41 Has a Secret Meaning in Mexico, Thanks to a Queer Underground Ball

41 Has a Secret Meaning in Mexico, Thanks to a Queer Underground Ball

The number 13 is commonly considered unlucky, but in Mexico, the number 41 has been seen as taboo and avoided—at one point the Army left the number out of battalions, hotel and hospital rooms didn’t use it and some even skipped their 41st birthday altogether. The reason has to do with a party held in a secret location in Mexico on November 17, 1901.

On that night 41—possibly 42—men gathered under the cover of night to dance together. Though some may not consider this scandalous by today’s standards, fallout from “The Dance of the 41,” as it was called by the press, was controversial enough to change the landscape of sexuality in Mexico.

Reports on the party shook society to the core, with half of the participants dressed as women and described as wearing elegant dresses, jewelry and make-up. And, as rumors swirled that the president’s son-in-law was the 42nd attendant at the party, the news added scandal to a government widely considered corrupt under the leadership of seven-term president Porfirio Díaz.

“It was a government that was focused on the elite,” says Robert McKee Irwin, editor of The Famous 41: Sexuality and Social Control in Mexico, 1901. “[It had] invested a lot in international business relations and symbolic ties with Europe, often at the expense of Mexico’s poor.”

The divide between the elites and the lower class was severe, and would eventually lead to the Mexican Revolution of 1910. However, the dance saw the lines of social status blurred among Mexicans.

The organizers of the dance were never confirmed, however it’s believed to have been hosted by the upper echelon of society as one in a string of similar hidden events, according to Irwin. Word of the dance would be spread discretely in local cantinas, drawing party-goers of various classes.

One of the participants in the dance was believed to be Ignacio de la Torre y Mier, son-in-law of President Díaz. Initial reports of the dance were that 42 unidentified men were in attendance, but it was quickly changed to 41 men in subsequent accounts. Had Mier been the 42nd guest?

“I don’t think it can be confirmed but I think that it’s likely,” says Dr. Irwin. “He was removed from the newspaper and removed from the scandal so the scandal didn’t hit the government. So the rumors remained of it but that’s how the federal government erased the scandal from its own space.”

The other 41 men weren’t let off so easy. Although technically no crimes were broken, as it wasn’t against the law for men to dress in women’s clothes, the government still felt the need to take a stance in order to appease an already distressed community. So instead of being sent to a court system, Governor Ramón Corral authorized the punishment of the participants.

As part of their condemnation, the men were taken to jail, with the men dressed in women’s clothes being forced to sweep the streets in their attire. Afterwards, the men were shipped to Yucatán to assist troops in their fight against the Mayans, but not by taking up arms. They were tasked with menial duties such as digging trenches and sweeping floors.

During the weeks following the arrests, the public was both disgusted and fascinated by the dance. News about the event dominated headlines during those few weeks and would only die down after the men were forced to leave and serve the troops. Even as news coverage faded, the long-term impact of the dance and its coverage would be to shine a light on a group of people who had never held any public place in society—positive or negative.

“It was something that was totally repressed in the 19th century but it was there. And I think maybe it was out and this is what brought it out,” says Dr. Irwin, explaining the stifled sexuality of the time.

Similar gatherings and arrests would follow, however they didn’t attract the attention that “The Dance of the 41” did. In fact, years later, the number 41 came to be synonymous with the event in Mexican culture–and therefore a number to be avoided.

By the 1920s, public figures in Mexico began to emerge as homosexuals, including poet Salvador Novo, as the structure for gender norms and sexuality continued to change. And while 41 had been etched into Mexican history as derogatory, the number is now considered a badge of courage and a symbol of strength for queer Mexicans.

Because of sodomy laws and threat of prosecution due to the criminalization of homosexuality, LGBT slang has served as an argot or cant, a secret language and a way for the LGBT community to communicate with each other publicly without revealing their sexual orientation to others. [2] [3] [4] Since the advent of queer studies in universities, LGBT slang and argot has become a subject of academic research among linguistic anthropology scholars. [5]

During the first seven decades of the 20th century, a specific form of Polari was developed by gay men and lesbians in urban centres of the United Kingdom within established LGBT communities. Although there are differences, contemporary British gay slang has adopted many Polari words. [1] [6] The 1964 legislative report Homosexuality and Citizenship in Florida contains an extensive appendix documenting and defining the homosexual slang in the United States at that time. [7] [8] SCRUFF launched a gay-slang dictionary app in 2014, which includes commonly used slang in the United States from the gay community. [9] Specialized dictionaries that record LGBT slang have been found to revolve heavily around sexual matters. [10]

Slang is ephemeral. Terms used in one generation may pass out of usage in another. For example, in the 1960s and 1970s, the terms "cottage" (chiefly British) and "tearoom" (chiefly American) were used to denote public toilets used for sex. By 1999, this terminology had fallen out of use to the point of being greatly unrecognizable by members of the LGBT community at large. [11]

Many terms that originated as gay slang have become part of the popular lexicon. For example, the word drag was popularized by Hubert Selby Jr. in his book Last Exit to Brooklyn. Drag has been traced back by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) to the late 19th Century. Conversely, words such as "banjee", while well-established in a subset of gay society, have never made the transition to popular use. Conversations between gay men have been found to use more slang and fewer commonly known terms about sexual behavior than conversations between straight men. [12]

