Overview

A comprehensive biographical survey from ancient Chinese courtiers to pioneers of gay liberation in the twenty-first century, from the unknowable relationships of the distant past to the frankest affirmations of modern sexual identity.

The exploits of the famous never cease to captivate our imaginations—rulers, artists, explorers, and all the great personalities of history. Yet many quieter lives also have the ability to impress, to teach us ...

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Gay Lives

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Overview

A comprehensive biographical survey from ancient Chinese courtiers to pioneers of gay liberation in the twenty-first century, from the unknowable relationships of the distant past to the frankest affirmations of modern sexual identity.

The exploits of the famous never cease to captivate our imaginations—rulers, artists, explorers, and all the great personalities of history. Yet many quieter lives also have the ability to impress, to teach us something about the remarkable qualities of human nature.

In this book, Robert Aldrich presents a fascinating portrait of gay men and women throughout history that reveals the full diversity of gay lives as lived in their times. He gives a voice to more than seventy people from around the world and all walks of life, from poets, philosophers, and artists to radicals and activists. Along with celebrated names such as Michelangelo, Frederick the Great, and Harvey Milk are lesser-known but no less inspiring individuals: two men of ancient Egypt whose lives were closely linked over four thousand years ago; a Renaissance nun who blurred the boundaries between spiritual and physical love; and “Aimée” and “Jaguar,” whose love defied the death camps of wartime Germany.

Often colorful, occasionally tragic, but all in some way extraordinary, these life stories reflect—and have sometimes helped to shape—contemporary attitudes toward same-sex intimacy.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
“While outlining the lives of those concerned, the articles seem to capture the essence of a person and the era, culture, or society that person embodies… This lavishly illustrated, praiseworthy book deserves to be widely read.”
Passport Magazine
“While none of the pieces here is more than a few pages long, each of them feels like the tip of an information iceberg.”
OutSmart
“Nicely illustrated with a good selection of black-and-white and full-color photographs and drawings.”
Lavender Magazine
“Highly recommended, for reference, or plain, enjoyable reading.”
Instinct
“…the gay history book that needs to be read.”
Library Journal
Aldrich (European history, Univ. of Sydney; Colonialism and Homosexuality) continues his examination of LGBTQ history with this handsomely illustrated and elegantly written collection of 74 biographical sketches of men and women from ancient and biblical times to the recent past. The biographies are grouped thematically, stressing the historical, geographical, and social contexts of each individual or couple and how these factors informed the subjects' attitudes toward their sexuality. The usual suspects are covered (Sappho, Michelangelo, Oscar Wilde, Harvey Milk), but the majority of men and women here will likely be unfamiliar to general readers. The author's style is nicely poised between scholarly and popular, and his take on sex is frank without being prurient. VERDICT These brief essays can perforce only skim the surface of some fascinating lives, and Aldrich doesn't quite achieve the universality and diversity he strives for: there is a distinct bias toward gay males from Western civilization and/or the arts. Still, this volume is recommended to general readers, especially young people who are coming out and in search of role models or a primer on the individuals who shaped LGBTQ history, and as a stimulant for further research.—Richard J. Violette, Greater Victoria P.L., B.C.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780500771310
  • Publisher: Thames & Hudson
  • Publication date: 7/8/2013
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 422,473
  • File size: 32 MB
  • Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

Meet the Author

Robert Aldrich is Professor of European History at the University of Sydney. He is the author of The Seduction of the Mediterranean and Colonialism and Homosexuality and edited Gay Life and Culture.
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