Homophobia A History

Byrne Fone




Trade Paperback

496 Pages



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In this tour de force of historical and literary research, Fone, an acclaimed expert on gay and lesbian history and professor emeritus at the City University of New York, chronicles the evolution of homophobia through the centuries. Delving into literary sources as diverse as Greek philosophy, Elizabethan poetry, the Bible, and the Victorian novel, as well as historical texts and propaganda ranging from the French Revolution to the Moral Majority to the transcripts of current TV talk shows, Fone reveals how and why same-sex desire has long been the object of legal, social, religious, and political persecution.


Praise for Homophobia

"This sweeping introduction to homophobia throughout Western history offers an illuminating . . . way to survey the dimensions of acceptance."—Alison Shonkwiler, Out Magazine

"At a time when the word 'homophobia' is dismissed by many as politically correct rhetoric, Fone's work remains a powerful introduction to the undeniable historical impact of the attitudes it describes."—Publishers Weekly

"An important work, Homophobia: A History successfully records a portion of the often elusive past of a largely invisible and highly vilified minority."—David Massengill, Seattle Weekly

"How did sex between men start out as an admired act of masculinity and end up as a shameful badge of effeminacy? How did homosexual love and sex, which were seen as important to the development of virtue, nobility, and the foundation of a strong society, become an enemy of the state? Fone answers these questions in exquisite detail with a masterful command of history, a balanced interpretation of contradictory documents, and an explosive set of assertions that fly against the conventional view of not just homophobes but of gay people themselves."—Michael Alvear, Salon

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PART ONEBefore Homophobia?"Homosexuality" and "Homophobia" in AntiquityChapter OneInventing ErosNearly every age reinvents Greece in its own image. Rome appropriated Grecian glory to ornament Roman grandeur. The rediscovery of Greek literature and art gave the Renaissance a new aesthetic and propelled Europe from the medieval into the modern age. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Greece was the ideal upon which many modern nations modeled their systems of education, ethics, and government, and even their architecture. Now, at the turn of the century, ancient Greece is still
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  • Byrne Fone

  • Byrne Fone, a pioneer in the teaching of gay and lesbian studies, is the author of three previous books (including A Road to Stonewall) as well as editor of The Columbia Anthology of Gay Literature. Professor emeritus at the City University of New York, he lives in Hudson, New York.