By James Gifford
The fashionable gay is usually noticeable as having emerged absolutely shaped out of the Oscar Wilde trials. This paintings disputes this kind of view, providing photographs of homosexuality in early 20th-century American literature and trying to identify the meanings of homosexuality as then understood via homosexuals.
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Additional resources for Dayneford's library: American homosexual writing, 1900-1913
In spite of its origin in the medical establishment, then, I intend the word "homosexual" as a neutral term, always mindful of its artifice in imposing an order on writing that was still searching for definition. " Though few would doubt that same-sex-oriented people have existed since the dawn of time, identification of people by sexual orientationwhen there was a need for such a grouping or "species" of humanity has fluctuated enormously throughout Western culture. Some cultures perceived gayness as a social model, vis-à-vis the ancient Greeks (see David Halperin's One Hundred Years of Homosexuality); others enforced a religious proscriptive model, such as the Roman Catholic church (see John Boswell's Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality).
As more texts continue to be uncovered, such studies of gay literature will become more complete, but for the present I thank my good luck to have retrieved the number of works that I have. I suspect that I feel the way Alice Walker felt when she at last discovered the long-lost grave other literary ancestor Zora Neale Hurston; I appreciate how deeply resonant that act was. Finally the decade 19001910, which John W. Crowley has called "the black hole of American literature," may at last begin to be revealed as the hotbed of hitherto-unsuspected gay American discourse that it was.
It subtly suggested that homosexuals might be productive and already integrated into the culture. Such reasoning underlies the modern political ploy of "outing" by suggesting that homosexuals already exist and function responsibly in society, that sexual orientation is of relatively minor consequence, and that homosexuals are so "normal" as to be invisible until pointed out. The Alien Homosexual A fourth paradigm open to homosexuals was the Alien. This was the figure who hovered outside accepted circlesnot always pitiablyas a pariah.