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Special Features Index  

 
Spotlight Gay Male Autobiography
 
In its first century of existence, Gay Male Autobiography has become increasingly open, frank, and unapologetic. Gay autobiography has inspired solidarity because it emphasizes both the uniqueness and the commonalities of the coming out experience, as well as the peculiarities and the mundanities of gay lives.
 
 
 
Edward Carpenter
Edward Carpenter
 
 
 
  J. R. Ackerley (1896-1967) was a twentieth-century British editor who fostered the careers of a number of important gay writers. He also wrote a small but significant body of gay literature that includes memoirs and drama.  
 
 
  AIDS Literature comprises a large body of often autobiographical works, most written by gay men. Much of AIDS literature is  designed to expose readers as closely as possible to the emergency of the epidemic.  
 
 
  Edward Carpenter (1844-1929) was a champion of both women's and homosexuals' liberation and was one of the great socialist visionaries of England at the turn of the twentieth century. His autobiography, My Days and Dreams, appeared in 1916.  
 
 
  Coming Out Stories and the coming out experience are so important to gay men and lesbians that coming out is a primary focus of much queer literature.  
 
 
  Quentin Crisp (1908-1999), an actor, writer, performance artist, and wit, described himself as "one of the stately homos of England." He became a celebrity as a result of his extraordinary autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant (1968).  
 
 
  Mark Doty (b. 1953) is a poet and memoirist who has helped bring the AIDS narrative and the experiences of gay men to a wider audience.  
 
 
  Henry Havelock Ellis (1859-1939) was a British psychologist and writer and one of the first modern thinkers to challenge Victorian taboos against the frank discussion of sex. The case studies in Ellis' book Sexual Inversion provided one of the earliest opportunities for  homosexuals to describe their own lives in print.  
 
 
  Christopher IsherwoodChristopher Isherwood (1904-1986) was a major Anglo-American novelist and a pioneer in the gay liberation movement. He revealed his homosexuality in his 1971 biography of his parents and explored it further in his autobiography in 1976.  
 
 
  Richard von Krafft-EbingRichard von Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) was a physician and the author of Psychopathia Sexualis, an influential treatise on sexual variations. The book's carefully detailed case studies shed light on a wide spectrum of sexual habits among men and women.  
 
 
  Paul Monette (1945-1995) wrote novels, poetry, and memoirs about gay men striving to fashion personal identities and, later, coping with the loss of a lover to AIDS.  
 
 
  Ned Rorem (b. 1923) is one of the most accomplished and prolific composers of art songs in the world. His diaries and essays offer elegant and erudite analyses of aesthetic questions and are candid about his life in the gay cultural fast lane.  
 
 
  Sir Stephen Spender (1909-1995) was an English writer, teacher, and translator who wrote about his homosexual experiences in his poems and his autobiography.  
 
 
  John Addington SymondsJohn Addington Symonds (1840-1893) was the most daring innovator in the history of nineteenth-century British homosexual writing and consciousness, though his autobiography remained unpublished until 1984.  
 
 
  Karl Heinrich UlrichsKarl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) was a nineteenth-century German activist, writer, and scholar. He was the first modern theorist of homosexuality and the first homosexual to "come out" publicly.  
 
 
  Oscar WildeOscar Wilde (1854-1900) is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure. His autobiographical De Profundis is Wilde's most important contribution to gay literature.  
 
 
  Photo Credits:  Images of Edward Carpenter, Christopher Isherwood, and John Addington Symonds courtesy Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. The image of Christopher Isherwood is a detail from a portrait by Carl van Vechten. The images of Richard von Krafft-Ebing and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs courtesy Archiv für Sexualwissenschaft, Berlin.  The image of Oscar Wilde courtesy Archive und Bibliothek des Schwulen Museums, Berlin.  
 
 

 
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