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QL : SaUQMY 



Roman 

Catholic Church 



RjNDY ENGEL 














Books by Randy Engel 

Sex Education—The Final Plague 

The McHugh Chronicles — 

Who Betrayed the Prolife Movement? 



The Rite 
of Sodomy 


Homosexuality 
and the 
Roman 

Catholic Church 


Randy Engel 


NEP\ 


NEW ENGEL PUBLISHING 

Export, Pennsylvania 







Copyright © 2006 by Randy Engel 


All rights reserved 

Printed in the United States of America 
First Edition 


For information about permission to reproduce selections from this book, 
write to Permissions, New Engel Publishing, Box 356, Export, PA 15632 

Library of Congress Control Number 2006923167 

Includes bibliography references and index. 

ISBN 0-9778601-3-2 


NEP\ 


NEW ENGEL PUBLISHING 

Box 356 

Export, Pennsylvania 15632 


http://www.riteofsodomy.com 




Dedication 


To Mary and Sebastian Vignone 


All that I am or ever shall be 
I owe to my beloved parents 
and to the grace of God 




Contents 


Introduction . ix 

I Historical Perspectives. 1 

1 Antiquity. 5 

2 The Early Church. 33 

3 The Renaissance. 71 

4 Homosexuality and the Rise of 

the Modern Secular State. 113 

5 The Homintern and the Cambridge Spies . 295 

II Male Homosexuality 

The Individual and the Collective . 367 

6 Male Homosexuality—Its Nature and Causes. 369 

7 Male Homosexual Behaviors . 399 

8 Pedophilia, Pederasty and Male 

Intergenerational Sex. 443 

9 The Homosexual Collective . 469 

III AmChurch and the Homosexual Revolution. 507 

10 AmChurch—Posing a Historical Framework. 509 ■ 

11 The Bishops’ Bureaucracy and the 

Homosexual Revolution . 549 

12 The Cardinal O’Connell and Cardinal Spellman Legacy 615 

IV The Homosexualization of AmChurch. 739 

13 The Growth of the Homosexual Network in AmChurch 741 

14 Homosexual Bishops and the 

Diocesan Homosexual Network . 763 

15 The Special Case of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin . 889 

16 Homosexuality in Religious Orders. 919 

17 New Ways Ministry—A Study in Subversion.1003 























CONTENTS 


V The Vatican and Homosexuality 

Putting the Final Piece of the Puzzle in Place.1087 

18 Twentieth Century Harbingers .1089 

19 Pope Paul VI and the Church’s 

Paradigm Shift on Homosexuality .1129 

Epilogue.1169 

Prayers.1173 

Selected Bibliography .1175 

Index .1195 










Introduction 


It all began quite innocently enough. It was the summer of 1987 and I 
was completing my first full-length book Sex Education—The Final Plague. 
Near the end of my final chapter “The Vatican and Sex Education—A Sorry 
State of Affairs,” I noted: 

The Sex Education Movement ...has, as one of its key objectives, the pro¬ 
motion of a pansexual or bisexual agenda in which homosexuality and 
pedophilia play a key and pivotal role. The growing number of homosexual 
and pedophile priests and brothers, including homosexual bishops, as well 
as lesbian nuns, have formed a sixth column within the Church in the United 
States. Many of these individuals have played important roles in the devel¬ 
opment and promotion of the new sexual catechetics in parochial schools, 
which, like the United States Catholic Conference “Sex Education Guide¬ 
lines” and the Kosnik Report, promote homosexuality and bisexuality as a 
variation on the norm, not a perversion . 1 

I recall the first sentence of this particular paragraph rather well 
because when the book initially ran in serial form in The Wanderer, the 
editor, on her own initiative, had removed my reference to “homosexual 
bishops.” 

In any case, I remember promising myself that, as soon as The Final 
Plague went to press and my familial and pro-life duties as the director of 
the U.S. Coalition for Life would permit, I would take a closer look at the 
members of the Catholic hierarchy who were pushing homosexuality on 
parochial school children. 

A few months later, I began what would be more than a decade-long 
journey into the homosexual maelstrom—without and within—the Roman 
Catholic Church. 

It started with a re-read of Reverend Enrique T. Rueda’s 1982 definitive 
study of the homosexual movement in the United States, The Homosexual 
Network—Private Lives and Public Policy, that provides a detailed descrip¬ 
tion of the movement’s strategic inroads into organized religious bodies in 


IX 



INTRODUCTION 


America with a special case study on the movement’s infiltration and 
colonization of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1970s through the 
early 1980s. 2 

It has ended, more than fifteen years later, with The Rite of Sodomy — 
Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church. 

Playing for High Stakes 

If men cease to sit in judgement on evil deeds it is not because they are 

tolerant, but because they are defeated . 3 

Tolerance is a social not a religious virtue since the truly religious man 

is against the heretic and seeks the conversion of the unbeliever...True 

Christianity never held tolerance to be a virtue but a sign of degeneracy . 4 

More than forty years have passed since the Gay Liberation Movement 
first broke onto the American scene. Symbolized by the clenched fist 
inserted into the rectal orifice, not unlike that of the clenched fist raised by 
early Bolshevik revolutionaries as a sign of their allegiance to the new 
Soviet State and the tenets of Marxist-Leninism, the radical “gay” move¬ 
ment represents a world view and moral system that is as alien and hostile 
to Christianity as it is to the legitimate interest of the State. Yet neither of 
these two traditional defenders of the common good and the moral law have 
thus far distinguished themselves on the field of battle against the growing 
threat posed to the Church and State by the Homosexual Homintern. 5 

Make no mistake about it. What is at stake here is not merely a matter 
of controlling or minimizing some societal or clerical sexual mischief but 
the prevention of the undermining of the very foundations upon which the 
Church and State rests. 

This is why, at all times and in all civilized cultures, homosexual prac¬ 
tices, wherever they have been made manifestly public, have brought cen¬ 
sure by both the State, which has both the right and duty to suppress vice 
for the common good and the Church, which is the final arbitrator of morals 
in society and the primary molder of the public conscience. 

The matter of institutionalized homosexuality is so profoundly con¬ 
nected to man’s convictions about his own nature and that of marriage, fam¬ 
ily and sexuality that to ignore it is to be against one’s own survival—as a 
species, a nation and a church. 

Rueda was correct when he stated that Christianity’s rejection of homo¬ 
sexuality is not a quirk of Western civilization, but part of the common her¬ 
itage of mankind. In rejecting homosexuality as a legitimate lifestyle, one is 
simply observing a universal norm not simply a special precept of a partic¬ 
ular civilized religious or philosophical tradition, he said. He also acknowl¬ 
edged that to fail to condemn homosexuality is to welcome the direst of 
consequences for that particular religious tradition. 6 

Nor can the Church fail to ignore the historic connection of sexual 
deviancy to religious deviancy, blasphemy and the occult that is of especial 


x 



INTRODUCTION 


consideration in any examination of homosexual practices in the priesthood 
and religious orders. 7 

That the State also shares an interest in the prohibition of homosexual 
practices can be gleaned from the writings of early German Protestant 
theologians such as mid-18th century Geottinger Orientalist and biblical 
scholar Johann David Michaelis (1717-1791). In Grundliche Erklarung, 
Michaelis not only correctly identified and condemned sodomy as a preda¬ 
tory vice that seeks after “striplings,” and weakens marriage, but he also 
saw the spread of the vice as a threat to national security capable of bring¬ 
ing a nation to the brink of destruction. 8 

Lest we be tempted to view Michaelis’s condemnation of homosexual¬ 
ity as exaggerated rhetoric having no application for our own time, it should 
be remembered during the past century, major public homosexual intrigues 
such as the Eulenberg Affair in the early 1900s in Germany and the 
Cambridge Spy case in mid-century in England have contributed to the fall 
of national governments and altered the course of that nation’s history. 

It is true, as we shall see in Section I on Historical Perspectives of 
Homosexuality that there have been certain times in the course of human 
events when social tolerance of various forms of homosexuality has pre¬ 
vailed in a given society. This sentiment of tolerance, not to be confused 
with societal approval, appears to be historically associated with periods of 
cataclysmic social upheaval, religious confusion and economic instability 
caused by protracted warfare or natural disaster. 

At other times, the rise in the practice of sodomy and other homo¬ 
sexual acts has been connected to as capricious a phenomena as a rise of 
a particular sociopolitical sexual fashion. 

In Elizabethan England there were certain segments of the upper 
classes, especially the courtiers in service of the king, who viewed 
homosexuality as a means of social and political advancement and acted 
accordingly. 

Later, during the Victorian era, we witnessed the rise of homosexuality 
in its Hellenistic form in England’s halls of academia where the “Greek 
ideal” was perceived and actively promoted as a rival to Christianity. 

In none of these cases, however, was there anything to suggest that tol¬ 
eration was equated with approval or that the general sexual conventions 
of the day, including prohibitions against sodomical acts, were affected. 

At this point, one is apt to be challenged by not a few lay and clerical 
apologists for the homosexual movement, who will suggests that, at least 
in som e primitive societies, adult male homosexuality has been accepted by 
the native population. Under closer scrutiny, however, their argument does 
not hold up. 

As Arno Karlen, author of Sexuality and Homosexuality A New View has 
observed, “when a society alleged to approve homosexuality is carefully 
studied, it turns out that homosexual acts are accepted only in special 


xi 



INTRODUCTION 


situations or times of life and to the extent that they do not impair hetero¬ 
sexual functioning or loss of sexual identity.” 9 

Psychiatrist Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse, M.D., in Homosexuality: A 
Symbolic Confusion has voiced similar opinions regarding certain homo¬ 
sexual phenomena found in primitive cultures. “There are a variety of ways 
it (a homosexual act) is punished which may go unnoticed by a casual 
observer or eager anthropologists,” she said. 10 “Whenever the final limits 
of heterosexuality and biologically appropriate role are infringed, the result 
is sanctions that range from death to persecution to harassment and mild 
contempt,” she noted. 11 “Every society has sexual rules,” Barnhouse con¬ 
cluded. “Thus if our culture elects to consider homosexuality to be a nor¬ 
mal alternative lifestyle, it will be the first in human civilization to do so.” 12 

Resources and Notes 

The combined scope of The Rite of Sodomy has required many years of 
research and the use of thousands of books, articles and electronic web ref¬ 
erences. Some resources were obviously more reliable and/or more useful 
than others. 

In researching the homosexual movement, Reverend Rueda’s Homo¬ 
sexual Network was especially helpful in providing a baseline of the move¬ 
ment’s activities and hierarchical support within the Roman Catholic 
Church in the United States from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. This 
book extends that continuum to the present day. 

Autobiographical and biographical texts of and by historic and modern 
day homosexuals were certainly not wanting. Nor was there any dearth of 
information, especially on the world-wide-web, of any aspect of homosex¬ 
ual life or of the Homosexual Collective—history, ideology, lexicon, sexual 
practices, religious views, court cases and legal issues, social and recre¬ 
ational events, economic inroads and most especially political activities. For 
it is largely through the latter, that is the prism of politics, that all other 
aspects of the homosexual movement must be examined. 

Many valuable insights into the homosexual condition were obtained 
from reading excerpts from the personal diaries of prominent homosexuals. 
As a vanity mirror reflects one’s physical features, so these diaries reveal a 
great deal about the narcissistic impulse of the homosexual psyche as well 
as provide information, though not always of the reliable kind, on the 
secret, double life of many of these individuals. 

For example, the Russian composer Peter Ilyich Tchaikovsky (1840- 
1893) recorded the details of his secret life as a pederast in code in his diary 
and letters to his brother Modest. 13 Certain psychiatric theories concern¬ 
ing homosexuality can also be authenticated in these personal recollections 
as in the case of English-born American poet W. H. Auden (1907-1973) who 
relived his sexual misadventures and jealous rages over his lovers’ actual 
or imagined unfaithfulness in his private diary and writings. 14 



INTRODUCTION 


Perhaps the most memorable biographical work I read was Jean Delay’s 
The Youth of Andre Gide (1956) translated from the French by June 
Guicharnaud. As one would not go to Masters and Johnson to seek out the 
truth about sexual love between a man and a woman, so one should avoid 
Kinsey and seek out the truth about homosexual affectations in their vari¬ 
ous forms from works like Delay’s masterpiece on French writer Andre 
Gide (1869-1951). 15 

With regard to evaluating the merit of books or articles on the subject 
of homosexuality, it is important to establish if the authors of these works 
had a vested self-interest in moving the homosexual agenda forward. 

It was not surprising to discover that many apologists for the homosex¬ 
ual movement, such as German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935) 
and American sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey (1884-1956) were them¬ 
selves practicing homosexuals and therefore had a personal stake in the 
sexual revolution they were pushing under the guise of scientific and 
objective sex research. 16 

On the other hand, there were a number of pro-homosexual writers, 
especially ex-priests some of whom have married, who seemed to be more 
interested in attacking the Roman Catholic Church’s alleged authoritarian¬ 
ism in matters of faith and morals, than in advancing the homosexual cause 
per se. 

Unfortunately, while investigating the homosexual movement at large 
was relatively easy, trying to track down documents and information linked 
to the Church was not. In some cases diocesan archives were not open to 
the public and if they were it was on a limited and select basis. The Rev. 
Canon T. A. Lacey’s (1853-1931) quip, “It is quite impossible to get at the 
archives of the Holy Office. One might as well ask to see Rothschild’s 
books,” was applicable to my case as well. 17 

Biographies and autobiographies of prominent members of the 
American hierarchy and heads of major religious orders from the time 
of John Carroll, first Bishop of Baltimore (1736-1815) to that of the late 
Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago, were surprisingly 
limited—both with regard to number and scope of inquiry. This was also 
true of solidly researched scholarly works (written or translated into 
English) on the lives of modern-day popes from Pope Leo XIII to John Paul 
II. On the other hand, papal encyclicals and other official Church documents 
recorded in Acta Apostolicae Sedis (AAS) were readily available both in hard 
text and on the Internet. 

Finally, a word about the use of endnotes in this book. 

Because of the large number and complexity of many of the issues 
touched upon in this book, I have sought refuge in detailed endnotes found 
at the conclusion of this introduction and all subsequent chapters. Foot¬ 
notes would have been too cumbersome and would have interrupted the 
flow of ideas in the text. Yet many references were too important to have 



INTRODUCTION 


been left out entirely as they were helpful in explaining the subtleties and 
inferences of certain passages within the text. The inclusion of an exten¬ 
sive bibliography will permit the reader to pursue his special interests in 
greater depth. 

The Problem of Definitions 

The first major technical problem faced by this author was the issue 
of definitions, emphasis and the emergence of new constructs related to 
homosexuality. 

For example, the word sodomy in a technical sense, is the anal penetra¬ 
tion of either sex including penetration of a female by a male, although it is 
normally associated in the popular mind with male homosexual activity. 

Homosexuality is a broader term used to designate both homosexual 
behavior as well as the homosexual condition or the habit itself. Yet this 
term is in itself insufficient in that it identifies the homosexual as one who 
prefers to engage in sex (actually simulate sex) with a person of the same 
sex, but that is all. It does not distinguish between the adult homo¬ 
sexual who prefers an adult partner, as opposed to an adult homosexual 
who prefers a male youth. Nor does it distinguish between the homosexual 
who prefers sodomy to sadistic/masochistic acts of bondage and domina¬ 
tion. Some theorists therefore prefer to speak in terms of “homosexuali¬ 
ties” which suggests that there are different types of homosexual behavior 
and that these are viewed differently not only by society but also by homo¬ 
sexuals themselves. 

For example, Andre Gide, himself a homosexual pederast, shrank back 
in horror the first time he saw two adult males engaged in an act of sodomy. 
He likened the scene to that of “a huge vampire feasting on a corpse.” 18 

With reverse perception, an adult homosexual who prefers adult part¬ 
ners may regard Gide’s attraction to youth as “perverse,” though not 
necessarily criminal. For example, in 1998, writer Karen Ocamb claimed 
that watching the antics of the North American Man/Boy Association 
(NAMBLA) at a “Gay Pride” parade made her skin crawl. Her attack on 
pederasty literally drips venom. “These men aren’t gay, and we mustn’t 
let them co-opt our movement ...They are simply perverts who like to 
f--k children, using the gay community as a Trojan horse to storm the 
barricades of legitimacy.” 19 

Then there are the gay leatherfolk who see their brand of sexual 
expression as “...a still daring symbol of cultural transgression and personal 
transformation.” 20 They charge that they are discriminated against and 
harassed by other gays for their sadomasochist preference and activities. 

A Paradigm Shift from Act to Person 

Obviously, in both the public square and in the Church, it is not to the 
advantage of the homosexual movement to keep the public eye focused on 


xiv 



INTRODUCTION 


homosexual acts and behaviors. That is why the movement has engineered 
a paradigm shift in the homosexual debate that centers exclusively on the 
recognition of the homosexual person with certain rights to the total exclu¬ 
sion of any public discourse on the morality of homosexual acts. Different 
writers have expressed this paradigm shift in different ways. 

As Rueda has said, “Traditionally, homosexuality has been considered a 
vice, a quality of the homosexual inducing him to engage in certain nega¬ 
tive or unnatural kind of sexual behavior. Vice being the opposite of virtue, 
this view was based on the biblical teaching, accepted for centuries, that the 
homosexual behavior is sinful.” 21 This traditional prohibition against homo¬ 
sexual acts “originated some three thousand years ago and continues as a 
living stream of social consciousness,” he continued. 22 However, in recent 
years, Rueda said, the homosexual movement has attempted to focus atten¬ 
tion on the homosexual person as a member of a “repressed” or “discrimi¬ 
nated” class rather than on his acts that are so perverse they are innately 
repulsive to the normal individual. 23 

In A Challenge to Love, a publication of New Ways Ministry, Father 
Edward A. Malloy stated that whereas “homosexuality and sodomy once 
seen as but one particular manifestation of the range of sexual expres¬ 
sion—today they now constitute an essential component of social self¬ 
definition.” 24 Homosexuals have been transformed into an “oppressed” 
class with “rights.” 

Michel Foucault, the French Philosopher and homosexual (1926-1984) 
has also noted that in the past, sodomy was perceived of as an act and the 
sodomite was a person who habitually committed this act: 

Under ancient civil and canonical codes, sodomy was a category of forbidden 
acts; their perpetrator was nothing more than a juridical subject of them. 
Homosexuality appeared as one of the forms of sexuality when it was trans¬ 
posed from the practice of sodomy onto a kind of interior androgyny, a her- 
maphrodism of the soul. The sodomite had been a temporary aberration, the 
homosexual was now a species.” The sodomite is no longer one who com¬ 
mits a habitual sin but one who has a special nature . 25 

Although it may be already apparent to the reader, I nevertheless think 
it important enough to point out that when and where homosexuality is 
described in terms of acts or behaviors, the assumption is that such behav¬ 
iors are not “fixed,” and one can change or alter his sexual preferences at 
different stages of life either by abstinence or by switching to a normal 
man-woman sexual relationship. 

From the beginning of recorded history, this view of homosexuality has 
dominated all others, if for no other reason, than it reflects reality, that is, 
it is true. Whether we are talking about the gymnasia of the ancient Greeks 
or the public schools and universities of Victorian England, regardless of 
one’s youthful sexual indiscretions and transgressions, upon reaching man¬ 
hood, man-woman sexuality is the expected norm. 


xv 



INTRODUCTION 


On the other hand, under the terms of the new homosexual construct 
where homosexuality is promoted in terms of personhood, change is 
viewed as impossible as the changing of one’s race or nationality. This is 
obviously the favored opinion of the Gay Liberation Movement that deals 
harshly with sexual deserters who are deemed guilty of having betrayed 
their kind. 

Given this new shift in emphasis and new construct, which has rightly 
been viewed as a major victory for the homosexual movement, how then do 
we define “homosexuality” and the “homosexual” ? 26 Among the hundreds 
of definitions available, I found that of scholar Kenneth J. Dover to be the 
simplest and most accurate. Dover defines homosexuality as “the disposi¬ 
tion to seek sensory pleasure through bodily contact with persons of one’s 
own sex in preference to contact with the other sex.” 27 In essence then, 
the male homosexual is a man, generally content to be a man, whose erotic 
preference is directed toward other men. 

Are the terms homosexual and gay synonymous? No. Although these 
terms are frequently used interchangeably, they have different connotations 
in contemporary homosexual life. 

In the days before common sense gave way to political correctness, the 
term gay retained its original Middle English meaning— merie or merry in 
popular usage. In otherwise limited circumstances beginning in the 1940s, 
gay was also used as a noun or adjective, generally in a disparagingly way, 
to describe effeminate male homosexuals in the American theater and art 
world. 

Today, the word gay is still used as a synonym for homosexual by the 
general public and, liberal pressures notwithstanding, often with the same 
negative overtones as in earlier years. Nevertheless, it has become the 
politically correct or term of choice within the homosexual movement itself 
to describe both a homosexual orientation as well as a person with same- 
sex attractions. 

According to ex-Jesuit Robert Goss, author of the 1993 gay radical hand¬ 
book, Jesus Acted Up—A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto, the “homophobic” 
and pathologically medicalized term homosexual is no longer acceptable. 
“Gay is correct,” he said, and “gay/lesbian” is preferred to describe a con¬ 
scious unity in “resistance to homophobic and heterosexualist deployment 
of power relations.” 28 

This writer is not politically correct. I use the word homosexual in al¬ 
most all cases and confine the word gay to references which are primarily 
political in nature. 

Homophobia and Erotophobia 

Another example of a new homosexual construct and successful politi¬ 
cal catchword in the Gay Liberation Movement’s arsenal that has “acquired 
a special function in the service of power” is the term homophobia. 


xvi 



INTRODUCTION 


Homophobia is defined by the homosexual movement as an irrational 
fear and hatred of being associated with or being in contact with a homo¬ 
sexual. Goss has expanded the definition of homophobia to include “the 
socialized state of fear, threat, aversion, prejudice and irrational hatred of 
the feelings of same-sex attractions” which can be held by “individuals, 
groups, social institutions and cultural practices.” 29 

Sister Jeannine Gramick, co-founder of New Ways Ministry and its off¬ 
shoot the Center for Homophobia Education, had defined homophobia as 
“any systemic judgment which advocates negative myths and stereotypes 
about lesbian and gay persons.” 30 The roots of the “sin of homophobia,” 
she said, “are found in religious and familial and sexual dogmatism, includ¬ 
ing belief in the traditional family power structure, i.e. a dominant father, 
submissive mother and obedient children,” as well as traditional religious 
beliefs and traditional attitudes toward women. 3 ' 

Jim Milham of the University of Houston has even developed a “scien¬ 
tific” scale to measure “homophobic prejudice.” 32 Milham’s scale is based 
on four separate dimensions manifested by various negative beliefs, atti¬ 
tudes and feelings toward homosexuality including the belief that homo¬ 
sexuals are dangerous to society and therefore need to be repressed, strong 
feelings that homosexuals are sinful or immoral, the stereotyping of male 
homosexuals as effeminate and lesbians as overly masculine and general 
discomfort when in the presence of known homosexuals or when the topic 
of homosexuality is introduced. 33 

I wish to draw the reader’s attention to other less-well publicized sub¬ 
groups within the homosexual matrix that are waiting in the wings ready to 
expand the war on homophobia to include their own particular grievance 
against other societal moral prohibitions. 

The man/boy lovers cohort of the Gay Liberation Movement has 
launched its own attack against erotophobia, that is, society’s prejudice and 
fear of childhood eroticism that deprives the child of sex by limiting adult 
access to children as sexual beings. 34 

There are also other homosexual contingents representing the sado¬ 
masochistic (S/M) and bondage and dominance (B/D) movements who 
have discovered their “sexual orientation” and “special gifts” including 
“bondage spirituality.” 35 

The point of this discourse is that there is no argument or justification 
put forth for the affirmation of homosexuality that cannot be put forth to 
advance any other equally deviant sexual acts including pederasty which is 
a prosecutable offense. 

A Way With Words 

Why does the homosexual collective place such great important on con¬ 
trolling language and assigning “correct” definition to words? The answer 
is simple. People think in terms of words, hence, by controlling language, 


xvii 



INTRODUCTION 


one can control what and how people think and in a sense create a new 
reality. 36 Not only does the homosexual movement insist that its followers 
employ a select and politically correct lexicon, one that will help advance 
the movement’s multi-faceted agenda, but it also seeks to impose that lan¬ 
guage on the whole of society. It is an arduous task, but one at which the 
movement has been eminently adept. 

At the same time, the darker nature of the homosexual lexicon has been 
hidden from the public eye and public ear. 37 Indeed the movement has been 
extraordinarily judicious in keeping much of its everyday lingo, dare I say, 
“in the closet.” 

One need only casually leaf through a homosexual in-house text like 
Bruce Rodgers’ The Queens’ Vernacular, to find a number of disquieting 
themes found in the male homosexual sub-culture as expressed in its own 
lexicon. 38 

Prominent among these themes, all of which will be examined in depth 
later in this text, is the utterly demeaning and hateful language connected 
with the females in general and lesbians in particular. To refer to a black 
market abortionist as a “rabbit-scraper,” or to label a male homosexual who 
demonstrates an interest in women as a “pig-suck” is to reveal a patholog¬ 
ical anti-woman bias. 39 

A second theme reflected in the everyday language and figures of 
speech of the homosexual collective is its absolute fixation on youth and its 
extensive lexicon connected to the seduction and molestation of young 
boys by adult male homosexuals. One example should suffice. 

Under the heading chicken, defined by Rodgers as “a young recruit; any 
boy under the age of consent,” we find: 

• chicken freak —elderly man with huge appetite for young roosters. 40 

• chicken house —coffeehouse catering to young homosexuals too young 
for taverns. 41 

• chicken plucker —man who enjoys “deflowering” young boys. 42 

• chicken pox —urge to have sex with younger men, a mid 60’s term. 43 

• chicken dinner — sex with a teenager. 44 

• butchered chicken —boy who recently lost his anal virginity. 45 

• gay chicken —a homosexual teenager. 46 

There are many other similar references I could cite, but videtur 
quod non ! 47 

Some readers may object to my inclusion of this reference to pederasty 
in a book on adult male homosexuality and judge the commingling of these 
issues to be prejudicial at worse, or an unnecessary and unwarranted dis¬ 
traction at best. I disagree. 

Adult homosexuality and pederasty are not mutually exclusive— 
either in terms of individual behaviors or the homosexual movement. 48 


xviii 



INTRODUCTION 


Rather, like the relationship between contraception and abortion, they are 
both mutually competitive and mutually stimulating. 

One would have to be intellectually dense or in a perpetual state of 
denial not to recognize this mutuality in the simultaneous rise of clerical 
pederastic crimes with the rise in clerical homosexual incidents in dioceses 
and religious orders in the United States since the 1950s. If the presence of 
an active and activist homosexual clergy and hierarchy does nothing else, it 
most certainly sends a signal to fellow clerical pederasts that immorality 
and perversion within their ranks is at least tolerated where it is not openly 
condoned. It also ups the ante in terms of blackmail and cover-up insurance 
for clerical pederasts when their activities are made known to Church 
authorities or when they are arrested by law enforcement officers. 

The proselytization, seduction and recruitment of youth, has been the 
lifeblood of the homosexual sub-culture wherever and whenever it has 
emerged in human society. Clerical homosexuality poses no exception to 
the rule. 

Homosexuality and Subversion 

Another issue which may appear out of place in a book dealing princi¬ 
pally with homosexuality and the priesthood is Chapter 5 on the Cambridge 
spies. Actually, at various points in the writing of this book, I had consid¬ 
ered eliminating it altogether. But, in the end, I decided to include it in an 
abbreviated form. 

First, because it offers us a supremely sobering lesson about institu¬ 
tional accountability and the temptation of public officials to cover-up 
national political scandals particularly those involving gross sexual miscon¬ 
duct and national security. 

Second, because the Cambridge Spy case affords the reader an intimate 
look at the phenomena of “compartmentalization” and other important 
aspects of the homosexual personality as well an excellent view of the inner 
workings of a long-established and well-functioning homosexual network 
—albeit in a secular mode. One also gets to observe the unsettling phe¬ 
nomena of violence, extortion and blackmail that has always been associ¬ 
ated with the homosexual underworld. 

Third, the Cambridge Spy case teaches us the incalculable importance 
of proper “vetting,” the art of selection of security personnel and the elim¬ 
ination of potential and actual security risks. According to Rebecca West, 
the essence of security is “the assessment of character.” 49 The same holds 
true for the assessment and selection of seminarians and other candidates 
for the diocesan priest and religious life. 

It is a major premise of this book that the infiltration and colonization of 
the seminary, priesthood and Church today by the Gay Liberation Move¬ 
ment poses a serious threat to the life of the Church—as real and danger¬ 
ous as any enemy mole to a nation’s intelligence network. The subversion 


xix 



INTRODUCTION 


of the Church and the undermining of its doctrines by the homosexual 
movement is real and ongoing and for the most part, uncontested by 
Church officials. It needs to be stopped here and now and if not totally erad¬ 
icated at least pushed back into its historical closet. Co-existence with the 
Gay Liberation Movement is impossible for the Church. 

Intelligence Gathering 

The fact that this book took over a decade to research and five years to 
complete the final text, is as good an admission as any that the enterprise 
presented the author with a number of difficulties—both technical and 
personal. 

Heading the list of difficulties was the knowledge that it was going to be 
hard to prove the main thesis of my book—that there exists in the Roman 
Catholic Church today a well-organized and active international homosex¬ 
ual network whose roots go back to the turn of the 19th century and whose 
existence poses an eminent threat to the priesthood and religious life as 
well as the life of the Universal Church. 

Readers will remember that when I began my investigation, no living 
American bishop had as yet been publicly accused of being an active homo¬ 
sexual and the criminal activities of pederast priests, religious and bishops, 
some cases dating back twenty or thirty years ago, had not yet made 
national headlines. 

However, Rueda’s book provided enough basic information and ono¬ 
mastic references to get me going in the right direction. Also I knew many 
priests and religious who had first hand knowledge of the operations of the 
clerical homosexual network in their own diocese or religious order and 
who were willing to be interviewed and/or provide me with certain docu¬ 
ments and other evidence related to the network within the American 
Church and at the Vatican. 

I found the following guide used by French Intelligence in the 1930s to 
weigh evidence in criminal cases to be both accurate and practical: 

I hear = rumour 

I see = reliable 

I know = absolute truth 50 

Another rule of thumb I found helpful especially in my investigation, 
particularly with regard to the homosexual overworld of the American 
bishops, came from ex-Communist Louis F. Budenz —“Look at what they 
do, not at what they say.” 51 

The question is not so much a matter of whether or not Bishop X is a 
“card-carrying” homosexual, but rather does he promote the practice of 
homosexuality or work to advance the objectives of the homosexual fifth 
column in (or out of) the Church? Does his private actions with regard to 
the homosexual movement match or conflict with his public utterances? Is 
he a member of a homosexual front group such as New Ways Ministry? 


XX 



INTRODUCTION 


Does he religiously employ the politically correct jargon and language of 
the homosexual movement? Does he personally move in a pro-homosexual 
or openly homosexual orbit? Does he faithfully follow the party line of the 
Gay Liberation Movement? 52 

Did I know of cases in which active homosexual and pederast 
priests and bishops were caught in flagante delicto by fellow clerics or 
by law enforcement officials? Yes, reliable witnesses have given me 
such information. 

However, in building my case for the existence of both the homosexual 
underworld and overworld in the Church, I found this type of information 
was less helpful than that what is commonly referred to as circumstantial 
evidence, that is, evidence not bearing directly on the fact in dispute, but 
on various attendant circumstances from which a judge or jury might infer 
the occurrence of the fact in dispute. 

As Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton explained in their introduction to 
The Rosenberg File, to identify evidence as “circumstantial” does not imply 
that it is “non-evidence.” 53 In response to their critics who charged the 
authors gave too much credibility to such evidence in their case against 
convicted Soviet spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, the authors reminded 
their critics that circumstantial evidence is used in courts every day and “is 
often more reliable than eyewitness evidence.” 54 

Throughout my investigation I have tried to back my findings with at 
least two, generally more, confirmations from reputable sources specializ¬ 
ing in the subject under investigation. In cases where I was unsure of a 
deceased or living cleric’s complicity in the homosexual network, or when 
circumstances indicated that such complicity was either incidental or spo¬ 
radic, I gave him the benefit of the doubt and eliminated his name from the 
text entirely. 

