Friday, March 11, 2011

Homostudies: Introduction

The account unfolding in this and the following seven postings takes its start in the nineteenth century. That is when “the homosexual” was first consistently postulated as a distinct human variant (though not always in so many words).

To be sure, some anticipations of homostudies should be noted, among them the ancient Greek quest for the “inventor” of same-sex love; Orpheus and Laius were the two prime candidates. Assuming the existence of a period prior to the inception of same-sex love, this approach treats that capacity as an innovatory human artifact, not unlike viticulture and ship building, law and democracy. All these discoveries are part of the civilizing process. This approach contrasts with the more recent view, expressed by Goethe and others, that same-sex behavior has always been with us.

There are also the lists of famous homosexuals, a tradition starting in early modern Europe with the curious seventeenth-century text known as Aloisia Sigea. Finally, some attention is owing to parallel efforts in medieval Islam, China, and Japan. However, that cross-cultural task will not be addressed in these pages.

The structure of the present work, "Homostudies," owes much to the method of delineating successive paradigms introduced by Thomas Kuhn, the Harvard historian and philosopher of science. Yet in contrast to Kuhnian paradigm theory, which is linear and supersessionist, none of the models traced in the following account has been discarded. Reckoning with this survival factor, my approach may be termed combinatory and dialectical.

That being said, there is a progressive aspect as well. Over the centuries in Western Europe a vast deposit of prejudice, fabrication, and defamation had accumulated. There was no way that this burden could be lifted in a single generation. The improvements in understanding had to proceed step by step. I have sought to depict the major phases of this salutary process in these pages. At the outset the journey must inevitably seem somewhat obscure. But if the reader will persevere, matters will become clearer as we go on.

Inevitably there will be some quibbles about terminology. The term "gay studies" strikes many as old-fashioned and anachronistic. In keeping with current fashion, some would prefer "LGBTQ studies"; yet that expression is also anachronistic, indeed more so than gay studies. A common objection to the words gay and homosexual is that they privilege the male. Point taken, but a faithful account of the relevant scholarship must foreground the male narrative because that is what most of the studies have been concerned with historically.

Perhaps one should coin a new term: "homosexology." Yet the story is not solely about sex research, for it also concerns the culture and perception of same-sex love. Indeed, in his comparative studies of poetry Heinrich Hössli, arguably the ultimate progenitor of the field, gave pride of place to the cultural realm. Taking this dimension into account one might speak of "homosapience" or "homophrenos"; yet the first is too cute, the second too recondite.

Nonetheless, thanks to a suggestion of Dr. Erwin J. Haeberle, a solution presents itself. The appropriate term stems from the world of contemporary Dutch scholarship, which has made an immense contribution--too little appreciated outside the Netherlands--to our subject. That term is "Homostudies."

At a time when these important topics enjoyed very little entree into American and British universities, the first formal gay and lesbian studies programs were established at the Universities of Amsterdam and Utrecht in the Netherlands in 1978. Under the rubric of homostudies, their aim was to remould scholarly attitudes towards homosexuality and homosexuals, changing the way in which homosexuality was represented in academic curricula. This aim remains valid.

I regret that I have not found it possible to provide fuller coverage of issues pertaining to bisexuality. See, however, the opening section of the last chapter, together with Erwin J. Haeberle, "Bisexuality: History and Dimensions of a Modern Scientific Problem," at

In order to bring out key themes, coverage is necessarily highly selective. Since no attempt has been made to identify all significant works and scholars, omission of any particular name or group does not constitute a judgment of value. The narrative in the following postings is not a roster of scholars and their works; I undertook that task twenty-five years ago in my Homosexuality: A Research Guide. See the electronic version:


1) In 1836-38 Henrich Hössli, an independent scholar in Switzerland, introduced the method of comparative study of attitudes towards same-sex love, providing evidence from two main sources: ancient Greece and medieval Islam. Directly or indirectly, he was able to draw upon an abundance of classical scholarship for the former, and a smaller deposit of Orientalist studies for the latter.

2) The nineteenth century witnessed a great interest in classification and nomenclature, including descriptors of homosexual behavior and orientation. This concern has continued into our own day with the deployment of such terms as “gay,” “queer,” and “LGBT.”

3) In early twentieth-century Germany some homostudies scholars boldly essayed a comprehensive approach. Impressive as their efforts often were, they were generally limited to the Western tradition from ancient Greece onwards.

4) A complementary trend emphasized non-Western and tribal cultures. This trend has continued in our own time in anthropological research on the subject.

5) Alfred Kinsey situated same-sex behavior in the universe of sexual behavior, seeing no qualitative difference between heterosexual and homosexual acts, which he and his associates viewed as part of a continuum. His statistical and nonjudgmental approach has been subsequently been adopted in surveys conducted in many countries.

6) The inception of the homophile movement in the US in 1950-51 opened the way for a new series of studies, whose impetus has continued down to the present day.

7) There are other possible paradigms. The concept of bisexuality is of long standing. The newer approaches known as Social Construction and Queer Theory have attempted to supplant earlier paradigms, though in the writer’s opinion with limited success.


Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Homostudies: Paradigm One

Initially, the first half of the nineteenth century does not seem to have been favorable territory for the emergence of a new understanding of same-sex love. For during this era the older stereotypes of "the crime against nature" and the "sin of Sodom" came to be buttressed by new negative findings, seemingly authoritative, stemming from the field of psychiatry.

Moral insanity is a curious medical diagnosis first described by the French alienist Philippe Pinel in 1806. Moral insanity was a form of mental derangement in which the intellectual faculties remained sound, while the affects or emotions were damaged, causing patients to be carried away at intervals by some kind of fury. Pinel's English follower James Cowles Prichard defined moral insanity as: "madness consisting in a morbid perversion of the natural feelings, affections, inclinations, temper, habits, moral dispositions, and natural impulses, without any remarkable disorder or defect of the interest or knowing and reasoning faculties, and particularly without any insane illusion or hallucinations." Psychiatrists marshaled the new concept to explain how sodomites and other "perverts" could appear to function normally, but were actually quite disturbed.

Other experts embraced the quasibiological concept of degeneration. The naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon (1707–1788) was the first to define degeneration as a theory of nature. Using dubious evidence, Buffon claimed that entire species degenerated, becoming more sterile, weaker, or smaller due to harsh environmental conditions. It was but a short step to apply this notion to human beings. This idea raised the possibility that Europe might be nurturing a class of "degenerates" likely to erode social norms. This fear fostered support for a strong state which might intervene to eradicate the unfortunates, or at least prevent them from reproducing.

During the 1850s the French physician Bénédict Morel insisted that certain groups of people were in effect traveling backwards in terms of evolution, so that each generation became weaker and weaker (atavism). This claim relied on pre-Darwinian concepts, especially those of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, who held that acquired characteristics like drug addiction and sexual perversions could be inherited.

Ideas such as these prevailed in Paris, London, Berlin and other major centers of the Western world. Yet a significant challenge came from a remote corner of Europe: German-speaking Switzerland in the 1830s. This may seem an odd time and place for a creative departure from the conventional wisdom. In reality, however, the era was one of ferment in the Alpine cantons, in which ideas advanced as a result of the French Revolution of 1830 fostered the rise of liberal groups such as Young Switzerland. These groups challenged the ascendancy of the entrenched conservative faction.


We owe the first paradigm of homostudies to an obscure Swiss milliner, Heinrich Hössli (1784-1864). His major, indeed his only contribution was “Eros: Die Männerliebe der Griechen: Ihre Beziehungen zur Geschichte, Erziehung, Literatur und Gesetzgebung aller Zeiten (Eros, the Male Love of the Greeks: Its Relationship to the History, Education, Literature and Legislation of All Ages), published in two volumes in 1836-38.. From this somewhat sprawling work, it emerges that Hössli’s most important contribution was to direct close attention to civilizations with a positive approach to homosexual behavior. Working with the somewhat limited resources available to an independent scholar at that time. he discerned two of these: ancient Greece and medieval Islam. In his second volume he presented an abundance of poetic examples from both. While the comparison is implicit rather than explicit, it proved very fertile.

Born in the small Swiss town of Glarus, Heinrich Hössli spent his childhood there, leaving only at the approach of the Russian army in 1799, when he was sent to Bern. There he acquired the trade of milliner by which, on his return, he later earned his livelihood. In 1811 he married and had two sons, both of whom emigrated to the United States. Back in the small world of Glarus, he became known as "Modenhössli"--a fashionista of his day. He pursued his prosperous business until 1851, when he retired, spending the rest of his days roaming through Switzerland and Germany.

As has been noted, Hössli's contribution to knowledge of same-sex behavior and its culture was the two-volume work entitled “Eros.” The first germ of this endeavor had entered Hossli's mind in 1817 when he learned of the execution of a citizen of Bern named Franz Desgouttes, who had murdered his lover Daniel Hemmeler. Two years later he approached the popular Swiss-German writer Heinrich Zschokke (1771-1848), asking him to address the subject because he himself did not feel competent to compose a work of literature. Zschokke did in fact publish his own "Eros oder über die Liebe" (Eros or On Love) in the eighth issue of his miscellany Erheiterungen for the year 1821. This essay mustered a respectable quantity of material on the subject, but concluded by reaffirming the conventional belief of his time that this side of Greek civilization was a revolting aberration which no modern nation should follow.

Disappointed by Zschokke, Hoessli set about composing his own work, having it printed at his own expense. The authorities in Glarus promptly intervened to suppress it. He did, however, bring out the second volume two years later in St. Gall. The unsold portion of the work was destroyed by the great fire that devastated Glarus in 1861. A planned third volume remained in manuscript, which apparently has not survived.

In the opening section of his magnum opus Hössli likened the prevailing condemnation of Greek love to the witchcraft delusion of early modern Europe. He then set out the differences between the Greek conception of love and that of his own time, with copious references to classical history and literature and a plea for the toleration of male-male love.

The second volume repeated his theses on the naturalness of the passion. Yet its most important feature was an anthology drawn not just from classical Greece, but also from poetry of Islamic lands (Arabic, Persian, and Turkish), which Romantic authors had translated into German. Instead of segregating the two civilizations--Greece and Islam--Hössli boldly interspersed the literary material, sandwiching Muslim texts amidst the Greek ones. His belief, which has been partly sustained by modern scholars, was that the cult of the beautiful boy in Islam continued the earlier concepts of Plato.

Courageously, Hössli sought to refute stereotypes about Greek same-sex love that ranged from making it merely a contemplation of male beauty to stigmatizing it as child abuse. Throughout Eros. Hössli insisted that this form of love had not vanished, and was still thriving in modem times.

