longer be proudly gay.” (Andriote, Victory Deferred:
How AIDS Changed Gay Life in America, p. 37)
“The complex research agenda that characterized the period
from the early 1970s to the beginning of the AIDS epidemic
reflected major changes within the gay and lesbian communities
themselves. The decision by a large number of people to openly
label themselves gay men and lesbians changed the experience
of same-gender sexuality. From a relatively narrow homosexual
community based primarily on sexual desire and affectional
commitment between lovers and circles of friends, there
emerged a community characterized by the building of
residential areas, commercial enterprises, health and social
services, political clubs, and intellectual movements.” (Turner,
Miller and Moses, editors, AIDS Sexual Behavior and Intravenous
Drug Use, p. 127)
“These observations of new syndromes associated with a
very active male homosexual life-style suggests that both the
type of sexual activity and the extent of promiscuity associated
with it changed markedly during the 1970s.” (Root-Bernstein,
Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 285-
286)
A change in who homosexuals actually have sex with,
became more significant during the 1960s and resulted in new
sexual behaviors among male homosexuals. Prior to the 1960s
homosexual men had sex with heterosexual men who were
called “trade”. The latter was the passive partner in a sex act.
But as the stigma against homosexuality increased heterosexual
- 349 -
men became frightened that they too might be labeled
homosexual and thus were no longer willing to be passive
participates in sexual activity with homosexual men. This
resulted in more homosexual men having sex with other
homosexual men and the specific sexual behaviors themselves
also changed. This change in male homosexual behavior also
resulted in the changes in some of the specific diseases that
effected male homosexuals and dramatic rates in the instances
of sexually transmitted diseases among male homosexuals.
Behaviors among male homosexuals
“In the 1970s an extraordinary proliferation of clubs, bars,
discotheques, bathhouses, sex shops, travel agencies, and gay
magazines allowed the community to ‘come out’ and adopt a
whole new repertorie of erotic behavior, out of all measure to
any similar past activities.” (Grmek, History of AIDS, p. 168-169)
“Furthermore, in previous periods in history when
homosexuality had been widely accepted socially, as, for
example, in classical Greece, there had been no sexual practices
remotely resembling those associated with the gay subcultures
of the 1970s and 1980s.” (Rushing, The AIDS Epidemic Social
Dimensions of an Infectious Disease, p. 27)
“We don’t know, in real quantitative terms, what really
changed in homosexual behavior in the 1970s, but it is possible
to identify three major areas of change: the expansion of
homosexual bathhouses and sex clubs, which facilitate
numerous sexual contacts in one night (by 1984 one bathhouse
chain included baths in forty-two American cities, including
Memphis and London, Ontario), the emergence of sexually
transmitted parasites as a major homosexual health problem,
especially in New York and California, and a boom in
;recreational drugs – that is, the use of chemical stimulants such
as MDA, angel dust, various nitrates, etc. – in conjunction with
what came to be known as fast-lane sex. These three elements
would all be linked to various theories about AIDS during the
1980s.” (Altman, AIDS in the Mind of America, p. 14)

