LGBT history explained

LGBT history refers to the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender peoples and cultures around the world, dating back to the first recorded instances of same-sex love and sexuality of ancient civilizations. What survives of many centuries' persecution resulting in shame, suppression, and secrecy has only recently been pursued and interwoven into historical narrative. A handful of countries, the first in 1994, have regularly celebrated an LGBT History Month.

Ancient history

See also: Timeline of LGBT history.

Among historical figures, some were recorded as having relations with others of their own sex — exclusively or together with opposite-sex relations — while others were recorded as only having relations with the opposite sex. However, there are instances of same-sex love and sexuality within almost all ancient civilizations. Additionally, Transgender and third sex peoples have been recorded in almost all cultures across human history.

Ancient Greece and Rome

Main articles: Pederasty in Ancient Greece and Homosexuality in Ancient Rome

The earliest documents concerning same-sex pederastic relationships come from Ancient Greece. Such relationships did not replace marriage between man and woman, but occurred before and beside it. A mature man would usually not have a mature male mate (exceptions aside, such as Alexander the Great) but he would be the erastes (lover) to a young eromenos (loved one). The ideal held that both partners would be inspired by love symbolized by Eros, the erastes unselfishly providing education, guidance, and appropriate gifts to his eromenos, who became his devoted pupil and assistant, while the sexuality remained short of penetrative acts. The hoped for result was the mutual improvement of both erastes and eromenos, each doing his best to excel in order to be worthy of the other.

Relationships often fell short of the ideal, as some men merely used the boys sexually and then dumped them when their beauty faded, while others would contract with boys, paying them for their company and sexual services. Such behaviors, however, were regarded as uncultured and brutal. Boys also were often blamed for being cruel to their lovers, or for demanding money.

Kenneth J. Dover, followed by Michel Foucault and Halperin, assumed that it was considered improper for the eromenos to feel desire, as that would not be masculine. However, Dover's claim has been questioned in light of evidence of love poetry which suggests a more emotional connection than earlier researchers liked to acknowledge.

Some research has shown that ancient Greeks believed semen, more specifically sperm, to be the source of knowledge, and that these relationships served to pass wisdom on from the erastes to the eromenos within society.[1]

In Ancient Greece and Phrygia, the Goddess Cybele was worshiped by a cult of people who castrated themselves, and thereafter took female dress and referred to themselves as female.[2] [3] These early transsexual figures have also been referred to as early gay role models by several authors.[4] [5]

On the legal situation in Ancient Rome, see Lex Scantinia and the legislations of Justinian I.

Ancient China and Japan

Homosexuality has been acknowledged in China since ancient times. Scholar Pan Guangdan (潘光旦) came to the conclusion that nearly every emperor in the Han Dynasty had one or more male sex partners. There are also descriptions of lesbians in some history books. It is believed homosexuality was popular in the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties. Chinese homosexuals did not experience high-profile persecution as compared with that which was received by homosexuals in Europe during the Middle Ages.

Same-sex love was celebrated in Chinese art, many examples of which have survived the book burnings of the Cultural Revolution. Though no large statues are known to still exist, many hand scrolls and paintings on silk can be found in private collections.http://www.androphile.org/preview/Museum/China/NEWindex.htm

In Japan, several Heian diaries which contain references to homosexual acts exist as well. Some of these also contain references to emperors involved in homosexual relationships and to "handsome boys retained for sexual purposes" by emperors. In other literary works can be found references to what Leupp has called "problems of gender identity", such as the story of a youth's falling in love with a girl who is actually a cross-dressing male.

Japanese shunga are erotic pictures which include same-sex and opposite-sex love.

South Asia

In South Asia the Hijra are a caste of third-gender, or transgender group who live a feminine role. Hijra may be born male or intersexed, and some may have been born female. Such third gender roles have been documented in south Asia since antiquity, and acknowledged in Vedic culture, Hinduism and in royal Islamic courts.

South Pacific

In many societies of Melanesia, especially in Papua New Guinea, same-sex relationships were, until the middle of the last century, an integral part of the culture. The Etoro and Marind-anim for example, even viewed heterosexuality as sinful and celebrated homosexuality instead. In many traditional Melanesian cultures a pre-pubertal boy would be paired with an older adolescent who would become his mentor and who would "inseminate" him (orally, anally, or topically, depending on the tribe) over a number of years in order for the younger to also reach puberty. Many Melanesian societies, however, have become hostile towards same-sex relationships since the introduction of Christianity by European missionaries.

