The Early Homosexual Self Between Autobiography and Medical Commentary

  • Tilmann Walter
Keywords: history of homosexuality, history of psychotherapy

Abstract

The history of the "early homosexual self" can be divided into three phases: the time of "latent" autobiographies (until ca 1865), then the time of the activation of "homosexual knowledge" by medical experts and (since ca 1895) the time of silencing homosexual voices within experts' discourse. Around 1900 homosexual behavior was already bound to the "script" of the "homosexual" self and considered thereby a "disease" by most experts, what was not often confirmed by the people concerned. Within historical publications the "homosexuals" therefore were often presented as "victims" of medical science. I argue that subjects submitted themselves to valid social norms by "flexible normalization." Pertinent historical sources are interpreted in the light of a model for a personal development within therapeutical relationships. In the meantime, the unified anthropology of scientia sexualis has significantly lost importance: sexuality and gender are now considered to be "negotiated," and the difference in the lives of "heterosexual" and "homosexual" men—and of many working women—has become negligible. One can interpret this as an outcome of the change from a producing society to consuming society during the time when (ca 1900) the "homosexual" male functioned as a social "avant-garde. URN: urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs0501107

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Author Biography

Tilmann Walter
Tilmann WALTER, Dr. phil., studierte Geschichte und der Germanistik in Heidelberg; 1997 Promotion über "Unkeuschheit und Werk der Liebe. Diskurse über Sexualität am Beginn der Neuzeit in Deutschland" (Berlin / New York: de Gruyter 1998); 1998 bis 2001 Forschungsassistent am Sonderforschungsbereich 511 "Literatur und Anthropologie" an der Universität Konstanz; er lehrt derzeit Geschichte an der Universität St. Gallen. Seine Forschungsschwerpunkte sind Wissenschaftsgeschichte, Historische Anthropologie und Geschichte der Sexualität.
Published
2005-01-31