Term Meaning Region References
100-footer an obviously gay or lesbian person (as if visible from 100 feet away) US [13]
AC/DC a slur towards bisexuals US [14]
ace short for someone who identifies on the asexual spectrum global [15]
aro short for someone who identifies on the aromantic spectrum global [16]
short for someone who identifies as both aromantic and asexual global [16]
ace of spades someone who identifies as an aromantic asexual global [17]
ace of hearts someone who identifies as a romantic asexual global [17]
artiste a gay man who excels at fellatio US [18]
auntie an older, often effeminate and gossipy gay man US [18]
baby butch a young, boyish lesbian US [18]
baby dyke a young or recently out lesbian US [13]
baby gay a young or recently out gay person US
baths bathhouses frequented by gay men for sexual encounters US [18]
bathsheba a gay man who frequents gay bathhouses US [18]
batty boy a slur for gay or effeminate man Jamaica [19] [20]
beach bitch a gay man who frequents beaches and resorts for sexual encounters US [18]
bear a large, often hairy, gay man global [21] [22]
bear chaser a man who pursues bears US [22]
beard a person used as a date, romantic partner, or spouse to conceal one's sexual orientation global [23]
beat having or seeking anonymous gay sex Australia
bent gay, as opposed to straight US [18]
bicon an iconic bisexual+ individual US
bi-fi bisexual+ version of gaydar U.S.
boi a boyish lesbian UK [24]
bottom a passive male partner in anal intercourse also used as a verb for the state of receiving sexual stimulation global [18]
breeder a heterosexual person, especially one with children global [25]
brownie queen a gay man who prefers a passive role in anal intercourse US [18]
bucket boy a passive male partner in anal intercourse US [18]
bull dyke a mannish lesbian, as opposed to a baby butch or dinky dyke US [18]
butch a white masculine lesbian global [18] [26]
cafeteria repeated fellatio in a backroom or bathhouse US [18]
camp, campy effeminacy, effeminate global [18]
carpet muncher, rug muncher a lesbian/bisexual woman global [27]
Chicken Young gay man, usually recently out. Similar to twink global
Chicken Hawk Older gay man interested in young gay men (17-21) global
chubby chaser a man who seeks overweight males US [18]
clone a San Francisco or New York Greenwich Village denizen with exaggerated macho behavior and appearance US [18]
closeted keeping one's sexuality a secret from others US [18]
cocksucker a person who practices fellatio, usually a gay male US [18]
come out (of the closet) to admit or publicly acknowledge oneself as non-heterosexual/non-cisgender US [18]
Copenhagen capon a transsexual person (in reference to castration) US [18]
cottage a public toilet UK
cottaging having or seeking anonymous gay sex in a public toilet UK [21]
cotton ceiling lesbian refusal to have sex with a trans woman, particularly if the trans woman has not undergone sex reassignment surgery (a take-off on the term "glass ceiling", referring to women's underwear) global [28] [29] [30]
cruising seeking a casual gay sex encounter (historically from ancient Rome) global [18] [31]
cub a typically heavier, hairier, and younger gay man global [21] [22]
daddy a typically older gay man US [22]
down-low homosexual or bisexual activity, kept secret, by men who have sex with men US (African American) [32] [33] [34] [35]
dyke a slur reclaimed by any woman who is attracted to women in the 1950s global [31]
dykon a celebrity woman who is seen as an icon by lesbians may or may not be a lesbian herself US [13]
egg a (suspected, if referring to someone in the present) transgender person who has not realized they're trans yet. Used by transgender people when aspects of one's personality or behavior remind them of gender-related aspects of themselves before they realized they were trans. global
enby a non-binary person. the term derives from the abbreviation 'NB' US [36]
en femme, en homme the act of wearing clothes stereotypically of the opposite sex global [37]
fag, faggot a slur against gay men and some transgender women (first recorded in a Portland, Oregon, publication in 1914) global [31]
fag hag a woman who associates mostly or exclusively with gay and bisexual men US [38]
fairy a stereotypically gay man a slur reclaimed by gay men in the 1960s global [31]
femme a feminine homosexual US [13]
fish a drag queen who is effeminate enough to pass as a cis woman
flamer an effeminate gay man global [39]
friend of Dorothy a gay man US [40]
fruit a slur against gay men originally a stereotype of gay men as "softer" and "smelling good" global [31]
fudgepacker a gay man considered a slur global [41]
gaydar the intuitive ability of a person to guess someone's sexual orientation global
gaymer a gay gamer global
gaysian a gay Asian person global [42]
Gillette Blade a Bisexual+ feminine UK
gold star a homosexual who has never had heterosexual sexual intercourse US [13]
heteroflexible to be mostly heterosexual global [43]
homoflexible to be mostly gay global
horatian from the belated nineteenth century, term utilized at Oxford amongst Lord Byron along with his compatriots to a bisexual individuala bisexual+ masculine UK
lesbian until graduation (LUG) a woman who experiments with bisexual or homosexual activity during school only global [44]
lipstick lesbian a lesbian/bisexual woman who displays historically feminine attributes such as wearing make-up, dresses, and high heels global [45]
muff-diver a lesbian global [46] [47]
otter a thinner, hairier gay man US [22]
packing the act of wearing padding or a phallic object to present the appearance of a penis global [48]
passing the act of being perceived by others as a cis person of one's preferred gender identity global [49]
pillow princess a lesbian who prefers to receive sexual stimulation (to bottom) US [13]
poz a usually gay, HIV-positive person US [22]
punk a smaller, younger gay man who, in prison settings, is forced into a submissive role and used for the older inmate's sexual pleasure global [31]
queen an effeminate gay man commonly used in compounds such as "drag queen" or "rice queen" global [31]
queer originally a slur against homosexuals, transgender people, and anyone who does not fit society's standards of gender and sexuality recently reclaimed and used as umbrella term for sexual and gender minorities global [31]
soft butch, stem, stemme an androgynous lesbian, in between femme and butch US [13]
stone butch a very masculine lesbian, or a butch lesbian who does not receive touch during intercourse, only giving US [13]
stud a black masculine lesbian
swish effeminate or effeminacy US [50] [51]
terf "trans-exclusionary radical feminist", a transphobe one that targets trans women under the supposed guise of feminism. global [52] [53] [54] [55] [56] [57]
top the dominant or inserting sexual partner, usually in a homosexual relation or activity global [22]
twink a slim and young-looking, bodily hairless man global [21] [22]
unicorn a bisexual person who prefers to hook up with opposite sex couples US
vers, switch a person who enjoys both topping and bottoming, or being dominant and submissive, and may alternate between the two in sexual situations, adapting to their partner global
wolf a man who tends to fall evenly between a fox/twink or a bear/cub UK [21]
  1. ^ ab Baker, Paul (2002). Polari – The Lost Language of Gay Men. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN9780203167045 . Retrieved 17 January 2010 .
  2. ^ ab
  3. Long, Daniel (1996). Formation Processes of Some Japanese Gay Argot Terms. 71. Duke University Press. pp. 215–224.
  4. ^
  5. Cage, Ken Evans, Moyra (2003). Gayle: The Language of Kinks and Queens: A History and Dictionary of Gay Language in South Africa. Jacana Media. p. 16. ISBN9781919931494 . Retrieved 17 January 2010 .
  6. ^
  7. Hamaida, Lena (2007). "Subtitling Slang and Dialect" (PDF) . EU High Level Scientific Conference. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 1 January 2011 . Retrieved 17 January 2010 .
  8. ^
  9. Proschan, Frank (1997). "Review: Recognizing Gay and Lesbian Speech". American Anthropologist. Wiley. 99 (1): 164–166. doi:10.1525/aa.1997.99.1.164. JSTOR682150.
  10. ^
  11. Quinion, Michael (1996). "How Bona to Vada Your Eek!". World Wide Words. Archived from the original on 7 September 2019 . Retrieved 4 April 2010 .
  12. ^
  13. "Reports of Investigators on Meetings of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the Ku Klux Klan". State Archives and Library of Florida. 27 July 1964.
  14. ^
  15. Howard, John (1997). Carryin' on in the Lesbian and Gay South. NYU Press. p. 132. ISBN978-0-8147-3560-2 .
  16. ^
  17. "SCRUFF, Gay App, Launches 'Gay Slang Dictionary ' ". Huffington Post. 12 March 2014 . Retrieved 24 March 2014 .
  18. ^
  19. Jacobs, Greg (1996). "Lesbian and Gay Male Language Use: A Critical Review of the Literature". American Speech. 71 (1): 49–71. doi:10.2307/455469. JSTOR455469.
  20. ^
  21. Leap, William (1999). Public Sex/Gay Space. Columbia University Press. p. 61.
  22. ^
  23. Lumby, Malcolm E. (1976). "Code Switching and Sexual Orientation: A Test of Bernstein's Sociolinguistic Theory". Journal of Homosexuality. 1 (4): 383–399. doi:10.1300/j082v01n04_03. PMID1018102.
  24. ^ abcdefgh
  25. Brabaw, Kasandra. "17 Lesbian Slang Terms Every Baby Gay Needs To Learn". Refinery29 . Retrieved 17 March 2019 .
  26. ^
  27. Castleman, Michael (March 15, 2016). "The Continuing Controversy Over Bisexuality". Psychology Today . Retrieved September 8, 2020 .
  28. ^
  29. James Besanvalle (31 July 2018). "Here's a handy way to tell if someone you meet is asexual". Gay Star News . Retrieved 18 January 2020 .
  30. ^ ab
  31. Sophia Mitrokostas (25 July 2018). "7 things you should know about identifying as aromantic — or not being romantically attracted to others". Insider . Retrieved 18 January 2020 .
  32. ^ ab
  33. Julie Sondra Decker (2015). The Invisible Orientation: An Introduction to Asexuality. Simon and Schuster. ISBN9781510700642 . Retrieved 18 January 2020 . [page needed]
  34. ^ abcdefghijklmnopqrstu
  35. Max, H. (1988). Gay(s) Language: A Dic(k)tionary of Gay Slang. Banned Books. p. 50. ISBN978-0-934411-15-8 .
  36. ^
  37. Scott, Julia (May 22, 2015). "The Lonely Fight Against Belize's Antigay Laws". The New York Times . Retrieved October 24, 2016 .
  38. ^
  39. Cayetano, Isani (April 9, 2014). "Transgender woman is stoned and beaten by an angry mob". News 5. Belize . Retrieved October 24, 2016 .
  40. ^ abcde
  41. Baker, Paul (2002). Fantabulosa: The Dictionary of Polari and Gay Slang. Continuum. ISBN9780826473431 . Retrieved 17 January 2010 .
  42. ^ abcdefgh
  43. "Scruff, Gay Slang Dictionary". Archived from the original on October 6, 2016 . Retrieved March 24, 2014 .
  44. ^
  45. Green, Jonathon (2005). Cassell's Dictionary of Slang. p. 83. ISBN9780304366361 .
  46. ^
  47. "Definition of 'boi ' ". Collins English Dictionary . Retrieved 22 April 2019 . in British . a lesbian who adopts a boyish appearance or manner
  48. ^
  49. Liu, Ling (26 July 2006). "Provincetown Straights Complain". SFGate. Archived from the original on 4 March 2007 . Retrieved 21 March 2007 .
  50. ^
  51. "Butch-Femme" (PDF) . glbtqarchive . Retrieved 2018-07-12 .
  52. ^
  53. Rader, Walter. "Definition of carpet muncher". The Online Slang Dictionary . Retrieved 15 April 2019 .
  54. ^
  55. Brighter, Cassie (23 January 2019). "The Misunderstood Premise of the Cotton Ceiling". Curve. Archived from the original on 7 November 2019 . Retrieved 15 April 2019 .
  56. ^
  57. Ditum, Sarah (11 July 2018). "Why were lesbians protesting at Pride? Because the LGBT coalition leaves women behind". New Statesman America . Retrieved 15 April 2019 .
  58. ^
  59. Yardley, Miranda (5 December 2018). "Girl Dick, the Cotton Ceiling and the Cultural War on Lesbians, Girls and Women". AfterEllen . Retrieved 8 October 2019 .
  60. ^ abcdefgh
  61. Dynes, Wayne R. (2016-03-22). Encyclopedia of homosexuality. Volume II. London. ISBN9781317368113 . OCLC953858681.
  62. ^
  63. King, J.L. Carreras, Courtney (25 April 2006). Coming Up from the Down Low: The Journey to Acceptance, Healing and Honest Love. Three Rivers Press. p. 36. Archived from the original on 18 August 2010 . Retrieved 18 December 2009 .
  64. ^
  65. Johnson, Jason (1 May 2005). "Secret Gay Encounters of Black Men Could Be Raising Women's Infection Rate". San Francisco Chronicle . Retrieved 18 December 2009 .
  66. ^
  67. Mutua, Athena (28 September 2006). Progressive Black Masculinities. Routledge. p. 169. ISBN978-0-415-97687-9 . Retrieved 18 December 2009 .
  68. ^
  69. Bennett, Jessica (19 May 2008). "Outing Hip-Hop". Newsweek . Retrieved 19 December 2009 .
  70. ^
  71. "enby - Wiktionary". . Retrieved 2019-06-16 .
  72. ^
  73. Boyd, Helen (2004). My Husband Betty: Love, Sex and Life with a Cross-Dresser. Sdal Press. p. 64. ISBN978-1560255154 .
  74. ^
  75. Moon, Dawne (1995). "Insult and Inclusion: The Term Fag Hag and Gay Male Community". Social Forces. 74 (2): 487–510. doi:10.2307/2580489. JSTOR2580489.
  76. ^
  77. "Definition of flamer". The Online Slang Dictionary . Retrieved 28 February 2015 .
  78. ^
  79. Leap, William Tom Boellstorff (2003). Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globalization and Gay Language. University of Illinois Press. p. 98. ISBN978-0-252-07142-3 .
  80. ^
  81. Dalzell, Tom Victor, Terry, eds. (2013). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 937. ISBN9781317372523 .
  82. ^
  83. "The Gaysian".
  84. ^
  85. Thompson, E.M. Morgan, E.M. (2008). " " Mostly straight" young women: Variations in sexual behavior and identity development". Developmental Psychology. 44 (1): 15–21. doi:10.1037/0012-1649.44.1.15. PMID18194001. S2CID14336659.
  86. ^ Rimer, Sara (June 5, 1993). "Campus Lesbians Step Into Unfamiliar Light". The New York Times.
  87. ^
  88. Roshan das Nair, Catherine Butler (2012). Intersectionality, Sexuality and Psychological Therapies: Working with Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Diversity. John Wiley & Sons. p. 49. ISBN978-1119967439 . Retrieved April 5, 2015 . CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  89. ^
  90. Partridge, Eric Victor, Terry, eds. (2006). The New Partridge Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English: J–Z. Taylor & Francis. p. 1335. ISBN978-0-415-25938-5 .
  91. ^
  92. Dalzell, Tom, ed. (2018). The Routledge Dictionary of Modern American Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 2013. ISBN978-1-138-77965-5 .
  93. ^
  94. Venning, Rachel Cavanah, Claire (2003-09-16). Sex Toys 101: A Playfully Uninhibited Guide. Simon and Schuster. pp. 86–. ISBN9780743243513 . Retrieved 26 November 2012 .
  95. ^
  96. Urquhart, Evan (2017-03-30). "Why Is "Passing" Such a Controversial Subject for Trans People?". Slate Magazine . Retrieved 2019-04-13 .
  97. ^
  98. "swish definition, meaning". Cambridge Dictionaries Online . Retrieved 20 February 2015 . swish noun [C] (LIKE A WOMAN) › US slang disapproving a man who behaves or appears in a way that is generally considered more suited to a woman, and who does not have traditional male qualities
  99. ^
  100. "swish - Gay Slang Dictionary". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015 . Retrieved 28 February 2015 . swish #n. To overplay or over do homosexual gestures the traits of an effeminate male homosexual. Source: [1930's] #Passive homosexual. #To walk speak or move in the manner of an weak effeminate boy or man the stereotype effeminate homosexual.
  101. ^
  102. Goldberg, Michelle (2014-08-04). "What Is a Woman?". The New Yorker . Retrieved 2019-03-19 . The term can be useful for making a distinction with radical feminists who do not share the same position, but those at whom it is directed consider it a slur.
  103. ^
  104. London, H.J. (2018-06-29). "Transgender identities: a series of invited essays". The Economist . Retrieved 2019-03-19 . In the interests of fostering open debate we have set ground rules, both for essays and reader comments: use the pronouns people want you to use, and avoid all slurs, including TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist), which may have started as a descriptive term but is now used to try to silence a vast swathe of opinions on trans issues, and sometimes to incite violence against women.
  105. ^
  106. Ditum, Sarah (2017-09-29). "What is a Terf? How an internet buzzword became a mainstream slur". New Statesman America . Retrieved 2019-03-19 . Terf is now being used in a kind of discourse which has clear similarities with hate-speech directed at other groups…
  107. ^
  108. Compton, Julie (2019-01-14). " ' Pro-lesbian' or 'trans-exclusionary'? Old animosities boil into public view". NBC News . Retrieved 2019-03-19 . Meghan Murphy claims the acronym TERF is 'hate speech' that incites 'violence against women.'
  109. ^
  110. Flaherty, Colleen (2018-08-29). " ' TERF' War". Inside Higher Ed . Retrieved 2019-03-19 . For some, using the word 'TERF' means calling out transphobia where they see it. For others, the word is a slur that has no place in academic discourse.
  111. ^
  112. Weinberg, Justin (2018-08-27). "Derogatory Language in Philosophy Journal Risks Increased Hostility and Diminished Discussion". Daily Nous . Retrieved 2019-03-19 . …the term 'TERF', which is at worst a slur and at best derogatory.
  113. ^
  114. Eliason, Michele J. (26 October 2010). "A New Classification System for Lesbians: The Dyke Diagnostic Manual". Journal of Lesbian Studies. 14 (4): 401–14. doi:10.1080/10894161003677133. PMID20661801. S2CID205754307.

T., Anna (2020). Opacity - Minority - Improvisation: An Exploration of the Closet Through Queer Slangs and Postcolonial Theory. Bielefeld: Transcript. ISBN 978-3-8376-5133-1.


Gathering places favoured by homosexuals have operated for centuries. Reports from as early as the 17th century record the existence of bars and clubs that catered to, or at least tolerated, openly gay clientele in several major European cities. [3] The White Swan (created by James Cook and Yardley, full name unknown), on Vere Street, in London, England, was raided in 1810 during the so-called Vere Street Coterie. The raid led to the executions of John Hepburn and Thomas White for sodomy. [4] The site was the scene of alleged gay marriages carried out by the Reverend John Church. [5]

It is not clear which place is the first gay bar in the modern sense. In Cannes, France, such a bar had already opened in 1885, and there were many more in Berlin around 1900. In the United Kingdom and the Netherlands gay bars were established throughout the first quarter of the 20th century.

