Radical/Progressive Queer News and Commentary
from Memphis, Tennessee
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
Today in History: The Invention of "Homosexuality"
One hundred and forty years ago today, on May 6, 1868, the word "homosexuality" was coined by Hungarian gay-rights advocate Karl-Maria Kertbeny in a letter he wrote to the German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (who had coined the term "urning" to refer to a "male-bodied person with a female psyche," who is sexually attracted to men).
In the words of historian/philosopher Michel Foucault: "Homosexuality appeared as one of the forms of sexuality when it was transposed from the practice of sodomy onto a kind of interior androgyny, a hermaphrodism of the soul. THE SODOMITE HAD BEEN A TEMPORARY ABERRATION; THE HOMOSEXUAL WAS NOW A SPECIES." (History of Sexuality, Vol. 1)