Identifying and putting the pieces of the American Church’s homosex¬ 
ual network together has been like assembling a giant jigsaw puzzle. 
However, as Maier’s Law reminds us, humans tend to collect and present 
data favorable to one’s own theories. 55 So I found it necessary to routinely 
ask myself, “Did a piece fit because I wanted it to and I therefore forced it 
to fit, or did it fit because it was truly the right piece? 

Indeed, in the very early months of my investigation, I frequently found 
myself wondering if I was on the wrong track entirely like the Soviet 
worker in a baby carriage factory who smuggled out parts from the factory 
to build his newborn child a carriage only to discover that he has built a 
machine gun instead! 

Further investigation, however, when combined with later revelations 
and details from court briefs of convicted homosexual pederast priests and 
religious including members of the hierarchy over the last decade have only 
served to demonstrate how amazingly accurate my initial theories and orig¬ 
inal check list of bishops involved in the homosexual network were. 


xxi 



INTRODUCTION 


Naming Names 

In so far as possible, with regard to the identification of persons involved 
in the secular and clerical homosexual network, I have generally followed 
the example of Father Rueda who identified homosexuals in his book who 
had already publicly identified themselves as such, usually in a homosexual 
publication and his (or her) sexual preferences were judged important to 
illustrate a point. 56 Also, to indicate that a person is “pro-homosexual” or 
an active member of the homosexual network is not to imply that all such 
persons are homosexuals, although some certainly are. Like the Com¬ 
munist Party, the “gay” leadership has found that many pro-homosexuals 
fall into the category of “useful idiots” when it comes to advancing the 
movement’s political and philosophical agenda. This truism I think is well 
illustrated in my chapters on the homosexual auxiliary within the Church 
and homosexuality in religious orders. 

However, unlike Rueda, I have made some major exceptions to this gen¬ 
eral rule by naming certain prominent Church figures such as Francis 
Cardinal Spellman of New York, John Cardinal Wright of Boston, Joseph 
Cardinal Bernardin of Chicago and Pope Paul VI as having played an impor¬ 
tant role in the rise of homosexuality within the Catholic Church in modern 
times. I don’t think it would have been possible for me to substantiate my 
charge of intergenerational homosexuality within the Church without 
identifying those individuals I believe to be directly responsible for the 
phenomena. 

For a writer to reveal details of another person’s private life is a difficult 
thing to do, especially when that person is dead and cannot answer the 
charges leveled against him. Is it possible for a writer to be critical of a per¬ 
son’s behavior, especially in the intimate sexual sphere without detracting 
from or minimizing his accomplishments? 

In his introduction to Fury on Earth, a critical biography of the German 
sexologist Wilhelm Reich, Professor Myron Sharaf examined these ques¬ 
tions and the dilemmas a writer faces when he attempts to delve into the 
intimate private lives of public figures, especially such controversial figures 
as Reich. 

Dr. Sharaf made a number of observations based on his biographical 
examination of Reich’s personal life that I found applicable with regard to 
my own writings. 

Sharaf asked himself if it is possible “to find flaws in a ‘genius’ without 
thinking the man a freak whose greatness was an accidental offshoot of his 
weird personality?” 57 And he answered in the affirmative. 

Further, he explained, he would not have done justice to his subject or 
his accomplishments or to the connections between his personality and his 
work, if he had obliterated “the problematical elements” of Reich’s charac¬ 
ter. Just because Reich completed his training in psychoanalysis, Sharaf 


xxii 



INTRODUCTION 


explained, did not mean that ipso facto he automatically became a well- 
adjusted person with no unresolved conflicts. “A whole person includes his 
pathology, but does not negate his genius or great accomplishments,” he 
concluded. 58 

One can apply such reasoning to the life of a cleric who completes sem¬ 
inary training and is ordained a priest or consecrated a bishop and yet con¬ 
tinues to be stunted and fettered by certain unresolved emotional or psy¬ 
chological pathologies which may or may not be acted out. To acknowledge 
this fact, however, does not negate the truth that holds every man, (includ¬ 
ing a homosexual priest or bishop), is more than the sum of his warts— 
however unsettling and overpowering those warts might be. 

Also, one cannot examine another person’s “warts,” without being 
reminded of one’s own, sometimes painfully so. 

It is impossible to write a book on the subject of sexual perversion in 
general and clerical sexual pathologies in particular, without coming to 
grips with one’s own sinful (yet redeemable) nature. One may legitimately 
condemn a sexual act such as sodomy as being “objectively sinful” without 
presuming to judge the ultimate disposition of soul of the sinner at the time 
of death which falls solely within God’s domain. 

Also as Sharaf reminded us, writers, like therapists, see their subjects 
(and patients) “through the prism of his own personality and experiences,” 
and “with his own biases and warts and shortcomings.” 59 

I was, for example, aware from the beginning, that in studying the 
homosexual underworld and all its various subgroups, I would be exposing 
myself to a high degree of moral turpitude over a long period of time. The 
words of Alexander Pope weighed heavily on my mind: 

Vice is a monster of so frightful mien, 

As to be hated needs but to be seen; 

Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, 

We first endure, then pity, then embrace. 

Thanks in large part to God’s protective grace and the adoption of some 
practical precautions in handling the raw moral sewage coming out of the 
homosexual pipeline, I believe I have come through the experience with a 
greater wisdom concerning the human condition in general and the special 
plight of the individual homosexual in particular. One can indeed hate the 
sin and its collective expression, the Gay Liberation Movement aka, the 
Homosexual Collective, and still love the sinner. 

Certainly, the initial revulsion and horror that the normal individual 
feels when he is confronted with the reality of homosexual acts has never 
left me. 

As for the individual homosexual caught up in this vice, I love him more 
than ever. For I now have a greater understanding and appreciation of the 
terrible all-embracing hold that this vice can have on a man and an even 


xxiii 



INTRODUCTION 


greater conviction that one should move heaven and earth to prevent any 
soul from being sucked into the homosexual vortex. 

Not For the Faint of Heart 

By any standard, this book is not for the faint of heart. The subject of 
homosexuality is understandably distasteful. Its connections to the priest¬ 
hood and the Catholic Church make it doubly so. 

To these difficulties one can add the presence of explicit sexual language 
used to describe certain types of homosexual acts and practices. On this 
point I can assure the reader that out of a sheer sense of decency I have 
fought to keep these explicit references to a minimum. 

However, I believe that it is not crude language but the horrendous 
issues raised in this book that will make it difficult reading for any faithful 
Catholic. 

In his Epistle to the Romans, Saint Paul said that God permits disorders 
of the flesh including homosexuality not only in payment for personal sins 
but as a recompense for errors within society and within the Church. The 
invasion, colonization and metastasization of the priesthood and religious 
life by the Homosexual Collective must be viewed within the larger context 
of a Church under enemy siege from all sides. 60 As such, homosexuality 
within the priesthood is at once a cause and symptom of corruption within 
the Church today. 

As the Roman Catholic Church, by God’s design, is a hierarchical 
Church, the primary responsibility for addressing and correcting the cur¬ 
rent sad state of affairs falls primarily on the heads and shoulders of the 
Pope and the bishops he selects. To date, unfortunately, neither the Holy 
Father nor the Church hierarchy appear to have the necessary will, heart 
and stomach to wage the necessary battle to reclaim its own. 

My intent in writing this book is to move the Holy See to take whatever 
actions are necessary to restore sanctity and sanity to the priesthood and 
religious life. 

The late Joseph Walsh, a former ambassador to the Holy See once 
observed that the Vatican has become “so accustomed to surviving crisis 
after crisis,” that it has become passive and does not take “sufficient prac¬ 
tical measures,” to deal with a crisis. 61 Unfortunately, the problem of homo¬ 
sexuality and pederasty in the priesthood and religious life is not a crisis 
that will go away of its own accord. It cannot be put on the back burner 
without risking the total dissolution of the sacred priesthood and religious 
life in the world today. Manana is now. 


Randy Engel 
December 2005 


XXIV 



INTRODUCTION 


Notes 


1 See Randy Engel, Sex Education—The Final Plague (Rockford, Ill.: Tan 
Books and Publishers, 1993), 203. Also Education in Human Sexuality for 
Christians (Washington, D.C.: Department of Education, USCC, 1981) and 
Catholic Theological Society of America, Human Sexuality—New Directions 
in American Catholic Thought (New York: Paulist Press, 1977). 

2 See Enrique T. Rueda, The Homosexual Network—Private Lives & Public 
Policy (Old Greenwich, Conn.: Devin Adair, 1982). 

3 Ben Hecht, Perfidy (New York: Julian Mesner, Inc., 1961), 58. 

4 See Steven Runciman, The Medieval Manichee—A Study of the Christian 
Dualist Heresy (London: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 1. 

5 The word Homitern is a play on Comintern, an association of Communist par¬ 
ties of the world, established in 1919 by Lenin and publicly dissolved in 1943. 
Many of the early advocates of the decriminalization of sodomy including 
Magnus Hirschfeld in Germany and Harry Hay in the United States were 
members of the Communist Party or connected to various radical Socialist 
and Communist movements of their day. 

6 Rueda, 267. 

7 Derrick Sherwin Bailey, Ph.D., Homosexuality and the Western Christian 
Tradition (Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, 1975), 127. 

8 David E Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality (Chicago: Chicago 
University Press, 1988), 322. 

9 Arno Karlen, Sexuality and Homosexuality A New View (New York: W. W. 
Norton & Co., 1971), 30. 

10 Ruth Tiffany Barnhouse, Homosexuality: A Symbolic Confusion. (New York: 
Seabury Press, 1979), 30. Interestingly, Barnhouse illustrated her point by 
citing the homosexual/transvestite “berdache” of the North American 
Mohave Indian tribe, an indigenous tribe of the Southwest, as an example of a 
culture where the role of the male homosexual, “has been institutionalized, 
but is neither approved of or seen as a happy way of life.” This latter state¬ 
ment however invites a word of caution. Barnhouse herself was not an 
anthropologist. She was a psychiatrist, Episcopal priest and theologian. Her 
main source for her comments on the sexual habits of the Mohave Indians 
was probably Georges Devereux’s “Institutionalized Homosexuality of the 
Mohave Indians” that appeared in Human Biology in 1937. Deveraux, a 
medical anthropologist and Rockefeller grantee who lived among the Mohave 
Indians in California, claimed that while the Mohave culture provided for the 
expression of homosexual drives in some of its members, officially recog¬ 
nizing a form of personality deviation, such behavior ran contrary to the 
group’s ethnic ideal and invited ridicule and other forms of harassment by the 
group. What needs to be said, however, is that “institutionalized male homo¬ 
sexuality,” (here using the commonly accepted definition of homosexuality as 
sexual activity between two adult males acknowledge to be such) never 
existed in the Mohave culture nor in any other American Indian culture. This 
fact is made quite clear in Lauren W. Hasten’s essay on “The ‘Berdache’”— 
a select group of children (almost exclusively males) who adopted an androg¬ 
ynous gender and dress and acted out the feminine role and occupations 
within Mohave society. According to Hasten, it was gender transformation 
and not homosexuality per se that had been institutionalized. This socially and 
religiously sanctioned arrangement made it possible then for both the hetero- 



INTRODUCTION 


sexual Mohave male and the androgynous “berdache” to engage in sexual 
activity without either of them thinking of themselves as homosexual or 
being subject to the onus of being labeled a “homosexual” by the tribe. 
Hasten has plainly pointed out that, “in most cases” (the Mohave and other 
tribes) acted to “prohibit the equivalent of ‘homosexual’ behavior,” that 
“homogendered sexual activity was not acceptable,” and that “two males who 
both identified as men could not freely engage in sexual activity under any 
circumstance.” Thus, homosexuality, as Devereaux claimed, was not, 
“tolerated in all its forms,” by the Mohave. Nor did the Mohave view the 
“berdache” as a “third sex.” There was just male and female. In light of 
recent attempts by some Native American homosexual and transgender 
groups to resurrect the “berdache” as an example of a societal affirmation of 
the homosexual or bisexual behaviors we note Hasten’s concluding remark: 
“Therefore, if homosexuality has ever been ‘institutionalized,’ and if there 
have ever been more than two genders, it has apparently not been among the 
peoples native to North America." Hasten’s essay is available from 
http://www.laurenhasten.com/testbuild/academberdlh.htm. 

11 Ibid. 31. 

12 Ibid. 32. 

13 Anthony Holden, Tchaikovsky A Bibliography (New York: Random House, 
1995), 257. 

14 See Dorothy J. Farnan, Auden in Love—The Intimate Story of a Lifelong Love 
Affair (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1984) 56-57. 

15 See Jean Delay, The Youth of Andre Gide (Chicago: University of Chicago, 
1963). 

16 See Charlotte Wolff, Magnus Hirschfeld—A Portrait of a Pioneer in Sexology 
(London: Quartet Books, 1986). Also James H. Jones, Alfred C. Kinsey—A 
Public/Private Life (New York: W. W. Norton, 1997). 

17 John Jay Hughes, Absolutely Null and Utterly Void—An Account of the 1896 
Papal Condemnation of Anglican Orders, (Corpus Books: Washington, D.C., 
1968), 149. 

18 Andre Gide, If I Die...An Autobiography (New York: Vintage Books, Random 
House, 1935), 291. Dorothy Bussy did the translation from the original 1920 
text of Si le grain ne meurt. 

19 Benoit Denizet-Lewis, “Boy Crazy,” Boston Magazine, May 2001. Available 
from http://www.bostonmagazine.com/ArticleDisplay.phpPid=27. 

20 See Mark Thompson, ed., Leatherfolk—Radical Sex, People, Politics, and 
Practice (Boston: Alyson Publications, 1991). 

21 Rueda, 103-104. 

22 Ibid., 252. 

23 Ibid. 

24 Robert Nugent, ed., A Challenge to Love — Gay and Lesbian Catholics in the 
Church (New York: Crossroad, 1980), 108. 

25 Michael Foucault, The History of Sexuality Volume I: An Introduction (New 
York: Vintage Books, 1990), 43. 

26 The word homosexual was first coined by German publisher Karoly Maria 
Kertbeny in 1869 and was used in anonymous writings on the subject. 

27 K. J. Dover, Greek Homosexuality (New York: MJF Books, 1978), 1. 


xxvi 



INTRODUCTION 


28 Robert Goss , Jesus Acted Up—A Gay and Lesbian Manifesto (San Francisco: 
Harper, 1993), xix. 

29 Ibid., xix. Goss quoted lesbian—feminist theorist Julia Penelope who 
acknowledged, “The attempt [of the Gay/Lesbian Movement] to claim words 
is the attempt to change the dominant shape of reality.” 

30 Jeannine Gramick, ed. Homosexuality and the Catholic Church (Mt. Rainier, 
Md.: New Ways Ministry, 1983), 70. 

31 Ibid., 71. 

32 Rueda, 118. 

33 Ibid. 

34 Mike Lew, Victims No Longer—Men Recovering from Incest and Other Sexual 
Child Abuse (New York: Harper and Row, 1986), 264. 

35 Thompson, 257. 

36 See Joost A. M. Meerloo, M.D., The Rape of the Mind—The Psychology of 
Thought Control, Menticide, and Brainwashing (Cleveland: World Publishing 
Company, 1956). Meerloo elucidated in very simple terms the fact that the 
words we use influence our behavior in daily life; they determine the 
thoughts we have. In Chapter Seven, “The Intrusion by Totalitarian 
Thinking—Verbocracy and Semantic Fog—Talking the People into 
Submission” Meerloo stated, “The formulation of big propagandistic lies and 
fraudulent catchwords has a very well-defined purpose in Totalitaria, and 
words themselves have acquired a special function in the service of power, 
which we may call verbocracy. ...The task of the totalitarian propagandist is to 
build special pictures in the minds of the citizenry so that finally they will no 
longer see and hear with their own eyes and ears but will look at the world 
through the fog of official catchwords and will develop the automatic 
responses appropriate to totalitarian mythology.” 

37 The word sub-culture is used here in a very limited sense to describe certain 
norms, practices, meeting places, habits commonly associated with the 
Homosexual Collective. As noted in Section II, Chapter 9, the homosexual 
movement is in fact anti-culture. 

38 Bruce Rodgers, The Queens’ Vernacular—A Gay Lexicon (San Francisco: 
Straight Arrow Books, 1972). The lexicon contains over 12,000 entries, much 
of which is not fit to print. 

39 Rodgers, 167, 148. 

40 Ibid., 45 

41 Ibid. 

42 Ibid. 

43 Ibid. 

44 Ibid. 

45 Ibid. 

46 Ibid., 46. 

47 “The horse has been flogged dead.” 

48 The terms pederast (paiderast) and pederasty are used in this book to denote 
same-sex relations between an adult male and an underage youth. The words 
are of Greek origin— pais, paid, pedo meaning child and erastes lover—liter¬ 
ally, a pederast is a lover of boys. The use of the word ephebophile, derived 
from the Greek ephebe meaning a youth between 18 and 20 years of age is of 


xxvu 



INTRODUCTION 


rather recent vintage and although it is used in some psychiatric and psycho¬ 
logical manuals has never caught on in popular parlance. The use of the word 
pedophile denotes an adult who is sexually attracted to children under the age 
of puberty and usually of the opposite sex. Since most Catholic clerical sex 
abusers favor young adolescent boys, the term pederast comes closest in 
definition to the criminal activity of sexual molestation of minor boys. It is 
instructive to note that the Catholic press uses the term pedophile almost 
exclusively to describe a priest who abuses young boys (thus avoiding 
drawing a connection between homosexuality and clerical sex abuse). 
Protestant newspapers, on the other hand, tend to use a more honest 
description such as “homosexual pedophile” or “pederast.” 

49 Dame Rebecca West, The New Meaning of Treason (New York: Viking Press, 
1964), 87. See also The Meaning of Treason (New York: Viking Press, 1945). 

50 Richard Deacon, The French Secret Service (London: Grafton Books, Collins 
Publishing, 1990), 107. 

51 Louis E Budenz, The Techniques of Communism (New York: Arno Press, 
1977), 212. 

52 See Ralph Lord Roy, Communism and the Churches (New York: Harcourt, 
Brace & World, Inc., 1960) 7-8. 

53 Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton, The Rosenberg File—A Search for the Truth, 
3rd ed. (New York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1984), xv. 

54 Ibid. 

55 Maier’s Law is a satirical comment on one’s own theories and beliefs: 

1. If the facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of. 

2. One can always find some evidence to support any theory. 

3. Given any set of facts one can always invent a theory to explain it. 

See also Irving Bieber, Homosexuality — A Psychoanalytic Study (New Jersey: 
Jason Aronson Inc., 1988), 29. 

56 Rueda, vxi. 

57 Myron Sharaf, Fury on Earth—A Biography of Wilhelm Reich (New York: 

St. Martin’s Press, 1983), 7. 

58 Ibid. 

59 Ibid. 

60 The concept of the vice of homosexuality as a cancer capable of infiltrating 
and metastasizing any and every group with which it comes in contact is 
found in Samuel A. Nigro, M.D., “Why Homosexuality is a Disorder,” Social 
Justice Review (May/June 2001): 70-76. 

61 Dermot Keogh, Ireland and the Vatican—The Politics and Diplomacy of 
Church-State Relations, 1922-1960 (County Cork, Ireland: Cork University 
Press, Cork, Ireland, 1995), 248. Ambassador Walsh was referring to the 
threat of Communism in Italy beginning in 1946. 


xxviii 



SECTION 

I 


Historical Perspectives 


The Spartans blamed the Dorians, the Athenians the Spartans. Both 
claimed it was a Crete or possibly a Celtic import. The Persians ascribed 
the vice to Greeks and Medes. The Romans referred to it as the “Greek 
vice.” The Etruscans were said to be wild hedonists and addicted to the 
vice. The West blamed the East as the source of the sexual deviancy. The 
crusaders were said to have been infected with the vice by their contact 
with the Near East. They in turn were accused of introducing the practice 
into Spain, Italy, and France. The Anglo-Saxons blamed the Normans for 
carrying the corrosive element to their shores. The Dutch blamed liber¬ 
tine French cultural influences. For their part, the French, who seemed not 
to be able to make up their minds, referred to it as both le vice allemand and 
le vice anglais. Later, the French extended that charge to the Arabs who 
were accused of contaminating Foreign Legion troops in Algiers with the 
vice. 

The Germans accused the Italians of perfecting the unnatural practice 
which they dubbed florenzen and the practitioner, a florenzen. The indignant 
people of Florence lashed back charging that the seeds of this abomination 
were sown by outsiders— trapassi or malandrini most especially the 
Bulgars (Bulgarians) who were said to be habituated to the practice. 

Martin Luther charged the Carthusian monks with bringing the moral 
pollution to Germany from their Italian monasteries. Later Protestant 
reformers would expand Luther’s accusation to include the entire Roman 
Church, popery, and of course, the Jesuits, who seem to have a knack of 
always getting themselves into trouble. Naturally, English Catholics 
retorted that the vice had sprung from Protestant roots in Europe. 

The 17th century English jurist Edward Coke blamed the infestation of 
the “shameful sin” of “bugeria” on the Lombards and referred to bugeria as 
an Italian invention. Even the French dramatist Voltaire voiced his opinion 
on this “mistake of nature,” relating the vice to geography and climate not 


1 




race. A view with which the British adventurer Sir Richard Burton con¬ 
curred. Nevertheless English travelers to the Continent continued to refer 
to it as the le vice Italien pinpointing Sicily as the fountainhead of the per¬ 
version with Rome, Naples, Florence, Bologna, Venice, Ferrara, Genoa, and 
Parma trailing only slightly behind. 

On the Dark Continent, the Afrikaans referred to men addicted to the 
vice by the derogatory slang term Moffie, while Americans at the turn of 
the century referred to men known to be habituated to the vice as “twi¬ 
light men. ” 1 

The “vice,” of course, is homosexuality, derived from the Greek word 
homos meaning “same.” 

Always referred to in universally unflattering terms, none of which sug¬ 
gest any degree of normality, homosexuality is a vice that every civilized 
nation has traditionally denounced as a dangerous foreign import, and the 
Church, from its earliest beginnings, has universally condemned as an 
unnatural, gravely sinful and morally degrading practice. This is historic 
reality. 2 

As the following chapters demonstrate, man has engaged in homosex¬ 
ual acts under various guises throughout the course of recorded human his¬ 
tory. The practice was linked to phallic worship in ancient pagan religions. 
The Hebrew people associated the practice with idolatry and licentiousness 
and the Greeks to certain Hellenistic pedagogical traditions. Homosexual 
acts were the sine qua non of the Roman will to power. Among early 
Christians, all homosexual acts including sodomy, were condemned in the 
severest language as both a personal sin as well as an outrage against God, 
the Author of Nature. 

Nowadays, apologists for the homosexual movement, insist that these 
footnotes in the sand of time are totally irrelevant because ancient man 
and the early Church viewed homosexuality solely in terms of acts and 
were ignorant of the homosexual person for whom such acts are part of his 
nature. That is to say, the “homosexual person” did not exist in ancient 
Greece or Rome or the Middle Ages. 

Such arguments however can be sustained only if one is willing to think 
in terms of gayspeak and play by the homosexual movement’s revisionist 
rules. 

Traditionally, homosexual acts have been viewed as one of many sexu¬ 
ally deviant acts any man is theoretically capable of performing. It does not 
necessarily follow however, that ancient societies and the early Church 
were ignorant of the existence of adult males (and females) who fit the 
modern definition of the “homosexual person,” that is, one whose emo¬ 
tional and psycho-erotic preference and attentions are directed primarily, if 
not exclusively, at the same-sex. 

Did not St. Paul in his Epistle to the Romans condemn persons, that is 
men (and women) who burn with an unnatural lust in their members for 


2 



persons of their own sex? Nor is there any doubt that both the Greeks and 
the Romans were aware of certain adult individuals known to prefer same- 
sex partners and who formed mutual and private associations of a semi- 
clandestine nature with each other as well as non-homosexual males 
including prostitutes and slaves. Unless their behaviors involved rape 
and/or underage children, violated certain strictures related to class dis¬ 
tinctions, or prevented the individual from fulfilling his familial obligations, 
these male homosexuals were typically ignored by the public authorities. 

Regarding penalties against homosexual practices, it may come as a sur¬ 
prise to some readers that, as a rule, the early Church and the Church of 
the Middle Ages was generally more just and lenient toward persons 
charged with sodomy, giving more consideration to age and circumstances, 
than the State. Also, where capital punishment was meted out from such 
individuals, the charges against them usually extended to other crimes 
against the State or Church including murder and blasphemy. 

As noted in the introduction, the historical ebbing of homosexual prac¬ 
tices in a given society has generally coincided with periods of political, 
social, familial and economic upheaval and instability, conditions normally 
associated with war or natural disasters. 

During such periods, homosexual practices may be said to have been 
tolerated, but as the French novelist and a Nobel Prize Laureate in Liter¬ 
ature, Roger Martin du Gard has pointed out, tolerance of homosexuality 
can often be an illusion: 

The fact that certain moral principles are less vigorously defended does not 
mean that they are weaker at the roots. We may seem less strict, in such 
matters, in France; there may be greater freedom of expression in print; the 
police may be less vigorous; conventional people may be less prudish. 

But essentially nothing—nothing at all—has changed, neither in the 
repressions of the law nor in the attitude of the great majority of our 
contemporaries. 3 

Yes, homosexuality does indeed have a history that dates back to antiq¬ 
uity. A history worth examining—first because it has played an important 
role in the development of Christian thought that continues to this very day, 
and secondly because of the homosexual movement’s misuse of certain his¬ 
torical aspects of homosexual behavior and public tolerance to bolster their 
position in defense of the “normality” of homosexuality. Therefore, we shall 
begin—at the beginning. 


Notes 


1 Andre Tellier coined the term “twightlight men.” See Donald Webster Cory 
(pseudonym), The Homosexual in America—A Subjective Approach (New 
York: Greenberg Publisher, 1951). 

2 Rueda, 252. 

3 See Karlen, 279. 


3 




Chapter 1 


Antiquity 


Homosexuality in Ancient Times 

Regarding the practice of homosexuality at the beginning of mankind’s 
recorded history, we can be certain of only a few historical facts. As for the 
motivations and justifications for these acts and the nature and circum¬ 
stances of the individuals committing them—these remain in the realm of 
speculation—cloaked in the mists and myths of time. 

We do know that homosexual practices existed in most if not all ancient 
cultures of the eastern Mediterranean including Babylon and Egypt and 
were associated primarily with fertility rites of god and goddess poly¬ 
theistic worship including the worship of male deities such as Baal and 
Dyonysus and goddesses such as Ishtar and Astarte. Temple “prostitution” 
included both male and female same-sex congress and often served as a 
source of revenue for both the temple and the individual. 1 

We also know that among the Hebrew people for whom the Old Testa¬ 
ment teachings were paramount, homosexuality was condemned as a vio¬ 
lation of God’s law and cultic prostitution and homosexuality were held to 
be synonymous with ungodliness, heresy and tribal disloyalty. 

Philo Judaeus (30 BC-45 AD) the ancient Jewish philosopher con¬ 
demned the sexual excesses of the men of Sodom in language uncannily 
familiar: 

They threw off their necks the law of nature and applied themselves to 
drinking of strong liquor and dainty feeding and forbidden forms of inter¬ 
course ... men mounted males without respect for the sex nature which the 
active partner shares with the passive. ...Then, as little by little they accus¬ 
tomed those who were by nature men to submit to play the part of women, 
they saddled them with the formidable curse of a female disease. 2 

Philo’s condemnation of homosexual acts, as Rueda has pointed out, 
was mirrored by another Jewish author Flavius Josephus (37-100 AD) who 
in Jewish Antiquities XV 28-29 commends Herod on his decision not to 
send young Aristobulus to Rome lest Anthony sodomize him. 3 

To the Old Testament tradition we can add both Talmudic and post- 
Talmudic sources, which hold that all homosexual acts are considered “a 
moral perversion, an outrageous and disgusting deed, a serious violation of 
the Torah’s command and, therefore, a grave sin.” 4 

I think it pertinent at this point to remind the reader that before the cur¬ 
rent era of biblical homosexual revisionism, the “sin of Sodom” was logi- 


5 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


cally and universally held to be sodomy and not inhospitality on the part of 
the men of Sodom. 5 

The Greek Experiment 

Sometimes homosexual revisionists collide with one another on the 
question of the true nature of “Greek love” as practiced in ancient Greece. 

On one hand we are told that that homoerotic love thrived in ancient 
Greece, permeating all Greek institutions and social classes from the 
Archaic period beginning in 800 BC until the final Roman conquest and 
beyond. 

On the other hand we are told that homosexuality never really existed 
in ancient Greece because the Greeks did not recognize the homosexual 
person as having a distinct identity. Further, this side argues, while Greek 
society permitted and even encouraged homosexual expression and 
liaisons, these were bound by rigid rules and regulations enforced by 
severe penalties. Further, such homosexual relationships did not dispense 
a male citizen from fulfilling his normal marital and familial duties and obli¬ 
gations when he came of age. 

What then is the truth, or perhaps I should say, truths, of the matter? 

We can and should begin our exploration of the role that homoerotic val¬ 
ues and practices played in ancient Greece by remembering some of our 
elementary grade history lessons on ancient Greece. 

First we need to differentiate between the various epochs of early 
Greek history starting with Homeric Greece and ending with the sacking 
of Corinth and Athens by the Romans which brought the Hellenistic Age to 
a close. 

Secondly, we need to recall that the geographical world of ancient 
Greece extended far beyond today’s borders and consisted of hundreds of 
city-states bound together by an endless and interchangeable litany of mil¬ 
itary alliances and treaties with their neighbors but uniquely separated by 
their own ethnic composition, history and cultural and religious mores. 
Among the major geographical groupings were the Dorians (Sparta, Argos, 
Corinth and the island of Crete); the Aeolians’ (Boiotia and Lesbos); and 
the ‘Ionians,’ the world of Homer (Athens and the Aegean regions of Asia 
Minor). 6 

Homeric Greece 

Our knowledge of the Achaean Age, covering the Trojan War, the fall of 
the Mycenean and the immigration of the Dorians onto the Greek mainland 
and the beginning of the Dark Ages (1,100-800 BC) comes to us primarily 
through the epic writings of Homer. 7 

From the Iliad and the Odyssey comes a profile of the everyday rural life 
and travels of the early Greeks and the strong patriarchal familial bonds and 


6 



ANTIQUITY 


deep male friendships that cemented their existence in a rough and largely 
unwelcome land. Government was simple and of and by the clan with kings 
possessing powers that were limited but wide in scope. 8 

By later standards, they were a sober, generous, hard-working and mod¬ 
est people whose wealth was more likely to be invested in ornate palaces 
rather than temples. Slaves were not numerous and were employed prima¬ 
rily as household attendants. Like all Greeks their overriding passion was 
for games and athletic contests. 9 

In an era where the family not the state was considered the everlasting 
unit, marriages were arranged with love coming after rather than before 
betrothment. Though always a man’s world, the status of women was rela¬ 
tively high and wives played an important role in familial decision making. 
Greek women were held to be uncommonly beautiful and Greek men 
uncommonly handsome. The former, as opposed to the latter, were 
expected to be chaste and faithful. Young women were trained by their 
mothers in the womanly arts while young men were trained by their fathers 
in the manly art of the chase and of war. 10 

Not all of Greek life was idyllic. Infanticide and concubinage were not 
unknown to the early Greeks. They were cruel in war and audacious in 
spirit with a reputation among their enemies for being less than honorable 
in their business dealings and political and military agreements. 

As to the possible existence of homoerotic attachments in early Greek 
society we know virtually nothing. Certainly, neither the times nor customs 
of the early Greeks favored the development of homosexual practices. With 
survival as a top priority, male-female sexual relations were normative. 
Education for both sexes was homebound thus limiting exposure to envi¬ 
ronments conducive to pederasty. 

Early Greek folklore does not mention homosexuality. The beautiful 
mythical Trojan youth Ganymede was carried off by Zeus to be his cup¬ 
bearer, not his catamite. And Homer’s Achilles and Patroclus were devoted 
brothers-in-arms, not homosexual lovers. 