France Edit

The very first gay bar in Europe and probably in the world was the Zanzibar in Cannes on the French Riviera. The Zanzibar was opened in 1885 and existed for 125 years, before it was closed in December 2010. Among its visitors were many artists, like actor Jean Marais and comedians Thierry Le Luron and Coluche. [6]

Paris became known as a centre for gay culture in the 19th century, making the city a queer capital during the early 20th century, when the Montmartre and Pigalle districts were meeting places of the LGBT community. Although Amsterdam, Berlin, and London had more meeting places and organizations than Paris, the latter was known for the "flamboyance" of LGBT quarters and "visibility" of LGBT celebrities. [7]

Paris retained the LGBT capital image after the end of World War II, but the center of the meeting place shifted to Saint-Germain-des-Prés. In the 1950s and 1960s the police and authorities tolerated homosexuals as long as the conduct was private and out of view, but gay bar raids occurred and there were occasions when the owners of the bars were involved in facilitating the raids. Lesbians rarely visited gay bars and instead socialized in circles of friends. Lesbians who did go to bars often originated from the working class. [8] Chez Moune, opened in 1936, and New Moon were 20th-century lesbian cabarets located in Place Pigalle, which converted to mixed music clubs in the 21st century. [9] [10]

Since the 1980s, the Le Marais district is the center of the gay scene in Paris.

Germany Edit

In Berlin, there was gay and lesbian night life already around 1900, which throughout the 1920s became very open and vibrant, especially when compared to other capitals. Especially in the Schöneberg district around Nollendorfplatz there were many cafes, bars and clubs, which also attracted gay people who had to flee their own country in fear of prosecution, like for example Christopher Isherwood. The gay club Eldorado in the Motzstraße was internationally known for its transvestite shows. There was also a relatively high number of places for lesbians. Within a few weeks after the Nazis took over government in 1933, fourteen of the best known gay establishments were closed. After homosexuality was decriminalized in 1969, many gay bars opened in West Berlin, resulting in a lively gay scene.

United Kingdom Edit

In the 18th century, molly houses were clandestine clubs where gay men could meet, drink, dance and have sex with each other. One of the most famous was Mother Clap's Molly House. [11]

The first gay bar in Britain in the modern sense was The Cave of the Golden Calf, established as a night club in London. It opened in an underground location at 9 Heddon Street, just off Regent Street, in 1912 and became a haunt for the wealthy, aristocratic and bohemian. [12] Its creator Frida Strindberg née Uhl set it up as an avant-garde and artistic venture. [13] The club provided a solid model for future nightclubs.

After homosexuality was decriminalized in the UK in 1967, gay bar culture became more visible and gradually Soho became the centre of the London LGBT community, which was "firmly established" by the early 1990s. [14] Gay bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs are centred on Old Compton Street.

Other cities in the UK also have districts or streets with a concentration of gay bars, like for example Stanley Street Quarter in Liverpool, Canal Street in Manchester and the Birmingham Gay Village.

Netherlands Edit

In Amsterdam, there were already a few gay bars in the first quarter of the 20th century. The best known was The Empire [nl] , in Nes, which was first mentioned in 1911 and existed until the late 1930s. [15] The oldest that still exists is Café 't Mandje, which was opened in 1927 by lesbian Bet van Beeren. [16] It closed in 1982, but was reopened in 2008.

After World War II, the Amsterdam city government acted rather pragmatic and tolerated the existence of gay bars. In the 1960s their number grew rapidly and they clustered in and around a number of streets, although this was limited to bars, clubs and shops and they never became residential areas for gays, like the gay villages in the US.

Since the late 1950s the main Amsterdam gay street was Kerkstraat, which was succeeded by Reguliersdwarsstraat in the early 1980s, when the first openly gay places opened here, like the famous cafe April in 1981, followed by dancing Havana in 1989. [17] Other streets where there are still concentrations of gay bars are Zeedijk, Amstel and Warmoesstraat, the latter being the center of the Amsterdam leather scene, where the first leather bar already opened around 1955. [16] [18]

Denmark Edit

The bar Centralhjørnet in Copenhagen opened in 1917 and became a gay bar in the 1950s. It now claims to be one of the oldest gay bars in Europe. [19] [20] The main Copenhagen gay district is the Latin Quarter.

Russia Edit

Because of the high prevalence of homophobia in Russia, patrons of gay bars there often have had to be on the alert for bullying and attacks. In 2013, Moscow's largest gay bar, Central Station, had its walls sprayed with gunfire, had harmful gas released into a crowd of 500 patrons, and had its ceiling nearly brought down by a gang who wanted to crush the people inside. Nonetheless, gay nightlife is increasing in Moscow and St. Petersburg, offering drag shows and Russian music, with some bars also offering discreet gay-only taxi services. [21]

Spain Edit

Under the dictatorship of General Francisco Franco from 1939–1975, homosexuality was illegal. However, in 1962, Spain's first gay bar, Tony's, opened in Torremolinos and a clandestine gay bar scene also emerged in the 1960s and early 1970s in Barcelona. [22]

United States Edit

There are many institutions in the United States that claim to be the oldest gay bar in that country. Since Prohibition ended in 1933, there are a number of places open and continuously operating since that date:

  • The Atlantic House in Provincetown, Massachusetts, was constructed in 1798 and was a tavern and stagecoach stop before becoming a de facto gay bar after artists and actors, including Tennessee Williams, began spending summers in Provincetown in the 1920s. [23]
  • The Black Cat Bar, founded in 1906 and operated again after Prohibition was ended in 1933, was located in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood and was the focus of one of the earliest victories of the homophile movement. In 1951, the California Supreme Court affirmed the right of homosexuals to assemble in a case brought by the heterosexual owner of the bar.
  • One of the first lesbian bars was the famous Eve's Hangout, [24] also called Eve Adams Tearoom. It closed after a police raid in 1926. Eva Kotchever, the owner, was deported to Europe and assassinated at Auschwitz. [25] opened in November 1966 and was one of many LGBT bars to be raided, which happened on New Year's Day in 1967. It is now considered a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. in Seattle's Pioneer Square is claimed to be the oldest gay bar on the North American West Coast, operating since 1933. [26] was the first gay Latino bar that opened in 1979. It was located on Mission Street and 16th Street. It closed down in 1997 as one of the last gay Latino bars in the Mission District. [27]
    (961 Cole Street San Francisco), featured in the film Last Call at Maud's, [28] was a lesbian bar which was founded by Rikki Streicher in 1966 and closed in September 1989. At closing, it claimed to be the oldest continuously operating lesbian bar. [29] It closed during the AIDS crisis when a "clean and sober" mentality drove down a lot of bars. [30]
  • In New York City, the modern gay bar dates to Julius Bar, founded by local socialite Matthew Nicol, where the Mattachine Society staged a "Sip-In" on 21 April 1966 challenging a New York State Liquor Authority rule prohibited serving alcoholic beverages to gays on the basis that they were considered disorderly. The court ruling in the case that gays could peacefully assemble at bars would lead to the opening of the Stonewall Inn a block southwest in 1967, which in turn led to the 1969 Stonewall Riots. Julius is New York City's oldest continuously operating gay bar. [31] (1933) of Shreveport, Louisiana is believed to be the second oldest continuously operating gay bar in the country. [32] in New Orleans, dating back to 1933 and the end of Prohibition, claims to be the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the United States.
  • The White Horse Inn in Oakland, California, also operating legally since Prohibition, but likely during the period where sales of alcohol were banned in the U.S., also claims to be the oldest gay bar in operation. [33]

Mexico Edit

Because of a raid on a Mexico City drag ball in 1901, when 41 men were arrested, the number 41 has come to symbolize male homosexuality in Mexican popular culture, figuring frequently in jokes and in casual teasing. [34] [35] The raid on the "Dance of the 41" was followed by a less-publicized raid of a lesbian bar on 4 December 1901 in Santa Maria. Despite the international depression of the 1930s and along with the social revolution overseen by Lázaro Cárdenas (1934–1940), the growth of Mexico City was accompanied by the opening of gay bars and gay bathhouses. [35] During the Second World War, ten to fifteen gay bars operated in Mexico City, with dancing permitted in at least two, El África and El Triunfo. Relative freedom from official harassment continued until 1959 when Mayor Ernesto Uruchurtu closed every gay bar following a grisly triple-murder. But by the late 1960s several Mexican cities had gay bars and, later, U.S.-style dance clubs. These places, however, were sometimes clandestine but tolerated by local authorities, which often meant that they were allowed to exist so long as the owners paid bribes. A fairly visible presence was developed in large cities such as Guadalajara, Acapulco, Veracruz and Mexico City. [36] Today, Mexico City is home to numerous gay bars, many of them located in the Zona Rosa, particularly on Amberes street, while a broad and varied gay nightlife also flourishes in Guadalajara, Acapulco, in Cancun attracting global tourists, Puerto Vallarta which attracts many Americans and Canadians, and Tijuana with its cross-border crowd. However, there are at least several gay bars in most major cities. [37]

Singapore Edit

The first recorded use of the term "gay bar" is in the diaries of homosexual British comedian Kenneth Williams: "16 January 1947. Went round to the gay bar which wasn't in the least gay." [38] At the time Williams was serving in the British Army in Singapore. In the 1970s, straight nightclubs began to open their doors to gay clients on designated nights of the week. In the 1980s, a lesbian bar named Crocodile Rock opened in Far East Plaza, which remains to this day the oldest lesbian bar in Singapore. Today, many gay bars are located on the Neil Road stretch, from Taboo and Tantric, to Backstage Bar, May Wong's Café, DYMK and Play. Mega-clubs like Zouk and Avalon are also a big draw for the gay crowd. [39]

China Edit

The oldest gay bar in Beijing is the Half-and-Half, which in 2004 had been open over ten years. [40] The first lesbian bar was Maple Bar, opened in 2000 by pop singer Qiao Qiao. Qiao Qiao also opened another popular lesbian bar, Feng bar, also known as Pipes, which was closed by the police in 2009. The On/Off was a popular bar for both gay men and lesbians. [41] The increase in China's gay and lesbian bars in recent years is linked to China's opening up to global capitalism and its consequent economic and social restructuring. [40]

Japan Edit

The oldest continuously operating Japanese gay bar, New Sazae, opened in Tokyo in 1966. [42] Most gay bars in Tokyo are located in the Shinjuku Ni-chōme district, which is home to about 300 bars. [43] Each bar may only have room to seat about a dozen people as a result, many bars are specialized according to interest. [44]

South Korea Edit

In Seoul, most gay bars were originally congregated near the Itaewon area of Seoul, near the U.S. military base. But in recent years, more clubs have located in the Sinchon area, indicating that "safe spaces" for Korean LGBT people have extended beyond the foreign zones, which were traditionally more tolerant. One male bar patron said Korean bar culture was not as direct as in the United States, with customers indicating their interest in another customer by ordering him a drink through a waiter. The oldest lesbian bar in Seoul is Lesbos, which started in 1996. [45]

Jordan Edit

Jordan's most famous and oldest gay-friendly establishment is a combination bar/cafe/restaurant and bookshop in Amman called [email protected], opened in 1997. When the bar was first opened, it was infiltrated by government undercover agents who were concerned about its effect on public morality and outed the owner as homosexual to his family and friends. Now, however, the owner claims to have no problem with the government and has since opened a second establishment. [46] [47]

South Africa Edit

The history of gay and lesbian bars in South Africa reflects the racial divisions that began in the Apartheid era and continue, to some extent, in the 21st century. [48]

The first white gay bar opened in the Carlton Hotel in downtown Johannesburg in the late 1940s, catering exclusively to men of wealth. In the 1960s, other urban bars began to open that drew more middle and working class white men lesbians were excluded. The language of Gayle had its roots in the Cape Coloured and Afrikaans-speaking underground gay bar culture. In 1968, when the government threatened to pass repressive anti-gay legislation, queer culture went even further underground, which meant clubs and bars were often the only places to meet. These bars were often the targets of police raids. [49] The decade of the 1970s was when urban gay clubs took root. The most popular gay club of Johannesburg was The Dungeon, which attracted females as well as males, and lasted until the 1990s. The 1979 police assault on the New Mandy's Club, in which patrons fought back, has been referred to as South Africa's Stonewall. [50]

In the 1980s, police raids on white gay clubs lessened as the apartheid government forces found itself dealing with more and more resistance from the black population. In the black townships, some of the shebeens, unlicensed bars established in people's homes and garages, catered to LGBTQ clients. During the struggle against apartheid, some of these shebeens were important meeting places for black gay and lesbian resistance fighters. Lee's, a shebeen in Soweto, for example, was used as a meeting place for black gay men who were part of the Gay Association of South Africa (GASA) but did not feel welcome in the GASA offices. [51]

With the establishment of the post-apartheid 1996 constitution that outlawed discrimination based on sexual orientation as well as race, South Africa's gay night life exploded, though many bars continued to be segregated by race, and fewer blacks than whites go to the urban bars. The 2005 inaugural gay shebeen tour was advertised as a gay pub crawl that would provide an opportunity for South Africans and foreigners to "experience true African gay Shebeen culture". [51] [52]

Gay bars have been heavily impacted by the HIV/AIDS epidemic. For example, San Francisco had over 100 gay bars when the epidemic hit in the early 1980s by 2011 there were only about 30 remaining. [53] Millions of gay men around the world died during the worst years of the epidemic (before effective treatment) which resulted in fewer gay men owning and patronizing gay bars.

