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Jeremy Rich

In April 1884, a scandal erupted among colonial officials stationed in the French Central African colony of Gabon. Alexis d'Alexis, a customs officer, and Faucher, a member of Pierre Savorgnan de Brazza's third expedition into the Gabonese interior, accused one another of abuses against Africans. D'Alexis declared that Faucher had tortured a Senegalese sailor, and Faucher accused D'Alexis of engaging in sexual relationships with six African boys and men on the island. Although the charges never went beyond the colonial administration's internal correspondence, the allegations of aberrant conduct and the inquiry that resulted offer a fascinating glimpse of understandings of masculinity, internal friction, and the monitoring of intimate behavior within the French colonial administration in the Scramble for Africa. This case points to the fractured nature of state regulation of sexuality in the French empire, as well as the ways different officials defined and deployed constructions of abnormal masculinity as weapons in disputes.

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Michael Sibalis

Frédéric Martel, The Pink and the Black: Homosexuals in France since 1968, trans. Jane Marie Todd (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999); Le Rose et le noir: les homosexuels en France depuis 1968, 2nd edition, revised and enlarged (Paris: Seuil, 2000).

Florence Tamagne, Histoire de l’homosexualité en Europe: Berlin, Londres, Paris 1919-1939 (Paris: Seuil, 2000).

Carolyn J. Dean, The Frail Social Body: Pornography, Homosexuality, and Other Fantasies in Interwar France (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000).

Daniel Borrillo, Eric Fassin, and Marcela Iacub, eds., Au-delà du PaCS: l’expertise familiale à l’épreuve de l’homosexualité, (Paris: Presses Universitaire de France, 1999).

Louis-Georges Tin and Geneviève Pastre, eds., Homosexualités: expression/répression, (Paris: Stock, 2000).

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Naming our sexualities

Secular constraints, Muslim freedoms

Katherine Pratt Ewing

Terms of a Western discourse of homosexuality shape conflicts surrounding sexual identity that are faced by many Muslims, especially those who live in diasporic communities. Many use essentialized categories to articulate their sexual orientations and express incommensurabilities between their sexuality and their identities as Muslims. This article argues that discursive constructions of the Muslim as traditional other to the secular sexual subject of a modern democracy generate an uninhabitable subject position that sharply dichotomizes sexual orientations and Muslim family/religious orientations, a dichotomization that is reinforced by well-publicized backlashes against open homosexuality in several Muslim countries. Yet observations made during ethnographic field research in Pakistan, as well as scholarly evidence from other Muslim countries, suggest that many Muslims are less troubled by sex and desire in all their possible forms than they are by the peculiar modern practice of naming our sexualities as the basis for secular public identities.

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Sexology, Homosexual History, and Walt Whitman

The 'Uranian' Identity in Imre: A Memorandum

James Wilper

Historical surveys of the homosexual novel in the English language often take Imre: A Memorandum (1906) by Edward Prime-Stevenson as a starting point since this work of fiction is one of the first by a gay writer to deal openly with love between men and to end happily for the lovers; yet despite this attention an in-depth scholarly treatment of the themes of this novel has been lacking. This essay seeks to address this dearth by considering the role played by late nineteenth-century sexology, its concepts, its naming systems, and its mode of self-narration, and by giving special notice to the ways in which the text exceeds the boundaries of this continent of knowledge. Fin-de-siècle sexual science, especially liberationist third- or intermediate-sex sexology, triggers awareness which is essential to the central characters' subjectivities. But, as a means for constructing affirmative identities and mapping out relations between men, sexology proves to be insufficient. They turn to history and the arts, fashioning a cultural legacy of homosexuality, not in the mode of apologetics, but in order to self confidently historicise love between men, argue its cultural legitimacy, and thus the authenticity of this love in the modern era. This essay does not attempt to make the claim that the cultural-historical discourses are more important than the scientific, or vice versa, rather both are central to the characters' development and their 'coming out'.

