This website is an interactive academic
tool for CEA-UNH course:
Gay Paris:
Culture, Society, & Urban Sexual Identity

CEA GlobalCampus | Spring 2009
UNH Course Code: GEN230
Credits: 3 | Location: Paris, France

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Excursion-Grands Boulevards to Pigalle

Gay Paris Outing: Gaby, Theresa, Jasyn, Kira, and Amy

Rue de Lappe and the Bastille

8th Arrondissement- Lauren, Jacqueline, Omar, Florina

We visited the 8th Arrondissement, starting at the place de l'Etoile.  The area around the Arc de Triumph is extremely busy, with lots of traffic.  Walking down the Champs-Elysees, there are hundreds of shops and cafes.  While this street is very expensive, sides streets have less expensive small cafes and bars.  We first went down Rue de Colisee, and later found the more open area of Avenue Gabriel, near a neighborhood park. 

Boy Meets Boy and Friendly Hostility

This is just something fun that I thought some of you might want to check out.

I've been following these two American web comics for the past three years. The author/artist, Sandra Fuhr, is pretty brilliant, and it's interesting to see how her views on all sexuality have evolved as both she and her characters mature. Sandra's around 4 years older than us, and from what she has shared with her fans she doesn't identify with any sexuality label (she had a boyfriend for a time period during the first comic and is now in a serious, and what appears to be a permanent, relationship with a woman). From my own personal analysis, it seems that she perceives sexuality as having a certain spectrum within different people, because some characters clearly identify as gay, straight, or bisexual while the others don't feel the need to label their sexual inclinations. It's actually really entertaining to follow and cool to see how she covers different topics that pertain to the GLBT community.

Here are the links to the first post of each comic series and a brief summary. She's also starting up a third comic in June, once Friendly Hostility, her current comic, finishes up.

Boy Meets Boy:

Boy Meets Boy is the story of two guys, Harley and Mikhael, who have been dating each other for two years. Harley is the guitarist and leader of a band he has with his best friends. Mikhael is a wealthy and well known artist in their fictional town. The comic revolves around their relationship, their friends, family, ex-lovers, and the occassional crazy adventure.

Friendly Hostility:

"Friendly Hostility is the story of two best friends who happen to be dating each other: Fox, a reporter, and Collin, a megalomaniacal would-be dictator and former kid's show host. They have friends, family, and occasional run-ins with the law, pirates, and other monsters. The comic is scheduled to end in June 2009."--From Sandra's web page

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chapter 3: French Articulations of the Closet and Coming Out

excerpts from: Queer French: Globalization, Language, and Sexual Citizenship in France
_Denis M. Provencher

Oscar reacts to the term "coming out":
'Faire le coming-out,' it bothers me this American cliche, you know, these kinds of theatrical things, at the same time, I really do not know the US very well, but I have this impression that it's there where everything is dramatized, right, we have the impression that people are always playing roles. (p. 86)

It's an expression that means...but for me's an would be easier to say 'declare one's homosexuality,' it's easier. It's a bit idiotic, by the way. No...for be 'out,' it's someone who...a homosexual...who openly accepts homosexuality. (p. 86)

In many coming out narratives, 'protagonists exhibit a period of suffering before coming out...self-acceptance is preceded by a sometimes lengthy internal struggle with their gay feelings. The struggle, or inner conflict, is transformed into words using metaphor, inner speech, expressive phonology, repetition, and detailed imagery...evoking the image of 'the closet' to express these experiences of isolation.' (p. 87)

Some contend that the closet plays a less significant role in late 20th century America and other societies that function around the norm of heterosexuality than it did during earlier decades...They contend that today's American gay and lesbian youth discuss same-sex desire more openly and integrate it more readily into their everyday conversations. (p. 88)

Do you agree? How do you/people you have known talk about this experience? How is it articulated?

For this study, I recruited 40 French gays and lesbians who came from various regional and socio-economic backgrounds and who ranged from 21 to 46 years of age to discuss their coming-out experiences.

