Wayne R. Dynes *

Queer Studies: In Search of a Discipline

Originally published in: Academic Questions, Fall 1995.
Reproduced here by permission of the author.

    On November 18-20, 1994, the University of Iowa witnessed an event that stretched time-honored stereotypes of America's heartland to the breaking point. The Iowa City campus hosted the conference "InQueery, InTheory, InDeed," a gathering billed as the "Sixth North American Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Conference."
    For those whose adult memories spanned more than one decade, the changes were startling indeed, even in such a volatile field as gay studies. To be sure, the Iowa event still found room for a few well-documented papers on literary figures and social history that would have been welcome at any earlier event of this kind. But overall the conference program evidenced an explosion of Queer Theory and Queer Studies. A few titles of talks and panels suffice to convey the general tone: "Beyond Binary: Queer Family Values and the Primal Cream," "The Dialectics of Dominance and Submission: Emmanuel Levinas as Butch/Top," "Queerying Performativity," and "Clits in Court: Lesbians and the Law."  Not infrequently the titles of such offerings seem to mingle the shade of Martin Heidegger with that of Groucho Marx (no doubt much to the displeasure of each).    
    From this showing it might seem that queeritude encourages any and all transgressions into forbidden zones, including S & M and transsexualism. As if by common consent, however, pedophilia remains taboo. There are still, it seems, some limits. And, academic vices being what they are, the proceedings were mostly talk. One performer created an exceptional impression by undressing and conversing with his penis. Inadvertently, he may have supplied an alternative title for the goings on: "Cockteasing Amongst the Cornfields."
    The site of the conference remains significant. Up to this point one might have dismissed the "queer movement" as a hothouse plant cultivated solely at elite universities on the two Coasts. But now it has spread to the heartland. Indeed, the organizers sought to show that their gathering was not merely an intrusion amid the alien corn by featuring several native American presentations, including those of Plains Indians — representatives of the berdache or "two-spirit" tradition.
    To judge by the affiliations noted in the conference program, most speakers were graduate students. In contrast to previous gatherings in which many participants described themselves as "independent scholars," these announced affiliations reflect a good deal of "coming out."  Many of the individuals will shortly be seeking teaching positions. And in fact some new hires have already been made from this assertive tribe. But how long will their marketability last?  In an age of budgetary belt tightening and hostile attention from the media and state legislatures, few of the apostles of queeritude seem to have reflected deeply on how their employment might be justified. Still, one has to salute real acts of courage on their part.  Except for differences in personnel, the Iowa City conference might seem almost to have replicated itself at the Modern Language Association gathering held in San Diego a month later.
[2] To be sure, such incursions are not unprecedented at MLA, witness the controversy stirred up by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's "Jane Austen and the Masturbating Girl" at the 1989 convention. [3] Now that its hour has come, Queer Studies is exporting its treasures.
    At the moment in fact Queer Studies seems to be trembling on the verge of queering everything. The "yes experience" (in William James's sense) is here. In disciplinary terms, the epicenter of the development is literary studies. Of almost equal importance, though less entrenched in academia, is the trendy field of "cultural studies," including film and television.
[4] However, the effects of queering are beginning to be felt farther afield, in such seemingly unlikely disciplines as musicology, art history, and the law. [5]
    The appeal is one of rebellion, defiance, and transgression. As one advocate puts it: "[t]he preference for ‘queer’ represents ... an aggressive impulse of generalization; it rejects a minoritizing logic of toleration or simple political-interest representation in favor of a more thoroughgoing resistance to regimes of the normal. For academics, being interested in queer theory is a way to mess up the desexualized spaces of the academy, exude some rut, [and] reimagine the publics from and for which academics write, dress, and perform."

    The first eruption of today's queeritude can be dated with precision. It started in June 1990 with the appearance of an inflammatory broadside, the anonymous "I Hate Straights," distributed at the gay pride marches in New York and other cities. The text begins "Listen queers ..."  This event was followed by the formation of Queer Nation chapters in various US cities. Although Queer Nation was an offshoot of ACT-UP, the AIDS activist organization, the adoption of the name is significant. Members quickly gained attention by their practice of "queerituals."  Typically, they would descend in small groups on malls and other public places, behaving provocatively and chanting, "We're here, we're queer; get used to it!"  The development gave rise to a separatist concept of Queer Nationality.
[7] As an organizational tool, however, the phenomenon proved short-lived; by the spring of 1995 virtually every North American chapter of Queer Nation had disbanded.
    The gay and lesbian embrace of the Q word is striking in view of the earlier history of aversion, at least in the United States.
[8] In fact the claim that the word has been "detoxified" is contested, especially by older people. They remember a time when its utterance all too often served as a token of hatred, the opening gambit in an ugly game that, played out to its end, meant fag bashing. Widespread legitimation of the term, these older observers hold, might well open the door to its hostile deployment by homophobes — not to mention such close cousins as "faggot," "pervert," "swish" and so very many others. In any event, to many veterans it seems ageist for the young to set aside the feelings of older gay men and lesbians as of no account. Ageism is a cardinal sin among the politically correct, though one that is scarcely combatted with the same zeal as racism, sexism, and looksism. The generational difference appears in the familiarity of older scholars with the long-standing traditions of homosexual scholarship stemming from Central Europe (to be reviewed below) as contrasted with the younger scholars' neglect or ignorance of this store of information and ideas. In the seasoned veteran's view the newcomer seeks to reinvent the wheel.
    Historically, Britain has been more tolerant of the Q word, witness its unproblematic use by such homosexual intellectuals as W. H. Auden and Christopher Isherwood, both of whom emigrated to our shores. But its adoption by the native-born is something else again. As a side aspect, the term's current popularity may disclose a hidden current of Anglophilia. At any rate its embrace is a sectoral, even elite phenomenon. By no means universally embraced among the homosexual and lesbian masses, the word queer often functions as a wedge issue separating generations and classes (working-class gay men and lesbians have displayed little enthusiasm for it).
    A common rationale for the term posits the reclaiming of queer as analogous to African Americans' use of the word black. Yet the latter term no longer enjoys preference among African Americans themselves. Moreover, the analogy has always been imperfect, and it certainly does not lend itself to indefinite extension. While some African Americans choose on occasion to employ "nigger" among themselves, they are unlikely to demand university departments in "Nigger Studies."  Nor will we soon hear of calls for "Spic consciousness" or "Wop liberation."  Further, isn't it at least within the limits of possibility that some of those who embrace the word queer are responding to that wayward internal voice, deeply buried but still lurkingly present, of self-contempt?
[9] This is not, however, how the queer activists see themselves.
    The next step was a significant merger. For it was only when the activist ebullition that started in 1990 began to blend with elements from the repertoire of "Theory" — a mix of ideas from the repertoires of poststructuralism, postmodernism, and the special version of historical relativism known as Social Construction — that Queer Studies emerged.
[10]  All these trends have basked in the aura of contributing to the Left's agenda of social change, even of "revolution."  At best, however, they amount to a revolution of subtraction, eroding existing norms and verities, rather than a revolution of addition, creating new values. What passes for reinventing is merely disinventing. In the view of activist critics the graduate-school preoccupation with texts promotes a retreat to the ivory tower. Taken for granted is opposition to "dominance" and "hierarchy," but in practice the adoption of such politically correct commitments wars against narrative coherence. And the clouds of jargon with which Queer Theory, like its older sisters, has invested itself do not assist the task of communicating with the masses. [11]
    Marxism, whether in its classical and European revisionist forms, now plays little direct role. Nonetheless, a remnant of Herbert Marcuse's substitutionism, whereby students and ethnic groups would replace the proletariat as agents of social change, is evident. Accordingly, much deference is accorded the perceived interests of African Americans, Hispanics, and of women generally — though not without considerable friction with these groups, who tend to view the gays as poaching on their preserves. Of course, many gay men and lesbians are themselves also members of minority groups. With much cogency some of these individuals have protested that gay liberation as constituted in the 1970s did not include them. This has led to a complication, even fractioning, of the principle of gay/lesbian "identity."  Instead of one gay identity, or two, with a gay paralleling a lesbian identity, there are now potentially hundreds: a black lesbian S/M one, a disabled white gay male one, and so forth. In academia this sociopolitical theme blends, though imperfectly, with multiculturalism.

