Monthly Archives: August 2010

Homoeroticism in Sports

Gay men and sports is generally considered an oxymoron. They don’t appear to go together most of the time. Many gay men hate sports. I personally never got a great deal of pleasure playing sports. image I still don’t enjoy playing many sports; racquetball is one of the few exceptions. I have never been a great athlete, and I never particularly liked a great deal of exercise. In recent years that has changed. I enjoy going for a walk, and I enjoy working out and lifting weights. Once you get past the soreness, you really do get an endorphin high. Blood flows better through your body (this is good because of many reasons, LOL); you have more energy; and being in better shape is always a plus.
With all that said, I may not have liked playing sports, I do love watching sports, especially college sports. I can’t wait for football season to start, then I will look forward to basketball and then baseball. image I don’t take much of an interest in professional sports, though I have pulled for the New Orleans Saints and the Carolina Panthers for years. The NFL just doesn’t hold the same interest as college football. The NBA and MLB don’t do it for me either, even though when I was younger, and he was quite popular, I was a huge fan of Jose Canseco. Now on the other hand, I am a big pro tennis fan. Andy Roddick rocks, LOL.
As I was doing a little research for an upcoming post about gladiators and other sports figures as a symbol of ultimate homoerotica, I came across this article:

imageThe author of this article contends that homoeroticism is completely unintentional. On that point, I do not disagree. However, the author’s contention that we should not look for homoeroticism in sports only because it is unintentional is a ludicrous argument. If we can’t have fun watching men slap each other on the ass, hug, kiss, or the myriad of other homoerotic activities that athletes engage in, then it takes too much of the fun away from watching sports. At least for me. Athletes often have fantastic bodies and are in great physical shape, they are just fun to watch. image A “tight end” in a football uniform, the legs and arms of a basketball player, the ass of a baseball player in those tight pants, the beautiful physique of lacrosse players (one of my particular favorites). All of these show why sports are so fun to watch. I think the reason so many gay men do not like to watch sports is because they do not fully understand the game. My suggestion is this, give it a chance, watch a few games, and you will figure out the basic rules. Most of all, enjoy the beauty of the male athlete.
image So in the coming week, I plan to do a few posts on the joys of male athleticism. The sensuality and eroticism of bull jumping, gladiatorial fights, bull fighting, greco-roman wrestling and a few more modern less gruesome sporting activities, that I hope will get your blood flowing in all the right places.

Naked Warriors in History

angus-mcbride-celtic-warriors No, I am not talking about the movie Avatar. I am speaking of the Celtic warriors of ancient Scotland known as the Picts. From the accounts of Britain made by the classical authors, we know that by the fourth century AD, the predominant people in northern Scotland were referred to as “Picts”. Historians really don’t know what they called themselves, but Picts is the name that came down through history. The Latin word Picti first occurs in a panegyric written by Eumenius in AD 297 and is taken to mean “painted or tattooed people” (Latin pingo “to paint”; pictus, “painted”, cf. Greek “πυκτίς” – puktis, “picture”). Their Old English name gave the modern Scots form Pechts and the Welsh word Fichti.

1267 The Romans were only in Britain for a little over three centuries before their empire collapsed. Romanized Celtic culture survived in many places, particularly Wales, while a more purely Celtic tradition survived in Scotland. The Picts were MYTHS214gradually absorbed by their Celtic allies. The Romans never tried to conquer Scotland, a poor area which never supported more than 100,000 people during this period. A principal occupation of the “Scots” was raiding the wealthier Roman lands to the south and most Roman military activity in Britain was against the Pict and Celtic tribes in Scotland. The Romanized Celts in Britain sometimes rebelled, or at least a a few of them did. Until the Romans withdrew the last of their legions in the early 5th Century (to deal with the Germans, and civil war), the Romans always had the upper hand. This should come as no surprise. The Romans were supreme organizers and managed to keep up to 60,000 trained soldiers on duty in Britain. No one was able to repeat this feat until near the end of the Medieval period.

Throughout history, these Picts have been shadowy, enigmatic figures. From the outset, they were regarded as savage warriors The_True_Picture_of_One_Pict and by the time the Norsemen were compiling their sagas, and histories, the memory of the Picts had degenerated into a semi-mythical race of fairies.

Theories abound, although these days it is generally accepted that the Picts were not, as once believed, a new race, but were simply the descendants of the indigenous Iron Age people of northern Scotland.

The cloud of uncertainty that surrounds the Picts is simply because they left no written records. Because of this we have no clear insight into how they lived, their beliefs or society. All we know of them is second-hand anecdotal evidence, lifted from the various historical writers who recorded their own, possibly biased, impressions of the Pictish people.

The earliest surviving mention of the Picts dates from 297AD.picts

In a poem praising the Roman emperor Constantius Chlorus, the orator Eumenius wrote that the Britons were already accustomed to the semi-naked ‘Picti and Hiberni (Irish) as their enemies’.

From Emenius’ statement we can see that the Picts were already a major thorn in the side of the Roman Empire. And they continued to be a problem for their neighbours – continually harassing their neighbours for centuries after the Roman legions abandoned Britain. But who were they?

Pollaiuolo_nude_warriors_in_combat-1470-80- The term “Picti” was more than likely a Roman nickname used to describe the people north of Hadrian’s Wall. In much the same way as the term “European” is used today to describe people from a number of countries, Pict was a blanket term applied to an agglomeration of different people in the northern Scotland, probably with different cultures and, if the Life of St Columba is to believed, language.