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“Evidence convincingly argues that before the middle of the
century gay sexual behavior was vastly different from what it
was to become later, that from mid century onward there were
fundamental changes not only in gay male self-perceptions and
beliefs, but also in sexual habits, kinds and numbers of partners,
even ways of making love. These revolutions reached a fever
pitch just as at the moment HIV exploded like a series of time
bombs across the archipelago of gay America. When gay
experience is viewed collectively, it appears that the
simultaneous introduction of new behaviors and a dramatic rise
in the scale of old ones produced one of the greatest shifts in
sexual ecology ever recorded. There is convincing evidence that
this shift had a decisive impact on the transmission of virtually
every sexually transmitted disease, of which HIV was merely
one, albeit the most deadly.” (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and
the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 39)
“As the gay version of the sexual revolution took hold
among certain groups of gay men in America’s largest cities, it
precipitated a change in sexual behaviors. Perhaps the most
significant change was the fact that some core groups of gay
men began practicing anal intercourse with dozens or even
hundreds of partners a year. Also significant was a growing
emphasis on versatile anal sex, in which partners alternately
played both receptive and insertive roles, and on new behaviors
such as analingus, or rimming that facilitated the spread of
otherwise difficult-to-transmit microbes. Important, too, was a
shift in patterns of partnership, from diffuse systems in which a
lot of gay sex was with non-gay identified partners who
themselves had few contacts, to fairly closed systems in which
most sexual activity was within a circle of other gay men. Also
important was a general decline in group immunity caused by
repeated infections of various STDs, repeated inoculations of
antibiotics and other drugs to combat them, as well as
recreational substantive abuse, stress, and other behaviors that
comprised immunity.” (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the
Destiny of Gay Men, p. 57-58)
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“The primary factor that led to increase HIV transmission
was anal sex combined with multiple partners, particularly in
concentrated core groups. By the seventies there is little doubt
that for those in the most sexually active core groups,
multipartner anal sex had become the main event. Michael
Callen, both an avid practitioner and a careful observer of life in
the gay fast lane, believed that this was a historically
unprecendented aspect of the gay sexual revolution.” (Rotello,
Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 75)
“In the middle of the century, and particularly in the sixties
and seventies, gay men began doing something that appears
rare in sexual history: They began to abandon strict role
separation in sex and alternately play both the insertive and
receptive roles, a practice sometimes called versatility.” (Rotello,
Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 76)
“It was an historic accident that HIV disease first
manifested itself in the gay populations of the east and west
coasts of the United States, wrote British sociologist Jeffrey
Weeks in AIDS and Contemporary History in 1993. His
opinion has been almost universal among gay and AIDS
activists even to this day. Yet there is little accidental about the
sexual ecology described above. Multiple concurrent partners,
versatile anal sex, core group behavior centered in commercial
sex establishments, widespread recreational drug abuse,
repeated waves of STDs and constant intake of antibiotics,
sexual tourism and travel – these factors were not accidents.
Multipartner anal sex was encouraged, celebrated, considered a
central component of liberation. Core group behavior in baths
and sex clubs was deemed by many the quintessence of
freedom. Versatility was declared a political imperative.
Analingus was pronounced the champagne of gay sex, a
palpable gesture of revolution. STDs were to be worn like
badges of honor, antibiotics to be taken with pride.
Far from being accidents, these things characterized the
very foundation of what it supposedly meant to experience gay
liberation. Taken together they formed a sexual ecology of
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almost incalculably catastrophic dimensions, a classic feedback
loop in which virtually every factor served to amplify every
other. From the virus’s point of view the ecology of liberation
was a royal road to adaptive triumph. From many gay men’s
point of view, it proved a trapdoor to hell on earth.” (Rotello,
Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 89)
“Anal sex had come to be seen as an essential - possibly the
essential – expression of homosexual intimacy by the 1980s.”
(Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 101)
“Another relative novelty was the increasing flexibility of
sex roles. Homosexuality in more traditional cultures had
typically followed rigid patterns: certain men were the insertive
partners in oral and anal intercourse, others the receptive ones.
In the 1970s and 1980s, however, American gay men often took
both insertive and receptive roles. Rather than serve as cul-de-
sac for the virus, as heterosexual women often did, gay and
bisexual men more often acted as an extremely effective
conduit for HIV.” (Allen, The Wages of Sin: Sex and Disease, Past
and Present, p. 125-126)
“These data demonstrate definitively that the gay liberation
movement resulted in a great increase in promiscuity among gay
men, along with significant changes in sexual practices that
made rectal trauma, immunological contact with semen, use of
recreational drugs, and the transmission of many viral, amoebal,
fungal, and bacterial infections far more common than in the
decades prior to 1970. The same data strongly suggest that
recent changes in sexual and drug activity played a major role in
vastly enlarging the homo- and bisexual male population at risk
for developing immunosuppression. Since promiscuity,
engaging in receptive anal intercourse, and fisting are the three
highest-risk factors associated with AIDS among gay men and
since each of these risk factors is correlated with known cases
of immunosuppression, they represent significant factors in our
understanding of why AIDS emerged as a major medical
problem only in 1970.” (Root-Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS: The
Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 290-291)
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“Whatever the cause of AIDS, single or multi-factorial, it is
certain that the promiscuous homosexuals of the late seventies
and early eighties were fertile ground for an epidemic.” (Adams,
AIDS: The HIV Myth, p. 131)
Diseases among male homosexuals
“In medical terms the almost immediate result was an
increase in the classic sexually transmitted diseases, notably
syphilis and gonorrhea; of certain viral disease, such as hepatitis,
herpes, and cytomegalovirus; and internal parasites such as
amebiasis. Skin disorders of an otherwise relatively rare nature,
and chronic diarrhea, became the daily lot of homosexuals. The
rise in these disorders preceded the AIDS outbreak, and already
indicated the point at which the epidemiological situation was
ready to explode.” (Grmek, History of AIDS, p. 169)
“The appearance of a multitude of epidemic diseases almost
immediately after gay men had carved out zones of sexual
freedom has opened up the grim, almost unthinkable possibility
that for gay men, sexual freedom leads inexorably to disease. As
time goes on and the epidemic continues to rage among gay
men while largely sparing the rest of the population, that
nightmare grows only more plausible. It was one thing to
believe we were accidental victims who would soon be joined in
our sorrow by everyone else. It is quite another to discover that
we will not be joined, that we stand almost alone, consumed
with disease.” (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of
Gay Men, p. 18)
“And so, without most gay men knowing it,a revolution in
disease transmission began almost as soon as the steady disco
beat filled the air. The rise of gay core groups in which men
combined anal sex with very large numbers of partners
profoundly altered the microbial landscape and created entirely
new opportunities for a host of diseases that until then had
been held in check.” (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the
Destiny of Gay Men, p. 57)
“The combination of multiple sex partners and anal sex in
relatively intense core groups had already created an unstable
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sexual ecology for some gay men even before Stonewall. An
article in the American Journal of Tropical Medical Hygiene published
in 1968 noted that certain pockets of Manhattan’s growing gay
community had begun to display the medical profiles of a Third
World slum or a tropical island, with far higher than average
rates of traditional STDs and gastrointestinal parasites. After
Stonewall this process sharply accelerated, creating a radical
new medical situation in the gay world.” (Rotello, Sexual Ecology:
AIDS and the Destiny of Gay Men, p. 66-67)
“The incidence of venereal diseases has long been
recognized to be a sensitive indicator of levels of promiscuity.
Rates of venereal diseases began a noticeable climb during the
mid-1950s, as advances in birth control became widely
available, and they skyrocketed during the 1970s. Whereas the
increase was found among both men and women during the
1950s and 1960s, the vast increase in new cases of venereal
diseases during the 1970s was found almost entirely in
homosexual and bisexual men and has been directly attributed
by the medical community to the consequences of gay
liberation. The title of an article in the Journal of the American
Medical Association in 1977 by Dr. S. Vaisrub said it all:
Homosexuality- a risk factor in infectious diseases.
Analysis of the increases in specific venereal diseases
provides a detailed look at the growth of homosexual
promiscuity.” (Root-Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost
of Premature Consensus, p. 287-288)
“Some gay men became unwitting guinea pigs for the
elucidation of how various diseases were transmitted. Diseases
such as amebiasis, shigellosis, and giardiasis were not known to
be transmitted sexually prior to 1970. Their sexual transmission
was first documented in gay men, and they are now known to
be associated with anal intercourse and anal-oral contact. Once
again, these diseases therefore provide measures of increases in
these types of gay sex.
All these disease were rare in the United States and England
prior to the 1970s, with outbreaks almost always associated with
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fecal contamination and poor public hygiene. This picture
changed dramatically in the aftermath of gay liberation.” (Root-
Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus,
p. 289)
“Some physicians saw what was happening even as it
happened. Dr. H. Most and Dr. B. H. Kean, for example, noted
that the Manhattan homosexual community had begun to
display the unusual disease profile typical of a tropical isle or
Third World country beginning about 1968.” (Root-Bernstein,
Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 290)
“Urban gay American men were affected with diseases that
were previously considered problems only in the poor,
undeveloped areas of the world. After repeated bouts of these
diseases, treatment with increasingly powerful antibiotics, and
use of the recreational drugs that were for many were just
another normal part of ghetto life, the immune systems of
many gay men were suppressed to dangerously low levels.”
(Andriote, Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed Gay Life in
America, p. 39)
“During the 1960s and 1970s, US doctors reported sexually
transmitted diseases as the rate of 5-7 million cases per year.
Thus the CDC knew the dramatic increase of chlamydia and the
high rates of infertility that it causes. It knew of the increase of
syphilis and of STDs that previously were rare. It was especially
concerned about the spread of hepatitis B, which clustered in
gay populations. It enrolled a cohort of 7000 gay men to study
their lifestyle and viral load in connection with the search for a
vaccine. From this study it knew that syphilis, gonorrhea, and
hepatitis B were endemic in the gay populations of the cities.
Parasitic infections of the colon, known as ‘gay bowl’, were also
endemic. It was found that the annual hepatitis infection rate
among gays was an astonishing 12%, as against a 1% lifetime
rate for the general population. The stage was set for rapid
transmission of unusual pathogens.
Thus on the eve of AIDS, the CDC was fully-aware of the
increase of sexually transmitted disease and the possible
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bacterial and viral ‘bomb’ that the sexual revolution had
planted.” (Caton, The AIDS Mirage, p. 25-26)
“HIV aside, there are powerful additional reasons why we
need to face the facts of why AIDS happened to gay men.
Almost every researcher studying the epidemic is convinced of
one overarching fact: that if gay men ever re-create the sexual
conditions of the seventies, the same kind of thing will happen
again with other microbes. There are already drug-resistant or
incurable diseases circulating in the gay population – things like
hepatitis C, antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, various strains of
herpes – and they all stand poised to sweep through the gay
population the moment we provide them an opportunity to
spread.” (Rotello, Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay
Men, p. 7)
“If we now go back and ask why AIDS emerged as a
problem for gay men only in the past decade or so, despite the
acknowledged antiquity of homosexuality itself, the answer
becomes clear: AIDS became a problem for homosexual men
only when rampant promiscuity, frequent anal forms of
intercourse, new and sometimes physically traumatic forms of
sex, and the frequent concomitants of drug use and multiple
concurrent infections paved the way. As Mirko Grmek has
concluded, American homosexuals created the conditions
which, by exceeding a critical threshold, made the epidemic
possible. This conclusion stands regardless of whether one
wishes to interpret the social revolution of gay liberation as the
means by which HIV has spread, the vehicle for transmitting
HIV with all of its necessary cofactors, or the direct cause of
the immunosuppressive habits that have medically debilitated
so many gay men.” (Root-Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic
Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 291-292)
Who gets AIDS?
“From Stonewall to the first AIDS alert was only twelve
short years. In the Eighties and early Nineties, displaced anxiety
over the horrors of AIDS turned gay activists into rampaging
nihilists and monomaniacs, who dishonestly blamed the disease
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on the government and trampled on the rights of the gay
majority, and whose errors of judgement materially aided the
rise and consolidation of the far right. AIDS did not appear out
of nowhere. It was a direct result of the sexual revolution,
which my generation unleashed with the best intentions, but
whose worse effects were to be suffered primarily by gay men.
In the West, despite much propaganda to the contrary, AIDS is
a gay disease and will remain one for the foreseeable future.”
(Paglia, Vamps & Tramps, p. 68)
“From its very beginnings the most striking features of the
AIDS epidemic in the USA and in Western countries was its
dominance in the male homosexual population. It was therefore
logical to search for clues for the cause of the disease among
practices or characteristics of this lifestyle.” (Schoub, AIDS and
HIV in Perspective, p. 4)
“AIDS in America has two primary sources at present:
unprotected anal intercourse, which is associated with gay male
behavior and which probably accounts for the bulk of the
existing cases nationwide; and intravenous drug injection with
virus-contaminated needles, which is currently the major source
of new cases and is likely to be the source of most cases within
a few years.” (Perow and Guillen, The AIDS Disaster: The Failure
of Organizations in New York and the Nation, p. 55)
“The disease first became evident among male homosexuals
and intravenous drug users, and in the United States it remains
disportionately concentrated in these two populations.”
(Rushing, The AIDS Epidemic: Social Dimensions of an Infectious
Disease, p. 1)
“AIDS, however, has remained absolutely fixed in its
original risk groups. Today, a full decade after it first appeared,
the syndrome is diagnosed in homosexuals, intravenous drug
users, and hemophiliacs some 95 percent of the time, just as ten
years ago. Nine out every ten AIDS patients are male, also just
as before. Even the very existence of a latent period strongly
suggests that years of health abuse are required for such fatal
conditions. Among most AIDS patients in the United States
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and Europe, one extremely common health risk has been
identified: the long-term use of hard drugs (the evidence for
this new AIDS hypothesis will be presented in chapter 8 and
11). AIDS is not contagious nor is it even a single epidemic.”
(Duesburg, Inventing the AIDS Virus, p. 217)
“Any, or all, of these possibilities would explain why AIDS
has remained almost completely within the originally defined
high-risk groups rather than spreading, as other venerable
diseases had done, to low-risk groups as well.” (Root-Bernstein,
Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature Consensus, p. 114)
“It is, of course, always dangerous to generalize about any
group of people, and people with AIDS are no exception. And
yet certain generalizations about who is most likely to contract
AIDS have proved to be useful from a medical perspective. We
recognize that the vast majority of people with AIDS are gay
men/or intravenous drug abusers. These generalizations
provide clues about what may cause AIDS, what may dispose
people to contract the syndrome, and how the disease may
spread.” (Root-Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of
Premature Consensus, p. 224)
“Some people are far more susceptible to AIDS than
others, and the reasons are from mysterious: immunological
exposure to semen, blood, or other alloantigens; multiple,
concurrent infections; prolonged medical or illicit drug use;
malnutrition; and so forth. None of these risk factors is new,
however. Why, then, has AIDS become epidemic only recently?
The recent spread of AIDS can be understood only in terms
of one of the most basic principles of epidemiology: disease
that are transmitted by exposure to blood or by sexual means
are social diseases. It is impossible to understand such diseases
from a purely medical, biological, or laboratory perspective.”
(Root-Bernstein, Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of Premature
Consensus, p. 281)
Homosexuality in the 1980s: A Return to Assimilation
“The belief in a predetermined sexual orientation is most
visible in the emerging conservatism in the gay rights
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movement. Although the concept of conservatism seems
antithetical to the cause of gay rights, it has been expressed
recently as an effort to assimilate gays and lesbians into the
mainstream heterosexual culture. The assimilationist is not so
much a challenge to conservatives as an effort as an effort at
accommodation. Whereas as conservatives have portrayed
homosexuality as a threat to traditional values, assimilationists
attempt to show that homosexuals can embrace the same values
they are supposed to threaten.” (Brookey, Reinventing the Male
Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay Gene, p. 137)
“The push for assimilation, however, is not new. The
original homophile organizations of the 1950s, such as the
Mattachine Society, Daughters of Bilitis and One, Inc. adopted a
policy of assimilation.” (Brookey, Reinventing the Male
Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay Gene, p. 137)
“The contemporary assimilationist movement resembles
Mattachines policies in two important ways.” (Brookey,
Reinventing the Male Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay
Gene, p. 138)
“First, it is designed to deny any attempts to challenge the
heterosexual norms of society.” (Brookey, Reinventing the Male
Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power of the Gay Gene, p. 138)
“The current assimilationist movement, like the older
Mattachine Society, has deferred to the authority of science.”
(Brookey, Reinventing the Male Homosexual: The Rhetoric and Power
of the Gay Gene, p. 139)
Assimilation or Liberation
Whether by assimilation or liberation the merits of
homosexuality are very weak and detrimintral for both the
individuals invovled in homosexuality and for society at large.
Both statgeies are aimed at the legitmatization and
normalization of homosexuality, homosexual behavior. But it is
much more than about a specific behavior, homosexuality, it is
about how society defines those essential factors which give a
society meaning and provides for a healthy society gender, the