French notions of the 'authentic' and 'inauthentic self' and 'bad faith' play evident roles in many articulations. Nadine speaks of an 'inauthentic' individual that stays closed in; Pierre speaks of the shameful, inauthentic self who lives in bad faith; and Gabriel speaks of the hidden or 'unaccepting' self. When prompted, these French gay and lesbian speakers can recognize and make use of the English-based terms 'in' and 'out' that are related to the closet. However, they do not utilize the image of the closet nor do they associate concealment with a specific place. (p. 95)

Jean-Louis's story (p. 96) is strikingly different from the US narratives as this speaker does not consider this moment to be his coming out of 'the closet.' Of course, he clearly associates the statement 'Je suis pédé' with his 'coming out' and he experiences a sense of relief after telling others about his sexual orientation. However, Jean-Louis does not speak about coming out as a period of self-discovery in terms of shame or isolation but in terms of uncovering his 'vraie personnalité' and his need to stop distorting or 'travestir la vérité' ('dressing up the truth'). (p. 97) *read from p. 98

*'Desert of Nothing' (p. 101)

Unlike many of the US-based experiences, Francois's story foregrounds the importance of living a full life and being actively involved in a larger and often non gay-specific social network (friends) throughout the coming-out period. French coming-out narratives involve a feeling of living as a relatively whole person before making any type of declarative statement. Instead of foregrounding themes of the closet, the desert or isolation, speakers like Francois highlight a sense of fulfillment and include desserts and other satisfying experiences. (p. 103)

* Francois again on 104

"An American 'gay' or 'queer' stepped in the sexual identity politics of the United States can be quite perplexed, or even infuriated, by the large number of men cruising in Parisian gay bars who are not gay-identified...Indeed, while in the United States the homosexual/heterosexual binarism has become a primary ontological dichotomy, in France sexual orientation continues to be placed low down on the hierarchy of ontological identifiers, well below nationality, class, gender or profession." (p. 115)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Protest@ Pompidou

A mix of transexuals/transgenders, cross dressers, homosexauls, heterosexuals holding up different signs, including rights to sex workers.

Kanye West Comment..

"I really think it’s because society tries to dictate the way a guy is supposed to dress and the way a guy is supposed to act, and I refuse to conform. A lot of these dudes would never be accused of being gay just because they all look exactly alike. If people could just realize the amount of mundaneness and followers that lack creativity… I think people’s mentality is like, Only gay people are that creative. And it’s true there are a lot of gay people who are incredible creative minds, but there are straight people who are incredible creative minds—and there’s gay people who can’t dress or create at all, too. Closed-minded gay people probably say they dress 'straight.'"

-Kanye West, on why there’s such a fixation on his sexuality, tells the new issue of Complex

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Silvia Straka is a social change agent, educator, capacity builder, and researcher. She is about to defend her PhD in social work and intends to use this degree to better serve the community. She blogs about her anti-oppressive research, and one of her most recent posts touches on the fluidity of sexuality and the problem with authenticity, among other topics such as heterosexual privilege and intersectionality.

Here is the link:

Queer French | Introduction and Chapter 1: An Assault on French Gay Culture

excerpts taken from: Queer French: Globalization, Language, and Sexual Citizenship in France
_Denis M. Provencher

Is there a "universal gay identity?"

The emergence of various North-Atlantic constructions of gay culture has resulted in the circulation of a 'universal gay identity' across various national boundaries. Both print and electronic media have helped to transmit this 'universal gay identity.' (Specifically Gai-Pied and TÊTU in France).

Têtu appeared on French newsstands in July 1995 and represents the most recent attempt among politically engaged French sexual citizens to establish a national gay magazine geared specifically toward a gay male and to a lesser extent lesbian readership. (Started with the financial support of Yves Saint-Laurent) (p. 32).

Being 'Gay' in French Culture and lesbian movements around the world: 'demonstrate a Foucauldian point - they are both a part of and apart from the societies around them, both resisting and participating in - even reproducing - dominant public discourses' (p. 33). (* Read from top of page 34).

'French Singularity' is due to a spirit of universalism in France that stems from centralized, hierarchical control. In theory, French egalitarian philosophy provides a sweeping, universal experience/outlook for the French citizen regardless of race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, etc.

...unlike US gays and lesbians who exhibit a strong sense of individualism and at times identify so closely with their sexual identity that it is seen as a kind of 'ethnic' separateness, gays and lesbians in France see themselves, first and foremost, as citizens of the French republican state (p. 34).