All this would change however with the Greek revisionists of the 
Classical era where we begin to witness the full extent of the historic influ¬ 
ences of the Dorian/Cretan military ethos and Persian influences from the 
East on Greek sexual mores including the adoption of various forms of 
homosexual practices in Greek society. 

A Shift in Greek Sexual Ethics 

By 500 BC Greek life in major city-states such as Imperial Athens had 
undergone a considerable transformation from the days of Homer. These 
changes at virtually every level of Greek society produced societal condi¬ 
tions traditionally associated with the rise of sexual unorthodoxy in general 
and homoerotic vice in particular, especially among the upper classes. 


7 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Among the most important of these paradigm shifts were: 

• The rise of the power of the State over the family and clan with a subse¬ 
quent decline in the importance of family life and natural conjugal and 
parent-child affections. The State became a de facto paternal surrogate for 
the Greek male citizen from early childhood until death. 

• The disruptive climate of perpetual military preparedness against foreign 
and domestic enemies that mitigated against peaceful development and 
undermined social stability of the great republics. 

• The increased urbanization of Greek cities with an ever-widening slave- 
base serving a minority elite leisure class. 

• A decline in the status of women from earlier periods of Greek culture 

• The institutional segregation of the sexes especially in the upper classes. 

• And finally, the growth of a male culture dominated by a machismo ethic 
with emphasis on male nudity and homoeroticism and lived out in the all¬ 
male environs of the symposia and gymnasia. 

Among many of the adult upper class males of the Classical period, the 
pursuit of sexual pleasure, youth and beauty involved a certain degree of 
fluidity unprejudiced by gender. For the sexual profligate, the object of 
one’s attentions were virtually unlimited and interchangeable—man (non¬ 
citizen) or women, wife or mistress, slave including a eunuch or prostitute 
and even, under certain circumstances, one or more comely youth of one’s 
own social class. 11 

Prostitutes of both sexes were available to all for a price. Those of the 
female gender were readily distinguished by dress and social status, with 
the pornai at the lowest end of the profession and the sophisticated, well- 
educated and skilled hetairai serving more wealthy and influential clients. 12 

In the case of male prostitutes, composed largely of freeborn foreigners 
and men from the lower classes there were no such distinctions. It was 
strictly sex for sex’s sake. Like the modern homosexual “meat-rack,” the 
criteria for selection was simply youth and sex appeal. The young men 
could be rented out by the hour or on a contractual basis and kept like a mis¬ 
tress. 13 Some male prostitutes depilated their bodies, dressed in female 
clothing and wore high heeled shoes, veils and makeup. 14 

Lucian of Samosata (120-190 AD) the Greek satirist of the second cen¬ 
tury AD railed against the male effeminate of his own day with their minc¬ 
ing gait, languishing eyes and honeyed voice. 15 Critical of the buyer as 
well as the seller, Lucian puts his thoughts on male homosexuality into the 
mouth of one of his female characters who says, “I do not care for a man 
who himself wants one.” 16 

One should take care, however, against giving the impression that the 
sexual libertarianism of the upper classes was entirely open-ended. It was 
not. All societies have sexual rules that apply even to the elite and ancient 
Greece was no exception. 


8 



ANTIQUITY 


All major events in life, including marriage, births and death, were sanc¬ 
tified by traditional religious rites. All citizens, whatever their sexual idio¬ 
syncrasies or gender preference were expected to marry and produce heirs 
and future citizens. As historian Will Durant has stated, “...all the forces of 
religion, property and the state” united against childlessness. 17 Anti-social 
acts punished under the law included acts of sexual violence, rape of free¬ 
born children and the corruption of freeborn youth (not slaves). 

And while prostitution was legal and taxed by the State, it was a crime 
for a male citizen to offer his body for sale to another adult male. 18 Such a 
homosexual misadventure was punished by the loss of certain political 
rights and met with social disapproval from his peers. Finally, where homo¬ 
sexual relations involved males of the same citizen class, the law as well as 
custom provided for even a wider range of prohibitions and social and legal 
sanctions. 19 

Educative Pederastry—The Athenian Model 

The Romans called ephebic love, that is male homosexuality practiced 
with adolescents, the “Greek vice.” 20 Most readers are more familiar with 
the term pederasty (or paiderasty), defined as sexual attraction of an adult 
male for a boy who had passed puberty but not yet reached maturity. 21 

If necessity is the mother of invention, it is not difficult to discover, why 
and how this particular form of homosexual behavior found its way into the 
upper echelons of urban Athenian society. It was, as we shall see, a simple 
case of supply and demand requiring only a modicum of philosophical or 
pedagogical justification to insure legitimacy. 

But first permit me to set the scene for Athens during the Classical 
period (500-400 BC). 

By today’s standards, the Imperial city had a relatively small population 
that hovered only about 300,000, one-third of who were slaves. The 
remainder of the population consisted of foreigners or “resident aliens,” 
farmers, miners, artisans, merchants, bankers, soldiers, women and chil¬ 
dren (all of whom were excluded from the franchise) and ruled over by a 
“jealously circumscribed circle of 43,000 male citizens,” from whom the 
wealthier leisured class were drawn. 22 

With ports opening up to the Aegean Sea, Athens was a great trading 
and commercial center as well as the cultural center of the Greek world 
where the arts, literature, drama and architecture flourished. 

Classical Athens unfortunately placed less emphasis upon achieving a 
strong familial foundation. 

In comparison with the Roman family model, the upper class father gen¬ 
erally left his children’s upbringing to his wife and the State as he busied 
himself with the affairs of the day. 

An Athenian woman from the upper classes entered into an arranged 
marriage in her mid-to-late teens. Until that time, she lived a fairly 


9 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


secluded home life distinguished by a strict segregation from the opposite 
sex with the exception for her husband, father and other male family mem¬ 
bers. Virginity in a bride, the sexual fidelity of a wife and the legitimacy of 
one’s offspring were of great import in Athenian society. 23 

A rich young Athenian male citizen, on the other hand, did not marry 
until much later, usually about age 30. 

His public life began at age 6 when he entered a private school for a clas¬ 
sical education in writing, music and gymnastics suited to the development 
of both body and mind. 24 This formal schooling ushered the young child into 
an all-male environment. Later, his education was expanded to include 
instruction in oratory, science, philosophy and history as well as training 
in the martial arts in preparation for military service. 

At age 18, he entered into the ranks of “soldier youth.” He trained for 
two years in the duties of citizenship and war, at which time he became eli¬ 
gible for local military postings. 25 

At 21 he became a citizen of Athens with full and equal rights under the 
law and assumed the military and fiscal responsibilities that accompanied 
his new status. From here he could move on into a formal military army or 
naval career, a life of public service or become patron of the arts, or a mul¬ 
tiplicity of other life options of his own choosing. 26 

Unfortunately, his sexual options were more limited. Marriage was a 
number of years away. Prolonged sexual abstinence would draw unwelcome 
suspicions. There was no law in Athens that prevented him from slaking his 
sexual desires—natural or unnatural—on a slave or prostitute of either 
sex but, as Dover suggests, where would be the thrill of the chase in such 
ordinary and crass liaisons? 27 No, the manly role of the hunter and seducer 
demanded an all together different love object—one from his own class— 
one of his own sex—only younger. 

Yet not too young! The sexual seduction of a freeborn pre-pubescent 
child was a crime. And not too old! Sex with a youth sporting a heavy beard 
was socially proscribed as an overt homosexual act. An adolescent youth, 
somewhere between the age of 14 and 19 would be just right. 

The only missing ingredient was a suitable rationalization for pederas- 
tic homosexuality which the various philosophical schools in Athens (never 
a disinterested party where homosexuality was concerned) were quick to 
provide. As writer John Addington Symonds notes in An Essay on Greek 
Sexual Ethics, the normally degrading act of submitting one’s self to anal 
penetration could be made acceptable within a new context of a socially- 
sanctioned custom. 28 

Under the new philosophical umbrella, vice was now capable of produc¬ 
ing virtue in a suitable pederatic pairing. Was not the fertile mind, capable 
of procreating beauty, great literature and laws, more valuable than a fertile 
body that only produced children? asked the proponents of pederasty. 29 


10 



ANTIQUITY 


The Eromenos-Erestes Ideal 

The ideal younger partner in any pederastic relationship—the eromenos 
—was a highborn adolescent, androgynous and beautiful in body, intelligent 
of mind, modest and circumspect in deportment. * 0 In terms of his sexual 
role, the youth always played the passive and submissive partner, i.e., he 
played the female role. 31 If he was exceptionally handsome and/or espe¬ 
cially talented in playing the coquette and making the chase interesting he 
could attract a wide number of potential suitors. 32 Once he made his selec¬ 
tion, he owed his mentor/lover philia love (friendship) and his unwavering 
obedience and loyalty. 

For the older lover—the erastes —who was always of equal or higher 
social status, the norms of pederastic courtship were strictly prescribed. 
He played the role of the ardent lover—wooing his beloved with expensive 
gifts (not money which would smack of prostitution), escorting him to the 
symposia and watching him perform naked at the gymnasia. The ideal 
erastes was heroic, chivalrous, faithful and above all, manly. Being at the 
height of his sexual powers, he played out his sexual role as the dominant, 
that is, active partner. By combining his mental skills and virtues, with 
physical erotic affection, he was said to touch the very soul of his beloved 
and inspire in him all that was beautiful and admirable. 33 

In terms of specific sex acts, it appears that frottage, an intercrural form 
of masturbation by the senior partner between the thighs of the youth (with 
or without manual manipulation of his young partner), rather than anal pen¬ 
etration (sodomy) was a more common practice, although both were known 
to occur in these relationships. 34 

The preference for the former over the latter in pederastic relationships 
is not surprising. Sodomy, by its very nature is an aggressive, degrading and 
humiliating act for any human being, male or female. It also requires a cer¬ 
tain degree of preparation and manual manipulation by the insertor to min¬ 
imize the pain initially associated with anal penetration. 

There were eromenos-erestes relationships that were chaste and nei¬ 
ther partner appeared to have suffered from such an arrangement. 35 

The positive aspects of the eromenos-erastes relationship, I believe, 
could be attributed to the senior partner’s role as a quasi-surrogate father, 
mentor, and trainer of his young protege in military or political and oratory 
skills rather than his role as a bugger of boys. 

Historian David Cohen in a reference to the production of “auton¬ 
omous” children as outlined in Plato’s Republic, has shed some light on 
the role of pederasty in ancient Athens. Cohen observed that, “Histor¬ 
ically... the incapacity of mothers and the failure of fathers” to assume direct 
responsibility for the development of their sons created a gap which ped¬ 
erasty sought to fill. 36 He then quoted an observation by Georges Devereux 
that: “The Greek father usually failed to counsel his son; instead, he coun¬ 
seled another man’s son, in whom he was erotically interested.” 37 


11 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


It is highly unlikely that educative pederasty, so-called, whatever the 
rationale put forth to justify its practice, ever functioned effectively as a 
legitimate intellectual or philosophical training exercise. Rather, the sys¬ 
tem provided for a convenient, transient and socially regulated sexual 
encounter that served certain needs of a designated population. Of course, 
that like all sentimental ideals, the ideal pederastic relationship was “pure 
in theory but a good deal less so in practice.” 38 

Sometimes, the “pure,” eromenos turned out to be a mercenary male 
Lolita who left his parents’ house to live with his older lover and was con¬ 
sidered “lost.” Sometimes, the “noble” erastes turned out to be just the 
proverbial “dirty old man.” Of this type of sexual predator, the Greek biog¬ 
rapher Plutarch (46-120? AD) speaks when he says that in the beginning 
the pederast came slinking into our gymnasia to view the naked boys. 
“Quite quietly at first he started touching and embracing the boys.” Then 
he became more bold and there was no holding him. “Nowadays he reg¬ 
ularly insults conjugal love and drags it through the mud,” comments 
Plutarch. 39 

Although Athenian law was not aimed primarily at punishing immoral 
behavior as such, it did seek to punish immoral behavior that “either 
harmed those unable to protect themselves or directly transgressed against 
the clearly demarcated public sphere.” 40 

Athenian society did take certain precautions to protect against the cor¬ 
ruption of the morals of freeborn minors. Children’s schools were shut up 
after hours until daybreak and entrance into the palaestra (wrestling 
school) and the gymnasia or sports arena was strictly regulated. 

Solon, the great Athenian statesman enacted legislation that would 
impose the death sentence for men who illegally sneaked into the gymna¬ 
sia and boys’ schools in the Imperial city, which indicates that illicit sexual 
seduction of male minors must have been a problem in classical Athens. 41 

Again, while custom dictated that the pederastic relationship was to end 
when the eromenos grew into manhood (and he assumed the role of an 
erastes) and his older lover married, there were incidents when it did not 
end. Sometimes the pair remained lovers even while both were married. 
Sometimes, an eromenos, especially if he were repeatedly sodomized 
became habituated to the practice and carried it with him into adulthood, as 
an adult passive homosexual. 

As to be expected, the great philosophers of the Classical period, who 
represented a small but influential minority of Athenian citizens, had dis¬ 
tinct opinions on the subject. 

Unfortunately for us, Socrates (469-399 BC) despite his foundational 
place in the history of ideas actually wrote nothing. What knowledge we 
have of him is filtered through the lens and works of his famous pupil, Plato 
(Aristocles) (427-347 BC) who, after Socrates’ death, later founded his 


12 



ANTIQUITY 


own great school. From Plato’s Academy, came yet another famous pupil 
and the tutor of Alexander the Great, Aristotle (384-322 BC) 

In Plato’s Symposium, we recognize a number of homosexual types at 
the drinking party in the characters of Agathon, a good looking effeminate 
poet with a woman’s voice to whom we have already been introduced. 
Agathon has carried his homosexual relationship well into adult life with his 
lover, Pausanias. Then there is the young and vain Alcibiades who attempts 
to seduce Socrates (unsuccessfully according to Plato). He is rejected by 
the master who questions the young man’s true motives and suggests that 
Alcibiades’ sexual desires will not produce virtue in him. 

In any case, whatever his earlier views on the superiority of homosex¬ 
ual relations over normal male-female congress, in his Laws, Plato, would 
outlaw homosexual behavior including pederasty in his aristocratic utopian 
society on the basis that such acts were “contrary to nature.” 42 

When male and female come together to share in procreation, the pleasure 
they experience seems to have been granted according to nature; but homo¬ 
sexual intercourse, between males or females, seems to be an unnatural 
crime of the first rank. (I.636c3-6). 43 

As for Aristotle, who frequently clashed with his teacher Plato, he was 
more interested in agape, that is, genuine friendship and brotherly love than 
in eros, that is, love attached to sexual desire. 44 Overall, Aristotle, who was 
married (as was Socrates) and from all reports, a devoted husband, placed 
great value on the harmony of conjugal relations and family life. This was 
in contrast to Plato, the inveterate bachelor, who was willing to sacrifice the 
interest of both to the overriding interests of the State. 45 

The views of the common man on the subject of pederastic and adult 
homosexuality can be found in the Athenian theater, a state-supported form 
of public edification in which men and women of all classes served out their 
religious as well as civic duties. In the Greek tradition, the theater mani¬ 
fested a thoroughly heterosexual genre. The idea that two adult men would 
enter into a homosexual relationship was thought ridiculous. 46 

In his satirical comedies, Aristophanes (448-380 BC?), the Athenian 
dramatist, was a harsh mocker of homosexuality in all its forms. His lan¬ 
guage was crude. Its meaning openly and consistently derogatory and 
scornful as exemplified by his reference to homosexuals as “europroktos” 
(wide-arsed). Not only did he attack overt pederasts, effeminates and 
secret homosexuals, but he also took a shot at the philosophers and orators 
for their alleged affinity for sexually deviant behavior. 47 

The foolish often delirious antics of an adult male continuing to seek 
homosexual favors from a former lover now grown into full manhood (the 
modern equivalent of a homosexual relationship) was a popular theme in 
Greek comedies. 

In all probability, outside certain pederastic circles found among the 
upper and literary classes, adult homosexuals, married or unmarried, who 


13 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


sought out other men with similar sexual desires, did so in a furtive man¬ 
ner with a sense of shame and ongoing fear of public disclosure and 
ridicule. 48 

In his landmark study, Greek Homosexuality, which explored homosex¬ 
ual behavior in Greek art and literature between the 8th and 2nd centuries 
BC, Kenneth J. Dover noted: 

Greek culture differed from ours in its readiness to recognize the alterna¬ 
tion of homosexual and heterosexual preferences in the same individual, its 
implicit denial that such alternation or coexistence created peculiar prob¬ 
lems for the individual or for society, its sympathetic response to the open 
expression of homosexual desire in words and behavior, and its taste for 
the uninhibited treatment of homosexual subjects in literature and the 
visual arts. 49 

I do not believe, however, that the historical evidence of the Athenian 
Classical period supports the main premise of Dover’s assertion. In fact, 
the historical evidence, some of which is provided by Dover himself, proves 
just the opposite. 50 

That the ancient Greeks were less than sympathetic in their response 
to certain homosexual behaviors is certainly acknowledged by Dover in his 
1994 memoir, Marginal Comment, in which the noted Greek scholar 
recalled: “If an Athenian adult male fell in love with a handsome boy or still- 
beardless youth, no inhibition restrained him from saying so; but the 
‘quarry’ was expected to rebuff the ‘pursuer’; a boy who actually sought to 
arouse older males was condemned; and so were homosexual relationships 
between two bearded males.” 51 

A more realistic assessment of the role of pederasty in Classical Athens, 
is provided by another Greek scholar, Robert Flaceliere. According to 
Flaceliere, “inversion (homosexuality) was never very prevalent except in 
one class of Greek society and over a limited period.” 52 Further, he stated, 
“There is no evidence that homosexuality met with any general social 
approval. ...The Greeks never ‘canonized’ the physical act of sodomy. They 
merely kept up the fiction of ‘educational’ pederasty.” 53 

More Similarities than Differences 

In researching Greek pederastic practices, I was struck by the number 
of similarities that existed between the homosexual mores of ancient 
Athens and those of today’s “gay” subculture. 

Certainly, in the adolescent seduction and courting pattern of the 
erastes and his erosmos, in the high premium put on youth and beauty of 
the young male partner, in the giving of elaborate gifts by suitors, in the 
petty jealousies, brawls and rivalries that arose between competing suitors 
and also the paired couple themselves, in the preoccupation with the but¬ 
tocks and genitals of the “beloved,” and in the masturbatory actions of the 
senior partner, we catch a glimmer of the Peter Pan complex that drives 
much of the erotic behavior of the contemporary male homosexual. 


14 



ANTIQUITY 


The unmanly effeminate pederast and overt homosexual of ancient 
Athens, much like our own stereotyped “gay” figure, was typically satirized 
as an androgynous figure with a high voice and mincing gait. He was the 
object of public and private ridicule whatever his class or occupation. And 
though it may well be, that as Dover claims, the Greeks were not into 
genetic determination or orientation, they apparently had little difficulty in 
recognizing abnormal behavior when they saw it. 

The Greek experiment with pederasty tends to support Austrian psy¬ 
chiatrist Alfred Adler’s early theory that sexual perversions including 
homosexuality are an artificial construct produced by emotional and social 
conditioning and training rather than a matter of constitutional error or 
genetics. 54 

That all was not sweet and light with the homosexual milieu of ancient 
Greece is revealed, although not intentionally so, in Dover’s extensive cov¬ 
erage of “The Prosecution of Timarkhos.” 55 

Timarkhos, an Athenian prosecutor and public figure, was charged and 
later found guilty of having prostituted his body to another man in violation 
of the law. In an aside reference to the crime of homosexual assault on a 
full-grown Athenian youth, Dover noted that: “...unwilling homosexual 
submission was held to be the product of dishonest enticement, threats, 
blackmail, the collaboration of accomplices, or some other means which 
indicated premeditation...” 56 Add the not unknown suicide, murder and 
assassination by Athenian boylovers or their quarry and one comes close to 
the nature of many modern day violent homosexual intrigues. 57 

Dover related one such story from Plutarch’s Dialogue on Love about 
Periandros of Ambrakia who was slain by his eromenos when the tyrant 
indelicately asks his young lover if he was pregnant yet, suggesting that his 
partner had taken on the role of a female. 58 

I was also struck by the actions of the literary and dramatist homo¬ 
sexual revisionists of the day like the Aiskhylos (Aeschylus) who man¬ 
aged to turn traditional Greek myths into affirmations of homosexual rela¬ 
tions. 59 He paired off Achilles and Patroklos as homosexual lovers with a 
reverse erosmos-erastes relationship and the beautiful Ganymede became 
the erosmos of Zeus. 60 

“The idea that two men (or a god and a youth) could develop strong non¬ 
erotic, life-long friendships seems as foreign to the mind of the Greek 
homosexual apologist as it is for those of our own day who insist on filter¬ 
ing all male relationships through their own homoerotic lens. 

Not surprisingly, shades of eromenos-erastes yearnings can be found in 
contemporary “gay” life. 

For example in Gay and Gray—The Older Homosexual Man, avowed 
homosexual Raymond Berger, discussed his decision to become “a john.” 
“A john,” he explained, is “a patron to a younger person, (who) offers his 
time, attention, affection and sex; the john offers money in return.” 61 This 


15 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


arrangement, Berger concluded, enables him “to have sexual relations with 
persons who are young and attractive and very alluring, simply by freeing 
myself of a few of these dollars.” 62 

On the other hand, we have the Marxist pederast journalist Daniel 
Tsang who has rejected the Greek “romanticized, idealized and often 
sexist and ageist relationship between a male adult ‘mentor’ and his 
young male ‘student.’” 63 

“Gay identified lovers of youth and men have come out, rejecting the 
archaic ideal of Greek love, which has as its goal a man guiding a young 
boy on his road to marriage, nuclear family, good citizenship and other 
aspects of ‘straightdom,’” Tsang stated. 64 Boy lovers should embrace 
a “positive gay identity,” and not “pretend to cultivate a straight identity 
in either themselves or their sex partners,” he said. 65 

Male Homosexuality in Sparta 

Historically speaking, the homosexual ethos does not always play itself 
out in an identical way, even in the same nation during a similar time frame. 
This becomes quite evident when we examine the development of adult 
male homosexual practices in Sparta. 

While the Greeks looked to cosmopolitan Athens for culture, in times 
of war, they turned to Sparta for military leadership. Geographically land¬ 
locked and isolated between two mountain ranges on the Peloponnesian 
peninsula., the Laconian city-state of Sparta was for all practical purposes a 
military dictatorship ruled over by a dual monarchy-oligarchy of native 
nobility and military elite. 66 

A three-tiered class system formed Spartan society with the ruling class 
and soldier-citizen forming a small minority of the population at the upper 
tier and a very large (and politically unstable and potentially rebellious) 
agrarian slave population called helots (the entire conquered populace of 
Messenia) at the base. Between the two, was lodged the foreign commer¬ 
cial/middle class (the perioeci) that acted as a buffer population between 
rulers and slaves or serfs. Although it had a similar population to Imperial 
Athens at the peak of its power, about 400,000, the numbers of Spartiates 
who possessed full legal and political rights was considerably less, about 
30,000. 67 

The core of Spartan life, from birth to death, centered upon the absolute 
power of and allegiance to the militaristic State. The courage of its military, 
down to the common foot soldier and the ferociousness of the Spartan war 
machine were legendary throughout the Greek world and beyond, striking 
fear and terror into the hearts of its enemies wherever it went. For Greeks, 
especially Spartans, to “sack” a city was to render it utterly desolate. 68 

The training of a Spartan soldier-citizen was harsh and continuous. For 
much of his life, he lived in the military barracks not in his home with his 
wife and children. 


16 



ANTIQUITY 


Military training began early, at the age of 7, when every male Spartan 
youth entered the public school system and began training that would ren¬ 
der him both physically fit and psychologically disciplined. Cowardice in any 
form was severely punished. Although students were taught to read and 
write, these were secondary to his education as a warrior soldier. Between 
the ages of 18 and 20 the Spartan cadet was tested for physical strength and 
military and leadership skills. If he passed, he became a full-time soldier of 
the state militia, lived on post (even if married) and gradually moved up the 
military ranks. If he failed to qualify, he entered the ranks of the middle 
class where he could own property and establish a business, but he lost his 
right of citizenship. 

At age 30, as in Athens, the Spartiate completed his military training 
and attained full citizenship and political rights. He was allowed to live in 
his own house with his own family although he continued to serve in the 
military until the retirement at the age of 60. 

Spartan virtue was measured solely in manly terms—loyalty to the 
State and the Spartan brotherhood, self-sacrifice, courage, sobriety and 
physical strength—and these were ingrained by training and reinforced by 
custom. All sense of effeminacy, luxury, egotism and self-aggrandizement 
were eschewed. If today, we find some “gay” groups idealizing and praising 
Sparta for its alleged “openness” to adult homosexuality and other prac¬ 
tices, it is probably because, as historian Will Durant has suggested, they 
did not have to live there. 69 

Every aspect of Spartan life, including entertainment, sports, religious 
and civic festivals were seen primarily within a militarized context. 
Eventually even the arts were suppressed with the exception of choral 
dance and music that could be turned to militaristic ends. 70 

Like their male counterparts, young girls in Sparta went to school 
beginning at the age of six or seven and received a slimmed down version 
of a male military education with emphasis on martial skills of self-defense 
and physical strength needed to produce strong offspring. 

She married at age 18, in a wedding ceremony, that like all Spartan life, 
was direct, simple and promptly consummated, after which the groom 
returned to his barracks and military duties. 

Real sex, that is reproductive sex, was always a major consideration for 
the Spartiates especially since their ranks were so vigorously culled at 
birth by a rigidly enforced State program of eugenic infanticide of weak or 
disfigured infants. Interestingly, sexual abstinence between the married 
couple was seen as a method of sustaining sexual attraction and insuring 
fertility that otherwise might be squandered on sexual dissipation. 71 

In Sparta, a man’s social status was reflected in his male progeny. To be 
a bachelor was a disgrace and the State attached certain restrictions to men 
who did not marry or married but did not produce a son. “Celibacy in Sparta 
was a crime,” commented Durant. 72 


17 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Concerning the practice of “educative” pederasty in ancient Sparta we 
have conflicting historical reports. 

Plutarch said that by the early age of 12 or 13, a Spartan youth had chosen 
a male mentor and lover. 73 

The great Greek general and writer Xenophon (430?-355? BC), on the 
other hand, hailed chaste man-boy relationships. However, he did note that 
certain Spartan pedagogic rationalizations were used as an excuse for men 
to approach good-looking boys under the guise of a show of friendship and 
virtue and it also helped cover their sense of shame and fear of punishment 
that they would take pleasure in the seduction and sexual molestation of 
the young. 74 Xenophon held that men seek to keep shameful illicit homo¬ 
sexual love secret. In contrast, honorable chaste love is public, not hidden, 
and many know and approve of it including the family of the boy. 75 

I think I ought to say something also about intimacy with boys, since this 
matter also has a bearing on education. In other Greek states, for instance 
among the Boeotians, man and boy live together, like married people; else¬ 
where, among the Eleians, for example, consent is won by means of favours. 
Some, on the other hand, entirely forbid suitors to talk with boys. The cus¬ 
toms instituted by Lycurgus were opposed to all of these. If someone, being 
himself an honest man, admired a boy’s soul and tried to make of him an 
ideal friend without reproach and to associate with him, he approved, and 
believed in the excellence of this kind of training. But if it was clear that the 
attraction lay in the boy’s outward beauty, he banned the connexion (sic) as 
an abomination; and thus he caused lovers to abstain from boys no less than 
parents abstain from sexual intercourse with their children and brothers and 
sisters with each other.' 6 

Xenophon, Minor Works 
“Constitution of the Lacedaemonians” 

Since Sparta was a closed and secretive society and since we cannot 
know what went on behind closed doors or under cloaks drawn about male 
lovers, it is unlikely that we will ever know the extent of homosexual ped¬ 
erasty in the city-state. We do, however, know considerably more about the 
institutionalized practice of adult homosexuality in Spartan military life. 

From the earlier description of Spartan life, it would appear that adult 
homosexuality would have had a difficult time in establishing itself in such 
an austere and conservative society. However, we must also consider the 
fact that, having exploited every facet of Spartan life to insure maximum 
military preparedness and troop morale and loyalty, the State was not above 
exploiting homosexual relations when it served its purpose. 77 

Greek tradition did not permit camp followers and soldiers were often 
separated from their wives for long periods of time. Adult homosexual rela¬ 
tions helped fill the sexual gap, providing sexual release and variety, but, 
again, with the usual caveats. 

Manly homosexual bonding was encouraged so long as it did not inter¬ 
fere with normal conjugal life. Also, the senior partner in the relationship 


18 



ANTIQUITY 


was expected to play the dominant role in cases involving anal penetration 
of his younger lover. Furthermore, overt displays of effeminacy indicating 
possible gender-tampering were strictly forbidden. 

In the Boetian city of Thebes, the final outpost of Greek freedom, a sim¬ 
ilar military homosexual ethos existed but unlike the Spartans, the pairing 
of homosexual lovers in battle were part of Theban military organization. 
No one, even the most cowardly, would want to be shamed on the battle¬ 
field before the eyes of one’s lover. 78 

It was the legendary Theban Sacred Band or Sacred Brotherhood, com¬ 
posed of three hundred paired elite troops that met Philip II of Macedonia 
and his son Alexander at the battle of Chaeronea, and fought bravely, every 
man, to the death. 79 That historians should recall and honor such valor, is, 
not so much a tribute to homosexuality, but rather a simple and universal 
acknowledgement that a soldier’s courage and devotion to his nation is 
praiseworthy whenever and wherever it is found. 

Greek Homosexuality—a Complex Picture 

What conclusions can we draw then about homosexual practices in 
ancient Greece? 

Perhaps David Cohen, in Law, Sexuality, and Society—The Enforcement 
of Morals in Classical Athens summarized it best when he wrote: 

In classical Athens the community judged individuals who engaged in 

homosexual relations, homosexual prostitution, or adultery in accordance 

with a matrix of legal rules and social norms, expectations, and values 

which was characterized by contradiction, ambivalence, and ambiguity. 80 

Was homosexuality common everywhere? The answer is no. We know 
that in many parts of Ionia and elsewhere, homosexuality in its various 
forms met with intense public disapproval. 81 Further, even where homo¬ 
sexuality was integrated into a pedagogical (Athens) or militaristic (Sparta, 
Thebes) State system, it was rigidly circumscribed by custom and the law. 

Was it common among all classes of Greek society? Outside the artifi¬ 
cially-induced social environs of the pornai or the gymnasia or military bar¬ 
racks, there is no evidence that suggests that homosexuality was an inte¬ 
gral part of Greek society especially among the middle and lower classes 
where the sexes were more normally integrated on a day to day basis. 

Was it common at all periods of Greek history? Again the answer is no. 
We find no homosexual references in Homeric times or before the late 
Archaic period. Homosexuality in its different forms was associated specif¬ 
ically with the Golden Age of Athens and the Military States of Sparta and 
Thebes. 

It was not until the dawn of the Hellenistic Age [330-30 BC] following 
the Roman invasion and dissolution of Greek city-state system that we see 


19 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


a marked return to a more normal pattern of family life reminiscent of ear¬ 
lier periods of Greek history; and a rise in the status of women; and new 
emphasis on the value on marriage and conjugal relations. 82 

It seems strange, does it not, that ancient Greece, who was dying from 
her depopulating habits of infanticide, inbreeding and incessant fratricidal 
warfare, was given a new lease on life by her Roman conquerors? With this 
enforced opening-up to the outside world homosexual practices no doubt 
continued to intrude into Greek life, but the context in which they played 
themselves out, had radically changed. 

The Early Roman View 

Prior to the creation of the Roman Republic (200-118 BC), it is highly 
unlikely that the early rural populations of Rome who were attempting to 
master the soil and sink domestic roots had either the time, inclination or 
opportunity for the luxury of sexual deviancy that marked later periods of 
the nation’s history. 83 

These early Romans were characteristically a practical people not 
geared toward the intellectualization or spiritualization of sex or any other 
aspect of everyday life. Romans did not meditate, they acted. 84 The per¬ 
sonal sense of a will to power of the freeborn Roman male citizen was man¬ 
ifested in the cult of manliness and held in precarious check by an ingrained 
sense of stoic asceticism. 85 

The early Roman family system was marked by close knit family ties, a 
respect for women as wives, mothers and lovers, a fairly normal integration 
of the sexes and an educational system whereby fathers acted as the pri¬ 
mary educators of their own sons—factors that mitigated against institu¬ 
tionalized pederasty. 