If you know much about the Roman Empire, you know that its army was very effective and rarely broke ranks. The Roman military was comprised of legions of 5,000 men each. Each Roman_soldiers_with_aquilifer_signifer_centurio_70_aClegion consisted of 50 centuries,100 men each, led by a Centurion. Legions were accustomed to 20 mile marches. Courage was rewarded through promotion and honors. Cowardice was punished by stoning or flogging to death. If a century broke ranks, the punishment was decimation—every tenth soldier in the legion was executed. Because of the military structure of the Roman Empire, it was highly unlikely that they would break rank and run the other way. However, that was exactly what happened when they encountered the Picts.

The Picts fought completely naked, with their bodies either painted or tattooed blue (we really don’t know which, the Romans wouldn’t get close enough to find out). When an army of pictaumueboai9ep naked, blue men came running and screaming at the Roman army, the army broke ranks and ran away. They were scared to death of the Picts. What would you do if an army of naked men came running after you? (Well, I know some of you would just turn around and bend over, LOL, but that’s not what the Romans did.) The Romans were well-organized, well-armed, and disciplined; the Picts were not.

Other Celtic tribes the Romans had encountered were more organized (and civilized) than the Picts. The Germans and Gauls of continental Europe had armies that the Romans knew how to deal with. The Picts were not what the Romans expected, and thus, they didn’t know how to deal with them. They became such a problem, that the Romans under Emperor Hadrian decided that the best thing was to build a wall.

20090101220308!Hadrians_Wall_map hadrian's wall

Hadrian’s Wall is an ancient Roman wall, 118.3 km (73.5 mi) long, across northern England. Built by the emperor Hadrian c. A.D. 122-126 and extended by Severus a century later, the wall marked the northern defensive boundary of Roman Britain. Fragmentary ruins of the wall remain. The wall was primarily built to keep out the crazy blue men, who the Romans failed to ever conquer.

knightsgroup Later in the Middle Ages, the Vikings had an interesting counterpart to the Picts, called the Berserker. These warriors were the secret weapon of the Vikings. Berserkers (or Berserkers (or Berserks) are Norse warriors who are reported in the Old Norse literature to have fought in a nearly uncontrollable, trance-like fury, a characteristic which later gave rise to the English word berserk.

In old-Norse sagas, they were warriors who dressed themselves in bear skins or were bare-skinned, to make use of the fear bears common people had for wild animals. Many of the Vikings were very hairy, and thus even naked would look like bears (the original bear fetish, LOL). They whipped themselves up to a sort of battle frenzy, biting their shields and howling like animals. They were ferocious fighters and seemingly insensitive to pain while this madness lasted; berserks made formidable enemies. In their rage they even attacked the boulders and trees of the forest; it was not uncommon that they killed their own people. The belief in berserks can be compared with the belief in werewolves; both are magical transformations of humans who assume the shape of an kindred animal.

The name berserker arose from their reputed habit of wearing a kind of shirt or coat (Old Norse: serkr) made from the pelt of ahairy-men bear (Old Norse: ber-) during battle. In earlier studies, the element ber- was often misinterpreted as berr-, meaning “bare”, understood as indicating that the berserkers fought naked. It is unclear as to whether they dressed like bears or were bare, but either way, they came into battle without armor generally with a battle axe or spear and, in a frenzied drug-induced state, killed anyone and everything that came in their way, friend or foe alike.

A little note about historical interpretation. In a broad look at historians there are four types: traditionalists, revisionists, neo-030-05 traditionalists, and neo-revisionists. The traditionalist often used myths and legends to supplement the telling of history. Revisionists tried to prove traditionalists wrong by saying they found new source material that proves that the traditionalist historians are backwards looking. Neo-traditionalist tend to say, “wait a minute,” there may be flows in the traditionalist view, but there are also some hard facts behind what they wrote. Then you have the neo-revisionists, who say, maybe all three have some validity, but here is what the real history is. 87215_Cole_Ryder_25_U_Oct_06_123_526lo Then the cycle begins again. Case in point, the name berserker: originally it was interpreted as bare-skinned not bear-skinned. But a neo-traditionalist (like myself) would say that “Wait, you miss the point of the traditions of Celtic, German, and Scandinavian warriors were often naked in battle to show they had no fear. You also forget that the Scandinavians were hairier as most northern Europeans were because of the cold climate, and either naked or in bear skins would have looked like huge bears.575759 The neo-revisionist would totally contradict me and state (as in the Wikipedia article about Berserkers) “The name berserker arose from their reputed habit of wearing a kind of shirt or coat (Old Norse: serkr) made from the pelt of a bear (Old Norse: ber-) during battle. In earlier studies, the element ber- was often misinterpreted as berr-, meaning “bare”, understood as indicating that the berserkers fought naked. This view has since been abandoned.” They leave no room for other interpretations, but there is always room for interpretation.

So the last bit was my rant about historians, it is up to you how you interpret history. I tend to prefer the more salacious accounts of history, since Judeo-Christian morals have been placed on the writing of history since the Roman Empire converted to Christianity. Therefore, it is my opinion that the more salacious details are probably more accurate than myth. Men have always been horny beasts, and that will never change. If they could get away with it, they did. Plus, they liked to prove their masculinity through nudity. Fraternities didn’t get their pranks and love of nudity out of nowhere, it came down through the history of man.