In his lifetime Hössli's work achieved no recognition, but was acquired and read by a small educated public. It contained among other things the essence of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs' notion of "a female soul trapped in a male body," and sought to document the universality of male homosexuality as no previous author had done. The composition of an amateur, not a professional writer, Eros ranks as the first sustained protest against the intolerance that male same-sex love had suffered for centuries in Christian Europe, and as such was appreciated by later activists who quoted it and reprinted excerpts.


His geographical isolation notwithstanding, Heinrich Hössli did not emerge from a vacuum. As regards ancient Greece he relied on the abundant material German classical philologists had assembled for several generations. The recovery of this formerly taboo material, a very impressive accomplishment in its own light, took place in the larger context of the ascent of German classical scholarship to dominance in Europe during the latter part of the eighteenth century and the early years of the nineteenth.

The year 1767 saw the posthumous publication of a landmark tract on ancient homosexuality by Johann Matthias Gesner. Born in 1691, the son of a pastor in eastern Germany, Gesner served as professor of poetry and eloquence at the University of Göttingen from 1734 until his death twenty-seven years later.

Gesner’s little book bore the provocative title “Socrates sanctus paederasta.” In part to ensure limited circulation, but also in keeping with standard practice for international scholarship in his day, the text appeared in Latin, with quotations in Greek from the original sources. Somewhat disappointingly, Gesner convinced himself of Socrates’ sexual continence and purity. The whole account reflects the assumption that classical antiquity knew two types of paiderasteia.. There was the sexually active form, familiar to us today, in which an adult practiced sexual relations with a youth. This must be condemned. However, Gesner believes (not entirely without support from the sources) that there was a second type, which was chaste (“honesta”). Just as today we hear that there is bad cholesterol and good cholesterol, Gesner distinguishes between bad paiderasteia and good paiderasteia. Socrates, the centerpiece of Gesner’s investigation, practiced, he held, only the good type. He was a sanctus paederasta, with “sanctus” employed in the sense of “blameless.”

Given the emblematic role that Socrates played in the educational establishment of eighteenth-century Germany, it is hard to see how, in his new Apology for Socrates, Johann Matthias Gesner could have reached any other conclusion. As the very model of the exemplary classical personality Socrates must be blameless. Embedded in his text, though, is a more subversive message. Some ancient Greeks did not restrict themselves to sancta paiderasteia, the chaste form, but sought sexual fulfillment in dalliance with their younger partners. Ensuing decades were to see a franker acknowledgment of this option. Moreover, this discussion took the form of a series of essays couched in the German vernacular, so that the issue was no longer confined to a narrow circle of erudite scholars.

As this account has begun in Göttingen and will for a time continue there, it is worth asking what the basis for its exceptionalism was. For that university had special characteristics fostering what was, for the time, a remarkably unfettered view of ancient sexuality. The university was founded in 1737 by the elector George Augustus of Hanover, better known as king George II of England. As a result of George I’s assumption of the English throne in 1714, Hanover and England had been united in personal union, a connection lasting until 1837, when the two were separated owing to the fact that the Salic law forbade queen Victoria from succeeding to the throne of Hanover. During its great period the university harbored an extraordinary corps of luminaries, including the philologist Christian Gottlob Heyne, who succeeded Gesner as professor of poetry and eloquence; the historians G. C. Gatterer and L. T. Spittler; and the statistician Gottfried Achenwall. Foreigners flocked to this unusual center of learning with its fine library. Göttingen’s special standing reflected its standing in the first golden age of German universities while, at the same time, under relatively liberal English patronage, it stood somewhat apart from them.

Christoph Meiners (1747-1810) served as professor of philosophy at the University of Göttingen from 1775 until his death. Delving deeply into the riches of the university library, Meiners produced a torrent of books and publications over a period of thirty-five years. His interests encompassed psychology, aesthetics, the history of philosophy, and the history of religion. He published a four-volume History of Women (1788-1800). Although as early as the fourteenth century Giovanni Boccaccio (in his De claris mulieribus) had initiated an elitist tradition of extolling famous women, Meiners may rank as the first to attempt a full-scale history of women from a general standpoint, heralding later accounts.

A volume of miscellaneous writings contains his essay on the “male love of the Greeks,” intended as a prologue to a more complete account of the differences between that leading people of antiquity and the advanced modern nations. (That work appeared in the same year.) Meiners begins by differentiating the ancient Greek concept of love from the modern one. The idealism and the emotional intensity modern men invest in the opposite sex was deployed by ancient Greek men towards their own sex. Hence the expression “Männerliebe,” which Meiners was probably the first to popularize in this context. The main reason for this difference between ancients and moderns is the seclusion of women, and their consequent exclusion from education. Because of this separation Greek men did not regard women as their equals.

Not surprisingly, Meiners expatiated at length on the pure form of male-male love. Although he does not cite Gesner, his encomium clearly stands alongside his Göttingen predecessor’s concept of “blameless pederasty.” In fact Meiners avoids the term pederasty altogether. He departs from his predecessor in one important respect, for Meiners believes that necessary to provide a historical analysis of his subject. He believes that there were three stages. The first belongs to the heroic age of Greek society, in which male comradeship, as between Achilles and Patroclus, Orestes and Pylades, was necessary as a bulwark in turbulent times. He compares these relationships with similar ones found in medieval Europe (the chivalric link between the knight and his squire) and the contemporary Americas.

The institution of the gymnasium dominated the second stage. The beauty of the youthful male bodies on display there gave male love an added aesthetic dimension. Still it remained pure. Only in the third stage did the phenomenon deteriorate into carnal indulgence, something unknown to Socrates and Plato. Meiners regards this decline as part of an overall pattern of decadence.

Meiners’ view had two essential components: the diversion of ideal love towards males as a consequence of the seclusion of women; and a three-part sequence, from heroic rigor to mature classicism, followed by decadence.

The next figure, Friedrich Wilhelm Basilius von Ramdohr (1757?-1822), also attended the University of Göttingen, where he studied law and aesthetics. A lawyer and diplomat, Ramdohr was passionately interested in art. This affinity was sealed by his 1784 sojourn in Rome, where he imbibed the aesthetic approach so eloquently championed by Johann Joachim Winckelmann (who had died in 1768).

Ramdohr’s diffuse magnum opus, Venus Urania (1798), addressed the topic of love understood as passionate friendship. He was writing at a time when friendship—one need only think of the case of Goethe and Schiller—was exalted in Germany. Yet Ramdohr identified a neglected component, for he believed that such same-sex friendships were erotically charged. There can be no true friendship without a core of sexual feeling. Sometimes regarded as heralding the work of Sigmund Freud, the insights of Ramdohr find a closer parallel in the novels of the Englishman D. H. Lawrence, who presents several deeply-felt portrayals of passionate friendship among men.

Like Lawrence, Ramdohr seems to have had such feelings himself. But boundaries must be imposed, for when, as among the ancient Greeks, this component becomes overt, love vanishes, leaving only lust. Accordingly he gives with one hand what he takes away with another. Sexual feelings, he insists, are powerfully felt when two persons of the same sex are friends: they experience love. Yet when the partners attempt to advance to physical expression, love goes out the window. Accordingly, Ramdohr’s endorsement of homoeroticism is restricted solely to what we would call the platonic form.

Friedrich Gottfried Welcker (1784-1868) returns us, though briefly, to Göttingen, for it was there that he published his groundbreaking essay on Sappho. Shortly thereafter, in 1819 he was called to the new university at Bonn.

During the opening years of the century several German authors, notably the literary critic Friedrich Schlegel, had frankly characterized the Greek poet as an early practitioner of same-sex relations with women. Differing from the custom in other Western European languages, where the term tribadism was preferred, these writers freely used the word “lesbisch” to refer to her presumed sexual orientation. Yet Welcker, writing in 1816, would have none of this, rising instead to his self-appointed task of rescuing the poet from the taint of “a current prejudice.” For Sappho, or so he strenuously argued, did not engage in physical love with members of her own sex.

Welcker shared the exaltation of the noble, chaste form of Greek pederasty defended by Gesner and Meiners, even adding new arguments. In this light one might expect that he would view Sappho as the exponent of an ideal love corresponding to that represented by Socrates and Plato. Not so. Welcker doubted that idealized male love of the Greeks had a feminine counterpart, for women were incapable of such high-minded detachment from sensuality. Barred from status as the patron of a higher form of love, Sappho assumed a more modest place as the exemplary director of a girl’s finishing school. Later Welcker’s illustrious pupil Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorf (1913) aggressively championed this reductive view, which remained dominant throughout Western Europe for a century after Welcker wrote.

Returning to our main account, the following years saw both advance and consolidation. Karl Otfried Müller (1797-1840) conceived the idea of a multivolume history of Greece based on the distinctive characteristics of the various subgroups. The masterwork of this series is his two-volume work on the Dorians, of which the first edition appeared in 1824. Although pederasty played but a modest part in this work, it launched the idea—to be explored in much more detail by Erich Bethe in 1907—that Greek pederasty had a particular Dorian stamp. Preoccupation with the Dorians long remained of particular concern in Germany, for of all the branches of the ancient Greeks the Dorians were believed to have the greatest affinity with modern Germans.

Friedrich Jacobs (1764-1833) spent much of his uneventful life in his native city of Gotha, where he was a teacher and museum director. His main philological work was his edition and commentary on the Greek Anthology, which contains much homoerotic material. In an 1829 essay on the education and morals of the Greeks he attempted a form of damage control. The physical expression of male love was, he held, not central to the ethos of the ancient Greeks. Instead, it reflected from the mad extravagance of a few wild individuals. This essay remained little known.

Quite different was the case of the popularizing work of Wilhelm Adolf Becker (1796-1846), professor of classics at the University of Leipzig. In his early studies of poetry Becker realized that the texts could not be understood without marshaling the findings of archaeology and what can be gleaned of the private life of the ancients. It was to illuminate private life that he composed his highly successful Charikles, first published in 1840, and subsequently revised and enlarged by other hands. This contains a chapter frankly discussing the facts of Greek homoerotic behavior, which he describes as “etwas sehr gowöhnlich”—something quite common.

Moritz Hermann Eduard Meier (1796-1855), the son of a Jewish merchant, became an honored professor of classics at. the venerable University of Halle. In 1837 he published a lengthy encyclopedia article on “Päderastie.” For the first time, this article attempted to sum up the facts of what came to be called “Greek love” in a comprehensive and relatively nonjudgmental manner. Significantly, almost a hundred years later the French scholar L.R. Pogey-Castries (pseudonym of Georges Herelle) saw fit to translate this article, attaching his own ideas to it as commentary.

