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People with a History: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History Sourcebook

Special Themes

Editor: Paul Halsall


Section VII: Special Themes

Go to the following pages for other parts of People with a History

Special Themes 1: Same Sex Marriage



  • Suetonius (b.c.70 d. after 121 CE): Nero 27-29. [At this Site]
    Includes an account of Nero's two homosexual "marriages".
  • Two Versions of Rite of Adelphopoiia [At this Site]
  • The Life of St. Theodore of Sykeon (7th Cent.), Chapters 134-135 [At this Site]
    An adelphopoiia relationship is established between St. Theodore and Patriarch Thomas of Constantinople.
  • Chin Bratotvoreniyu [At QRD] [Internet Archive version here]
    Old Church Slavonic text of the Rite of Brotherhood, abbreviated, with standard liturgical prayers (most of Litany, Antiphons, etc.) omitted. Cf. Jacobus Goar, Euchologion (1st ed., Paris 1647; 2nd ed., Venice 1730), pp. 706-709, s.v. "Akolouthia eis Adelphopoiian Pneumatiken." From: Velikii Potrebnik, printed by Edinovertsii in Moscow (Now called Belokrinitsky Hierarchy of Old Rite), in the year 1904. Transcribed by Nikita Syrnikov. Translated by Fr. Basil Isaacks April 1, 1995.
  • Church of Greece on Adelphopoiia [At QRD] [Internet Archive version here]
  • Montaigne: A Homosexual Marriage in Rome 1581 [Was at LGB Catholic Handbook, now Internet Archive]
    Account of a gay marriage in 16th-century Rome by Montaigne.
  • Gary Ferguson: A same-sex marriage ceremony in… Renaissance Rome? (2017) [At the Conversation] [Internet Archive version here]
  • Rictor Norton: Paradigms of Same-Sex Marriage in the Long Eighteenth Century (2011) PDF [At Rictor Norton's website][Internet Archive version here]
  • Wikipedia: Catharina Margaretha Linck (died 1721)
    A  Prussian who presented as a man in adult life. Linck married a woman and, based on their sexual activity together, was convicted of sodomy and executed by order of King Frederick William I in 1721. The article contains excerpts of the trial record.
  • Robert Aitken: Gay marriage from a Zen-Buddhist perspective [At QRD] [Internet Archive version here]
    Aitken is an important figure in American Zen. His discussion here is mainly directed at modern concerns, but he discusses the history.
  • ONE Magazine: Homosexual Marriage August 1953 [At Queen Musical Heritage] [Internet Archive version here]
  • Metropolitan Community Church: Holy Union Liturgy [Was At UFMCC, now Internet Archive]


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Special Themes 2: Bisexuality

In a sense, much of the history claimed by "lesbians and gays" is a history of people who were functionally and actually bisexual. In particular many of the famous names on lists of "famous homosexuals" of "queers in history" were sexually active with both men and women. However, it also seems to be true that a clearly, or even hazily, formulated "bisexual" social identity is even more recent than "homosexual" and "heterosexual" identities. I will correct this statement if it is shown to be wrong, but specifically "bisexual" organizations seem only to have existed since the 1970s.

This relatively new formulation does not mean that there is no "history" of bisexuality. There have been voices in the past which have proclaimed a need for sexual freedom - whether these be the "libertines" of the 16th century, the English "rakes" of the 17th century, or the sexual radicals of the 1960s. It has proved quite possible to be explicitly homo(mono)sexual and fundamentally conservative in sexual expectations. I would take as the most significant aspect of the history of bisexuality not those people who were bisexually active, but those who sought to explore the complexities of human sexual choices.



  • WEB Bisexual Lives (1988) [At BiStuff] [Internet Archive version here]
    Web publication of a bookl of personal journeys issued in 1988.
  • WEB BiStuff [Internet Archive version here]
    A variety of Bisexual history and culture primary sources.


  • WEB
    A dedicated Bisexual site, with a guide to academic resources. With a Famous Bi List [Internet Archive version here]
  • WEB Bisexual Resource Center
    A collection of resources, including historical accounts, advice, and current issues. .

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Special Themes 3: Trans* History

"Trans*" is a complex category to analyze and document historically. In some respects, however, it is easier conceptually than "gay": although homosexual "activity" is documentable in many past and present societies, it is much harder to document social and psychological ideas about "identity" and "orientation". On the other hand, the existence of "neither male nor female" gendered people ("transgressive" .or not) is very widely documented throughout many societies and cultures. This includes cross-dressers, women who lived as men, eunuchs, "third sex" people, "two-spirited" people, modern transvestites, modern transsexuals, and so on.

Some modern gays and lesbians seek to distance themselves from this trans* history: some gay men in particular have sought to portray their homosexuality as fully "masculine". In fact, modern homosexuals do transgress one of the basic markers of gender identity in modern society, the marker than says masculinity is marked out by having sex with women.

[see also under "Native American Societies" for "berdache"and "two-spirit" discussions]



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Special Themes 4: Anti-Gay: Gay Criticism of Gay Culture

There has been a persistant willingness by gay writers to criticise aspects of gay culture, and of lesbian writers to criticise lesbian culture.

Some of the criticism is probably justified, but elements of sheer intellectual and class-based snobbery towards the lumpen-schwulen play an important part.

In general these writers live in comparatively safe urban gay environments (London, New York, San Francisco. West Hollywood), have come to terms with their homosexuality long ago, and feel free to offer critiques. Their targets usually (repeatedly in fact), include gay activists, gay commercial culture, gay entertainment, Pride events and so forth. Despite protestations to the contrary, they tend to obliterate the very real struggles still going on for most gays and lesbians (violence, discrimination, religious intolerance), and ignore the benefits of a commercial culture. Above all they create tendentious constructions of gay culture in order to attack.

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People with a History: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Trans* History Sourcebook is part of the Internet History Sourcebooks Project. Date of inception was 1997. People with a History is a www site presenting history relevant to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered people, through primary sources, secondary discussions, and images. Links to files at other site are indicated by [At some indication of the site name or location]. WEB  indicates a link to one of small number of high quality web sites which provide either more texts or an especially valuable overview.

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project is located at the History Department of  Fordham University, New York. The Internet Medieval Sourcebook, and other medieval components of the project, are located at the Fordham University Center for Medieval Studies.The IHSP recognizes the contribution of Fordham University, the Fordham University History Department, and the Fordham Center for Medieval Studies in providing web space and server support for the project. The IHSP is a project independent of Fordham University.  Although the IHSP seeks to follow all applicable copyright law, Fordham University is not the institutional owner, and is not liable as the result of any legal action.

© Site Concept and Design: Paul Halsall created 26 Jan 1996: latest revision 3 May 2024 [CV]