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family, and community. These last quotes are by those self-
identify as homosexuals themeselves.
“Gay and lesbian identity politics is, only in part, about the
social status of self-identified homosexuals; it is also about the
meaning of sexuality, gender, the family, and even community
in our society.” (Escoffier, American Homo: Community and
Perversity, p. 225)
“The lesbian and gay communities, however, have
considerable ambivalence toward the campaign for citizenship,
because the outlaw status of homosexuals is historically very
significant.” (Escoffier, American Homo: Community and Perversity,
p. 225)
“I have argued that lesbian and gay identity and
communities are historically created, the result of a process of
capitalist development that has spanned many generations. A
corollary of this argument is that we are not a fixed social
minority composed for all time of a certain percentage of the
population. There are more of us than one hundred years ago,
more of us than forty years ago. And there may very well be
more gay men and lesbians in the future. Claims made by gays
and nongays that sexual orientation is fixed at an early age, that
large numbers of visible gay men and lesbians in society, the
media, and schools will have no influence on the sexual
identities of the young, are wrong. Capitalism has created the
material conditions for homosexual desire to express itself as a
central component of some individuals’ lives; now, our political
movements are changing consciousness, creating the ideological
conditions that make it easier for people to make that choice.”
(D’Emilio, Capitalism and Gay Identity, p. 473-474 in The Lesbian
and Gay Studies Reader by Henry Abelove, Michele Aine Barale
and David M. Halperin)
“In short, the gay lifestyle – if such a chaos can, after all,
legitimately be called a lifestyle – just doesn’t work: it doesn’t
serve the two functions for which all social framework evolve:
to constrain people’s natural impulses to behave badly and to
meet their natural needs. While it’s impossible to provide an
- 361 -
exhaustive analytic list of all the root causes and aggravants of
this failure, we can asservative at least some of the major
causes. Many have been dissected, above as elements of the
Ten Misbehaviors; it only remains to discuss the fail of the gay
community to provide a viable alternative to the heterosexual
family.” (Kirk and Madsen, After the Ball: How America Will
Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gay’s in the 90s, p. 363)
Bibliography
Abelove, Henry, Michele Aine Barale and David M.
Halprin. The Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader. Routledge. New
York and London, 1993.
Adams, Jad. AIDS: The HIV Myth. MacMillian London,
Inc., London, 1989.
Aggelton, Peter, Peter Davies and Graham Hart, editors.
AIDS: Facing The Second Decade. The Falmer Press. London,
New York and Philadelphia, 1993.
Allen, Peter Lewis. The Wages of Sin: Sex and Disease, Past and
Present. The University of Chicago Press. Chicago and London,
2000.
Altman, Dennis. AIDS in the Mind of America. Anchor
Books. Garden City, New York, 1987.
Andriote, John-Manuel. Victory Deferred: How AIDS Changed
Gay Life in America. The University of Chicago Press. Chicago
and London, 1999.
Archer, Bert. The End of Gay (and the Death of Heterosexuality).
Thunder’s Mouth Press. New York, 2002.
Brookey, Robert Alan. Reinventing the Male Homosexual: The
Rhetoric and Power of the Gay Gene. Indiana University Press.
Bloomington & Indianapolis, 2002.
Caton, Hiram. The AIDS Mirage. University of New South
Wales Press LTD. Sydney, 1994.
D’Emilio, John. Capitalism and Gay Identity, p. 467-476, in The
Lesbian and Gay Studies Reader by Henry Abelove, Michele Aine
Barale and David M. Halperin. Routledge. New York and
London, 1993.

- 362 -
Duesburg, Peter, Dr. Inventing the AIDS Virus. Regnery
Publishing, Inc., Washington, D.C., 1996.
Ellison, George, Melissa Parker and Catherine Campbell,
editors. Learning From HIV and AIDS. Cambridge University
Press. Cambridge, United Kingdom, 2003.
Escoffier, Jeffrey. American Homo: Community and Perversity.
University of California Press. Berkeley, Los Angeles and
London, 1998.
Heyl, Barbara Sherman. Homosexuality: A Social Phenomenon,
p. 312-349 in Human Sexuality: The Societal and Interpersonal
Context. Kathleen McKinney and Susan Sprecher, editors. Ablex
Publishing Corporation. Norwood, New Jersey, 1989.
Kirk, Marshall and Hunter Madsen, Ph.D. After the Ball: How
America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of the Gays in the 90s.
Doubleday. New York, 1989.
Mansergh, Gordon, Ph.D., Grant N. Colfax, M.D., Gary
Marks, Ph.D., Melissa Rader, M.PH., Robert Guzman, B.A. and
Susan Buchbinder, M.D. The Circuit Party Men’s Health Survey:
Findings And Implications for Gay and Bisexual Men. American Journal
of Public Health. June 2001, Vol. 91, No. 6, p. 953-958.
McKinney, Kathleen and Susan Sprecher, editors. Human
Sexuality: The Societal and Interpersonal Context. Ablex Publishing
Corporation. Norwood, New Jersey, 1989.
Paigila, Camille. Vamps & Tramps. Vintage Books. New
York, 1994.
Perow, Charles and Mauro F. Guillen. The AIDS Disaster:
The Failure of Organizations in New York and the Nation. Yale
University Press. New Haven and London, 1990.
Root-Berstein, Robert S. Rethinking AIDS: The Tragic Cost of
Premature Consensus. The Free Press. New York, 1993.
Rotello, Gabriel. Sexual Ecology: AIDS and the Destiny of Gay
Men. A Dutton Book. New York, 1997.
Rimmerman, Craig A. From Identity to Politics: The Lesbian and
Gay Movements in the United States. Temple University Press.
Philadelphia, 2002.

- 363 -
Rosario, Vernon A. Homosexualities and Science: A Guide to the
Debates. ABC-ClIO. Santa Barbara, CA, 2002.
Rushing, William A. The AIDS Epidemic: Social Dimensions of
an Infectious Disease. Westview Press. Boulder, CO, 1995.
Schoub, Barry D. AIDS and HIV in Perspective. Cambridge
University Press. Cambridge UK, 1999.
Turner, Charles F., Heather G. Miller and Lincoln E.
Moses, editors. AIDS Sexual Behavior and Intravenous Drug Use.
National Academy Press. Washington, D.C., 1989.
Watney, Simon. Emergent Sexual Identities and HIV/AIDS, p.
13-27 in AIDS: Facing The Second Decade. Peter Aggelton, Peter
Davies and Graham Hart, editors. The Falmer Press. London,
New York and Philadelphia, 1993.

- 364 -
Identity or Behavior
Part One

Who one is, a homosexual or what one does,


homosexuality. The support is greatest for the latter.
Homosexuality and the “homosexual” have a history. The
history of the “homosexual” began during the 1860s in
Germany. While homosexuality, same-sex sexual behavior has
been part of all most every culture and society throughout
history. Many of the quotes are by those advocating for
homosexuality or who self-identify as a homosexual. Three
exceptions are from Mondimore’s book, The Natural History of
Homosexuality, Kronmeyer’s book, Overcoming Homosexuality and
the article by Byne and Parsons, Human Sexual Orientation.
It is easy to determine homosexuality, homosexual behavior.
But who is a homosexual? This is a question that cannot be
answered. And there is a simple reason, there is no homosexual
as a distinct person, only behaviors and physical sexual acts that
a person commits. There are people who during their lifetime
often change their sexual behavior, and this makes it impossible
to state that a set of behaviors defines a person as a
homosexual. Also, there is no one set of sexual desires or self-
identification that uniquely defines who a homosexual is.
Throughout history sex acts have contained directional qualities
and they are divided into active and passive roles. Even in
cultures and societies today the individual who takes the active
role in sexual acts between two members of the same sex is not
seen as a homosexual. Also in history, many cultures and
societies did not have the modern concept of gender, masculine
and feminine, but they did have the concept of sex, male and
female. And there were often specific roles according to sex,
male and female.
Up until the 1860s the concept of homosexuality was seen
as a sin or a crime. Then it began to take on medical and
scientific concepts. Within these concepts there rest the
- 365 -
premise of biological or organic causes for homosexuality. I
want to talk about what one does, ‘homosexuality’ over and
above the idea of a ‘homosexual’ who one is. Throughout
history in all most every culture and society it was
homosexuality, homosexual behavior that may be seen and in
some instances, it is was a part of carefully structured roles. The
norm has always been marriage, male and female relationships
for procreation. There are historically significant events that
may be marked in the development of the concept of the
modern homosexual’ as a distinct person.
Weeks: Jeffrey Weeks, university professor, London South
Bank University. He is a historian and sociologist specializing in
work on sexuality. Weeks self-identifies as gay is a gay activist.
“We tend to think now that the word homosexual’ has an
unvarying meaning, beyond time and history. In fact, it is itself
a product of history, a cultural artifact designed to express a
particular concept.” (Weeks, Coming Out, p. 3)
“The focus of historical inquiry therefore has to be on
developing social attitudes, their origins, and their rational, for
without these discussions homosexuality becomes virtually
incomprehensible. And as a starting-point we have to
distinguish between homosexual behavior, which is universal,
and a homosexual identity, which is historically specific – and a
completely recent phenomenon in Britain.” (Weeks, Coming Out,
p. 3)
“Homosexuality has everywhere existed, but it is only in
some cultures that it has become structured into a subculture.
Homosexuality in the pre-modern period was frequent, but
only in certain closed communities was it ever institutionalized -
perhaps in some monasteries and nunneries, as many of the
medieval penitentials suggest; in some of the knightly orders
(including the Knights Templars), as the great medieval
scandals hint; and in the courts of certain monarchs (such as
James I of England, William III). Other homosexual contacts,
though recurrent, are likely to have been casual, fleeting, and
undefined.” (Weeks, Coming Out, p. 35)
- 366 -
“The very idea of sexual identity is an ambiguous one. For
many in the modern world especially the sexually marginal it is
an absolutely fundamental concept, offering a sense of personal
unity, social location and even at times a political commitment.”
(Weeks, Questions of Identity, p. 31 in The Cultural Construction of
Sexuality, editor Pat Caplan)
“Yet, at the same time, we now know from a proliferating
literature that such identities are historically and culturally
specific, that they are selected from a host of possible social
identities, that they are not necessary attributes of particular sex
drives or desires, and they are not, in fact, essential that is
naturally pre-given aspects of our personality (Weeks, 1985). So,
there is a real paradox at the heart of the question of sexual
identity. We are increasingly aware, theoretically, historically,
even politically, that sexuality is about flux and change, so that
what we so readily deem as sexual is as much a product of
language and culture as of nature.” (Weeks, Questions of Identity,
p. 31 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality, editor Pat Caplan)
“Over the past century, in particular, the search for identity
has been a major characteristic of those whom our culture has
designated as outside the norms, precisely abnormal: male
homosexuals, lesbians, and a whole catalogue out of the pages
of Krafft-Ebing (paedophiles, transvestites, bisexuals...). The
defining categorizations of the sexologists have provided the
basis for a multiplicity of self-definitions, self-identifications;
sexual identities.” (Weeks, Questions of Identity, p. 32 in The
Cultural Construction of Sexuality, editor Pat Caplan)
“Just as homosexuality was defined as a sexual condition
peculiar to some people but not others in this period, so the
concept of heterosexuality was invented to describe normality a
normality circumscribed by a founding belief in the sharp
distinctions between the sexes and the assumption that gender
identity (to be a man or a woman) and sexual identity were
necessarily linked through the naturalness of heterosexual
object choice. All else fell into the vaguely written powerful