The Challenge Is Being Met

image A couple of weeks ago my friend Crothdiver over at Anything Male challenged me to a post about aphrodisiacs and the sensuality of food.  I did so in these posts:

Love Potion #…Nah, I’m Not Eating That
Sensuality and Food

image In turn, I challenged him to post a similar series of posts about sensuality and food. here is my challenge to him:

You have mentioned several times how much you like to cook….Well, can you plan a menu (recipes included) that would be your ideal of a sensual banquet?  What is the most romantic and sexually laced meal that you can come up with?

Crotchdiver, is exceeding even my greatest expectations.  He has not only supplied us with the wonderfully sensual foods, along with discussions of their sensuality, but also he is providing the recipes (and they are recipes that any of us can make) for these wonderful dishes.  image Escargot is the latest post and recipe.  Now eating snails is not my favorite thing in the world, but after reading his description, I might have to try it again.  The escargot I had in France was not only very chewy, but also not very tasty.  However, Crotchdivers recipe for Escargot in Garlic Basil Butter sounds as heavenly as his other recipes.  So go check out Anything Male and make these special meals for the person you love.  I guarantee it will be a sensual and rewarding experience.  Food can be such a wonderful version of foreplay.
Crotchdiver has more recipes to come, so stay tuned.

Friends of Dorothy


 The Wizard of Oz had its first premiere screening 71 years ago today. This movie has been a iconic movie for gay men since it was released. Other connections between Garland and LGBT people include the slang term friend of Dorothy, imagewhich likely derives from Garland’s portrayal of Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz and became a code phrase gay people used to identify each other. Dorothy’s journey from Kansas to Oz “mirrored many gay men’s desires to escape the black-and-white limitations of small town life…for big, colorful cities filled with quirky, gender-bending characters who would welcome them.” In the film, Dorothy immediately accepts those who are different, including the Cowardly Lion. The Lion identifies himself through song as a “sissy” and exhibits stereotypically “gay” (or at least effeminate) mannerisms. The Lion offers a coded example of Garland meeting and accepting a gay man without question.In the film, Dorothy is accepting of those who are different. For example the “gentle lion” living a lie, “I’m afraid there’s no denyin’, I’m just a dandy lion.”


image I find this little fact hilarious, though it is also quite tragic in terms of understanding the American military attitudes and understanding of gay men.  In the early 1980s, the Naval Investigative Service was investigating homosexuality in the Chicago area. Agents discovered that gay men sometimes referred to themselves as “friends of Dorothy.” Unaware of the historical meaning of the term, the NIS believed that a woman named Dorothy was at the center of a massive ring of homosexual military personnel. The NIS launched an enormous hunt for Dorothy, hoping to find her and convince her to reveal the names of gay servicemembers.

Conventional wisdom is that Garland’s death and funeral, in June 1969, helped inspire the image Stonewall riots, the flashpoint of the modern Gay Liberation movement. However, some observers of the riots contend that most of those involved “were not the type to moon over Judy Garland records or attend her concerts at Carnegie Hall. They were more preoccupied with where they were going to sleep and where their next meal would come from.” There was certainly an awareness and appreciation of Garland among Stonewall Inn patrons. Because the bar had no liquor license, it was passed off as a bottle club and patrons were required to sign in. Many used pseudonyms and “Judy Garland” was among the most popular. Regardless of the truth of the matter, the Garland/Stonewall connection has persisted and has been fictionalized in Stonewall, Nigel Finch’s feature film about the events leading up to the riots. Lead character Bostonia is shown watching Garland’s funeral on television and mourning, and later refusing to silence a jukebox playing a Garland song during a police raid, declaring “Judy stays.”

Time magazine would summarize decades later:

The uprising was inspirited by a potent cocktail of pent-up rage (raids of gay bars were brutal and routine), overwrought emotions (hours earlier, thousands had wept at the funeral of Judy Garland) and drugs. As a 17-year-old cross-dresser was being led into the paddy wagon and got a shove from a cop, she fought back. [She] hit the cop and was so stoned, she didn’t know what she was doing—or didn’t care.

Garland’s daughter Lorna Luft points to the connection with pride, saying that her mother was a image“huge, huge advocate of human rights” and that Garland would have found the rioting appropriate.

Another connection is the rainbow flag, symbol of the LGBT communities which may have been inspired, in part, by Garland’s song “Over the Rainbow.” Garland’s performance of this song has been described as “the sound of the closet,” speaking to gay men whose image “they presented in their own public lives was often at odds with a truer sense of self that mainstream society would not condone.”

St. Sebastian

self-portrait-as-saint-sebastian-john-douglas Saint Sebastian_k

To continue our look at art and history today, I wanted to discuss St. Sebastian. Can a Christian saint be a gay icon? Apparently he can. Sebastian was a Christian martyr who died during the persecutions of the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 288. According to legend, he was born in Gaul (present-day France) and went to Rome to serve in the army. When officials learned that he was a Christian seeking converts, they ordered his execution by archers. Left for dead, he was nursed back to health by a Christian widow. He presented himself before the emperor, who condemned him to death by beating. His body was thrown into a sewer but was afterward found and buried. In Renaissance art he was often depicted as a handsome youth pierced by arrows.

The Martyrdom of Saint Sebastian 05_Saint_Sebastian_jpg 300px-Sodoma_Sebastian

In his novella Death in Venice, Thomas Mann hails the “Sebastian-Figure” as the supreme emblem of Apollonian beauty, that is, the artistry of differentiated forms, beauty as measured by discipline, proportion, and luminous distinctions. This allusion to Saint Sebastian’s suffering, associated with the writerly professionalism of the novella’s protagonist, Gustav Aschenbach, provides a model for the “heroism born of weakness”, which characterizes poise amidst agonizing torment and plain acceptance of one’s fate as, beyond mere patience and passivity, a stylized achievement and artistic triumph.

