homosexual practices might have begun in the early centuries, the word "sodomy" was first used by a Catholic missionary, now a saint, Father Peter Damien around 1050. By sodomy, he meant masturbation and anal intercourse between men, a sin he condemned as the most perverse of sexual sins in his long letter to the Pope, entitled "the Book of Gomorrah." He emphasized that God designed sex exclusively for procreation and that the enjoyment of the sexual act outside this divine purpose was unnatural and therefore summarily grievously and wickedly sinful.
The unnaturalness of sodomy remained more or less the same through the centuries, till the 1700s when the so-called modern homosexual subcultures made themselves visible in London, Paris and Amsterdam. The rest soon perceived them as "sodomites (who were merely) ... constitutionally different from other men" (Wikholm 1999) and effeminate woman-haters who refused to have sex with women. Things were to evolve further for them 150 years later.
Doctors of those times came to adopt the term "homosexual" to refer to this class of men, whom, in Richard von Krafft-Ebing's belief, must have developed this mental illness, among others, from degenerative genes of their parents. Sigmund Freud, however, suggested that the subculture must be due to a defective upbringing of children. His followers, though, believed that homosexuality is a very serious mental disease, even a "severe personality disorder" (Wikholm).Others offered the opinions that such men's emotions were infantile and thus rendered them incapable of love; that homosexuality is extreme self-admiration or narcissism; or "injustice collectors." (Wikholm). Though making its reality felt, homosexuality in those times was generally camouflaged.
The first to publicly acknowledge his gender preference was Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German jurist, in 1864. Ulrichs published 12 pamphlets in defense of homosexuals whom he called "Urnings," or men who are attracted to other men. At first, he used the pseudonym Numa Numantius until he sufficiently revealed his identity in 1868. Ulrichs advanced the cause of Urningism and opposed Paragraph 175, a law that prohibited sex between men (Wikholm), through his pamphlets. Doctors of the period immediately rejected his campaign and frowned at Urnings as "diseased creatures." So widespread was the rejection that even Ulrichs' own fans withdrew open support from him and he had to live as an exile in an Italian village to the end of his life.
The term "homosexual" was first used by writer Karl Maria Kertbeny for the technical classification of people's sexual types (Wikholm). Heterosexuals were men who are attracted to women (and vice versa), monosexualists are masturbators, and pygists are devotees of anal intercourse. He named many other categories of other sexual orientations and practices, and believed that these variations were genetically determined. He used this argument to oppose Paragraph 175 and other laws against sex between men but to no avail. Doctors, including Richard von Krafft-Ebing, even borrowed his term in their diagnostic work on mental illness.
Another German, a physician, professor and editor, Karl Westphal, wrote an article which identified homosexuality in both sexes in 1869. He considered the condition a psychiatric disorder and assumed that such men and women who desired members of their own sex as possessing "contrary sexual feeling" or sexual inversion (Wikholm 1998). Like other physicians, he assumed that the condition was part of or associated with a mental illness. He also described such women as masculine-looking and such men as effeminate, believing the cause to be congenital (Wikholm). He likewise opposed the passage of Paragraph 175 and instead suggested, medical treatment for these men and women with sexual inversion.
Paragraph 175 was nonetheless passed and adopted in 1871 in the newly unified German kingdoms (which we now call Germany) under King William I. This law, which forbade sex between men was part of Prussia's native and conservative code imposed on all the German states in place of liberal laws based on the Napoleonic Code before the unification (Wikholm).
The theories and views of Ulrichs and BA Morel, a French physician, were incorporated by Richard von Krafft-Ebing into his book, Psychopathia Sexualis, in 1886. He borrowed Ulrichs' term, Urnings, but not his belief that homosexual desire was natural or healthy. Krafft-Ebing instead built on Morel's disease theory on degenerate heredity, setting forth that most homosexuals were mentally ill and their illnesses were genetically caused (Wikholm). His book both took pity on these "unfortunate effeminates" and also denigrated them as "cultivated pederasts" -- men believed to have been born heterosexual but grew up with homosexual preferences for the pleasure of sexual perversion. His theory was the prevalent belief in this respect until Sigmund Freud came up with his own view in the early 20th century.