- 367 -
catalogue of perversity.” (Weeks, Questions of Identity, p. 35 in The
Cultural Construction of Sexuality, editor Pat Caplan)
“From the latter, it becomes clear that while erotic activity
between men and men and women and women has existed in
all times and all cultures, only in a few societies does a
distinctive homosexual identity emerge.” (Weeks, Questions of
Identity, p. 40 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality, editor Pat
Caplan)
“Among men there probably did exist a growing sense of
difference, with the early eighteenth century a key moment of
differentiation, and there certainly existed an expanding
subcultural network of meeting places and styles. Yet it is
difficult to see clear signs of a distinctive homosexual life style
and identity until the latter part of the nineteenth century
(Weeks, 1977; Bray, 1982). Given this, the sexological
‘discovery’ of the homosexual during that period is obviously of
crucial importance. It gives a name, an aetiology, and potentially
the elements of an identity, marking off a special homosexual
type of person, with distinctive desires, aptitudes, and even
physiognomy. Inspired by the recognition of this sexological
moment some historians have sought to argue that it was the
categorizations that made ‘the homosexual’ and ‘the lesbian’
possible. Until sexology gave them the name there was only the
half-life of an amorphous sense of self. Thereafter, the
homosexual belonged to a species (Foucault, 1979).” (Weeks,
Questions of Identity, p. 40 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality,
editor Pat Caplan)
“Homosexual identities have been established within the
parameters set by sexological definition. But they have been
established by living and breathing men and women. What
sexology did was indeed to set up restrictive definitions, and to
be regularly complicit with the controlling ambitions of a
variety of social practices. At the same time, it also put into
language a host of definitions and meanings which could be
played with, challenged, negated, and used. Sexology, usually
against its intentions, contributed through its definitions to the
- 368 -
self-definition of those it sought to identify.” (Weeks, Questions
of Identity, p. 41 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality, editor Pat
Caplan)
“The resulting preoccupation with identity among the
sexually marginal cannot be explained as an effect of a peculiar
personal obsession with sex. It has to be seen, more accurately,
as a powerful resistance to the organizing principle of
traditional sexual attitudes. It has been the sexual radicals who
have most insistently politicized the question of sexual identity.
But the agenda has been largely shaped by the importance
assigned by our culture to ‘correct’ sexual behaviour.
But politicized sexual identities are not automatic responses
to negative definitions. For their emergence, they need complex
social and political conditions in order to produce a sense of
community experience which makes for collective endeavour.
Barry Adam has suggested that five conditions are necessary for
this: the existence of large numbers in the same situation;
geographical concentration; identifiable targets of opposition;
sudden events or changes in social position; and an intellectual
leadership with readily understood goals (Adam, 1978, p. 123).
Each of these has been present in the emergence of the most
spectacularly successful of politicized sexual identities, the
lesbian and gay identities, over the past twenty years. The
growth of urban subcultures since World War II especially in
North America, but also in Europe, the emergence of general
currents of hostility, from McCarthyism to moral panics around
the impact of ’permissiveness’ and the sexual revolution, the
growth of riew social movements with radical sexual agendas,
such as feminism and the lesbian and gay movements, not to
mention the movements of the ‘sexual fringe’ following in their
wake – each of these has helped to make for the emergence of
‘the modern homosexual’, now not so much a curiosity in the
fading pages of sexology textbooks but the bearer of a fully
blown social and human identity (D’Emilio, 1983; Plummer,
1981).” (Weeks, Questions of Identity, p. 42 in The Cultural
Construction of Sexuality, editor Pat Caplan)
- 369 -
“These processes in turn depend on the person’s
environment and wider community. Many people, it has been
argued, ’drift’ into identity, battered by contingency rather than
guided by will. Four characteristic stages have been identified
by Plummer: ‘sensitization’, when the individual becomes aware
of the possibility of being different; ‘signification’, when he or
she attributes a developing meaning to these differences;
‘subculturalization’, the stage of recognizing oneself through
involvement with others; and ‘stabilization’, the stage of full
acceptance of one’s feelings and way of life (Plummer, 1975).
There is no automatic progression through these stages; each
transition is dependent as much on chance as on decision; and
there is no necessary acceptance of the final destiny, of an open
identity. Some choices are forced on individuals, whether
through stigmatization and public obloquy or through political
necessity. But the point that needs underlining is that identity is
a choice. It is not dictated by internal imperatives.” (Weeks,
Questions of Identity, p. 43-44 in The Cultural Construction of
Sexuality, editor Pat Caplan)
“The implication of this is that ’desire’ is one thing, while
subject position, that is identification with a particular social
position and organizing sense of self, is another
(Hocquenghem, 1978). This means that labels such as ‘gay’ and
‘lesbian’ increasingly become political choices, and in that
process the sexual connotations can all but disappear.” ((Weeks,
Questions of Identity, p. 44 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality,
editor Pat Caplan)
“Identity is not a destiny but a choice. But in a culture
where homosexual desires, female or male, are still execrated
and denied, the adoption of lesbian or gay identities inevitably
constitutes a political choice. These identities are not
expressions of secret essences. They are self-creations, but they
are creations on ground not freely chosen but laid out by
history. So homosexual identities illustrate the play of constraint
and opportunity, necessity and freedom, power and pleasure.
Sexual identities seem necessary in the contemporary world as
- 370 -
starting-points for a politics around sexuality. But the form they
take is not predetermined. In the end, therefore, they are not so
much about who we really are, what our sex dictates.” (Weeks,
Questions of Identity, p. 47 in The Cultural Construction of Sexuality,
editor Pat Caplan)
“Identity may well be a historical fiction, a controlling myth,
a limiting burden. But it is at the same time a necessary means
of weaving our way through a hazard-strewn world and a
complex web of social relations. Without it, it seems, the
possibilities of sexual choice are not increased, but diminished.”
(Weeks, Questions of Identity, p. 49 in The Cultural Construction of
Sexuality, editor Pat Caplan)
“The sexological ‘discovery’ of the homosexual in the late
nineteen-century is therefore obviously a crucial moment. It
gave a name, an aetiology, and potentially the embryos of an
identity. It marked off a special homosexual type of person,
with distinctive physiognomy, tastes and potentialities. Did,
therefore, the sexologists create the homosexual? This certainly
seems to be the position of some historians. Michel Foucault
and Lillian Faderman appear at times to argue, in an unusual
alliance, that it was the categorisation of the sexologists that
made the homosexual’ and the lesbian’ possible. Building on
Ulrichs belief that homosexuals were a third sex, a woman’s
soul in a man’s body, Westphal was able to invent the contrary
‘sexual feeling’ Ellis, the ‘invert’ defined by a congenital
anomaly, and Hirschfeld the ‘intermediate sex’; the sexologists’
definitions, embodied in medical interventions, created’ the
homosexual. Until sexology gave them a label, there was only
the half-life of an amorphous sense of self. The homosexual
identity as we know it is therefore a production of social
categorisation, whose fundamental aim and effect was
regulation and control. To name was to imprison.” (Weeks,
Sexuality and Its Discontents: Meanings, Myths and Modern Sexualities,
p. 92-93)
“We should employ cross-cultural and historical evidence
not only to chart changing attitudes but to challenge the very
- 371 -
concept of a single trans-historical notion of homosexuality. In
different cultures (and at different historical moments or
conjunctures within the same culture) very different meanings
are given to same-sex activity both by society at large and by the
individual participants. The physical acts might be similar, but
the social construction of meanings around them are
profoundly different. The social integration of forms of
pedagogic homosexual relations in ancient Greece have no
continuity with contemporary notions of homosexual identity.
To put it another way, the various possibilities of what
Hocquenghem calls homosexual desire, or what more neutrally
might be termed homosexual behaviors, which seem from
historical evidence to be a permanent and ineradicable aspect of
human sexual possibilities, are variously constructed in different
cultures as an aspect of wider gender and sexual regulation. If
this is the case, it is pointless discussing questions such as, what
are the origins of homosexual oppression, or what is the nature
of the homosexual taboo, as if there was a single, causative
factor. The crucial question must be: what are the conditions
for the emergence of this particular form of regulation of sexual
behavior in this particular society?” (Weeks, Against Nature:
Essays on History, Sexuality and Identity, p. 13-14)
“Since at least the eighteenth century, and increasingly
codified from the nineteenth century (Trumbach, 1998, 1999;
Sedgwick, 1985, 1990), the execrated category of the
homosexual has served to define the parameters of what is to
be normal that is heterosexual. The fact the boundaries between
the two have always been permeable, as countless histories have
revealed, and for the long ambiguous category of the bisexual
underlined (Garber, 1995), made little difference to popular
beliefs and prejudices or the legal realities. The divide between
homosexuality and heterosexuality seemed rooted in nature,
sanctioned by religion and science, and upheld by many penal
codes.” (Weeks, Heaphy and Donovan, Same Sex Intimacies:
Families of Choice and Other Life Experiments, p. 14)