Gay bars have always been a place of refuge and support for gay men impacted by the virus. [54] [55] [56] Many fundraising, testing, support group, and free condom events are present at gay bars. [57] [58]

A few commentators have suggested that gay bars are facing decline in the contemporary age due to the pervasiveness of technology. Andrew Sullivan argued in his essay "The End of Gay Culture" that gay bars are declining because "the Internet dealt them a body blow. If you are merely looking for sex or a date, the Web is now the first stop for most gay men". [59]

June Thomas explained the decline by noting that there is less need for gay-specific venues like bars because gay people are less likely to encounter discrimination or be made unwelcome in wider society. [60] Entrepreneur magazine in 2007 included them on a list of ten types of business that would be extinct by 2017 along with record stores, used bookstores and newspapers. [61]

Many commentators have argued there has been some recent decline in gay-specific venues mainly due to the modern effects of gentrification. [62] [63] [64] [65] [66] [67] But despite the decline, gay bars still exist in relatively strong numbers and thrive in most major cities where male homosexuality is not heavily condemned. They also asserted most gay men never stopped finding great value in gay-specific venues and being in the company of other gay men. [68] [67] [69] [70] [71] Unlike gay bars, lesbian bars have become a rarity around the world. Many articles have been published discussing possible reasons as to why lesbian bars struggle to exist despite a growing lesbian population. [72] [73] [74] [75]

Like most bars and pubs, gay bars range in size from the small, five-seat bars of Tokyo to large, multi-story clubs with several distinct areas and more than one dance floor. A large venue may be referred to as a nightclub, club, or bar, while smaller venues are typically called bars and sometimes pubs. The only defining characteristic of a gay bar is the nature of its clientele. While many gay bars target the gay and/or lesbian communities, some (usually older and firmly established) gay bars have become gay, as it were, through custom, over a long period of time.

The serving of alcohol is the primary business of gay bars and pubs. Like non-gay establishments they serve as a meeting place and LGBT community focal point, in which conversation, relaxation, and meeting potential romantic and sexual partners is the primary focus of the clientele. Historically and continuing in many communities, gay bars have been valued by patrons as the only place closeted gay men and lesbians can be open and demonstrative about their sexuality without fear of discovery. Gerard Koskovich of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society explains that "[Gay bars] were a public place where gay people could meet and start to have a conversation, where they didn't feel like sexual freaks or somehow not part of the larger social fabric from that came culture, politics, demands for equal rights." [76]

Gay bars traditionally preferred to remain discreet and virtually unidentifiable outside the gay community, relying exclusively on word of mouth promotion. More recently, gay clubs and events are often advertised by handing out eye-catching flyers on the street, in gay or gay-friendly shops and venues, and at other clubs and events. Similar to flyers for predominantly heterosexual venues, these flyers frequently feature provocative images and theme party announcements.

While traditional gay pub-like bars are nearly identical to bars catering to the general public, gay dance venues often feature elaborate lighting design and video projection, fog machines and raised dancing platforms. Hired dancers (called go-go girls or go-go boys) may also feature in decorative cages or on podiums. Gay sports bars are relatively unusual, but it is not unusual for gay bars to sponsor teams in local sports/game leagues, and many otherwise traditional gay pubs are well known for hosting post-game parties—often filling with local gay athletes and their fans on specific nights or when major professional sporting events are broadcast on TV. Some of the longest established gay bars are unofficial hosts of elaborate local 'Royal Court' drag pageants and drag-related social groups.

Gay bars and nightclubs are sometimes segregated by sex. In some establishments, people who are perceived to be of the "wrong" sex (for example, a man attempting to enter a women's club) may be unwelcome or even barred from entry. This may be more common in specialty bars, such as gay male leather fetish or BDSM bars, or bars or clubs which have a strict dress code. It is also common in bars and clubs where sex on the premises is a primary focus of the establishment. On the other hand, gay bars are usually welcoming of transgender and cross-dressed people, and drag shows are a common feature in many gay bars, even men-only spaces. Some gay bars and clubs which have a predominantly male clientele, as well as some gay bathhouses and other sex clubs, may offer occasional women-only nights.

A few gay bars attempt to restrict entry to only gay or lesbian people, but in practice this is difficult to enforce. Most famously, Melbourne's Peel Hotel was granted an exemption from Australia's Equal Opportunities Act by a state tribunal, on the grounds that the exemption was needed to prevent "sexually-based insults and violence" aimed at the pub's patrons. As a result of the decision, the pub is legally able to advertise as a "gay only" establishment, and door staff can ask people whether they are gay before allowing them inside, and can turn away non-gay people. [77]

Already categorized as gay or lesbian, many gay bars in larger cities/urban areas take this sub-categorization a step further by appealing to distinct subcultures within the gay community. Some of these sub-cultures are defined by costume and performance. These bars often forge a like-minded community in dozens of cities with leather gay bars, line-dancing gay bars, and drag revues. Other subcultures cater to men who fit a certain type, one that is often defined by age, body type, personality, and musical preference. There are some bars and clubs that cater more to a working class/blue collar crowd and some that cater to a more upscale clientele. There are gay bars that cater to "twinks" (young, smooth-bodied pretty boys) and others that cater to bears (older, larger, hairier alternatives to the well-manicured and fey gay stereotype). There are also gay bars that cater to certain races, such as ones for Asian men "and their admirers", Latin men, or black men. [78]

Music, either live or, more commonly, mixed by a disc jockey (DJ), is often a prominent feature of gay bars. Typically, the music in gay bars include pop, dance, contemporary R&B, house, trance, and techno. In larger North American cities and in Australia, one or more gay bars with a country music theme and line dancing are also common, as are bars known for retro 1960s pop and "Motown Sound."


Sociologist Mary Bernstein writes: "For the lesbian and gay movement, then, cultural goals include (but are not limited to) challenging dominant constructions of masculinity and femininity, homophobia, and the primacy of the gendered heterosexual nuclear family (heteronormativity). Political goals include changing laws and policies to gain new rights, benefits, and protections from harm." [8] Bernstein emphasizes that activists seek both types of goals in both the civil and political spheres.

As with other social movements, there is also conflict within and between LGBT movements, especially about strategies for change and debates over exactly who represents the constituency of these movements, and this also applies to changing education. [9] There is debate over what extent lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender people, intersex people, and others share common interests and a need to work together. Leaders of the lesbian and gay movement of the 1970s, 80s and 90s often attempted to hide masculine lesbians, feminine gay men, transgender people, and bisexuals from the public eye, creating internal divisions within LGBT communities. [10] Roffee and Waling (2016) documented that LGBT people experience microaggressions, bullying and anti-social behaviors from other people within the LGBT community. This is due to misconceptions and conflicting views as to what entails "LGBT". For example, transgender people found that other members of the community were not understanding to their own, individual, specific needs and would instead make ignorant assumptions, and this can cause health risks. [11] Additionally, bisexual people found that lesbian or gay people were not understanding or appreciative of the bisexual sexuality. Evidently, even though most of these people would say that they stand for the same values as the majority of the community, there are still remaining inconsistencies even within the LGBT community. [12]

LGBT movements have often adopted a kind of identity politics that sees gay, bisexual, and transgender people as a fixed class of people a minority group or groups, and this is very common among LGBT communities. [13] Those using this approach aspire to liberal political goals of freedom and equal opportunity, and aim to join the political mainstream on the same level as other groups in society. [14] In arguing that sexual orientation and gender identity are innate and cannot be consciously changed, attempts to change gay, lesbian, and bisexual people into heterosexuals ("conversion therapy") are generally opposed by the LGBT community. Such attempts are often based in religious beliefs that perceive gay, lesbian, and bisexual activity as immoral.

However, others within LGBT movements have criticized identity politics as limited and flawed, elements of the queer movement have argued that the categories of gay and lesbian are restrictive, and attempted to deconstruct those categories, which are seen to "reinforce rather than challenge a cultural system that will always mark the non heterosexual as inferior." [15]

After the French Revolution the anticlerical feeling in Catholic countries coupled with the liberalizing effect of the Napoleonic Code made it possible to sweep away sodomy laws. However, in Protestant countries, where the church was less severe, there was no general reaction against statutes that were religious in origin. As a result, many of those countries retained their statutes on sodomy until late in the 20th century. However,some countries still have retained their statutes on sodomy. for example in 2008 a case in India's high court was judged using a 150-year-old reading that was punishing sodomy. [16]

Enlightenment era Edit

In eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, same-sex sexual behavior 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 (1749). Although only fragments of his work have survived, it was a humorous anthology of homosexual advocacy, written with an obvious enthusiasm for its subject. [17] It contains the argument: "Unnatural Desire is a Contradiction in Terms downright Nonsense. 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 1785, 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. [18] However, he did not publicize his views as he feared reprisal his powerful essay was not published until 1978.

The emerging currents of secular humanist thought that had inspired Bentham also informed the French Revolution, and when the newly formed National Constituent Assembly began drafting the policies and laws of the new republic in 1792, groups of militant "sodomite-citizens" in Paris petitioned the Assemblée nationale, the governing body of the French Revolution, for freedom and recognition. [19] In 1791, France became the first nation to decriminalize homosexuality, probably thanks in part to Jean Jacques Régis de Cambacérès, who was one of the authors of the Napoleonic Code. With the introduction of the Napoleonic Code in 1808, the Duchy of Warsaw also decriminalized homosexuality. [20]

In 1830, the new Penal Code of the Brazilian Empire did not repeat the title XIII of the fifth book of the "Ordenações Philipinas", which made sodomy a crime. In 1833, 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? [19]

Three years later in Switzerland, Heinrich Hoessli published the first volume of Eros: Die Männerliebe der Griechen (English: "Eros: The Male Love of the Greeks"), another defense of same-sex love. [19]

Emergence of LGBT movement Edit

In many ways, social attitudes to homosexuality became more hostile during the late Victorian era. In 1885, 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 1895 with the most severe sentence possible under the Act.

The first person known to describe himself as a drag queen was William Dorsey Swann, born enslaved in Hancock, Maryland. Swann was the first American on record who pursued legal and political action to defend the LGBTQ community's right to assemble. [21] During the 1880s and 1890s, Swann organized a series of drag balls in Washington, D.C. Swann was arrested in police raids numerous times, including in the first documented case of arrests for female impersonation in the United States, on April 12, 1888. [22]

From the 1870s, social reformers began to defend homosexuality, but due to the controversial nature of their advocacy, kept their identities secret. [ citation needed ] A secret British society called the "Order of Chaeronea" campaigned for the legalization of homosexuality, and counted playwright Oscar Wilde among its members in the last decades of the 19th century. [23] The society was founded by George Cecil Ives, one of the earliest gay rights campaigners, who had been working for the end of oppression of homosexuals, what he called the "Cause". Ives met Wilde at the Authors' Club in London in 1892. [24] Wilde was taken by his boyish looks and persuaded him to shave off his moustache, and once kissed him passionately in the Travellers' Club. [ citation needed ] In 1893, Lord Alfred Douglas, with whom he had a brief affair, introduced Ives to several Oxford poets whom Ives also tried to recruit. In 1897, Ives created and founded the first homosexual rights group, the Order of Chaeronea. [24] Members included Charles Kains Jackson, Samuel Elsworth Cottam, Montague Summers, and John Gambril Nicholson.

John Addington Symonds was a poet and an early advocate of male love. In 1873, he wrote A Problem in Greek Ethics, a work of what would later be called "gay history." [25] Although the Oxford English Dictionary credits the medical writer C.G. Chaddock for introducing "homosexual" into the English language in 1892, Symonds had already used the word in A Problem in Greek Ethics. [26]

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". [27] While the taboos of Victorian England prevented Symonds from speaking openly about homosexuality, his works published for a general audience contained strong implications and some of the first direct references to male-male sexual love in English literature. 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 1889 to 1893, form the one of the earliest known works of self-conscious homosexual autobiography in English. The recently decoded autobiographies of Anne Lister are an earlier example in English.