    A major component of Queer Theory was waiting in the wings so to speak, the product of a 1980s struggle within gay studies. In that decade a fashionable new approach to the study of homosexual behavior arose, which its advocates termed Social Construction.
[12] Denying the existence of any "transhistorical" definition of same-sex behavior, the Social Constructionist scholars hold that sexual behavior is, in all significant aspects, a product of cultural conditioning, rather than of biological and constitutional factors. Thus same-sex behavior would have an entirely different meaning, say, in pharaonic Egypt or T'ang China from what it would have in nineteenth-century Europe. In the view of some proponents of this approach, the "modern homosexual" is sui generis, having come into existence in Europe and North America only about 1870; hence it is vain to conduct comparative research on earlier eras or non-Western societies. [13]
    The Social Constructionists contrast their own approach with that of the "essentialists" (a scare label of their own devising), who ostensibly believe in an eternal and unchanging homosexuality. Yet most critics of Social Construction are not essentialists, and to label them as such amounts to a caricature that has proved tactically useful for polemical purposes but has advanced understanding very little. Significantly, this dispute enjoyed little resonance in the gay/lesbian community as a whole, but was confined to scholars (not a few of them, of course, "independent").
    It has been suggested that the conflict between Social Construction and its opponents is another version of the old debate about nature versus nurture, between those who believe that human conduct is largely conditioned by biological forces and those who attribute the leading role to culture (the environmentalists). One's first response is to say that human behavior is the result of a confluence of the two forces, but this solution is usually rejected by those in the environmentalist camp. In similar fashion, the Social Constructionists hold that culture is supreme, and are little prepared to concede biological constants.
     It does not take much reflection to grasp that a major source of such doctrines is the tendency of the social sciences to ascribe all human behavior to cultural determinants. In some Social Constructionists this tendency mingled with a tincture of late Marxism--which may itself be regarded as a sociological doctrine. These two main sources were given focus by the writings of the French social thinker and historian Michel Foucault, who though not self-identified as a Social Constructionist seminally influenced such proponents of Social Construction as Kenneth Plummer and Jeffrey Weeks in England. These and other adherents picked up Foucault's ideas of historical discontinuity, of "ruptures" radically segmenting historical development.
    Social Construction theory has made a useful contribution in warning against anachronism, the tendency to project back into the past our own familiar experiences and life ways. Yet the idea that cultural climates change, changing the expression of sexuality with them, is scarcely a new discovery. What is disappointing about Social Construction is that it offers no explanation of the "grounding" of such change. What mechanisms--economic, political, intellectual--cause a society to shift from one dominant cultural climate to another?   Moreover, Social Construction has gone too far in seeking to discourage transhistorical and cross-cultural investigations of homosexual desire. Implied roadblocks of this kind must not stymie the investigator, for comparative studies across time and across social systems are a vital prerequisite to the emergence of a satisfactory concept of human homosexual behavior in all its fullness and complexity.
    The chief area in which Social Construction has been influential is in the examination (or nonexamination) of the long history of same-sex behavior from the ancient Egyptians to the present. In addition to this diachronic perspective, however, there is also a synchronic one, seeking to impose relativism on the here and now. In a number of studies the lesbian philosopher Judith Butler, now a professor of rhetoric at the University of California at Berkeley, has sought to apply relativism's solvents even to the human body as the seat of personal identity.
[15] Maintenance of our gendered selves as men and women, it seems, requires an unceasing recourse to the "performativity principle." [16] Without a pervasive social ritual of repetition-compulsion, whereby we constantly "cite" our situation, everything would slip away: we would not be as we are in any fundamental sense.
    Contradicting some supporters, Butler has denied that her theory implies that "gender is a construction that one puts on, as one puts on clothes in the morning."  She supports this denial by a further splotch of corrosive relativism — namely, the claim that there is no "one" to choose the donning of clothes. This attack on agency, the denial that human beings have core identities, is a fashionable dogma nowadays; rather, it is asserted, we are a sprawling archipelago of miscellaneous constituents, loosely held together by social conditioning. Obviously, in a brief discussion such as this it is impossible to do justice to the sublime abysses of Butler's intricate reasoning. Her theories are noted here because they have enjoyed such resonance among the "theory" prone.    
    What Butler does, it would seem, is to reverse the conventional descent from bodily existence to sexual dimorphism to sexual orientation to individuality — and even the latter is relativized. Turning that hierarchy upside down — her own version of Nietzsche's "revaluation of all values" — she then confronts the exquisite task of trying to show how we can maintain the "illusion" that the stable landmarks of our psychophysical existence are real. Most of Butler's writing then, and that of her supporters, obeys the following paradigm: "There is no such thing as roundness. But in everyday experience there seem to be wheels. How can this be?"
    Although Butler and her allies make copious reference to recent French theory, writing in this vein discloses a substantial heritage of nineteenth-century romantic anarchism and utopianism. The hidden goal, the longing in fact, is untrammeled self-affirmation without bonds or boundaries. Ever present is the temptation to the kind of solipsism that flows from a simplistic understanding of Schopenhauer's "the world is my idea."
    Much of what has been said trenches on one of today's most pervasive cultural fashions: postmodernism. This phenomenon is too general and well known to require characterization here.
[17] However, the strand of postmodernism that is perhaps most applicable is its asserted capacity to efface limits, whether they apply to gender categories, academic disciplines, high and low culture, or architectural styles.
    So much for theoretical scaffolding. For what coherence it may possess Queer Studies claims to be part of larger movements of thought, some of them enjoying great vogue.
[18] As far as its own definition concerns, that is largely a matter of individual preference, and it is essential to add, individual expectation. It is easy to offer a negative definition, for Queer Theory cherishes everything that is opposed to "heterosexism" or "heteronormativity."  In all candor the search for its central doctrines has proved illusive, and Queer Studies ranks at present not so much a theory as a "theory hope" — a gaudy vessel whose contents are uncertain and incomplete. Perhaps they are destined to remain so.