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D’Emilio: John D’Emilio, Professor of History and
Gender and Women’s Studies Emeritus, University of Illinois at
Chicago. His field of study and writing was LGBT history and
history of sexuality. He self-identifies as gay.
“There is another historical myth that enjoys nearly
universal acceptance in the gay movement, the myth of the
eternal homosexual. The argument runs something like this:
Gay men and lesbians always were and always will be. We are
everywhere; not just now, but throughout history, in all
societies and all periods. This myth served a positive political
function in the first years of gay liberation. In the early 1970s,
when we battled an ideology that either denied our existence or
defined us as psychopathic individuals or freaks of nature, it
was empowering to assert that we are everywhere. But in recent
years it has confined us as surely as the most homophobic
medical theories, and locked our movement in place. Here I
wish to challenge this myth. I want to argue that gay men and
lesbians have not always existed. Instead they are a product of
history, and have come into existence in a specific historical era.
Their emergence is associated with the relations of capitalism; it
has been the historical development of capitalism-more
specifically, its free-labor system-that has allowed a large
number of men and women in the late twentieth century to call
themselves gay, to see themselves as part of a community of
similar men and women, to organize politically on the basis of
that identity.” (D’Emilio, Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History,
Politics, and the University, p. 5)
“I have argued that lesbian and gay identity and
communities are historically created, as a result of a process of
capitalist development that has spanned many generations. A
corollary of this argument is that we are not a fixed social
minority composed for all time of a certain percentage of the
population. There are more of us than one hundred years ago,
more of us than forty years ago. And there may very well be
more gay men and lesbians in the future. Claims made by gays
and nongays that sexual orientation is fixed at an early age, that
- 373 -
large numbers of visible gay men and lesbians in society, the
media, and the schools will have no influence on the sexual
identities of the young are wrong. Capitalism has created the
material conditions for homosexual desire to express itself as a
central component of some individuals’ lives; now, our political
movements are changing consciousness, creating the ideological
conditions that make it easier for people to make that choice.”
(D’Emilio, Making Trouble: Essays on Gay History, Politics, and the
University, p. 12)
Duberman: Martin Bauml Duberman is an American
historian, biographer, playwright and gay rights activist. He is
Professor of History Emeritus at the Graduate School of the City
University of New York and Lehman College. Duberman self-
identifies as gay.
“It isn’t at all obvious why a gay rights movement should
ever have arisen in the United States in the first place. And it’s
profoundly puzzling why that movement should have become
far and away the most powerful such political formation in the
world. Same gender sexual acts have been commonplace
throughout history and across cultures. Today, to speak with
surety about a matter for which there is absolutely no statistical
evidence, more adolescent male butts are being penetrated in
the Arab world, Latin American, North Africa and Southeast
Asia then in the west. But the notion of a gay identity rarely
accompanies such sexual acts, nor do political movements arise
to make demands in the name of that identity. It’s still almost
entirely in the Western world that the genders of one’s partner
is considered a prime marker of personality, and among
Western nations it is the United States – a country otherwise
considered a bastion of conservatism – that the strongest
political movement has arisen centered around that identity.
We’ve only begun to analyze why, and to date can say little
more then that certain significant pre-requisites developed in
this country, and to some degree everywhere in the western
world, that weren’t present, or hadn’t achieved the necessary
critical mass, elsewhere. Among such factors were the
- 374 -
weakening of the traditional religious link between sexuality and
procreation (one which had made non-procreative same gender
desire an automatic candidate for denunciation as unnatural).
Secondly, the rapid urbanization and industrialization of the
United States, and the West in general, in nineteen-century
weakened the material (and moral) authority of the nuclear
family, and allowed mavericks to escape into welcome
anonymity of city life, where they could choose a previously
unacceptable lifestyle of singleness and nonconformity without
constantly worrying about parental or village busybodies
pouncing on them.” (Duberman, Left Out, p. 414-415)
Archer
“It allows us, in short, to imagine there’s a connection
between action and identity, to imagine an equal sign between
the verb ‘kill’ and the noun killer. Sexual identity is a new
addition to the identity portfolio, and we can see in recent
history, and to a large extent even within living memory, the
process of its accretion. That’s just plain interesting, I think, like
being able to watch a pearl form in front of our eyes. Why not
take a look, since we are able to. It can’t help but give us a
better, perhaps more profound view of ourselves. But I’d say
it’s most important because sexual identity, like that equal sign
between verb and noun, is in the end a house built on sand, the
living in which makes us more, through omission rather than
commission more anxious, less happy people than we might
otherwise be.” (Archer, The End of Gay (and the Death of
Heterosexuality), p. 27)
De Cecco
“To combat this homophobia, over past 125 years
homosexualists have invented a countermadness known as the
homosexual or gay identity. Taking its cue from psychiatry, a
fictional condition has been transmuted into a person.
Although this person is detoxicated, purged of mental
pathology (there still is the smelly residue of prenatal physical
pathology), the basic premise is the same: the homosexual is a
special species of humankind. As in the psychiatric
- 375 -
nomenclature, the labels change with the arrival of new
exemplars, beginning with Urning and homosexual to today’s
lesbian, bull, dyke, gay, queer, fag, fairy, queen, schwule, flikker,
mariacon, and recently in Berlin, warme.” (De Cecco, Confusing
the Actor With the Act: Muddled Notions About Homosexuality, p.
410)
“Several years ago my colleagues and I reported the
overwhelming definitional and sampling confusion that
pervaded research on homosexuality (Shively et al, 1984). That
confusion only deepens the farther research on homosexuality
moves away from homosexual acts and continues to engage in
the futile task of searching for the causes of a defective
condition or a status or a personal identity or an enduring,
ineffable emotional inclination revealed in fantasy, none of
which is accessible to observation. Once we understand that the
biomedical and psychological research is looking for the cause
of acts, which are largely circumstantial, then its futility is clear.
If we return to the focus on homosexual acts, as in the original
Kinsey reports, then we can arrive at some agreements as to
what it is that we are attempting to describe or explain - an
ancient axiom of historical and scientific research.” (De Cecco,
Confusing the Actor With the Act: Muddled Notions About
Homosexuality, p. 412)
“In the late nineteen-century avatar homosexuality was a
psychological and medical phenomenon with pathological
mental and physical underpinnings. From the turn of the
century, Freudian psychology and American psychoanalysis
portrayed it as a mental state caused by early childhood trauma,
one that led to the individual’s failure to achieve adult genital
heterosexuality. With the advent of gay, lesbian and bisexual
studies, particularly in the last two decades, homosexuality has
been investigated as a historical, political, social, and cultural
phenomenon. More recently, as seen in the articles in this
collection, it has been revisited as biological state.” (De Cecco,
Confusing the Actor With the Act: Muddled Notions About
Homosexuality, p. 19)
- 376 -
Herdt
“Through an examination of certain historical structures of
sexual dimorphism, I have come to conclude that identity
categories homosexual/heterosexual in the nineteenth century
and gay/straight in the twentieth century should be understood
not as universal but as suggestions of common themes around
the world (Herdt, ed., 1994).” (Herdt, Same Sex, Different
Cultures: Gays and Lesbians Across Cultures, p. xvi)
“Anthropology has shown that people who erotically desire
the same gender sufficiently to organize their social lives around
this desire come in all genders, colors, political and religious
creeds, and nationalities. There is no special kind of person who
is homosexual; and much as we might expect, there is no single
word or construct, including the western idea of homosexuality,
that represents them all. To make matters even more
complicated, the local term in each culture or community that
classifies the homoerotic act or role is not always positive;
indeed, in the western tradition it is usually negative.” (Herdt,
Same Sex, Different Cultures: Gays and Lesbians Across Cultures, p. 3)
“Only in the twentieth century, through mass media and
political rhetoric, has the explicit terminology of
homosexuality/heterosexuality been widely applied to people
and acts and events, typically to contain and control all sexual
behavior. Only as wide-scale sexual liberation movements
gained steam in the 1960s did people who desire the same
gender begin to call themselves lesbian or gay. Since that time
these identity systems have been exported to other cultures,
which has created controversies in developing countries that
previously lacked these concepts, having neither the history nor
the political traditions that bought them about. No wonder it
seems strange but also familiar to hear of gays and lesbians
from societies that previously denied having homosexuality at
all.” (Herdt, Same Sex, Different Cultures: Gays and Lesbians Across
Cultures, p. 7)
“In modern western history the category of the homosexual
originates primarily from late-nineteenth-century notions,
- 377 -
derived from medicine, that defined same-sex desire as the
product of disease, degeneracy, and moral inversion. These
notions created an imagine of a woman trapped in a man’s
body or of a male body with female brain a third sex apart from
the rest of humanity.” (Herdt, Same Sex, Different Cultures: Gays
and Lesbians Across Cultures, p. 18)
“Thus ‘gay’ has become a sexual orientation (a particular
kind of homosexuality), a social identity and a political
movement. It should be clear that ‘gay’ is a new form of
homosexual practice, which in its fullest sense is unique in
human history. The psychosocial condition of being gay today
must therefore be understood in their own place and historical
time. Being gay or lesbian is a kind of ‘commentary’ on the
dualistic tendency of Western society to dichotomize body and
mind, masculinity and femininity, homosexual and heterosexual,
as noted below. The modern gay movement both reflects and
mediates these dualisms, indicating that social and erotic
transformation is a part of human potential, as Freud
suggested.” (Herdt, Cross-cultural issues in the development of
bisexuality and homosexuality, p. 54)
“In sum, homosexuality is not one but many things, many
psychosocial forms which can be viewed as symbolic
mediations between psychocultural and historical conditions
and human potentials for sexual response across the life course.
Societies vary greatly in their attitudes toward same-sex
response. Homosexual acts are probably universal in humans
but institutionalized forms of homosexual activity are not; and
these depend, to a great extent, upon the specific historical
problems and outlooks of a culture.” (Herdt, Cross-cultural issues
in the development of bisexuality and homosexuality, p. 55)
Altman: Dennis Altman is an Australian academic, a
professor at La Trobe University in Australia and pioneering gay
rights activist. Altman self-identifies as gay.
“The greatest single victory of the gay movement over the
past decade has been to shift the debate from behavior to
identity, thus forcing opponents into a position where they can
- 378 -
be seen attacking the civil rights of homosexual citizens rather
attacking specific and (and as they see it) antisocial behavior.”
(Altman, The Homosexualization of America, The Americanization of
the Homosexual, p. 9)
“The basic distinction between behavior and identity has to
be constantly stressed: people are not simply ‘homosexual’;
rather, many people engage in homosexual acts – and many, not
always the same ones, experience homosexual fantasies – which
for a minority becomes a basis for a concept of homosexual
(lesbian/gay) identity. As Pateman put it: ‘The self is not
completely subsumed in its sexuality, but identity is inseparable
from the social construction of the self’ (Pateman, 1988, see ch.
7). The distinction between homosexual behavior and identity,
first identified in sociological literature by McIntosh at the end
of the 1960s (McIntosh, 1968), is the basis for the modern idea
of the gay community’ (or lesbian/gay community) in which
ethnic model of identity became the basis for social, cultural,
and political organization around sexual preference (Epstein,
1987).” (Altman, AIDS and the Discourses of Sexuality, p. 36 in
Rethinking Sex: Social Theory and Sexuality Research by Connell and
Dowsett)
Jagose: Annamarie Jagose, professor at the University of
Sydney, internationally known as a scholar in feminist studies,
lesbian/gay studies and queer theory.
“Homosexuality is commonly and widely understood to
describe sexual attraction for those of one’s own sex. There
does not seem to be anything problematic or uncertain in such
a definition. Nevertheless, the theoretical enterprise of deciding
exactly what constitutes homosexuality – or, more
pragmatically, who is homosexual – is far from self-evident.
While there is a certain population of men and women who
may be described more or less unproblematically homosexual, a
number of ambiguous circumstances can cast doubt on the
precise delimitations of homosexuality as a descriptive
category.” (Jagose, Queer Theory, p. 7)