In terms of same-sex relations and religious practices, according to Otto 
Kiefer, author of Sexual Life in Ancient Rome, the early Roman sexual 
deities were “intrinsically related always to sexual functions of women or 
to love between a man and a woman.” 86 

The Romans did not have an equivalent of a Narcissus or a Hermaph¬ 
rodites. Cupid, the son of Venus and Mercury and the Roman god of love, 
unlike Eros, the Greek god of erotic love, was not tainted by any connec¬ 
tion to same-sex desires. Sex was inextricably tied to fertility and procre¬ 
ation although the Romans were knowledgeable concerning homosexual 
practices, which they referred to, not surprisingly as “Greek licentious¬ 
ness.” 87 Romans stereotyped the defeated Greeks as “cunning, effeminate 
and degenerate.” 88 

Homosexuality and Societal Sexual Dissolution 

It was not until the early years of the Republic, that homosexuality, in 
its various forms, began to get a strong hold on Roman society. This rise in 


20 



ANTIQUITY 


homosexual practices, corresponded to a deterioration of family life and 
public and private morals and a decline in and corruption of traditional reli¬ 
gion, set against a wider social backdrop of continuing political, financial, 
military, agrarian and economic chaos and instability. 

The arrival in Rome of foreigners from Greece and the Far East who 
brought with them foreign religions and foreign deities, many with promi¬ 
nent same-sex rites, contributed to an increase of exposure of the general 
populace to homosexual behaviors. Mithras, the soldier god of life, the sun 
and fertility, whose worship included the rite of the bath in the blood of a 
bull, took on homosexual overtones and became very popular with the 
Roman legions . 89 The worship of Dionysus, who became Bacchus, was said 
to be connected to homosexual debauchery and murder . 90 The corruption 
of the Great Mother cult was reflected in the worship of the goddess 
Cybele, whose high priests were known to castrate themselves, dress like 
women and take on men as lovers . 91 Sexual deviancy among many of the 
Roman emperors was accelerated by contact of the Imperial court with 
these Eastern religious cults . 92 

The massive influx of foreign slaves, who were either prisoners of war 
or purchased abroad by wealthy Romans and who under Roman rule of ins 
sacrum, were permitted to keep and practice their religious rites was a con¬ 
tributing factor to the above phenomena. 

The increased use of slaves as domestic servants also had a profound 
effect on Roman family life both among the old Roman aristocracy as well 
as the noveau riche. Many of the responsibilities of the Patrician father and 
mother were now assumed by servi including the tutoring of young free¬ 
born boys and the use of wet nurses for Roman matrons. More slaves 
meant more leisure time for wealthy urban Romans of both sexes and an 
increased taste for luxurious living including the freedom to indulge in and 
a greater toleration for sexual excesses and deviations . 93 

In this growing sexually charged atmosphere of increased sexual 
license, it is not surprising that there should appear on the Roman scene a 
version of the proverbial effeminate “queen” known as a cinaedus —a Latin 
word of Greek origin, which signified an effeminate male who enjoyed 
being anally penetrated (sodomized) by another male The Latin term 
muliebria pati indicated that a male penetrated by another male was said to 
be having “a woman’s experience .” 94 To be on the receiving end of an act 
of sodomy or fellatio was considered by a Roman to be a disgrace of the first 
magnitude . 95 

Whether or not the cinaedus was exclusively homosexual we do not 
know. He may have had extracurricular other sexual liaisons with women 
or young boys. Nor can we be sure of the degree to which monetary or 
other less tangible rewards such as upward political mobility in the Impe¬ 
rial courts influenced his behavior. We are also left with scant information 
as to what degree his same-sex activity intruded upon Roman society’s 


21 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


rigid class distinctions, although it is unlikely that this was a consideration 
so long as the cinaedus was not a freeborn Roman adult or youth. It is also 
unclear if the cinaedi were viewed by Roman society, or by themselves, to 
be a separate entity from the common class of male prostitutes who plied 
their wares on the streets of Rome. 

All we know for certain is that there existed in Imperial Rome a group 
of adult effeminate men (cinaedi) who appeared to have preferred the role 
of catamite (passive role) in same-sex relationships and who adopted a 
dress and mannerisms designed to attract male partners. 

The cinaedus wore distinguishing clothing that marked him as a passive 
homosexual—clothing that was short, soft, revealing and seductive. He 
adorned his person with perfume and jewelry, wore lavish make-up and 
depilated his body including both the pubic area and buttocks. 96 He adapted 
effeminate bodily gestures including the batting of his eyelashes and a 
“mincing gait” (fractus incessus). 97 

The popular literature of the day frequently connected the cinaedi to 
certain occupations such as temple dancers and hierodules and to actors and 
mimes in the Roman theater. It was also alleged that they had a special 
means of communicating their identity to other cinaedi and to potential 
clients. One of these signals was the scratching of their curly-topped head 
with one finger. 

Naturally, the outrageous and unmanly antics of the effeminate cinaedi 
provided an open-ended reservoir of material for the Roman satirist and 
critics of Imperial Rome. 

In Satyricon, a marvelous satire on ordinary Roman life written about 61 
AD (and first printed in 1664), Gaius Petronius, Nero’s ill-fated advisor in 
matters of luxury and extravagance, captured the essence of the petty rival¬ 
ries and jealous sentimentalities that characterized homosexual affairs in 
his day. 98 

The Roman poet and epigrammatist Martial of Spanish birth heaped 
coals of scorn and ridicule upon the heads of secret effeminates. And in 
typical early Latin, coarse and vulgar but always direct, the poet Catullus 
of Verona, who was said to have dabbled with both sexes, threatens two 
homosexuals saying, “I’ll blow you and bugger you, pathic Aurelius and 
fairy Furios.” 99 

Homosexuality in the Imperial Court 

The degree to which family life and public and private morals had fallen 
by the time of the founding of the Empire by the Caesar Augustus in 27 BC 
is captured in the blistering sixteen satires of the Roman general Decimus 
Junius Juvenalis (55-127 AD) who appeared to save his most venomous 
attacks for the Imperial courts of Nero (54-68 AD) and Domitian (81-96 
AD) and Hadrian (117-138 AD). 100 


22 



ANTIQUITY 


In Satire I, “The Roman Empire,” Juvenal asked, “What age so large a 
crop of vices bore, Or when was avarice extended more?” He listed sodomy 
as but one of catalogue of vices that had infected the upper classes and were 
steadily seeping downward to all levels of Roman society. 

Apparently the androgynous-looking cinaedus was not the only homo¬ 
sexual “type” on the Roman scene, because in his Satire II “Moralists 
Without Morals,” Juvenal claimed that some rough, taciturn-looking Stoics 
were practicing homosexuals: 

What street is not overflowing 

With these glum-looking queers? You rail at foul practices, do you, 

When you’re the ditch where they dig, the Socratic buggering perverts? 

Hairy parts, to be sure, and arms all covered with bristles 

Promise a rough tough guy, but the pile doctor smiles; he knows better. 

Seeing that smooth behind, prepared for the operation... 101 

Juvenal also attacked men who entered into same-sex “marriages,” an 
obvious reference to the Emperor Nero, who, following in the path of his 
sadistic and incestuous father Caligula, pursued every sexual whim, natu¬ 
ral or unnatural, including two “marriages”—one to the boy Sporus (whom 
Nero had castrated thus rendering him “a girl”) complete with veil and full 
wedding nuptials. The second to his freeman, Doryphorus. 102 

And while the Emperor Hadrian did not attempt to “marry” his 
Antinous, he did command that, following the drowning of his young lover 
in the River Nile, that Antinous be raised to the status of a god and wor¬ 
shipped with all the reverences and honors shown to a Roman deity. 1 " 2 

In Juvenal’s Satire IX the reader encounters a pitiable homosexual pros¬ 
titute named Naevolus who not only plays the dominant and active role to 
the wealthy catamite Virro, but also sires Virro’s children (with Virro’s 
wife) to enable the old man to keep up appearances. The poor Naevolus 
complains that sodomy is hard work and says that he would rather plough 
the master’s field than his person. Virro on the other hand is fearful of pos¬ 
sible scandal or blackmail and was not above having his former male whore 
assassinated. Juvenal assures Naevolus that he will never be out of a job in 
Rome. 104 

Juvenal’s friend, Martial, whose own tastes were rumored to be along 
pederastic lines, was equally effective in his poetic barbs against the grow¬ 
ing effeminacy of Roman men and those freeborn citizens who “depilitate” 
their buttocks, “but for whom?” he asked. 105 

The great Roman historian of the second century AD, Gaius Suetonius 
Tranquillus in his biographies of the twelve Caesars from Julius Caesar to 
Domitian related “a catalog of astounding psychosexual disease” in which 
homosexuality was “but one of their psychopathic characters.” 106 The 
exception was Claudius. 

And while it is true that no emperor was an exclusive homosexual and 
none attempted to hide behind verbal euphemisms in order to rationalize 


23 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


their deviant acts as the Greeks did, nevertheless, their sexual behavior 
was marked by an increasing degree of cruelty and sadism that was never 
characteristic of the Hellenistic tradition. 107 

Did the Romans Consider Homosexuality Normal? 

In a 1979 address to a Dignity convention titled “The Church and the 
Homosexual: An Historical Perspective,” the popular homosexualist apolo¬ 
gist John Boswell stated that the Romans were “indifferent” to “questions 
of gender and gender orientation,” and “Roman law and social strictures 
made absolutely no restrictions on the basis of gender.” 108 

Boswell claimed there was “absolutely no conscious effort on anyone’s 
part in the Roman world, in the world in which Christianity was born, to 
claim that homosexuality was abnormal or undesirable.” 109 He rejected the 
notion that “gay” men were held to be less masculine or inferior to 
“straight” men. It was Christianity, and not the Romans, that gave homo¬ 
sexuality a bad rap, he charged. 110 

Unfortunately for Boswell, even under the most superficial scrutiny, his 
statements on Roman indifferentism to homoerotic activities and his asser¬ 
tion that the Romans viewed “homosexuality” as being neither “abnormal 
or undesirable,” (his mixing of sexual gender and sexual identity metaphors 
notwithstanding) can be sustained. 

It is true that under the Republic and the Empire, same-sex relations 
were both permitted and tolerated, if not approved of, by certain segments 
of Roman society, especially the ruling class, but only if certain class and 
gender prescriptions were vigorously adhered to. 

Roman citizens were still expected to marry and produce at least one 
male heir. 

Further, the norm by which their sexual behaviors were measured 
remained fundamentally unchanged. Sexual intercourse involved the active 
phallic penetration by the vir (a freeborn adult) of a female—wife, lover, 
slave or prostitute or—in terms of same-sex relations—the oral or anal 
penetration of a male “inferior,” that is, a slave, ex-slave, non-citizen or 
prostitute who played the passive, that is, the role of a woman. 111 

Roman laws such as the Lex Sca[n]tinia enacted at the beginning of the 
Republic, which specifically prohibited the debauchment of underage male 
citizens and Roman matrons, not only remained in effect but were expanded 
and eventually served as the basis for anti-homosexual legislation in the 
Christian era. 112 An adult who raped or sexually seduced a freeborn male 
child or youth was severely punished. In homosexual acts involving two 
adult citizens, the partner taking the passive role could be prosecuted. 

Roman law continued to hold the body of the freeborn Roman citizen or 
youth to be “inviolate” against phallic penetration by another male. For a 
freeborn male to willingly permit himself to be penetrated by another male 


24 



ANTIQUITY 


was considered a disgrace and he was liable under the law. 113 Not only the 
act, but even the desire for such an experience was considered “ unman ly” 
and deserving of public censure. 114 And certainly, law or no law, the effem¬ 
inate cinaedus was considered a degenerate and was a consistent object of 
public ridicule. 

It was not uncommon for young men, especially in the latter days of the 
Empire when sexual attacks upon Roman citizens of both sexes became 
more common, to wear amulets around their neck to indicate their freeborn 
status and by implication, their legal immunity from phallic penetration. 
This was particularly important when entering the public baths as these 
facilities had become notorious for attracting cinaedi and predatory homo¬ 
sexual males. For the freeborn male, the only thing worse than being raped 
anally was to be raped in the mouth. 

Certainly, none of these considerations cited above indicate that the 
Romans, as Boswell asserts, were “indifferent” to sexual gender roles or to 
homosexual acts including sodomy or fellatio. 

As for his statement that “no one in the Roman world, into which 
Christianity was born” made a conscious claim that “homosexuality was 
abnormal or undesirable,” one has only to read Boswell’s own chapter on 
ancient Rome in Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality to know 
this statement is false. 115 

Meaning for Today 

To the question, “Of what contemporary relevance is all this contro¬ 
versy over the ancient Roman or Greek view toward homosexuality and 
homosexual practices?” I respond, “Very relevant, if for no other reason 
than prominent homosexual advocates like Boswell obviously consider 
it so.” 

One need only examine the testimony given in the State of Colorado 
Supreme Court Case of Evans v. Romer, to understand that what the 
ancients believed concerning the morality of homosexual acts is still of 
import today. 

Popularly known as the Colorado Amendment 2 case, it had its begin¬ 
nings when the citizens of Colorado voted in a state-wide referendum in 
1992 to amend the State Constitution to repeal various municipal ordi¬ 
nances that had been enacted to prohibit discrimination on the basis 
of “homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or 
relationships.” 

The “gay” lobby immediately challenged the constitutionality of Amend¬ 
ment 2 before the State Supreme Court of Colorado. 116 One of the expert 
witnesses for the prosecution was Martha Nussbaum, then Professor 
of Philosophy, Classics and Comparative Literature at Brown University, 
and now at the University of Chicago. 


25 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Along Boswellian lines, Nussbaum testified that neither the pre- 
Christian civilizations of Greece and Rome nor the major philosophical tra¬ 
ditions associated with them (i.e., Socrates, Plato and Aristotle) had any 
moral objections to homosexual behavior. It was not until Christianity 
appeared on the scene that homosexuality was condemned as being con¬ 
trary to natural law and the natural common good, she claimed. All moral 
objections to homosexual acts are “inherently theological,” she asserted. 
Her underlying assumption was clear—laws that discriminate against 
homosexuals and/or homosexual behaviors are unconstitutional, in that they 
violate the Constitutional prohibition of laws respecting the establishment 
of religion. 

Nussbaum’s testimony, given under oath, was challenged by John 
Finnis, Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy at Oxford University and by 
Robert P George, Associate Professor of Politics at Princeton University. 
Professor George later wrote a scathing commentary on Nussbaum’s testi¬ 
mony, titled, ‘“Shameless Acts’ Revisited: Some Questions for Martha 
Nussbaum.” 117 

According to George, Professor Finnis accused Professor Nussbaum 
of what amounted to “a series of misrepresentations, distortions and 
deceptions” and a willful falsifying of “not only the positions of Plato and 
Aristotle, but also that of modern commentators on Greek philosophy 
and public morality such as Kenneth Dover, A.W. Price, and Gregory 
Vlastos, as well as her own published works.” 118 

George noted that when Nussbaum was cross-witnessed by the State 
attorney defending Amendment 2, if Keneth Dover, author of Greek Homo¬ 
sexuality, had concluded that Socrates, among others, “condemned homo¬ 
sexual conduct,” she unequivocally replied, “No.” This despite the fact that 
Kenneth Dover on page 160 quite clearly states that both Socrates and 
Plato condemned “homosexual copulation” as such, and not just pederastic 
seduction or special cases involving bribery and prostitution as Nussbaum 
claimed. 119 

George reported that Professor Nussbaum also claimed that Plato’s 
Laws, Book I, 636c, appears to contain a condemnation of homosexual con¬ 
duct only because translators, under the influence of Christianity, imported 
prejudices against homosexuality into their translations. However, this is 
not true. As George documented, virtually all known translations of the 
passage in Laws 636c not only describe homosexual acts as para phusin, 
that is, “unnatural” or “contrary to nature,” but “a crime of the first rank.” 120 

As George correctly concluded, the condemnation of homosexuality by 
Greek philosophers, as represented by Plato, is substantially in line with 
the Catholic tradition we are about to explore in depth. 


26 



ANTIQUITY 


Notes 


1 For a discussion of temple worship in the ancient Mediterranean world see 
Karlen, 5-7. Also Reay Tannahill, Sex in History (New York: Stein and Day, 
1981), 50-54. 

2 Rueda, 371. For an excellent review of the position of American Judaism on 
morality of homosexual acts see Rueda, 370-375. 

3 Ibid. 

4 Ibid. 

5 For opinions to the contrary see John Boswell, Christianity, Social Tolerance, 
and Homosexuality (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980). 

6 Dover, 185. 

7 Will Durant, The Life of Greece, The Story of Civilization: Part II (New York: 
Simon and Schuster, 1939), 45. 

8 Ibid. 54. 

9 Ibid., 53, 48. 

10 Ibid., 50-51. 

11 See Karlen, 36-37. The playwright Aristophanes lampoons the love life of 
the effeminate Athenian poet and dramatist Agathon who was said to flit 
between wife, mistress and younger male lovers, but with little success with 
any of them. He is the object of endless ribald of jokes and his character is 
tainted by his affinity for making his rectum “so accessible to lovers.” 

12 Durant, 299-300. Some of the hetairai became personages of great wealth 
and influence in their own right. 

13 Dover, 31-32. 

14 Karlen, 33, 36-37. 

15 Ibid., 37. 

16 Ibid., 38. 

17 Durant, 287. 

18 Ibid., 301 

19 Dover, 20. The Athenian view of an adult homosexual who permitted himself 
to be penetrated by another male was a negative one. Such an individual was 
looked upon as a potential spy and enemy of the State as he had already 
betrayed his own nature and therefore was capable of betraying the greater 
community. With regard to the enforcement of morals in ancient Athens, 
David Cohen observed that, “The analogy of treason with immorality implies 
that any form of immorality can be punished, because immorality as such 
tends to undermine the ‘moral consensus’ on which the health of the state 
depends.” See David Cohen, Law, Sexuality, and Society — The Enforcement of 
Morals in Classical Athens (Port Chester, N.Y.: Cambridge University Press, 
1991). 

20 Angelo Di Berardino, “Homosexuality in Classical Antiquity,” in Christian 
Anthropology and Homosexuality (Vatican City, L’Osservatore Romano, 
1997), 17. 

21 Tannahill, 85. 

22 Durant, 254. 

23 Cohen, 103. 

24 Durant, 288. 


27 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


25 Ibid., 289. 

26 Ibid. 

27 Dover, 83, 87-88. 

28 See John Pemb\e, John Addington Symonds: Culture and the Demon Desire 
(New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000) for Symonds’ anti-sodomy opinions. 

29 Dover, 163. 

30 Tannahill, 85-86. Tannahill recalled that Straton, the Greek poet of Imperial 
Rome claimed that 16 was “the divine age” for an ideal eromenos. 

31 Ibid., 80. Not every erastes sought after an effeminate partner. Some admired 
boys who possessed unambiguously male bodily features. In ancient Greece 
as in our own times, preferences for a particular “type” of young boy was 
heavily influenced by sexual fashion. 

32 Ibid., 87-88. Dover used a simile from hunting when he described the 
eromenos as a “boy-hound” in which the human “quarry” gives the hunter a 
good run for his money. The ultimate object is copulation, Dover stated. 

33 A. W. Price, Love and Friendship in Plato and Aristotle (Oxford, England: 
Clarendon Press, 1989), 15-54. In Chapter 2, “Love in the Symposium, ” 

Price describes the life of an erastes and his young lover. 

34 See Tannahill, 89. 

35 Dover, 89. According to Dover, a boy who rejected the advances of an erestes 
and chose to remain chaste went on to become an adult male citizen in any 
case, and his performance of that role was not impaired by his past chastity. 

36 Cohen, 164. 

37 Ibid. 

38 Tannahill, 88. 

39 Karlen, 32. 

40 Dover, 221. 

41 Karlen, 34. 

42 See Dover, 165 and Price, 230. 

43 Dover, 165. 

44 For a detailed comparison between Plato and his pupil Aristotle see A.W. 
Price, Love and Friendship in Plato and Aristotle (London: Oxford University 
Press, 1997). 

45 Price, 162. 

46 See John A. Garraty and Peter Gay, eds., “The Great Divide,” in The 
Columbia History of the World (New York: Harper & Row, 1972). 

47 Karlen, 36. 

48 Garraty and Gay, 149. 

49 Dover, 1. 

50 Like all writers, Dover has his own moral biases. In his preface to Greek 
Homosexuality, he repeated a statement by Erich Bethe that “the intrusion of 
moral evaluation, ‘the deadly enemy of science,’ had vitiated the study of 
Greek homosexuality; and that it has continued to do so.” Dover admitted 
that, “No argument which purports to show that homosexuality in general is 
natural or unnatural, healthy or morbid, legal or illegal, in conformity with 
God’s will or contrary to it, tells me whether any particular homosexual act is 


28 



ANTIQUITY 


morally right or morally wrong.... No act is sanctified, and none is debased, 
simply by having a genital dimension.” 

51 K. J. Dover, Marginal Comment, A Memoir, 2nd ed. (London: Gerald 
Duckworth, 1995), 112. 

52 See Karlen, 33. 

53 Ibid. 

54 Ibid., 287. 

55 Dover, Greek Homosexuality, 19-109. 

56 Ibid., 36. 

57 Ibid., 41. 

58 Ibid., 107. See also Karlen, 28. In 514 BC, the famed pair of Harmodius and 
Aristogiton killed the tyrant Hipparchus, a partner to their homosexual 
intrigue. 

59 See Karlen, 31. Aiskhylos, reported to be a confirmed pederast, produced 
Laios in 467 BC, the first play of an Oedipus tetralogy. 

60 Dover, Greek Homosexuality, 199. 

61 Raymond M. Berger, Gay and Gray, The Older Homosexual Man (Urbana, Ill.: 
University of Illinois Press, 1982), 70. 

62 Ibid., 70. 

63 Daniel Tsang, The Age Taboo—Gay Male Sexuality, Power and Consent 
(Boston: Alyson Publications, 1981), 8. 

64 Ibid. 

65 Ibid., 9. 

66 Durant, 67-97. 

67 Ibid., 77. 

68 Ibid., 295-296. At the battle of Aegospotami that brought the Peloponnesian 
War to an end, the Spartans put to death 3000 Athenian prisoners, including 
many of Athens’ “best” citizens, bringing Greece further down the path of 
national suicide. 

69 Ibid., 87. 

70 Ibid. 

71 Peter Levi, The Greek World (England: Stonehenge Press, 1990), 91. 

72 Ibid., 83. 

73 Karlen, 27. 

74 Ibid., 35. Also Cohen, 81. 

75 Cohen, 81. 

76 See Xenophon, Minor Works, translated from the Greek by J. S. Watson 
(London: George Bell & Sons, 2001). 

77 Dover, Greek Homosexuality, 202. 

78 Ibid., 192, 200. Dover has noted that Laios , the mythical Theban hero, was 
considered in Greek tradition to be the “inventor” of homosexuality. 

79 Karlen, 27. 

80 Cohen, 12. 

81 Dover, 185-196. 

82 Karlen, 39. 

83 Ibid., 57. 


29 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


84 Otto Kiefer, Sexual Life in Ancient Rome (New York: Dorset Press, 1993), 136. 

85 Ibid., 138. 

86 Ibid., 136. 

87 Ibid., 269. 

88 Karlen, 45. 

89 Tannahill, 155. Also Karlen, 59. 

90 Tannahill, 118. 

91 Ibid., 199. 

92 Karlen, 62. 

93 In the 1st century AD, with the opening of the Roman Empire under the 
reign of Augustus, the slave population of Rome was approximately 35% of 
the total population. Throughout Italy, there were about two million slaves, 
mostly male, out of a population of six million. These men carried out the 
laborious tasks involved in construction, mining, and agriculture. Also, 
domestic staff within Roman households, were predominantly male. 

94 Judith P. Hallett and Marilyn B. Skinner, Roman Sexualities (Princeton, N.J.: 
Princeton University Press,1997), 30. 

95 Ibid., 51. Although the standard punishment for the male caught in adultery 
was anal rape, the ultimate humiliation was to be raped in the mouth. 

96 Karlen, 55. 

97 Keifer, 126. 

98 See Petronius Arbiter, Satyricon. Translated by Oscar Wilde (Chicago: Pascal 
Covici, 1927). The satire is a work of extraordinary length of which not all 
fragments have survived. It was probably introduced orally by Petronius to 
his guests in installments following a traditional evening banquet and was 
known to include comments on Nero’s pederastic excursions. 

99 Karlen, 48. 

100 English translations of Juvenal’s Satires are available from a number of web¬ 
sites including http://ancienthistory.about.com/library/weekly/aa062700a.htm. 
A translation by G. Ramsay is available from 
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/ancient/juvenalpersius-intro.html. 

101 Karlen, 52. 

102 Roman law did not recognize same-sex “marriage”—even one “consum¬ 
mated” by an emperor. Claudius Nero was introduced into homosexual 
perversion by his tutor, Seneca. He became Emperor at the age of 16 after 
his adoption by Claudius and after he had Claudius’ natural son poisoned. 

His mother and first and second wife met with a similar fate. 

103 When Antinous died in Egypt, Hadrian ordered his court to pay him homage 
as a god. This act, was condemned by St. Anthanasius who in 350 AD 
pronounced that Hadrian had “...immortalized his infamy and shame, and 
bequeathed to mankind a lasting and notorious specimen of the true origin 
and extraction of all idolatry.” 

104 Karlen, 53. 

105 Ibid., 55. 

106 Ibid., 49. 

107 Keifer, 65. According to Keifer, by the time of Imperial Rome, especially 
among the ruling class, sexuality had degenerated into sadism and had 
become an expression of “hatred and the will to power.” 



ANTIQUITY 


108 John Boswell, “The Church and the Homosexual: An Historical Perspective,” 
Fourth Biennial Dignity International Convention, 1979, available from 
http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/pwh/1979boswell.html. 

109 Ibid. 

110 Ibid. 

111 Hallett and Skinner, 31. 

112 Di Berardino, 22. No text of this law survived. What we know of it comes 
down through the writings of various Roman historians and writers. The law 
punished pederasty with sons of freeborn citizens even if the act was consen¬ 
sual (stuprum cum). A freeman who had sexual relationship with another 
freeman [not a slave] committed a crimen, and therefore even without a 
denunciation the magistrate was obliged to try him. 

113 See Craig A. Williams, Roman Homosexuality: Ideologies of Masculinity (New 
York: Oxford Press, 1999). 

114 Hallett and Skinner. 33. 

115 See “Rome: The Foundation,” in Boswell’s Christianity, Social Tolerance, and 
Homosexuality. 

116 The verdict striking down Amendment 2 was upheld by the United States 
Supreme Court in 1996. Supreme Court of the United States, No. 94-1039, 
Roy Romer, Governor of Colorado, et al., Petitioners v. Richard G. Evans et. 
al (517 U.S.620 (1996). On writ of certiorari to the Supreme Court of 
Colorado, May 20, 1996. Justice Anthony M. Kennedy delivered the majority 
opinion of the Court with Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dis¬ 
senting. 

117 See ‘“Shameless Acts’ Revisited: Some Questions for Martha Nussbaum” by 
Robert R George, associate professor of politics at Princeton University, was 
originally published in the Winter 1995-96 issue of Academic Questions, the 
Journal of the National Association of Scholars. I have used the on-line edi¬ 
tion from http://webcom.com/zurcher/philosophy/nussbaum.html. 

118 Ibid., 1. 

119 Ibid. 

120 Ibid. Also see Price, 230. 


31 




Chapter 2 


The Early Church 


The Rise of Christianity 

Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ was born in the reign of Caesar 
Augustus. 1 The Roman Republic had come to an end. The Imperial Empire 
stretched from the Atlantic in the west to the Syrian Desert in the east and 
from the Mile cataracts to the North Sea, and was wracked by decades of 
civil war, plague, famine. In addition to these political and demographic 
problems, there was the more fundamental issue of moral reform to 
counter the state of dissipation and anarchy into which the Roman family 
and public morals had fallen. 

Enter Christianity, which brought the world not only a new and true 
Faith but also, a new standard of morality that was absolutely revolutionary 
in its time. For the Church of Jesus Christ, that is to say, the Roman 
Catholic Church, taught not only in terms of doctrine and dogma but morals 
as well. 

In my chapter on the ancient world, I noted that the morality of the 
ancient Greeks and Romans, most especially in the sexual sphere, was pre¬ 
dominantly one of externals, of appearances rather than substance. What 
mattered was one’s outward conformity not one’s internal disposition. 
Christianity changed all that with its emphasis on the formation of an 
upright conscience to correspond to one’s external actions and behavior. 
Its goal according to Saint Paul, is to create a new man in Jesus Christ 
(Ephesians 4:22-24)} 

The three-fold fountainheads for the early Church’s teachings on sexual 
morality are the natural law, Holy Scripture and Tradition. 3 Sex within mar¬ 
riage, which has as its primary purpose the procreation and education of 
offspring, was the only licit use of the sexual function. All other sexual 
acts including masturbation, fornication, adultery and prostitution were 
deemed “illicit,” that is, gravely sinful. 

Acts of sodomy, especially pederasty, in addition to being “illicit,” car¬ 
ried a special onus as they were not only contrary to reason (as is all sin) 
but also, contrary to nature and, therefore, acts against the Author of 
Nature, who is God. 4 

Sodomy, either in its broadest definition which encompasses all same- 
sex acts or in its narrowest sense as anal penetration, has always been con¬ 
demned by the Church, with homosexual acts involving violence and/or the 
corruption of minors (pederasty) bringing the harshest censure. 5 


33 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


The Church’s condemnation of sodomy is based first and foremost on 
sodomy as a sin against God—a sin of self-idolatry and self-corruption. 
That is why, especially in the early Church and during the Middle Ages, the 
practice of sodomy was commonly linked to pagan religious rites and tem¬ 
ple prostitution and to heretical sects and teachings including Gnosticism 
and Kabalistic Judaism and later the Manichean and Albigensian heresies. 6 

Old Testament 

References to same-sex acts are to be found both in the Old Testament, 
which records God’s relations with man before the Incarnation and the New 
Testament, which contains a compendium of the life of our Lord, Jesus 
Christ and his Apostles, as recorded by the Evangelists and other 
Apostles. 7 However, most references to sexual sins found in Holy Scripture 
are found within the context of a man-woman relationship involving acts of 
fornication, incest, rape and adultery. Where references to homosexual acts 
do appear, they are always condemned as grievous sins and an abomination 
before the Lord. 

In the Old Testament, in addition to the universally-acknowledged 
Scriptural condemnation of homosexual acts found in the book of Genesis, 
which records God’s destruction of the Sodom and Gomorrah and other 
Cities of the Plain, other references to the abominable vice of sodomy or 
unnatural lust can be found in the books of Leviticus, Deuteronomy, Judges, 
Kings and Wisdom. The following is a sampling. 

From Genesis 19:1-13, 24-25 

1 And the two angels came to Sodom in the evening, and Lot was sitting in 
the gate of the city. And seeing, he rose up and went to meet them: and wor¬ 
shipped prostrate on the ground, 

2 And said: I beseech you, my lords, turn into the house of your servant, and 
lodge there: wash your feet, and in the morning you shall go on your way. 
And they said: No, but we will abide in the street. 

3 He pressed them very much to turn in unto him: and when they were 
come in to his house, he made them a feast, and baked unleavened bread and 
they ate: 

4 But before they went to bed, the men of the city beset the house both 
young and old, all the people together. 

5 And they called Lot, and said to him; Where are the men that came to thee 
at night? Bring them out hither that we may know them: 

6 Lot went out to them, and shut the door after him, and said: 

7 Do not do so, I beseech you, my brethren, do not commit this evil. 

8 I have two daughters who as yet have not known man: I will bring them 
out to you, and abuse you them as it shall please you, so that you do no evil 
to these men, because they are under the shadow of my roof. 


34 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


9 But they said: Get thee back thither. And again: thou earnest in, said they, 
as a stranger, was it to be a judge? Therefore we will afflict thee more than 
them. And they pressed very violently upon Lot: and they were even at the 
point of breaking open the doors. 