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 offense. In the 1890s, 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. His 1908 book on the subject, The Intermediate Sex, would become a foundational text of the LGBT movements of the 20th century. 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 1897, 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. [28] He also studied what he called 'inter-generational relationships' and that these also broke societal taboos on age difference in sexual relationships. 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.

An early LGBT movement also began in Germany at the turn of the 20th century, centering on the doctor and writer Magnus Hirschfeld. In 1897 he formed the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee campaign publicly against the notorious law "Paragraph 175", 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. Brand was the first to use "outing" as a political strategy, claiming that German Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow engaged in homosexual activity. [ citation needed ]

The 1901 book Sind es Frauen? Roman über das dritte Geschlecht (English: Are These Women? Novel about the Third Sex) by Aimée Duc was as much a political treatise as a novel, criticising pathological theories of homosexuality and gender inversion in women. [29] Anna Rüling, delivering a public speech in 1904 at the request of Hirschfeld, became the first female Uranian activist. Rüling, who also saw "men, women, and homosexuals" as three distinct genders, called for an alliance between the women's and sexual reform movements, but this speech is her only known contribution to the cause. Women only began to join the previously male-dominated sexual reform movement around 1910 when the German government tried to expand Paragraph 175 to outlaw sex between women. Heterosexual feminist leader Helene Stöcker became a prominent figure in the movement. Friedrich Radszuweit published LGBT literature and magazines in Berlin (e.g., Die Freundin).

Hirschfeld, whose life was dedicated to social progress for people who were transsexual, transvestite and homosexual, formed the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexology) in 1919. 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 1933. The Swiss journal Der Kreis was the only part of the movement to continue through the Nazi era.

USSR's Criminal Code of 1922 decriminalized homosexuality. [30] This was a remarkable step in the USSR at the time – which was very backward economically and socially, and where many conservative attitudes towards sexuality prevailed. This step was part of a larger project of freeing sexual relationships and expanding women's rights – including legalizing abortion, granting divorce on demand, equal rights for women, and attempts to socialize housework. During Stalin's era, however, USSR reverted all these progressive measures – re-criminalizing homosexuality and imprisoning gay men and banning abortion.

In 1928, English writer Radclyffe Hall published a novel titled The Well of Loneliness. 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. [31] Hall subscribed to Ellis and Krafft-Ebing's theories and rejected (conservatively understood version of) Freud's theory that same-sex attraction was caused by childhood trauma and was curable. [32]

In the United States, several secret or semi-secret groups were formed explicitly to advance the rights of homosexuals as early as the turn of the 20th century, but little is known about them. [33] A better documented group is Henry Gerber's Society for Human Rights formed in Chicago in 1924, which was quickly suppressed. [34]

Homophile movement (1945–1969) Edit

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 1940s with groups in the Netherlands and Denmark, and continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s with groups in Sweden, Norway, the United States, France, Britain and elsewhere. ONE, Inc., the first public homosexual organization in the U.S, [35] was bankrolled by the wealthy transsexual man Reed Erickson. A U.S. transgender rights journal, Transvestia: The Journal of the American Society for Equality in Dress, also published two issues in 1952.

The homophile movement lobbied to establish a prominent influence in political systems of social acceptability. Radicals of the 1970s would later disparage the homophile groups for being assimilationist. Any demonstrations were orderly and polite. [36] By 1969, there were dozens of homophile organizations and publications in the U.S, [37] and a national organization had been formed, but they were largely ignored by the media. A 1962 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 1966, followed by the August 1966 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. [38]

The Wolfenden Report was published in Britain on September 4, 1957, after publicized convictions for homosexuality of well-known men, including Edward Douglas-Scott-Montagu, 3rd Baron Montagu of Beaulieu. 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 favor 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." The report added, "The law's function is to preserve public order and decency, to protect the citizen from what is offensive or injurious, and to provide sufficient safeguards against exploitation and corruption of others … It is not, in our view, the function of the law to intervene in the private life of citizens, or to seek to enforce any particular pattern of behaviour."

The report eventually led to the introduction of the Sexual Offences Bill 1967 supported by Labour MP Roy Jenkins, then the Labour Home Secretary. When passed, the Sexual Offences Act decriminalised homosexual acts between two men over 21 years of age in private in England and Wales. The seemingly innocuous phrase 'in private' led to the prosecution of participants in sex acts involving three or more men, e.g. the Bolton 7 who were so convicted as recently as 1998. [39]

Bisexual activism became more visible toward the end of the 1960s in the United States. In 1966 bisexual activist Robert A. Martin (a.k.a. Donny the Punk) founded the Student Homophile League at Columbia University and New York University. In 1967 Columbia University officially recognized this group, thus making them the first college in the United States to officially recognize a gay student group. [40] Activism on behalf of bisexuals in particular also began to grow, especially in San Francisco. One of the earliest organizations for bisexuals, the Sexual Freedom League in San Francisco, was facilitated by Margo Rila and Frank Esposito beginning in 1967. [40] Two years later, during a staff meeting at a San Francisco mental health facility serving LGBT people, nurse Maggi Rubenstein came out as bisexual. Due to this, bisexuals began to be included in the facility's programs for the first time. [40]

Gay Liberation movement (1969–1974) Edit

The new social movements of the sixties, such as the Black Power and anti-Vietnam war movements in the US, the May 1968 insurrection in France, and Women's Liberation throughout the Western world, inspired many LGBT activists to become more radical, [36] and the Gay Liberation movement emerged towards the end of the decade. This new radicalism is often attributed to the Stonewall riots of 1969, when a group of gay men, lesbians, drag queens and transgender women at a bar in New York City resisted a police raid. [34]

Immediately after Stonewall, such groups as the Gay Liberation Front (GLF) and the Gay Activists' Alliance (GAA) were formed. Their use of the word gay represented a new unapologetic defiance—as an antonym for straight ("respectable sexual behavior"), it encompassed a range of non-normative sexuality and sought ultimately to free the bisexual potential in everyone, rendering obsolete the categories of homosexual and heterosexual. [41] [42] According to Gay Lib writer Toby Marotta, "their Gay political outlooks were not homophile but liberationist". [43] "Out, loud and proud," they engaged in colorful street theater. [44] The GLF's "A Gay Manifesto" set out the aims for the fledgling gay liberation movement, and influential intellectual Paul Goodman published "The Politics of Being Queer" (1969). Chapters of the GLF were established across the U.S. and in other parts of the Western world. The Front Homosexuel d'Action Révolutionnaire was formed in 1971 by lesbians who split from the Mouvement Homophile de France.

The Gay liberation movement overall, like the gay community generally and historically, has had varying degrees of gender nonconformity and assimilationist platforms among its members. Early marches by the Mattachine society and Daughters of Bilitis stressed looking "respectable" and mainstream, and after the Stonewall Uprising the Mattachine Society posted a sign in the window of the club calling for peace. Gender nonconformity has always been a primary way of signaling homosexuality and bisexuality, and by the late 1960s and mainstream fashion was increasingly incorporating what by the 1970s would be considered "unisex" fashions. In 1970, the drag queen caucus of the GLF, including Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, formed the group Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries (STAR), which focused on providing support for gay prisoners, housing for homeless gay youth and street people, especially other young "street queens". [45] [46] [47] In 1969, Lee Brewster and Bunny Eisenhower formed the Queens Liberation Front (QLF), partially in protest to the treatment of the drag queens at the first Christopher Street Liberation Day March. [47]

Bisexual activist Brenda Howard is known as the "Mother of Pride" for her work in coordinating the march, which occurred in 1970 in New York City, and she also originated the idea for a week-long series of events around Pride Day which became the genesis of the annual LGBT Pride celebrations that are now held around the world every June. [48] [49] Additionally, Howard along with the bisexual activist Robert A. Martin (aka Donny the Punk) and gay activist L. Craig Schoonmaker are credited with popularizing the word "Pride" to describe these festivities. [50] [51] [52] Bisexual activist Tom Limoncelli later stated, "The next time someone asks you why LGBT Pride marches exist or why [LGBT] Pride Month is June tell them 'A bisexual woman named Brenda Howard thought it should be.'" [53] [54]

One of the values of the movement was gay pride. Within weeks of the Stonewall Riots, Craig Rodwell, proprietor of the Oscar Wilde Memorial Bookshop in lower Manhattan, persuaded the Eastern Regional Conference of Homophile Organizations (ERCHO) to replace the Fourth of July Annual Reminder at Independence Hall in Philadelphia with a first commemoration of the Stonewall Riots. Liberation groups, including the Gay Liberation Front, Queens, the Gay Activists Alliance, Radicalesbians, and Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR) all took part in the first Gay Pride Week. Los Angeles held a big parade on the first Gay Pride Day. Smaller demonstrations were held in San Francisco, Chicago, and Boston. [55] [56]

In the United Kingdom the GLF had its first meeting in the basement of the London School of Economics on October 13, 1970. Bob Mellors and Aubrey Walter had seen the effect of the GLF in the United States and created a parallel movement based on revolutionary politics and alternative lifestyle. [57]

By 1971, the UK GLF was recognized as a political movement in the national press, holding weekly meetings of 200 to 300 people. [58] The GLF Manifesto was published, and a series of high-profile direct actions, were carried out. [59]

The disruption of the opening of the 1971 Festival of Light was the best organized of GLF action. The Festival of Light, whose leading figures included Mary Whitehouse, met at Methodist Central Hall. Groups of GLF members in drag invaded and spontaneously kissed each other others released mice, sounded horns, and unveiled banners, and a contingent dressed as workmen obtained access to the basement and shut off the lights. [60]

In 1971 the gay liberation movement in Germany and Switzerland started with Rosa von Praunheims movie It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives.

Easter 1972 saw the Gay Lib annual conference held in the Guild of Undergraduates Union (students union) building at the University of Birmingham. [61]

In May 1974 the American Psychiatric Association, after years of pressure from activists, changed the wording concerning homosexuality in the Sixth printing of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from a "mental disorder" to that of a "sexual orientation disturbance". While still not a flattering description, it took gay people out of the category of being automatically considered mentally ill simply for their sexual orientation. [62] [63]

By 1974, internal disagreements had led to the movement's splintering. Organizations that spun off from the movement included the London Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, Gay News, and Icebreakers. The GLF Information Service continued for a few further years providing gay related resources. [64] GLF branches had been set up in some provincial British towns (e.g., Bradford, Bristol, Leeds, and Leicester) and some survived for a few years longer. The Leicester group founded by Jeff Martin was noted for its involvement in the setting up of the local "Gayline", which is still active today and has received funding from the National Lottery. They also carried out a high-profile campaign against the local paper, the Leicester Mercury, which refused to advertise Gayline's services at the time. [65]

In 1972, Sweden became the first country in the world to allow people who were transsexual by legislation to surgically change their sex and provide free hormone replacement therapy. Sweden also permitted the age of consent for same-sex partners to be at age 15, making it equal to heterosexual couples. [66]

In Japan, LGBT groups were established in the 1970s. [67] [68] In 1971, Ken Togo ran for the Upper House election.

LGBT rights movement (1972–present) Edit

1972–1986 Edit

Bisexuals became more visible in the LGBT rights movement in the 1970s. In 1972 a Quaker group, the Committee of Friends on Bisexuality, issued the "Ithaca Statement on Bisexuality" supporting bisexuals. [69]

The Statement, which may have been "the first public declaration of the bisexual movement" and "was certainly the first statement on bisexuality issued by an American religious assembly," appeared in the Quaker Friends Journal and The Advocate in 1972. [70] [71] [72]

In that same year the National Bisexual Liberation Group formed in New York. [73] In 1976 the San Francisco Bisexual Center opened. [73]

From the anarchist Gay Liberation movement of the early 1970s arose a more reformist and single-issue Gay Rights movement, which portrayed gays and lesbians as a minority group and used the language of civil rights—in many respects continuing the work of the homophile period. [74] In Berlin, for example, the radical Homosexual Action West Berlin [de] was eclipsed by the General Homosexual Working Group [de] . [75]

Gay and lesbian rights advocates argued that one's sexual orientation does not reflect on one's gender that is, "you can be a man and desire a man. without any implications for your gender identity as a man," and the same is true if you are a woman. [76] Gays and lesbians were presented as identical to heterosexuals in all ways but private sexual practices, and butch "bar dykes" and flamboyant "street queens" were seen as negative stereotypes of lesbians and gays. Veteran activists such as Sylvia Rivera and Beth Elliot were sidelined or expelled because they were transgender.