- 379 -
“Although theories concerning the formation of modern
homosexuality differ, there is significant agreement that
homosexuality, as it is understood today, is not a transhistorical
phenomenon. With the exception of Faderman, all theorists
discussed so far make crucial the distinction between
homosexual behaviour, which is ubiquitous, and homosexual
identity, which evolves under specific historical conditions.”
(Jagose, Queer Theory, p. 15)
“Phrases such as homosexuality in the ‘modern sense’ or
homosexuality as it is understood ‘today’ effectively draw
attention to the paradigm shift from sexual acts to sexual
identities, and to the problems inherent in assuming continuity
between current and historic remote same-sex acts.
Unfortunately, however, such phrases imply that modern
homosexuality, unlike its predecessors, is coherent, certain, and
known. Much is invested culturally in representing
homosexuality as definitionally unproblematic, and maintaining
heterosexuality and homosexuality as radically and
demonstrably distinct from one another. Yet modern
knowledges about the categories of sexual identification are far
from coherent.” (Jagose, Queer Theory, p. 18)
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- 385 -
Identity or Behavior
Part Two

“The history of homosexuality has to consider the


distinction between homosexual conduct, which is universal,
and homosexual identity, which is specific and temporal.
Homosexuals do not necessarily define themselves as such,
even if they find people of their own sex attractive or have
sexual relations with them. By the same token, society will not
necessarily distinguish an individual in terms of his sexual
practices.” (Tamagne, Florence, A History of Homosexuality in
Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939, Volume I, p. 6)
“The history of homosexuality is not the history of sexual
conduct, which is practically unvarying, rather, it consists in
studying the relations between homosexuals and society and
observing the answers homosexuals have developed in order to
affirm their identity. At the same time, one begins to wonder
about homosexual identity and the validity of categorizing
individuals according to their sexual practices.” (Tamagne, A
History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939,
Volume I, p. 7)
“The homosexual identity, unlike the homosexual act, is a
historical phenomenon. It is not universal, but temporal; it is
not induced, but constructed. Therefore, it supposes the
creation of a specific environment and an awareness that
enabled homosexuals to define themselves as a group.”
(Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in Europe: Berlin, London,
Paris, 1919-1939, Volume I, p. 207)
“The origin of the homosexual identity is difficult to pin
down. At what moment can one say that a person recognizes
himself as a homosexual? Is it simply that time when he accepts
his sexual preferences, when he calls himself ‘homosexual’, or is
it only when he asserts his membership in a homosexual
community, as a political statement? Just as it is hard to say
when one person takes on the identity of a homosexual, it is
- 386 -
hard to say when the homosexual identity was created at all.
Indeed, the date varies, depending on the country, the region
(the notion of a homosexual identity emerges earlier in major
cities than in rural areas) and the social class. (An intellectual
can more readily define himself as homosexual simply because
he will have access to the debates on the question of
homosexuality, to medical writings, and so forth.) Depending
on how you look at it, the theorists of homosexuality have
assigned a wide range of dates to the birth of the homosexual
identity. For some, the presence of homosexual ‘signals’ in
clothing and language, and the existence of meeting places, are
enough to mark the existence of a homosexual identity. If we
take that view, the homosexual identity must have existed from
time immemorial, since one can find homosexual codes,
camouflaged to a greater or lesser extent, in every society and
every era. Others say that the homosexual identity could only
have been constituted very recently, with the beginnings of gay
militancy in the 1970s.
Most historians of homosexuality, however, agree to date
the emergence of a homosexual identity to the end of the 19th
century, when the term ‘homosexual’ came into wider use,
doctors defined homosexuality precisely, and condemnations of
homosexual acts were definitively inscribed in the laws of the
European countries.” (Tamagne, A History of Homosexuality in
Europe: Berlin, London, Paris, 1919-1939, Volume I, p. 207-208)
“It may be argued that homosexuals didn’t exist until about
150 years ago. Homosexuality certainly did, as our historical
survey showed, but individuals who fell in love with members
of their own sex weren’t thought to be a particular kind of
person. Some societies, such as classical Greece, didn’t feel the
need to label the phenomenon and had no words for
homosexuality. Same-sex eroticism was something a few
individuals seemed to prefer more than their fellows, but it
wasn’t thought to be a characteristic worth inventing a name
for. Often, the gender of one’s sexual partners was less
important than attributes like their age and social status. This
- 387 -
being the case, homosexuality was in a sense submerged within
these cultures attracting no special notice.” (Mondimore, A
Natural History of Homosexuality, p. 247)
“The ancient Greek and Latin languages have no word that
can be translated homosexual, largely because these societies
did not have the same sexual categories that we do. Our
concepts and categories of sexual expression are based on the
genders of the two partners involved: heterosexuality when the
partners are of the opposite sex, and homosexuality when the
partners are of the same sex. In other times and among other
peoples, this way of thinking about people simply doesn’t seem
to apply-anthropologists, historians, sociologists have described
many cultures in which same-sex eroticism occupies a very
different place than it does in our own. ... Just as the Greeks
and Romans had no words for our sexual categories, the Native
American societies described by explorers, missionaries, and
anthropologists from the seventeenth onward had sexual
categories for which we have no words. Consequently, in the
sections that follow – an exploration of attitudes and customs
of ancient peoples toward same-sex eroticism – the modern
concepts of homosexuality or sexual orientation will be
conspicuous by their absence. Within these cultures, sexual
contact between persons of the same sex is not necessarily seen
as characteristic of a particular group or subset of persons,
there is no category for homosexuals. On the contrary, in some
cultures, same-sex eroticism was an expected part of the sexual
experience of every member of society, which would seem to
argue against the existence of homosexuality as a personal
attribute at all.” (Mondimore, A Natural History of Homosexuality,
p. 3-4)
“For several hundreds of years, the institutions of the
majority considered homosexuality something a person did and
called it sodomy, buggery, or a crime against nature. During the
nineteenth century, a conceptual shift occurred, and a few
individuals began to talk about homosexuality as something a
person was. A new vocabulary was invented for these persons.
- 388 -
Urning, invert-homosexual.” (Mondimore, A Natural History of
Homosexuality, p. 248)
“The idea of making up people has, I said, become quite
widespread. The Making of the Modern Homosexual is a good
example; Making in this title is close to my making up. The
contributors by and large accept that the homosexual and the
heterosexual as kinds of persons (as ways to be, or as
conditions of personhoods), came into being only toward the
end of the nineteenth century. There has been plenty of
homosexual activity in all ages, but not, Making argues, same-
sex people and different-sex people.” (Hacking, Making People
Up, p. 225 in Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy, Individuality,
and the Self in Western Thought, editors Thomas C. Heller, Morton
Sosna and David E. Wellberry)
“This theme, the homosexual as a kind of person, is often
traced to a paper by Mary MacIntosh, The Homosexual Role,
which she published in 1968 in Social Problems. That journal was
much devoted to labeling theory, which asserts that social
reality is conditioned, stabilized, or even created by the labels
we apply to people, actions, communities.” (Hacking, Making
People Up, p. 226 in Reconstructing Individualism: Autonomy,
Individuality, and the Self in Western Thought, editors Thomas C.
Heller, Morton Sosna and David E. Wellberry)
“A second assumption is that homosexuality is a unitary
construct that is culturally transcendent. However, a wealth of
cross-cultural evidence points to the existence of numerous
patterns of homosexuality varying in origins, subjective states,
and manifest behaviors. In fact, the pattern of essentially
exclusive male homosexuality familiar to us has been
exceedingly rare or unknown in cultures that required or
expected all males to engage in homosexual activity.” (Byrne
and Parsons, Human Sexual Orientation: The Biological Theories
Reappraised, p. 228)
“With rare exceptions, homosexuality is neither inherited
nor the result of some glandular disturbance or the scrambling
of genes or chromosomes. Homosexuals are made and not
- 389 -
born that way’. From my twenty-five years’ experience as a
clinical psychologist, I firmly believe that homosexuality is a
learned response to early painful experiences and that it can be
unlearned. For those homosexuals who are unhappy with their
life and find effective therapy, it is curable.” (Kronmeyer,
Overcoming Homosexuality, p. 7)
“Language has been an important weapon in the gay
movement’s very swift advance. In the old days, there was
sodomy: an act. In the late 19th century, the word
homosexuality was coined: a condition. A generation ago, the
accepted term became gay an identity. Each formulation raises
the stakes: One can object to and even criminalize an act; one is
obligated to be sympathetic toward a condition; but once it’s a
fully-fledged 24/7 identity, like being Hispanic or Inuit,
anything less than wholehearted acceptance gets you marked
down as a bigot.” (Steyn, There’s No Stopping Them Now, p. 35)
“Steyn explains that historically, moral concern for sexual
activity between two persons of the same sex was identified as
sodomy, an act. And an act is what it is. You can either think it
is a good idea or you can think it is bad. Either way, it’s very
objective. It’s what someone does. Then, Steyn explains, in the
late nineteen-century the act was described as condition of
certain persons, and it was termed homosexuality - a condition
a person is in. Next, a few decades ago homosexuality got
upgraded again, now referring to a person’s very identity, so
that we now identify people as being or not being gay. Now it
describes who a person is.” (Stanton and Maier, Marriage on
Trial; the Case Against Same-Sex Marriage and Parenting, p. 15)
“For not until he sees homosexuals as a social category,
rather than a medical or psychiatric one, the sociologists can
begin to ask the right questions about the specific content of
the homosexual role and about the organization and functions
of homosexual groups. All that has been done here is to
indicate that the role does not exist in many societies, that it
only emerged in England towards the end of the seventeenth
century, and that, although the existence of the role in modern
- 390 -
America appears to have some effect on the distribution of
homosexual behavior, such behavior is far from being
monopolized by persons who play the homosexual role.”
(McIntosh, The Homosexual Role, p. 192)
“Weeks innovative approach to the historical interpretation
of these processes is indebted to the seminal article The
Homosexual Role by the sociologist Mary McIntosh in 1968.
McIntosh demonstrated, through her groundbreaking
arguments in The Homosexual Role that male homosexuality in