Middle East, South and Central Asia

Among many Middle Eastern Muslim cultures egalitarian or age-structured homosexual practices were, and remain, widespread and thinly veiled. The prevailing pattern of same-sex relationships in the temperate and sub-tropical zone stretching from Northern India to the Western Sahara is one in which the relationships were - and are - either gender-structured or age-structured or both. In recent years, egalitarian relationships modeled on the western pattern have become more frequent, though they remain rare. Same-sex intercourse officially carries the death penalty in several Muslim nations: Saudi Arabia, Iran, Mauritania, northern Nigeria, Sudan, and Yemen.[6]

A tradition of art and literature sprang up constructing Middle Eastern homosexuality. Muslim - often Sufi - poets in medieval Arab lands and in Persia wrote odes to the beautiful wine boys who served them in the taverns. In many areas the practice survived into modern times, as documented by Richard Francis Burton, André Gide, and others.

Africa

Though often ignored or suppressed by European explorers and colonialists, homosexual expression in native Africa was also present and took a variety of forms. Anthropologists Stephen Murray and Will Roscoe reported that women in Lesotho engaged in socially sanctioned "long term, erotic relationships," named motsoalle.[7] E. E. Evans-Pritchard also recorded that male Azande warriors (in the northern Congo) routinely took on boy-wives between the ages of twelve and twenty, who helped with household tasks and participated in intercrural sex with their older husbands. The practice had died out by the early 20th century, after Europeans had gained control of African countries, but was recounted to Evans-Pritchard by the elders he spoke to.[8]

The Middle Ages

Same-sex scholarly 'empires of the mind' were common in medieval Arabic and Hebrew cultures, as seen in their poetry on same-sex love.

According to John Boswell, author of Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980), there were same-sex Christian monastic communities and other religious orders in which homosexuality thrived. According to Chauncey et al (1989), the book "offered a revolutionary interpretation of the Western tradition, arguing that the Roman Catholic Church had not condemned gay people throughout its history, but rather, at least until the twelfth century, had alternately evinced no special concern about homosexuality or actually celebrated love between men."Boswell was also the author of Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe (New York: Villard, 1994) in which he argues that the adelphopoiia liturgy was evidence that attitude of the Christian church towards homosexuality has changed over time, and that early Christians did on occasion accept same-sex relationships. http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/index-bos.html Some critics, notably R. W. Southern, dispute Boswell's findings and scholarly rigor. His work attracted great controversy, as it was seen by many as merely an attempt for Boswell to justify his homosexuality and Roman Catholic faith. For instance, R. W. Southern points out that homosexuality had been condemned extensively by religious leaders and medieval scholars well before the 12th century; he also points to the penitentials which were common in early medieval society, and many of which include homosexuality as among the serious sins.[9]

Bennett and Froide, in "Singlewomen in the European Past", note: "Othersingle women found emotional comfort and sexual pleasure with women. Thehistory of same-sex relations between women in medieval and early modernEurope is exceedingly difficult to study, but there can be no doubt of itsexistence. Church leaders worried about lesbian sex; women expressed,practiced, and were sometimes imprisoned or even executed for same-sex love;and some women cross-dressed in order to live with other women as marriedcouples." They go on to note that even the seemingly modern word "lesbian"has been traced back as far as 1732, and discuss lesbian subcultures, butadd, "Nevertheless, we certainly should not equate the single state withlesbian practices." While same-sex relationships among men were highlydocumented and condemned, "Moral theologians did not pay much attention tothe question of what we would today call lesbian sex, perhaps becauseanything that did not involve a phallus did not fall within the bounds oftheir understanding of the sexual. Some legislation against lesbianrelations can be adduced for the period, mainlyinvolving the use of "instruments," in other words,dildoes."[10]

Pre-Contact North America

Prior to western contact, many American Native tribes had third-gender roles.[2] These include "Berdaches" (a derogatory term for Genetic males who assumed a feminine role) and "Passing women" (genetic females who took on a masculine role). The term Berdache is not a Native American word; rather it was a European definition covering a range of third-gender people in different tribes. Not all Native American tribes had Transgender people.[11] Anthropologists had observed that relatively uncompetitive, less complex cultures such as those that do not distinguish or reward the best hunters in distinction to the other men in the tribe have virtually no homosexuality.[One female-born [[Mohave]] berdache (known as a hwame) is known to have been murdered. Sahaykwisa told other Mohaves that he had been turned into a man by white man's magic, and took several female lovers. Sahaykwisa was raped, and later murdered by a group of men.[2] [12]

Jackson Katz[11] puts forth that there is documentation of "intimate relationships between two males, often of a lifelong character", and "homosexual relations between adults and youths" (Pederasty)