    Up to this point a key question has gone unaddressed. Who are the queers?   As a union concept it is not clear whether the label queer designates a) gay/lesbian, b) gay/lesbian/bisexual, c) gay/lesbian/bisexual/transpeople, etc., or d) almost everybody, in some mood or other. Thus there is a range of definitions, from minimalist (a) to maximalist (d). Towards the maximalist side of the spectrum, adepts must be compelled to acknowledge that the 1970s male rock star Alice Cooper may, through his selective, opportunistic appropriation of feminine traits, nonetheless count as queer. Carrying the semantic blur still further, one scholar has proclaimed that the United States is already queer!  We are in the Promised Land. In any event, the argument that the term counts as an instrument of social transformation remains unproven. Another defender has remarked that the virtue of queer is its very uncertainty and flexibility. We have recently heard tell, it is true, of the advantages of "fuzzy thinking."  But as a group of people who have suffered from the fuzziness and illogic of the fabrications of bigotry, gay men and lesbians should pause before embracing such imprecision ourselves.    
    Some assert that the advantage of preferring queer is economy: it replaces the clumsy adjectival pair "lesbian and gay," as the plural "queers" supplants the binomial "lesbians and gay men."  Yet this usage involves a possibly arbitrary limitation of the inclusiveness some prize in the expression. More significantly, some lesbians who originally looked with some favor on queer, are now less enthusiastic. They believe that instead of designating women and men equally, it covertly favors men — the longstanding objection to "gay."
    As noted above, Queer Studies has not, thus far, captured the allegiance of the gay and lesbian masses. It also encounters significant demurral from gay activists working in the political and legal arenas.
[20] They have found the concept of a gay/lesbian identity an indispensable tool for political mobilization. Yet the bases of the whole concept of identity are being eroded by postmodernism in general and more specifically by the Queer Studies movement. For those opposed to "hierarchy," the concept of a core identity is unacceptable simply because it privileges the center over against the margins, and is therefore a trope of domination. An attempted solution is to suggest that while identity is a fiction, it is a politically necessary one. This compromise is clearly unsatisfactory — even to true believers in Derridean différance whereby one concept implicates its opposite.
    Applied to non-Western societies, where gay and lesbian people are struggling for recognition of their basic civil rights, the wielding of queeritude may be fairly regarded as a gambit of Western cultural imperialism. How can one justify the export of the queer ideology from our privileged North American university sanctuaries to the Third World, where our friends are still struggling to set up the basics of gay-rights organizations and a cultural infrastructure?  These last require the fostering of an emergent sense of identity and community, however postulatory and fictitious they may seem to our sophisticates.