The appearance of Meier’s balanced synthesis in 1837 marked the end of a major phase. This phase began in 1775 when Meiners took the bold step of sharing scholarly inquiries about ancient Greek sex love with the general public. Meier’s work coincided with a new development—the appearance of gay scholarship—something he did not anticipate, and may not have welcomed,

The date of Meier’s work, 1837, is significant in that it fell precisely into the gap between the two volumes of Heinrich Hössli. The two men do not seem to have been aware of each others' work. But Hössli could access the previous deposit of material, at least in part. References in his work show that he consulted Meiners, Ramdor, and Müller. Silence does not attest lack of knowledge, so that he may have known other contributions as well.


As far as we know, Hössli’s magnum opus was never reviewed, and copies of the original edition are rare today. However, they made their way to a select few. One of these was Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895), who published a series of twelve booklets in defense of gay rights from 1864 to 1869. Although classical learning serves more as a series of examples rather than functioning as the main focus, Ulrichs was thoroughly trained in a gymnasium and the Universities of Göttingen and Berlin. With this background he was able to combine the professional standards of the classicists with the personal convictions and passion of Hössli. Scholarship and the call for gay emancipation flowed together.

Once the potential of this fusion became clear, the new approach served as the basis for the material assembled by the circle of Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935), especially in their remarkable scholarly periodical Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen (1899-1923). A distinguished physician of Jewish origin, Hirschfeld devoted an almost superhuman dedication and energy to his twin causes of homosexual emancipation and gay scholarship. His monumental Die Homosexualität des Mannes and des Weibes (1914) remains the longest printed book ever published by a single author on the subject. While the monograph is deliberately as inclusive as possible, two areas that figure prominently are classical studies (encompassing history, biography, literature, and lexicography) and sexology. It is generally acknowledged that the creator of the discipline of sexology was the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902; Oosterhuis, 2000). Beginning with Krafft-Ebing’s landmark Psychopathologia sexualis (1886) this field took its place in the array of “German sciences,” being practiced most brilliantly in Hirschfeld’s base of Berlin.

The culminating figure in this remarkable roster of German scholars in the field of ancient Greek homosexuality is Paul Brandt (1875-1929), better known under his pseudonym of Hans Licht. He received a solid classical education, composing a doctoral dissertation on the challenging topic of Pindar’s grammar. Brandt adopted his pseudonym of Licht in order to shield himself form possible consequences. Despite this precaution, a colleague at the Leipzig Gymnasium denounced him, and Brandt was forced to transfer to another institution in a remote mountain location. For this reason, much of his work was created under heroic circumstances, away from research libraries.

In a series of periodical contributions Brandt-Licht worked methodically through the main branches of classical literature as it pertained to homosexuality. These were then synthesized in his great work of 1926-28, still often consulted in the English translation. Although the book is in principle about all sexual life in ancient Greece, there is a strong emphasis on the records of same-sex behavior.

Brandt-Licht’s death in 1929 coincided with the beginning of the world Depression, shortly followed by the ascendancy of Adolf Hitler in January 1933. This sequence of events put an end to the major of German research on ancient same-sex behavior. After 1945 German gay scholarship revived slowly, for the most part observing other priorities. Although one laments the relative loss of classical sexual scholarship—what might have been-- in a sense this research had served its purpose, allowing the calmness of distance to prevail over sometimes overheated contemporary concerns.

While Hirschfeld attempted, with remarkable success, to create a comparative, universalizing approach, Brandt-Licht implicitly endorsed the “Greek miracle” approach, emphasizing the exceptionalism of the Greek experience. Recent fundamental examinations of the Greek material, such as those by Sir Kenneth Dover, William Percy, and Thomas Hubbard, tend, whether intentionally or not, to ally themselves with this sense of ancient Greek distinctiveness (though Hubbard does follow the story into its Roman aftermath). Others, especially feminists, tend to limit the exemplary value of ancient Greece, emphasizing such components as misogyny and slavery. For his part, Martin Bernal has compared Egypt with Greece, but always to the disadvantage of the latter.

It seems that Heinrich Hössli, an industrious amateur, rushed in where angels feared to tread. He recognized that a balanced account of same-sex behavior in the past--and by implication in the present--must be comparative.


At all events, the preceding, somewhat extended account shows that Hössli’s attention to ancient Greece was in no ways exceptional, at least in Central Europe. By contrast, the gay aspect of Hossli’s other preferred civilization, Islam, was far less well documented. But evidence was not entirely lacking. In 1812-13 the Austrian orientalist Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall had published his versions of the Divan of the noted Persian poet Hafez of Shiraz (1325/26–1389/90). In the introduction the scholar pointed out the homoerotic aspects.

This publication seems to have touched off a craze for Middle Eastern poetry in Germany. One of the first to catch the fever was Goethe, who received a copy of the Hafez translations from the publisher in May of 1814. Reading this publication reawakened in the German poet an earlier vein of interest in Islam, and he devoted much of the rest of the year to reading books on the Middle East. In the following year he wrote his first poems dedicated to Hafez, whom he hailed as his “twin.” He was attracted to the fact that his Muslim predecessor, surrounded by the religious orthodoxy of his day, nonetheless contrived to march to a different drummer. Under this inspiration Goethe’s poetry flowed forth: in 1819 he had enough for a full-scale collection, which he published under the title of West-östliche Divan. In this cycle the homoerotic element is not as prominent as in the Persian model, but it is there, especially in the book dedicated to the Saqi or cupbearer. Goethe--or his poetic persona--beckons this servant to his side as “a pretty boy” and twice mentions the exchange of kisses.

In these same years, the German gay poet August Graf von Platen began to issue an extensive series of imitations of Hafez called ghazals. These poetic effusions augmented the climate of enthusiasm for Oriental poetry that Hossli was able to tap into.

[This chapter incorporates some material from Wayne R. Dynes, et al., eds. The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, New York: Garland, 1990. Electronic version:]


Becker, Wilhelm Adolph. Charikles oder Bilder altgriechischer Sitte. Two vols. Leipzig; Fleixher, 1840.

Bethe, Erich. “Die dorische Knabenliebe: Ihre Ethik und ihre Idee.” Rheinisches Museum für Philogogie, 1907, 62, pp, 438-75.

Gesner, Johann Matthias. Socrates sanctus paederasta. Utrecht: Van Schoonhoven, 1767.

Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von. West-Östlicher Divan. Stuttgart: Cotta, 1819,

Hirschfeld, Magnus. Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes. Berlin: Marcus, 1914. {English version: The Homosexuality of Men and Women, (translated by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash. Buffalo: Prometheus, 2000]

_______. (Theodor Ramien, pseud.). Sappho und Sokrates. Leipzig: Spohr, 1896.

Hössli, Heinrich. Eros: Die Männerliebe der Griechen: Ihre Beziehung zur Geschichte, Erziehung, Literatur und Gesetzgebung aller Zeiten. 2 vols. Glarus and St. Gall: Author, 1836-38.. [reprinted, Berlin; Rosa Winkel Verlag, 1996]

Jacobs, Friedrich. “Männerliebe.” In his: Vermischte Schriften. Vol. 3. Pp. 212-55. Leipzig: Dyk, 1829.

Licht, Hans [pseud. of Paul Brandt]. Sittengeschichte Griechenlands. 3 vols. Berlin & Dresden: Aretz, 1925-28. [English translation: Sexual Life in Ancient Greece. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1932)].

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Meiners, Christoph. “Betrachtungen über die Männerliebe der Griechen, nebst einem Auszüge aus dem Gastmahle des Plato.” In his: Vermischte philosophische Schriften. Leipzig: Weygand, 1775.

Müller, Karl Otfried. Die Dorier. 2 vols. Breslau: Max, 1824.

Ramdohr, Friedrich Wilhelm Basilius von. Venus Urania: Über die Natur der Liebe, über ihre Veredlung und Verschönerung. 3 parts in 4. Leipzig: Göschen, 1798.

Ulrichs, Karl Heinrich. Forschungen über das Rätsel der mannmännlichen Liebe. New York: Arno Press, [1975]. [reprints a series of twelve pamphlets, originally published between 1864 and 1880; English version: The Riddle of “Man-manly” Love. Translated by Michael A. Lombardi-Nash. Buffalo: Prometheus, 1994].

Welcker, Friedrich Gottlieb. Sappho von einem herschenden Vorurtheile befreit. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Rupprecht, 1816.

Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Ulrich von. Sappho und Simonides. Berlin: Weidmann, 1913.


Briggs, W. W. & Calder, William M., eds. Classical Scholarship: A Biographical Encyclopedia. New York: Garland, 1990.

Butler, E. M. The Tyranny of Greece over Germany. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1935.

Calder, William M., III. “F. G. Welcker’s Sapphobild and Its Reception in Wilamowitz.” In W. M. Calder, III, A. Köhnken, W. Kullmann, & G. Pflug, eds., Friedrich Gottlieb Welcker: Werk und Wirkung [Hermes Einzelschriften, 49]. Stuttgart: Franz Steiner, 1986, pp. 131-56.

Derks, Paul. Die Schande der heiligen Päderastie: Homosexualität und Öffentlichkeit in der deutschen Literatur 1750-1850. Berlin: Verlag Rosa Winkel, 1990.

Dover, Kenneth. “Expurgation of Greek Literature.” In his: The Greeks and Their Legacy: Collected Papers. vol. 2. Oxford: Basil Blackwell. 1988, pp. 270-91.

Dynes, Wayne R. "Light in Hellas: How German Classical Philology Engendered Gay Scholarship," in Beert C. Verstraete and Vernon Provencal, eds. Same-Sex Desire in Greco-Roman Antiquity and in the Classical Tradition of the West. Binghamton, NY; Harrington Park Press, 2005, pp. 341-56.

Herzer, Manfred. Bibliographie der Homosexualitatät. Berlin: Verlag rosa Winkel, 1982.

_________. Magnus Hirschfeld: Leben und Werk eines Jüdischen, schwulen and sozialistischen Sexologen. 2nd ed. Berlin: Männerschrift, 2001.

Karsch-Haack, Ferdinand. Der Putzmacher von Glarus: Heinrich Hössli, ein Vorkämper der Männerliebe. Leipzig: Max Spohr, 1908.

Kennedy, Herbert. Ulrichs: Life and Work of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement. Boston: Alyson, 1987.

Kuzniar, A. A., ed. Outing Goethe & His Age. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1996.

Lauritsen, John, and David Thorstad, David. The Early Homosexual Rights Movement (1864-1935). New York: Times Change Press, 1974.

Mancini, Elena. Magnus Hirschfeld and the Quest for Sexual Freedom: A History of the First International Sexual Freedom Movement (Critical Studies in Gender, Sexuality, and Culture). New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010.