Modern History

Northern America

Late 19th Century

We'wha was a relatively modern Ihamana (Berdache) of the Native American Zuni tribe. She made a trip to Washington in 1886, and later shook President Roosevelt's Hand. She was revered by her tribe for her skill at weaving and pottery, as well as taking part in community ceremonies and rituals.[2] Her life was originally documented by anthropologist Matilda Coxe Stevenson in the late 19th century.[13]

1920s

The 1920s ushered in a new era of social acceptance of minorities and homosexuals, at least in heavily urbanized areas. This was reflected in many of the films (see Pre-Code) of the decade that openly made references to homosexuality. Even popular songs poked fun at the new social acceptance of homosexuality. One of these songs had the title "Masculine Women, Feminine Men."[14] It was released in 1926 and recorded by numerous artists of the day and included the following lyrics:[15]

Masculine women, Feminine men

Which is the rooster, which is the hen?

It's hard to tell 'em apart today! And, say!

Sister is busy learning to shave,

Brother just loves his permanent wave,

It's hard to tell 'em apart today! Hey, hey!

Girls were girls and boys were boys when I was a tot,

Now we don't know who is who, or even what's what!

Knickers and trousers, baggy and wide,

Nobody knows who's walking inside,

Those masculine women and feminine men![16]

Homosexuals received a level of acceptance that was not seen again until the 1960s. Until the early 1930s, gay clubs were openly operated, commonly known as "pansy clubs". The relative liberalism of the decade is demonstrated by the fact that the actor William Haines, regularly named in newspapers and magazines as the number-one male box-office draw, openly lived in a gay relationship with his lover, Jimmie Shields.[17] Other popular gay actors/actresses of the decade included Alla Nazimova and Ramon Novarro.[18] In 1927, Mae West wrote a play about homosexuality called The Drag, and alluded to the work of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. It was a box-office success. West regarded talking about sex as a basic human rights issue, and was also an early advocate of gay rights. With the return of conservatism in the 1930s, the public grew intolerant of homosexuality, and gay actors were forced to choose between retiring or agreeing to hide their sexuality.

Late 1930s to Early 1960s

By 1935, the United States had become conservative once again. Victorian values and mores, which had been widely ridiculed during the 1920s became fashionable once again. During this period life was harsh for homosexuals as they were forced to hide their behavior and identity in order to escape ridicule and even imprisonment. Many laws were passed against homosexuals during this period and it was declared to be a mental illness. Many police forces conducted operations to arrest homosexuals by using young undercover cops to get them to make propositions to them.

1960s and 1970s

A new period of liberalism in the late 1960s began a new era of more social acceptance for homosexuality which lasted until the late 1970s. In the 1970s, the popularity of disco music and its culture in many ways made society more accepting of homosexuality. Late in 1979, a new religious revival ushered in the conservatism that would reign in the United States during the 1980s and made life hard once again for homosexuals.

1980s

The 1980s were a dismal period for homosexuals as a new intolerance (and even hatred) against them was manifested by society as they became more conservative. This hatred resulted in many blaming gays for AIDS, which surfaced in the early 1980s. Many conservatives called it a "punishment from God" and blamed homosexuals for their "loose morals."

1990s

The 1990s were a much better time for homosexuals. Media portrayals of homosexuals in film made people more accepting of them, leading to several celebrities being more open about their sexuality. President Bill Clinton himself had a some what pro-gay attitude, which resulted in attitudes towards homosexuals lightening somewhat, which included homosexuals being accepted into the military as long as they kept it quiet.

The emancipation movement in Germany, 1890s-1934

Prior to the Third Reich, Berlin was considered a liberal city, with many gay bars, nightclubs and cabarets. There were even many drag bars where tourists straight and gay would enjoy female impersonation acts. Hitler decried cultural degeneration, prostitution and syphilis in his book Mein Kampf, blaming at least some of the phenomena on Jews.

Berlin also had the most active LGBT rights movements in the world at the time. Jewish doctor Magnus Hirschfeld had co-founded the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee (Wissenschaftlich-humanitäres Komitee, WhK) in Berlin in 1897 to campaign against the notorious "Paragraph 175" law that made sex between men illegal. It also sought social recognition of homosexual and transgender men and women. It was the first public gay rights organization.

In 1919, Hirschfeld had also co-founded the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sex Research), a private sexology research institute. It had a research library and a large archive, and included a marriage and sex counseling office. In addition, the institute was a pioneer worldwide in the call for civil rights and social acceptance for homosexual and transgender people.

See also : Magnus Hirschfeld, Gustav Wyneken, Adolf Brand, Madchen in Uniform, Institut für Sexualwissenschaft

Holocaust

See main article: History of gays during the Holocaust.

