Previously hard-to-find information on homosexuality in early Americanow in a convenient single volume!
Few of us are familiar with the gay men on General Washington’s staff or among the leaders of the new republic. Now, in the same way that Alex Haley’s Roots provided a generation of African Americans with an appreciation of their history, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America: Beyond Romantic Friendships will give many gay readers their first glimpse of homosexuality as a theme in early American history.
Honored as a 2007 Stonewall Book Award nonfiction selection, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America is the first book to provide a comprehensive overview of the role of homosexual activity among American men in the early years of American history. This single source brings together information that has until now been widely scattered in journals and distant archives. The book draws on personal letters, diaries, court records, and contemporary publications to examine the role of homosexual activity in the lives of American men in the Colonial period and in the early years of the new republic. The author scoured research that was published in contemporary journals and also conducted his own research in over a dozen US archives, ranging from the Library of Congress to the Huntington Library, from the United Military Academy Archives to the Missouri Historical Society.
Male-Male Intimacy in Early America explores:
- the role of the open frontier and the unregulated seas as places of refuge for men who would not enter into heterosexual relationships
- the sexual lives of American Indiansparticularly the berdache traditionand how the stereotypes associated with American Indian sexuality molded white America’s attitudes toward homosexuality
- homosexuality in slave narrativesand the homosexual subtexts of racist minstrel show lyrics
- the formation of European gay communities during American colonial times, with an emphasis on Berlin, Paris, and Londonwith English translations of material previously available only in German or French!
- homosexuality as presented in eighteenth-century novels popular with American readers, plus information on homosexuality that was published in medical treatises of the period
- United States Army and Navy courts-martial that focused on sodomy
- the sublimation of homosexuality by religious revival movements of the early nineteenth century, particularly among Quakers, Mormons, and Oneida Perfectionists
- social groups as a perceived cover for homosexual activity, with an emphasis on the Masonic Order
- non-procreative sexuality as a theme and as a threat during the American revolution
- the West in American literary traditionand the role of popular writers such as James Fenimore Cooper and Davy Crockett in creating the myth of individual sexual freedom on the margins of American society
Author William Benemann rejects Foucault’s contention that homosexuality is an artificial construct created by medico-legal authorities in the latter half of the nineteenth century. He recognizes that men have been sexually attracted to other men throughout American history, and in this book, examines their historical options for expressing that attraction. He also addresses related issues surrounding race and gender expectations, population and migration patterns, vocational choice, and information exchange. Written in a straightforward style that can easily be understood by lay readers, Male-Male Intimacy in Early America is an ideal choice for educators, students, and individuals interested in this unexplored area of American history and sexuality studies.