Reforming Homosexuality in the Northwest

Peter Boag

in Same-Sex Affairs

Published by University of California Press

Published in print August 2003 | ISBN: 9780520236042
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930698 | DOI:
Reforming Homosexuality in the Northwest

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This chapter explains the history of region-wide reform activities regarding homosexuality, arguing that the greatest efforts to confront and control it were a result of the 1912 scandal. It first reports the concomitant reform activities addressing “heterosexual” immorality. It then explores varied legal and reformist responses to same-sex sexual practices and homosexuality from 1890 to 1930, emphasizing the role of the 1912 scandal in pushing them forward. George Edwards hinted that more than the scandal itself had created Portland's stifling atmosphere: the conspiracy to regulate public discourse on homosexuality had played a role as well. Revelations about homosexuality in the Northwest helped sweep aside past concerns that sterilization seriously infringed on the rights of individuals and that it was too cruel and unusual a punishment. The campaign to secure laws prescribing the sterilization of homosexual men had come to a successful conclusion roughly a decade after the 1912 scandal erupted.

Keywords: homosexuality; 1912 scandal; reform activities; George Edwards; Portland; sterilization; laws

Chapter.  12926 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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