During the Holocaust about 50,000 people were sentenced because of their homosexuality and several thousands of them died in concentration camps. Outside of the gay community, this persecution of homosexuals is usually ignored (see History of Gays during the Holocaust for more information). Conditions for gay men in the camps was especially rough; they faced not only persecution from German soldiers, but also other prisoners, and many gay men were reported to die of beatings. German soldiers were also known to use the pink triangles that the men were forced to wear for target practice with their weapons.

Female homosexuality was not, technically, a crime and thus gay women were generally not treated as hardly as gay men. Although there are some scattered reports that gay women were sometimes imprisoned for their sexuality, most would have been imprisoned for other reasons, i.e. "anti-social".

Stonewall Riots

See main article: Stonewall riots.

In the autumn of 1959, the police force of New York City's Wagner administration began closing down the city's gay bars, which had numbered almost two dozen in Manhattan at the beginning of the year. This crackdown was largely the result of a sustained campaign by the right-wing NY Mirror newspaper columnist Lee Mortimer. Existing gay bars were quickly closed and new ones lasted only a short time.

The election of John Lindsay in 1965 signaled a major shift in city politics, and a new attitude toward sexual mores began changing the social atmosphere of New York.

On April 21, 1966, Dick Leitsch, president of the New York Mattachine Society and two other members staged the Sip-in at Julius bar on West 10th Street in Greenwich Village. This resulted in the anti-gay accommodation rules of the NY State Liquor Authority being overturned in subsequent court actions. These SLA provisions declared that it was illegal for homosexuals to congregate and be served alcoholic drinks in bars. An example of when these laws had been upheld is in 1940 when Gloria's, a bar that had been closed for such violations, fought the case in court and lost. Prior to this change in the law, the business of running a gay bar had to involve paying bribes to the police and Mafia. As soon as the law was altered, the SLA ceased closing legally licensed gay bars and such bars could no longer be prosecuted for serving homosexuals.

Mattachine pressed this advantage very quickly and Mayor Lindsay was confronted with the issue of police entrapment in gay bars, resulting in this practice being stopped. On the heels of this victory, the mayor cooperated in getting questions about homosexuality removed from NYC hiring practices. The police and fire departments resisted the new policy, however, and refused to cooperate.

The result of these changes in the law, combined with the open social- and sexual-attitudes of the late Sixties, led to the increased visibility of gay life in New York. Several licensed gay bars were in operation in Greenwich Village and the Upper West Side, as well as illegal, unlicensed places serving alcohol, such as the Stonewall Inn and the Snakepit, both in Greenwich Village.

The Stonewall riots were a series of violent conflicts between homosexuals and police officers in New York City. The first night of rioting began on Friday, June 27, 1969 at about 1:20 a.m., when police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar operating without a state license in Greenwich Village. Stonewall is considered a turning point for the modern gay rights movement worldwide. Newspaper coverage of the events was minor in the city, since, in the Sixties, huge marches and mass rioting had become commonplace and the Stonewall disturbances were relatively small. It was the commemorative march one year later, organized by the impetus of Craig Rodwell, owner of the Oscar Wilde Book Shop, which drew 5,000 marchers up New York City's Sixth Avenue, that drew nationwide publicity and put the Stonewall events on the historical map.

Same-sex marriage

See main article: Same-sex marriage.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, there has been a growing movement in a number of countries to regard marriage as a right which should be extended to same-sex couples. Legal recognition of a marital union opens up a wide range of entitlements, including social security, taxation, inheritance and other benefits unavailable to couples unmarried in the eyes of the law. Restricting legal recognition to opposite-sex couples prevents same-sex couples from gaining access to the legal benefits of marriage. Though certain rights can be replicated by legal means other than marriage (for example, by drawing-up contracts), many cannot, such as inheritance, hospital visitation and immigration. Lack of legal recognition also makes it more difficult for same-sex couples to adopt children.

The first country to legalize same-sex marriages was the Netherlands (2001), while the first marriages were performed in the Amsterdam city hall on the 1st April, 2001. At present, same-sex marriages are legal nationally in several countries (see map on the left): the Netherlands, Belgium, Canada, Norway, Spain, and South Africa.