10 And behold the men put out their hand, and drew Lot unto them, and shut 
the door: 

11 And them that were without they struck with blindness from the least to 
the greatest, so that they could not find the door. 

12 And they said to Lot: hast thou here any of thine? Son in law or sons, or 
daughters, all that are thine bring them out of this city: 

13 For we will destroy this place, because their cry is grown loud before the 
Lord, who has sent us to destroy them. 


24 And the Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire from 
the Lord of heaven. 


25 And he destroyed these cities, and all the country about, all the inhabi¬ 
tants of the cities, and all things that spring from the earth. 

Genesis 19:1-13, 24-25 


From Leviticus 18, 20 


22 Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind, because it is an 
abomination. 


23 Thou shall not copulate with any beast, neither shalt thou be defiled with 
it. A woman shalt not lie down to a beast, nor copulate with it: because it is 
a heinous crime. 

Leviticus 18:22-23 


13 If any one lie with a man as with a woman, both have committed an abom¬ 
ination, let them be put to death: their blood be upon them. 

Leviticus 20:13 


From Deuteronomy 

17 There shall be no whore among the daughters of Israel, nor whoremon¬ 
ger [sodomite, male prostitute] among the sons of Israel. 

Deuteronomy 23:17 

From Judges 

There was a certain Levite, who dwelt on the side of Mount Ephraim, who 
took a wife of Bethlehem Juda: 


14 So they passed by Jebus, and went on their journey, and the sun went 
down upon them when they were by Gabaa, which is the tribe of Benjamin: 

15 And they turned into it to lodge there. And when they were come in, they 
sat in the street of the city, for no one would receive them to lodge, 


16 And behold they saw an old man, returning out of the field and from the 
work in the evening, and he was also of Mount Ephraim, and dwelt as a 
stranger in Gabaa; but the men of that country were the children of Jemini. 


20 And the old man answered him: Peace be with thee: I will furnish all 
things that are necessary: only I beseech thee, stay not in the street. 


35 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


22 While they were making merry, and refreshing their bodies with meat 
and drink, after the labour of the journey, the men of that city, sons of Belial 
(that is, without yoke,) and beset the old man’s house, and began to knock 
at the door, calling to the master of the house, and saying: Bring forth the 
man that came into thy house, that we may abuse him. 

23 And the old man went out to them, and said: Do not so, my brethren, do 
not so wickedly: because this man is come to my lodging, and cease I pray 
you this folly. 

24 I have a maiden daughter, and this man hath a concubine [wife], I will 
bring them out to you, and you may humble them, and satisfy your lust; only, 
I beseech you, commit not this crime against nature on the man. 

25 They would not be satisfied with his words; which the man seeing, 
brought out his concubine [wife] to them, and abandoned her to their 
wickedness: and when they had abused her all the night, they let her go 
in the morning. 

Judges 19:1, 14-16, 20, 22-25 


From the Third Book of Kings 

21 And Roboam the son of Solomon reigned in Juda: Roboam was one and 
forty years old when he began to reign: and he reigned seventeen years in 
Jerusalem the city, which the Lord chose out of all the tribes of Israel to put 
his name there. And his mother’s name was Naama an Ammonitess. 

22 And Juda did evil in the sight of the Lord, and provoked him above all that 
their fathers had done, in their sins which they committed. 

23 For they also built them altars, and statues, and groves upon every high 
hill and under every green tree: 

24 There were also the effeminate [catamites, or men addicted to unnatural 
lust] in the land, and they did according to all the abominations of the peo¬ 
ple whom the Lord had destroyed before the face of the children of Israel. 

3 Kings 14:21-24 

9 So in the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, reigned Asa king of 
Juda, 

10 And he reigned one and forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was 
Maacha, the daughter of Abessalom. 

11 And Asa did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, as did David 
his father: 

12 And he took away the effeminate out of the land, and he removed all the 
filth of the idols, which his fathers had made. 

3 Kings 15:9-12 

From the Fourth Book of Kings 

Josias was eight years old when he began to reign: he reigned one and thirty 
years in Jerusalem: the name of his mother was Idida, the daughter of 
Hadaia, of Besecath. 

4 Kings 22:4 


36 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


4 And the king commanded Helcias the high priest, and the priests of the 
second order, and the doorkeepers, to cast out of the temple of the Lord all 
vessels that had been made for Baal, and for the grove, and for all the host 
of heaven: and he burnt them without Jerusalem in the valley of Cedron and 
he carried the ashes of them to Bethel. 

7 He destroyed also the pavilions of the effeminate [sodomites], which were 
in the house of the Lord, for which the women wove as it were little 
dwellings for the grove. 

4 Kings 23:7 

From Wisdom 

9 But to God the wicked and his wickedness are hateful alike. 

26 Forgetfulness of God, defiling of souls, changing of nature [unnatural 
lust], disorder in marriage, and the irregularity of adultery and uncleanness. 

27 For the worship of abominable idols is the cause, and the beginning and 
end of all evil. 

Wisdom 14:9, 26-27 


New Testament 

In the writings of Saint Paul, the great Apostle to the Gentiles; Saint 
Peter, Prince of the Apostles; and Saint Jude, one of the twelve Apostles 
who inveighed against the heretical dogma and practices of the Simonians, 
Nicolaites, and Gnostics, the New Testament condemnation of the unnatu¬ 
ral vice becomes even more explicit. 

Saint Paul, wrote his Epistle to the Romans at the Greek city of Corinth, 
whose very name at the time of the Apostles was synonymous with cor¬ 
ruption and vice especially that of sodomy. Although it was not the first of 
his Epistles in the order of time, it has always been placed first by the 
Church because of the sublimity and universality of its message. It is spe¬ 
cial relevance that not only does Saint Paul condemn homosexual acts as 
being sinful in themselves, but that they may also serve as a recompense 
for error. As virtue is its own reward, so acts of disobedience to God bring 
with them the bitter fruit of vice. 

The First Epistle to the Romans 

16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel. For it is the power of God unto sal¬ 
vation to every one that believeth, to the Jew first, and to the Greek. 

21 Because that, when they knew God, they have not glorified him as God, 
or given thanks; but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart 
was darkened. 

22 For professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. 

23 And they changed the glory of the incorruptible God into the likeness of 
the image of a corruptible man, and of birds, and of fourfooted beasts, and of 
creeping things. 


37 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


24 Wherefore God gave them up to the desires of their heart, unto unclean¬ 
ness, to dishonour their own bodies among themselves. 

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie; and worshipped and served the 
creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 

26 For this cause God delivered them up to shameful affections. For their 
women have changed the natural use into that use which is against nature. 

27 And, in like manner, the men also, leaving the natural use of women, have 
burned in their lusts one towards another, men with men working that 
which is filthy, and receiving in themselves the recompense which was due 
to their error. 

31 Foolish, dissolute, without affection, without fidelity, without mercy.. 

Romans 1:16, 21-27, 31 

The First Epistle of Saint Paul to the Corinthians 

9 Know you not that the unjust shall not possess the kingdom of God? Do 
not err: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, 

10 Nor the effeminate, nor liers with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, 
nor drunkards, nor railers, nor extortioners, shall possess the kingdom of 
God. 

1 Corinthians 6:9-10 


The First Epistle of Saint Paul to Timothy 

9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for the just man, but for the unjust 
and disobedient, for the ungodly, and for sinners, for the wicked and defiled, 
for murderers of father, and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 

10 For fornicators, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for men- 
stealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and whatever other thing is contrary 
to sound doctrine. 

1 Timothy 1:9-10 


The Second Epistle of Saint Peter The Apostle 

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there shall be 
among you lying teachers, who shall bring in sects of perdition, and deny the 
Lord who bought them: bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 

6 And reducing the cities of the Sodomites, and of the Gomorrhites, into 
ashes, condemned them to be overthrown, making them an example to 
those that should after act wickedly. 

7 And delivered just Lot, oppressed by the injustice and lewd conversation 
of the wicked 

8 For in sight and hearing he was just: dwelling among them who from day 
to day vexed the just soul with unjust works 

9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly from temptation, but to 
reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be tormented. 

2 Peter 2:1, 6-9 


38 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


The Catholic Epistle of Saint Jude the Apostle 

3 Dearly beloved, taking all care to write unto you concerning your common 
salvation, I was under a necessity to write unto you: to beseech you to con¬ 
tend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. 

4 For certain men are secretly entered in, (who were written of long ago 
unto judgment,) ungodly men, turning the grace of our Lord God into 
riotousness, and denying the only sovereign Ruler, and our Lord 
Jesus Christ. 

7 As Sodom and Gomorrha, and the neighbouring cities, in like manner, hav¬ 
ing given themselves to fornication, and going after other flesh, were made 
an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire. 

Jude 1:3-4, 7 

Instruction, Correction and Reform—An Act of Mercy 

As the Church’s eternal mission is the salvation of souls, so her con¬ 
demnation of all sin including homosexual acts is always co-joined to that of 
God’s infinite mercy and the need for repentance and reform of one’s life. 
To deliberately indulge in a serious vice places one’s soul in danger of eter¬ 
nal damnation and renders the sinner incapable of any virtue on a super¬ 
natural level. 8 Direct refutation combined with fraternal correction in the 
matter therefore is an act of mercy not only for the individual caught in the 
vice, but as a preservative to keep others from falling into the same pit. 9 
Although, sexual sins are generally a matter of private confession, at dif¬ 
ferent periods of the Church, the sin of sodomy has been a “reserved” sin, 
that is, the penitent was required to confess to the pope or to a bishop. 10 

From Saint Peter to Saint Felix I, the early popes together with the early 
Church Fathers drew up Church general decrees, and later canons and pas¬ 
toral and penitential codes and instituted a series of synods and councils by 
which their decrees in matters of faith and morals, including the immoral¬ 
ity of all homosexual acts, were made known to the universal Church. 

At the Spanish Council of Elvira (305-306) the Church condemned 
homosexual acts especially pederasty excluding from Communion, even at 
the point of death (articulo mortis), one who does violence to boys (the 
stuprotores puerorum). 11 

At the Council of Ancira (Ancyra) held in Asia Minor in 314, canons 16 
and 17 prescribed heavy penances by both age and condition for both 
sodomy and bestiality and bishops were ordered to root out these practices 
from among the people. 12 

Special provisions including 15 years of penance and a five-year period 
of probation before being reunited with the communion of the faithful and 
receiving Holy Communion were made for those who committed these acts 
before age of 20. For those aged 20 and over and married, the penance was 
extended to 25 years. And for the married, over 50 years of age, the grace 
of Holy Communion was reserved until the time of death. 13 


39 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


In practical terms of letting the punishment fit the crime, harsher 
punishment for both laymen and clerics were applied to sexual crimes 
involving sacrilege, force and the seduction and corruption of the young. 
Offenders including defrocked clerics were often turned over to public 
authorities for punishment. 14 As a general rule however, if given a choice, 
offenders found guilty of sodomy preferred to be tried by the Church rather 
than secular courts as the former was held to be more restrained and com¬ 
passionate than the latter. 

Early Church Fathers Condemn the Vice of Sodomy 

Among the Fathers of the early Church who specifically condemned 
sodomy and pederasty in their writings and sermons were Saint Athana¬ 
sius, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Augustine. 

Of Emperor Hadrian’s homosexual affair with the young and beautiful 
Antinous, Saint Athanasius, (296-373), the Bishop of Alexandria and 
Confessor and Doctor of the Church and slayer of Arianism wrote in 
350 AD: 

And such a one is the new God Antinous, that was the Emperor Hadrian’s 
minion and the slave of his unlawful pleasure; a wretch, whom that that 
worshipped in obedience to the Emperor’s command, and for fear of his 
vengeance, knew and confessed to be a man, and not a good or deserving 
man neither, but a sordid and loathsome instrument of his master’s lust. 
This shameless and scandalous boy died in Egypt when the court was there; 
and forthwith his Imperial Majesty issued out an order or edict strictly 
requiring and commanding his loving subjects to acknowledge his departed 
page a deity and to pay him his quota of divine reverences and honours as 
such: a resolution and act which did more effectually publish and testify to 
the world how entirely the Emperor’s unnatural passion survived the foul 
object of it; and how much his master was devoted to memory, than it 
recorded his own crime and condemnation, immortalized his infamy and 
shame, and bequeathed to mankind a lasting and notorious specimen of the 
true origin and extraction of all idolatry. 15 

Saint Athanasius did not hesitate to label his archenemy Arius, the 
handsome deposed priest of the Alexandrian Church an “effeminate.” 16 
Arius’ heretical doctrine was championed by the powerful eunuch 
Eusebius, grand chamberlain of the Byzantine Imperial court under the 
Emperor Constantine and later his son, Constantius I. 

Saint John Chrysostom (344?-407), the Patriarchate of Constantinople 
and a Doctor of the Church famous for his great oratory and sermons, was 
unrelenting in his public attack on the unnatural and diabolic desires of the 
sodomites. He lashed out at the sodomites who had “devised a barren 
coitus, not having for its end the procreation of children” and attacked the 
paederasts who came to church to look with lustful curiosity upon hand¬ 
some youth. 17 He describe sodomy as an unpardonable insult to nature and 
a sin that destroys the soul inside the body. 18 


40 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


Likewise, Saint Augustine, the great Bishop of Hippo and convert from 
Manicheanism, also warred against sodomy declaring the vice should be 
punished wherever and whenever it was appeared: 

Offenses against nature are everywhere and at all times to be held in detes¬ 
tation and should be punished. Such offenses, for example, were those of the 
Sodomites; and, even if all nations should commit them, they would all be 
judged guilty of the same crime by the divine law, which has not made men 
so that they should ever abuse one another in that way. For the fellowship 
that should be between God and us is violated whenever that nature of 
which he is the author is polluted by perverted lust. 19 

With special reference to Saint Paul’s First Epistle to the Romans, 

(Rom 1:26) Saint Augustine observed: 

Still thou dost punish these sins which men commit against themselves 
because, even when they sin against thee, they are also committing impiety 
against their own souls. Iniquity gives itself the lie, either by corrupting or 
by perverting that nature which thou hast made and ordained. And they do 
this by an immoderate use of lawful things; or by lustful desire for things 
forbidden, as ‘against nature’; or when they are guilty of sin by raging 
with heart and voice against thee, rebelling against thee, ‘kicking against 
the pricks’; or when they cast aside respect for human society and take 
audacious delight in conspiracies and feuds according to their private likes 
and dislikes. 20 

Saint Basil and Pope Saint Siricius on Homosexuality 
in the Religious Life 

With an all-male clergy, it is not surprising that the issue of homosexu¬ 
ality and pederasty in the religious life should have been a matter of seri¬ 
ous consideration and deliberation by early Church Fathers. Then as now, 
the problem of predatory homosexuality in clerical circles was more of a 
reflection of the general moral corruption of the day rather than the specific 
failing of clerics and monks. 21 

However, if the instructions of Saint Basil were the norm, we can sur¬ 
mise that where the accused cleric was found guilty of engaging in or 
attempting to engage in same-sex activities, the consequences were swift 
and painful. 

Saint Basil of Cesarea, the 4th century Patriarch of Eastern monks and 
one of the four great Doctors of the East held that: 

The cleric or monk who molests youths or boys or is caught kissing or com¬ 
mitting some turpitude, let him be whipped in public, deprived of his crown 
[tonsure] and, after having his head shaved, let his face be covered with spit¬ 
tle; and [let him be] bound in chains, condemned to six months in prison 
... after which let him live in a separate cell under the custody of a wise elder 
with great spiritual experience...let him be subject to prayers, vigils, and 
manual work always under the guard of two spiritual brothers, without being 
allowed to have any relationship ...with young people. 22 


41 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


It should be noted that the exposition of a public flogging which exposed 
the offending cleric or monk to open ridicule would virtually insure that the 
offender would never rise to hold an office in the Church. 23 

On the question of whether or not a layman who had committed acts of 
pederasty or sodomy could apply for and receive Holy Orders, we can refer 
to the directives on the norms for priestly ordination issued by Pope Saint 
Siricius (384-399) on 10 February, 385: 

We deem it advisable to establish that, just as not everyone should be 
allowed to do a penance reserved for clerics, so also a layman should never 
be allowed to ascend to clerical honor after penance and reconciliation. 
Because although they have been purified of the contagion of all sins, those 
who formerly indulged in a multitude of vices should not receive the instru¬ 
ments to administer the sacraments. 24 

Thus, any layman having been once caught up in the vice of sodomy in 
any form, even though he had served out his penance, by implication, would 
not be permitted to enter the clerical state. 

The text of Pope Siricius’s decree on key aspects of church discipline 
and clerical celibacy is of special importance because it is the oldest com¬ 
pletely preserved papal decretal (edict for the authoritative decision of 
questions of discipline and canon law) and reflects the pope speaking with 
the consciousness of his supreme ecclesiastical authority and of his pas¬ 
toral care over all the churches. 

Christian Influences in the Temporal Sphere 

Not surprisingly, beginning in the 2nd century and continuing through 
the late 5th century, the preaching and writings of these early Church 
Fathers combined with the edicts of the early popes in the realm of sexual 
morality had made their influence felt in the Roman Imperial courts both in 
the West and in the East. 25 

Indeed, the names of many of these early Church leaders particularly 
those of Saint Athanasius, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Ambrose are 
inscribed, for both good and ill, in the chronicles of the Imperial court of the 
early Empire. The timing was propitious. 

During these early years of the Empire, there was a recurring spirit of 
stoicism reflected both in the realm of the public and political affairs of the 
Roman Senate and of the Imperial courts and their emperors. 

Roman jurisprudence reflected this trend. So much so, that by the time 
Constantine the Great had ascended the throne in 312, Roman law had 
already come to view the inveterate sodomite as a danger to both Church 
and State. 26 Homosexual acts, specifically pederasty and homosexual rape, 
were placed in the category of capital offenses. Thus it was, Roman law, 
influenced by the old Mosaic law and now backed by the emerging power¬ 
ful sect known as Christianity, came to serve as the basis for anti-sodomy 


42 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


legislation in Italy and throughout Europe from the 3rd century until the 
beginning of the 20th century. 27 

On December 16, 342, Constantine’s sons, Constantine II and his 
younger brother Constans issued a decree making it a capital offense for a 
married man, of his own free will, to play the role of a woman, that is the 
role of the passive partner in a homosexual liaison. Homosexual prostitu¬ 
tion was discouraged, but not totally prohibited. Eunuchs were also exempt 
from the law since as castrated males they were viewed as androgynous 
beings not real men. 28 

The emperor’s second son, Constantius II, a protector of Arians and a 
persecutor of Saint Athanasius, also enacted a minor piece of anti-sodomi- 
cal legislation that severely punished any male who married an effeminate 
(literally a woman) and then permit his own body to be penetrated by that 
effeminate male. This rather odd sexual configuration, that is, the “mar¬ 
riage” of a man to a male eunuch who would act the part of a “wife,” was an 
arrangement not unknown at the time. 

Later emperors of both the Eastern and Western Roman Empires re¬ 
enforced and extended anti-sodomy legislation. 

In the Eastern Empire, under the great Christian emperor Theodosius I 
(379-395), a royal decree was twice-posted on May 14 and again on August 
6, 390 at the Roman hall of Minerva, a popular gathering place for artisans 
and actors, stating that any man, including prostitutes and eunuchs, who 
permitted his body to be used like a women (anal penetration) would be 
consigned to the flames. The death penalty was also instituted for those 
who forced a male into homosexual prostitution. 

At that time, Theodosius was under an eight-month public penance set 
by Saint Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, for the massacre of 7000 citizens of 
Thessalonica in retaliation for the killing of the emperor’s officials. The 
emperor was also under pressure to rid Rome of the stench of moral cor¬ 
ruption and to rid the city of the remaining visages of paganism. He vigor¬ 
ously attacked the Arian heretics who denied the divinity of Christ and the 
followers of Macedonius, who impugned the Divinity of the Holy Ghost. 
The ancient writer Palladius sings the praises of the reign of Theodosius 
in his book The Lausiac History, written in 419 AD. 29 Theodosius became 
an intimate of Saint Ambrose, who preached his funeral oration and was 
in attendance at the First General Council of Constantinople, under Pope 
Damasus I in 381. 

His successor Arcadius, (395-408) continued the attack against heresy 
and paganism including the closing of the pagan temples at Gaza. 

To complete the task of his father, in 438, Arcadius’s son, Emperor 
Theodosius II (408-450) enacted the famous Theodosian Code (9,7,6) 
ordering the death of all men, without distinction, who permitted their bod¬ 
ies to be used like a woman, that is, who assumed the passive role in a 
homosexual relationship. 30 


43 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


In 410, while Theodosius II occupied the Imperial throne in the East; 
his brother Honorius (395-423) wag emperor of the Western Empire; and 
Pope Saint Innocent I occupied the Chair of Peter, Rome was sacked for the 
first time by the Goths. Forty-five years later, the Vandals sacked Rome, 
this time with Pope Leo the Great (the first bishop actually called “Pope”) 
at the head of the Church. 

In the West, the figurehead rule of Romulus Augustulus, last in the 
unbroken line of Roman emperors, came to an end in 476. The Germanic 
leader Odoacer of the Heruli tribe entered Italy and became king. 

■ Although King Odoacer, an Arian, respected the Catholic Church, he did 
seek to influence the election of the new pope after the death of Pope Saint 
Simplicius (468-483), but to no avail. 

In other parts of Europe, Gaul was taken by the Franks, Burgundians 
and Visigoths; the Visisgoths and Sueves divided Spain between them; the 
Vandals took control of North Africa; and Roman Britain fell to the Anglo- 
Saxons. The so-called Dark Ages had fallen on the West. 

The Justinian Code 

In the Eastern Roman Empire, however, the reign of Byzantine emper¬ 
ors continued until the fall of Constantinople in 1453. The greatest of these 
rulers of the later empire was Flavius Anicius Julianus Justinianus, known 
to history as Justinian I. 31 The most enduring legacy to the world of this 
great Christian emperor was the codification of Roman law that would later 
serve as a model for the common law system in England and the New 
World. 

The Justinian Code, a well-ordered and complete codex of all Roman 
law, past and present, including the old Theodosian Code with its anti¬ 
sodomy laws, appeared in its final and cortiplete form in 534. 

In keeping with the Christian tradition of tempering justice with mercy, 
and since male homosexual acts were viewed as sins against God as well as 
crimes against the State, the supreme penalty of death was applied only to 
the obdurate and the unrepentant. 32 Although the law provided that the 
Crown was entitled to take independent action, it was the Church that exer¬ 
cised a general jurisdiction over homosexual offenders and imposed its own 
spiritual discipline upon those whom its courts convicted. 33 

Under the new Constitution, which heavily castigated both blasphemy 
and homosexuality, if a man was found guilty of engaging in an act of peccata 
contra naturam with another man,' he must confess his mortal sin in the 
presence of the Most Blessed Patriarch and do penance to avert civil pun¬ 
ishment. This public confession made it virtually impossible for a laymen or 
cleric found guilty of sodomy from entering the priesthood or religious life 
or from advancing to a higher ecclesiastical rank in the Church. 

The Justinian Code was particularly effective against the ancient Greco- 
Roman practices of pederasty and homosexual and child prostitution. 


44 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


The Development of Penitential Texts 

In the late 500s and early 600s, the Church began to assume a greater 
role in the judging of sinful acts, some of which, like sodomy, were also held 
to be crimes against the State. With the rise in the practice of private con¬ 
fession, confessors began to seek out the aid of penitential guides. 

Held to be Frankish in origin, these penitential texts simply listed and 
then briefly described the exact nature of the sin in question, noting its 
objective gravity and recommending suitable penances that took into con¬ 
sideration the age of the penitent and any special circumstances surround¬ 
ing the commission of the act. 34 The lists of various types of homosexual 
acts were remarkably detailed for the age and included not only those 
between two men or a man and a boy, but also acts of sodomy committed 
by a man on a woman. Since the penitentials were simply listings, they can¬ 
not be used to indicate the frequency or habitual nature of these sins. 35 

Pope Saint Gregory the Great 
Condemns Homosexual Acts and Desires 

Pope Gregory I began his 14-year reign as supreme pontiff in 590 (the 
first monk to become pope), with his Liber pastoralis curae on the role of 
the bishop as the pre-eminent physician of souls entrusted by God to his 
care and supervision, a doctrine he practiced as well as preached. 36 His ser¬ 
mons, based largely on Holy Scripture drew immense crowds and set the 
pattern for the future pattern of many famous preachers of the Middle 
Ages. His indelible influence in the areas of Church doctrine, organization 
and discipline make him one of the most remarkable figures in ecclesiasti¬ 
cal history. 

Pope Gregory held a distinctive view of Church-State relations. He saw 
the Imperial government centered at Constantinople together with the 
Church as forming a united whole. At the same time each had its own 
sphere of control—one ecclesiastical and the other secular. Still, the pope 
did not hesitate to call upon the Crown, as protector of the Church and 
keeper of the peace, to not only suppress schism, heresy, or idolatry, but 
also to enforce discipline among monks and clergy. 

Pope Gregory’s teaching on sodomy did not break new ground, but 
rather reflected the summing up of the teachings of the earlier Fathers of 
the East and West at the beginning of the Middle Ages on the nature of the 
crime. Using the Old Testament text from Genesis 19:1-25 describing the 
terrible fate of Sodom and Gomorrah, the pope declared: 

Brimstone calls to mind the foul orders of the flesh, as Sacred Scripture 
itself confirms when it speaks of the rain of fire and brimstone poured by the 
Lord upon Sodom. He had decided to punish in it the crimes of the flesh, and 
the very type of punishment emphasized the shame of that crime, since 
brimstone exhales stench and fire burns. It was, therefore, just that the 
sodomites, burning with perverse desires that originated from the foul odor 


45 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


of the flesh, should perish at the same time by fire and brimstone, so that 

through this just chastisement they must realize the evil perpetrated under 

the impulse of a perverse desire. 3 ' 

The reader will note that Pope Gregory not only condemned the act of 
sodomy as a “crime,” but also denounced the desires of the sodomites as 
“perverse.” Thus, lustful homosexual thoughts and desires, willfully enter¬ 
tained, are not only sinful (even where the act is not carried out), but they 
are unnatural and perverse as well. 

Sodomy as a Vice and Crime in the Middle Ages 

Throughout the Middle Ages including the reign of Charlemagne, king 
of the Franks (768-814) and Holy Roman Emperor (800-814) and well 
beyond, the moral and legal status of sodomy remained essentially the 
same. The Church always viewed sodomy as a special evil and always a 
moral sin when voluntarily entered into. The State considered sodomy a 
crime, although the death penalty was normally reserved for sodomical acts 
involving the seduction of the young, acts of violence including homosexual 
rape, or blasphemy. In such cases involving clerics and monks, the offend¬ 
ers were first defrocked, punished by the Church and then turned over to 
the Crown for final sentencing. 

The Spanish Visigothic Code of 600 (Lex visigothical) provided for a par¬ 
ticularly harsh punishment in ordering homosexual offenders who “carnally 
united with men” to be castrated prior to death. If married, their goods 
were to be immediately inherited by their children or heirs. 38 

At the Council of Toledo in 693, Egica, the Gothic king of Spain, ex¬ 
horted the clergy to strenuously fight against homosexual practices and 
“...to decisively extirpate this obscene crime committed by men who sleep 
with men, whose terrible conduct corrupts the grace of honest living and 
provokes the wrath of the Supreme Judge of heaven.” 39 

Saint Peter Damian—Eleventh Century Moral Reformer 40 

The alleged warning of Saint Bernard (778-842), Archbishop of Vienne, 
France to Pope Eugene II that “Your brothers, the cardinals, must learn by 
your example riot to keep young, long-haired boys and seductive men in 
their midst,” is probably an indication of the degree to which the morals of 
the clergy had fallen by the 9th century in Medieval Europe. 41 For the next 
300 years until the era of the Gregorian reforms of the mid-12th century, 
wholesale violations of the vows of chastity by priests, monks and nuns and 
the rise of sodomy and pederasty among religious, ranked second only to 
the crisis of usury and simony, as major problems facing the Catholic 
Church. 

However, it appears that whenever Holy Mother Church has had a great 
need for a special kind of saint for a particular age, God, in His infinite 


46 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


mercy, has never failed to fill that need. And so, in the year 1007 AD, a boy 
child was born to a noble but poor family in the ancient Roman city of 
Ravenna, who would become a doctor of the Church, a precursor of the 
Hildebrandine reform in the Church and a key figure in the moral and spir¬ 
itual reformation of the lax and incontinent clergy of his time. 

Tradition tells us that Saint Peter Damian’s entrance into this world was 
initially an unwelcome event that overtaxed and somewhat embittered his 
already large family. He was orphaned at a young age. His biographer John 
of Lodi tells us that were it not for the solicitude of his older brother 
Damian, an archpriest at Ravenna, the youth might have lived out his life in 
obscurity as a swineherd, but God deemed otherwise. Peter’s innate intel¬ 
lectual talents and remarkable piety in the light of great adversity were rec¬ 
ognized by the archpriest, who plucked his younger brother from the fields 
and provided him with an excellent education first at Ravenna, then Faenza 
and finally at the University of Parma. In return, Peter acknowledged his 
brother’s loving care by adopting Damian as his surname. 42 

Although he excelled in his studies and quickly rose in academic ranks, 
Peter felt drawn to the religious rather than university life. His spirituality 
would be formed by his love for the Rule of Saint Benedict and his attrac¬ 
tion to the rigorous penance and individualistic practices of Saint Romuald. 

In his late twenties, he was welcomed into the Benedictine hermitage 
of the Reform of Saint Romuald at Fonte-Avellena where he eventually 
became prior—a position he retained until his death on February 21, 1072, 
while also serving as Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia, an honor bestowed upon 
Peter by Pope Stephen IX in 1057. The life of the well-traveled holy monk 
was distinguished by his great learning and a marvelous knowledge of Holy 
Scripture and by great penitential acts, which served both as a rebuke and 
as an inspiration to his fellow monks and the secular clergy at a time in the 
Church when moral turpitude was endemic in clerical ranks. 

Owen J. Blum, OFM, Saint Peter Damian’s chief translator and biogra¬ 
pher in modern times in one of his many works on the hermit-monk, St. 
Peter Damian: His Teaching on the Spiritual Life, states that, for Damian, 
the spiritual life was first and foremost a life of prayer, especially the recita¬ 
tion of the Divine Office. Damian also promoted and practiced a special 
devotion to the Blessed Virgin. 43 

The two hallmarks of the holy monk’s teachings on the spiritual life 
were his great hatred of sin and his fundamental and overriding interest 
in the spiritual advancement of the Catholic priesthood. As Blum noted, 
“Damian thought of the priesthood as an order of the greatest dignity. 
Indeed, it was the exalted nobility of this office that caused him to speak in 
such dire terms to priests who forgot their position and tarnished their 
souls with incontinence.” 44 

Damian showed remarkable insight into the importance of model epis¬ 
copal leadership, stating that “the example of a virtuous life” filters down 


47 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


from “the princes of the Church to all levels of the clergy and laity.” 45 The 
holy monk was equally insistent on the deposition of unworthy incumbents 
to the priesthood, the duty of which fell to the local bishop. 46 

Much of the success of his program of clerical moral reform was due to 
the fact Damian was able to closely link his own efforts with that of the 
papacy. Indeed, his wise council and diplomatic skills were employed by a 
long succession of popes. 

Damian died in the odor of sanctity on February 22, 1072 at the age of 
66 in Faenza while returning to Rome after a papal mission to Ravenna. 47 

The Book of Gomorrah —A Medieval Treatise on Sodomy 

Among Saint Peter Damian’s most famous writings is his lengthy trea¬ 
tise, Letter 31, the Book of Gomorrah (Liber Gomorrhianus) written in 1049 
AD, which contains the most extensive treatment and condemnation by any 
Church Father of clerical pederasty and homosexual practices. 48 His manly 
discourse on the vice of sodomy in general and clerical homosexuality and 
pederasty in particular, was written in a plain and forthright style that 
makes it quite readable and easy to understand. 

In keeping with traditional Church teachings handed down from the 
time of the Apostles, he held that all homosexual acts are crimes against 
Nature and therefore crimes against God who is the author of Nature. 

