New Book: Homintern

How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World

by Gregory Woods;xNLx;;xNLx;NOW IN PAPERBACK - August 2017;xNLx;In this sharply observed, warm-spirited book, Gregory Woods identifies the ways in which homosexuality has helped shape Western culture. ;xNLx;;xNLx;Extending from the trials of Oscar Wilde to the gay liberation era, via Harlem in the 1910s, 1920s Paris, 1930s Berlin, '50s New York and beyond, this panoramic survey presents a surpassing portrait of 20th-century gay culture.;xNLx;;xNLx;;xNLx;Browse the Homintern timeline for an introduction to the book.;xNLx;;xNLx;Find out more at

The Stonewall Riots, New York City

The Stonewall riots symbolically initiated the era of the gay liberation movement. They are commemorated every year by Pride parades all around the world. However, there were many pre-Stonewall initiatives pressing for law reform and civil rights for homosexual men and women.

Rudolf Nureyev defects from the USSR to the West

On 16 June 1961 at an airport in Paris, Rudolf Nureyev defected with the help of the French police. Within a week he was performing in 'Sleeping Beauty' with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. On a tour of Denmark he met Erik Bruhn, soloist at the Royal Danish Ballet.

The Sexual Offences Act partially decriminalises male homosexual acts in England and Wales

'The 1967 Act was hedged about with caveats and conditions, among them the principle of ‘privacy’ and the restriction of legal behaviour to an encounter between two individuals only. As is well known, once the 1967 Act had been passed, the rate of convictions for homosexual offences went up ... The ideal inscribed within the 1967 Act is a lasting union between two ‘good’ homosexuals. Yet all it decriminalised was a limited range of sexual acts in a limited range of locations.' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

First Publication of James Baldwin's novel, 'Giovanni’s Room'

In Baldwin’s novel 'Giovanni’s Room' (1957) among the customers of the gay bar run by Guillaume: 'There were the usual paunchy, bespectacled gentlemen with avid, sometimes despairing eyes, the usual, knife-blade lean, tight-trousered boys. One could never be sure, as concerns these latter, whether they were after money or blood or love.'

First publication of André Gide's 'Corydon'

'In addition to the major precedents of Wilde and Whitman, a third literary figure exerted a strong, queer influence in South America: André Gide. For those who could not read French, Gide’s 'Corydon' was first published in Spanish translation in 1929. The very title of the book had become part of the lexical currency.' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

First publication of Gore Vidal's, 'The City and the Pillar'

'Jim Willard, the central character of Gore Vidal’s pioneering novel 'The City and the Pillar' (1948), casts an inexperienced but apparently authoritative eye over the city’s gay population soon after he himself has arrived there. He, too, notices the difference between the invisible and the visible: "It seemed that from all over the country the homosexuals had come to New York as to a centre, a new Sodom; for here, among the millions, they could be unnoticed by the enemy and yet known to one another".' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

Natalie Barney institutes her salons at 20, rue Jacob, Paris

'Natalie Barney once said, "I am a lesbian … One need not hide it, nor boast of it, though being other than normal is a perilous advantage". Romaine Brooks met Natalie Barney in 1915. Natalie Barney needed Paris; Romaine Brooks hated it. Barney was promiscuous, Brooks not – nor even particularly sociable.' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

Nijinsky & Ballets Russes first perform ‘L’après-Midi d’un Faun’ in Paris

'The 1912 season is best known for a performance of Nijinsky’s which caused a particular scandal. The first performance of L’Après-midi d’un faune provoked both applause and booing, both extending for long enough to provoke an immediate second performance.' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

First publication of Marcel Proust's 'Sodom and Gomorrah'

'I have thought it as well to utter here a provisional warning against the lamentable error of proposing (just as people have encouraged a Zionist movement) to create a Sodomist movement and to rebuild Sodom. For, no sooner had they arrived there than the Sodomites would leave the town so as not to have the appearance of belonging to it, would take wives, keep mistresses in other cities where they would find, incidentally, every diversion that appealed to them. They would repair to Sodom only on days of supreme necessity, when their own town was empty, at those seasons when hunger drives the wolf from the woods; in other words, everything would go on much as it does today in London, Berlin, Rome, Petrograd or Paris.' – Marcel Proust, 'Cities of the Plain', Part One, 1968

Sylvia Beach opens Shakespeare and Company bookshop, Paris

'[On] November 17, 1919 [Sylvia Beach] opened the Anglophone bookshop and lending library Shakespeare and Company … in Paris. Visitors in the first few days included Louis Aragon, André Gide, Léon Fargue, Valery Larbaud, Georges Duhamel and Jules Romains. On March 16, 1920, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas came into the shop for the first time. They would remain good friends …' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

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