the twentieth-century scholarship was considered to be a
condition and therefore fell within the remit of sex
psychologists and psychiatrists. McIntosh’s fundamental
argument in The Homosexual Role was the pathologised condition
of homosexuality in the late nineteenth- and twentieth-century
Western culture was not scientific fact, but ethnocentric
development of the highly pejorative and pervasive European
Christian interpretation of same sex behaviour between males.”
(Brady, Masculinity and Male Homosexuality in Britain, 1861-1913,
p. 5)
“Historical and anthropological research has shown that
homosexual persons (i.e. people who occupy a social position
or role as homosexuals) do not exist in many societies, whereas
homosexual behavior occurs virtually in every society.
Therefore, we must distinguish between homosexual behavior
and homosexual identity. One term refers to one’s sexual
activity per se (whether casual or regular); the other word
defines homosexuality as a social role, with its emotional and
sexual components.” (Escoffier, American Homo: Community and
Perversity, p. 37)
“However, as an individual property of a minority, the
concept of homosexuality is neither timeless nor universal,
although historians fail to agree on when and how a
homosexual social category and identity came into being.
Subcultures in the form of illicit networks, clubs, and meeting
places of sodomites have been documented from the fifteen-
century on in Italian towns and from the seventeenth on in
- 391 -
urban centers of northwestern Europe. Although the legal and
religious definition of sodomy referred to only certain sexual
acts, especially anal intercourse, of which anyone in theory, was
regarded as being capable, within urban subcultures in Britain,
France, and the Netherlands, a more specific sodomitical role
evolved as early as the first half of the eighteenth century. After
1700 the behavior of some sodomites began to perceived more
and more as part of being different, of effeminate proclivities,
of a sinful orientation, or of a particular hedonistic lifestyle.”
(Oosterhuis, Stepchildren of Nature: Kraft-Ebing, Psychiatry, and the
Making of Sexual Identity, p. 241)
“Although same-sex attractions and sexual behavior have
undoubtedly occurred throughout history, lesbian, gay, and
bisexual identities are relatively new (D’Emilio, 1983). The
contemporary notion of identity is itself historically created
(Baummeister, 1986). The concept of a specifically homosexual
identity seems to have emerged at the end of the nineteen-
century. Indeed, only in relatively recent years have large
numbers of individuals identified themselves openly as gay or
lesbian or bisexual. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual public identities,
then, are a phenomenon of our current historical era (D’Emilio,
1983; Faderman, 1991).” (Patterson, Sexual Orientation and
Human Development: An Overview, p. 3)
“While homosexual behavior can be found in all societies,
though with very different cultural meanings, the emergence of
‘the homosexual’ as a cultural construct can be traced to the late
seventeenth and early eighteenth century in urban centers of
north-west Europe (Trumnach 1989a, 1989b) and also linked
with the rise of capitalism (D’Emilio, 1983) medical and
psychiatric discourses provided the concept and labels of
homosexuality and inversion from the 1860s.” (Ballard, Sexuality
and the State in Time of Epidemic, p. 108 in Rethinking Sex: Social
Theory and Sexuality Research by Connell and Dowsett)
“Historians underscore an important distinction between
homosexual behavior and homosexual identity. The former is
said to be universal, whereas the latter is viewed historically
- 392 -
unique. Indeed, some historians hold that a homosexual identity
is a product of the social developments of late nineteen-century
Europe and the United States. Any event, it seems fair to say
that a unique construction of identity crystallized around same-
sex desire between 1880 and 1920 in America.
The modern western concept of the homosexual is,
according to some historians, primarily a creation of late
nineteenth-century medical-science discourses. In the context
of elaborating systems of classification and descriptions of
different sexualities, as part of a quest to uncover the truth
about human nature, the homosexual is said to have stepped
forward as a distinct human type with his/her own mental and
physical nature.” (Seidman, Embattled Eros: Sexual Politics and
Ethnics in Contemporary America, p. 146)
“Homosexual identity emerged reactively to the new claims
of late nineteenth century science, and the state, in relation to
the classification and management of human sexuality as a
whole.” (Watney, Emergent Sexual Idenitties and HIV/AIDS in
Aggleton, Davies and Hart, AIDS: Facing the Second Decade, p.
14)
“As a means of categorizing and regulating particular types
of sexual behavior and people, both homo- and heterosexuality
are relative late comers to everyday discourse.” (Adams, The
Trouble with Normal: Postwar Youth and the Making of
Heterosexuality, p. 7)
“The words ‘homosexuality’ and ‘lesbian love’ do not
predate the second half of the nineteenth-century. Moreover, it
was only in this period that the medical professions began to
consider homosexuality a perversion the study of which
belonged in the field of sexual psychopathology. Such
developments strongly suggest that homosexuality as we know
it is a recent phenomenon.” (Bremmer, editor, Greek Pederasty
and Modern Homosexuality, in From Sappho to De Sade.)
“Homosexual and heterosexual behavior may be universal;
homosexual and heterosexual identity and consciousness are
modern realities. These identities are not inherent in the
- 393 -
individual. In order to be gay, for example, more then
individual inclinations (however we might conceive of those or
homosexual activity is required; entire ranges of social attitudes
and the construction of particular cultures, subcultures and
social relations are first necessary. To commit a homosexual act
is one thing, to be a homosexual is something entirely
different.” (Robert Padgug, Sexual Matters: Rethinking Sexuality in
History, p. 60 in Hidden From History: Reclaiming the Gay and
Lesbian Past, editors Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus and
George Chauncy, Jr.)
“We are learning that ‘sexual identities’ are social constructs
which come and go in different shapes and sizes. Beneath them
are behaviors which defy easy categorization.” (Kinsey,
Pomeroy, Martin and Gebhard, Sexual Behavior in the Human
Female, p. f)
“What these examples illustrate is that homosexual and
heterosexual are socially constructed categories. There are no
objective definitions of these words; there is no Golden
Dictionary in the Sky that contains the real definitions. These
are word categories we made up.” (Muehlenhard, Categories and
Sexualities, p. 102-103)
“Lesbian and gay historians have asked questions about the
origins of gay liberation and lesbian feminism, and have come
up with some surprising answers. Rather than finding a silent,
oppressed, gay minority in all times and all places, historians
have discovered that gay identity is a recent, Western, historical
construction. Jeffrey Weeks, Jonathan Katz and Lillian
Faderman, for example, have traced the emergence of lesbian
and gay identity in the late nineteenth century. Similarly, John
D’Emilio, Allan Berube and the Buffalo Oral History Project have
described how this identity laid the basis for organized political
activity in the years following World War II. The work of
lesbian and gay historians has also demonstrated that human
sexuality is not a natural, timeless given, but is historically
shaped and politically regulated.” (Duggan and Hunter, Sex
Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture, p. 151-152)
- 394 -
“Another aspect of the development of sexual orientation
and identity which would seem to require investigation is the
reduction of the percentage of men and women engaging in
homosexual behavior with age. A significant percentage of the
medical students and male twins investigated by McConaghy
and colleagues (1987, 1994) reported that they were not
currently aware of homosexual feelings they experienced in
adolescence indicating homosexual feelings diminished or
disappear with age in a proportion of the population.”
(McConaghy, Unresolved Issues in Scientific Sexology, p. 300)
“The campaigns for homosexual rights in Germany, and the
psychiatric and sexological literature, spread the idea that one
could have a distinctive sexuality and that this sexuality could
motivate behavior.” (Greenberg, Transformations of Homosexuality-
Based Classifications, p. 189 in The Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture,
History, Political Economy, editors Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela
di Leonardo)
“Some medical doctors of the late nineteenth century
became interested in same-sex relations from Ulrichs pamphlets
or from other campaigners for the normalization of same-sex
activity; others learned from their patients, or as court
psychiatrists asked to render expert opinions about men being
prosecuted on sodomy charges. The psychiatrists appropriated
from the early homophile literature the notion that same-sex
eroticism designated a distinct type of individual, but saw the
individual as exhibiting a medical pathology.” (Greenberg,
Transformations of Homosexuality-Based Classifications, p. 187 in The
Gender/Sexuality Reader: Culture, History, Political Economy, editors
Roger N. Lancaster and Micaela di Leonardo)
“Nowhere is the difference between modern and
premodern sexual worlds clearer than when we explore same-
sex attractions. The majority of historians of sex concur that in
the premodern world there was homosexual behavior without
the homosexual identity that is taken for granted in modern and
premodern times.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A
Premodern History, p. 60)
- 395 -
“Male-to-male sexual interaction was something that all
men might engage in. It was part of being sexual. That is not to
say that all aspects of homosexual activity were acceptable in
the medieval or early modern period (as we will see, anal
penetration and other varieties of sodomy often carried severe
penalties, but those engaged in such sexual practices were rarely
seen as a different species of persons.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex
Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 60)
“Pre-homosexual practices and discourses comprised same-
sex sexual behavior but not homosexuality.” (Phillips and Reay,
Sex Before Sexuality: A Premodern History, p. 85)
“An important aspect of modern homosexuality is that
those involved in such sexual activity see themselves and are
seen by others, as a separate group in society, defined by their
same-sex sexuality.” (Phillips and Reay, Sex Before Sexuality: A
Premodern History, p. 86)
“Homosexual behavior has existed throughout history.
Because of moral and social taboos there is very little written
material explicitly discussing the feelings or attitudes of persons
engaged in such activity. It is therefore difficult to know if gay
people historically experienced their sexual activity as a series of
isolated acts or if they formed a sense of identity of which their
sexuality was an integral part.
The evolution of a homosexual identity is necessary to the
development of a homosexual culture. Although this sense of
identity may have existed earlier, it was only after the
formulation of the medical model, in the later part of the
nineteenth century, that a distinct homosexual identity emerged.
Before the nineteenth century, some have argued there were
homosexual acts, but no homosexuals. The new medical
perception of sexuality in relation to the individual and not in
relation to the moral or social order was the social change that
allowed homosexual identity to come out. Sexuality was viewed
as an intrinsic part of the personality structure. New trends in
social thinking promoted the idea of the individual as a social