St_Sebastian_Saint titian1 Guido Reni  Saint Sebastian _BOTTOM PIC#1#

In 1976, the British director Derek Jarman made a film, Sebastiane, which caused controversy in its treatment of the martyr as a homosexual icon. However, as several critics have noted, this has been a subtext of the imagery since the Renaissance.

saint-sebastian-22 454px-SaraceniSebastian

To show some of the modern interpretations of St. Sebastian, I decided to add both parts of the short film directed by Jose Ramon Samper Artegalia Bernad. Like Jarman’s film, which was done in Latin, this shows St. Sebastian as gay icon. This film is in Spanish, but it is still quite beautiful, even if you don’t speak Spanish.

Renaissance artists had access to history that we currently do not. There was obviously some reason why they chose to depict him as a beautiful young man. Since Sebastian was a Gaul, it could have been influenced by the beauty of The Dying Gaul, one of my all time favorite statues. The warrior is depicted as a beautiful man, but there is obviously love and lust for his beauty that the sculptor saw. It is also likely that Renaissance artists may have known some historical gossip about Sebastian, or the loving relationships that existed between the early brothers and sisters in Christ. Who knows why they depicted him as a beautiful young man, but they have left behind a question for history and the beauty of man.


Henry Scott Tuke

HenryScottTuke Henry Scott Tuke, (12 June 1858–13 March 1929), was a British visual artist; primarily a painter, but also a photographer. His most notable work was in the Impressionist style, and he is probably best known for his paintings of nude boys and young men.

He was born into a Quaker family in Lawrence Street in York. He was the second son of Daniel Hack Tuke (1827–1895) and Maria Strickney (1826–1917). In 1859 the family moved to Falmouth, where Daniel Tuke, a physician, established a practice. Tuke’s sister and biographer, Maria Tuke Sainsbury (1861–1947), was born there. Tuke was encouraged to draw and paint from an early age and some of his earliest drawings—from when he was four or five years old—were published in 1895. In 1870, Tuke joined his brother William at Irwin Sharps’s Quaker school in Weston-super-Mare, and remained there until he was sixteen.

9-henry-scott-tuke-noonday-heat-1902 In 1875, Tuke enrolled in the Slade School of Art under Alphonse Legros and Sir Edward Poynter. Initially his father paid for his tuition but in 1877 Tuke won a scholarship, which allowed him to continue his training at the Slade and in Italy in 1880. From 1881–1883 he was in Paris where he met Jules Bastien-Lepage, who encouraged him to paint en plein air. While studying in France, Tuke decided to move to Newlyn Cornwall where many of his Slade and Parisian friends had already formed the Newlyn School of painters. He received several lucrative commissions there, after exhibiting his work at the Royal Academy of Art in London.

28 - Two boys on a beach (A study in bright sunlight) - 1909 Ashmolean museum, Oxford

In 1885, Tuke returned to Falmouth where many of his major works were produced. Tuke became an established artist and was elected to full membership of the Royal Academy in 1914. Tuke suffered from a heart attack in 1928 and he died in March, 1929. Towards the end of his life Tuke knew that his work was no longer fashionable. In his will he left generous amounts of money to some of the men who, as boys, had been his models. Today he is remembered mainly for his oil paintings of young men, but in addition to his achievements as a figurative painter, he was an established maritime artist and produced as many portraits of sailing ships as he did human figures. Tuke was a prolific artist—over 1,300 works are listed and more are still being discovered.

800px-Tuke,_Henry_Scott_(1858–1929),_Ruby,_gold_and_malachite,_190271 450px-Tuke,_Henry_Scott_(1858–1929),_'The_Bathers'  29884069_Henry_Scott_Tuke18581929_1   VIC190203023  01 Tuke,_Henry_Scott_(1858–1929)_-_1904_-_The_sun_worshipper_(In_the_morning_sun) Tuke,_Henry_Scott_(1858–1929)_-_1928_-_Figure_study_for_'Aquamarine'Tuke,_Henry_Scott_(1858–1929)_-_1914_ca_-_Two_boys_and_a_dog Tuke,_Henry_Scott_(1858–1929)_-_1917_-_Under_the_western_sun  untitled1

A History of Gay Sex

What sorts of things did gay men get up to in the past, and how much did these differ from what we get up to today? Does gay sex have a history, or do the forms of pleasure remain the same across centuries? Have some tastes declined, and new tastes arisen?

Some things, like cruising and cottaging, have been popular for centuries. Public latrines and baths or “stews” were good pick-up spots in the late Middle Ages. Dutch gay men in the early 18th century coined the word “kruisen”, and their favourite cruising grounds were the quays along the waterfront. In Amsterdam in the 1760s many sodomites were arrested in the public toilets built next to the city’s numerous bridges; favourite toilets were given nicknames, such as The Old Lady and The Long Lady. In 18th-century London, gay men were regularly arrested in the Lincoln’s Inn bog house, on the east side of New Square, Lincoln’s Inn Fields. The Savoy bog house was used so regularly by gay men that members of the Society for the Reformation of Manners often posted themselves outside and could be sure of making an arrest there. And in the Temple bog house in 1707 a hole had been deliberately cut in the partition wall between two stalls – making it the first recorded glory hole.