Marino, L. I maestri della Germania: Göttingen 1770-1820. Turin: Einaudi, 1975.

Meier, Pirmin. Mord, Philosophie und die Liebe der Männer: Franz Desgouttes und
Heinrich Hössli: Eine Parallelbiographie. Zurich and Munich: Pendo Verlag, 2001.

Oosterhuis, Harry. Stepchild of Nature: Krafft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of Sexual Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Pick, Daniel. Faces of Degeneration: A European Disorder, c.1848-1918. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

Sandys, J. E. A History of Classical Scholarship. 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1903-08.


Homostudies: Paradigm Two: Nomenclature

One approach to gay studies reflects a striving towards classification and nomenclature: the Nomenclature Paradigm for short. First, some background.

The eighteenth century in Europe saw the rise of a trend in many disciplines for careful classification (taxonomy) and nomenclature. It was recognized that the two go hand in hand, and that the expansion of the realm of science and rationality. a prime Enlightenment desideratum, depended on the advance of this dual endeavor.

An influential example is the taxonomy of the Swedish physician and botanist Carl Linnaeus (1717-1778), as set forth in his Systema Naturæ (1735) and subsequent works. The taxonomy of Linnaeus comprises three kingdoms, divided into classes, and these, in turn, into orders, genera (singular: genus), and species, with an additional rank lower than species. In this way, the items are arranged in rank order, descending from the general to the specific. In broad terms, this concept goes back to Aristotle and is not original with Linnaeus.

More telling was his system of nomenclature that fostered the careful study of each type of organism under a distinctive binomial name. The binomial aspect of this system required that each organism being given two names, a “generic name,” which is called the genus, and a “specific name,” that of the species.

Having a universal system of binomial nomenclature allows scientists to speak the same language when referring to living things, avoiding the confusion of multiple common names that may differ based on region, culture, or native language. It is thus a kind of Esperanto of biology.


Following this general line of thinking, the term “bisexual” first came into prominence through its use by nineteenth-century botanists, who applied it to hermaphroditic plants, that is, those endowed with both male and female sexual organs. More recently, the sense "capable of attraction to both sexes or genders," without any suggestion of distinctive physiology, has become common with regard to human beings.

As this example shows, there is an understandable tendency to apply terms derived from biology to human behavior. This procedure, however, can lead to the pseudo-precision sometimes known as scientism; this approach tends to elide the cultural element that is an inescapable feature of human affairs. Some critics have also alleged that such terminological transfers from the biological realm to the sociological and psychological sphere are essentialist, tending as they do to suggest that behavioral patterns are monolithic and unchangeable.

Some terms derive from individuals who are held to personify the behavior in question. In French the term “sadisme” comes from 1834, when it was first used in a somewhat general sense of debauchery, strongly condemned as monstrous, antisocial, and unnatural. However, in keeping with the reputation of its namesake, the Marquis de Sade, the the expression quickly acquired the more specific meaning of sexual cruelty, in which the victim is required to submit the desires of the sadist. The sadist’s partner was at first unnamed.


This situation changed when in 1886 the famous German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing introduced the term “Masochismus” He derived the expression from the Austrian novelist Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1836-1895), who wrote several works about the humiliation and suffering endured by those who were attracted to the femme fatale type (an example is Venus in Pelz, “Venus in Furs,” of 1870).

Krafft-Ebing’s works were the starting point for the treatment of "abnormal" sexuality by Freud and Jung, to cite only two of the major figures who came after him. During his career he held professorships at Strasbourg, Graz, and Vienna--then the locus of the world's leading medical school.

A synthesizer, Krafft-Ebing's speculations on homosexuality reveal the influence of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs' concept of the "Urning" and Karl Westphal's discovery of "contrary sexual feeling" (1869). He began to develop his theories on the manifestations and etiology of homosexuality in the wake of a survey of the recent publications on the subject of sexual psychopathology that he compiled in l876. In the following year he published an article in which homosexuality was defined as "an absence of normal sexual feeling, with compensatory attraction to members of the same sex." His proclivity for schematization on the basis of the current Darwinian notions of evolution led him to insert every known variety of abnormality of sexual attraction, gender, and constitution into a global framework.

To his credit, Krafft-Ebing recognized that the subjects of his inquiries were basically happy with their lot and that their distress stemmed from society's laws and attitudes. He was even prepared place their love--as an emotion-- on a footing with those of "normal feelings." However, he clung to the belief in "degeneration" as a cause of such mental illnesses, and it was with disturbed individuals in prisons and insane asylums that, as a forensic psychiatrist, he mainly came into contact.

Krafft-Ebing's classic work, Psychopathia sexualis (1886), focussed atten­tion on four subgroups: "psychosexual hermaphrodites" (= bisexuals), homosexu­als, effeminates and "viraginites" in whom the psychic disposition corresponds to that of the opposite sex, and androgynes. His etiological scheme differentiated sharply between "inborn" and "acquired" homosexuality in keeping with the forensic bias of his work.
After studying Magnus Hirschfeld's writings at the turn of the century, Krafft-Ebing revised his views in 190, stating that homosexuality was not a manifestation of degeneracy or pathology, but could occur in otherwise normal subjects. But this retraction written shortly before his death could do little to alter the tremendous impression made on the public by the many editions of his best-seller Psychopathia sexualis (12 in his lifetime) that was translated into other languages and achieved an authority no previous volume on abnormal sexuality had ever enjoyed; and his definition of "every ex­pression of the sex drive that does not correspond to the purposes of nature, i.e., reproduction" as "perverse" (= unnatural, hence immoral) greatly shaped the notion of "abnormal" sexuality.

Krafft-Ebing remains an outstanding example of a common profession: a “normal” expert classifying “abnormal” subjects. This asymmetry accorded with the Linnaean prototype. No one would expect a tree or a lion to offer it own self-classification.


But that is what happened when gay scholars themselves began to enter the fray. In this they realized that it was necessary to enter into the contemporary discourse of labeling. Together with some heterosexual allies they discovered that this gambit could be employed for positive purposes. This led to the Naming Paradigm in the specific sense of understanding same-sex orientation.

The inception of the Naming Paradigm in this vein began with the German scholar and activist Karl Heinrich Ulrich (1825-1895). Beginning in 1864, Ulrichs forcefully advocated the term “Urning” for individuals that we would now term male homosexuals, This he did in a series of five booklets which were later collected under the title Forschungen über das Räthsel der mannmännlichen Liebe ("Studies on the Problem of Love between Men"). Ulrichs referenced his term to Venus Urania, the heavenly Aphrodite extolled by Plato and other Greek writers. Hence the term Uranismus and, subsequently (in English), uranian.

The term “Urning” served as the cornerstone of a more elaborate system, for Ulrichs developed an elaborate typology, with the following components: 1) Urning: a male-bodied person with a female psyche, whose main sexual attraction is to men; 2) Urninde (or occasionally the variants Uranierin, Urnin, and Urnigin): a female-bodied person with a male psyche, whose main sexual attraction is to women; 3) Dioning: a "normal" (heterosexual and masculine) man; 4) Dioningin: A "normal" (heterosexual and feminine) woman; 5) Uranodioning: a male bisexual; 6) Uranodioningin: a female bisexual; and 7) Zwitter: a hermaphrodite, or intersexual.

Urningthum, "male homosexuality" (or urnische Liebe, homosexual love) was elaborated with the following terms: 1) Mannlinge: very masculine, except for feminine psyche and sex drive towards effeminate men ("butch gay"); 2) Weiblinge: feminine in appearance, behavior and psyche, with a sex drive towards masculine men ("queen"); 3) Manurning: feminine in appearance and behavior, with a male psyche and a sex drive towards women ("feminine straight man"); 4) Zwischen-Urning: Adult male who prefers adolescents. ("pederast"); 5) Conjunctive, with tender and passionate feelings for men; 6) Disjunctive, with tender feelings for men but passionate feelings for women; 7) Virilisierte Mannlinge: male Urnings who have learned to act like Dionings, through force or habit ("closeted gay") 8) Uraniaster or uranisierter Mann: a dioning who engages in what later came to be termed situational homosexuality (e.g. in prison or the military). While linguistically the terminology is in large measure of indigenous German origin, Ulrichs work was nourished by his extensive knowledge of primary sources in Greek and Latin that derived from his humanistic education in the Gymnasium. In this he differed from the autodidact Hössli, the initiator of the First Paradigm.

Who in fact was Ulrichs? Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born in Aurich, in the state of Hanover, on August 28, 1825, to a middle-class Protestant family. He studied law at the universities of Göttingen and Berlin (1844-47). After several years as an attorney in the civil service of the Kingdom of Hanover, he voluntarily left state service to earn his living by writing and related activities: he was for several years a freelance journalist and private secretary of a representative to the German Confederation in Frankfurt am Main.

During his stay in Frankfurt, Ulrichs built on current advances in embryology to develop a theory of homosexuality that he presented in a series of five booklets (1864-65) under the umbrella title of Forschungen über das Rätsel der mann­männlichen Liebe; the series was later extended to comprise twelve booklets, the last appearing in 1879. Assuming that a love drive that was directed toward a man must be feminine, Ulrichs summed up his theory in the Latin phase anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa (a female soul trapped in a male body) and he coined the term "Urning" (uranian) for such a person. As we have seen in the typology above, the theory also applied mutatis mutandis to women who love other women.

This so-called third-sex theory furnished a scientific explanation for same-sex love drives that showed them to be natural and inborn. It followed that Urnings are neither criminal nor sick. Encouraged by his conclusions, Ulrichs began to intervene in criminal cases and sought to organize Urnings to promote their own welfare. Already in 1865, he drafted a set of bylaws for an "Urning Union" and by the next year he was planning to publish a periodical for Urnings. (He finally realized this plan in 1870, but lack of support allowed only one issue.) This activity was interrupted, however, by the Prussian invasion and annexation of Hanover in 1866. Ulrichs spoke out publicly there against this action and was twice imprisoned.

Exiled from Hanover on his release from prison in 1867, Ulrichs went to Munich to resume his earlier fight. At the meeting of the Congress of German Jurists on August 28,1867 he pleaded for a resolution urging repeal of all anti-homosexual laws. Even though he was shouted down, the occasion was historic, for it marked the first time that a self-proclaimed same-sex advocate had publicly spoken out for homosexual rights.

Further efforts by Ulrichs also had little effect; indeed, with the unification of Germany following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71, the harsh Prussian anti-homosexual law was extended to all parts of the county. In despair, Ulrichs migrated to Italy in 1880, to spend his last years in L'Aquila, where died on July 14, 1895.