- 396 -
entity as equally or more important than the larger social
structures and conditions which shaped society and culture.
Because the religious, social, and legal prohibitions against
homosexuals did not disappear, homosexual identity retained its
stigma. However, although identified and defined as outcast,
the homosexual counterculture developed a positive gay
identity.” (Bronski, Culture Clash: The Making of Gay Sensibility, p.
8-9)
“The state does not create homosexuality, yet it does seek to
construct its significance, regulate and control it and indeed all
sexuality, though most vehemently male homosexuality. Male
homosexual practices have occurred across all centuries in all
societies¸ yet the male homosexual identity and more
particularity the gay man and the gay community are a more
recent phenomenon.” (Edwards, Erotics and Politics: Gay Male
Sexuality, Masculinity and Feminism, p. 15)
“For the sexologists, homosexuality was a form of gender
inversion that resulted from a congenital anomaly. The modern
homosexual it seemed, was decidedly effeminate. This was not
necessarily a new idea, although in the past, the relationship
between effeminacy and homosexuality had been a more
complex one. The century had started with two virtually
contradictory ideas of what homosexual behaviour was. On one
hand, homosexual acts did belong to a particular group of
people the effeminate mollies who occupied a particular place
on the social spectrum. On the other, however, it was
frequently assumed that it was possible, simply through
becoming aware of sodomy, that men might fall for its charms
and become sodomites.” (Cocks, Secrets, Crimes, and Diseases,
1800-1914, p. 143 in A Gay History of Britain: Love and Sex
Between Men Since the Middle Ages, editor Matt Cook)
“A brief historical reprise: I have argued at length in
Chapter 1 that the metaphor of inversion-the turning inside out
or upside down of desire in relation to gender-constituted the
dominant, if not sole, explanatory paradigm by which late-
nineteenth-century and early-twentieth-century Euro-American
- 397 -
culture structured its understanding of both the ontology and
the etiology of homosexuality. In the paradigmatic instance of
the male homosexual or invert, this explanatory figure would be
reduced to a suspiciously convenient formulation: anima
muliebris virili corpore inclusa, a female soul/spirit/psyche
lodged or encased in a male body. The historical instantiation of
this model of same-sex desire entailed the fluctuant and
(ultimately only) partial suppression of the precedent model,
sodomy, whose taxonomic mission was less to define the
relation between being and desire than it was to classify and
order the relation between bodies and acts. Above all, and in
clear contradistinction to the inversion paradigm, the sodomy
model did not presuppose, either theoretically or practically, an
essential heterosexual linkage between an already gendered
desire rooted in the depths of the subject (anima muliebris) and
the objects of that desire’s gratification; thus the unnaturality of
sodomy did not lie in the twisted or cross-gendered
composition of the subject’s desire, but rather in the mistaken
way in which the subject choose to lay his, or her, body down.”
(Craft, Another Kind of Love: Male Homosexual Desire in English
Discourse, 1850-1920, p. 161-162)
“The cultural deployment of the inversion model was hardly
a linear development. Sodomy did not concede overnight, nor
was inversion irrevocably installed by the vertical imposition of
power. As divergent but copresent sexual taxonomies, sodomy
and inversion jostled one another check to jowl, for both
discursive space and institutional validation, with the latter
model achieving taxonomic dominance largely because of its
close filiation with the ascendent discourses and institutions of
modernity: medicine, psychiatry, psychology, and
psychoanalysis.” (Craft, Another Kind of Love: Male Homosexual
Desire in English Discourse, 1850-1920, p. 162)
“There is no reason to suppose that the traditional forms
did not continue. It is rather there was now a tension that had
not existed before. Alongside the old forms of society in which
homosexuality had appeared, new meanings were now being
- 398 -
attached to homosexuality: it was more than a mere sexual act.
The new forms may even have involved only a minority of
homosexual acts, but they overshadowed the old: they were a
radical extension of the meaning of homosexuality, and they
were far more brilliant.” (Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance
England, p. 88-89)
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Essentialism or Social Constructionism

Does a homosexual exist just as mankind is of the species,


Homo Sapiens? Is a homosexual orientation intimately
intertwined with a person’s identity as a human being? When
using the term homosexual, is one accurately defining a
person’s self, his inner core, and the nature of his being? If it is
true, then homosexuality may be implied as natural, and that it
is essential to their human wholeness. There are those
advocating for homosexuality who hold such a view, that one is
born a homosexual. But there are others advocating for
homosexuality who hold a conflicting view, that homosexuality
only has the meaning which is given to it by the society and
culture it is a part of.
These conflicting views are usually framed by the
parameters using the words essentialism and social
constructionism. This discussion of the causes of
homosexuality is usually a philosophical tug of war with
conflicting ideologies.
“Various theories of homosexuality are derived from either
an essentialist approach or a social constructionist approach.
Essentialism claims that homosexuality is a construct that is
both ahistorical and acultural, a part of human civilization for
all time; whereas constructionialsm suggests homosexuality is
defined more by temporal periods and cultural context.”
(Sullivan, Homophobia, History, and Homosexuality: Trends for Sexual
Minorities, p. 3 in Sexual Minorities: Discrimination, Challenges, and
Development in American by Michael K. Sullivan, Ph.D., editor)
“While essentialism and constructionism offer distinct
definitions and conceptual unities for the field of gay and
lesbian studies, both are stymied by the range of data they
encounter and resort to reductionism. In the hope of bringing
order to the conflicting evidences of homosexual expression,
they turn to priori agents (nature and society) and mechanical
causality (biological/psychological cause and social regulation).
- 404 -
Both lead to a cul-de-sac in which gay and lesbian history is
negated. To the essentialist, history is only a version of the
present, while constructionist offers the present as the only
history lesbians and gay men have.
With the rise of the new deviancy theory of the 1960s,
attention was also turned not to the phenomenon of sexuality
itself, rather to the societal reactions to it and conditions
surrounding it. The initial and influential example of this
approach was in Mary McIntosh’s The Homosexual Role, which
tu