Thomas Painter and the Study of Male Prostitution, 1935–43

in Departing from Deviance

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print December 2001 | ISBN: 9780226530437
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226304458 | DOI:
Thomas Painter and the Study of Male Prostitution, 1935–43

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The Committee for the Study of Sex Variants enabled Thomas Painter to launch his career as an activist-researcher. Through his association with Alfred C. Kinsey and the Kinsey Institute, he has provided an extensive collection of personal papers and artifacts that furnish an in-depth view of the life and times of a gay man in the pre-Stonewall era. Painter's documents provide far more than a personal sex history because as a grassroots community sex researcher, he was a participant in the homophile movement. Thus, his experiences as an activist-researcher shed light on the nature of the relationship between sex experts and “lay” researchers. His research connections also point to the considerable contribution that he made to the homosexual rights movement. Painter indicated that the cause of homosexuality was unknown but suggested that it was most likely a combination of biochemical, psychological, and sociological factors. This chapter presents his early life and his personal and research connection with the world of male prostitution in the 1930s.

Keywords: sex variants; homosexuality; Thomas Painter; sex history; prostitution

Chapter.  17164 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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