Friday, April 6, 2012


Socially Constructed Categories


“Historians underscore an important distinction between homosexual behavior and homosexual identity. The former is said to be universal, whereas the latter is viewed historically unique. ....a unique construction of identity crystallized around same-sex desire between 1880 and 1920 in America

(Seidman. Embattled Eros: Sexual Politics and Ethnics in Contemporary America, p.146)


“The greatest single victory of the gay movement over the past decade has been to shift the debate from behavior to identity, thus forcing opponents into a position where they can be seen attacking the civil rights of homosexual citizens rather [than] behavior.”

(Altman, The Homosexualization of America, The Americanization of the Homosexual, p. 9)


Historians have discovered that gay identity is a recent, Western, historical construction..... human sexuality is not a natural, timeless “given”, but is historically shaped and politically regulated.” (Duggan & Hunter, Sex Wars: Sexual Dissent and Political Culture, p.151-152)

The concept of a specifically homosexual identity seems to have emerged at the end of the nineteen-century.  Indeed, only in relatively recent years have large numbers of individuals identified themselves openly as gay or lesbian or bisexual. Gay, lesbian, and bisexual public identities, then, are a phenomenon of our current historical era (D’Emilio, 1983; Faderman, 1991).” (Patterson, “Sexual Orientation and Human Development: An Overview,” p.3)


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