In 18th-century England, what gay men called “picking up trade” was common in the covered arcades of the Royal Exchange and Covent Garden, where they competed with Women of Pleasure. In 1718 a watchman caught sight of two people shagging while leaning against the rails of Covent Garden Church, not an unusual sight, but when he realised they were both men he started calling them filthy sodomites. One of these men, whose breeches were down around his ankles, replied “Sirrah! what’s that to you, can’t I make use of my own Body? I have done nothing but what I will do again.”

Public parks and open fields were popular resorts for gay sex. The path that ran across the middle of Moorfields, the large fields just north of the City walls, was called the “Sodomites’ Walk”. The basic pick-up technique was to stand up against a wall and pretend to be making water, and to wait until someone expressed some interest. The best area for male prostitution was Bird Cage Alley in St James’s Park. There, Guardsmen regularly offered themselves for sex and then blackmailed their tricks. A soldier named James Brown and his brother claimed that they had picked up and then blackmailed five hundred gentlemen in Bird Cage Alley in the late 1750s. Another soldier, John Mitchell, who bragged that his penis was nine inches long, said, “When I wanted Money, I took a Walk in the Park, and got 4 or 5 Guineas a-Night of Gentlemen, because they would not be expos’d.”

Contrary to the view that gays in the past took strictly “active” or “passive” roles, eighteenth-century trials (our best source for details about sex) show that most gay men took turn and turn about, and enjoyed reciprocal sex. A single sexual encounter often covered a broad range of activity. An illustration of this is the case of two men who were prosecuted in 1772 for buggering one another in the toilet of the Red Lion pub in Moorfields. Robert Crook, a 19-year-old man who was sharing a drink with Charles Gibson, said: “I went into the yard to make water, he came into the yard while I was making water, took hold of my yard, and began to work it with his hand; he said ‘It was a very good one, and he liked it very well’; he then asked me to go down to the vault [i.e. the bog-house] with him, which I did. There he said ‘Did not you know Dick that lived in this house? He had a fine tool, almost as big as my wrist, you are just such a lad as he was, let’s see if your’s is as big as his.’ Then he worked my yard till he made it spend in his hand. Then he pushed me back upon the vault, and worked me in the same manner on the seat of the vault till I did it in his hand; after that he kissed me very heartily; then he unbuttoned his own breeches, put my hand to his private parts, and kept tickling me about ten minutes; he kissed it and rubbed it, then he said ‘Now it will do’; he then turned round, and put his naked breech into my lap, and put his hand behind him, laid hold of my yard, and pushed it into his backside, twice or three times, I am not sure which.” After they were finished, Gibson wanted to change positions and bugger Crook. Crook claimed he was drunk and had been forced to take part in sex. But others had seen them kissing in the pub, and it transpired that this was not the only time both men had been to the vault together.

In this incident Gibson kissed Crook’s “yard”. But there are only half a dozen references to sucking between men in 18th-century English trials. In the Dutch Republic it was also rare, and considered a special treat. In 1730 a wealthy patrician was prosecuted for sucking his servants; one of the things he liked to do was spit their semen into a glass of wine and drink it. In 1765 a pedler was tried in Amsterdam for sucking a friend. He claimed he had learned the practice from a physician, who on one occasion said “Oh boy, I swallowed it.”

Cock-sucking is mentioned, usually as an insult, in Ancient Classical literature, but the practice nearly disappeared between then and modern times. In late medieval Florence, it is mentioned in 12 per cent of the legal records concerning sex between men. In German lands in the 1530s there are cases of men approaching other men in public latrines and offering to “suck out the nature” from them. There are allusions to oral sex in Richard Barnfield’s poem The Affectionate Shepherd, Containing the Complaint of Daphnis for the love of Ganymede, which was published in 1594, e.g.:

If it be sinne to loue a louely Lad:
Oh then sinne I, for whom my soule is sad.
                              . . . . . .
O would to God (so I might have my fee)
My lips were honey, and thy mouth a Bee.
Then shouldst thou sucke my sweete and my faire flower
That now is ripe, and full of honey-berries.

“Fee” is a common Elizabethan pun for sexual intercourse. Elsewhere in the poem Barnfield hopes his beloved will “suck my Coyne” (“coin” is a common Elizabethan metaphor for semen), and he also uses puns such as “stones” (meaning testicles) and “purses” (meaning scrotum). However, although Barnfield’s homoeroticism is clear, and was recognized by his contemporaries, it has to be acknowledged that any claim that he deals with fellatio depends upon our interpretation of metaphors and puns. Less metaphorical descriptions of oral sex feature in some late 18th-century French erotica, especially by the Marquis de Sade, and there are prints illustrating it. But in real life, hardly anyone in the 17th or 18th centuries, male or female, prostitute or otherwise, gay or straight, ever engaged in oral sex.

Some historians of sexuality argue that oral sex between men and women wasn’t common until the early twentieth century. For example, it wasn’t treated favourably in marriage manuals until the late 1920s. For gay men, the taste for oral sex has grown over the years. In Havelock Ellis’s book Sexual Inversion, published in 1897, nine of the gay men in his case studies preferred anal sex, compared to only three who preferred oral sex. In America, in the late nineteenth century some laws for the first time specifically prohibited oral sex between men, which might indicate that it was a newly popular practice. Herman Melville in his novel Redburn, published in 1849, refers obliquely to oral sex between sailors. It seems possible that oral sex became popular among gay men first in America and was then imported into Europe. Gay Swedish men working on the liners sailing between Gothenburg and New York in the 1930s reported that they got lots of oral sex in New York, while the main sex act in Gothenburg was mutual masturbation. The slang terms “blow” and “blow job” originated in 1930s America. Even in the 1960s and 1970s, it was generally believed that oral sex was more common between American men, while anal sex was more common between British men, and these national preferences are reflected in the pornography of the time.