    Queer Studies and Queer Activism are, as was noticed at the outset, big news on campus, whatever their other limitations. Graduate students and young professors are the shock troops.
    However, queeritude also exercises its spell over gay and lesbian undergraduates, who proclaim their new "out" status in semiformal queerituals — typically orchestrated by those further along in the process.
[21] In their more extreme versions these enactments may be likened to a primal scream emitted as the queer neophyte steps forth from the closet. To be sure, the hullabaloo offends elders and "establishment" gays — often deliberately. Of course there is no commotion when one returns to the closet. A revealing token of this is one current campus slang term: LUG (Lesbian Until Graduation).
    All this activity may be ranged under the general rubric of "the carnivalesque," as studied historically by social historians of the early modern period following the lead of Mikhail Bakhtin. In a more rarified way, some deconstructors acknowledge that their work has playful or "ludic" aspirations. While such playfulness may serve as an antidote to academic solemnity and pomposity, it may also be a cover for narcissism and self-indulgence. And the question arises as to whether such self-celebration merits the substantial financial commitment that a tenured academic post now requires.
      Be this as it may, the question must now be posed:  can gay and lesbian studies take root and thrive on campus?  Should they be encouraged to do so?  Since it may come to enjoy the status of a model, it is worth reviewing in some detail the accomplishments and goals of one such institute. The Center on Lesbian and Gay Studies (CLAGS) has now established a footing at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). This group stems from a series of meetings beginning in 1985 in private locations (by invitation only), chiefly in the apartment of professor Martin Bauml Duberman and friends. In 1991 the group secured an institutional attachment to CUNY. In view of the controversial nature of the group, it claims to receive no direct support from the University. But clearly this is a subterfuge, since meeting spaces, telephones, and above all the university's prestige are all supplied. Moreover, the camel, having placed its nostrils beneath the tent's edge, will surely seek to advance to a more fully sheltered position.
    At present CLAGS activity comprises mainly monthly meetings and public forums. Apart from a Newsletter appearing occasionally, officially the group has produced only one publication, The CLAGS Directory of Lesbian and Gay Studies (1994). Incomplete as a directory, this booklet nonetheless gives an indication of the growing number of scholars, established and emerging, who are willing to declare their interest in this formerly taboo field.
    CLAGS is resolutely, even defiantly politically correct. In representative functions it insists on "gender parity" — equal numbers of men and women — even though sex surveys have consistently shown that the American lesbian population amounts to only about half the number of gay men. In any event quotas, however euphemistically camouflaged to stay within the rather elastic boundaries of the law, are odious.         
    Going along with CLAGS' ideological commitments is cronyism. This has the following aspects: 1) a friendship network whose origins go back to the Woodstock generation; 2) the personal penchants of its "maximum leader," Professor Duberman; 3) adherence to PC, especially the socialist-feminist faith cherished by the CLAGS inner circle.
    In practice CLAGS operates as a cabal, devising its procedures behind closed doors and presenting a serene — at least sometimes serene — face to the general public. In the public presentations, its most successful category to date, one finds a mixture of valid scholarship (e.g., the French history forum, November 1994) and politically motivated massacres (e.g., the conference on the work of the medical researcher Simon LeVay, December 1991 ). The latter event sandwiched a brief presentation by Dr. LeVay between two heavy layers of politicized denunciation of biological studies of homosexuality. And even in the seemingly objective gatherings, participants and ideas are vetted in advance so as to exclude anything that might make the Left uncomfortable.    
    To add insult to injury CLAGS often deploys its own special cant of "inclusivity," to all intents and purposes a code word for affirmative action. What is striking is in fact its exclusivity. There are a number of well-documented instances of scholars who are fully credentialed in the field being denied any significant participation in CLAGS on the grounds of political unreliability.
    In keeping with some other campus institutes, CLAGS' aim is not merely to promote some ideas and downplay others, to reward friends and punish enemies, but to effect social change by an Orwellian program of thought control. Fortunately, thanks to the work of many writers from both the conservative and centrist camps, this academic strategy has been exposed. It seems likely that it will not work. But it will be unfortunate if topics until recently understudied and therefore not provided with solid institutes and departments, should be ceded, for the conceivable future, to cabals like that of CLAGS. The group is tied to the waning fortunes of the Left Academy and multiculturalism, with their unlikely expectation that demographic trends will at long last assure victory, a victory that has eluded the Left both at the ballot box and in the intellectual mainstream.
    CLAGS is vulnerable because it is affiliated to a public university, supported by New York State tax levies. It uses the cachet of the City University, and therefore of the public, to advance its sectarian aims. With a new Congress and a new administration in many states, our political leaders may well decide to take a fresh look at the ravages of Political Correctness and affirmative action in our institutions of higher learning. Other supporters, such as the Rockefeller Foundation, ought to be asked whether they should continue underwriting groups like CLAGS.

    Is there a remedy for this politicizing?  I recommend a return to the older concept of gay and lesbian studies, perhaps better termed homophile studies, the origins of which must now be reviewed.
    The beginnings of gay and lesbian studies are not generally well understood, even by those who practice them.
[23] These studies constitute a legacy of Central European scholarship that began to flower a century ago. In that era Wissenschaft, defined as the systematic pursuit of any organized body of knowledge, enjoyed high prestige. The pioneers of the study of homosexual behavior and culture realized that the Humanistic heritage, primarily involving the interpretation of written documents (with classical scholarship at its center), could be fruitfully joined with the new empirical findings of sex research. The result was an extraordinary range, quality, and quantity of studies.
    The linchpin was the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, the world's first homosexual rights organization, founded in Berlin on May 14, 1897, by Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935), a brilliant physician of Jewish origin who became the leading authority on homosexuality in the first third of the twentieth century.
     Hirschfeld could not altogether escape being a child of his own age. Writing in an era when biology and medicine uncritically accepted the notion of "inborn traits" of all kinds, he maintained that homosexuals were an evolutionary intermediate (or intergrade) between the male and the female, and he bolstered his thesis with data of all kinds showing that the mean for the homosexual subjects whom he studied by interview and questionnaire fell almost exactly between those for male and female respectively. In his earlier writings especially, Hirschfeld championed a Third Sex theory — a notion that has recently been recycled in the form of the concept of the Third Gender.
    By means of pamphlets, public lectures, and later even films, the Committee sought to convince the world that homosexuals were an unjustly persecuted sport of nature, who could not be blamed for their innate and unmodifiable sexual orientation. The journal which the Scientific-humanitarian Committee published from 1899 onward was entitled the
Jahrbuch fur sexuelle Zwischenstufen mit besonderer Berücksichtigung der  Homosexualität (Yearbook for Sexual Intergrades with Special Reference to Homosexuality). The scope of this publication, edited according to the most exacting standards, is shown by the first two volumes (1899-1900), which include substantial articles on medicine, sociology, law, biology, art, religion, and the women's movement. Each volume concluded with a critical review of current publications.
    The editors of the
Jahrbuch profited from a considerable accumulation of material. Beginning in the late eighteenth century German scholars, in particular, had studied, with an objectivity remarkable for the time, the large body of information disclosed by Greek and Latin Literature, sometimes also offering comparative perspectives. Much of the material in turn was summarized and evaluated by two independent scholars, Heinrich Hoessli (1784-1864) and Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895). Also starting in the eighteenth century was the comparative study of the sexual customs of non-European peoples, beginning with the shamanistic berdache institution of the North American Indians. In 1911 Ferdinand Karsch-Haack, an associate of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, collected this harvest in a massive volume, Das gleichgeschlechtliche Leben der Naturvölker (Munich, 1911).
     The Committee grew into the world's first center for the study of all aspects of homosexuality. Magnus Hirschfeld gathered material from various sources on the frequency of homosexual behavior in the population and the psychological profile of the homosexual personality. In 1904 Hirschfeld concluded that 2.2% of the population was exclusively homosexual, and that the figure was surprising only because so many of his subjects successfully hid their inclinations from a hostile world. 
    Aided by the experts in various disciplines who had been attracted to the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, Hirschfeld set about writing a major work that was published in January 1914 under the title
Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes (Male and Female Homosexuality). This vast tome summarized everything that had been learned from the literature of the past, and especially of the preceding decade and a half, as well as the 10,000 case histories that Hirschfeld had taken in that time. Its arguments were directed toward proving that homosexuality was inborn and unmodifiable and that the reasoning (including early psychoanalytic writings) in favor of acquired homosexuality was untenable. As a scientifically documented, carefully argued plea for toleration, it remains along with the 23 volumes of the Jahrbuch the committee's principal legacy to later scholarship.         
    In effect a "Renaissance" scholar, Hirschfeld nonetheless had emerged from the medical field. Other disciplines also came into play, including classical philology, law, and history.
    In England John Addington Symonds and H. Havelock Ellis emerged as isolated counterparts of the Central European trend. However, Symonds resided largely abroad and Ellis saw his chief book on the subject of homosexuality suppressed in his own country.
    On coming to power Hitler and his associates singled out Hirschfeld's institute for particular attention. In the spring of 1933 the books and documents were destroyed or dispersed. Given the straightened circumstances of world Depression this activity could not readily be transferred to other countries, though Hirschfeld himself tried to set up a new institution in France, where he died in 1935.
    American gay and lesbian scholarship — all too often inward looking, present-minded, and monolingual — has persisted in neglecting this massive achievement, though a few scholars have sought to keep its memory alive.
    Looking back over the Central European accomplishment, as centered in the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, it is undeniable that it affirmed the parallelism of research and a social change movement. But this link was not the politicization that we now experience. The German scholars acknowledged that the integrity of
scientia, systematized objective knowledge, must always be preserved if it is ever to make any credible and independent contribution to social change. Moreover, the integrity of the task of social change itself requires that it not resort to prostituting learning. If scholarship is a mere slave to political concerns it can make no independent contribution to their realization, and must always be discredited by its servility.

