Contrary to what many historians claim, legislative developments in late nineteenth-century Britain did not construct a legal category of the male homosexual’ or ‘all male homosexuals as a class’. Similarly, science and medicine in Britain did not construct a pathologised category of ‘the homosexual’. These disciplines distinctively eschewed attempts to develop inversion theorisation and rejected Continental developments in this field. This notwithstanding, historians have emphasised that the legal-medical classifications of male homosexuality prevalent in Britain in the 1950s originated in the late nineteenth century. The concept of homosexual pathology or abnormality amongst many British doctors in the 1950s can be traced to nineteenth-century developments in sex-psychology. This concept amongst British psychiatrists and a grudging acceptance of the ideas of Freud and Ellis, was a development of the years following the Second World War.1 This book has attempted to demonstrate that the pejorative medico-legal construction of modern male homosexual identities was a Continental European and North American development, stoutly resisted in Britain. Nineteenth-century British society could not contemplate permitting discussion of the phenomenon, even in pejorative terms, for fear of giving it credence and admitting that the phenomenon existed amongst British men at all.


Sexual Desire British Society Male Homosexual Male Homosexuality Sexual Culture 
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© Sean Brady 2009

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