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

1868-11-01 00:00:00

Károly Mária Kertbeny coins the word 'homosexual'

Károly Mária Kertbeny coined the word ‘homosexual’ in a letter to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. It eventually took hold in most European languages, in preference to such alternatives as ‘uranian’, ‘invert’, ‘similisexual’ and other neologisms conjured up by European sexologists.

1895-04-03 14:46:07

The Trial of Oscar Wilde

'It is beyond doubt that the Wilde affair cowed other artists, having the effect of coercing them into conformity in both their personal behaviour and the art they produced.' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

1896-11-01 00:00:00

Cyril Scott meets Stefan George

The English composer Cyril Scott was 17 when he met the German poet Stefan George, who was 28. George was the leader of a cultural circle most of whose members were attractive, intelligent young men. Scott later wrote of him: ‘he was not in the least ashamed of the fact’ that he was homosexual, ‘being almost obsessed, as he was, with Hellenistic ideas and ideals’.

1903-10-14 00:00:00

The Jacques d’Adelswärd-Fersen scandal, France

'The French poet Jacques d’Adelsward-Fersen had visited Capri in 1896 or 1897, and then again in 1901. When the scandal of his private life erupted into public court and a guilty verdict in 1903, he went into exile. Retiring to Capri in 1904, he had the Villa Lysis built. (While it was being erected he went off to taste the delights of Ceylon.) In Rome he met a sharp-witted and smooth-bodied fifteen-year-old, Nino Cesarini, whom he took on as his secretary/factotum/lover.' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

1906-10-01 00:00:00

Publication of Mikhail Kuzmin's novel, 'Wings'

'In Kuzmin’s novel 'Wings' (1906), young Vanya Smurov is disappointed to see, when first arriving in St. Petersburg by train, not the grand, cosmopolitan palaces he has been anticipating, but ugly suburban kitchen gardens and cemeteries, followed by a vast, polluted cityscape of tenements and shacks ... The only glimpse of the kind of cultural glamour he has been expecting is embodied in the person, behaviour and opinions of the sophisticated aesthete Larion Stroop, who befriends him.' – Gregory Woods, Homintern

1906-10-01 00:00:00

The Eulenburg scandal, Germany

In Germany, Prince Philipp of Eulenburg and his friend Kuno von Moltke were exposed as homosexuals by a journalist. Moltke sued him for libel. A series of high-profile trials followed, but they were inconclusive. Disgraced all the same, Eulenburg retired from public life. Rumours of homosexuality in high places continued to circulate.

1909-10-01 00:00:00

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

1912-10-01 00:00:00

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

1916-10-01 00:00:00

E. M. Forster leaves England

The novelist E. M. Forster was unable to discard his virginity until he had left England far behind him. After a nocturnal encounter with a soldier on a beach in Alexandria, he finally wrote home to a friend, ‘Yesterday for the first time in my life I parted with respectability’. The next year he began a tender relationship with an Egyptian tram driver.

1919-10-01 00:00:00

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

New Book: Homintern

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