Sexology, the Homo/Hetero Binary, and the Complexities of Male Sexual History
This article re-evaluates the emphasis on the ‘homo/hetero binary’, which appears in many discussions of sexuality since the late 19th century, by exploring several key European sexological texts and their classifications of sexual desire between men. It suggests that these writers offered not so much a nascent binary between ‘homosexual’ and ‘heterosexual’ individuals, but a complex and contradictory set of sexual ontologies that encoded liminality as well as notions of innate sexual perversion. A strand of sexual fluidity lived on through the 20th century, forming a counternarrative to the notion that individuals could be assigned to either a heterosexual or a homosexual subject position. Such a rereading of important sexological writings offers us one way to complicate current assumptions about the birth and subsequent influence of ‘the homosexual’ and the prevalence of the ‘homo/hetero binary’. This impels us to more closely investigate the spaces lying between and around the poles of this binary.
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Rights Statement: Copyright © 2006 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi)
Keywords: homosexuality; sexology; sexual inversion; Europe; history
Research Type: Journal Article
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