Homosexuality, a History

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New American Library, 1979 - Homosexuality - 196 pages
One could pedantically object that the title is a misnomer; that this is not a history of homosexuality (which after all has existed pretty immutably through the ages) but of attitudes towards it (hence chapters like "Homosexuality and Religion," "Homosexuality and the Law"). It's pretty standard stuff : little here that one hadn't heard before - the whole pathetic tale of the homophobic modern world denouncing the "criminals," the "perverts" or (more insidious) the "psychologically ill." One chapter and a few comments notwithstanding, the book is primarily about male homosexuality, not lesbians - chiefly, as the author explains, because this is where the documentation is concentrated; massive male egotism never fully recognizing the possibility of a sexual act without a man. Some interesting points : I had no idea there were so many denunciations in the Bible, most of them, as Bullough points out, traceable to periods when the Jews/Christians were struggling to avoid cultural takeover by the Greeks! The massive speed with which attitudes have changed was borne home rather forcibly for me by the last few chapters : I had no idea that the Gay Liberation movement dated not only from within my lifetime, but from within my conscious, knowing years - I was nearly in my teens (1970) when the first Christopher Street parade was organized in New York, and it was 1974 before the psychiatrists dropped homosexuality from their list of mental sicknesses. A certain amount of the text is straightforward preaching (one is alerted by the word "should") but, thank God, not too much

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