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social sciences

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Contemporary scholars have further argued that homosexuality was "remedicalized" in the 1980s and 1990s, notably in the search for "gay genes" and "gay brains" to demonstrate the efficacy of nineteenth-century models of homosexual etiology, as well as in research on HIV/AIDS, which focused on gay men and others as "risk groups" rather than identifying and educating all people about "risk behaviors" that could be pathways for the transmission of disease.

The limitations of the homosexual/heterosexual model have thus been laid bare by both social scientific and historical studies as well as by changing socio-historical circumstances. Contemporary scholars have drawn on such data to develop the nascent conceptual framework known as theory, which explicitly rejects the binary model in favor of spectral models of both gender and sexuality.

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Homosexuality emerged within highly specific historical and cultural constraints; queer theorists argue that as those constraints are transcended or made obsolete, so may the concept of a binary division of human sexual labor. A few have been quick to prophesy the end of "homosexuality" and "heterosexuality" as such. Yet given the depth and extent of the personal investment on the part of many in this categorical binary--not to mention the political advancements made by the gay and lesbian movement--homosexuality will likely be with us for a long time to come.

Matthew D. Johnson

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social sciences >> Overview:  Anthropology

Anthropology, the first of the social science disciplines to take sexuality--and particularly homosexuality--seriously as a field of intellectual inquiry in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, has achieved a new impetus in the post-Stonewall era.

social sciences >> Overview:  Bisexuality

Although until recently rejected by most sexologists as a distinct sexual identity, bisexuality is gradually becoming recognized and studied as such.

social sciences >> Overview:  Ethnography

Beginning in the 1960s increasing numbers of ethnographers have conducted research on glbtq issues, spurred by the premise that studies of diverse sexualities are crucial to understanding human behavior and culture.

social sciences >> Overview:  Etiology

The earliest etiologies--or theories of causation--of homosexuality date from European antiquity, but the search for a universal etiology has intensified as homosexual behavior has come under the scrutiny of science.

social sciences >> Overview:  Identity Politics

Not limited to activity in the traditionally conceived political sphere, identity politics refers to activism, politics, theorizing, and other similar activities based on the shared experiences of members of a specific social group, often relying on shared experiences of oppression.

social sciences >> Overview:  Nazism and the Holocaust

As part of its agenda to preserve an "Aryan master race," Nazism persecuted homosexuals as "asocial parasites"; more than 100,000 men were arrested on homosexual charges during the Nazi years, with 5,000-15,000 gay men incarcerated in concentration camps.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sexual Orientation

Sexual orientation indicates erotic attraction, whether toward people of the same gender (homosexual), the opposite gender (heterosexual), or both (bisexual).

social sciences >> Overview:  Straight Men Who Have Sex with Men (SMSM)

Straight men who have sex with men do so for a number of reasons, but in general such activity is about physical release and sexual behaviors, not about attraction or desire for another man.

social sciences >> Boswell, John

John Boswell was one of the late twentieth century's most influential historians of homosexuality and author of one of the first book-length histories on the subject.

social sciences >> Ellis, Havelock

Henry Havelock Ellis--British psychologist and writer--was one of the first modern thinkers to challenge Victorian taboos against the frank and objective discussion of sex.

social sciences >> Hirschfeld, Magnus

German-born Magnus Hirschfeld deserves recognition as a significant theorist of sexuality and the most prominent advocate of homosexual emancipation of his time.

social sciences >> Humphreys, Laud

A founder of the Sociologists' Gay Caucus and a pioneer researcher in the study of homosexual behavior, Laud Humphreys combined academic study with political activism of all kinds.

social sciences >> Kertbeny, Károly Mária

Károly Mária Kertbeny, an Austro-Hungarian man of letters, translator, and journalist deserves credit for coining the word homosexual.

social sciences >> Kinsey, Alfred C.

The most important sex researcher of the twentieth century, Alfred C. Kinsey contributed groundbreaking studies of male and female sexual behavior in America.

social sciences >> Paragraph 175

Paragraph 175 was the German law prohibiting sex between men; strengthened by the Nazis, it was the statue under which homosexuals were sent to concentration camps.

social sciences >> Ulrichs, Karl Heinrich

Nineteenth-Century German activist Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was both the first modern theorist of homosexuality and the first homosexual to "come out" publicly.


Blackwood, Evelyn. "Reading Sexualities across Cultures: Anthropology and Theories of Sexuality." Out in Theory: The Emergence of Lesbian and Gay Anthropology. Ellen Lewin and William L. Leap, eds. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2002. 69-92.

Boswell, John. "Revolutions, Universals, and Sexual Categories." Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, eds. New York: New American Library, 1989. 17-36.

Cady, Joseph. "'Masculine Love,' Renaissance Writing, and the 'New Invention' of Homosexuality." Homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment England: Literary Representations in Historical Context. Claude J. Summers, ed. New York: Haworth Press, 1992. 9-40.

Castle, Terry. "The Diaries of Anne Lister." The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture. New York: Columbia University Press, 1993. 92-106.

Chauncey, George. "Christian Brotherhood or Sexual Perversion? Homosexual Identities and the Construction of Sexual Boundaries in the World War I Era." Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past. Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, eds. New York: New American Library, 1989. 294-317.

_____. "From Sexual Inversion to Homosexuality: Medicine and the Changing Conceptualization of Female Deviance." Passion and Power: Sexuality in History. Kathy Peiss, Christina Simmons, and Robert Padgug, eds. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989. 87-117.

D'Augelli, Anthony R., and Charlotte J. Patterson, eds. Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Identities over the Lifespan: Psychological Perspectives. New York: Oxford University Press, 1995.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume One: An Introduction. New York: Vintage, 1978.

Frantzen, Allen J. Before the Closet: Same-Sex Love from Beowulf to Angels in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.

Greenberg, David F. The Construction of Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.

Halperin, David M. How to Do the History of Homosexuality. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

_____. One Hundred Years of Homosexuality and Other Essays on Greek Love. New York: Routledge, 1990.

Katz, Jonathan Ned. The Invention of Heterosexuality. New York: Dutton, 1995.

Murray, Stephen O. American Gay. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996.

_____. Homosexualities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

Nardi, Peter M., and Beth E. Schneider, eds. Social Perspectives in Lesbian and Gay Studies. New York: Routledge, 1998.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Tendencies. Durham, N. C. : Duke University Press, 1994.

Stein, Edward, ed. Forms of Desire: Sexual Orientation and the Social Constructionist Controversy. New York: Garland, 1990.

Summers, Claude J. "Marlowe and Constructions of Renaissance Homosexuality." Canadian Review of Comparative Literature/ Revue Canadienne de Littérature Comparée 21.1-2 (1994): 27-44.


    Citation Information
    Author: Johnson, Matthew D.  
    Entry Title: Homosexuality  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated November 24, 2006  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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