    Just as German-language scholarship was largely ignored in the United States, so too did the organizational work fail to catch fire. In 1924-25 an amateur effort to create a gay rights group in Chicago quickly expired. Significantly, the influential University of Chicago school of sociology, though it addressed all sorts of other "deviants" from taxi dancers to burglars, failed to publish any serious research on homosexuals.
    After World War II there was a start from scratch. To be sure, Alfred C. Kinsey did recognize the need to utilize the findings of earlier Central European sex research. But the material was harnessed to a narrowly conceived behavioristic project realized in his two massive Reports, in which sexual expressiveness was essentially reduced to counting "outlets."  The background is, of course, American pragmatism and practicality. Kinsey was critical of what he perceived as the subjectivism of Freud, which he believed combined moralistic assumptions with an insufficient data base. In order to get the numbers he sought, it would be necessary to narrow the inquiry to that which could be quantified. Kinsey's behavioristic notion of the malleability of sexual orientation worked against any stable notion of homosexuality. Still the high rates of incidence he disclosed — the famous 37% of white males whom he found to have had same-sex experience (unleashing a controversy that continues to this day) —  were startling at the time. In fact the heated discussions of sexuality unleashed by the two Kinsey volumes — the women's volume came out in 1953 just as the furor over the 1948 male volume was subsiding — permanently altered American awareness of sex, making it possible for the first time to have widespread discussion outside of specialist medical circles.
    Kinsey's books coincided with another important development, though one that was little noted at the time. In the guise of the Mattachine Society the American gay movement was founded in 1950 in Los Angeles by Harry Hay and a number of associates. Hay and most of his colleagues had radical backgrounds, specifically in the American Communist Party. This background gave them tactical and organizational skills but proved a liability in other respects. (Nor was it welcome in CP circles themselves — Stalinism has not been a friend of gay rights.)  At any rate, in 1953 the leadership of Mattachine passed to a more moderate group, but a precedent was set, and radicalism revived under the impulse of the antiwar and student movements after 1969.
    ONE, Inc. originated as a communications counterpart to Mattachine, also headquartered in Los Angeles. The standards of the monthly magazine it produced were no match for the profound scholarship that distinguished the earlier German movement. However, in the 1950s ONE's educational branch began to offer its own minisemesters in the form of the Mid-Winter Conferences.
[26] Thus did American gay studies begin, outside the universities. The latter were still committed to framing the matter as pathology or at best deviance — in so far as discussion was encouraged at all. The first regular college courses to adopt an approach sympathetic to homosexuality, while at the same time upholding high scholarly standards, seem to have been those offered by Rosalind Regelson at New York University and at Yale in the late 1960s.
    Popular writing of the 1950s tended to focus on detecting "role models," famous homosexuals and lesbians of the past who would help the fledgling movement to counteract the common stereotype of gay people as neurotic misfits who could never amount to much. While excesses were (and still are) committed in the course of this reclamation project — one large tome even identified Pontius Pilate, Vasco da Gama, and William Blake as homosexuals
[27] — it must be acknowledged that these efforts helped to enlarge the range of historical enquiry. To ask questions about the sexuality of such figures as Michelangelo and Virginia Woolf is no longer taboo; indeed it is mandatory if we are to obtain a fully rounded picture of these cultural icons and the times in which they lived. Later, to be sure, Social Constructionists insisted that persons in earlier centuries experienced their same-sex feelings in fundamentally different ways than the "modern homosexual" does. Yet the genie has been released from the bottle, and it is no longer possible simply to rule such matters out of bounds.    
    The inception of a new radical phase in the gay movement is generally fixed at the New York City Stonewall riots of June 1969. This period, characterized by the insurgency and counterculture experimentation of the anti-Vietnam war movement and the student movement, did give birth, in 1973, to a national scholarly organization, the Gay Academic Union. But the time was not right, and this broad umbrella group was succeeded by a set of more limited "caucuses" within such professional organizations as the American Library Association and the American Historical Association.
    A child of the counterculture press (which largely faded and disappeared), the pulp gay press has flourished, but largely as a local phenomenon. The trend also gave rise to the nonpornographic slicks, such as
The Advocate (now completing its third decade) and Out. These magazines offer a modicum of national and international news and some literary and historical journalism, but their main interest is popular culture — the movies, rock music, MTV. Naturally, this preoccupation feeds into the current vogue for "cultural studies."  The Journal of Homosexuality, a quarterly expertly edited by the psychology professor John De Cecco for twenty years, remains the only long-lasting periodical offering serious and fair coverage of current research.
    As samples of current gay scholarship I will mention two works each of Jonathan Ned Katz, an independent scholar based in New York City, and John Boswell, until recently the chair of the History Department at Yale University. Katz's
Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A.: A Documentary is a big book of documents covering the period from 1528 to the early 1970s. [28] The 186 items included are generally well chosen and annotated, though framed to be sure by certain leftist slogans (e.g. "oppression" and "resistance"). In view of the nativist tendencies concomitant with the neglect of the earlier German scholarship, it comes as no surprise to learn that the book's horizons are limited by American exceptionalism, an unwillingness to recognize how significantly American patterns of same-sex behavior and, above all, their treatment in medical and popular discourse, stem from Europe. Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary is another jumbo collection of documents edited by Katz. [29] The mixture is much the same, but in this instance the gathering is scarred by an enormous rift. No material from the years 1740 to 1880 is admitted, only documents before and after these dates. This artificial gap serves to align Katz with the fashionable doctrine of Social Construction, according to which the "modern homosexual" is radically different from all other manifestations of same-sex expression.
    Unlike Katz, professor John Boswell, trained in sophisticated methods of historical research at Harvard University and conversant with a number of foreign languages, is not a man of the Left. However, 
Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality, a monograph on the Middle Ages in Western Europe until ca. 1400, is arguably a plea in favor of a certain trend in the Roman Catholic church, of which Boswell was a practicing adherent. [30] In the 1960s Pope John XXIII's attempted modernization, the "aggiornamento," encouraged some liberal Catholics to hope that their Church might be prepared to alter its historic positions on abortion, ordination of women, and homosexuality. The ensuing years have dashed these hopes. Through a highly selective presentation of evidence — suppressio veri was his forte — Boswell argued that the Church had not, at least until the later middle ages, disapproved of homosexual behavior. Because of his great show of learning in an area where even most specialists were unprepared, Boswell wowed most of his reviewers. Although it is flawed through and through, the book now passes, in some circles at least, as received wisdom. [31]
    A second Boswell work, Same-Sex Unions in Modern Europe, extends his inquiry into the Christianity of Byzantium and the Slavic lands.
[32] However, Boswell, who was ailing at the time he completed the book, could not make up his mind whether his "same-sex unions" were inherently erotic or not. If the ceremonies were mere friendship pacts, as they seem to have been, then the phenomenon is of little relevance. This evidence presented in his book requires, and is receiving, a careful review by scholars in the world of Eastern Christianity.   
    All four of these volumes, then have brought forth an abundance of information that needs to be studied and pondered. But the findings are undermined by ideological special pleading, Marxist in the case of Katz, and Catholic neo-liberal in that of Boswell.
    It is a received notion among adherents of political correctness that every assertion is ideology-laden. Contamination of this kind may even be a virtue. But (in their view) it must be contamination of the right sort; no Roman Catholics, even revisionists, need apply.
    Perhaps it is time to ask whether gay and lesbian studies cannot be pursued in a nonideological atmosphere, free of any predetermined course of special pleading. If this objectivity is to be achieved, the field will need the assessments of outsiders who (for perhaps understandable reasons) have hitherto remained aloof.