As soon as the homosexual transgresses the boundaries of the private - leaves the closet of the ghetto - to claim social, civil and fiscal rights (or, even more alarming, the right to parenthood), the institutions of family and nation are threatened. Institutionalized homophobia is not triggered, as in the US and Canada, by traditional moral values, but by a 'demand for assimilation' that, in French opinion, contradicts a life-style that is out of the ordinary...In this context, French gays and lesbians demand 'equal' and not specialized rights in order to address French universalism, heteronormativity, and homophobia (18).

Important examples from the text:

(Read from p. 40): "Voici 12 choses que vous ne pourrez plus..."

(and from p. 42): "Les différences entre hétéros et homos"

...studying sexual languages in terms of grammar, discourse and text-making - not just words and phrases - draws attention to the tensions between sexual politics (that is, the social contestation of sexual ideologies and practices) and sexual desires and to the effects these tensions have on a speaker's understanding of his or her own sexual subjectivity (23).

(and from p. 44): McDonalds

Think about the PaCS example as well. Did homosexuals gain the right to have civil unions through their identity category in this case?

Friday, March 20, 2009

sex reassignment surgery

I was curious about the process of sex reassignment so I looked it up online and I found a couple of helpful links. The first one is information about vaginoplasty (change from men to women). From what I read this seems to be the easyiest process; the website has interesting illustrations about the surgical process.

The next one is an interview with a transgender activist who explains several aspects of the surgical process, both men and women, in a simple and useful way.

Retelling of Fanny Hill

I had to read this Erica Jong novel for another class last year, and just loved the way that she plays with gender roles in the feminist re-telling of Fanny Hill. Here's a link to Erica Jong's website detailing the book.

Here's another link to the wikipedia article on the orginal novel:

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Teen Rape Double Standard

THE DAILY BEAST | Thursday, March 19

by Constantino Diaz-Duran

After a 17-year-old boy had sex with his 14-year-old girlfriend, he was charged with a felony for statutory rape. When a 17-year-old girl in the same town commited the same crime, she was charged with far less. Was the boy the victim of gender bias?

Read the rest of the article here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

US to sign UN gay rights declaration

Sources: US to sign UN gay rights declaration

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer – Wed Mar 18, 12:28 am ET

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to sign, The Associated Press has learned.

Read the rest of the article here.

The Last Time I Wore A Dress

Kira told me about this book after our class discussion on transgendered experiences. It looks like a fascinating story. Here is a portion of a review from the International Gay and Lesbian Review:

THE LAST TIME I WORE A DRESS is a book that should be required reading for anyone interested in understanding and fighting against the heterosexist gender-structured world that we live in. The GLBT (and those who are “questioning”) community needs to pay attention to the issues raised in this book, as it affects all of us in how we are defined. It is also important to note that Scholinski also included an appendix of the diagnostic criteria for Gender Identity Disorder, as well as a resource list of organizations for people to find support and services. I found it hard to put this book down, as there was so much that I could relate to in reading her story. Not just for myself, but in remembering friends who were labeled “different” and criticized at times for not being girl enough as well. Scholinski's book is like a cross between ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST and THE BEAUTY MYTH in its portrayal of the insanity of a system gone wrong mingled with gender conformity. It was a disturbing book and I feel it serves as a wake-up call for action.

Read the full review.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Iran and transsexuals

In Iran, being a transsexual is permitted, however homosexuality is punishable by death.

Some information I found about transsexuals in Iran:

Here is a link to the first part of a documentary about transsexuals in Iran:

Jean Genet

excerpts from Queer French: Globalization, Language, and Sexual Citizenship in France
_Denis M. Provencher

Jean Genet (French author) serves as the archetypal ‘outlaw’ or ‘dissident citizen’ in twentieth- and twenty-first-century France by creating a discursive space where his characters remain somewhat on the social margins by naming their same-sex desires and sex acts without articulating a ‘homosexual identity.’ (p. 53)

For the first half of the 20th century, French homosexual consciousness was informed by French literary figures such as Proust, Gide, Cocteau, Genet (who all deal with homosexuality in their writing). The presence of French writers like Gide and Genet continue to inspire various ‘coming out’ style for French gays and lesbians.’ (p. 93)


Genet’s non-identitarian language of desire that defies sexual categories serves as a ‘queer’ French language of sexual citizenship. (p. 55)

Genet’s characters generally avoid the practice of naming or categorizing themselves…In order to remain free, one must find the means in the linguistic system all the while avoiding terms that define identity. Characters such as Querelle and Gil seem to understand the dangers of a stable identity, and look for the means to avoid homosexual identity, without equally dismissing their desires. Seblon, the only character to completely assume his identity ultimately find himself in prison. (p. 64)

What does ‘authenticity’ signify to you? In the context of sexuality and sexual identity?