It is always refreshing to find an ecclesiastic whose first and primary 
concern in the matter of clerical sexual immorality is for God’s interests, 
not man’s, especially with regard to homosexuality in clerical ranks. Also, 
his special condemnation of pederastic crimes by clergy against young boys 
and men (including those preparing for Holy Orders) made over 900 years 
ago, certainly tends to undermine the excuse of many American bishops 
and cardinals today who claim that they initially lacked specific knowledge 
and psychological insights by which to assess the seriousness of clerical 
pederastic crimes. 

Upon a first reading of the Book of Gomorrah, I think the average 
Catholic would find himself in a state of shock at the severity of Damian’s 
condemnation of clerical sodomical practices as well as the severe penalties 
that he asks Pope Leo IX to attach to such practices. 

Part of this reaction, as J. Wilhelm asserts with regard to modern 
Catholics’ adverse reaction to the severity of medieval penalties (including 
capital punishment for heresy), can be attributed to the fact that we live in 
an age that has “less regard for the purity of the faith,” and have, in sharp 
contrast to medieval saints like Saint Peter Damian, lost a sense of sin. 49 

One of the most remarkable things about th eBook of Gomorrah, written 
as it was about 950 years ago, is how many of Damian’s insights can be 
applied to the current pederast and homosexual debacle here in the United 
States and abroad including the Vatican. His treatise certainly stands as a 


48 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


masterful refutation of contemporary homosexual apologists who claim that 
the early Fathers of the Church did not understand the nature or dynamics 
of homosexuality. Rather, as Damian’s work demonstrates, the degradation 
of human nature as exemplified by sodomical acts is a universal phenome¬ 
non that transcends time, place and culture. 

A dominant theme of Damian’s work was the holy monk’s insistence on 
the responsibility of the bishop or superior of a religious order to curb and 
eradicate the vice of sodomy from their ranks. 50 He minced no words in his 
condemnation of those prelates who refused or failed to take a strong hand 
in dealing with clerical sodomical practices either because of moral indif- 
ferentism or the inability to face up to a distasteful and potentially scan¬ 
dalous situation. 51 

Other issues tackled by Saint Peter Damian, which have a particular 
relevance today, are: 

• The problem of homosexual bishops or heads of religious orders who 
engage their “spiritual sons” in acts of sodomy. 

• The sacrilegious use of the sacraments by homosexual clerics and reli¬ 
gious. 

• The special problems for the Church related to the seduction of youth by 
clerical pederasts. 

• The problem of overtly lax canons and penances for clerical and religious 
offenders that make a mockery of the seriously sinful nature of homo¬ 
sexual acts. 

The Motivation for a Treatise on Sodomy 

When the humble monk and future saint, Peter Damian presented his 
Letter 31, the Book of Gomorrah, to Pope Leo EX, he made it clear that his 
first and overriding concern was for the salvation of souls. While the work 
is addressed specifically to the Holy Father, its distribution was intended for 
the universal Church, most especially the bishops of secular clergy and 
superiors of religious orders. 

In his introduction, the holy writer made it clear that the Divine calling 
of the Apostolic See makes its primary consideration “the welfare of souls.” 
Therefore, he pleaded with the Holy Father to take action against “a certain 
abominable and most shameful vice,” which he identified forthrightly as 
“the befouling cancer of sodomy,” that was ravaging both the souls of the 
clergy and the flock of Christ in his region, before God unleashed his just 
wrath on the people. 52 Recognizing how nauseating the very mention of the 
word sodomy must be to the Holy Father, he nevertheless asked with blunt 
frankness: 

...if a physician is appalled by the contagion of the plague, who is likely to 
wield the cautery? If he grows squeamish when he is about to apply the 
cure, who will restore health to stricken hearts ? 53 


49 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Leaving nothing to misinterpretation, Damian distinguished between 
the various forms of sodomy and the stages of sodomical corruption begin¬ 
ning with solitary and mutual masturbation and ending with interfemoral 
(between the thighs) stimulation and anal coitus. 54 He noted that there is a 
tendency among prelates to treat the first three degrees of the vice with an 
“improper leniency,” preferring to reserve dismissal from the clerical state 
for only those men proven to be involved in anal penetration. The result, 
Damian stated, is that a man, guilty of the “lesser” degrees of the vice, 
accepts his milder penances, but remains free to pollute others without 
the least fear of losing his rank. The predictable result of his superior’s 
leniency, said Damian, was that the vice spreads, the culprit grows more 
daring in his illicit acts knowing he will not suffer any critical loss of his 
clerical status, he looses all fear of God and his last state is worse than his 
first. 55 

Damian decried the audacity of men who are “habituated to the filth 
of this festering disease,” and yet dare to present themselves for Holy 
Orders, or if already ordained, remain in office. 56 Was it not for such crimes 
that Almighty God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, and slew Onan for 
deliberately spilling his seed on the ground? he asked. 57 Quoting Saint 
Paul’s Epistle to the Ephesians (Eph 5:5) he continued, “...if an unclean man 
has no inheritance at all in heaven, how can he be so arrogant as to presume 
a position of honor in the Church, which is surely the kingdom of God?” 58 

The holy monk likened sodomites seeking Holy Orders, to those citi¬ 
zens of Sodom who threatened “to use violence against the upright Lot” 
and were about to break down the door when they were smitten with blind¬ 
ness by the two angels and could not find the doorway. Such men, he said, 
are stricken with a similar blindness and “by the just decree of God they fall 
into interior darkness.” 59 

“If they were humble they would be able to find the door that is Christ, 
but they are blinded by their “arrogance and conceit,” and “lose Christ 
because of their addiction to sin,” never finding “the gate that leads to the 
heavenly dwelling of the saints,” Damian lamented. 60 

Not sparing those ecclesiastics who knowingly permit sodomites to 
enter Holy Orders or remain in clerical ranks while continuing to pollute 
their office, the holy monk lashed out at “do-nothing superiors of clerics 
and priests,” and reminded them that they should be trembling for them¬ 
selves because they have become “partners in the guilt of others,” by per¬ 
mitting “the destructive plague” of sodomy to continue in their ranks. 61 

Homosexual Bishops Who Prey on their Spiritual Sons 

Then comes the bitterest blast of all reserved for those bishops who 
“commit these absolutely damnable acts with their spiritual sons.” 62 “Who 
can expect the flock to prosper when its shepherd has sunk so deep into the 
bowels of the devil. ...Who will make a mistress of a cleric, or a woman of a 


50 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


man? ...Who, by his lust, will consign a son whom he spiritually begotten for 
God to slavery under the iron law of Satanic tyranny,” Damian thundered. 63 
Drawing an analogy between the sentence inflicted on the father who 
engages in familial incest with his daughter or the priest who commits “sac¬ 
rilegious intercourse” with a nun, with the defilement of a cleric by his 
superior, he asked if the latter should escape condemnation and retain his 
holy office? 64 Actually, the latter case deserves an even worse punishment 
said Damian, because whereas the prior two cases involved natural inter¬ 
course, a religious superior guilty of sodomy has not only committed a sac¬ 
rilege with his spiritual son, but has also violated the law of nature. Such a 
superior damns not only his own soul, but takes another with him, Damian 
said. 65 

Clerical Homosexual Abuse of the Sacrament of Confession 

Next, Damian denounced as one of “the devil’s clever devices” con¬ 
cocted in “his ancient laboratory of evil,” by which confirmed clerical 
sodomites, experiencing a pricking conscience, “confess to one another 
lest their guilt come to the attention of others.” 66 As Damian observed, 
however, though such men have become “penitents involved in great 
crimes,” they appear to look none the worst for their penances, “...their 
lips are not pale from fasting nor are their bodies wasted by self-denial,” 
nor are their eyes red from weeping for their sins. 67 

The holy monk questioned the validity of such confessions asking, “By 
what right or by what law can one bind or loose the other when he is con¬ 
strained by the bonds of evil deeds common to them both?” 68 Quoting Holy 
Scripture concerning “the blind leading the blind,” (Matt 8:4, Luke 5:4) 
Damian continued, “...it becomes perfectly clear that he who is oppressed 
by the same guilty darkness tries in vein to invite another to return to the 
light of repentance. While he has no fear of extending himself to outstrip 
the other in erring, he ends up accompanying his follower into the yawning 
pit of ruin.” 69 

Since this practice remains a common one today within the homosexual 
underworld of diocesan priests, bishops and religious and between pederast 
priests and their young victims, it may be well to recall that under the 
revised 1983 Code of Canon Law, the absolution of a partner (clerical or 
layperson) in a sin against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue is 
invalid, except in danger of death (Can. 977) and a priest who acts against 
the prescription of Can. 977 incurs a latae sententiae excommunication, the 
lifting of which is reserved to the Apostolic See (Can. 1378 §1). Unless the 
offending priest has his excommunication lifted by the Sacred Penitentiary 
or the Holy Father, he has not been validly absolved. Should he attempt to 
offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in a state of moral sin he compounds 
his offenses with the grave sin of sacrilege. 


51 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Sodomite Priests and The Sacred Mysteries 

In a lengthy and scathing attack on faulty and “spurious” canons and 
codices related to penalties for various sodomical acts that were in use by 
the Church in the mid-lOOOs, Damian compared them to the harsh and long 
penances assigned to laymen guilty of unnatural acts with men and beasts 
by the Church Fathers at the Council of Ancyra (314 AD) and found them 
wanting. 70 

If, under earlier Church laws, a layman guilty of sodomy can be deprived 
of the Holy Eucharist for up to 25 years or even till the end of his life, how 
is it possible that a similarly offending cleric or monk is let off with minor 
penances, and is judged worthy to not only receive the Holy Eucharist but 
consecrate the Sacred Mysteries? he asked. 71 If the holy fathers ordained 
that sodomites should “pray in the company of demoniacs,” how can such 
a cleric hope to rightly exercise his priestly office as a “mediator” between 
God and His people? Damian continued.' 2 

Later, Damian returned to this same theme and exclaimed, “For God’s 
sake, why do you damnable sodomites pursue the heights of ecclesiastical 
dignity with such fiery ambition?” 73 He warned these clerics, who per¬ 
sisted in their unnatural lusts, against inflaming the wrath of God, “lest by 
your prayers you more sharply provoke Him whom your wicked life so 
obviously offends.” 74 At the conclusion of this section, Damian reminded 
clerics and prelates alike that, “It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of 
the living God.” (Heb 10.31) 75 

Remarkable Insights into the Nature of Homosexuality 

In his description of the unnatural passions that rule over the sodomite, 
Damian revealed an extraordinary degree of perception regarding the nar¬ 
cissistic, promiscuous and compulsive psychosexual aspects of homosexual 
behavior. 

“Tell us, you unmanly and effeminate man, what do you seek in another 
male that you do not find in yourself?” he asked. “What difference in sex, 
what varied features of the body? ” he continued. 

Then he explained the law of life. “For it is the function of the natural 
appetite that each should seek outside himself what he cannot find in his 
own capacity. Therefore, if the touch of masculine flesh delights you, lay 
your hands upon yourself and be assured that whatever you do not find in 
yourself, you seek in vain in the body of another,” he concluded.' 6 

The Particular Malice of the Vice of Sodomy 

A wise Dominican once told this writer, that once the vice of sodomy 
has contaminated a seminary, Church authorities have only two options— 
close the place down and send everyone home or do nothing and simply 
wait for the moral rot to spread until the foundation collapses on its own. 
Why is this particular vice so deadly to the religious life? 


52 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


According to Damian, the vice of sodomy “surpassed the enormity 
of all others:” 

Without fail it brings death to the body and destruction to the soul. It pol¬ 
lutes the flesh, extinguishes the light of the mind, expels the Holy Spirit 
from the temple of the human heart, and gives entrance to the devil, the 
stimulator of lust. It leads to error, totally removes truth from the deluded 
mind. ...It opens up hell and closes the gates of paradise. ...It is this vice 
that violates temperance, slays modesty, strangles chastity, and slaughters 
virginity. ...It defiles all things, sullies all things, pollutes all things. ...This 
vice excludes a man from the assembled choir of the Church. ...it separates 
the soul from God to associate it with demons. This utterly diseased queen 
of Sodom renders him who obeys the laws of her tyranny infamous to men 
and odious to God. ...She strips her knights of the armor of virtue, exposing 
them to be pierced by the spears of every vice. ...She humiliates her slave 
in the church and condemns him in court; she defiles him in secret and dis¬ 
honors him in public; she gnaws at his conscience like a worm and con¬ 
sumes his flesh like fire ...this unfortunate man (he) is deprived of all moral 
sense, his memory fails, and the mind’s vision is darkened. Unmindful of 
God, he also forgets his own identity. This disease erodes the foundation of 
faith, saps the vitality of hope, dissolves the bond of love. It makes way with 
justice, demolishes fortitude, removes temperance, and blunts the edge of 
prudence. Shall I say more ? 77 


Repent find Reform Your Lives 

Like every saint before him and every saint that will ever come after 
him, Saint Peter Damian exhorted the cleric caught in the vice of sodomy 
to repent and reform his life and in the words of the Blessed Apostle Paul, 
“Wake up from your sleep and rise from the dead, and Christ will revive 
(enlighten) you.” (Eph 5:14 ) 78 In a remarkable affirmation of the Gospel 
message, he warned against the ultimate sin of despairing of God’s mercy 
and the necessity of fasting and prayer to subdue the passions: 

...beware of drowning in the depths of despondency. Your heart should beat 
with confidence in God’s love and not grow hard and impenitent, in the face 
of your great crime. It is not sinners, but the wicked who should despair; it 
is not the magnitude of one’s crime, but contempt of God that dashes one’s 
hopes . 79 

Then, in one of the most beautiful elocutions on the grandeur of priestly 
celibacy and chastity ever written, Damian reminded the wayward cleric or 
monk of the special place reserved in heaven for those faithful priests and 
monks who have willingly forsaken all and made themselves eunuchs for 
Christ’s sake. Their names shall be remembered forever because they have 
given up all for the love of God, he said. 80 


53 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Notorious Vs Non-Notorious Offenders 

One of the very interesting historical sidebars to Damian’s treatise is 
that he made no reference to the popular practice of distinguishing “notori¬ 
ous” from “non-notorious” cases of clerical immorality—a policy which can 
be traced back to the 9th century and the canonical reforms on ecclesiasti¬ 
cal and clerical discipline by the great German Benedictine scholar and 
Archbishop of Mainz, Blessed Maurus Magnentius Rabanus (776?-856). 
Under this policy, the removal of clerics found guilty of criminal acts includ¬ 
ing sodomy, depended on whether or not his offense was publicly known, or 
was carried out and confessed in secret. 

In cases that had become “notorious,” the offending cleric was defrocked 
and/or handed over to the secular authorities for punishment. But if his 
crime was known only to a few persons such as his confessor or religious 
superior, the offending cleric was privately reprimanded, served a penance 
and then was permitted to continue at his post, or transferred to a similar 
post in a different diocese. 81 Given the aggressive and predatory nature of 
the vice of sodomy, it is highly likely that such a policy contributed to, 
rather than inhibited, sodomical practices among clerics and religious 
between the mid-800s and the early 1000s. In any case, it was unlikely that 
Damian, who openly expressed his condemnation of too lenient canonical 
regulations related to the punishment of clerical sodomites and was so judi¬ 
cious in preserving the integrity of the priesthood and religious life, would 
have approved such a policy. 

Saint Damian Prepares to Defend His Work 

Saints are realists, which is no doubt why Saint Peter Damian antici¬ 
pated that his “small book” which exposed and denounced homosexual 
practices in all ranks of the clergy including the hierarchy, would cause a 
great commotion in the Church. And it did. 

In anticipation of harsh criticism, the holy monk puts forth his own 
defense as a “whistle-blower.” He stated that his would-be critics will 
accuse him of “being an informer and a delator of my brother’s crimes,” but, 
he said, he had no fear of either “the hatred of evil men or the tongues of 
detractors.” 82 

Hear, dear reader, the words of Saint Peter Damian that come thunder¬ 
ing down to us through the centuries at a time in the Church when many 
shepherds are silent while clerical wolves, some disguised in miters and 
brocade robes, devour its lambs and commit sacrilege against their own 
spiritual sons: 

... I would surely prefer to be thrown into the well like Joseph who informed 
his father of his brothers’ foul crime, than to suffer the penalty of God’s fury, 
like Eli, who saw the wickedness of his sons and remained silent. (Sam 
2-4.) ...Who am I, when I see this pestilential practice flourishing in the 


54 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


priesthood to become the murderer of another’s soul by daring to repress 
my criticism in expectation of the reckoning of God’s judgement? ... “How, 
indeed, am I to love my neighbor as myself if I negligently allow the wound, 
of which I am sure he will brutally die, to fester in his heart... So let no man 
condemn me as I argue against this deadly vice, for I seek not to dishonor, 
but rather to promote the advantage of my brother’s well-being. Take care 
not to appear partial to the delinquent while you persecute him who sets 
him straight. If I may be pardoned in using Moses’ words, ‘Whoever is for 
the Lord, let him stand with me.” (Ezek 32.26) 83 

True Church Reform Begins With the Vicar of Christ 

As he drew his case against the vice of clerical sodomy to a close, Saint 
Peter Damian pleaded with another future saint, Pope Leo EX, urging the 
Vicar of Christ to use his office to reform and strengthen the decrees of the 
sacred canons with regard to the disposition of clerical sodomites including 
religious superiors and bishops who sexually violate their spiritual sons. 

Damian asked the Holy Father to “diligently” investigate the four forms 
of the vice of sodomy cited at the beginning of his treatise and then provide 
him (Damian) with definitive answers to the following questions by which 
the “darkness of uncertainty” might be dispelled and an “indecisive con¬ 
science” freed from error: 

1) Is one who is guilty of these crimes to be expelled irrevocably from Holy 
Orders? 

2) Whether at a prelate’s discretion, moreover, might one mercifully be 
allowed to function in office? 

3) To what extent, both in respect to the methods mentioned above and to 
the number of lapses, is it permissible to retain a man in the dignity of 
ecclesiastical office? 

4) Also, if one is guilty, what degree and what frequency of guilt should 
compel him under the circumstances to retire? 84 

Damian closed his famous letter by asking Almighty God to use Pope 
Leo IX’s pontificate “to utterly destroy this monstrous vice that a prostrate 
Church may everywhere rise to vigorous stature.” 85 

Pope Leo IX—The Precursor of Gregorian Reform 

Before describing the reception that Saint Peter Damian’s treatise on 
sodomy received at the papal court of Leo IX, I think it helpful to briefly 
examine the early life of this extraordinary pope, the precursor to the great 
Hildebrand reform in the Catholic Church. 

Unlike Peter Damian, Bruno entered the world under much more favor¬ 
able emotional and material circumstances than those of the holy monk. He 
was born at Egisheim, near the borders of Alsace on June 21,1002. At the 
age of five, his influential, loving and pious parents committed him to the 


55 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


care of the energetic Berthold, Bishop of Toul, who had a school for the 
sons of the nobility. The future pope’s principle biographer and intimate 
friend, Wilbert, records that the youth was handsome, intelligent, virtuous 
and kindly in disposition, a description which later manifested itself in the 
distinguishing title given him when he served as chaplain at the Imperial 
court—“the good Bruno.” 86 

In 1027, Bruno became Bishop of Toul, the frontier town of his youth 
that was now plagued both by war and famine. He remained at this rather 
obscure see for more than 20 years until his ascendancy to the Chair of 
Peter on February 12,1049. 

When the saintly Bruno, after his election at Worms, entered Rome 
dressed humbly in a friar’s robe and barefooted, he was greeted by a cheer¬ 
ing populace who acclaimed with one voice that they would have no other 
but Bruno as their new pope. Little wonder, as under the on-again off-again 
reign of the dissolute Benedict IX (1032-1044, 1045, 1047-1048) the 
papacy had fallen into serious disrepute. Bruno’s predecessor, Damasus II, 
the Bishop of Brixen, had died of malaria after only 20 days in office. 87 

Like any pontiff set on reforming abuses within the Church, Pope Leo 
IX immediately surrounded himself with like-minded virtuous and able 
clerics including the remarkable Benedictine abbot, Hildebrand of Tuscany, 
the future Pope Gregory VII, one of the greatest popes of the Church. 88 In 
1049, the pope appointed Hildebrand administrator of the Patrimony of St. 
Peter’s (Vatican finances) and made him promisor of the monastery of St. 
Paul extra Mucros which had fallen into moral and physical ruin. Historian 
Thomas Oestreich states that “Monastic discipline was so impaired that the 
monks were attended in their refectory by women; and the sacred edifices 
were so neglected that the sheep and cattle freely roamed in and out 
through the broken doors.” 89 Deplorable conditions indeed, but soon to be 
remedied. 

Only four months after his election, Pope Leo IX held a synod to con¬ 
demn the two notorious evils of the day—simony, i.e., the buying, selling 
or exchange of ecclesiastical favors, offices, annulments and other spiritual 
considerations, and clerical sexual incontinence including concubinage 
(permanent or long-standing cohabitation) and sodomy. Immediately fol¬ 
lowing the April synod, he began his journeys through Europe to carry out 
his message of reform. In May 1049, he held a council of reform in Pavia, 
which was followed by visits and councils in Cologne, Reims (many decrees 
of reform were issued here) and Mainz before returning to Rome in January 
1050. 90 It was during this period that Damian brought his treatise on 
sodomy to the attention of the Holy Father. 

Pope Leo IX Gives His Ruling on Clerical Sodomy 

The approximate date that Damian delivered the Book of Gomorrah to 
Pope Leo IX is generally held to be the second half of the first year of the 


56 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


pontiff’s reign, i.e., mid-1049, although some writers put the date as late as 
1051. We do know, absolutely, that the pope did respond to Damian’s con¬ 
cerns, as that response in the form of a lengthy letter (JL 4311; ItPont 
4.94f., no. 2) is generally attached to manuscripts of the work. 91 

Pope Leo IX opened his letter to “his beloved son in Christ, Peter the 
hermit,” with warm salutations and a recognition of Damian’s pure, upright 
and zealous character. He agreed with Damian that clerics, caught up in the 
“execrable vice” of sodomy “...verily and most assuredly will have no share 
in his inheritance, from which by their voluptuous pleasures they have 
withdrawn.” “...Such clerics, indeed profess, if not in words, at least by the 
evidence of their actions, that they are not what they are thought to be, ” he 
declared. 92 

Reiterating the category of the four forms of sodomy which Damian 
lists—solitary masturbation, mutual masturbation, and interfemoral and 
anal coitus, the Holy Father declared that it is proper that by “our apostolic 
authority” we intervene in the matter so that “all anxiety and doubt be 
removed from the minds of your readers.” 93 

“So let it be certain and evident to all that we are in agreement with 
everything your book contains, opposed as it is like water to the fire of the 
devil,” the pope continued. “Therefore, lest the wantonness of this foul 
impurity be allowed to spread unpunished, it must be repelled by proper 
repressive action of apostolic severity, and yet some moderation must be 
placed on its harshness,”he stated. 94 

Next, Pope Leo IX gave a detailed explanation of the Holy See’s author¬ 
itative ruling on the matter. 

In light of divine mercy, the Holy Father commanded, without contra¬ 
diction, that those who, of their own free will, have practiced solitary or 
mutual masturbation or defiled themselves by fornicating between the 
thighs, but who have not done so for any length of time, nor with many 
others, shall retain their status, after having “curbed their desires” and 
“atoned for their infamous deeds with proper repentance.” 95 

However, the Holy See removed all hope for retaining their clerical sta¬ 
tus from those who alone or with others for a long time, or even a short 
period or with many, “have defiled themselves by either of the two kinds of 
filthiness which you have described, or, which is horrible to hear or speak 
of, have sunk to the level of anal intercourse.” 96 

He warned potential critics, that those who dare to criticize or attack 
the apostolic ruling stand in danger of losing their rank. And so as to make 
it clear to whom this warning is directed, the pope immediately added, “For 
he who does not attack vice, but deals with it lightly, is rightly judged to be 
guilty of his death, along with the one who dies in sin.” 97 

Pope Leo IX praised Damian for teaching by example and not mere 
words and concluded his letter with the beautiful hope that when, with 


57 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


God’s help, the monk reaches his heavenly abode, he may reap his rewards 
and be crowned, “...in a sense, with all those who were snatched by you 
from the snares of the devil.” 98 

Differences On The Matter of Discipline 

Clearly, on the objective immorality of sodomical acts, both Damian and 
Pope Leo IX were in perfect accord with one another. However, in terms 
of Church discipline, the pope appeared to have taken exception with 
Damian’s appeal for the wholesale deposition of all clerics who commit sod¬ 
omical acts. I say, appeared, because I believe that even in the matter of pun¬ 
ishing known clerical offenders, both men were more in agreement than not. 

Certainly, Damian, who was renown for his exemplary spiritual direc¬ 
tion of the novitiates and monks entrusted to his care, was not unaware of 
certain mitigating circumstances that would diminish if not totally remove 
the culpability of individuals charged with the crime of sodomy in all its 
forms. For example, some novices or monks may have been forced or pres¬ 
sured by their superiors to commit such acts. No doubt, it is circumstances 
such as these that prompted Pope Leo IX to use the term, “who of his own 
free will” in describing a cleric guilty of sodomy. 99 Also among the four vari¬ 
eties of sodomy Damian discusses in his treatise, he stated that inter- 
femoral and anal coitus are to be judged more serious than solitary or 
mutual masturbation. 100 

All in all, what this writer found to be most remarkable about the pope’s 
letter to Damian, was the absolutist position Pope Leo IX took concerning 
the ultimate responsibility of the offending cleric’s bishop or religious supe¬ 
rior. If the latter criticized or attacked this apostolic decree, he risked 
losing his rank! Prelates who fail to “attack vice, but deal lightly with it,” 
share the guilt and sentence of the one who dies in sin, the pope declared. 101 

Damian’s Contemporaries React to the Treatise 

Considering the utterly deplorable state of the secular clergy and 
monastic life during the tenth and eleventh centuries, I think we can say, 
without contradiction, that the publication of the Book of Gomorrah must 
have sent shock waves throughout the Chinch 

Leslie Toke, whose biography of Saint Peter Damian appears in New 
Advent, confirmed that his work “caused a great stir and aroused not a lit¬ 
tle enmity against its author.” Toke conjectured that “Even the pope, who 
had at first praised the work, was persuaded that it was exaggerated and his 
coldness drew from Damian a vigorous letter of protest.” 102 I do not think 
that this assessment is a valid one. 

That Damian’s treatise proved to be controversial and unwelcome espe¬ 
cially among superiors and members of the hierarchy who were sodomiz¬ 
ing their “spiritual sons” or those with bad consciences resulting from an 


58 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


inability or an unwillingness to exercise their authority in severely disci¬ 
plining offending clerics or monks, is not surprising. 

But as to the charge that the holy monk was guilty of exaggerating the 
seriousness and extent of sodomy among the secular clergy and monks not 
only in his region, but also in the Church at large, I believe that charge to 
be false. 

We know, for example, that among the first actions taken by Pope Leo 
IX at the Council of Reims in 1049 was the passage of a canon against 
sodomy (de sodomitico vitio). 103 

Also, the probability that Damian was, in fact, speaking the full truth 
concerning the extent of this plague in the Church can be discerned from 
a number of subsequent events including the condemnation of clerical 
immorality including sodomy at the Synod of Florence attended by Damian 
in June, 1055, under the pontificate of Pope Victor II (1055-1057). 104 Al¬ 
most 50 years after Damian’s death, the Council of Nablus assembled in 
1120 under the direction of Garmund, Patriarch of Jerusalem and Baldwin, 
king of Jerusalem, continued to issue edicts and penalties against the vice 
and crime of sodomy. 105 

We also know that Saint Anslem (1033-1109) as the Archbishop of 
Canterbury, England, confirmed Damian’s thesis of the wide-spread prac¬ 
tice of sodomy not only among clergy, but commoner and courtier as well, 
when he stated that “...this sin (sodomy) has been publicly committed to 
such an extent that it scarcely makes anyone blush, and that many have 
fallen into it in ignorance of its gravity.” 106 

Certainly, Damian’s reputation and credibility was not diminished in the 
minds of the great and holy men of his day by either the writing or the pub¬ 
lication of his treatise on sodomy. Pope Leo IX and future popes continued 
to seek out his services and advice including Pope Nicholas II (1059-1061) 
and Pope Gregory VII (1073-1085). Also, Pope Stephen X (1057-1058) 
made Damian a cardinal in 1057 and consecrated him Cardinal-Bishop of 
Ostia and appointed him administrator of the Diocese of Gubbio. 

Although never formally canonized, Saint Peter Damian was revered as 
a saint at the time of his death and his cultus has existed since then at the 
monastery of Faenza, at the desert hermitage of Fonte-Avellana, at the 
great abbey of Monte Cassino and at Hildebrand’s Benedictine monastery 
at Cluny. In 1823, Pope Leo XII extended his feast (February 23) to the 
whole Church and pronounced Saint Peter Damian, a Doctor of the 
Church. 107 

Alan of Lille in Defense of Nature 

The Church’s condemnation of homosexuals acts continued to be 
expressed in many different ways throughout the medieval period—by tra- 


59 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


ditional means such as council edicts and papal declarations and by more 
personal and unusual initiatives as Saint Damian’s Book of Gomorrah and 
120 years later, Alan of Lille’s The Plaint of Nature.™ 

I was introduced to this marvelous work of Alan of Lille by my long-time 
friend and pro-life colleague, Dr. Herbert Ratner, editor of Child and Family 
magazine and one of the 20th century’s most illustrious family physicians, 
who frequently referred to “Nature” as the “Vicar-General” of God the 
Father, a phrase taken from Alan’s work. 

The famous monk, poet, theologian, eclectic philosopher and moral 
reformer was born in Lille in Flanders in 1116 and died at the Cistercian 
Monastery of Citeaux in 1203. A devotee of Plato, his works reflected a 
phenomenal knowledge of both classical and Christian literature and made 
him one of the most celebrated teachers of his day. 109 

Alan took part in the Third Lateran Council in Rome in 1179 called by 
Pope Alexander III and attended by the Emperor Frederick I and more than 
302 bishops. Included among the many edicts directed at the reformation 
of morals was the provision that any cleric found guilty of the “sin against 
nature” was to be demoted from his state and kept in reclusion in a 
monastery to do penance. If he were a layman, he was to be excom¬ 
municated and “kept rigorously distant from the communication of the 
faithful.” 110 

The Plaint of Nature (De Planctu Naturae), written in Menippean-style 
with strong satirical quasi-comic overtones, was Alan’s most enduring 
work. Dated 1160-1165, I have used the translation and commentary of 
James J. Sheridan of St. Michael’s College, Toronto. 

The heroine of the poem is Nature herself who has been appointed by 
God as “His Substitute, His vice-regent,” to ensure that there would be no 
deviations in the natural order. All goes well for a time, until Nature aban¬ 
dons her post in favor of an incompetent delegate (Venus) who opens up the 
door of vice and unnatural sexual practice to man, who of all God’s crea¬ 
tures is capable of turning his back on the natural order. 111 In the end, 
Nature is forced to outlaw and “excommunicate” those who indulge in 
these vices. 112 

The Plaint of Nature opens with our poet beset by sorrow arising 
from man’s contempt for Nature’s laws regarding sex and generation. 
Homosexuality has become rampant. Women have lost their attractiveness 
and the great lovers are no more. 113 

In the midst of his trance-like state, the poet is visited by a beautiful 
creature wearing a crown of stars and a dress forever changing colour. She 
reveals herself to him—She is Nature. 114 Her (com)plaint and the reason 
she has come to earth is that man, upon whom she has lavished many hon¬ 
ours and privileges, has turned against her and is indulging in many sexual 
perversions. Yet Nature’s laws cannot be eradicated she insists for they 


60 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


guide all things, keep the world in order and bind things together which 
cannot be untied. 115 It is man who must reform or Nature will punish him 
for his intransigence. 116 

The poet then asks Nature why she attacks sodomy so bitterly in light 
of the claim that even the gods, for example Jupiter, Baccus and Apollo, are 
said to indulge in same-sex practices. 

She replies that the works of these poets are “naked falsehoods made 
attractive by artistic appeal, or falsehoods dressed in a cloak of probability.” 
Man finds these lies attractive, Nature explains, because by associating 
unnatural sex with the gods, man is better able to excuse his own deviant 
behavior. 