    Typically, candidates for university teaching posts in Queer Theory are ignorant of the history of research outlined above. They are unlikely to have read any relevant books published before 1980. Before being hired they should be thoroughly grilled as to the depth of their knowledge of the field.
    And should they reply that the history of homosexual behavior and its cultural expression are not central to Queer Theory, what then indeed is?  That is the question, as we have seen, about which few know the answer. For the time proclamations of innovation and intransigence suffice. But for how long?


The present cycle of lesbian and gay studies conferences started at Yale on October 30-31, 1987 in the gathering "Lesbian/Gay Studies '87: Definitions and Explorations," an event sponsored by the Whitney Humanities Center, under the aegis of Professor John Boswell, the historian of medieval homosexuality. This effort, the ancestor of the Iowa City conference, began what has turned out to be the "second wave" of this academic movement. In fact the first such gathering was the Gay Academic Union Conference held at John Jay College in New York City as early as November 1973. This was succeeded by other events in New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago.

Hilton Kramer and Roger Kimball, "The MLA in San Diego," The New Criterion, 13:6 (February 1995), 5-16.

The paper has since appeared in Sedgwick,
Tendencies (Durham: Duke University Press, 1994), 109-29.  Its manifest inconsistencies notwithstanding — she insouciantly employs the philosophical term "epistemology" in some twenty senses — her book Epistemology of the Closet (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990) has already stood the test of time as one of the seminal (not ovarian) texts in the current Queer Theory movement. As a "Queer Straight" (or "Straight Queer"), a heterosexual who joyously dons the mantle of queer, Sedgwick ranks as the founding "den mother" of the Queer Theory tribe.

A readable introduction to this realm is Alexander Doty,
Making It Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993). With a clarity all too uncommon in this genre, Doty analyzes such manifestations as "Laverne and Shirley," "The Jack Benny Program," and the persona of Pee-wee Herman (Paul Reubens). See also Martha Gever, John Greyson, and Pratibha Parmar, eds., Queer Looks: Perspectives on Lesbian and Gay Film and Video (New York: Routledge, 1993); Moe Meyer, ed., The Politics and Poetics of Camp (New York: Routledge, 1994); and Corey K. Creekmore and Alexander Doty, eds., Out in Culture: Gay, Lesbian, and Queer Essays on Popular Culture (Durham: Duke University Press, 1995).

See, e.g., Philip Brett, Elizabeth Wood, and Gary C. Thomas, eds., 
Queering the Pitch: The New Gay and Lesbian Musicology (New York: Routledge, 1994); Jonathan Weinberg, Speaking for Vice: Homosexuality in the Art of Charles Demuth, Marsden Hartley, and the First American Avant-GardeAfter Identity: A Reader in Law and Culture (New York: Routledge, 1995).

Michael Warner [ed.],
Fear of a Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993), xxvi.

A rationale for the idea appears in Warren Johansson and William A. Percy,
Outing: Shattering the Conspiracy of Silence (New York: Haworth Press, 1994).