Is ‘authenticity’ social, natural, genuine, contextual…?

Provencher claims that ‘authenticity is a cultural, textual phenomenon.’ (p. 55) Do you agree?

He sites Judith Butler who sees gender ‘as a construction with no beginning or end – an on-going discursive practice. Whereas the individual’s sex is determined by his/her chromosomes, the individual’s gender identity becomes inscribed on the surface of the body through such artifices as gestures and language…Hence, the ‘realness,’ ‘naturalness’ or ‘authenticity’ of gender emerges over time through a variety of repetitive and performative acts.’ (p. 56)

Authenticity relates to an abstract notion invested with local cultural values, beliefs and assumptions, whereas ‘authentification’ represents the process by which cultural values are repeatedly performed into being by group members. (p. 57)

Language plays a critical role in these acts of ‘authentification.’

Quoting William Leap, Provencher states, “‘speaking is the same as doing; the words we use to describe ourselves and our relationships are crucial in creating our culture.’ Hence, gay identity and cultural authenticity are not pre-discursive; they exist and persist through enunciation and reiteration.” (p. 57)

Quoting Mireille Rosello, “Repeating is the most powerful form of enactment. Repeating is a speech act endowed with the maximum authorized level of power…the truth of a stereotype lies in its successive repetitions.” (p. 57) (Physical example of the cross used).

How does this relate to Foucault’s ideas about homosexuality?

How does this relate to our readin
g - Folles, Swells, Effeminates and Homophiles in Saint-Germain-des-Pres of the 1950s?

Jean Genet

Richard Dryer writes of Genet: “His name evokes a flavour, a set of images, a world – you don’t have to have read his work to know what sort of thing you’re going to get when someone says such-and-such is Genet-esque, nor to be able to catch illusions to him in so many novels, films and theatre pieces or to grasp the significance of the frequent references to him in the major intellectual trends of the post-war years.” (p. 59)

Genet iconography includes: flowers, prisons, drag queens, dirt, melancholy unshaven criminals and sailors, crucifixes, crotches, tattoos and scars. (p. 59)

While Genet follows in the modernist narrative tradition set forth by such writers as Proust, Gide and Cocteau, he also begins to break away from such convention…’Gidean homosexuality is strangely undemanding, almost to the point of being indistinguishable from a homophobic rejection of gay sex…inverts are, according to Proust, compelled to see with disgust their unnatural selves reflected in the specular presence of their fellow inverts. (p. 60)

(In contrast) Genet signs his own name to his writings on the subject of homosexuality; he creates a narrator who self-identifies as homosexual; the narrator and characters recount undeniably homosexual acts. (p. 61)

Who does Genet write about?

While Proust and Gide chronicle the lies of upper-middle class and aristocrats of Paris society, Genet recounts the experience of the abject of society including among others its drag queens, prostitutes, pimps, assassins, thieves, prisoners, sailors, and soldiers. (“Extreme modernity”) (p. 61)


Excerpt from Genet’s novel Notre-Dame des fleurs (1948) (an initial sexual encounter between the drag queen Divine and her ‘masculine’ lover Mignon):

“Loving each other like two young boxers who, before separating, tear off each other’s shirts, and when they are naked, astounded by their beauty, think they are seeing themselves in a mirror, stand there for a second open-mouthed, shake – with rage at being caught – their tangled hair, smile a damp smile, and embrace each other like two wrestlers, interlock their muscles in precise connections offered by the muscles of the other, and drop to the mat until their warm sperm, spurting high, maps out on the sky a milky way where other constellations which I can read take shape: the constellations of the Sailor, the Boxer, the Cyclist, the Fiddle, the Spahi, the Dagger. Thus a new map of the heaves in outlined on the wall of Divine’s garret.” (p. 62-63)