The changing taste for oral sex is one area where there is a sharp break between the past and the present. Some historians argue that in the past oral sex was disagreeable to people becasue their personal hygiene left something to be desired. That argument isn’t entirely convincing. For one thing, people did in fact wash themselves using a hand basin and water jug even though they didn’t take baths or showers (and they did go to saunas and “stews” or public baths every so often, where lots of non-oral sex was enjoyed). For another, dental hygiene wasn’t too great either — most people had rotten teeth and stinking breath — but that didn’t prevent them from enjoying a good long kiss now and then.

There is probably a strong taboo concerning semen, which gay men overcame earlier than straight men and women. Though semen has no procreative value in sex between men, it nevertheless has a magical value. In some cultures, notably Melanesia, the ingestion of semen features in “coming-of-age” initiation rituals, whereby masculinity is transferred to young men. The two Victorian pioneers of gay liberation, Edward Carpenter and John Addington Symonds, felt that their personal experience confirmed this. Symonds wrote to Carpenter in December 1892: “I have no doubt myself that the absorption of semen implies a real modification of the physique of the person who absorbs it, & that the most beneficent results, as regards health and nervous energy, accrue from the sexual relations between men.”

Volcanic jets of the liquid erupt in gay pornography, as in the Victorian pornographic novel Teleny (1893), which was probably written by a group of men under the direction of Oscar Wilde: “my breath came thickly; I panted, I sighed, I groaned. The thick burning fluid was spouted out slowly and at long intervals. As I rubbed myself against him, he underwent all the sensations I was feeling; for I was hardly drained of the last drop before I was likewise bathed in his own seething sperm.” A lot of “rubbing” takes place in this novel, as well as sodomy. The most common forms of sex between men during Victorian times seem to have been mutual tossing off or between-thigh fucking. Oscar Wilde didn’t much care for anal intercourse, but preferred to have one of his “panthers” or rough trade sit in his lap while he “played” with him. Then Wilde would mount his partner face-to-face to enjoy “spending on his belly”. But sexual tastes vary according to temperament as well as historical period. For example, Oscar Wilde’s lover Lord Alfred Douglas preferred to bugger young schoolboys, while Wilde preferred “rough” older lads. Neither Wilde nor Douglas would seek sex with an obviously effeminate “pouf”.

Times have changed. Some marked changes in gay sexuality have occurred especially since the 1950s and 1960s. Fisting, for example, has no historical precedent — although impalement features in some early gay fantasies. In Teleny, a man who is not satisfied by a dildo bleeds to death after a large glass vase inserted into his anus breaks. Surveys of diaries, news reports, and the gay media have established that fisting was invented in the summer of 1971, in the “backroom” of a gay bar in New York City. The practice quickly spread to the backroom bars of San Francisco, and was exported thence to Japan and Europe. The pent-up libido that was released in the Swinging Sixties has blossomed in a garden of special interests, notably fetishistic sex games ranging from mild bondage and discipline to the extremes of sadomasochism.

To see how things have changed, we can compare the original 1881 edition of The Sins of the Cities of the Plain: Or, The Recollections of a Mary-Anne, with an edition published in 1992 by Badboy Books, New York. This Victorian gay pornography is the genuine (albeit semi-fictionalised) autobiography of a male prostitute, or “Mary-Ann”, named John Saul, aka Dublin Jack, and it probably contain an accurate account of what gay men did in the 1870s. Saul was game for anything, and his memoirs contain plenty of descriptions of between-thigh rubbing, “bottom-fucking” (often by sitting in someone’s lap), rimming preparatory to buggering, fingering ditto, cock-sucking and sixty-nining. But the 1992 “reprint” added several totally new scenes catering for the modern S/M market. In a long episode not in the original, a wicked voluptuary seizes a large candle from a table laid for a banquet and drips molten wax over Jack’s flesh, before stuffing him like a turkey with the said candle. Another important change is that the 1881 original had several heterosexual sex scenes, while the 1992 “reprint” changed the gender pronouns in these scenes, thus making the book exclusively homosexual throughout.

Such alterations suggest that over the course of a century there has been a historical shift in gay self-identity, and a more masculine gay self-image. Alternatively, the changes in the two versions of may simply represent the fact that the modern market for pornography has become much more rigidly segregated between gay and straight than it was a century ago. Nevertheless, in this novel and in other sources we see that the “Mary-Anns” or gay prostitutes in Victorian times often dressed up as women, or at least wore make-up and presented an effeminate appearance. The most famous in real life were Ernest Boulton and Frederick William Park, aka Lady Stella and Miss Fanny. When they were arrested in the Burlington Arcade in 1869 Boulton was wearing a cherry-coloured silk evening dress, trimmed with white lace, and Park was wearing a green satin dress trimmed with black lace. In the 1920s male prostitutes often wore make-up and, like Quentin Crisp, presented an “effeminate” appearance. Today, although male prostitutes often wear distinctive “costumes”, they generally present a macho appearance, echoing the “physique” magazines since the 1950s, when photographers such as Bob Mizer had their models pose as bikers and leathermen, construction workers and sailors of the rougher sort. The “effeminate” model of sexually available young men or “lady-boys” is still common, however, in places such as Thailand and other countries frequented by sexual tourists, and prostitution is the main form of employment of the self-castrated hijras of India. Even in the West, transsexuals form a large percentage of prostitutes, and “chicks with dicks” are an intriguing sub-section on gay porn sites on the web.