In the United States as of November 2008, the states of Connecticut and Massachusetts are the only ones to recognize same-sex marriages, while the states of Vermont, New Jersey, California, New Hampshire, and Oregon, as well as the District of Columbia offer same-sex partners benefits similar to those of legally married couples. Seventeen other States have constitutional provisions that limit marriages to one man and one woman, while 25 states have statutes containing similar definitions. In the United States, the debate over whether or not to make same-sex marriages legally binding remains one of the most polarizing and divisive political debates of the early 21st century and it is discussed with great passion all over the world. During 2004, 13 US states amended their constitutions to define marriage as being only between one man and one woman. Some people, including many gay rights advocates and some heterosexual same-sex marriage advocates, view restrictions such as these as being an example of the tyranny of the majority in action.[19] [20]

Student groups

See main article: Gay-straight alliance.

Since the mid-1980s students at high schools and universities have organized LGBT groups, often called Gay-Straight Alliances (GSAs) at their respective schools. The groups form to provide support for LGBT students and to promote awareness of LGBT issues in the local community. In 1990, a student group named The Other Ten Percentile (Hebrew: העשירון האחר) was founded by a group of teachers and students in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, becoming the first LGBT organization in Jerusalem. Frequently, such groups have been banned or prohibited from meeting or receiving the same recogniztion as other student groups. For example, in September 2006, Touro University of California briefly attempted to ban the school's GSA, the Touro University Gay-Straight Alliance. After student demonstrations and an outcry of support from the American Medical Student Association, the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association and the Vallejo City Council, Touro University retracted its revocation of the school's GSA. The university went on to reaffirm its commitment to non-discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Schools

Several public schools have opened with a specific mission to create a "safe" place for LGBT students and allies, including Harvey Milk High School in New York City, and Alliance High School of Milwaukee. The Social Justice High School-Pride Campus is proposed for Chicago,[21] and a number of private schools have also identified as "gay friendly", such as the Elisabeth Irwin High School in New York City.

See also

References

General

Notes

Further reading

External links

Notes and References

  1. Book: Vanggaard, Thorkil. Phallos. A Symbol and its History in the Male World. New York: International Universities Press, Inc.. 1972. 978-0823681921.
  2. [Patrick Califia|Califia, Patrick]
  3. [Harry Benjamin|Benjamin, H.]
  4. [Arthur Evans|Evans, Arthur.]
  5. [Randy Conner|Conner, R.]
  6. http://www.ilga.org/news_results.asp?LanguageID=1&FileID=1111&ZoneID=7&FileCategory=50 ILGA:7 countries still put people to death for same-sex acts
  7. Book: Murray, Stephen (ed.). Stephen O. Murray

    . Boy Wives and Female Husbands: Studies of African Homosexualities. Stephen O. Murray. Roscoe, Will (ed.). 1998. St. Martin's Press. New York. 0312238290.

  8. [E. E. Evans-Pritchard|Evans-Pritchard, E. E.]
  9. Book: The Boswell Thesis: Essays on Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality. Mathew Kuefler. University of Chicago Press. 2006. 9780226457413.
  10. Book: Judith M. Bennett and Amy M. Froide

    . Singlewomen in the European Past. Judith M. Bennett and Amy M. Froide. 1999. UniversityPennsylvania Press. 10–11, 128.

  11. [Jonathan Katz|Katz, J.]
  12. [Walter Williams|Williams, Walter L.]
  13. [Will Roscoe|Roscoe, W.]
  14. The song was written by Edgar Leslie (words) and James V. Monaco (music) and featured in Hugh J. Ward's Musical Comedy "Lady Be Good."
  15. Artists who recorded this song include: 1. Frank Harris (Irving Kaufman), (Columbia 569D,1/29/26) 2. Bill Meyerl & Gwen Farrar (UK, 1926) 3. Joy Boys (UK, 1926) 4. Harry Reser's Six Jumping Jacks (UK, 2/13/26) 5. Hotel Savoy Opheans (HMV 5027, UK, 1927, aka Savoy Havana Band) 6. Merrit Brunies & His Friar's InnOrchestra on Okeh 40593, 3/2/26. An exhibit of early-twentieth-century postcards depicting "Masculine Women and Feminine Men" is available at: http://www.outhistory.org/wiki/Main_Page
  16. A full reproduction of the original sheet music with the complete lyrics (including the amusing cover sheet) can be found at: http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-an6301650
  17. Mann, William J., Wisecracker : the life and times of William Haines, Hollywood's first openly gay star. New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 1998: 2-6.
  18. Mann, William J., Wisecracker : the life and times of William Haines, Hollywood's first openly gay star. New York, N.Y., U.S.A. : Viking, 1998: 12-13, 80-83.
  19. Web site: Spring fever. Bill and Kent's Place on the Web. 2006-11-08.
  20. Web site: Matt Daniels, president of the traditionalist Alliance for Marriage condemned the decision.. NewsFeed Researcher. 2006-11-08.
  21. http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=95565768