Unlike previous authors like Proust, Gide and Cocteau who do not allow their characters to ‘parade before an audience with an open fly,’ Genet generally allows his characters to expose their body parts and to participate in vivid sexual acts observed by a homosexual narrator.” And “although he opens his character’s fly, it is not always a penis that falls out. For example, in Miracle de la Rose, an open zipper provides for the release of more than a hundred doves. (p. 63)

“In the final scene of the novel, Genet’s tough guy Mignon finds himself in prison and decides to write to his lover Divine to express his feelings and ask for some help...” (p. 63) *

Un Chant d’amour (1950)

Genet’s use of prison walls in Un Chant d’amour (1950) is notable – where such a physical barrier that generally represents a boundary between prisoners, actually serves as a form of communication between prisoners with the help of graffiti, holes, and chains of flowers or smoke. (p. 65)

Genet in Contemporary French Popular Culture

Jean-Paul Gaultier’s ‘Le Mâle’

Jean-Paul Gaultier’s cologne for men, ‘Le Mâle’ calls upon a stock of Genetesque characters. Similar to Genet’s novels that offer voyeuristic and homoerotic depictions of soldiers, sailors, criminals and the like, this advertisement displays two sailors, as seen through a naval-ship port hole. The two men sit face to face at a table, in front of a blue nautical backdrop, and display their muscular, tattooed biceps in a type of arm-wrestling match. it is noteworthy that Gaultier uses the same male model for both of the characters in this image, which gives the appearance of two twin sailors who are consumed by each other in a narcissistic gaze. The image recalls the scene from Notre-Dame des fleurs… (p. 66) *

Paris’ Queen Nightclub

French Popular AIDS Fiction

Pierre et Gilles Photography: “Merde à le Pen” (p. 73) *

Monday, March 16, 2009

Real World Brooklyn

This is an interview with one of the members of this seasons Real World Brooklyn. Her name is Katelynn and she is transgendered, so I thought this would apply to the discussion we had in class on Monday. This is a clip of her interview with MTV after filming the show. It's sort of long but throughout it, she talks about her experience on the show and being transgendered. I havn't watched the full season, but many episodes in the show deal with the cast wondering if she is in fact transgendered (because she doesn't tell them in the beginning) and some of the cast even have issues with the fact that she is transgendered.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Folles, Swells, Effeminates, and Homophiles

Folles, Swells, Effeminates, and Homophiles in Saint-Germain-des-Prés of the 1950s: A New ‘Precious’ Society?
_George Sidéris

In Giovanni’s Room, James Baldwin described the atmosphere in a homosexual bar in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés quarter of Paris during the 1950s. Among the bar’s clients, Baldwin focused on “les folles [the effeminate queens], always dressed in the most improbable combinations, screaming like parrots the details of their latest love affairs…they always called each other ‘she’.” (p. 219)

Saint-Germain-des-Prés at that time was the principal setting for male homosexual life in Paris. But homosexual life was not confined to this one quarter. The rue du Colisée and the avenue Gabriel, the Champs-Elysées and the streets around the place de l’Etoile, the Montparnasse quarter and Montmartre quarter, the rue des Martyrs, the Saint-Lazare railway station, the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève in the Latin Quarter (famous for its balls where ‘the men wear evening gowns, the women trousers’), place Pigalle, the rue de Lappe near the Bastille, and the grands boulevards in general were also heavily frequented by homosexuals. This list should also include such traditional sites of homosexual cruising as the Bois de Boulogne and the Bois de Vincennes, the quays along the Seine, the Tuileries Gardens, the Champs de Mars, and the city’s many bathhouses. Finally, there appeared in these years a number of homosexual venues, or rather venues regularly frequented by homosexuals, in the area around rue Saint-Anne (p. 220).

Saint-Germain-des-Prés, however, had a special place in the homosexual geography and sociability of the period. The air of freedom, merry-making and non-conformity given it by existentialists such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, the presence of numerous artists and writers, the theatres that put on politically committed plays, in short the more open and tolerant attitude that prevailed there, probably explain in part this homosexual presence in Saint-Germain, where one might encounter, for example, open homosexuals like the writers Jean Genet and Jean Cocteau or the actor Jean Marais (p. 220).

Homosexuals showed themselves openly in the cafés, particularly the Flore, the Reine Blanche, the Royal Saint-Germain, and the Pergola (as well as the Fiacre at 4, rue du Cherche-Midi) (p. 220).