However, some things never change. Trial records for all periods turn up cases of men who lived together in “sodomitical sin” that included intimacy and tenderness. Several men investigated by the Paris police in the 1740s claimed that they sought “a relationship which might last”. According to one police report, two men had lived and slept together intimately for two years: “It was even almost always necessary for Duquesnel to have his arm extended along the headboard, under Dumaine’s head. Without that Dumaine could not rest.”

Copyright © 2005, 2006 Rictor Norton.

CITATION: Rictor Norton, “A History of Gay Sex”, Gay History and Literature, 24 November 2006 <;

History of Male Contraception

The majority of us as gay men use condoms to protect us against STDs and HIV.  So I thought a little history of the condom would be quite interesting.  I hope that you find this as interesting as I do.

For men, who were, historically, freer to partake in sexual activity than women, the primary reason for using birth control was to avoid disease and illegitimate children, and, to a lesser extent, to reduced the economic burden of having too many children.

The “Natural” Way

Some social rules regarding birth control relied on the abstinence or control of the male. For instance, some indigenous Australian communities forbade men to have sex with their wives for several months after the birth of a child. In many areas in early Europe, royalty and men of standing (e.g., among 10th-century Ottonian Saxons) would have sex with their wives only for procreation, usually resulting in a rapid succession of births, after which they would spare their wives from having too many children by turning to prostitutes for recreation. Also in early Europe, men often turned to prostitutes to limit the number of children in the family, so as to prevent the family fortune from being split among too many heirs.


Aristotle (384–322 BCE) wrote that homosexual relations in Crete were an officially condoned population control method. The Mohave of New Mexico considered anal intercourse to be a favor to women, since it would not result in pregnancy. In Jewish traditions, the law of niddah separated a husband and wife during menstruation to prevent conception during this time, for hygienic and health reasons.

Hopeful, but unreliable, natural methods of birth control included coitus reservatus (withholding ejaculation) and coitus interruptus (ejaculating outside the vagina). Coitus interruptus was common during the time of Mohammed, and Islam endorsed the practice, unless the woman disagreed. Meanwhile, the Book of Genesis tells of the fate of Onan, who practiced coitus interruptus with his dead brother’s wife to prevent her from becoming pregnant: he was put to death for “spilling his seed on the ground.”


Historians believe that ancient Egyptian men wore fabric condoms, mainly for protection from disease, as long ago as 1000 BCE. The Romans used condoms made of animal intestine. In the 1500s, Fallopius, an Italian, invented a linen sheath to be worn to prevent the transmission of syphilis – later in the century the cloth was soaked in a chemical solution that was considered to be a spermicide. image By the 1700s, most condoms were made out of animal intestines – they were expensive, but could be washed and reused. (Often they came with a silk ribbon with which to tie them on.) King Charles II used animal-skin condoms to prevent having illegitimate heirs or contracting diseases. Of course, Charles II is not a testimony to the efficacy of animal-skin condoms: he had at least 13 illegitimate children.

In 1844, vulcanized rubber condoms hit the markets. Men generally wore them to avoid catching diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis. As a result, for years afterward, condoms became associated with prostitution and disease.

The first condom advertisement appeared in 1861 in The New York Times – the product was “Dr. Power’s French Preventatives.” Laws were passed in the US 12 years later making it illegal to advertise contraceptives and allowing the postal service to confiscate condoms sold through the mail. A similar law was passed in 1882 in Canada, making it illegal to sell or advertise birth control, unless it was “for the public good.”

The first latex condom was invented in the 1880s, but they were not widely used until the 1930s. During World War I, the American troops were not allowed to use condoms, as many Americans believed that “loose” sexual behavior deserved the effects of disease. But by World War II, US troops were encouraged to use condoms. A training film urged, “Don’t forget – put it on before you put it in.”

Timeline for the History of Condoms

1000 BC

The use of condoms has been traced back several thousand years. It is believed that around 1000 BC the ancient Egyptians used a linen sheath for protection against disease.

100 – 200 AD

The earliest evidence of condom use in Europe comes from scenes in cave paintings at Combarelles in France.  There is also some evidence that some form of condom was used in imperial Rome.


The syphilis epidemic that spread across Europe gave rise to the first published account of the condom. Gabrielle Fallopius described a sheath of linen he claimed to have invented to protect men against syphilis.Having been found useful for prevention of infection, it was only later that the usefulness of the condom for the prevention of pregnancy was recognized.

Later in the 1500s, one of the first improvements to the condom was made, when the linen cloth sheaths were sometimes soaked in a chemical solution and then allowed to dry prior to use. These were the first spermicides on condoms.


old condom

The first published use of the world ‘condum’ was in a 1706 poem.It has also been suggested that Condom was a doctor in the time of Charles II. It is believed that he invented the device to help the king to prevent the birth of more illegitimate children.

Even the most famous lover of all, Casanova, was using the condom as a birth control as well as against infection.

Condoms made out of animal intestines began to be available. However, they were quite expensive and the unfortunate result was that they were often reused. This type of condom was described at the time as “an armor against pleasure, and a cobweb against infection”.

In the second half of the 1700’s, a trade in handmade condoms thrived in London and some shops where producing handbills and advertisements of condoms.


old condom

The use of condoms was affected by technological, economic and social development in Europe and the US in the 1800s.