In its English-language dress of “uranian,” Ulrichs' term quickly found favor among English-language advocates of homosexual emancipation in the Victorian era, such as John Addington Symonds and Edward Carpenter, who used it to describe their enthusiasm for a comradely love that would bring about true democracy, uniting the "estranged ranks of society" and breaking down class and gender barriers.

The term also gained currency among a group of Oxford and Cambridge graduates who studied Classics and dabbled in pederastic poetry from the 1870s to the 1930s. The writings of this group are now subsumed by the phrase Uranian poetry. The art of the painter Henry Scott Tuke and the photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden is also sometimes characterized as "Uranian."

Voguish for a while, the terms Urning and uranian did not prove lasting, because a much more influential rival appeared: ‘homosexual.” In 1869 K. M. Kertbeny introduced the term in print. (“Heterosexual” followed a decade later.) “Contrary sexual feeling” and “inversion also came along at this time.


Until about a century after its appearance (1868-69), ”homosexual” ranked as the dominant formal term to designate same-sex orientation. Beginning in the 1970s, it briefly yielded to “gay,” until that word was itself found to be problematic. Etymologically, homosexual is a hybrid: he first part homo- being the Greek combining form meaning "same"; the second, (late) Latin. The mistaken belief that homo- represents that Latin word for "man" has probably contributed to lesbian resistance to the word.

Károly Mária Kertbeny (1824-1882), the inventor of the word “homosexual,” was a German-Hungarian writer, translator, and journalist. He bore the surname Benkert until 1847; then the police of his native city of Vienna authorized him to use the Hungarian noble name of his family as his sole name.

The draft of a private letter to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs of May 6, 1868 contains for the first time the expressions “homosexual” and “heterosexual.” At this point the latter term remained a mere tentative suggestion.

In 1869 Kertbeny wrote two pamphlets that were published anonymously, demanding freedom from penal sanctions for homosexual men in Prussia and the Prussian-dominated North Ger­man Confederation. They were entitled 143 des Preussischen Strafgesetzbuchs und seine Aufrechterhaltung als 152 des Entwurfs eines Strafgesetzbuchs für den Norddeutschen Bund (Paragraph 143 of the Prussian Penal Code and its Maintenance as Paragraph 152 of the Draft of a Penal Code for the North German Confederation) and Das Gemeinschädliche des 143 des Preussischen Strafgesetzbuches ... (The Social Harm Caused by Paragraph 143 of the Prussian Penal Code ...). Here for the first time the word Homosexual­ität is found as a substitute for the designation Urningthum that Ulrichs had introduced in 1864. Instead of Urninge Kertbeny used the word Homosexualisten¡ instead of Urninden (lesbians), Homosexualistinnen.

In these published works (in contrast to the letter), Kertbeny did not use the term heterosexual, preferring “normalsexual” instead. How then did the term heterosexual make its way into public awareness?

Gustav Jaeger (1832-1917), a zoologist who resided in Stuttgart, authored a book entitled Die Entdeckung der Seele (The Discovery of the Soul). The second edition of this popular book (1880) incorporates parts of a text that Kertbeny had written on the sexual instinct, in which the term “homosexual” occurs repeatedly (contrasted, however, with “normalsexual”). A continuation of this text, which Jaeger had at first thought too offensive, appeared only in 1900 in Hirschfeld's Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen without mentioning Kertbeny's name. Jaeger designated the author only as "Dr. M.," a pseudonym that fostered the common but erroneous belief that Kertbeny was "a Hungarian doctor." This in turn contributed to the unwarranted assertion that the word homosexual was originally a clinical or medical term. As a writer Kertbeny was chiefly concerned with literature; he wrote nothing on medicine or the natural sciences.

Kertbeny claimed that he himself was a Normalsexualer, hence not homosexual. However, there is no proof of that assertion, or for the hypothesis of his homosexuality or bisexuality. However that may be, he ranks alongside Heinrich Hössli and Ulrichs as one of the most important advocates of homosexual emancipation in the nineteenth century.

Why did the word homosexual ultimately prevail? Ulrichs’ terms had too much of a baroque and cultish flavor to find acceptance. Westphal’s expression was doubly isolated: it was usable only in German and lacking the matching terms of the other series. By contrast, the set homosexual / bisexual / heterosexual that finally emerged efficiently defined the semantic field. The words Homosexualität / Homosexualismus, which Kertbeny also devised served to denote the condition. All these forms, being based on Latin sexualis, had no difficulty in gaining international currency.


We turn now to another term that enjoyed a certain popularity at the time. “Die konträre Sexualempfindung” was a German designation proposed by Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal in an article published in the Archiv für Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten in 1869. Westphal regarded the phenomenon as the symptom of an inborn pathological condition, an alienation from the feeling proper to one’s anatomical sex. He confused attraction to the same sex with compulsive transvestism, an error that was not to be corrected until fifty years later. Westphal did, however, make the forensic distinction between exclusive and occasional homosexuality.

The adapted form "contrary sexual feeling" found some favor among English and American physicians and alienists, generally those with German connections, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. In Romance-language countries, the term quickly yielded to the more elegant inversion(e), which was invented by Arrigo Tommasia in Italy in 1878. For a time "inversion" flourished as the international term of choice.


The period is also characterized by the survival of a curious earlier theme: the notion of the Third Sex. The terms third sex and third gender describe individuals who are considered to be neither women nor men, as well as the social category present in those societies who may be inclined to recognize three or more genders. Ways of thinking about this matter vary. A third sex or gender may represent an intermediate state between men and women, a state of being both (such as "the spirit of a man in the body of a woman"), the state of being neither (neuter), the ability to cross gender barriers or to change gender, or another category altogether independent of male and female. This last definition is favored by those who argue for a strict interpretation of the "third gender" concept.

The term has been used to describe Hijras of India and Pakistan, Fa'afafine of Polynesia, and Sworn Virgins of the Balkans, among others. At various times in the Western world, lesbian, gay, transgender and intersex people have been described as belonging to a third sex or gender. Needless to say, many have objected to this characterization.

The term "third" is usually understood to mean "other." This leads to a further question. Is there only one alternative to the standard male-female dichotomy? Some anthropologists and sociologists have described fourth, fifth, and indeed many, genders.

A cultural construct, the idea of a third (or third gender) should not simply be accepted as a given. The concept is a distinctively Western artifact.
In the myth discussed in Plato’s Symposium the androgynous beings are described as a "third race," the irony being that these are presented as the archetypes of heterosexuals (as we would now term them). Later the third-century CE Roman emperor Alexander Severus spoke slightingly of eunuchs as the tertium genus hominum (third class of men). The idea is modeled on Latin grammar, which recognizes three genders: masculine, feminine, and neuter.

Some scholars (preeminently Randolph Trumbach) hold that a third gender emerged around 1700 CE in England: the male sodomite. According to these writers, this development was marked by the emergence of a subculture of effeminate males and meeting places (molly houses). As these manifestations became better known there was a marked increase in the general society in hostility towards effeminate and/or homosexual males. The expression third sex was not common then, however. It first became common in early nineteenth-century France (le troisième sexe), an expression used by outsiders to describe "exotic" creatures. About 1860 Europe saw the rise of individuals who adopted the expression third sex for themselves with the writings of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, and continuing in the late nineteenth century with Magnus Hirschfeld, John Addington Symonds, Edward Carpenter, Aimée Duc, and others. These authors described themselves and those like them as being of an "inverted" or "intermediate" sex and experiencing homosexual desire. Their writings argued for social acceptance of such sexual intermediates.

As biological explanations for sexual orientation declined, however, the idea came to seem old-fashioned. The rise of the gay-liberation trend in the 1970s saw a growing separation of the concepts of sexual orientation and gender identity. As a result of these developments, the term “third sex” fell out of favor among LGBT communities and those who were sympathetic to them. For the general public, it survived mainly in the titles of sensational novels and films.


The Second Paradigm is an important stage in the understanding of same-sex attraction and behavior. However, its role must not be overstated. The tendency to overstatement has given rise to two myths: the “invention of homosexuality” and the “invention of heterosexuality.”

During the 1980s some historians of sexuality began to draw far-reaching conclusions from the introduction of the term “homosexual” in 1869. These scholars, who included such figures as Mary Mackintosh, Jeffrey Weeks, and Ken Plummer in England, termed their approach Social Construction (SC). Challenging the validity of any "transhistorical" definition of same-sex behavior, the SC scholars hold that sexual behavior is, in all significant aspects, a product of cultural conditioning. By contrast, biological and constitutional factors were deemed unimportant or nonexistent. Thus same-sex behavior would have an entirely different meaning, say, in ancient Egypt or Tang China from what it would have in nineteenth-century Europe. In the view of some proponents of this approach, the "modern homosexual" is sui generis, having come into existence in Europe and North America only around 1869 or shortly thereafter. Because of this radical break in consciousness and behavior, it is vain to conduct comparative research on earlier eras in the West or in the context of non-Western societies.

The SC scholars deemed the rise of the “modern homosexual” in the latter part of the nineteenth century to be of epochal significance. Some denied that there was any homosexuality prior to this great shift. To be sure, there was same-sex behavior before, but no such thing as “homosexuals.”

A fuller discussion of SC, its strengths and weaknesses, must be deferred until Chapter Seven below. Here one should point out that changes in sexual patterns and conceptualizations generally occur gradually. Sometimes a great disaster, such as World War I, can propel change in this sphere. However, the second half of the nineteenth century saw no such general upheaval in Western Europe. Except for the interlude of the Franco-Prussian War, there was a steady and peaceful progress of industrialization.

In addition, one should not place too much emphasis on changes of terminology. Words are important, but they cannot in themselves trigger social change. And Heinrich Hössli’s research in 1836-38 showed that no particular innovation in terminology was needed to undertake a fundamental study of same-sex behavior.

It appears, then, that one must reject the thesis of the “invention of homosexuality” around 1869 or shortly thereafter. However, an even more extraordinary claim has been advanced by Jonathan Ned Katz, an American historian of homosexuality. In his 1995 monograph entitled The Invention of Heterosexualtiy, Katz seeks to go his Social Constructionist colleague one further. Just as homosexuality is a social construct rather than a natural, unambiguous given, so too is heterosexuality--according to Katz.

As we have seen, the term “homosexual” was introduced in 1869. It was not originally paired with “heterosexual,” but with “normalsexual.” This situation changed to the one we now largely as a result of the work of Richard von Krafft-Ebing. With his passion for terminological symmetry, Krafft-Ebing (beginning with the fourth edition of his best-seller Psychopathia Sexualis, 1889) promoted the contrast between homosexuality and heterosexuality. It seems to have been chiefly from this source that the pair of terms spread into other languages, a process well under way by 1900.

