Event Title

4A1: The Great War and Modern Homosexuality: Transatlantic Crossings

Start Date

29-9-2018 2:30 PM

End Date

29-9-2018 3:45 PM

Description

World War I had a deep impact upon the development of gender relationships in the Western World, and was especially significant in the way that it fostered the development of homosocial and homosexual identities among its participants. Many men and women who were involved in the war effort formed profoundly deep emotional and physical same-gender relationships that were perceived either at the time or later as homosexual. Observers and participants alike have attested that World War I encouraged a kind of incipient “gay solidarity” among some of its survivors - for example the British war poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfrid Owen, as well as the German-American Henry Garber, founder of the first American gay rights organization in the 1920s. At the same time, however, the war inspired intense concerns about policing same gender desire. In the United States, there were several large scale incidents where-in dozens of inducted soldiers were suspected of engaging in homosexual activity, resulting in mass trials and convictions of those accused. In Britain, likewise, “homosexual panic” manifest itself through the demagogue Pemberton Billing’s insistence that the German military command possessed a “Black Book” of 10,000 Britons who were homosexual and thus subject to blackmail and betrayal. In both countries, some homosexuals were regarded as “sick” and were treated accordingly in various mental health facilities; others were regarded as “criminal” and were subject to punishment in civil or military prisons. My paper will compare and contrast British and American post-war treatment of homosexual veterans, and will also evaluate the phenomenon of the World War One memoir which in many cases valorized same-gender love. These memoirs helped significantly in helping shape later twentieth century gay attitudes and identities.

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Sep 29th, 2:30 PM Sep 29th, 3:45 PM

4A1: The Great War and Modern Homosexuality: Transatlantic Crossings

World War I had a deep impact upon the development of gender relationships in the Western World, and was especially significant in the way that it fostered the development of homosocial and homosexual identities among its participants. Many men and women who were involved in the war effort formed profoundly deep emotional and physical same-gender relationships that were perceived either at the time or later as homosexual. Observers and participants alike have attested that World War I encouraged a kind of incipient “gay solidarity” among some of its survivors - for example the British war poets such as Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfrid Owen, as well as the German-American Henry Garber, founder of the first American gay rights organization in the 1920s. At the same time, however, the war inspired intense concerns about policing same gender desire. In the United States, there were several large scale incidents where-in dozens of inducted soldiers were suspected of engaging in homosexual activity, resulting in mass trials and convictions of those accused. In Britain, likewise, “homosexual panic” manifest itself through the demagogue Pemberton Billing’s insistence that the German military command possessed a “Black Book” of 10,000 Britons who were homosexual and thus subject to blackmail and betrayal. In both countries, some homosexuals were regarded as “sick” and were treated accordingly in various mental health facilities; others were regarded as “criminal” and were subject to punishment in civil or military prisons. My paper will compare and contrast British and American post-war treatment of homosexual veterans, and will also evaluate the phenomenon of the World War One memoir which in many cases valorized same-gender love. These memoirs helped significantly in helping shape later twentieth century gay attitudes and identities.