Enlightenment era[ edit ] In eighteenth - and nineteenth-century Europe , same-sex sexual behaviour and cross-dressing were widely considered to be socially unacceptable, and were serious crimes under sodomy and sumptuary laws.
There were, however, some exceptions. For example, in the 17th century cross dressing was common in plays, as evident in the content of many of William Shakespeare 's plays and by the actors in actual performance since female roles in Elizabethan theater were always performed by males, usually prepubescent boys. Thomas Cannon wrote what may be the earliest published defense of homosexuality in English, Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify'd Although only fragments of his work have survived, it was a humorous anthology of homosexual advocacy, written with an obvious enthusiasm for its subject.
Desire is an amatory Impulse of the inmost human Parts: Are not they, however constructed, and consequently impelling, Nature? Social reformer Jeremy Bentham wrote the first known argument for homosexual law reform in England around , at a time when the legal penalty for buggery was death by hanging. His advocacy stemmed from his utilitarian philosophy , in which the morality of an action is determined by the net consequence of that action on human well-being.
He argued that homosexuality was a victimless crime, and therefore not deserving of social approbation or criminal charges. He regarded popular negative attitudes against homosexuality as an irrational prejudice, fanned and perpetuated by religious teachings. With the introduction of the Napoleonic Code in , the Duchy of Warsaw also decriminalized homosexuality. In , an anonymous English-language writer wrote a poetic defense of Captain Nicholas Nicholls, who had been sentenced to death in London for sodomy: Whence spring these inclinations, rank and strong?
And harming no one, wherefore call them wrong? The Male Love of the Greeks" , another defence of same-sex love. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. July Learn how and when to remove this template message Karl Heinrich Ulrichs , German gay rights activist of the s In many ways, social attitudes to homosexuality became more hostile during the late Victorian era.
In the Labouchere Amendment was included in the Criminal Law Amendment Act , which criminalized 'any act of gross indecency with another male person'; a charge that was successfully invoked to convict playwright Oscar Wilde in with the most severe sentence possible under the Act. From the s, social reformers began to defend homosexuality, but due to the controversial nature of their advocacy, kept their identities secret.
Oscar Wilde was taken by his boyish looks and persuaded him to shave off his moustache, and once kissed him passionately in the Travellers' Club. In , Ives created and founded the first homosexual rights group, the Order of Chaeronea.
John Addington Symonds was a poet and an early advocate of male love. In , he wrote A Problem in Greek Ethics, a work of what would later be called " gay history. Chaddock for introducing "homosexual" into the English language in , Symonds had already used the word in A Problem in Greek Ethics.
A Problem in Greek Ethics. Symonds also translated classical poetry on homoerotic themes, and wrote poems drawing on ancient Greek imagery and language such as Eudiades, which has been called "the most famous of his homoerotic poems". By the end of his life, Symonds' homosexuality had become an open secret in Victorian literary and cultural circles. In particular, Symonds' memoirs, written over a four-year period, from to , form the earliest known self-conscious homosexual autobiography.
Another friend of Ives was the English socialist poet Edward Carpenter. Carpenter thought that homosexuality was an innate and natural human characteristic and that it should not be regarded as a sin or a criminal offence. In the s, Carpenter began a concerted effort to campaign against discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation , possibly in response to the recent death of Symonds, whom he viewed as his campaigning inspiration.
Scottish anarchist John Henry Mackay also wrote in defense of same-sex love and androgyny. English sexologist Havelock Ellis wrote the first objective scientific study of homosexuality in , in which he treated it as a neutral sexual condition. Called Sexual Inversion it was first printed in German and then translated into English a year later. In the book, Ellis argued that same-sex relationships could not be characterized as a pathology or a crime and that its importance rose above the arbitrary restrictions imposed by society.
The book was so controversial at the time that one bookseller was charged in court for holding copies of the work. It is claimed that Ellis coined the term 'homosexual', but in fact he disliked the word due to its conflation of Greek and Latin. These early proponents of LGBT rights, such as Carpenter, were often aligned with a broader socio-political movement known as ' free love '; a critique of Victorian sexual morality and the traditional institutions of family and marriage that were seen to enslave women.
Some advocates of free love in the early 20th century, including Russian anarchist and feminist Emma Goldman , also spoke in defence of same-sex love and challenged repressive legislation.
In he formed the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee campaign publicly against the notorious law " Paragraph ", which made sex between men illegal. Adolf Brand later broke away from the group, disagreeing with Hirschfeld's medical view of the " intermediate sex ", seeing male-male sex as merely an aspect of manly virility and male social bonding.
The book Sind es Frauen? Women only began to join the previously male-dominated sexual reform movement around when the German government tried to expand Paragraph to outlaw sex between women.
The institute conducted an enormous amount of research, saw thousands of transgender and homosexual clients at consultations, and championed a broad range of sexual reforms including sex education, contraception and women's rights. However, the gains made in Germany would soon be drastically reversed with the rise of Nazism , and the institute and its library were destroyed in The Swiss journal Der Kreis was the only part of the movement to continue through the Nazi era.
This step was part of a larger project of freeing sexual relationships and expanding women's rights — including legalising abortion, granting divorce on demand, equal rights for women, and attempts to socialise housework.
During Stalin's era, however, USSR reverted all these progressive measures — re-criminalizing homosexuality and imprisoning gay men and banning abortion. Its plot centers on Stephen Gordon, a woman who identifies herself as an invert after reading Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis , and lives within the homosexual subculture of Paris.
The novel included a foreword by Havelock Ellis and was intended to be a call for tolerance for inverts by publicizing their disadvantages and accidents of being born inverted. Homophile Cover of U. The motif of masks and unmasking was prevalent in the homophile era, prefiguring the political strategy of coming out and giving the Mattachine Society its name.
Immediately following World War II , a number of homosexual rights groups came into being or were revived across the Western world , in Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, the Scandinavian countries and the United States.
These groups usually preferred the term homophile to homosexual, emphasizing love over sex. The homophile movement began in the late s with groups in the Netherlands and Denmark, and continued throughout the s and s with groups in Sweden, Norway, the United States, France , Britain and elsewhere.
S,  was bankrolled by the wealthy transsexual man Reed Erickson. The homophile movement lobbied to establish a prominent influence in political systems of social acceptability. Radicals of the s would later disparage the homophile groups for being assimilationist. Any demonstrations were orderly and polite.
S,  and a national organization had been formed, but they were largely ignored by the media. A gay march held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, according to some historians, marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the LGBT youth organization Vanguard was formed by Adrian Ravarour to demonstrate for equality, and Vanguard members protested for equal rights during the months of April—July , followed by the August Compton's riot, where transgender street prostitutes in the poor neighborhood of Tenderloin rioted against police harassment at a popular all-night restaurant, Gene Compton's Cafeteria.
The Wolfenden Report was published in Britain on 4 September after publicized convictions for homosexuality of well-known men, including Lord Montagu. Disregarding the conventional ideas of the day, the committee recommended that "homosexual behaviour between consenting adults in private should no longer be a criminal offence". All but James Adair were in favour of this and, contrary to some medical and psychiatric witnesses' evidence at that time, found that "homosexuality cannot legitimately be regarded as a disease, because in many cases it is the only symptom and is compatible with full mental health in other respects.
When passed, The Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private in England and Wales.
In bisexual activist Robert A. In Columbia University officially recognized this group, thus making them the first college in the United States to officially recognize a gay student group. Due to this, bisexuals began to be included in the facility's programs for the first time.