So far, so good. However, Katz goes further, contending that the notion of heterosexuality as a universal, presumably normative ideal was created, more of less out of whole cloth, by such men as K. M. Kertbeny, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, and Sigmund Freud. Prior to the late nineteenth century, he maintains, the social universe was not polarized into "hetero" and "homo."

In the view of many critics, the examples Katz cites in support of his thesis--ancient Greece, the New England colonies (1607-1740) and the United States between 1820 and 1850--do not substantiate his claims. One need only think of the famous parable that Plato introduced into the Symposium to realize that even in ancient Greece it was quite possible to differentiate among heterosexuality, male homosexuality, and lesbianism. Of course Plato did not use these terms, only the concepts. As noted above, however, one must not make a fetish of nomenclature. It is concepts that matter; the words that serve to designate them are secondary.

Still, that remark must not be the last word, for the study of historical semantics remains a useful undertaking. In the field of human sexuality terms have often served as vehicles for judgmentalism and condemnation. To redress this tendency the search for a new terminology was launched in Germany in the 1860s.


After the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969 there was considerable pressure to abandon the use of the word homosexual in favor of gay. With the growth of the world-wide movement for homosexual emancipation, the word gay spread into Spain, Italy, Latin America, and parts of Asia. Sometimes, though, it served to designate a form of same-sex love that was perceived as new-fangled and "Western," as distinct from indigenous forms.

In North America lesbians and their supporters objected to the straightforward use of the term gay, saying that it designated men only. Accordingly, the compound "lesbian and gay" became de rigueur for a time. In due course this fomula yielded to "queer" and "LGBTQ"; for further discussion, see the Conclusion (Part Seven) of this series.

Social workers and others who have contact with persons in non-Western countries find that the terminology we are accustomed to is not effective in oommunicating with their clients. They report that it is often more useful to refer to such people as men who have sex with men (MSM) and women who have sex with women (WSM). Some detachment from the more usual range of terminology is found among African American men in North America. Some of these men prefer the expression "on the down low" or simply "DL."


Courouve, Claude. Dictionnaire de l'homosexualité masculine. Paris: Payot, 1985.

Féray, Jean-Claude. "Une histoire critique du mot homosexualité," Arcadie (no. 325), 11-21; (326), 115-24; (327), 171-81; (328), 246-58 (January-April 1981).

Oosterhuis, Harry. Stepchild of Nature: Krafft-Ebing, Psychiatry and the Making of Sexual Identity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

NOTE; I explored a range of terms in my 1985 monograph [Wayne R. Dynes] Homolexis: A Historical and Cultural Lexicon of Homosexuality. Over the years I came to realize that this little book was just a first attempt. I have therefore created a much enlarged and improved version, Homolexis Glossary, available electronically at; and This "Homolexis Glossary" contains a number of bibliographical indications.


Homostudies Three: The Comprehensive Paradigm in gay studies

Of central importance to the Comprehensive Paradigm of gay studies was the appearance of the Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre Komitee (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee). This, the world's first homosexual rights organization, was founded in Berlin on May 14,1897, the twenty-ninth birthday of Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935), a physician of Jewish origin who became the leading authority on homo­sexuality in the first third of the twentieth century. Under the pseudonym of "Dr. Ramien," In 1896 Hirschfeld had published a book entitled Sappho und Sokrates, oder wie erklärt sich die Liebe der Männer und Frauen zu Personen des eigenen Gesch­lechts! (Sappho and Socrates, or How Is the Love of Men and Women for Persons of Their Own Sex to Be Explained?). Moved by the suicide of a young homosexual officer on the eve of a marriage into which his family had pressured him, Hirschfeld went on to create an organization that would campaign for legal toleration and social acceptance for what he called the third sex.

Writing in an era when biology and medicine uncritically accepted the notion of "inborn traits" of all kinds, Hirschfeld maintained that homosexuals were members of a third sex, an evolutionary intermediate (or intergrade) between the male and the female, and he bolstered his thesis with data of all kinds showing that the mean for the homosex­ual subjects whom he studied by interview and questionnaire fell almost exactly between those for male and female respectively. Accordingly the journal which the Scientific-humanitarian Committee published from 1899 onward was entitled the Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der Homosexualität (Annual for Sexual Intergrades with Special Reference to Homo­sexuality).

The committee’s first priority was legal reform. Following the establishment of the North German Confederation and then of the German Empire, a new penal code was adopted that went into force on the entire territory of the Reich on January 1, 1872. Its Paragraph 175 made criminal widernatürhche Unzucht zwischen Männern (lewd and unnatural acts between males), with a maximum penalty of two years. In the interest of repealing this paragraph the Committee drafted a petition "to the Legislative Bodies of the German Empire" that was ultimately signed by some 6000 German citizens prominent in all walks of life. The Committee saw that this task must be buttressed by an educational campaign meant to enlighten a public that as yet knew nothing of the literature that had been appearing sporadically in the psychiatric journals since 1869, or of the earlier apologetic writings of Heinrich Hoessli and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. By means of pamphlets, public lectures, and later even films, the Committee sought to convince the world that homosexuals were an unjustly persecuted sport of nature, who could not be blamed for their innate and unmodifiable sexual orientation. Because they lived in a society that was wholly intolerant of homosexual expression, they had to hide their orientation and their sexual activity, and so were peculiarly exposed to blackmail if their true nature came to the knowledge of members of the criminal underworld. Among the educated elite Hirschfeld's views soon won a large measure of support, but they were rejected by the churches and by the conservative jurists of the Wilhelmstrasse engaged in drafting a new criminal code.

The Committee was in practice the world's first center for the study of all aspects of homosexuality. Largely ignored by academic scholars in the universities, Hirschfeld collected material from various sources on the fre­quency of homosexual behavior in the population and the psychological profile of the homosexual personality. In 1904 Hirschfeld concluded that 2.2 percent of the population was exclusively homosexual, and that the figure was surprising only because so many of his subjects successfully hid their inclinations from a hostile world. The private lives of his subjects he examined from numerous aspects, in every one of which he found evidence that supported his theory of an innate third sex.

As the years passed, the Committee was beset with problems from within and without. Hirschfeld's theories placed undue emphasis on the effeminate male and the viraginous ("manly") female as the homosexual types par excellence, a standpoint that alienated the pederasts who fell into neither cate­gory and were often bisexual as well. Benedict Friedlaender, an independent scholar, denounced Hirschfeld's views and contrasted them with the Hellenic ideal of man-boy love which was a virile, state-building phenomenon in his Renaissance des Eros Uranios (Renaissance of Eros Uranios; 1904). A rival organization, the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of the Exceptional), was founded in 1902, and adopted as its journal Der Eigene, edited by Adolf Brand, which had been publishing literary and art work on the subject of pederasty since 1898. The incompatibility of the two approaches shows that the umbrella concept of "homosexuality" united biological and psychological phenomena which had only this in com­mon, that they both ran afoul of the Judeo-Christian taboo on same-sex relations; socially and politically they were - and still are - incompatible. The Committee had even anticipated the split by proposing in its petition an age of consent of 16 for homosexual relations - which would in effect have excluded the boy-lover from the benefit of law reform.


Aided by the experts in various disciplines who had been attracted to the Scientific-Hu­manitarian Committee, Hirschfeld set about writing a monumental work that was published in January 1914 under the title Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes (Male and Female Homosexual­ity). This vast tome summarized everything that had been learned from the literature of the past, and especially of the preceding decade and a half, as well as the 10,000 case histories that Hirschfeld had taken in that time. All its arguments were directed toward proving that homosexuality was inborn and unmodifiable and that the reasoning (including early psychoanalytic writings) in favor of acquired homosexuality was untenable. As a scientifi­cally documented, carefully argued plea for toleration, it remains along with the 23 volumes of the Jahrbuch the committee's principal legacy to knowledge.

The economic difficulties of the 1920s and 30s posed a challenge to the work of the committee, but nonetheless it work continued. However, the accession to full power by Hitler and his supporters in 1933 meant the destruction of the Institute for Sexual Science which Hirschfeld had founded in 1918.

A brief summary of the contents of Die Homosexualität will convey some sense of the magnitude of Hirschfeld’s accomplishment. The book begins with an account of the terminology of same-sex behavior, together with the concepts associated with the names. Then, in accordance with his medical training, Hirschfeld turns to number of issues involved in the diagnosis of homosexuality in men and women. He distinguishes three other conditions that are often confused with homosexuality: hermaphroditism, gynandromorphy (referring to individuals with some characteristics of the opposite sex), and transvestism. (The German physician had coined the term “transvestism” in a publication of 1910.)

Hirschfeld then turns to theories of the causality of homosexual behavior. This topic is followed by a statistical approach, including class elements. After that is a survey of the behavior in various parts of the world. There is a brief discussion of homosexuality among animals, followed by sociological factors involved in group bonding of homosexual men and women. This is followed by an account of what is known of the history of homosexuality, beginning with classical antiquity. Given the interest of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee in law reform, there is a discussion of the legal situation throughout the world. The effects of prejudice and discrimination are frankly addressed, together with remedies that help the rehabilitation of such persons. The book concludes with an account of the rise of gay-rights organization.

The sheer sweep of this book is breathtaking, encompassing as it does biological, sociological, historical, cultural, and legal dimensions. Later advances in science have made much of the biological material dated, but the key point is that Hirschfeld saw clearly that one must not flinch from this type of inquiry. Of course, the historical and cultural sections have stood the test of time best.

What remains, however, is the sense that homosexual behavior and culture must be examined in the broadest possible compass. This comprehensive aim is what distinguishes the third paradigm.

In some ways the “home field" of the scholars of Hirschfeld’s circle was classical antiquity. Fittingly, therefore, one of his associates Paul Brandt, writing as Hans Licht produced a three-volume work Sittengeschichte Griechenlands (1925-28), translated into English in 1932 as Sexual Life in Ancient Greece. The title notwithstanding this major work is mainly about male homosexuality. In our own time it has been massively supplemented, but even now not completely replaced by later works on the subject by Sir Kenneth Dover, William A. Percy, and Thomas Hubbard.

As this last example shows, Hirschfeld’s monumental achievement was not accomplished in a vacuum--far from it. The sex-research field in Berlin in his time was richly populated, and very competitive. Rivalries abounded.