Thus, the post-war homosexual geography of Paris was very different from that of pre-war Paris, which had been dominated by the Montmartre, Pigalle and Montparnasse quarters of the city (p. 220).

Effeminates in general and those of Saint-Germain in particular encountered disapproval, not only from the established authorities, but also from homophiles who did not accept their culture of effeminacy and preciousness, which they considered caricatural and likely to provoke an increased repression of homosexuality. The homophilic discourse on effeminacy and the homosexual life at Saint-Germain shifted in the course of the 1950s from disapproval and disparagement to frank outright hostility. In the end, increased policing and a new political situation had encouraged the development among homosexuals themselves of a ‘homophobia’ directed against effeminates (p. 228).

In writing of Saint-Germain's folles, Baldwin remarked significantly: 'I always found it difficult to believe that they ever went to bed with anybody, for a man who wanted a woman would certainly have rather had a real one and a man who wanted a man would certainly not want one of them. Perhaps, indeed, that was why they screamed so loud.' (p. 221)

'Homphiles do not want to be confused with these caricatures, these peddlers of love or embraces, these exhibitionists, these 'boys who bear no resemblance to a boy.' (p. 223)

'Effeminacy was the opposite of the behavior expected of the homophile, whose discretion would permit him to integrate into the wider society so that 'nothing distinguishes him.' (p. 223)

Obama on Spot as Rulings Aid Gay Partners

The New York Times

Published: March 12, 2009

WASHINGTON — Just seven weeks into office, President Obama is being forced to confront one of the most sensitive social and political issues of the day: whether the government must provide health insurance benefits to same-sex partners of federal employees.

Read the rest of this article.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Today's Shakespeare & Co.

but i'm a cheerleader - movie

this movie is so bad but kind of funny at the same time. We talked about it briefly in class, so here's the trailer...

Monday, March 9, 2009

Tamagne Reading

A History of Homosexuality in Europe:
Berlin, London, Paris 1919-1939
_Florence Tamagne

"The homosexual identity, unlike the homosexual act, is a historical phenomenon. It is not universal, but temporal; it is not induced, but constructed. Therefore, it supposes the creation of a specific environment and an awareness that enabled homosexuals to define themselves as a group." (p. 207)

At what moment can one say that a person recognizes himself as a homosexual? (p. 207)

Is it simply that time when he accepts his sexual preferences, when he calls himself 'homosexual,' or is it only when he asserts his membership in a homosexual community, as a political statement?
(p. 207)

The notion of 'homosexuality' still takes many forms cross-culturally and continues to be disputed: When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran) spoke to students at Columbia University this year, he claimed: "In Iran we don't have homosexuals like in your country"

When does Tamagne date the emergence of 'homosexuality' in European countries?

The Medical Model: Discourse
(using Foucault's version of the term)

"The homosexual identity was built around different definitions of homosexuality, arising from the abundant turn-of-the-century medical literature...While it may have been studied first as a demonstration of hysteria, it soon spilled over into the realm of mental illness and came to form its own distinct category, with its own characteristics, internal classifications and symptoms." (p. 209, 210)

"Carl Westphal, a young Berlin neurologist and the first psychiatrist to study inversion on a scientific basis, asserted that homosexualtiy was a congenital disease and not a vice." (p. 211)

"Only Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, himself a homosexual and the inventor of the concept of uranism ("the heart of a woman in the body of a man"), stood out. He...asserted that homosexuality was not a disease but a simple sexual variation which was of no more consequence than the color of one's hair." (p. 211)

Homosexuality as a disease to be 'cured:'
"Steinach...deduced that it was possible to cure homosexuality by a surgical operation on the testicles." (p. 214)

Dr. Otto Emsmann thought "homosexuality could be cured either by implanting healthy sexual glands, by the transplantation of healthy testicles, or by hypnosis." (p. 214)

The 'third sex' theory: (those who felt feminine, "the heart of a woman in the body of a man") was a counterpoint to other existing discourses of the time.