The poet then asks how it came to be that God’s vice-regent should find 
herself under such violent attack and Nature tells him her tale of woe. 

Nature says she retired and sub-delegated her work to Venus, whom 
she gives explicit instructions that her laws and blueprint for generation 
are to be followed literally and without exception. Sexual unions are to be 
strictly between males and females. But Venus gets bored and abandons 
both her husband Hymenaeus to whom she has pledged her troth and her 
legitimate son Desire to take up an illicit affair with Antigenius with whom 
she spawns a bastard son, Sport Qocus), who becomes the font of all per¬ 
versions. 

Nature charges Venus with unmanning man and changing “hes” into 
“shes.” 117 Venus has turned him into a hermaphrodite. 

Using a grammatical metaphor, Alan, speaking through Nature, 
laments that, whereas, under Nature’s laws, man is the subject and woman 
the predicate, man has betrayed his nature by attempting to become at once 
both subject and predicate—but it is an utter impossibility. 118 

In opening the door to such sexual transgressions, Nature asserts, 
Venus has also opened the door to other vices including injustice, fraud, 
gluttony, avarice, arrogance, envy, prodigality and disrespect for the law. 
However, Nature attests, man can and must combat these vices by practic¬ 
ing the opposite virtues—chastity, temperance, generosity and humility. 
Among the remedies she proposes are fasting, restrain from strong drink 
that unleashes lust, custody of the eyes and generosity. 119 

At the end of our tale, Nature calls upon her cohort Genius who dons his 
official robes and reads the sentence of excommunication—the punish¬ 
ment for man who has sinned against Nature. Nature and her attendants 
with their candles then depart, darkness descends and the poet awakes 
from his ecstasy. 120 

Although Alan’s condemnation of sodomy took quite a different form 
than that of Saint Peter Damian, both writers appeared to be of one mind 
with the early Church Fathers with regard to the steps necessary to con¬ 
quer the vice of homosexuality. 


61 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Saint Albert the Great and Saint Thomas Aquinas 
Condemn Sodomy 121 

Among the great Dominican Doctors of the Church of the Middle Ages, 
two—Saint Albertus Magnus and Saint Thomas Aquinas—were uncom¬ 
promising in their condemnation of sodomy. 

The “Doctor Universalis,” Saint Albert the Great (1206-1280), scien¬ 
tist, philosopher and theologian, who was recognized for his extraordinary 
genius and extensive knowledge, condemned sodominical acts on four 
grounds: 

1. They proceed from a burning frenzy that subverts nature. 

2. They are acts of disgusting foulness of high and low estate. 

3. The vice tenaciously binds its adherents making it difficult for a man to 
extricate himself from the practice. 

4. The vice passes quickly from one person to another. 122 

The equally gifted “Doctor Angelicus,” Saint Thomas Aquinas (1225?- 
1274), known for both his intellectual genius and humble Christocentric 
piety, held that all sexual acts between persons of the same-sex, even if 
consensual, are nevertheless transgressions of the Divine law by which 
man’s sexual nature is governed. 123 He contends that any sin “against 
nature” (peccatum contra naturam) debases man to a level beneath that of 
an animal. 124 

The Creation of Inquisitional Tribunals 

The Fourth Council of the Lateran in 1215, held under Pope Innocent 
III and attended by Saint Dominic, was the most import council of reform 
of the medieval period. 

In terms of sacramental and moral reform, the council mandated per¬ 
sonal confession, including the confession of sexual sins. This necessitated 
a better-educated clergy capable of making moral distinctions with regard 
to the exact nature and seriousness of the sins of the penitent, which in 
turn, contributed to a greater appreciation of and special insights into 
the complexities of human psychology and behaviors including sexual 
behaviors. 

The council also included the promulgation of a number of canons 
designed to counteract the heretical teachings of the Albigensians and 
Cathari—sects to which the crime of sodomy has been traditionally linked. 
These sects were highly aggressive and hostile not only to the Church but 
to the State and legitimate civil authority as well. 

Following the close of the council, the Church began a lengthy process 
of standardizing canonical and criminal procedures many of which had his¬ 
toric roots in both Roman and English law. 125 A new form of inquiry or 
“inquisition” using papal delegates and judges was established to combat 


62 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


the growing menace of the heretical sects and to administer justice in the 
name of the Church. 126 

The newly emerging Mendicant Orders were tailor-made for the task. 127 
Because of their wide support among the populace and their superior the¬ 
ological training and detachment from worldly considerations, the Order of 
Preachers, popularly known as the Dominicans, and the Franciscans were 
chosen by Pope Gregory IX (1227-1241) to organize and conduct these tri¬ 
bunals. 128 These early inquisitions were not a distinct and separate entity, 
but rather a grouping of permanent judges who executed their doctrinal 
functions in the name of the Church. Where they sat, there was the 
Inquisition. 

According to Edward Peters, author of the landmark study Inquisition, 
“The essential purpose of the inquisitors was to save the souls of the 
heretics and those close to them and to protect the unity of the Church.” 129 
This was in sharp contrast to the secular courts where the objective in the 
sentencing of convicted heretics was strictly a punitive one. 130 The sen¬ 
tences given out by the offices of the Inquisition were issued in the form of 
penance following an act of contrition and a promise of reform by the peni¬ 
tent and absolution by the priest. 131 

Peters noted that sodomy and bestiality were “part of that general class 
of moral offenses that were the legitimate concern of spiritual and tempo¬ 
ral courts in an age when religion...was regarded as the fundamental bond 
and basis of all social, political, and legal structures.” 132 Although the State 
was entitled to take independent action, it was the Church that exercised 
general jurisdiction over homosexual offenders. 133 

The Church, guided by canon law, undertook the role of spiritual reha¬ 
bilitation of the offending cleric or layman and leveled suitable penances 
upon those convicted of sexual sins and crime and as a whole the 
Inquisition tempered its justice with restraint and compassion in dealing 
with sex offenders, especially the young. However, cases involving unre¬ 
pentant habitual sodomites or those which involved sexual violence (rape), 
the seduction of minors or incompetents, or heretical religious practices, 
were turned over to State for punishment. It was the State and not the pope 
or the inquisitors acting in his name, that pronounced and carried out the 
sentence for these grave crimes which was usually death by fire, the com¬ 
mon punishment for capital crimes in those times. 134 

Throughout the remainder of the 13th century and for the next 200 
years—the period of European history known as the Renaissance—the 
condemnation and punishment of sodomy as a crime against God and the 
State would remain essentially unchallenged and unchanged. 


63 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Notes 

1 Chris Scarre, Chronicle of the Roman Emperors (London: Thames and 
Hudson, 1995) 8-9. Gaius Octavius (Octavian) who defeated Mark Antony at 
the Battle of Actium in 31 BC, became Caesar Augustus, the first Roman 
emperor through a series of tactical political maneuvers whereby the office of 
emperor was grafted onto the traditional constitutional government. He ruled 
from 27 BC-14 AD. The emperor was the head of state and supreme military 
commander under the protection of the praetorian guard. However his posi¬ 
tion of supreme power was always precarious at best as the record shows. 
According to Scarre, of the first 12 emperors only four died of natural causes, 
four were assassinated, two committed suicide, and two were most likely 
murdered. 

2 See Romano Amerio, Iota Unum—A Study of Changes in the Catholic Church 
in the XXth Century. Translated from the 2nd Italian Edition by Rev. Fr. John 
R Parsons (Kansas City, Mo.: Sarto House, 1996), 68. Amerio states that the 
Church teaches that man is corrupt from original sin and needs religion to 
heal him and save his soul. Catholicism takes man as he is while not accepting 
him as he is, and tries to make him a new man in Christ, Amerio continues. 
This thinking is in contrast to the popular belief that the Church must accept 
man, including homosexuals, as he is. 

3 Amerio, 391. As defined by Saint Thomas Aquinas “The natural law is a par¬ 
ticipation in the eternal law and an impression of the divine light in the 
rational creature, but which it is inclined to its due action and end.” 

4 Saint Thomas held sodomy to be a species of lust, but more serious because 
it is both contrary to reason and to nature. 

5 Rocke, 10. Technically the Church’s definition of sodomy, especially during 
the Middle Ages, included bestiality and the anal penetration of a women by 
a man. However, the term was commonly applied to same-sex acts, that is, 
males with males and females with females. This language served as the 
religious and juridical standard throughout the Middle Ages and into modern 
times. 

6 Down through the centuries, sexual deviancy has been connected to religious 
deviancy, especially the teachings of dualism as promoted by sects such as 
the Cathars, Kabalistic Jews, and centuries later the Free Spirit Movement. 
The teachings of Catharism, especially its dualistic doctrine of good and evil 
and its condemnation of material creation including human procreation, were 
linked by the Church to the promotion of various forms of sexual deviancy 
including sodomy. See Norman Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millennium (New 
York: Oxford University Press, 1961) and Steven Runciman, The Medieval 
Manichee A Study in Christian Dualism (London: Cambridge University 
Press, 1982). 

7 Old and New Testament texts are taken from The Holy Bible, translated from 
the Latin Vulgate, using the Douay-Rheims edition republished in 1899 by 
the John Murphy Company. For the King James version of these texts see 
Rueda’s The Homosexual Network, 253-256. 

8 Alan of Lille, Plaint of Nature, Translation and Commentary by James J. 
Sheridan (Toronto, Canada: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1980), 48. 

9 Amerio, 80-81. 

10 Bailey, 110. 


64 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


11 Atila Sinke Guimaraes In the Murky Waters of Vatican II, from the Collection 
Eli, Eli, Lamma Sabacthani? Vol. 1 (Mettairie, La.: MAETA, 1997), 356. 

12 Pierre J. Payer, Book of Gomorrah—An Eleventh-Century Treatise Against 
Clerical Homosexual Practices (Waterloo, Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Lauder, 
University Press, 1982), 8. 

13 Guimaraes, 356-357. 

14 Foucault, 37-39. 

15 See Andrea Marie Brokaw, “Hadrian and Antinous.” Full text available from 
http://ladyhedgehog.hedgie.com/antinous.html. 

16 For an excellent review of the life of Saint Athanasius see Cornelius Clifford’s 
work on the “Father of Orthodoxy” and defender of the doctrine of the 
Incarnation against the Arians as transcribed by David Joyce. The text is 
available from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02035a.htm. Eusebius; 
was one of a number of eunuchs who rose to power in the Byzantine era and 
promoted the doctrines of the Arians. 

17 Bailey, 26, 83. 

18 Ibid., 83. Also Guimaraes, 361. 

19 Saint Augustine, Confessions, Book III, Chapter VIII, online edition available 
from http://www.ourladyswarriors.org/saints/augcon3.htm. 

20 Ibid. 

21 Bailey, 100. 

22 Guimaraes, 361. Along with Saint Basil, Saint Clement of Alexandria the 
great Athenian-born Christian apologist and missionary theologian to the 
Hellenistic world railed against pederasty in Greek society, particularly the 
practices of one called Hercules of whom he said had become “effeminate 
among the Greeks, and a teacher of the disease of effeminacy to the rest of 
the Scythians, so much so that it was becoming tedious to recount his 
adulteries of all sorts, and debauching of boys.” 

23 Owen J. Blum, OFM, Peter Damian Letters 31-60 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic 
University of America, 1990), 29. 

24 Guimaraes, 357. See also Blum, 30. 

25 With the death of Emperor Antoninus Pius in 161 AD and up until the reign 
of Constantine in 312 AD, the tribunician power was often divided between 
East and West. 

26 At the great battle of Milvian Bridge, Constantine defeated the Eastern 
emperor Licinius and reunited the divided Roman Empire. In gratitude for 
the protection that the Christian ensign had afforded his outnumbered but 
ultimately victorious troops in battle, he ended the persecution against 
Christians in both the East and West and permitted them free practice of 
their faith along side of the Jews and pagans. Gradually, the emperor granted 
the Church more and more privileges and in return, the early Church 
acknowledged the cult of the emperor under many forms. Constantine 
brought his children up as Christians although he himself remained a cate¬ 
chumen to the end of his life. He was known to prefer the company of 
Christian bishops rather than that of pagan priests, and was present at the 
First Council of Nicaea (Nicea) in 325 AD which formulated the Nicean Creed 
that held against Arius that Christ was the true Divinity of the Son of God. 
For an excellent summary of the life of Constantine I (312-337 AD) see 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/04295c.htm. 


65 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


27 Guimaraes, 368. The author quotes jurist Pietro Agostino d’Avack, “During 
successive centuries, this lay temporal legislation was substantially unaltered 
and was nearly identical everywhere, whether in Italy or in the other 
European States....” D’Avack cites anti-sodomy laws from Ferrara in 1566, 
Milan, Rome, and the Province of Marche in the 17th century, Florence in 
1542,1558,1699, Sicily in 1504, and from Portugal and Spain. 

28 The male eunuch was commonly used as a woman in homosexual relations. 
However, even though he was castrated, he was capable of having an erection 
and he could therefore play the active role in an act of sodomy. As a prelude 
to the action taken against Arianism, Theodosius I in 389 had already moved 
to deprive neo-Arian eunuchs from making or benefiting from wills. 

29 Robert T. Meyer, Ph.D., translator, Palladius: The Lausiac History, Ancient 
Christian Writers—The Works of the Fathers in Translation Series (Ramsey, 
N.J.: Newman; Longmans, Green & Co., 1965), 31. 

30 Edward Peters, Inquisition (Berkley, Los Angeles: University of California 
Press, 1988), 29-30. The Codex Theodosianus, contains the collection of 
imperial decrees made in 453 from the reign of Constantine onwards. The 
Corpus Iuris Civilis of Justinian issued in 534, codified and regularized the 
great mass of Roman legal rule and doctrine. 

31 Justinian I like many Christian Emperors played an important role of the 
early councils of the Church. At the Second General Council of 
Constantinople in 553 with 165 bishops in attendance Emperor Justinian I 
and Pope Vigilius, condemned the errors of Origen and confirmed the first 
four general councils, especially that of Chalcedon whose authority was con¬ 
tested by some heretics. 

32 Bailey, 158-159. 

33 Arthur Frederick Ide, Unzipped, The Popes Bare All (Austin, Texas: American 
Atheist Press, Inc., 1987), 154. 

34 Tannihill, 158-159. 

35 Bailey, 99. Bailey noted that during this time period, in the normal life of a 
well-governed monastery, sodomy was rare or non-existent despite the temp¬ 
tations of life in an all male environment. He added that heterosexual viola¬ 
tions of the law of celibacy were much more common than homosexual acts. 

36 Saint Gregory the Great was born in the still-garrisoned city of Rome about 
540 into a wealthy and saintly patrician family with large holdings in Sicily 
and a mansion on Caelian Hill in Rome. In 574, he forsook his public career 
as a Roman lawyer and administrator and took the cowl of a monk. Only four 
years later, Pope Benedict I (575-579) took him from seclusion, ordained him 
and made him one of the seven deacons (regionarii) of Rome. From 579-585 
Gregory served as permanent ambassador to the Court of Byzantium in 
Constantinople—an experience that convinced the future pope that the 
future of the Roman Church laid in the West and not the East. His election to 
the papacy was confirmed by Emperor Maurice in 590. Pope Gregory began 
the long process by which monastic bodies have come under direct control of 
the Holy See rather than the bishopric in which the monastery is located. An 
excellent summary of the life and teachings of Pope Saint Gregory written by 
G. Roger Hudleston and transcribed by Janet van Heystsee is available from 
http://www.ewtn.com/library/MARY/CEGREGRY.HTM. 

37 Guimaraes, 262. 

38 Ibid., 367. 

39 Ibid., 357. 


66 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


40 This segment on Saint Damian originally appeared in Catholic Family News 
under the title “St. Peter Damian’s Book of Gomorrah A Moral Blueprint for 
Our Times” by Randy Engel as a two-part series in June and July 2002 and is 
available from http://www.catholicthought.com/. 

41 The Millenari, Shroud of Secrecy—The Story of Corruption Within the Vatican 
(Canada: Key Porter Books, 1999), 149. According to retired Vatican prelate 
Msgr. Luigi Marinelli, the Millenari, i.e., the authors of this work, are a 
group of influential and knowledgeable Roman clerics who wish to remain 
anonymous. 

42 For an excellent summary of the life and list of complete writings of Saint 
Peter Damian see the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, “St. Peter Damian,” 
by Leslie A. St. L. Toke, transcribed by Joseph C. Meyer available from 
http://www.new advent.org/cathen/11764a.htm. Also Catholic Online Saints, 
“St. Peter Damian,” from 

http://saints.catholic.org/saints/peter damian.html; Owen J. Blum, OFM, 

St. Peter Damian: His Teaching on the Spiritual Life—A Dissertation 
(Washington, D.C.: Catholic University Press of America, 1947); and 
Christopher Rengers, OFM Cap., The 33 Doctors of the Church (Rockville, Ill.: 
Tan Publishers, 2000). 

43 Blum, 81. 

44 Ibid., 81, 185. 

45 Ibid., 177. 

46 Ibid., 181. 

47 Ibid., 35. 

48 This text is based on two translations of Peter Damian’s the Book of 
Gomorrah. The most accurate is by Owen J. Blum, OFM, Peter Damian, 
Letters 31-60, part of the Fathers of the Church—Medieval Continuation 
Series (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1990. An 
earlier bastardized translation, Book of Gomorrah — An Eleventh-Century 
Treatise Against Clerical Homosexual Practices, by Pierre J. Payer, (Waterloo, 
Ontario, Canada: Wilfrid Laurier, University Press, 1982), is ideologically 
driven as evidenced by the author’s references to the works of well known 
pro-homosexual writers including John Boswell, Anthony Kosnick, and John 
McNeil in his introduction. 

49 See comments of J. Wilhelm on “Heresy,” transcribed by Mary Ann Grelinger 
and available from http://www.newadvent.org/ cathen/07256b.htm#REF_IV 

50 Blum, 15. 

51 Payer, 29-30. 

52 Blum, 5-6. 

53 Ibid., 6. 

54 Ibid., pp. 6-7. Throughout the history of the Church the definition of sodomy 
has varied somewhat especially with regard to the issues of self-abuse, 
mutual masturbation by use of hands and bestiality. However, it has always 
included anal penetration, usually of another male, although in some cases of 
a female. Saint Peter Damian makes no reference to fellatio either as a form 
of masturbation or as a homosexual practice. 

55 Ibid., 8. 

56 Ibid. 

57 Ibid., 8-9. 

58 Ibid., 10-11. 


67 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


59 Ibid., 12-13. 

60 Ibid., 12-14. 

61 Ibid., 15. 

62 Ibid. 

63 Ibid. 

64 Ibid., 16. 

65 Ibid. 

66 Ibid. 

67 Ibid., 17. 

68 Ibid. 

69 Ibid., 17-18. 

70 Ibid., 20-27. 

71 Ibid., 27. 

72 Ibid., 28. 

73 Ibid., 38. 

74 Ibid. 

75 Ibid., 42. 

76 Ibid., 35. 

77 Ibid., 30-32. Here the term “vice” (Lat. Vitium ) is used in its traditional 
sense as a habit inclining one to sin. This habit or vice, which according to 
Saint Thomas Aquinas, stands between power and act, is the product of 
repeated sinful acts of a given kind and when formed is in some sense also 
their cause. While Saint Thomas Aquinas holds that, absolutely speaking, the 
sin surpasses the vice in wickedness, he also states while the sin may be 
removed by God the vice or vicious habit may remain. One conquers vice by 
the continuous practice of all virtues, but particularly that virtue to which it 
is opposed. In the case of the vice of sodomy that particular virtue is chastity. 
See http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15403c.htm. 

78 Ibid., 44. 

79 Ibid., 44-45. 

80 Ibid., 47-49. 

81 Payer, 17. 

82 Blum, 49. 

83 Ibid., 48-49. 

84 Ibid., 53. 

85 Ibid. 

86 An excellent and extensive biography of Saint Leo IX, from which this short 
profile was taken, is available from 

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09160c.htm. The biography was written 
by Horace K. Mann, and transcribed by W. G. Kofron. 

87 For a biography of Damasus II see http://www.newadvent.org/ 
cathen/04614a.htm. For background material on Benedict IX see 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02429a.htm. According to the New 
Advent biography by Horace K. Mann, transcribed by Kryspin J. Turczynski, 
Abbot Luke of the Abbey of Grottaferrata reports that Saint Bartholomew 
convinced Benedict to definitely resign the pontificate. Benedict died in 
penitence at Grottaferrata. 


68 



THE EARLY CHURCH 


88 A comprehensive biography of Pope Gregory VII by Thomas Oestreich, tran¬ 
scribed by Janet van Heyst, is available at 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06791c.htm. 

89 See Horace K. Mann essay on St. Leo IX at 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09160c.htm. 

90 Ibid. 

91 Owen J. Blum, OFM, Peter Damian Letters 31-60. Fathers of the Church— 
Mediaeval Continuation Series (Washington, D.C: Catholic University of 
America, 1990), 3. 

92 Ibid., 3-4. 

93 Ibid., 4. 

94 Ibid. 

95 Ibid., 5. 

96 Ibid. 

97 Ibid. 

98 Ibid. 

99 Ibid., 4. 

100 Ibid., 7. 

101 Ibid., 5. 

102 See Leslie A. St. L. Toke (transcribed by Joseph C. Meyer), “St. Peter 

Damian,” New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia at ' 

http://www. newadvent.org/cathen/11764a.htm. 

103 Payer, 21. 

104 Toke, 1. 

105 Guimaraes, 357. 

106 H. Montgomery Hyde, The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name (Boston: 
Little, Brown and Company, 1970), 35-36. 

107 Toke, 2. 

108 Also called Alain de 1’Isle, Alain of Lille, and Alain Von Ryssel. I have chosen 
Alan of Lille as it is the name used by James J Sheridan in his translation and 
commentary of The Plaint of Nature. 

109 For biographical data and a review of Alan of Lille’s writings see William 
Turner, “Alain de l’lsle,” at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01244e.htm. 

110 Guimaraes, 358. 

111 Sheridan, 33-35, 99. 

112 Ibid., 46. 

113 Ibid., 35. 

114 Ibid., 36-38. 

115 Ibid., 56. 

116 Ibid., 39. 

117 Ibid., 67. 

118 Ibid., 68. 

119 Ibid., 46. 

120 Ibid., 45. 

121 For an interesting comparison of the two great giants of the Church see 
Simon Tugwell, OP, Albert & Thomas (New York: Paulist Press, 1988). 


69 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


122 Hyde, 32. Also Guimaraes, 363. Note: Hyde misdates Saint Albert the Great 
as living in the 800s. 

123 Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I—II, q. 95, a. 2. 

124 Guimaraes, 363. 

125 Edward Peters, Inquisition (Berkley, Los Angeles: University of California 
Press, 1988), 52. 

126 For an introduction to the Inquisitional system of ecclesiastical justice see 
“Inquisition,” by Joseph Blototzer and transcribed by Matt Dean available 
from http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08026a.htm. 

127 At the Council of Vienne, (1311-1313) held in France by order of Pope 
Clement V the first of the Avignon popes, the Patriarchs of Antioch and 
Alexandria, 300 bishops, and three kings, Philip IV of France, Edward II of 
England, and James II of Aragon, were present. The synod dealt with the 
crimes and errors imputed to the Knights Templars, the Fraticelli, the 
Beghards, and the Beguines. Acts of sodomy were among the crimes 
impugned to the Knights Templars. Also on the agenda was the opening of a 
new crusade and the reformation of the clergy. 

128 Peters, 58. 

129 Ibid., 64. 

130 Ibid., 129. 

131 Ibid., 66. 

132 Ibid., 87. 

133 Bailey, 154. 

134 Peters, 67. 


70 



Chapter 3 


The Renaissance 


Introduction 

The humanistic revival of classical art, literature and learning known as 
the Renaissance began in Italy in the 14th century and spread throughout 
Europe over the next 250 years. It was an era that witnessed great histor¬ 
ical changes for both Church and State including the rise of nationalistic 
tendencies among the secular powers which helped fuel the Reformation in 
Germany in 1517 and England in 1533. The discovery of the New World 
revolutionized European commerce and economics stimulating the devel¬ 
opment of urbanization in the great cities of Europe and the rise of a new 
ruling class of wealthy merchants and bankers. 

There was also a weakening of the Christian moral life especially among 
the upper classes and the Church hierarchy not excluding the Roman Curia 
and papacy for whom temporal consideration generally overrode any com¬ 
peting religious and moral considerations. It was said of Renaissance period 
that in the quest for the ideal Christian life, the cult of holiness had been 
replaced by the cult of greatness. 1 

Given this sad state of ecclesiastical affairs, it is more than passing 
interest that the only Renaissance pope to be canonized was Saint Pius 
V (1566-1572) whose pontificate was marked by a zealousness for the 
purity of the Faith and a campaign for moral reform of the laity and clergy 
that included an end to the vice of sodomy which the pope termed “the 
execrable libidinous vice against nature.” 2 

At the personal level, the universality and objectiveness of Christian 
morals were undermined by the new heretical doctrines of the Protestant 
Reformers including justification by faith alone without reference to good 
works, the denial of freedom of will, which furnished an excuse for moral 
lapses and the personal certainty of salvation in faith (i.e., subjective confi¬ 
dence in the merits of Christ). 3 

In terms of sexual morality, however, it would be a mistake to charac¬ 
terize the Renaissance as a period of unbridled sexual license in which all 
expressions of carnal lust and sexual excesses were equally tolerated if not 
encouraged. 4 This most certainly was not the case. For whatever his moral 
failings and materialistic tendencies, the Renaissance man remained, at the 
very core of his being, fundamentally religious. This perhaps is the best 
explanation as to why throughout Renaissance Europe and England, the 
prevailing common sense view of sodomy was that it was an abomination. 5 


71 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Studies on Sodomy in Renaissance Italy 

Among the great city-states that emerged in Italy during the Ren¬ 
aissance period was the Republic of Florence considered by many to be 
the original model for the modern State in the world and birthplace of 
Dante Alighieri and the first Medici, and the Republic of Venice, mistress 
of the seas and center of Italian industry and commerce. Both Florence and 
Venice vied for the title of the birthplace of statistical science and both city- 
states kept detailed historical records including population statistics and 
legal and juridical records including convictions for sodomy and other vices 
—making them a historian’s paradise. 

In recent years a number of historiographers have chronicled the rise of 
homosexual practices in Renaissance Italy and Europe. Oxford Press has 
published at least two major works on the subject—Guido Ruggiero’s, The 
Boundaries of Eros—Sex Crime and Sexuality in Renaissance Venice (1985) 
and Michael Rocke’s Forbidden Friendships Homosexuality and Male Culture 
in Renaissance Florence (1996). In 1989, Harrington Press, an imprint of 
Haworth Press, Inc. that publishes a large number of homosexual texts, 
published a more generalized study, The Pursuit of Sodomy—Male Homo¬ 
sexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe, edited by Kent Gerard 
and Gert Hekma. 

The term “sodomy” as used in all these historical references encom¬ 
passed a broader definition than strictly anal penetration. In general usage, 
sodomy was equated with male same-sex acts of every kind including mutual 
masturbation and fellatio. 6 However the terms “sodomite” and “bugger” 
were usually reserved for the man who was judged to be addicted to the vice 
and who took the “active” role in the same-sex act typically with a younger 
partner. As we shall see, throughout Europe, sodomy in all its forms was a 
dangerous and punishable crime with penalties ranging from large fines and 
exile to burning at the stake. 

Sodomy in Renaissance Florence 

In his excellent study on sodomy and the evolution of the Office of the 
Night in Florence, Michael Rocke made it clear that for the Renaissance 
man, homosexual behavior and not homosexual identity remained the cor¬ 
nerstone of common thought on the subject. Florentines felt no compulsion 
to “organize their understanding and representation of sexuality,” based on 
sexual deviancy alone, he said. 7 In their mind, any man was seen as being 
capable of engaging in sodomy, as well as normal sexual relations with 
women, hence they did not seek to segregate males exclusively according 
to the object of their sexual desires. 8 

As Rocke pointed out early in his study, long before the Renaissance 
period, Florence suffered the reputation of being the capital of two vices— 
usury, practiced by the international merchant-banking houses like Bardi 
and Peruzzi, and sodomy. Among Italians and foreigners alike, “to sodom- 


72 



THE RENAISSANCE 


ize” was dubbed florenzen and a “sodomite,” a Florenzer,” he noted. 9 As for 
the Florentines, they insisted that sodomy was an imported vice brought 
into the city by wayfarers and brigands (trapassi or malandrini). 10 

Among the sociological factors that contributed to the general atmos¬ 
phere of lax morals and the practice of sodomy in particular in Renaissance 
Florence, said Rocke were: 

• The catastrophic demographic consequences of the Black Death 
and subsequent famine and social and political anarchy. In addition 
to the Great Plague of 1348-1350 there were recurrent episodes 
in 1363-1364, 1400, 1417, 1423-1424 and 1430. 

• The traditional social patterns of late marriage resulting in a pro¬ 
fusion of youthful bachelors. 

• The strict seclusion of respectable young unmarried women prior 
to marriage. 

• The revival of interest in the arts and culture of ancient Greece 
with its tradition of pederasty. 11 

How pervasive was the vice in Florence? 

Rocke reported that historical records of the early Renaissance period 
support the charge that all social strata were infected with the vice. 12 The 
rich and the poor, the layman and the cleric, the citizen and the foreigner 
were said to practice sodomy. Taverns, public baths, houses of gambling and 
prostitution and certain public locations such as the Via tra’Pellicciai (Street 
of the Furriers) were notorious gathering places for sodomites. Rocke also 
identified certain occupations that were popularly associated with sodomy 
including the armed forces, the theater, the arts and teaching (dance and 
fencing). 13 

Was there something resembling a “homosexual sub-culture” in Renais¬ 
sance Florence? 

Rocke answered “no,” although he did document the existence of dis¬ 
creet “networks” or “circles” of sodomites that met the needs of men 
desiring same-sex contacts. 14 These groupings, however, did not form a 
separate “sexual minority” in the modern sense, he explained. Rather they 
were absorbed into the larger and more general framework of illicit sexual 
activities that thrived in the male-dominated culture of Florence. His com¬ 
ments on the subject are worth quoting in full: 

Enmeshed in these dense and often far-flung webs of affiliation, sodomy in 
Florence had a marked collective character. The extensive and multi-faceted 
networks of associations and friendships among sodomites and others sym¬ 
pathetic to them help account for the vitality of sodomy in the community 
and, consequently, for the difficulty of eradicating it . 15 

Pederasty Dominates the Florentine Scene 

As to the particular form that male sodomy took in Florence, there was 
no question that it followed the same pattern that had dominated the 


73 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Mediterranean scene centuries before the coming of Christ—it was ped¬ 
erasty in the classical Greek mode with only minor divergences. 

The Rocke study demonstrated that homosexual relations in Florence 
followed a strict hierarchical form that included an older male between the 
ages of 19 and 30, and a younger male, usually a teenage boy, between the 
ages of 14 to 16. The former took the manly active or dominant role and the 
latter, the passive or feminine role. According to Rocke, these roles were 
rarely exchanged except where two adolescent peers were involved in 
mutual sex play. 16 

In order to attract and seduce handsome young sex partners, older 
Florentines employed traditional inducements similar to those involved in 
the Greek eromenos—erestes relationship—money, gifts and in some 
cases, the promise of social advancement. If the youth was very poor, an 
offering of food or housing was usually sufficient to entice him to sexual 
service, Rocke remarked. 17 

Obviously, the more pleasure that the adult male could give his young 
partner the easier it was to secure his continued cooperation in the homo¬ 
sexual relationship. Rocke quoted the Venetian libertine priest Antonio 
Rocco who, in his apologia for pederasty, L’Alcibiade fanciullo a scola (ca 
1630) contended that while the adolescent takes “natural” and “physiolog¬ 
ical” pleasure in being penetrated, it is a “conscientious lover’s duty” to 
foster that pleasure. 18 

From the vantage point of the younger partner, sodomy was also seen 
as a transitional venture on the way to traditional heterosexual marriage. 
Rocke made the important point that although some men referred to their 
younger sexual companion as their “girl” or their “woman,” and to boy 
prostitutes as “bitches,” the teen partners themselves did not appear to 
suffer from any “sexual gender identity crisis,” that is, they did not think of 
themselves as women even though they permitted their bodies to be used 
like women. 19 

One of the most important revelations of the Rocke study was that con¬ 
sensual homosexual relationships involving two grown men were virtually 
unheard of in Florence. As Rocke stated, “...sex between mature men, was, 
with rare exceptions, unknown.” 20 It was considered both “dishonorable” 
and “feminine” for any full grown man to play the woman’s part, even those 
men who sought out same-sex relations exclusively, he said. Habitual or 
inveterate sodomites were known to exist in Renaissance Florence as a 
small group of older unmarried men, but their passive partners were 
teenage boys not their peers, Rocke explained. 21 

Mendicant Orders Lead Campaign for Moral Reform 

Although Florence had among the most severe laws against sodomy in 
all Europe, up until the early 1400s, these statutes were unevenly and spo- 


74 



THE RENAISSANCE 


radically enforced. As noted earlier, patterns of late marriage and the isola¬ 
tion of young women before marriage had ingrained sodomy into the very 
social fabric of Florentine society making wholesale enforcement of such 
laws virtually impossible. 

