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Colin Spencer

 

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Excerpt from Homosexuality - A History

Throughout my life I have been shocked by homophobia. Unable to accept the explanation that it is based on divine law interpreted by biblical exegesis, I have never been able to understand fully why it should exist at all. Obviously, there must be a social and political need for such violent and negative emotions to exist and flourish, but why are some societies amiable in their attitudes towards same-sex loving, while other are choleric? Why do so many societies need to persecute, punish, maim and slaughter males who exhibit that sexual preference? Nothing, I decided, but a world history of the subject could begin to explain what I wished to know.

I set out to write a comprehensive history, but once I began to read the source materials, I soon discovered that it would be a lifetime’s work which would fill at least twenty-four volumes. I also realised that I could not merely extract one facet of sexuality without placing it in the whole social context, and this would entail in one very real sense, a history of sexuality itself. I have had, then, to be highly selective. I have used my own curiosity as a guide, tracing back from our present attitudes to homosexuality in an attempt to discover what compound of arcane beliefs they stem from. My search was made all the more intriguing by being constantly fuelled by academic work published in the last fifteen years (this subject, after all, has only just acquired scholarly respectability) in Britain, Europe and the USA …

This book takes the view that our sexuality is a product of specific historical conditions, that our sense of gender is constructed rather than biologically fixed. However, I also believe that each individual has a genetic predisposition which prompts the choice of structure that is available. Society and the individual unite as an entity. So, in a sense, it straddles current theories, though to scrutinise the psychology of a particular historical personage is not part of its remit.