The etymology of "queer" is uncertain. It may be related to German
quer, "slant, transverse."  In its full range of meanings, however, English-language queer has no real parallels in other modern European languages. Bizarreraro (Spanish), seltsam (German) and the like have no sexual component.

As Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick concedes, "the main reason why the self-application of "queer" by activists has proven so volatile is that there's no way that any amount of affirmative reclamation is going to succeed in detaching the word from its associations with shame and with the terrifying powerlessness of gender-dissonant or otherwise stigmatized childhood."  She goes on to claim, improbably, that the childhood experience the term cleaves to is "a near-inexhaustible source of transformational energy."  "Queer Performativity: Henry James's The Art of the Novel,"
GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, 1:1 (1993), 4.

See, e.g., Warner's collection,
Fear of a Queer Planet. While Michael Warner, an associate professor of English at Rutgers University, is an enthusiastic advocate of the full range of queeritude, some of his contributors elected not to use the term. Two other collections containing a blend of emergent queer theory and somewhat older perspectives are Teresa De Lauretis, ed. "Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities," special issue of Differences, 2:3 (Summer 1991); and Diana Fuss, ed., Inside Out: Lesbian Theories, Gay Theories (New York: Routledge, 1991).
    The New York branch of the British publisher Routledge has been prodigiously active in producing "theory" books of all sorts; see Robert S. Boynton, "The Routledge Revolution: Bill Germano's House of Style,"
Lingua franca, 5:3 (March-April 1995), 24-32.

Citing examples seems supererogatory. One will suffice: the fondness for "binarism," when such established terms as "polarity," "dualism," and "contrast" would do just as well. Needless to say, "binarisms" are usually bad. The predilection for such neologisms serves, to be sure, to signal to other adepts that one is a member of the guild. To those endowed with a more substantial literary experience, however, it suggests a want of culture.

For a balanced collection of essays, see Edward Stein, ed.,
Forms of Desire: Sexual Orientation and The Social Construction Controversy (New York: Garland, 1990). An incisive critique of the Social Construction approach, especially as applied to ancient Greek history, appears in Camille Paglia, "Junk Bonds and Corporate Raiders: Academe in the Hour of the Wolf," in her Sex, Art, and American Culture (New York: Vintage, 1992), 170-248.

Ostensibly, a date towards the end of the third decade of the nineteenth century finds support in the fact that the word homosexual was coined privately (by Karl Maria Benkert) in 1868 and incorporated in a text published the following year. However, historians of ideas will attest that it is naive to assume that the introduction of a term automatically signals the appearance of a new concept,  Moreover, such scholars as Mary McIntosh and Randolph Trumbach — themselves Social Constructionists — place the transition much earlier — around 1700. The astonishing 170-year gap between the two proposed starting points for the "modern homosexual" is greater than the 125 years stretching from the second landmark to the present!  For true believers such a discordance is of little moment; the key point is that a major shift in sociosexual conceptualization must have occurred.

The latest extension of these ideas, imputing a recent origin even to heterosexuality, is Jonathan Ned Katz,
The Invention of Heterosexuality (New York: Dutton, 1995).

See her two monographs,
Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity (New York: Routledge, 1990); and Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex" (New York: Routledge, 1993). Butler, who makes frequent speaking appearances, enjoys a large following among both female and male Queer Theorists. She has even garnered the honor of a fanzine, Judy! (available from PO Box 1421, Iowa City, IA 52244-1421).

The term "performativity," which has been spreading like a mantra, is purloined from the writings of the English analytic philosopher J. L. Austin, who is otherwise distinctly unfashionable. The reason, however, is that John Searle, in a prolonged controversy with Jacques Derrida, forced the French thinker to deal with Austin. Had this confrontation not occurred, it is unlikely that performativity would have gained entrance into the house of Queer Theory.

For a survey of its development from the 1950s to the present, see Hans Bertens,
The Idea of the Postmodern (New York: Routledge, 1995).

Another umbrella concept is "gender studies."  This trend could be analyzed as having three components: women's studies, men's studies, and queer studies. See Linda Nicholson, "Interpreting Gender,"
Signs, 20 (1994), 79-105. Nicholson shows that gender, originally advanced as an alternative to the concept of sex, has ended up absorbing the latter. We are, in effect, back to square one.

"The term queer has lately become popular in activist and progressive academic circles in part, it seems to me, precisely because it makes it easy to enfold female homosexuality back ‘into’ male homosexuality and disembody the lesbian again. ... To the extent that ‘queer theory’ still seems . . . to denote primarily the study of male homosexuality, I find myself at odds with both its language and its universalizing aspirations."  Terry Castle,
The Apparitional Lesbian: Female Homosexuality and Modern Culture (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 12-13.

See Steven Epstein, "Gay Politics, Ethnic Identity: The Limits of Social Construction," in Stein,
Forms, 239-93. A related, but more complex position appears in Diana Fuss, "Lesbian and Gay Theory: The Question of Identity Politics," in her Essentially Speaking: Feminism, Nature and Difference (New York; Routledge, 1989), 97-112. For distortions that can result from a dogmatic insistence on identity politics in the classroom, see the eye-opening volume of Daphne Patai and Noretta Koertge, Professing Feminism: Cautionary Tales from the Strange World of Women's Studies (New York: Basic Books, 1994).

Robert A. Rhoads,
Coming Out in College: The Struggle for a Queer Identity (Westport, Conn.: Bergin and Garvey, 1994).

Papers reflecting an affinity with CLAGS appear in Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr.,
Hidden from History: Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past (New York: New American Library, 1989). Although this essay collection contains several valuable contributions, notably Simon Karlinsky's indispensable "Russian Gay Literature and Culture" (pp. 347-64), the editors' horizons scarcely extend to encompass the earlier, vast Central European deposit of homosexual historiography. That is still "hidden from history."

For references, see Wayne R. Dynes,
Homosexuality: A Research Guide (New York: Garland, 1987); and Dynes et al., eds., Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (2 vols., New York: Garland, 1990).

Gilbert Herdt, ed.,
Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History

John Lauritsen and David Thorstad,
The Early Homosexual Rights Movement (1864-1935) (New York: Times Change Press, 1974); James D. Steakley, The Homosexual Emancipation Movement in GermanySex in the Bedroom: A History of Sex Research (New York: Basic Books, 1994).