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Jeffrey Newman

Rabbi Lionel Blue's extraordinary achievements and contributions to the post-war development of Anglo-Jewry are reviewed by means of personal reminiscences stretching back more than fifty years. It is suggested that they essentially derive from three personal characteristics - humour, humanity and humility - combined with a fierce intellectual passion and honesty that is sometimes overlooked. Key to Lionel's work and life was his personal relationship with God. Reference is made to the central role that his homosexuality played in his life, particularly in his work with those suffering from HIV Aids. Here he was a pioneer, as he was also as Britain's radio rabbi, the founder of the first Jewish-Muslim-Christian work, the new type of prayer book or the essential role of European Judaism.

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Off the Beaten Path

Non-Metropolitan Representations of Homosexuality in Three French Films

Romain Chareyron

This article offers a reflection on the ways in which the representation of gays and lesbians in contemporary French cinema has mostly focused on specific and limiting traits. With their choice of locales (Paris and other cities) and bodily characteristics (young, fit), these films convey a restrictive view of homosexuality. Such portrayals have gained traction due to their numerous iterations in films and in the media. By focusing on the works of three directors who have adopted a radically different perspective in their portrayals of homosexuality, this article will highlight the close ties that exist between sexuality and topography. Providing a more true-to-life account of homosexuality, the films move away from cities to investigate the geographical margins. In so doing, they question the tenets of France’s republican ideals, where differences tend to be smoothed out in favor of unity and homogeneity. These films reinstate diversity and individuality at the heart of their narratives.

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Hannah Mueller

The representation of adolescent same-sex love in Daniel Ribeiro’s Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho (2014) and Aluizio Abranches’s Do Começo ao Fim (2009) stands out from other treatments of adolescence and homosexuality in Brazilian/LatinAmerican cinema. The movies’ setting within an urban upper-class environment allows for a conception of adolescence as a prolonged period of carefree exploration. By intertwining the experience of adolescence with the discovery of emergent sexuality, the movies develop a model of sensual, gentle masculinity and a reciprocal concept of homosexual love, thus undermining the paradigmatic juxtaposition of active masculinity and passive femininity that has dominated cinematic representations of homosexual characters and same sex-encounters in Latin-American cinema.

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Giuseppe Marcocci

In 1578, a same-sex community that gathered in a church, performing marriages between men, was discovered in Rome. Documentary evidence now verifies this story, reported by many sources, including a passage of Michel de Montaigne's Travel Journal, but which was for a long time denied by scholars. While briefly reconstructing this affair, this article explores the complex emotional regime surrounding the episode. In particular, it argues that those who participated in the ceremonies did so not only as an expression of affection for their partners, but also in an attempt to legitimize their relationships in a rite that imitated the Counter-Reformation sacrament of marriage. This approach challenges the predominant historiography on the birth of homosexuality and helps us to better understand the sentiments of those who were part of a same-sex community in Renaissance Rome.

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Perfect Love in a Better World

Same-Sex Attraction between Girls

Wendy L. Rouse

Victorian notions of the passionless female allowed for a wide latitude of socially acceptable relationships between girls in the nineteenth century that included crushes, romantic friendships, and, for women, Boston marriages. However, textual depictions of female sexuality were rapidly shifting in the early twentieth century. As sexologists’ writings moved toward a medical model focused on the prevention and treatment of homosexuality, the literature created and consumed by parents and school officials reflected growing anxiety about the potential sexual undertones of female friendships. The story of two women coming of age during this cultural shift humanizes the impact of shifting cultural norms on the lives of individuals and reveals the tragic consequences for those who resisted efforts to conform to heteronormative expectations regarding their future.

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Loren Ringer

Alain Finkelkraut has interrogated contemporary Jewish identity in terms of how a Jew reckons with the heavy impact of the Holocaust and in fact with the entire history of the Jewish people. Finkelkraut takes issue with Sartre’s 1947 essay, Anti-Semite and Jew, not for its content but the effect that it has had on him. “Let there be no misunderstanding: I am not attacking the book that Sartre wrote on the Jewish problem,” asserts the author in a footnote (JI 17, my translation). Instead, he shows how the philosopher aids in the creation of what Finkelkraut terms “the imaginary Jew.”