Quoting Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, "It is a curious thing to have a feminine soul captive in a man's body, but it seems that this is my case." (p. 215)

Another discourse: Psychoanalysis and Freud

"...the homosexual is neither a criminal nor a congenital mental patient, he is a neurotic: the predisposition to homosexuality arises in a man from the discovery that the woman does not have a penis. If he cannot give up the penis as the essential sexual object, he will inevitably be turned off by a woman. She may even represent a threat, if the absence of the penis is perceived as the result of mutilation (castration anxiety)." (p. 218)

"As regards female homosexuality, Freud paid it relatively little attention; later, he filled in with several psychoanalytical cases. The genesis of female homosexuality is symmetrical to the male; castration anxiety still plays an essential role, for, if the girl does not accept her lack of penis, she will struggle to assert her masculinity." (p. 219)

"Inverts go through an intense phase of fixation on their mothers during childhood, and then, identifying with her, they take themselves as sexual objects (in the narcissistic way of young boys, they seek someone similar to themselves whom they will love as their mother loved them)." (p. 219)

Freud insisted that "Psychoanalysis is not going to solve the problem of homosexuality. It must be satisfied to reveal the psychic mechanisms which lead to the decisions governing the choice of the object and to trace how these mechanisms relate to instinctual desires." (p. 219)

What did Freud contribute to the study of homosexuality?


André Gide on his own homosexuality: "No, I do not believe by any means that my particular tastes could have been transmitted by heredity: [these are] acquired characteristics, non-transmissible. I am this way because I was thwarted in my instincts by my education, and the circumstances...what I imagine, you see, is that I must have inherited an inordinately demanding sexuality, which was thwarted, repressed voluntarily by several generations of ascetics, and of which, to some extent, I am now subjected to built-up pressure." (p. 223)

Maurice Sachs speaks of his experience, "I passionately wished to be a girl, ans I was so unaware of how grand it was to be a man that I went so far as to piss sitting down. Even better! I refused to go to sleep before Suze [his nanny] had sworn to me that I would wake up to find my sex had been changed...As this occurred when I was about four years old, one would have to believe that since my earliest childhood I had inclinations which very especially predisposed me toward homosexuality." (p. 227)

Conflicting cultural discourses have made the lived experience of homosexuals often unreconcilable: Hans Henny Jahnn met Gottlieb Harms, his great love, at the age of fourteen in 1908...He fought his sexuality until 1913. After their 'wedding,' in July of that year, they still could not reconcile their physical desires with their spiritual aspirations: "We talked it over. He told me that having lain together with me made him insane...He perceived me, my man, as if I were a prostitute sick with desire. He felt disgust for my body and my soul...Now, I am dirty and sinful, and he is, too. And we cannot purify ourselves." (p. 228)

Quentin Crisp

Quentin Crisp is the best representative of the flamboyant homosexual and his course throughout England in the 1920s and 2930s is rather unique. He recalls his youth in his autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant (1968), which is as impertent and funny as he was himself. He said, "I became not only a confirmed homosexual, but a blatant homosexual. That is, I submitted my case not only to the people who knew me but to those who were completely foreign, as well. It was not hard to do. I wore make-up at a time when, even on women, eye shadow was a sin." (p. 233)

The Naked Civil Servant was made into a film:

An interview with Quentin Crisp:
(4 min in)

The official Quentin Crisp website:

The Birth of a Homosexual Community

Was there any homosexual community to speak of, in the 1920s?

"Between the wars, the foundation for a homosexual community was laid in the establishment of common references. Literature was one of the most fertile fields for developing the essence of the homosexual culture." (p. 265)

And a useful reference to our reading in Nightwood:

"Another emblematic figure of the time was Barbette, the transvestite trapeze artist who fascinated the crowd, and in particular Maurice Sachs, who was a spectator in 1926: 'I may never have seen anything more graceful than this girl dressed in feathers who sprang so boldly from the trapeze, did a somersault and caught herself in full flight by a foot, and then, taking a bow, pulled a big curly wig off her head and revealed that she was a young man! This little American appears at the Variety under the name of Barbette; I went to see him at the Daunou Hotel where he is staying [in Paris], and found him lying completely naked on his bed, his face covered with a thick layer of black pomade. Bisexual on the stage and bi-colored at home." (p. 273)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

1920s in Paris

A map of Natalie Barney's circle at her salon.

Natalie Barney's temple in her garden.

Chez Natalie.

Natalie Barney and Djuna Barnes.

Renée Vivien.

Renée Vivien.

Liane de Pougy

Natalie Barney.

Alice Barney.

Young Natalie Barney and lover.


Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas.

Peggy Guggenheim.