In 1974, Maureen Colquhoun came out as the first Lesbian Member of Parliament (MP) for the Labour Party in the UK. When elected she was married in a heterosexual marriage. [77]

In 1975, the groundbreaking film portraying homosexual gay icon Quentin Crisp's life, The Naked Civil Servant, was transmitted by Thames Television for the British Television channel ITV. The British journal Gay Left also began publication. [78] After British Home Stores sacked an openly gay trainee Tony Whitehead, a national campaign subsequently picketed their stores in protest.

In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors becoming the first openly gay man in the State of California to be elected to public office. [79] Milk was assassinated by a former city supervisor Dan White in 1978. [80]

In 1977, a former Miss America contestant and orange juice spokesperson, Anita Bryant, began a campaign "Save Our Children", [81] in Dade County, Florida (greater Miami), which proved to be a major setback in the Gay Liberation movement. Essentially, she established an organization which put forth an amendment to the laws of the county which resulted in the firing of many public school teachers on the suspicion that they were homosexual.

In 1979, a number of people in Sweden called in sick with a case of being homosexual, in protest of homosexuality being classified as an illness. This was followed by an activist occupation of the main office of the National Board of Health and Welfare. Within a few months, Sweden became the first country in the world to remove homosexuality as an illness. [82]

Lesbian feminism, which was most influential from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, encouraged women to direct their energies toward other women rather than men, and advocated lesbianism as the logical result of feminism. [83] As with Gay Liberation, this understanding of the lesbian potential in all women was at odds with the minority-rights framework of the Gay Rights movement. Many women of the Gay Liberation movement felt frustrated at the domination of the movement by men and formed separate organisations some who felt gender differences between men and women could not be resolved developed "lesbian separatism," influenced by writings such as Jill Johnston's 1973 book Lesbian Nation. Organizers at the time focused on this issue. Diane Felix, also known as DJ Chili D in the Bay Area club scene, is a Latino American lesbian once joined the Latino American queer organization GALA. She was known for creating entertainment spaces specifically for queer women, especially in Latino American community. These places included gay bars in San Francisco such as A Little More and Colors. [84] Disagreements between different political philosophies were, at times, extremely heated, and became known as the lesbian sex wars, [85] clashing in particular over views on sadomasochism, prostitution and transsexuality. The term "gay" came to be more strongly associated with homosexual males.

In Canada, the coming into effect of Section 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms in 1985 saw a shift in the gay rights movement in Canada, as Canadian gays and lesbians moved from liberation to litigious strategies. Premised on Charter protections and on the notion of the immutability of homosexuality, judicial rulings rapidly advanced rights, including those that compelled the Canadian government to legalize same-sex marriage. It has been argued that while this strategy was extremely effective in advancing the safety, dignity and equality of Canadian homosexuals, its emphasis of sameness came at the expense of difference and may have undermined opportunities for more meaningful change. [86]

Mark Segal, often referred to as the dean of American gay journalism, disrupted the CBS evening news with Walter Cronkite in 1973, [87] an event covered in newspapers across the country and viewed by 60% of American households, many seeing or hearing about homosexuality for the first time.

Another setback in the United States occurred in 1986, when the US Supreme Court upheld a Georgia anti-sodomy law in the case Bowers v. Hardwick. (This ruling would be overturned two decades later in Lawrence v. Texas).

1987–2000 Edit

AIDS epidemic Edit

Some historians posit that a new era of the gay rights movement began in the 1980s with the emergence of AIDS, which decimated the leadership and shifted the focus for many. [35] This era saw a resurgence of militancy with direct action groups like AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), formed in 1987, as well as its offshoots Queer Nation (1990) and the Lesbian Avengers (1992). Some younger activists, seeing gay and lesbian as increasingly normative and politically conservative, began using queer as a defiant statement of all sexual minorities and gender variant people—just as the earlier liberationists had done with gay. Less confrontational terms that attempt to reunite the interests of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people also became prominent, including various acronyms like LGBT, LGBTQ, and LGBTI, where the Q and I stand for queer or questioning and intersex, respectively.

"The Overhauling of Straight America" Edit

A 1987 essay titled "The Overhauling of Straight America", by Marshall Kirk and Hunter Madsen (writing as Erastes Pill), [88] lays out a six-point plan for a campaign, which was first published in Guide magazine. They argued that gays must portray themselves in a positive way to straight America, and that the main aim of making homosexuality acceptable could be achieved by getting Americans "to think that it is just another thing, with a shrug of their shoulders". Then "your battle for legal and social rights is virtually won". The pair developed their argument in the 1989 book After the Ball: How America Will Conquer Its Fear and Hatred of Gays in the '90s. The book outlined a public relations strategy for the LGBT movement. It argues that after the gay liberation phase of the 1970s and 1980s, gay rights groups should adopt more professional public relations techniques to convey their message. After its publication Kirk appeared in the pages of Newsweek, Time and The Washington Post. The book is often critically described by social conservatives such as Focus on the Family as important to the success of the LGBT Movement in the 90's and as part of an alleged "homosexual agenda". [89]

Warrenton "War Conference" Edit

A "War Conference" of 200 gay leaders was held in Warrenton, Virginia, in 1988. [90] The closing statement of the conference set out a plan for a media campaign: [91] [92]

First, we recommend a nation-wide media campaign to promote a positive image of gays and lesbians. Every —national, state, and local—must accept the responsibility. We must consider the media in every project we undertake. We must, in addition, take every advantage we can to include public service announcements and paid advertisements, and to cultivate reporters and editors of newspapers, radio, and television. To help facilitate this we need national media workshops to train our leaders. And we must encourage our gay and lesbian press to increase coverage of the national process. Our media efforts are fundamental to the full acceptance of us in American life. But they are also a way for us to increase the funding of our movement. A media campaign costs money, but ultimately it may be one of our most successful fund-raising devices.

The statement also called for an annual planning conference "to help set and modify our national agenda." [92] The Human Rights Campaign lists this event as a milestone in gay history and identifies it as where National Coming Out Day originated. [93]

On June 24, 1994, the first Gay Pride march was celebrated in Asia in the Philippines. [94] In the Middle East, LGBT organizations remain illegal, and LGBT rights activists face extreme opposition from the state. [95] The 1990s also saw the emergence of many LGBT youth movements and organizations such as LGBT youth centers, gay-straight alliances in high schools, and youth-specific activism, such as the National Day of Silence. Colleges also became places of LGBT activism and support for activists and LGBT people in general, with many colleges opening LGBT centers. [96]

The 1990s also saw a rapid push of the transgender movement, while at the same time a "sidelining of the identity of those who are transsexual." In the English-speaking world, Leslie Feinberg published Transgender Liberation: A Movement Whose Time Has Come in 1992. [97] Gender-variant peoples across the globe also formed minority rights movements. Hijra activists campaigned for recognition as a third sex in India and Travesti groups began to organize against police brutality across Latin America while activists in the United States formed direct-confrontation groups such as the Transexual Menace.

Arts & Culture

These two museums are home to hundreds of iconic queer artwork waiting to be discovered. From Francis Bacon to David Hockney, both galleries hold an extensive collection of queer British art, annually curating exhibitions and festivals around Pride month. Notably my favourite being Queer and Now, held at Tate Britain, Westminster, where the gallery hosted a powerful public display of queer art, with family tours, music, film, and workshops all rooted from the UK’s queer community. One of my favourite parts of the day was the vogue lessons that took place in one of the grand fine art rooms, the sight of over one hundred people voguing abreast decadent portraits will stay in my mind forever.

BFI is also home to Flare: London’s LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Flare happens every year, located at the BFI Southbank Centre, curating a whole roster of contemporary queer cinema. The festival offers a vibrant space for audiences, enthusiasts, and makers to come together to share their love for great film and celebrating the work of LGBTQ+ movie pioneers through events, screenings, and workshops. The BFI premiers many other queer friendly events throughout the year, so for any traveling film buffs out there, I would highly recommend.

Located in the quaint town of Hampstead Heath is this vastly popular open green space. Relatively accessible via public transport, it’s one of London’s best features open daily to the public. It also holds claim to being a top queer hotspot. The large freshwater swimming ponds are divided up by gender—Mixed, Women’s and Men’s only. With incredibly social atmospheres, whether you’re taking a weekend dip or soaking up the city sun, it’s a perfect place to people watch and spend summer days at one with nature.

East End

The boundaries of the Greater London area keep pushing East as neighborhoods gentrify and prices rise. Birthplace of the cockney accent, the East End is now a mix of hipster havens, immigrant communities, and old school Brits. With a growing number of LGBTQ spaces, queer Londoners are the most recent addition to this cocktail of cultures.

Dalston Superstore

Take the tube out to Zone 2 for queer brunch in the East End neighborhood of Hackney. Dalston Superstore’s rainbow storefront is a brand new LGBTQ outpost on a hectic street brimming with vendors and discount stores. The inside feels like a gay American diner, if such a thing exists. An average weekday scene is hungover club kids sipping espressos, and boho freelancers nose deep in their laptops. On Saturday and Sunday, boozy drag brunch is the vibe. Diner classics with an elegant twist are on the menu — think garnished eggs benedict and organic avocado toast.

Where: 117 Kingsland High Street
Hours: Daily, opening hours vary

The Queen Adelaide

Regal in name only, The Queen Adelaide is a strip club turned gay pub in Cambridge Heath. It’s a straight-up dive that attracts artsy types and gays looking for a good deal — a pint of beer is only $5 and change.

Where: 483 Hackney Road
Hours: Daily, opening hours vary


百合族 or Yurizoku

Definition: Meaning “tribe of lilies,” yurizoku is the most elegant, literature-based lesbian euphemism.

The term appears in manga, anime and other japanese literature, but the precise origin is unknown.

“Are you part of the yurizoku or do you just like flannel?”

Researching this article, I came across pages and pages of slurs, insults and words rooted in hate and fear. It took me days and days to sift through piles of what-people-meant-to-says and you-have-to-understands. I finally came across words that communities had lifted from the mud, dusted off, polished up and presented to ourselves again with new meaning. It sort of felt like someone buying a gift for themselves just for the satisfaction of unwrapping it. It’s a bittersweet feeling.

Anyone who grew up gay, or queer, or just different can tell you that society can be a jumble and a tumble of of insults and euphemisms, and people trying to make themselves feel better by making someone else feel worse. We tell ourselves that the words intended to harm us say more about the person saying them than whomever they are trying to put down. But, now I know that words are small time machines that take us across societies and time periods and fill in the gaps of who we were back then and how far we have come. For me, it was hard to separate the hatred rooted in some of these words, until I realized that by taking them back an entire community could move forward. I realized our language carries some heavy baggage and it’s just as bent and battered as we are.

Before you go! It takes funding to keep this publication by and for queer women and trans people of all genders running every day. We will never put our site behind a paywall because we know how important it is to keep Autostraddle free. But that means we rely on the support of our A+ Members. Still, 99.9% of our readers are not members. A+ membership starts at just $4/month. If you’re able to, will you join A+ and keep Autostraddle here and working for everyone?

Patriarchy is a social system in which men hold the primary power over women and their families in regards to the tradition, law, division of labor, and education women can take part in. [1] Women used cross-dressing to pass as men in order to live adventurous lives outside of the home, which were unlikely to occur while living as women. [2] Women who engaged in cross-dressing in earlier centuries were lower-class women who would gain access to economic independence as well as freedom to travel risking little of what they had. [3] Cross-dressing that consisted of women dressing as men had more positive attitudes than vice versa. Altenburger states that female-to-male cross-dressing depicted a movement forward in terms of social status, power, and freedom. [2]

Men who cross-dressed were looked down upon because they automatically lost status when dressed as a woman. [4] It was also said that men would cross-dress to gain access around women for their own sexual desire. [4]

Greek Edit

  • In punishment for his murder of Iphitus, Heracles/Hercules was given to Omphale as a slave. Many variants of this story say that she not only compelled him to do women's work, but compelled him to dress as a woman while her slave.
  • In Achilles on Skyros, Achilles was dressed in women's clothing by his mother Thetis at the court of Lycomedes, to hide him from Odysseus who wanted him to join the Trojan War. often goes to the aid of people in the guise of men in The Odyssey. was turned into a woman after angering the goddess Hera by killing a female snake that was coupling.
  • In the cult of Aphroditus, worshipers cross-dressed, men wore women's clothing and women dressed in men's clothing with false beards.

