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social sciences

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Mediterranean Homosexuality  
page: 1  2  3  

Yet in contemporary Mediterranean-influenced societies, effeminacy and receptivity in intercourse as markers of homosexuality appear to occasion a larger degree of tolerance than men who pass as normatively masculine and engage in sex with men nonetheless. As George Varas, a New Yorker of mixed Greek and West Indian heritage, states in an interview with author Ron Suresha: "On the Latin side . . . it seemed that you were accepted, in an odd sort of way, if you were effeminate or not very butch. It was almost expected that there would be men who were maricones, if you will. If you happened to be a regular butch guy who only liked guys, though, they didn't like that at all. That was almost as if you were infiltrating them, or perhaps shaking their foundations of what manliness was supposed to be."

Complex Realities

Historical and literary explorations of "Mediterranean homosexuality" do not admit much of the complexity hinted at here.

Sponsor Message.

Even as the projection of northern European sexual fantasies onto an imagined, exotic "Mediterranean Other" has served to obscure elements shared among sexual cultures in the region, as well as regions such as Latin America that have been heavily influenced by Mediterranean customs, it has generated tremendous cultural productions in its own right, contributions that are key to understanding northern European conceptions of sexual propriety and homosexuality. Ultimately, the idea of "Mediterranean Homosexuality" may say more about northern Europe than about same-sex sexuality in the Mediterranean.

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:  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:  Italy

Although it is a founding member of the European Union, Italy lags beyond other member states in the protections and respect it accords to glbtq citizens, especially gay and lesbian couples.

social sciences >> Alexander the Great

One of the most fascinating men of all times, Alexander the Great was not only a great soldier and conqueror, he was also renowned for his love of Hephaestion.

literature >> Forster, E. M.

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social sciences >> Hadrian

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literature >> James, Henry

Though closeted, Henry James had a number of intimate relations with young men, and his sexual orientation imbued his fiction.

literature >> Lawrence, D. H.

For his time, D. H. Lawrence was a maverick in his open and adventurous discussion of all sexual issues and especially homosexuality, both male and female.

literature >> Lawrence, T. E.

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arts >> Leonardo da Vinci

One of the greatest painters in the history of art and an outstanding empirical scientist, Leonardo was haunted by his illegitimacy and rumors of homosexuality.

arts >> Michelangelo Buonarroti

The most famous artist who ever lived, Michelangelo left an enormous legacy in sculpture, painting, drawing, architecture, and poetry; while the artist's sexual behavior cannot be documented, the homoerotic character of his drawings, letters, and poetry is unmistakable.

literature >> Plato

Among Greek writers on homosexual themes, Plato is preeminent not only as a major philosopher but also as the greatest master of Greek prose.

literature >> Rumi

The Persian poet Rumi, who originated the "whirling dervish" order of Sufis, developed passionate relationships with other men and mixed spirituality with eroticism in his love poetry.

literature >> Sappho

Admired through the ages as one of the greatest lyric poets, the ancient Greek writer Sappho is today esteemed by lesbians around the world as the archetypal lesbian and their symbolic mother.

literature >> Symonds, John Addington

John Addington Symonds was the most daring innovator in the history of nineteenth-century British homosexual writing and consciousness.

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.

literature >> Winckelmann, Johann Joachim

The art historian Johann Joachim Winckelmann, the first German to have been publicly acknowledged as a homosexual, developed an aesthetic deeply rooted in his homosexuality.


Blackmore, Josiah, and Gregory S. Hutcheson, eds. Queer Iberia: Sexualities, Cultures, and Crossings from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. Durham: Duke University Press, 1999.

Brown, Judith K. Immodest Acts: The Life of a Lesbian Nun in Renaissance Italy. New York: Oxford University Press, 1986.

Davidson, James. "Dover, Foucault, and Greek Homosexuality: Penetration and the Truth of Sex." Past and Present 170 (2001): 3-51.

Dover, K.J. Greek Homosexuality. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1977.

Dowling, Linda. Hellenism and Homosexuality in Victorian Oxford. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1994.

Fink, Amir Sumaka'i, and Jacob Press, eds. Independence Park: The Lives of Gay Men in Israel. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Forster, E. M. Maurice. New York: Norton, 1971.

Foucault, Michel. The History of Sexuality, Volume Three: The Care of the Self. Robert Hurley, trans. New York: Vintage Books, 1985.

_____. The History of Sexuality, Volume Two: The Use of Pleasure. Robert Hurley, trans. New York: Vintage Books, 1985.

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

Gutmann, Matthew C. The Meanings of Macho: Being a Man in Mexico City. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996.

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.

Murray, Stephen O. Homosexualities. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.

_____, and Will Roscoe. Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature. New York: New York University Press, 1997.

Puff, Helmut. Sodomy in Reformation Germany and Switzerland, 1400-1600. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2003.

Richlin, Amy. "Not before Homosexuality: The Materiality of the Cinaedus and the Roman Law against Love between Men." Journal of the History of Sexuality 3.4 (1993): 523-73.

Rocke, Michael. Forbidden Friendships: Homosexuality and Male Culture in Renaissance Florence. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.

Ruggiero, Guido. The Boundaries of Eros: Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice. New York: Oxford University Press, 1985.

Said, Edward W. Orientalism. New York: Vintage, 1978.

Suresha, Ron Jackson. Bears on Bears: Interviews and Discussions. Boston: Alyson, 2002.

Trexler, Richard C. Sex and Conquest: Gendered Violence, Political Order, and the European Conquest of the Americas. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1995.

Trumbach, Randolph. "Introduction: Extramarital Relations and Gender History." Sex and the Gender Revolution, Volume One: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment London. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. 3-22.

Williams, Craig A. Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity in Classical Antiquity. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999.


    Citation Information
    Author: Johnson, Matthew D.  
    Entry Title: Mediterranean 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 April 1, 2004  
    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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