The Making of Gay Male Sexuality

Carolyn J. Dean

in The Frail Social Body

Published by University of California Press

Published in print February 2000 | ISBN: 9780520219953
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520923485 | DOI:
The Making of Gay Male Sexuality

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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In interwar France, calls to repress homosexuality in order to restore moral order paradoxically took the form of proliferating fantasies about homosexuals. These fantasies developed as part of an effort to preserve national integrity by metaphorically locating World War I's unprecedented and inescapable violence in degraded and unrestrained male homosexuality. This chapter turns to the rhetorical reconstruction of male homosexuality in order to emphasize the structural similarities in fantasies about pornography and homosexuality, both of which symbolically violate the social body. It argues that pornography and homosexuality had comparable cultural functions in spite of their differences, and that, rhetorically at least, fantasies about both are far more similar than different. The chapter focuses on gay men who engaged explicitly and without irony in a discourse on the politics of homosexuality, those who demanded inclusion on their own terms, and also comments on how homosexuality has been linked to crime and secrecy.

Keywords: France; World War I; violence; pornography; fantasies; social body; male homosexuality; gay men; crime; secrecy

Chapter.  13134 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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