Norse Edit

    dressed as Freyja to get Mjölnir back in Þrymskviða. dressed as a female healer as part of his efforts to seduce Rindr. in the legend of Hagbard and Signy (the Romeo and Juliet of the Vikings). dressed as a shieldmaiden in one of his eastern campaigns. from the Hervarar saga. When Hervor learnt that her father had been the infamous Swedish berserker Angantyr, she dressed as a man, called herself Hjörvard and lived for a long time as a Viking.

Hindu Edit

  • The Mahabharata: In the Agnyatbaas ("exile") period of one year imposed upon the Pandavas, in which they had to keep their identities secret to avoid detection, Arjuna cross-dressed as Brihannala and became a dance teacher.
  • The goddess Bahuchara Mata: In one legend, Bapiya was cursed by her and he became impotent. The curse was lifted only when he worshiped her by dressing and acting like a woman.
  • Devotees of the god Krishna: Some male devotees of the god Krishna, specifically a sect called the sakhi bekhi, dress in female attire as an act of devotion. [5] Krishna and his consort Radha had cross-dressed in each other's clothing. Krishna is also said to have dressed as a gopi and a kinnari goddess. [6]

Ballads have many cross-dressing heroines. While some (The Famous Flower of Serving-Men) merely need to move about freely, many do it specifically in pursuit of a lover (Rose Red and the White Lily or Child Waters) and consequently pregnancy often complicates the disguise. In the Chinese poem the Ballad of Mulan, Hua Mulan disguised herself as a man to take her elderly father's place in the army.

Occasionally, men in ballads also disguise themselves as women, but not only is it rarer, the men dress so for less time, because they are merely trying to elude an enemy by the disguise, as in Brown Robin, The Duke of Athole's Nurse, or Robin Hood and the Bishop. According to Gude Wallace, William Wallace disguised himself as a woman to escape capture, which may have been based on historical information.

Fairy tales seldom feature cross-dressing, but an occasional heroine needs to move freely as a man, as in the German The Twelve Huntsmen, the Scottish The Tale of the Hoodie, or the Russian The Lute Player. Madame d'Aulnoy included such a woman in her literary fairy tale, Belle-Belle ou Le Chevalier Fortuné.

In the cities Techiman and Wenchi (both Ghana) men dress as women – and vice versa – during the annual Apoo festival (April/May).

Cross-dressing as a literary motif is well attested in older literature but is becoming increasingly popular in modern literature as well. [7] It is often associated with character nonconformity and sexuality rather than gender identity. [8]

Many societies prohibited women from performing on stage, so boys and men took the female roles. In the ancient Greek theatre men played females, as they did in English Renaissance theatre and continue to do in Japanese kabuki theatre (see onnagata).

Cross-dressing in motion pictures began in the early days of the silent films. Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel brought the tradition of female impersonation in the English music halls when they came to America with Fred Karno's comedy troupe in 1910. Both Chaplin and Laurel occasionally dressed as women in their films. Even the beefy American actor Wallace Beery appeared in a series of silent films as a Swedish woman. The Three Stooges, especially Curly (Jerry Howard), sometimes appeared in drag in their short films. The tradition has continued for many years, usually played for laughs. Only in recent decades have there been dramatic films in which cross-dressing was included, possibly because of strict censorship of American films until the mid-1960s.

Cross-gender acting, on the other hand, refers to actors or actresses portraying a character of the opposite gender.

Medieval Europe Edit

It was once considered taboo in Western society for women to wear clothing traditionally associated with men, except when done in certain circumstances such as cases of necessity (as per St. Thomas Aquinas's guidelines in Summa Theologiae II), which states: "Nevertheless this may be done sometimes without sin on account of some necessity, either in order to hide oneself from enemies, or through lack of other clothes, or for some similar motive." [9] Cross-dressing is cited as an abomination in the Bible in the book of Deuteronomy (22:5), which states: "A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the Lord your God detests anyone who does this", [10] but as Aquinas noted above this principle was interpreted to be based on context. Other people in the Middle Ages occasionally disputed its applicability for instance, the 15th-century French poet Martin le Franc, wrote:

Don't you see that it was forbidden
That anyone should eat of an animal
Unless it had a cleft foot
And chewed its cud?
To eat of a hare no one dared
Neither of sow nor of piglet,
Yet should you now be offered any,
You would take many a morsel. [11]

Historical figures Edit

Famous historical examples of cross-dressing people include:

Many people have engaged in cross-dressing during wartime under various circumstances and for various motives. This has been especially true of women, whether while serving as a soldier in otherwise all-male armies, while protecting themselves or disguising their identity in dangerous circumstances, or for other purposes. Conversely, men would dress as women to avoid being drafted, the mythological precedent for this being Achilles hiding at the court of Lycomedes dressed as a girl to avoid participation in the Trojan War.

  • Several tales of the Desert Fathers speak of monks who were disguised women, and being discovered only when their bodies were prepared for burial. One such woman, Marina the Monk, died 508, accompanied her father to a monastery and adopted a monk's habit as a disguise. When falsely accused of getting a woman pregnant, she patiently bore the accusation rather than revealing her identity to clear her name, an action praised in medieval books of saints' lives as an example of humble forbearance.
  • In monarchies where the throne was inherited by male offspring, male descendants of deposed rulers were sometimes dressed as female so that they would be allowed to live. One example was the son of KoreanPrincess Gyeonghye, herself the daughter of a former king, who was dressed in female clothes in his early years to fool his great uncle into thinking he was not a male descendant of Munjong. [12]
  • The legend of Pope Joan alleges that she was a promiscuous female pope who dressed like a man and reigned from 855 to 858. Modern historians regard her as a mythical figure who originated from 13th-century anti-papal satire. [13]

Spain and Latin America Edit

Catalina de Erauso (1592–1650), known as la monja alférez "the Nun Lieutenant", was a Spanish woman who, after being forced to enter a convent, escaped from it disguised as a man, fled to America and enrolled herself in the Spanish army under the false name of Alonso Díaz Ramírez de Guzmán. [14] She served under several captains, including her own brother, and was never discovered. She was said to behave as an extremely bold soldier, although she had a successful career, reaching the rank of alférez (lieutenant) and becoming quite well known in the Americas. After a fight in which she killed a man, she was severely injured, and fearing her end, she confessed her true sex to a bishop. She nonetheless survived, and there was a huge scandal afterwards, specially since as a man she had become quite famous in the Americas, and because nobody had ever suspected anything about her true sex. Nevertheless, thanks to the scandal and her fame as a brave soldier, she became a celebrity. She went back to Spain, and was even granted a special dispensation by the pope to wear men's clothes. She started using the male name of Antonio de Erauso, and went back to the America, where she served in the army till her death in 1650.

Scandinavia Edit

Ulrika Eleonora Stålhammar was a Swedish woman who served as a soldier during the Great Northern War and married a woman.

United States Edit

The history of cross-dressing in the United States is quite complicated as the title of ‘cross-dresser’ has been historically been utilized as an umbrella term for varying identities such as cisgender people who dressed in the other gender’s clothing, transgender people, and intersex people who dress in both genders’ clothing. [15] The term pops up in many arrest records for these identities as they are perceived to be a form of ‘disguise’ rather than a gender identity. For example, Harry Allen (1888-1922), born female under the name Nell Pickerell in the Pacific Northwest, was categorized as a ‘male impersonator’ who cross-dressed, rather than as a transgender male which is how he identified. [16]

Edward Hyde, 3rd Earl of Clarendon, colonial governor of New York and New Jersey in the early 18th century is reported to have enjoyed going out wearing his wife's clothing, but this is disputed. [17] Hyde was an unpopular figure, and rumors of his cross-dressing may have begun as an urban legend.

Because female enlistment was barred, many women fought for both the Union and the Confederacy during the American Civil War while dressed as men.

Other contemporary cross-dressing artists include J.S.G. Boggs.

The Gold Rush of 1849 led to a mass global migration of mainly male laborers to Northern California and the development of government backed economic interests in the Pacific Northwest region of the modern United States. The sudden explosive population increase resulted in a huge demand to import commodities including food, tools, sex, and entertainment, to these new male-oriented, homogeneous societies. As these societies evolved over the following decades, the growing demand for entertainment created a unique opportunity for male cross-dressers to perform. Cross-dressing was encouraged for entertainment purposes due to lack of women, yet the tolerance for the acts were limited to on-stage roles and did not extend to gender identities or same-sex desires. Julian Eltinge (1881-1941), a ‘female impersonator’ who performed in saloons in Montana as a kid and eventually made it to the Broadway stage, exemplifies this limited social acceptance for cross-dressing. His cross-dressing performances were celebrated by laborers who were starved for entertainment, yet his career was put at risk when he was exposed for exhibiting homosexual desires and behaviors. [15]

Cross-dressing was not just reserved for men on stage. It also played a crucial role in the development of female involvement in the United States’ industrial labor force. Many female-born workers dressed in men’s clothing to secure a laborer’s wage to provide for their families. Testimonial accounts from cross-dressing women who had been arrested reflect that many chose to identify as male due to financial incentives, even though basic cross-dressing had been deemed immoral and could lead to legal consequences. Women also chose to cross-dress because they feared they might become victims of physical harm while traveling alone across long distances. [16]

San Francisco, California, was one of approximately 45 cities to have criminalized cross-dressing by framing the act as a form of immoral sexual perversion. [18] The law was enforced by arrest in one case, doctor Hjelmar von Danneville was arrested in 1925, though she later negotiated with the city to obtain a permit to dress in masculine clothing. [19]

The ban against transvestism in the United States military dates back to 1961. [20]

US Laws Against Crossdressing Edit

The birth of anti-cross-dressing laws stemmed from the increase in non-traditional gender expression during the spread of Americas frontier, and the will to reinforce the two-gender system which was threatened by those who deviated from it. [21] Some of the earlier cases of US arrests made due to cross-dressing are seen in 19th century Ohio. In 1849, Ohio passed a law which prohibited its citizens from publicly presenting themselves "in a dress not belonging to his or her sex", and before WWI, 45 cities in the US went on to pass anti-cross-dressing laws. [22] These cities were noticeably focused in the West, [21] however across America many cities and states passed laws outlawing things such as public indecency or appearing in public under a disguise - effectively encompassing cross-dressing without mentioning sex or gender. The laws which did this often did not lend to an easy prosecution on the grounds of cross-dressing, because they were designed to prohibit presenting in disguise in order to commit a criminal offense. Because of this, the laws mainly served the purpose of allowing police to harass cross-dressers.

There is significant documentation of the origins of these laws in San Francisco. The city passed it's anti-cross-dressing law in 1863, and the specific criminalization of one publicly presenting "in a dress not belonging to his or her sex" was included in a wider law which criminalized general public indecency such as nudity. [23] This conflation of cross-dressing with acts such as prostitution was not unintentional, as many prostitutes at the time used cross-dressing to signify their availability. [23] This association between the two furthered the perception of cross-dressing as a perversion, and the law was effectively “one of the city’s very first “good morals and decency” laws". [23]

Throughout time, anti-cross-dressing laws became difficult to apply, as the definitions of feminine and masculine presentation grew more obscure. After the Stonewall riots of 1969, cross-dressing arrests decreased and became much less common. [24] Today, while there are little to no laws directly protecting transgender individuals from discrimination and harassment, the majority of anti-cross-dressing laws have been overturned.

France Edit

As the Hundred Years' War developed in the late Middle Ages, [25] cross dressing was a way for French women to join the cause against England. [26] Joan of Arc was a 15th-century French peasant girl who joined French armies against English forces fighting in France during the latter part of the Hundred Years' War. She is a French national heroine and a Catholic saint. After being captured by the English, she was burned at the stake upon being convicted by a pro-English religious court, with the act of dressing in male (soldiers') clothing being cited as one of the principal reasons for her execution. A number of eyewitnesses, however, later explained that she had said she wore soldiers' clothing in prison (consisting of hosen and long hip-boots attached to the doublet with twenty fasteners) because this made it more difficult for her guards to pull her clothing off during rape attempts. She was, however, burned alive in a long white gown. [27]

In the seventeenth century, France underwent a financially driven social conflict, the Fronde. [28] At this period, women disguised themselves as men and enlisted in the army, sometimes with their male family members. [29] Cross dressing also became a more common strategy for women to conceal their gender as they traveled, granting a safer and more efficient route. [29] The practice of cross dressing was present more in literary works than in real life situations, despite its effective concealing properties. [29]

Charles-Geneviève-Louis-Auguste-André-Timothée Éon de Beaumont (1728–1810), usually known as the Chevalier d'Eon, was a French diplomat and soldier who lived the first half of his life as a man and the second half as a woman. In 1771 he stated that physically he was not a man, but a woman, having been brought up as a man only. From then on she lived as a woman. On her death it was discovered that her body was anatomically male.