The sexual inversion theory went on and became the subject of the first edition of a book an Englishman, Havelock Ellis, in 1896 as Das Kontrare Geschlechtsgefuhle in Leipzig, Germany. English publishers refused to publish it out of fear. Ellis was not himself an invert, but his book gave inverts a sort of mouthpiece, whereby they could speak and be heard. He insisted that sexual inversion was not a disease, but only a congenital variation. He rejected the combined theories of Ulrichs, Westphal and Hirschfeld that male inverts were effeminate, but that they were as variable as "normal heterosexual" men, based on case studies he conducted and presented in his book.
Because he was an objective and systematic thinker and not an invert himself, he soon gained respect as an American publisher without gaining the unpopularity of Freud, a contemporary in the field.
In the same year of the publication of Ellis' book, a book entitled Uranisme et Unisexualite was also published in France and which immediately earned the repulsion of French physicians. The author, Marc Andre Raffalovich, a Russian Jewish brought up in France, railed against the unfounded, erroneous and ridiculous medical opinion on sexual inversion, i.e., "male inverts are effeminate degenerates." (Wikholm) He introduced his own terminology, "unisexuality," to mean sexual attraction between men.
While he was known to have maintained "unisexual" friends, he was particularly touchy about his friendship with a John Gray, supposed to be a former lover of American poet Oscar Wilde. Raffalovich was especially sensitive about congenital unisexuals' being described as effeminate, reasoning that:
"Effeminacy ... is usually a sign that a man had taken up inverted practices out of debauchery and isn't really a congenital unisexual."(Wikholm)
Havelock Ellis significantly influenced Raffalovich, whose thought was introduced by Raffalovich into French medical literature. But his works were objects of derision at the French medical sectors, unlike his model Ellis' work, Uranisme et Unisexualite, which was well received.
The Sexology Movement came to a head the following year with the founding of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee by another German physician and sex researcher, a homosexual. Magnus Hirschfeld wrote books and other publications that made him a leading figures in sexology, especially when he opened the world's first sexological school, the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. Through his Institute, he fought very hard for the repeal of Paragraph 175, but failed. His career was to reach its peak in the third decade of the 20th century and to be recognized by the American press as a "great sex expert." But rumors that he was involved in the selling of useless patent medicines and that his obtaining money from known German homosexuals for his cause but through extortion. (Wikholm)
He was a supporter of Karl Ulrichs but was never a scientific and honest thinker. He maintained that homosexuality is a matter of hormones, and led others to use hormone injections to "cure" homosexuality. The Nazis destroyed his Institute in 1933 while he escaped to France as an exile and died there two years later.(Wikholm)
Homosexual or unisexual relationships were also known to have spilled over to or found in circles of literary greats in the United States and Europe in the late 19th century. One of them is acknowledged a great American poet after his time, as he was also an object of controversy in his time. (Wikholm). His most significant work, "Leaves of Grass," published in 1855, was a celebration of sensuality and intimate friendship with the common man. It contained verses about the bodily senses, sweat and "father-juice" that strongly hinted at his same-gender relationships, which he kept secret. He was said to have had a sexual relationship with a Peter Doyle.
His book was accepted and praised for its vision of a classless American society and focus on America's working class. But those who looked more closely found intimations of something else behind the "comradely love" Whitman professed. These critics sensed darker motives and avenues, perhaps bordering on the peccatum illud horribile, inter-Christianos non-nominandum (the horrible sin not to be named among Christians). (Wikholm)
Whitman explained "comradely love" as consisting only of "physical intimacies" when he was asked by an English devotee. Whitman expressed outrage for the "morbid inference" and subtle suspicion, which he considered "condemnable." Notwithstanding his denials and repugnance towards homosexuality, admirers like…