Perhaps Hirschfeld’s most determined opponent was Albert Moll (1862·1939), also a physician of German-Jewish origin. In 1889 he published a book entitled Die Hypnose, claiming that with this technique he could change homosexuals into heterosexuals. His book Die Conträre Sexualempfindung (1891) deals with forty-one famous homosexuals. His Untersuchungen über die Libido Sexualis (1897-98) influenced Sigmund Freud, who is said to have purloined the idea of infantile sexuality from Moll. Ostensibly heterosexual, Moll never married and homosexuality played a central role in his work. His private life remains a mystery. At all events, his 1902 article “Wie erkennen und verständigen sich Homosexuelle untereinander?” (How do homosexuals recognize and understand one another?) suggests insider knowledge.
Others felt that Hirschfeld's theories overemphasized the effeminate male and the butch female as the homosexual types par excellence. This approach alienated pederasts who fell into neither category and were often bisexual as well. In his Renaissance des Eros Uranios (1904), Benedict Friedlaender rejected Hirschfeld's views, contrasting them with the Hellenic ideal of man-boy love which was a virile, state-building phenomenon. A new organization, the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (Community of the Exceptional), appeared in 1902, and adopted as its journal Der Eigene, edited by Adolf Brand, which had been publishing literary and art work on the subject of pederasty since 1898.


Standing apart from these intense rivalries was the work of a foreigner, the Englishman Henry Havelock Ellis (1859-1939). At the age of 32 he married Edith Lees, a lesbian; after the first year of their marriage all sexual relations ceased, and both went on to a series of affairs with women. An autodidact, Ellis obtained in 1889 a licentiate in Medicine, Surgery, and Mid­wifery from the Society of Apothecaries in London, a somewhat inferior degree that always embarrassed him. More interested in his literary studies than in the practice of medicine, he nevertheless collected case histories mainly by correspondence, as his autobiography makes no mention of clini­cal practice.

One of his early correspondents was John Addington Symonds, who dis­cussed with him the possibility of a book on sexual inversion, in which the case histories were the core and empirical foundation. Ellis recognized two conditions: "complete inversion" (= exclusive homosexuality) and "psychosexual hermaphroditism" (= bisexuality). With remarkable sureness of judgment, the writer was resolved to treat homosexuality as neither disease nor crime. Ellis dismissed the current notion that it was a species of "degeneracy" (in the biological sense); he also maintained that it was inborn and unmodifiable. Couched in simple language, the book urged public toleration for conduct that was then regarded as unnatural and criminal. In the midst of the writing Symonds died suddenly, and the book first appeared in German under the title Das konträre Geschlechtsgefühl ("Contrary Sexual Feeling"; 1896), with both names on the title page. In the atmosphere that prevailed after the disgrace of Oscar Wilde (May 1895), publication in England was problematic, but under doubtful auspices the English edition was released in November 1897. The English version was almost immediately suppressed, and for a number of years Ellis’ important work could only be read in German.


Achieving bibliographical control of the vast body of writings on homosexuality is a challenging, sometimes vexatious task. However, it is not beyond reach. While the middle and later years of the nineteenth century saw a number of important bibliographies of erotica they were not specifically geared to the study of same-sex love. For that one one is again indebted to the first homosexual emancipation movement appearing in Berlin in 1897. This movement firmly held that progress toward homosexual rights must go hand in hand with intellectual enlightenment. Accordingly, each year's production was noted in the annual volumes of the Jahrbuch fürsexuelle Zwischenstufen (1899-1923); by the end of the first decade of monitoring, over 1000 new titles had been recorded. Although surveys were made of earlier literature, up to the time of the extinction of the movement by National Socialism in 1933, no attempt had been made to organize this material into a single comprehensive bibliography of homosexual studies.

It is still worthwhile to comb the classic German works of the pre-Nazi period for bibliographical nuggets that have escaped attention. Still, it is regrettable that this foundational era in homosexual scholarship produced no single comprehensive bibliography of the subject.

For that one must await the participation of the United State, whose gay-rights movement only emerged with the Mattachine Society in 1950-51. In the context of the Cold War and the McCarthyite frenzy, the efforts at organizing and diffusing better knowledge were at first very difficult and unpromising--but some dedicated individuals kept going all the same. An early document of the period was the little “Gay Girl’s Guide” (New York,1949 with two subsequent editions; despite the title, this mimeographed item was intended for gay men). Somewhat bizarrely, the principal author was identified as one Swarsarnt Nerf (probably a pseudonym of Edgar Leoni). At the end this booklet offers ten pages of book listings, fiction and nonfiction.

As a rule, respectable publishers avoided the topic of homosexuality, except for judgmental works by psychiatrists and other medical writers. A partial exception was Donald Webster Cory's The Homosexual in America (New York, 1951), well-written and edited, though issued by Greenberg, a somewhat marginal publisher. In addition to a lucid, though now dated text, this volumed offered appendices with lists of both non-fiction and fiction on the subject.

After the Stonewall Rebellion in June of 1969, things began to improve. In 1971 or ’72 Jack Stafford, a librarian based in Queens, NY, began an effort, supported by a committee of the American Library Association (ALA), for a comprehensive bibliography of homosexuality, which would emphasize the positive aspects. When Stafford died unexpectedly in 1973, Barbara Gittings took charge of the manuscript on behalf of the ALA. With their approval, she utilized the material to create a 16-page leaflet of highlights, called “A Gay Bibliography.” Distributed pretty much for free to libraries and other interested parties, this selection greatly enhanced readership, and eventually publishing prospects as well.

By contrast, the compilation of Martin S. Weinberg and Alan P. Bell, Homosexuality: An Annotated Bibliography (New York: 1972) represents a step backwards. This large work, compiled under the auspices of the Kinsey Institute of Indiana University, provides detailed but uncritical abstracts for 1,263 books, pamphlets, and articles published in the English language from 1940 to 1968. The book stresses psychiatric, medical, and social-science contributions, many harshly negative, It is now mainly of interest to those seeking to reconstruct the repressive atmosphere of the middle years of the twentieth century.

In this context, it was clear that a real effort must be made by the nascent gay organizations themselves. To ONE, Inc. of Los Angeles belongs the honor of addressing this task on an appropriate scale. After many delays, the ONE efforts yielded the most ambitious project attempted up to that point: Vern Bullough et al., Annotated Bibliography of Homosexuality (New York, 1976), which was prepared in the Los Angeles offices of ONE, Inc. This work provides about 13,000 entries arranged in twenty broad subject categories. Some notion of the enormousness of the whole subject is conveyed by the fact that, even at that date, the number of entries could probably have been doubled. Unlike most of the other American bibliographies, this work is international and multilingual in scope; unfortunately the two-volume set is marred by thousands of small errors and lacunae, especially in foreign-language items. The title notwithstanding, annotations are very sparse, and uncertain in their critical stance. Full subject indexes, which would have served to offset some of these shortcomings are lacking; instead each volume has its own author indexes. The shortcomings of this major work, undertaken largely by volunteer staff working under movement auspices, illustrate the problems that have, as often as not, been made inevitable by the social neglect and obloquy in which the subject has been enveloped. To his credit, W. Dorr Legg, the project director, realized that an altogether new work was needed, one that would remedy the all-too-evident faults of the existing work. After several years of intense work, it was found that fundamental disagreements prevented the editors from concluding the task, which had reached the letter N. The copious materials for this unfinished project are now preserved in the ONE archives at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.

In San Francisco in the 1960s William Parker began gathering material for a one-person effort. His first attempt was Homosexuality: Selected Abstracts and Bibliography (San Francisco, 1966); this publication, and a number of other earlier lists, are now most easily accessible in the Arno Press omnibus: A Gay Bibliography: Eight Bibliographies on Lesbianism and Male Homosexuality (New York, 1975). Parker's more substantial work is Homosexuality: A Selected Bibliography of over 3,000 Items (Metuchen, NJ, 1971), followed by two supplements (published in 1977 and 1985), which carry coverage up through 1982. These volumes arrange the material (English-language only) by types of publication; there are helpful subject indices. Although some note is taken of films, television programs and audiovisual materials, the coverage of print items is almost entirely restricted to nonfiction.

Parker's two supplements cover six- and seven-year periods respectively, but even as of 2010 there is no current annual bibliography of homosexuality. For a time, the best means of of monitoring current production was through the "Relevant" section of the scholarly Dutch bimonthly Homologie (Amsterdam, 1978-97 ), which utilized the resources of Homodok (Dokumentatiecentrum Homostudies), founded in 1977 under the auspices of the University of Amsterdam.

In San Francisco the lesbian monthly The Ladder, published by the Daughters of Bilitis organization, included notices of books from its inception in 1956 (the full set was reissued with a new index in New York in 1975). Eventually these notices were coordinated on a monthly basis by Gene Damon (Barbara Grier), whose later columns have been recently collected in a handy, indexed volume: Lesbiana: Book Reviews from the Ladder, 1966-1972 (Reno, 1976). Utilizing input from Marion Zimmer Bradley and others, Damon and Lee Stuart produced the first edition of The Lesbian in Literature: A Bibliography (San Francisco, 1967). This work subsequently appeared in an expanded, third edition: Barbara Grier, The Lesbian in Literature (Tallahassee, 1981), with about 3100 items, including some nonfiction. The entries are labeled with an ingenious coding system, balancing relevance and quality.

The complement to Grier in the male sphere is Ian Young, The Male Homosexual in Literature: A Bibliography (second ed. Metuchen, NJ, 1982), with 4282 items, interpretive essays by several hands, and title index. While there are no annotations, Young sweeps the field: fiction, poetry, drama, and autobiography. Like Grier, the volume is restricted to works written in English and translations of foreign works. Regrettably, no scholars have come forward to update these exemplary works by Grier and Young on creative literature.

Apart from the general bibliographies just discussed, which claim to cover at least the whole-English language production in their chosen domains, there are also a number of works defined by the country in which they appeared. William Crawford (ed.), Homosexuality in Canada: A Bibliography (Toronto, 1984), contains a good deal of material, in French as well as English, that has been overlooked elsewhere. Manfred Herzer, Verzeichnis des deutschsprachigen nicht belletristischen Schrifttums zur weiblichen und männlichen Homosexualität aus den Jahren 1466 bis 1975 in chronologischer Reihenfolge (Berlin, 1982) is an exemplary compilation of some 3500 nonfiction items published in German up to 1975 . For Italian-language material, see the annotated listing by Giovanni Dall'Orto, Leggere omosessuale (Turin, 1984), a roster of publications from 1800 to 1983. Still awaiting systematic treatment is the rich Italian material before 1800, though much of this can be recovered from Dall’Orto’s extenive website, Claude Courouve's work on French bibliography was privately published.