Condom manufacturing was revolutionized by the discovery of rubber vulcanization by Goodyear (founder of the tire company) and Hancock. This meant that is was possible to mass produce rubber goods including condoms quickly and cheaply. Vulcanization is a process, which turns the rubber into a strong elastic material.

In 1861,the first advertisement for condoms was published in an American newspaper when The New York Times printed an ad. for ‘Dr. Power’s French Preventatives.’

In 1873, the Comstock Law was passed. Named after Anthony Comstock, the Comstock Law made illegal the advertising of any sort of birth control, and it also allowed the postal service to confiscate condoms sold through the mail.



Until the 1920s, most condoms were manufactured by hand-dipping from rubber cement. These kinds of condoms aged quickly and the quality was doubtful.

In 1919, Frederick Killian initiated hand-dipping from natural rubber latex in Ohio. The latex condoms had the advantage of ageing less quickly and being thinner and odorless. These new type of condoms enjoyed a great expansion of sales. By the mid-1930s, the fifteen largest makers in the U.S. were producing 1.5 million condoms a day.

In 1957, the very first lubricated condom was launched in the UK by Durex.

From the early 1960s, the use of condoms as a contraceptive device declined as the pill, the coil and sterilization became more popular.

The use of the condom increased strikingly in many countries following the recognition of HIV and AIDS in the 1980’s. Condoms also became available in pubs, bars, grocery stores and supermarkets.

The female condom has been available in Europe since 1992 and it was approved in 1993 by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In 1994, the world’s first polyurethane condom for men was launched in the US.

The 1990s also saw the introduction of colored and flavored condoms.

Present day

In more recent years, improved technology has enabled the thickness of the condom to decrease. Also, condom manufacturers have recognized that one size of condom does not fit all. You can now find condoms that are different shapes, widths and lengths.


My coming out saga that I have been writing will continue soon.  I did not have the time or energy to finish writing the post that I had started.

My new job went surprisingly well today.  I had not had great expectations and therefore they were surpassed.  I hope that it continues, but I am trying not to be overly optimistic. I am usually an optimistic person who looks on the bright side of life.  I try, at least, to be a happy person.  My job was not the one I wanted nor is it completely within my area of study; however, with the current job market and economy, I took what I could find.  I hope it continues to progress better than I expect.  Thanks to all my readers who sent their well wishes.  They are greatly appreciated.

Coming Out: The First Step

Coming Out of the Closet

On the Friday before spring break, in my second semester of grad school, I had gone to a party with some of my friends.  One, in particular, lived next door to me, and we used to always go to all of these grad school functions together.  There was no point in both of us taking a car.  At this point in the year, she had a boyfriend, and he usually went with us as well.  They never once made me feel like a third wheel.  We always had fun and that was just that.

Quite honestly, I no longer remember what the reason for this get together was (I think we were all going to see a band at a bar downtown), but I do remember that we ended up at a professor’s house to continue drinking after the bars had closed.  This doesn’t really matter but it ties into the story later on, the professor’s house we were at was the only gay professor in the department.  Anyway, a great deal of alcohol had been and was continuing to be consumed.  We were all DRUNK and having a great time!

As was usual with us, we were just talking about anything and everything.  Then the topic of the professor whose house we were at at the fact that he was the worst dressed gay man we knew came up.  And from there the conversation turned to about him being gay.  This was a very friendly conversation (I have rarely met two people more liberal than these friends).  Then somewhere out of the drunken ether came me saying, “You know I am not.”  To which they replied, “Of course, we know you are not gay” (now this was just a platitude because they knew that another grad student had pissed me off by asking me point blank about my sexuality).  That’s when the courage came to me to say, “No, that’s not what I mean.  I am not straight.”  They both said that they still loved me and it would never change our friendship.  They also assured me that they would not tell anyone else until I was ready to do it myself.  They were also very flattered that I felt comfortable enough to tell them.  How the conversation from there went is a little fuzzy.  I do remember them telling me that they would have never guessed, etc.  Those sort of things.  (They did tell me several years later, that they had always suspected, but realized that it was my business and I would tell them when and if I was ready.) Eventually, we went home and then we all went our separate ways for spring break.

I would not really see much of them for nearly two weeks.  Those were some of the longest two weeks of my life.  I had finally come out to someone, but we were all drunk and I had no idea if they would even remember the conversation. I remember most everything I do when I am drunk.  It is quite a curse at time, but also sometimes a blessing because it keeps me from doing something really stupid.  I saw my friend for just a brief moment the week we got back to school, but nothing about that night was mentioned.  I was so worried that I had gotten up the nerve to tell her once, and I certainly didn’t want to have to do it again.  It was never a question of whether anything would change between us.  I knew it wouldn’t, but I didn’t want to have to find another way and time to tell her again.

Finally, Friday night came around, and we all went out for out end of the week drinks. Still the night went on, and nothing was mentioned about that night.  Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore.  I found myself alone with my friend, and I asked her if she remembered what I had told her.  To which she replied, “Of course, I do, I just didn’t want to make you uncomfortable.  I wanted you to know that nothing had changed.”  I told her that it would be nice to be able to talk to someone about it and that I had feared she would not remember.

She had always remained a great friend and about six or seven months later, she took me to my first gay bar in New Orleans.  More about that story in the next post.

Sorry that this post is so late today, but I have been working very hard to get ready for my new job that starts tomorrow.  I had pre-work/training days last week, but I have my first full work day tomorrow.  I am nervous as hell and have been busy trying to make sure that everything is ready.  I will write more about this later, in a way that will not reveal too much about myself.  It is for reasons concerning this new job that is part of the reason that I started these posts about coming out.