George Sand is the pseudonym of Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin, an early 19th-century novelist who preferred to wear men's clothing exclusively. In her autobiography, she explains in length the various aspects of how she experienced cross-dressing.

Rrose Sélavy, the feminine alter-ego of artist Marcel Duchamp, remains one of the most complex and pervasive pieces in the enigmatic puzzle of the artist's oeuvre. She first emerged in portraits made by the photographer Man Ray in New York in the early 1920s, when Duchamp and Man Ray were collaborating on a number of conceptual photographic works. Rrose Sélavy lived on as the person to whom Duchamp attributed specific works of art, Readymades, puns, and writings throughout his career. By creating for himself this female persona whose attributes are beauty and eroticism, he deliberately and characteristically complicated the understanding of his ideas and motives.

England, Scotland, and Ireland Edit

In medieval England, cross dressing was normal practice in the theatre, used by men and young boys dressing and playing both roles of male and female. [30] During early modern London, religious authorities were against cross-dressing in theater due to it disregarding social conduct and causing gender confusion. [31]

Later, during the eighteenth century in London, crossdressing became a part of the club culture. Crossdressing took a part in men's only clubs where men would meet at these clubs dressed as women and drink. [32] One of the most well known clubs for men to do this was known as the Molly Club or Molly House. [32]

Anne Bonny and Mary Read were 18th-century pirates. Bonny in particular gained significant notoriety, but both were eventually captured. Unlike the rest of the male crew, Bonny and Read were not immediately executed because Read was pregnant and Bonny stated that she was as well. Charles Edward Stuart dressed as Flora MacDonald's maid servant, Betty Burke, to escape the Battle of Culloden for the island of Skye in 1746. Mary Hamilton dressed as a man to learn medicine and later married a woman in 1746. It was also alleged that she had married and abandoned many others, for either financial gain or for sexual gratification. She was convicted of fraud for misrepresenting herself as a man to her bride. Ann Mills fought as a dragoon in 1740. Hannah Snell served as a man in the Royal Marines 1747–1750, being wounded 11 times, and was granted a military pension.

Dorothy Lawrence was a war reporter who disguised herself as a man so she could become a soldier in World War I.

Writer and doctor Vernon Coleman cross-dresses and has written several articles about men who cross-dress, stressing they are often heterosexual and usually do not want to change sex. Artist and Turner Prize winner, Grayson Perry often appears as his alter-ego, Clare. Writer, presenter and actor Richard O'Brien sometimes cross-dresses and ran a "Transfandango" ball aimed at transgender people of all kinds in aid of charity for several years in the early 2000s (decade). Eddie Izzard, stand-up comedian and actor, states that he has cross-dressed his entire life. He often performs his act in feminine clothing, and has discussed his cross dressing as part of his act. He calls himself an "executive transvestite".

Japan Edit

Japan has a centuries-old tradition of male kabuki theatre actors cross-dressing onstage. [33] Transgender men (and more rarely, women) were also "conspicuous" in Tokyo's gei (gay) bar and club subculture in the pre- and post-World War II period. By the 1950s, publications concerning MTF cross-dressing were in circulation, advertising themselves as aimed at the "study" of the phenomenon. Fully-fledged "commercial" magazines aimed at cross-dressing 'hobbyists' began publishing after the launch of the first such magazine, Queen, in 1980. It was affiliated with the Elizabeth Club, which opened branch clubs in several Tokyo suburbs and other cities. [34] Yasumasa Morimura is a contemporary artist who cross-dresses.

Thailand Edit

Through the pre-modern age, cross-dressing and transgender appearance in Thailand was apparent in many contexts including same-sex theater performance. [35] The term Kathoey came to describe anyone from cross-dressers to transgender men (and women) as the practice became more prevalent in everyday life. [35] Lack of colonization by Western civilizations in Thailand have led to different ways of thinking about gender and self-identity. In turn, Thailand has fostered one of the most open and tolerant traditions towards Kathoeys and cross-dressers in the world. [36] In contrast to many Western civilizations, where homosexuality and cross-dressing have been historically criminal offenses, Thai legal codes have not explicitly criminalized these behaviors. [37] It was not until the 20th century that a public majority, whether on stage or in public, came to assume cross-dressing a sign of transgenderism and homosexuality. [35]

China Edit

Since the Yuan dynasty, cross-dressing has had a unique significance in Chinese opera. Period scholars cite it as the time in Chinese theatre as the "golden age." [38] The rise of dan, though characterized as female characters, was a prominent feature of the Peking Opera and many males took the roles of females. There were schools dedicated to the specific dan training as well. [39] Female crossdressers in the Chinese opera were also valued immensely and prospered far better than male crossdressers did. [38]

Hua Mulan, the central figure of the Ballad of Mulan (and of the Disney film Mulan), may be a historical or fictional figure. She is said to have lived in China during the Northern Wei, and to have posed as a man to fulfill the household draft quota, thus saving her ill and aged father from serving.

Shi Pei Pu was a male Peking Opera singer. Spying on behalf of the Chinese Government during the Cultural Revolution, he cross-dressed to gain information from Bernard Boursicot, a French diplomat. Their relationship lasted 20 years, during which they married. David Henry Hwang's 1988 play M. Butterfly is loosely based on their story.

I Went to Snctm, a Secret Celebrity ​Sex Party With a $75,000 Membership Fee​

I&rsquom in the inner sanctum of a secret Snctm sex party, and it&rsquos a spectacular scene. Per the dress code, the men are wearing tuxedos, and the women, who outnumber the men by 6 to 1, are wearing La Perla bras, garter belts, and high heels. Everyone is fit and attractive, and everyone is wearing a mask. It&rsquos a straight guy&rsquos total fantasy, like Cirque du Soleil meets a Victoria&rsquos Secret fashion show.

I first heard about Snctm while at Soho House in West Hollywood, a members-only club for Hollywood's creative crowd. I ran into some friends who had attended previous Snctm gatherings, and they referred to it as &ldquothe most glamorous sex party we ever went to." "You have to go," they told me. "It's so Eyes Wide Shut."

So I got in touch with Snctm's founder, Damon Lawner, 47. A former party promoter and real estate agent, Lawner says he was inspired to launch Snctm after watching the aforementioned Kubrick film. &ldquoI was going through a similar thing myself, struggling with being monogamous with my wife,&rdquo he told me. When his marriage failed, he turned his attention to Snctm, which has since been profiled by Goop, the website founded by Gwyneth Paltrow (who is also rumored to be a Snctm member).

"The grand object of Snctm is the eroticism of the human race,&rdquo he tells me.

This lofty goal comes at a steep price. To get into Snctm, men pay $1,875 per event, $10,000 for a yearly membership, or $75,000 for a lifetime &ldquoDominus&rdquo VIP membership. Women get in free via an application process that involves an online application, and a Skype or in-person interview. If they&rsquore hot, they&rsquore in. If they&rsquore not, they can&rsquot even pay to get in. (Perhaps unsurprisingly, male members are not held to these standards.) Welcome to Hollywood.

I ask Lawner for an invite. After promising that I will not reveal the location of the party nor the identities of any &ldquoA-list celebrities&rdquo who will be having sex at the party, I score an invite &mdash and because I&rsquom a journalist, I don&rsquot have to go through the arduous application process .

When I tell the guy I&rsquove been dating, he asks to go with me &mdash to help with my &ldquosexual research.&rdquo Actually, he begs me. I get it. What guy doesn't want to go to a sex party?

"The grand object of Snctm is the eroticism of the human race."

To preserve members&rsquo privacy, Snctm parties are held at different locations. But the night I attend, it's held at the &ldquoSnctm Mansion&rdquo, a $4.5 million estate located in Holmby Hills, near the Playboy Mansion.

When we arrive at midnight, my date and I are greeted at the front door by two topless girls in black ballet tutus and Zorro masks. The club&rsquos manager takes our coats. He tells me he&rsquos the former manager of the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge, but within the confines of Snctm, he&rsquos known simply as &ldquoMr. Hedonism.&rdquo

The living room is packed. It&rsquos a swanky house party, with people chatting at the bar with cocktails or in front of the fireplace. The men are wearing tuxedos and sporting Scntm&rsquos &ldquosecret society&rdquo lapel pinse. The women, who are all clad in lingerie, are young and incredibly attractive. It looks like a standard &ldquoHollywood pretty people party,&rdquo filled with a handful of TV actors and MAWs (short for Model-Actress-Whatevers).

Lawner insists that the women who attend Snctm parties are mostly sexually adventurous &ldquodoctors and lawyers." He says no one is paid to attend the events. &rdquoPaying for sex is so tacky!&rdquo he says. &ldquoWe have so many successful female applicants who want to come to our parties that they come to us.&rdquo

But of the 20 or so women I talk to at the party, eight say they&rsquore professional models or actors. One says she&rsquos a talent agent's assistant, one a mortgage broker, one a housewife, three are students, and five simply say they do &ldquoa lot of things.&rdquo

After my date and I spend a few minutes chatting with partygoers, the &ldquoerotic entertainment&rdquo portion of the evening starts, which is provided by what Lawner tells me is Scntm&rsquos official &ldquoerotic troupe.&rdquo A naked woman on all fours steadies herself on the floor as she becomes a &ldquohuman drink cart,&rdquo with guests placing bottles of expensive bourbon on a shelf on her butt. A guy in a black cape and black carnival mask starts having sex with a woman in a white Venetian mask while party guests look on, nonchalantly sipping champagne. Meanwhile, topless women in tutus do pirouettes around the living room. My date and I just watch and take in all the eye candy.

A man on the couch pulls down the zipper of his tuxedo pants and receives oral sex from a woman who looks to be at least 25 years younger than him, while two women take turns going down on each other in front of the fireplace. My date turns to me. &ldquoThanks for inviting me to the pagan Hollywood sex cult,&rdquo he says. &ldquoI love LA.&rdquo

My date and I head upstairs, where there are two bedrooms filled with a bunch of masked people piling on top of white canopy beds. In the first room, a group of people are watching a woman hanging from the side of the bed, receiving oral sex from two other women. People are so friendly in this city.

I then proceed to the &ldquoplayroom,&rdquo a dimly lit, attic-like space with a bunch of white futons on the floor. That&rsquos where I recognize my first celebrity in the flesh: a British rock star who I&rsquove had a crush on since I was 12. I can&rsquot stop gawking at him it's like watching a celebrity sex tape IRL. As he digitally penetrates the woman&rsquos butt, I make accidental eye contact with him. I give him a thumbs-up. He returns it with the hand he isn&rsquot using.

"It's like watching a celebrity sex tape IRL."

By this time, the party is a full-fledged orgy. A guy in a now-disheveled tuxedo dives under his date&rsquos designer gown, while a woman in a Carolina Herrera gown who told me earlier me she it wore to the Academy Awards, gives her partner a blow job. In the middle of the futons, we watch some spontaneous wife-swapping go down between two attractive couples in Mardi Gras masks, ball gowns, and tuxedos. The room looks like a cross between an Oscar after-party and an amateur porn set.

As my date and I head downstairs and out the door, we pass members of the &ldquoerotic troupe&rdquo having sex with each other. My date is elated. "I'm going to have masked orgy vision for two months," he says to me, adding, "that three-girl threesome was killer." Unfortunately, because of the steep price of membership, it&rsquos unlikely he&rsquoll be going back anytime soon. But the erotic entertainment is quite the fun spectacle.

If there's one thing I learn from the event, it's that Snctm members clearly know how to party. So if you have a few thousand to spare to participate in the eroticism of the human race, Scntm now holds events in New York, Cannes, and Moscow.

12. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar — United States

Drag-fueled road trips are so much fun that this list needed two. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar — a 1995 cult classic starring Patrick Swayze, Wesley Snipes, and John Leguizamo — follows three drag queens who get stuck in a tiny town after their car breaks down between New York City and Los Angeles. Watching Swayze and his crew try to pass as biological women in a backward tumble-weed town is two hours of absolute escapism — the breath of fresh air we could all use right about now.

Watch the video: Mexicans march against gay marriage law (January 2022).