Almost from the beginning homosexual organizations have created their own periodicals to supplement the mainstream journals which tend to scant, or even exclude altogether research on sexual variation. A detailed roster of no less than 1924 publications existing (or believed to exist) in the 1980s is Robert Malinowsky, International Directory of Gay and Lesbian Periodicals (Phoenix, 1987). By definition, this work does not include older journals that had ceased (309 of these are listed in Bullough, et al., cited above), nor does it provide, for obvious reasons, a listing of the contents of these publications. Gay and lesbian journals are covered only sporadically in current bibliographies, and even copies of the less familiar newspapers are hard to find once they leave the stands; here the gay and lesbian archives are doing an essential job of preservation, since public and univer­sity libraries usually do not preserve these materials. In the early twenty-first century, unfortunately, poor economic conditions caused the demise of a number of gay and lesbian periodicals.

A summation of bibliographical work appears in Wayne R. Dynes, Homosexuality: A Research Guide (New York, 1987). Each of the approximately 170 subject groups begins with an introduction outlining the strengths and problems of the topic in its current state of development (or lack of development). Every item is annotated, a feature Dynes judged essentially in a realm where quality is so varied. This volume is interdisciplinary, cross-cultural, and transhistorical, and may be consulted for a sense of the complexity of the overarching field. See the electronic version:

More specialized, but quite thorough is Linda Garber, Lesbian Sources: A Bibliography of Periodical Articles, 1970-1990 (New York, 1993). Like Dynes, this list is organized in terms of categories, from “Abortion” to “Youth.” However, Garber does not provide annotations.

Neither Dynes nor Garber were prepared to attempt a sequel to their vast works. The reason was this. By the early ‘nineties it was clear that the proliferation of material was outrunning the feasibility of efforts to monitor it. Here the Internet seemed to offer an ideal solution, but unfortunately it was not as effective as one would have thought. The advantages of publishing bibliographies in this format are obvious: economy, since no publisher of the traditional kind was needed and no one need pay for consult the compilation; ease of access; and flexibility, since the editor(s) could keep constantly adding new items as they appeared.

Yet things did not quite work out as expected. The problems are illustrated by the fate of a truly remarkable effort conducted by the Englishman Paul Halsall while he was a graduate student at Fordham University in New York. Working selflessly and with almost feverish energy, during the 1990s Halsall created “People with a History” (PWH) ( This a major annotated bibliography covering gays, lesbians, and trans people for all historical periods and areas, including non-Western ones. Fully annotated, the site contains links to other sites created by Halsall. While PWH can be used as a supplement and continuation of Dynes, Homosexuality: A Research Guide, the site also notices earlier works. Unfortunately, Halsall had to stop work in 1998 in order to complete his dissertation. He has since returned to England, where he has moved on to other tasks.

Working at the same time as Halsall, Gary Simes of Sydney Australia, created the last printed bibliography of the subject that is comprehensive in scope. This is Simes, Bibliography of Homosexuality (Sydney: University of Sydney Library & The Australian Centre for Lesbian and Gay Research, 1998), based on the holdings of the University of Sydney Library. This listing of 6129 items is selectively annotated. A different approach appears in the massive volume edited by Timothy F. Murphy, The Reader’s Guide to Gay and Lesbian Studies (Chicago, 2000). The Guide consists of some 430 essays, from “Academicians” to “World War II, Cultural Effects of.” Each entry begins with a list of publications; these are mostly books and items written in the English language--two serious limitations. While a few of the essays that follow are thoughtful, even penetrating, many are lackluster, having apparently been compiled by graduate students. A stronger hand by the overall editor would have been helpful.

Returning to Internet resources, probably the best way for the tyro scholar to begin is to turn to the lists maintained by the London-based scholar Rictor Norton at his site: One may also consult online the collective work known as GLBTQ, which bills itself as “the world’s largest encyclopedia of gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture” ( The articles are generally clear and reliable, though coverage is limited to literature, the arts, and the social sciences, with inclusion of numerous relevant biographies For the older, entries, however, the attached bibliographies tend not to be up-to-date. Many relevant Wikipedia entries contain bibliographies,

Online one can also browse two large and continuously updated repertoires that stem from the library world. The first, Harvard Libraries’ HOLLIS Classical is relatively concise, with somewhat under 5000 items appearing when one types in the key word “homosexualty.” One may also access the vast list of the holdings of the Library of Congress on line. Finally, one can proceed to a truly enormous compilation, that of Worldcat ( Among its 1.2 billion items are more than 50,000 entries relevant to our subject, including books, periodicals and periodical articles, dissertations, CD-ROMS and other electronic compilations. The enormous profusion of periodical articles, of varying quality, poses a huge problem of bibliographical control. Worldcat presents these selectively (e.g. the Journal of Homosexuality), but seems to be constantly increasing coverage.

Using the resources of Worldcat, Paul Knobel created an invaluable Bibliography of Homosexuality: The Non-English Sources, comprising an astonishing 4600 entries from 39 non-English languages. Consulting Knobel’s great “webliography” will do much to correct the Anglophone exclusivity that hobbles scholarship in many areas. Knobel’s work may be viewed at


Over the course of the twentieth century a number of encyclopedias of sexology appeared, but until 1990 none addressing the specific topic of homosexuality. In that year the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality, edited by Wayne R. Dynes and others, appeared. Not only was this landmark work the first monument of its kind, it is--in the judgment of many observers--probably still the best. The Encyclopedia contains 770 articles providing a broad range of information useful to both scholar and layperson. Coverage includes historical, medical, psychological, sociological, and transcultural and transgeographical information in biographical, topical, and thematic entries. A subject cross-reference guide begins the work. Biographies exclude living people, but they are often referred to in the text. The focus tends to be Western (because of the availability of information), but African, Eastern, and other groups are included. Variant viewpoints are discussed, and bibliographies (primarily covering book-length studies) are provided at the end of each article. See the electronic version:

Issued as a pair by Garland Press in 1999 were The Encyclopedia of Gay Male Histories and Cultures (edited by George Hagerty) and The Encyclopedia of Lesbian Histories and Cultures (edited by Bonnie Zimmerman). The second volume has the distinction of offering the first in-depth encyclopedia of lesbianism. There is some inconvenience in having to consult both works for certain topics, such as the Mattachine Society and Stonewall.

There is also a French-language effort entitled Dictionnaire des cultures gays et lesbiennes, edited by Didier Eribon (Paris, 2003). Coverage is somewhat ethnocentric, being limited to France and areas influenced by that country, such as the Maghreb.

While most such works nowadays are positive and supportive, antihomosexual sentiment must be confronted. A valuable instrument in this effort is The Dictionary of Homophobia: A Global History of Gay & Lesbian Experience edited by Louis-Georges Tin (Vancouver, 2008). A revised translation of a French-language work of 2003, this volume employs more than 70 scholars who produced some 175 short essays. Subjects include religious and ideological forces such as the Bible, Communism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam; historical subjects, events, and personalities such as AIDS, Stonewall, J. Edgar Hoover, Matthew Shepard, Oscar Wilde, Pat Buchanan, Joseph McCarthy, Pope John Paul II, and Anita Bryant; as well as other topics such as coming out, adoption, deportation, ex-gays, lesbiphobia, and biphobia.

The year 2009 saw the appearance of the Greenwood Encyclopedia of LGBT Issues Worldwide edited by Chuck Stewart (Westport, 2009). Published in three volumes, this set had the goal of offering an up-to-date international overview of key issues in the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals. More than 70 countries are represented, with special attention to HIV/AIDS issues. The target audience is mainly younger readers.

Not cited in this section are some shorter, one-volume printed works that lack the authority of those noted.

As noted above, one may also consult online the collective work known as GLBTQ, which bills itself as “the world’s largest encyclopedia of gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer culture” (

Another major work is the CD-ROM created by Paul Knobel of Sydney, Australia. His Encyclopedia of Male Homosexual Poetry and its Reception History (2002) covers poetry with 6,300 entries. Knobel has also produced am Encyclopedia of Male Homosexual Art (2005; CD-ROM) with more than 800 entries.


The emergence of encyclopedias of homosexuality is a development not envisaged in Hirschfeld’s time. By contrast, no one has attempted a narrative synthesis that would even approach the scope of Hirschfeld’s great work of 1914. Embracing everything from biology and psychology to law and literature, that would be a task that could only be addressed in a multivolume work written by many authors. Both funding and editorial control would be an almost insuperable task.

However, at least two American historians have produced comprehensive accounts of the historical record. The first is David F. Greenberg author of The Construction of Homosexuality (Chicago, 1988). Written by a professor of sociology at New York University, this large work begins with what is known of the earliest cultures and proceeds systematically down to the contemporary period. Some theoretical templates, including ones derived from Marxism, will not compel the assent of every reader. Yet this is a remarkable panorama touching on a wealth of evidence.

The second recent notable book of this kind is Louis Crompton’s Homosexuality and Civilization (Cambridge, Mass., 2006). This gracefully written and comprehensive survey was the product of some thirty years of intense thinking and research on the part of an early pioneer of gay and lesbian studies. Crompton's great intellectual nemesis is the late Michel Foucault, whose History of Sexuality, Volume I emphasizes the difficulty of reconstructing the sexual ethos of another culture or historical period.

The main part of the book limns the history of homosexuality in Europe and parts of Asia from Homer to the eighteenth century. In a series of deft narratives, Crompton, emeritus professor of English at the University of Nebraska, relates the "rich and terrible" stories of men and women who have been immortalized, celebrated, shunned, or executed for the special attention they paid to members of their own sex. Two chapters on China and Japan offer a welcome to the usual Eurocentric focus. Crompton's comparative study seeks to show how anomalous Judeo-Christian aversion to homosexuality was in the greater context of world history.

Some questions may be raised about Crompton's overall scheme which is couched in a kind of symphonic form, with an opening allegro in ancient Greece, a long, mournful adagio reflecting the obloquy and persecution of Christian Europe, and a short concluding presto, as the Enlightenment began to dissolve the accumulated errors and prejudice. Crompton’s story is thus a contribution to what some have termed “Whig history,” that is a story of progress that was derailed but not destroyed by centuries of bigotry and persecution.

Others may regret that Crompton’s account stops at the start of the nineteenth century. Had Crompton lived longer (he died in 2009), he might have produced a second, complementary volume on the modern era--and perhaps even a third, to deal with non-Western cultures outside of East Asia. Once one has completed the journey with him, however, one can readily find other studies to fill in the gaps.

[This account incorporates some material from Wayne R. Dynes, et al. The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality. New York: Garland, 1990. Electronic version at]


See Wayne R. Dynes, Homosexuality: A Research Guide. New York: Garland, 1987; supplementing this compilation with the listings in the Crompton monograph just noted.