W. Dorr Legg et al., eds.,
Homophile Studies in Theory and in Practice (San Francisco: GLB Publishers, 1994).

Noel I. Garde,
Jonathan to Gide: The Homosexual in History (New York: Vantage Press, 1964).

New York: Thomas W. Crowell, 1976.

New York: Harper and Row, 1983.

Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1980. Boswell died of consequences of AIDS on December 14, 1994.

For critiques of
Christianity, Social Tolerance and Homosexuality click here.

New York: Villard Books, 1994.

ADDENDUM (January 2011)

On reflection I remain as skeptical as ever about the value of Queer Theory. As an aid to those seeking to form their own opinion, though, I offer the following references.

 Ahmed, Sara. Queer Phenomenology,  Chapel Hill: Duke University Press, 2006.

 Butler, Judith. Bodies That Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex." New York: Routledge, 1993.

 ----. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York: Routledge, 1990.

 De Lauretis, Teresa. "Queer Theory: Lesbian and Gay Sexualities."  differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies 3, no. 3 (1991): iii–xviii.

 Edelman, Lee. Homographesis: Essays in Gay Literary and Cultural Theory. New York: Routledge, 1994.

 Giffney, Noreen, and Michael O’Rourke.  The Ashgate Research Companion to Queer Theory.  London: Ashgate, 2009.

 Halberstam, Judith.  In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives.  New York: New York University Press, 2005.

 Halperin, David.  How to Do the History of Homosexuality.  Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002.

 Jagose, Annamarie. Queer Theory.  New York: NYU Press, 1996.

 Nigianni, Chrysanthi, and  Merl Storr.   Deleuze and Queer Theory.  Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2009,

 Preciado, Beatriz.  Manifeste contre-sexuel.  Paris: Balland, 2002.

 Probyn, Elspeth. Outside Belongings.  London: Routledge, 1996.

 Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Between Men, New York: Columbia University Press, 1985.

 ----. Epistemology of the Closet, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990.

 Sullivan, Nikki.  A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory.  New York: NYU Press, 2003.

 Turner, William B. A Genealogy of Queer Theory.  Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000.

 Warner, Michael.  Fear Of A Queer Planet: Queer Politics and Social Theory.  Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993.  

 Wilchins, Riki.   Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer.  Los Angeles: Alyson, 2006.

*) Wayne R. Dynes (born August 23, 1934) is an American art historian, encyclopedist, bibliographer, and gay activist. He is now Professor Emeritus in the Art Department at Hunter College, where he taught from 1972 to 2008.

Dynes spent his early years in Southern California, attending public schools.  Notoriously, the 1950s were an era of conformity framed by the Cold War, but Dynes escaped the full effects of the stifling atmosphere for this reason:  his parents were ideological mavericks, members of a far-left political sect.  Although he broke with this Stalinist allegiance when he was fourteen (aided by his readings of George Orwell and Arthur Koestler), his formative years left him with an abiding skepticism about “politics as usual.” 

As it happened, his personal refuge lay in the arts, which he explored first in the field of literary studies, and then (when he discovered the field in 1953 as an undergraduate) art history. 

After extended sojourns in Italy and England, Wayne Dynes settled permanently in Manhattan, New York City.  He obtained his B.A. at the University of California at Los Angeles in 1956; his Ph.D. at the Institute of Fine Arts (IFA) of New York University in 1969.  To this day, his greatest intellectual debt is owed to the German-Jewish teachers he had the good fortune of studying with in New York (Richard Krautheimer, Karl Lehmann, and Erwin Panofsky) and London (Ernst Hans Gombrich and Karl Popper).  From these teachers he learned to cast the widest possible net in research, ever recalling the need for skepticism about the conventional wisdom and current fashions.

The subject of his art-history dissertation (1969) was an eleventh-century illuminated Bible from Belgium.  Having had virtually no exposure to religion as a child, he determined to make up for the lack, flirting for a time with becoming a Roman Catholic.  While the relationship remained unconsummated (he is now glad to say), the newly acquired knowledge proved useful in the course of his forty years of college teaching, first at Columbia University, then at Hunter College (CUNY), where his specialty was medieval art. 

Having spent so many years in the classroom expounding the cultural contributions of the monotheistic religions (which are indeed real), in his retirement Dynes decided to explore the other side of the medal, that is to say, the negativity that the Abrahamic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) have bequeathed to Western civilization.  The results of this inquiry, sometimes iconoclastic and eviscerating, are summarized at

During the 1960s Dynes was a member of the Mattachine Society of New York (MSNY).  He was in Europe at the time of the Stonewall Uprising in Greenwich Village in June of 1969.  After returning, he collaborated with his close friend Jack Stafford, a librarian, on a basic bibliography of gay studies, a project sponsored by Barbara Gittings.  Ultimately, his dedication to this task yielded his tome Homosexuality: A Research Guide (New York: Garland, 1987).  An electronic copy of this work, together with other contributions by Dynes, may be consulted at the excellent web site maintained by Dr. Erwin Haeberle at the Archive for Sexology: 
http://www.sexarchive.info/BIB/ResGde/index.htm. This accomplishment led to Dynes’ service as editor-in-chief of the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (New York: Garland, 1990).  A major achievement, this two-volume set ranks as the first work of its kind.  It garnered six major awards, including three from library organizations.   It is now also available online at http://www.sexarchive.info/BIB/EOH/index.htm.

For a number of years Wayne Dynes was active in the Gay Academic Union, editing and publishing its periodical The Cabirion (also known as Gay Books Bulletin).  As a gay scholar he has been sharply critical of the Social Construction and Queer Theory trends.

Since 2004 Dynes has conducted his own eclectic blog http://www.dyneslines.blogspot.com.  This site offers links to his other blogs, such as
http://www.homolexis.blogspot.com/ . Dynes' own text "Homolexis" can be found here: http://www.sexarchive.info/BIB/Homolexis/index.htm.
Now retired, Wayne R. Dynes continues to live and work on the West Side of Manhattan, a neighborhood said to rank as one of the last redoubts of the struggling American left.  A self-described “libertarian with sanity,” Dynes prefers to march to the rhythm of a different drummer.