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social sciences

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The expression enfans de Sodome or children of Sodom appears in this novel to denote homosexuals. It also appears in song and verse (for example, Le Recueil du Cosmopolite, 1735), as well as in Les Enfans de Sodome à l'Assemblée Nationale (1790; The Children of Sodom at the National Assembly), the title of one of a series of hilarious pamphlets of the French Revolution demanding what we might anachronistically call "gay rights" (including access to doctors for la cristalline, a venereal disease common in homosexuals of the time). This work retells once again the story of the burning of Sodom, this time explaining it as due to a careless cook who was too busy buggering his helper to notice that the fire in his kitchen was out of control.

Many other works of the eighteenth century facetiously claim on their title pages to have been printed at Sodome or Medoso (an anagram), notably the Anecdotes pour servir à l'histoire secrète des Ebugors (1733; Anecdotes to Be Used for the Secret History of the Buggers), in which the in question are depicted as a race of people at war with female prostitutes, a common theme in erotic literature.

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This jocular vein was also adopted by such famous writers as Voltaire (in, among other works, La Bible enfin expliquée [The Bible Finally Explained, 1776] and "Asphalte" [1770], which was later included in the Dictionnaire philosophique) and continued until the twentieth century, with such works as Tristan Bernard's operetta La petite femme de Loth (performed in 1900, printed in 1901).

However, many more serious literary productions used allusions to Sodom to depict homosexuals as a tainted or doomed "race," including novels such as Henri d'Argis' Sodome (1888), Edmond Fazy's La nouvelle Sodome (1907), and--most famous of all-- Proust's À la recherche du temps perdu: Sodome et Gomorrhe (1921-1922).

Louis Godbout

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literature >> Overview:  The Bible

Perhaps no other book has been more influential--for better or worse--in determining the construction of gay and lesbian identity in the modern world, as well as social attitudes toward homosexuality, than the Bible.

literature >> Overview:  English Literature: Restoration and Eighteenth Century

Throughout the Restoration and eighteenth century, sodomitical characters were both presented and pilloried in literature.

social sciences >> Overview:  Evangelical Christians

Evangelical Christians, who tend to be fundamentalists and socially conservative, have not been welcoming to glbtq people.

literature >> Overview:  French Literature: Before the Nineteenth Century

While evidence from earlier centuries is sparse, from the sixteenth century onward there were several French writers who treated male and female homosexuality.

literature >> Overview:  French Literature: Nineteenth Century

In the nineteenth century gay and lesbian sexuality becomes a significant subject in French literature.

literature >> Overview:  French Literature: Twentieth Century

The contributions of gay men and lesbians to twentieth-century French literature have been closely intertwined with the course of mainstream literature.

literature >> Overview:  Italian Literature

Until quite recently, male homosexuality has had a discontinuous, fragmented, and largely condemnatory history in Italian literature, and lesbianism has been almost totally ignored.

social sciences >> Overview:  Roman Catholicism

Historically, the Roman Catholic Church may be the institution most responsible for the suffering of individuals involved in same-sex sexual relationships.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy

First used to refer only to anal intercourse, sodomy was progressively defined by the Church Fathers, and many later lawmakers, to include all sexual acts that could not result in procreation.

social sciences >> Overview:  Sodomy Laws and Sodomy Law Reform

Sodomy laws, which provided the legal basis for police harassment of sexual minorities, were conclusively overturned by the United States Supreme Court in 2003, after more than half a century of efforts at reform.

social sciences >> Overview:  Southern Baptists

The Southern Baptists have become the most intolerant of the major American religious denominations, especially (but not exclusively) for their opposition to equal rights for gay men and lesbians.

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.

literature >> Gilgamesh

The ancient Sumerian poem Gilgamesh is structured around the love that the heroic male couple Gilgamesh and Enkidu have for each other.

social sciences >> Gomes, Peter

After coming out publicly in 1991, to protest a homophobic incident at Harvard University, the Reverend Peter Gomes lent his eloquent voice to the cause of equality for glbtq people.

literature >> Patristic Writers

Patristic Writers, also known as the Church Fathers, appropriated currents of hostility to homoeroticism in pagan thought and used them to strengthen the prohibitions of Leviticus and Paul, while also expressing their own hostile interpretations.

literature >> Proust, Marcel

Marcel Proust is the author of A la recherche du temps perdu, one of the major achievements of Modernism and a great gay novel.

literature >> Rochester, John Wilmot, Earl of

In his poetry and his dramatic farce Sodom, the Restoration rake Rochester depicts heterosexual love as imperfect or incomplete and offers homosexual intercourse as a natural alternative.


Bailey, Derrick Sherwin. Homosexuality and the Western Christian Tradition. London: Longman's, Green, 1955.

Boswell, John. Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980.

Hallam, Paul. The Book of Sodom. London: Verso, 1993.

Jordan, Mark D. The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997.

McNeil, John. The Church and the Homosexual. Kansas City, Mo.: Sheed Andrews and McNeel, 1976.

Pettinger, Michael Francis. Sodom: The Judgment of the Pentapolis in the Christian West to the Year 1000. Ph. D. Thesis, University of Washington, 1998.


    Citation Information
    Author: Godbout, Louis  
    Entry Title: Sodom  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated January 26, 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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