Gay Life and Culture: A World History

Overview

In the years since Stonewall, the world has witnessed an outpouring of research, critical inquiry, and re-interpretation of gay life and culture. This book draws on groundbreaking new material to present a comprehensive survey of all things gay, stretching back to ancient Sumeria and ranging to the present day. Critically acclaimed historian Robert Aldrich and ten leading scholars juxtapose thought-provoking essays with an extensive selection of images, many never before seen. This masterful combination reveals ...
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Overview

In the years since Stonewall, the world has witnessed an outpouring of research, critical inquiry, and re-interpretation of gay life and culture. This book draws on groundbreaking new material to present a comprehensive survey of all things gay, stretching back to ancient Sumeria and ranging to the present day. Critically acclaimed historian Robert Aldrich and ten leading scholars juxtapose thought-provoking essays with an extensive selection of images, many never before seen. This masterful combination reveals the story behind gay culture from the industrialized world to the remotest corners of tribal New Guinea. Among the contributors are noted names in GLBT studies such as Brett Beemyn (author of Bisexuality in the Lives of Men), Charles Hupperts (expert on classical antiquity at the University of Amsterdam), Helmut Puff (University of Michigan expert on the medieval world), and Florence Temagne (author of A History of Homosexuality in Europe). The book covers such topics as the Old Testament relationship between Jonathan and David, the Age of Confucius, Native American berdaches, Polynesian mahus, Berlin in the '20s, Stonewall and the disco-flavored hedonism that followed, and the advent of AIDS, Act Up, and Angels in America. This book is an important contribution to understanding what makes gay life and culture universal throughout human culture and across time.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
As the title suggests, this book has a large agenda. Aldrich (European history, Univ. of Sydney; The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art, and Homosexual Fantasy) is one of the best-known gay historians writing today, and he is well equipped for the task, bringing together 14 scholars from all over the world to address topics from ancient times to the present. The essays are aimed at a general audience, but scholarly notes and bibliographies are appended. While some of the history is well known, many readers will be surprised by the varieties of same-sex love in Asian and Islamic cultures. Still, Western cultures are better covered than others; for example, there is no essay on sub-Saharan Africa. The illustrations are the glory of the volume. It would be easy to have simply selected clichéd images, but here they are uniformly fresh and interesting. The main strength of this volume, however, is its drawing together into one volume disparate histories that had hitherto been accessible only in specialist works. Recommended for larger public and academic libraries.
—David S. Azzolina
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789315113
  • Publisher: Rizzoli
  • Publication date: 10/31/2006
  • Pages: 384
  • Product dimensions: 8.38 (w) x 10.34 (h) x 1.39 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Aldrich is professor of history at the University of Sydney. He is the author of numerous books including The Seduction of the Mediterranean: Writing, Art and Homosexual Fantasy and Colonialism and Homosexuality.
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 15, 2007

    Flawed gem

    This is a very professional and visually opulent work, to which a number of top-notch scholars have contributed original and thoughtful material, and that could and should have served as the standard introduction to the topic. A great deal of care and thought obviously went into what is in many ways a splendid accomplishment. Unfortunately, it is marred by some eggregious flaws, most specifically in the opening section. Hupperts, in his section on the Greeks, repeatedly pushes a disparaging view of same-sex relations in ancient Greece, in a transparent attempt to introduce a value judgement between the age-structured relations of the Hellenes and the egalitarian ones promoted today. But this was supposed to be a historical work, not a manifesto. What were the editors thinking? For starters, Hupperts takes leave of scholarly objectivity to refer to Zeus' abduction of a willing Ganymede as 'preying upon' him. Next, when discussing Ephorus' description of the Cretan practice, he forces the discussion into a sally on anal sex. This is an inflamatory sexualization of a millennial tradition of pedagogic and initiatory relationships among the Cretans, a people renowned for its moderation and conservatism, according to Plutarch. It is also completely gratuitous since we have no idea how the Cretan couples related, only that it was seen as a mutual exchange of honor, and the youth could repudiate his lover if the latter had abused him'. To top it off, the reader is subjected to the reduction of intimate relations, whatever their nature might have been, to the mechanistic Dover-Halperinesque conceit of 'penetration.' From that we are taken to the epigraphs on Thera, carefully and often professionally engraved inscriptions in a sacred precinct celebrating consummation of same-sex relations, only to have them dismissed as crude graffiti in cruising grounds and rent-boy pick-up places, with the improbable explanation that these could not be temple-related because sexual relations were forbidden in sacred places - patently false since they _were_ permitted in temples devoted to love deities, and Apollo certainly was a god of pederastic love. Not surprisingly, Hupperts also rehashes the tired dogma of 'domination' as the ruling feature in the relations of Athenian men to their sexual partners, making abstraction of the overwhelming evidence for the relations being romantic, the men being in a pleading position vis-a-vis their lovers, and dreading rejection, to say nothing of the positive effects on the polis and the youth, according to Plato, Plutarch and many others. Certainly we are obligated to see Greek pederasty in all its manifestations, good and bad, but there is no justification for one-sided views in a work such as this. The only domination here is that of the author standing on his credentials the better to dominate the naive reader. Finally, to top off his analytical tour-de-force, Hupperts feels obligated to admonish any reader still foolish enough to imagine that pederastic relations in ancient Athens had any redeeming social value by insisting that 'To suggest however that such relationships had a pedagogical function is to exaggerate the point.' Have you forgotten, sir, that Pericles in his funeral oration exhorts the Athenians to be patriotic by acting like 'erastes' 'pederastic lovers' towards their own city??? So if we were to take you at your word, what Pericles was implying was that the citizens should 'penetrate' their city from behind?! Caveat lector! Sad to say, there are yet other examples of Hupperts playing fast and loose with his interpretations, such as his 'refutation' of intercrural sex, his insertion of 21st century gay slang in his descriptions of Greek customs, and others too numerous and too tedious to mention. Tendentious polemic of this sort might make a good sales tool for the more reactionary or politically correct markets, but it does little for intellectual integrity. Too

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2008

    No text was provided for this review.

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