Most sodomy cases that made it to the Florentine courts involved noto¬ 
rious habitual offenders including older men who played the passive role; 
violent and/or statutory male rape including child abuse and gang rape; 
blasphemy or sacrilege; or cases in which foreigners were charged with 
sodomizing Florentine boys. 22 Guilty parties faced harsh punishment 
including heavy fines, castration, prison, corporal punishment, exile and 
execution. 

Historian Rocke said that the opening of the 15th century marked the 
beginning of a radical shift in public attitudes toward sodomy in Florence 
whose citizens demanded a more vigorous enforcement of anti-sodomy 
laws and an end to laissez faire tolerance of the vice by public authorities. 
At the same time there was an effort to make the punishment more aptly 
fit the crime especially when the case involved adult first time offenders 
and youth. 23 

Among the many factors that contributed to the public’s groundswell 
for a campaign of moral reform in Florence and other cities of Italy and 
Europe was the growing popular belief that God had sent the plague, 
famine and incessant fratricidal warfare as a punishment for the wide¬ 
spread practice of sodomy. This apocalyptic message that recalled the 
destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah by fire and brimstone for the crime of 
sodomy was reinforced by the two of the greatest “Preachers of Repen¬ 
tance” of the late Middle Ages—the saintly Franciscan Italian missionary 
and miracle worker, Saint Bernardino of Siena, and the remarkable Domini¬ 
can moral reformer, Girolamo Savonarola. 

Saint Bernardino of Siena (1380-1444) 

Known world-wide as the “Apostle of Italy,” the mendicant friar 
Bernardino degli Albizeschi transversed the great cities and smaller vil¬ 
lages of central and northern Italy for more than 40 years with his call to 
the faithful, including his own brothers of the Observant and Order of Friars 
Minor, to reform their lives. 

Born into a noble and influential Sienese family, Bernardino, like Saint 
Peter Damian, suffered the loss of his parents at a young age and was like¬ 
wise reared by relatives, in this case, his pious aunts. 24 

In 1402, at the age of 21, Bernardino received the Franciscan habit at 
the friary of San Francesco in Siena that belonged to the Observant branch 
of the Order of Friars Minor. Two years later, after his profession and ordi¬ 
nation, he founded a new Observant friary outside the city called La 
Capriola, where he led a quiet and secluded life of prayer and study of Holy 
Scripture. It was not until 12 years later, in 1417, that Bernardino emerged 


75 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


from the friary to begin his public ministry to promote morality and regen¬ 
erate Italian society under the banner of the Holy Name of Jesus. 

As all his biographers including Franco Mormando have confirmed, in 
an age when preaching was the most important means of mass communi¬ 
cation and mass instruction of the faithful, the holy and charismatic 
Bernardino drew thousands of listeners to his sermons, many of which, by 
necessity, were preached in the town square to accommodate the vast 
crowds. 25 His audience “embraced the entire spectrum of society,” said 
Mormando, from the most influential and powerful personages of Church 
and Crown to the poorest and humblest of laborers, farmers and servants; 
from the most educated circles of society to the most illiterate peasant. 26 
Yet the friar’s message remained the same for one and all—repent and 
reform your lives. 

Bernardino Attacks Sodomy in Lenten Message 

With the same vigor and explicitness of Saint Peter Damian, 370 years 
before him, Bernardino rarely missed an opportunity to denounce the sin 
from which “even the Devil flees in horror,”—the sin of sodomy, explained 
Mormando. 27 Not surprisingly, when the famous preacher from Siena was 
invited by Florentine civic (not ecclesiastical) officials to deliver a series of 
Lenten sermons in 1424 and 1425 to rally popular support for moral reform 
including the abolition of sodomy, his audience was hardly a disinterested 
one. 

These lengthy sermons demonstrated a remarkable knowledge of some 
of the causal factors that we now associate with homosexuality as well as 
insights into the nature of the vice and the effects it produces on males 
unfortunate enough to be caught up in the vice. Saint Bernardino preached: 
No sin had greater power over the soul than the one of cursed sodomy, 
which was always detested by those who lived according to God. ...Such 
passion for undue forms borders on madness. This vice disturbs the intel¬ 
lect, breaks an elevated and generous state of soul, drags great thoughts to 
petty ones, makes [men] pusillanimous and irascible, obstinate and hard¬ 
ened, servilely soft and incapable of anything. ...Sodomites, unrepentant, 
will suffer more pains in hell than anyone else, because this is the worst sin 
there is . 28 

Rocke, also among the friar’s biographers, recorded that Bernardino 
portrayed the inveterate sodomite as a man who is apathetic toward the fair 
sex, opposed to marriage, a hater of children and practitioners of sterile and 
perverted sexual practices which greatly offended God. 29 In his sermons, 
the friar claimed that some men who become habitual sodomites in their 
youth continue to use boys sexually in maturity and that these individuals 
once past the age of 32 or 33 found it especially difficult to give up the vice, 
said Rocke. 30 

The holy friar showed remarkable insight into the problems a woman is 
likely to expect should she marry a habitual sodomite. According to Rocke, 


76 



THE RENAISSANCE 


Bernardino offered this “general rule”—“the greater a sodomite he is, the 
more he will hate his wife, as pretty as she may be...” 31 The friar noted that 
in addition to being reminded daily that her husband preferred boys to her, 
there was also the danger that he might force his “unnatural passions” on 
her, Rocke recorded. 32 

Reflecting on the dangers of rampant unrest and intrigues that charac¬ 
terized Florentine political life, the friar drew a connection between homo¬ 
erotic loyalties and the subversion of the common good. 33 He was not alone 
in his thinking, said Rocke. An earlier 1418 Florentine law sought to 
exclude from civic and guild offices any convicted or suspected sodomites 
on the basis that they might conspire with one another against the State. 34 

But, sodomites were not the only objects of Bernardino’s scathing 
attacks, observed Rocke. The friar also lashed out against parents who fail 
to set a good religious and moral example for their children and who do not 
properly monitor and discipline their adolescent sons. 35 Along similar lines, 
Mormando confirmed that the fiery preacher condemned the emasculating 
mother who encouraged effeminacy of dress and manners in her son either 
to psychologically unman him or in some cases to attract wealthy and influ¬ 
ential male suitors for the boy. 36 

Bernardino did not overlook the rich and powerful and the privileged in 
his condemnation of sodomy, nor was he above warning the populace of the 
alleged favoritism towards sodomites by the powerful Medici, said Rocke. 37 

Finally, Bernardino attacked the ease with which sodomites escaped 
punishment in both Florence and his own city of Siena and demanded that 
public officials strictly enforce the laws against sodomy in order to restore 
social and moral stability to the city. 

Given the extraordinary power of the saintly friar to convert the hard¬ 
hearted and morally indifferent to repentance and reform we can assume 
Bernardino was successful in raising the consciousness level of the indi¬ 
vidual Florentine as to the moral and social dangers of sodomy. However, it 
took seven long years before Florentine government decided to institute a 
new program of policing and punishing the crime of sodomy—a program 
that was directed more at managing and controlling the vice rather than 
eradicating it. 

Michael Rocke on the Office of the Night 

In 1432 the Republic of Florence created the Office of the Night 
(Ufficiali di notte), heretofore referred to as “the Office,” to systematically 
and vigorously police and prosecute males who engaged in sodomy includ¬ 
ing “consensual” affairs. Rocke reported that this specially convened judi¬ 
ciary commission was endowed with sweeping investigative and policing 
powers and it enjoyed an unprecedented reign of 70 years during which 
time it tried over 17,000 cases of sodomy leading to about 3,000 convic¬ 
tions. 38 It is the detailed records of these trials, uncovered by Rocke, which 


77 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


provide such an amazingly intimate look at the practice of sodomy in 
Renaissance Italy. 

According to Rocke, since the draconian penalties of the past against 
convicted sodomites did not appear to be effective in curbing the vice, the 
Office decided upon a different strategy, one that was more lenient, espe¬ 
cially toward youthful offenders and put more emphasis on social sanctions 
such as public corporal punishment and the use of public ridicule and 
ostracism. 39 It is obvious, said Rocke, that the Office saw itself as the court 
of last resort rather than first resort in dealing with convicted sodomites. 40 

Rocke’s original research into the history of the Office revealed the 
manner in which it undertook the task of policing the vice. One of its most 
prominent features, said Rocke, was the leniency shown to the adolescent 
partner and the defacto acknowledgement by the Office that so-called “con¬ 
sensual” sex with minors often involved a degree of bribery, intimidation, 
or threat or actual violence by the adult male partner. 41 Also, as Rocke 
reminded his readers, “Although the courts seldom penalized boys who let 
men sodomize them, families and the community evidently had their own 
way of punishing, shaming, and even ostracizing them.” 42 

The primary form of punishment administered by the Office was a mon¬ 
etary one—the payment of fines on a sliding scale based on the age and 
social status of the offender. Rocke noted that fines were reduced for men 
who after being arrested or cited by the Office freely confessed their mis¬ 
deeds, while those who voluntarily turned themselves into the Office, con¬ 
fessed their crimes and named their partners, were awarded immunity 
from prosecution. 43 For the most serious cases there was prison or exile. 
False accusations were vigorously punished, Rocke said. 44 

As wide as its juridical powers were, however, the Office did not have 
jurisdiction over clerical sodomites, Rocke stated. In 1436, when the Office 
attempted to extend its authority over monasteries, Pope Eugenius IV 
(1431-1447) was quick to publicly reject the magistracy’s action as an 
infringement of ecclesiastical privilege. 45 

After the officials of the Office identified monks, priests, chaplains, vic¬ 
ars and other members of the clergy as pederasts, they turned their names 
over to the proper ecclesiastical authorities including the Inquisition. 
However, unlike Venice and Valencia where churchmen were among the 
conspicuously prosecuted for sodomy, it does not appear that the vice was 
a prominent feature of the Florentine clergy. Rocke did, however, report on 
a few of the more sensational cases that were tried by the Church. 46 

Rethinking a Failed Strategy 

Whatever the original hopes of the founders of Office of the Night were 
for the lenient application of the Republic’s anti-sodomy laws as a means of 
controlling spread of the vice, by the late 1450s it was clear that the strat¬ 
egy had backfired. For while it was true that earlier draconian measures 


78 



THE RENAISSANCE 


against sodomites including castration and capital punishment did not 
totally eradicate the vice from the Florentine landscape, it did not neces¬ 
sarily follow that the Office’s novel policies of leniency, self-denunciation 
with guaranteed immunity and a tendency to turn a blind-eye to an ever 
growing number of adult recidivists, would fare any better. 

According to Rocke, by 1458 a full crisis was in the making. As common 
sense would dictate, the more tolerance the Office exhibited toward 
sodomy the more the vice increased. Not unexpectedly, the growing net¬ 
work of confirmed sodomites in Florence had taken full advantage of the 
law to escape punishment and protect and advance their own interests. 

The Florentine government demanded that the Office of the Night 
institute a more vigorous and punitive approach to the punishment of 
sodomites, said Rocke. 47 The Officers of the Night countered this order 
with the argument that such action unfairly discriminated against the poor 
who made up the bulk of convicted offenders, for, unlike the rich, they could 
not pay larger fines nor could they escape punishment by going abroad. 
This conflict of interests, as Rocke noted, reflected the “...considerable 
differences that often existed between prescriptive norms and practice, 
between laws against sodomy and their enforcement.” 48 In actuality, these 
differences were never entirely resolved. 

In 1502, the Office of the Night was dissolved and its responsibilities 
transferred to other offices. The local magistracy continued to handle the 
every-day garden variety of cases of sodomy using fines and public humili¬ 
ation as punishment, reported Rocke. More serious and politically explo¬ 
sive sodomy cases such as those involving the use of violence and forcible 
rape; multiple crimes including murder; cases involving Jews; and cases of 
sodomy that took place in churches, were turned over to higher criminal 
courts such as the Watch of Eight, Rocke confirmed. 49 

Frate Girolamo Savonarola Wars Against Sodomy 

While this Great Debate was being carried out in the secular realm in 
Florence, the Dominicans entered the fray in the person of Girolamo 
Savonarola—another of the great religious protagonists of the Renais¬ 
sance era whose demand for moral reform sent shock waves throughout 
Florence, the Papal States and Rome—the seat of the Roman Curia and the 
papacy. 

Savonarola was born at Ferrara on Saint Matthew’s day, September 21, 
1452, the third son of a noble family who had come from Padua to settle in 
Ferrara at the invitation of Niccolo III of the great house of Este, a rival to 
the Medici in their patronage of literature, the arts and science. 50 

William Clark, one of Savonarola’s English biographers has noted that 
from early childhood, Savonarola possessed “a serious, almost sorrowful 
nature” that continued to characterize his adult life and religious ministry. 51 


79 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


The young man was in his early 20s when he entered the Dominican Order 
at Bologna to begin a life of prayer, learning and ascetic practices. 

In 1481, the preacher’s superior sent him to Florence where it appeared 
that his strident preaching on the need for repentance and reform offended 
the ears of the populace most especially the courtiers of the ruling House 
of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Undiscouraged, Savonarola went on to preach the 
Gospel message throughout Italy centering more and more attention on the 
Book of Revelation and the coming prophecy of the Great Chastisement to 
come and rebirth of the Church that was to follow. 

He returned to Florence in 1489. Two years later he was appointed prior 
to the great monastery of San Marco, whereupon, he immediately began his 
program for the moral reform of the Order by establishing a new Dominican 
congregation that took on the strict observance of the original Rule of St. 
Dominic—a life distinguished by severe austerity, prayer and learning. 

The new prior did not demand of others what he himself did not 
observe. His own life was one of abstemious behavior—he undertook great 
fasts and wore only the coarsest and most patched clothing. In an age when 
clerical fornication, adultery and concubinage were the rule rather than the 
exception, “No one ever doubted of the chastity of Savonarola.” 52 The new 
prior also established the custom of regularly visiting the cells of his 
Dominican charges that he might raise their minds and hearts to God. 
Inspired by the example of Savonarola, the ranks of his small congregation 
quickly swelled to 238 monks many of whom were drawn from among the 
most prominent families of the city. 

In August 1490, Clark reported, the Frate began to publicly preach at 
the great cathedral of San Marco. Florence was to be the starting point of 
his new campaign to reform the Church, the clergy and religious and the 
laity. This time thousands of Florentines flocked to hear him denounce the 
immoralities and vanities of the age. A special gallery was erected for 
young children and youth to more clearly hear Savonoarola’s message, 
for the monk had long determined that they held the key to a new 
Reformation. 53 

With the death of Lorenzo, “the Magnificent” on April 8,1492, and the 
subsequent collapse of Medicean rule and restoration of the Florentine 
Republic in November 1494, the door was opened to a new era of moral 
reform modeled along Savonarolian lines and a renewed attack against 
sodomy both by the Office of the Night and the Watch of Eight. 54 

The Reform of the Fanciulli 

One of the most interesting aspects of Savonarola’s program for the 
eradication of sodomy, as reported by Rocke, was that involving the con¬ 
version and rehabilitation of the fannciulli, the delinquent and often violent 
and licentious adolescent boys of Florence, many of who regularly offered 
their sexual services as passive partners to the older sodomites of the 


80 



THE RENAISSANCE 


city. 55 By cutting off the “supply,” the Florentine preacher reasoned, one 
could diminish if not eliminate the “demand.” 

Clark reported that following a lengthy period of self-imposed silence 
that began in October 1495, Savonarola emerged from his monastery in 
February 1496 to proclaim his new anti-sodomy program directed at the re¬ 
education and religious formation of Florentine boys and youth. 56 For the 
period it was in effect it met with extraordinary success. According to 
Rocke, not only did he persuade many of the young men to turn away from 
a life of sexual promiscuity and violence in favor of a life of good works and 
pious devotion, but he also motivated them to police and aggressively 
reproach those who continued to practice the vice. 57 

Perhaps Rocke’s most startling and significant revelation concerning 
Savonarola’s reform program for boys was the fact that as the available pool 
of young passive partners began to dry up, the city’s sodomites were forced 
to turn to older boys and adult men for sexual favors. 58 Rocke’s examina¬ 
tion of the documents of the Office of the Night revealed that there was a 
rise in the normal mean age of passive partners from 16 to 18 years old. 

Rocke himself did not speculate on the implications of this historic tem¬ 
porary transition, from classic pederasty to more adult peer homosexual 
relations in late 15th century Florence. 

However, I believe that it is not too far afield to draw at least a partial 
causal relationship between the rise of child protection laws including the 
criminalization of pederasty, and the rise of a full blown male adult homo¬ 
sexual subculture in Italy and throughout Europe in the late 1700s. 

In the years immediately following the death of Frate Savonarola, whose 
controversial foreign politics and intrigues combined with his public con¬ 
demnation of papal court immorality led to his excommunication by Pope 
Alexander VI (1492-1503) in 1497 and his arrest, torture and execution at 
the stake one year later, the tumultuous political see-sawing of anti-sodomy 
legislation in Florence continued unabated well into the 17th century. 59 

From Renaissance Florence we now transport the reader to 
Renaissance Venice. 

Clerical Sodomy in Renaisance Venice 

In Guido Ruggiero’s The Boundaries of Eros—Sex Crime and Sexuality 
in Renaissance Venice, written ten years before Rocke’s classic study on 
sodomy in Florence, we find that by the 1400s, sodomy, once a minor blip 
on the Venetian moral landscape had grown into a major problem for the 
Republic, infecting all classes of society including the nobility and the 
clergy. 60 

Although one finds many similarities between the two city-states of 
Florence and Venice with regard to the policing of the vice, there are some 
unique aspects of the Venetian approach that warrant special attention, 


81 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


most especially the struggle for jurisdiction over offending clerics who have 
committed capital crimes including sodomy. 

Under Venetian law, sodomy was defined as any sexual act between two 
males including group (not individual) masturbation, external interfemoral 
stimulation between the legs of a passive partner, and anal penetration. 61 
As in Florence, the nature of most sodomy cases was decidedly pederastic. 

Ruggiero reported that the culpable partner in sodomy cases was gen¬ 
erally the male adult. His passive adolescent partner was merely a submis¬ 
sive agent. 62 Physicians were required to report to the public authorities all 
cases involving the rupture of the anal orifice of a minor boy due to an act 
of sodomy, said Ruggiero, and death at the stake was almost a virtual cer¬ 
tainty for men convicted of the homosexual rape of a youth. 63 

Despite the severe penalties attached to sodomy convictions, however, 
Venice had a lively homosexual network similar to that of Florence, that 
was part of the larger underground network of illicit activities in the city, 
but did not constitute a separate homosexual subculture. 64 Ruggiero 
reported that there were certain locations in the city that were notorious 
for same-sex male assignations liaisons. 65 He also revealed that it was a 
common practice in sodomite circles, to feminize male names, for example, 
changing Rolandino to Rolandina. 66 

As outlined by Ruggiero, the principal unit of judiciary power in Venice 
was the powerful Deici or Council of Ten, the membership of which was 
drawn from the city’s wealthiest patrician families. The Ten delivered jus¬ 
tice, more importantly, it delivered equal justice, which meant that it was 
not above sentencing nobles to death for capital crimes including sodomy. 6 ' 

Unlike Florence, sodomy was always viewed by the Venetian ruling 
class as a “seriously willed crime,” claimed Ruggiero. 68 He reported that 
although the city had its own Office of the Night that was charged with 
policing public morals including the prosecution of sodomites, the Ten 
assumed jurisdiction in particularly grave cases including incidents of 
sodomy on Venetian ships; incidents of sodomy that occurred in churches; 
and cases involving Jews and Christians, or members of the Venetian aris¬ 
tocracy, or high ranking churchmen. 69 

One such case cited by Ruggiero involved a dual crime of sodomy and 
murder committed on sacred ground. A non-noble son of a city official was 
accused of the murder of a nobleman named Morosini at the monastery of 
San Zaccaria. The youth admitted the killing, but said he acted only in self- 
defense in an attempt to protect his virtue. Since the youth held to his story 
even under torture, the Ten released him despite pressures from the 
noble’s family to sentence him to death. 70 

The issue of clerical sodomy had long been a vexing one for the Council 
of Ten. According to Ruggiero, the Ten along with other Venetian law 
enforcement agencies believed that the Church was “too lenient” in its 


82 



THE RENAISSANCE 


treatment of convicted clerical sodomites and that it had a tendency “to 
protect its own in such matters.” 71 The key question still being asked today 
was, “Is the cleric above the secular law in the commission of a crime 
involving a minor?” It appeared to the Ten that while laymen including 
noblemen convicted of sodomy, received harsh punishment, clerics, even in 
cases that involved minors, often got away without punishment by Church 
officials. 72 Under these circumstances, said Ruggiero, the Ten appealed to 
the pope for help and received it. 73 

Sensitive to the continuous charge that the Church was soft in its deal¬ 
ing with clerical sodomites Ruggiero noted that the pope also ordered all 
clerics to wear clerical attire (robes) and to be registered with the local 
bishop “in order to be properly distinguished from non-clerics seeking-spe¬ 
cial status to avoid secular punishment.” 74 And, although death by burning 
was ruled as unsuitable for a man of the cloth, more stringent penalties 
were instituted for clerics found guilty of the crime of sodomy including the 
lifetime confinement of such clerics on a diet of bread and water, Ruggiero 
pointed out. 75 

Throughout the other kingdoms of Europe, the legal secular standards 
for the punishment of the crime of sodomy by the Church and State 
remained essentially the same as that of the great city-states of Florence 
and Venice throughout the Renaissance period. 

Sodomy in Other Renaissance Cultures 

In Spain, the prosecution of sodomites was the joint-task of both the 
Inquisition and the State. Penalties for laymen ranged from corporal pun¬ 
ishment and exile to burning at the stake. Clerical sodomites were usually 
punished by defrocking and in some cases handed over to the secular 
authorities for execution after the confession and absolution of their sins. 

Feminist apologist Professor Mary Elizabeth Perry in her essay ‘“The 
Nefarious Sin’ in Early Modern Seville,” reported that in late medieval 
Spain, where “crimes against nature” were closely linked to “religious 
deviancy,” death by fire was reserved for apostates, heretics and 
sodomites. 76 

Perry stated that since Seville was located in the Kingdom of Aragon, 
the Inquisition under the direction of the Jesuit Order retained jurisdiction 
over sodomy cases, whereas in Castile, the crime was a matter for the sec¬ 
ular authorities. 77 

Most of the cases that came before the Inquisition, Perry explained, 
involved the already familiar pederastic pattern of homosexual relations in 
late medieval Europe, that is, the sexual servicing of older men by young 
boys in their mid to late teens. 78 In cases involving minors under the age 
of 17, the Jesuits, who were more interested in the salvation of souls than 
in the infliction of punitive measures, generally argued for leniency and the 
rehabilitation of youthful offenders, Perry noted. 79 The Jesuits also main- 


83 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


tained a prison ministry for adult sodomites who were held in separate cells 
in the Royal Prison in Seville. 80 

Perry claimed that in Seville, a center of Catholic piety with a very large 
number of churches and monasteries, the vice of sodomy was practiced by 
a significant number of religious and the secular clergy. 81 

In some clerical cases, the priest or religious was charged with the 
solicitation of youth for sexual purposes in the confessional, she reported. 
Penalties for this dual offense of sacrilege and sodomy ranged from reclu¬ 
sion to a monastery where the convicted cleric was prohibited from hear¬ 
ing confessions and disciplined by his bishop or religious superior, to exe¬ 
cution by burning. The latter punishment was usually reserved for notori¬ 
ous clerical offenders or cases involving the sexual abuse of young children, 
said Perry. 82 

One such notorious case cited by Perry involved a religious by the name 
of Pascual Jaime, who served as chaplain to the Duke of Alcada. 83 Caught in 
a compromising position with one of his dolled-up street urchins who were 
always in his company, Jaime admitted his life-long pederast passions to the 
Inquisition. He was convicted, defrocked, handed over to the secular 
authorities by his archbishop and publicly burned at the stake in front of the 
archbishop’s palace. 84 Later, his young accomplice, Francisco Legasteca, 
who had been awaiting trial in Royal Prison, was also found guilty of 
sodomy and despite his young age, was also consigned to the flames as a 
warning to others who had been part of Jaime’s pederast network, Perry 
noted. 85 

Sodomy in Renaissance England 

In comparison with its European counterparts, the Renaissance came 
relatively late to England—starting in the late 1400s and ebbed in the mid- 
1600s. It was a period of English history when religion was intimately tied 
to politics and the crime of sodomy viewed as a treasonable act by the 
Crown. 

As documented by Alan Bray, author of Homosexuality in Renaissance 
England, in both Elizabethan and Jacobean England, the Protestant 
Reformers propagated the view that the vice of sodomy was a foreign 
import—introduced to the isle by the Lombards and Papists—more specif¬ 
ically, the Jesuit Order. 86 

In popular literature of the period, the papacy itself was portrayed as a 
“second Sodom” and a “cistern full of sodomy,” and the Jesuits as Rome’s 
Antichrist shock troops and the natural enemies of the State. 87 

From their pulpits, Protestant ministers condemned priestly celibacy as 
a cause of sexual deviancy in religious life, while upholding marriage for the 
clergy as a natural remedy for concupiscence and a “bulwark against sexual 
debauchery.” 88 Scriptural references to God’s destruction of Sodom and 
Gomorrah as a punishment for the sodomy was another popular theme for 


84 



THE RENAISSANCE 


their sermons as was the connection of sodomy to heresy and witchcraft 
and sorcery. 89 

English Catholics in turn were wont to blame the “unspeakable” vice on 
the influx of Protestants from the Continent. 90 Historian Cynthia B. Herrup 
recalled that the well known English Benedictine monk Father Augustine 
Baker in the late 1500s, charged that sodomy was “the greatest corruption 
in our land” and he warned the youth of Oxford and Cambridge to be alert 
to possible homosexual solicitation. 91 A warning, not with some basis in 
fact, for in 1541 Reverend Nicholas Udall, the headmaster of Eton, was 
prosecuted by the Privy Council for alleged sexual transgressions including 
buggery. 92 

A Portrait of an English “Bugger” 

Like his Continental counterpart, the English Renaissance man did not 
conceive of the sodomite or bugger, as he was popularly called, as a man 
with a different and distinct nature, but rather the general product of a life¬ 
time of material luxury and sexual excesses of all kinds. The portrayal of 
sodomy as a vice to which the English gentry, more specifically, the London 
gentry, were addicted, was a common theme in Elizabethan writings and 
the theater, whereas common folk were portrayed as having more normal 
sexual desires, said Bray. 93 In actuality, sodomy appeared to have perme¬ 
ated all levels of English society, the fact that it was a felony punishable by 
hanging until death, not withstanding. 

In early Renaissance England, the two primary factors said to contribute 
to the spread of the vice were the historical pattern of late marriage and the 
social reality of crowded housing that forced non-family members, espe¬ 
cially unmarried servants and apprentices, to share the same bed. Also, at 
a time when blood-lines and inheritance laws were matters of grave politi¬ 
cal and social importance, the natural consequence of producing bastard 
sons from unions with female prostitutes or female servants could be elim¬ 
inated altogether by taking one’s pleasures with adolescent boys from the 
lower classes. The sexual libertine, obviously, did not need any excuse. 

As in Renaissance Florence and Venice, with the exception of mutual 
sex play between adolescent partners or groups of boys, sodomy was gen¬ 
erally defined in pederastic terms, that is, as same-sex relations involving 
an active male adult and a passive adolescent boy drawn from the poorer 
working class. 

Sometimes, the dominant partner was a married man and father from 
the upper classes who managed to live out a secret or discreet life as a lover 
of boys,” but as Bray noted, in any case neither party was under pressure 
to define themselves solely by their sexual acts.” 94 

According to Bray, while there is historical evidence that some of these 
pederastic relationships involved mutual affection and friendship, more 
often than not, the elements of material and financial enticements played 


85 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


the decisive role in the relationship. Also, he added, the element of coer¬ 
cion, actual or potential, can be said to be a factor especially in those sex¬ 
ual liaisons involving employers and their young apprentices; teachers and 
their underage pupils; or masters and their male servants or pages. 

All classes of English society had access to the services of boy prosti¬ 
tutes housed in tavern brothels that catered to clientele seeking same-sex 
relations, said Bray. 95 

Anti-Sodomy Laws Not Enforced 

Although the police records and court proceedings for sodomy trials 
during the Renaissance period in England are no where as complete and 
detailed as those of their Italian counterparts, they do provide some infor¬ 
mation on the extent to which the vice was prosecuted and on the existence 
and operations of various urban networks or circles of sodomites. 

From the surviving official documents and other historical data, it 
appears that up until the mid-1650s, law enforcement officials in major 
urban centers like London and in rural areas did not view sodomy as a spe¬ 
cial type of sexual offense that demanded exclusive attention or vigorous 
prosecution. Renaissance England did not have an equivalent to the Office 
of the Night nor was the Inquisition ever formally established as a major 
juridical force in England as it was on the Continent. 

Sodomy cases that made it to the English courts, said Bray, generally 
involved violence against minors including homosexual rape; notorious 
incidents involving a grave breach of the social order; and those involving 
“malicious intent,” that is, where the charge of sodomy was leveled against 
a prominent personage as a means of destroying his reputation and influ¬ 
ence. But even in these cases, the successful prosecution of sodomites was 
uncommon. 

To understand the apparent discrepancy between the popular senti¬ 
ments of the day that viewed sodomy as a grave offense against God and 
the Crown, and the general lack of enforcement of anti-sodomy statues, it 
is necessary to briefly examine the language as well as the legislative intent 
of England’s early anti-sodomy statutes. 

The Buggery Act, as it was known, was drafted and promulgated by 
Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s Lord Chancellor and an important archi¬ 
tect of the English Reformation in 1533, two years before England’s formal 
schism with Rome. Although the law, no doubt, accurately reflected the 
strong popular sentiments against the vice, the primary motivation for its 
passage was political not moral. Its aim was not so much the suppression of 
sodomy as it was the removal of the Catholic Church’s jurisdiction in the 
matter. For in addition to making sodomy a felony punishable by death, the 
statute permitted the Crown to seize the property and lands of convicted 
sodomites including members of the clergy, thus providing still another 


86 



THE RENAISSANCE 


excuse for Henry VIII’s wholesale looting of the great monastic houses of 
England. 

It is one of those fascinating footnotes of history that in July of 1540 
when the disgraced Cromwell made his way to the scaffold (he made a pub¬ 
lic confession of faith in the Catholic Church immediately before his execu¬ 
tion), he was accompanied to the place of execution by Walter, the 1st Lord 
of Hungerford, who was condemned to death for committing sodomy with 
his manservants as well as harboring an alleged enemy of the Crown. 96 

Over the next 100 years, the provisions of the 1533 law would undergo 
some modifications. For example, in 1548, King Edward VI approved an 
amendment to the law that excluded the confiscation of a convicted felon’s 
property by the Crown. The law was repealed for a short period by 
Edward’s successor, the Catholic Queen Mary I as part of a general over¬ 
haul of the Protestant legislation she had inherited from Edward. However, 
Mary’s reign proved short. When Queen Elizabeth I ascended the English 
throne in 1563 she re-instituted her father’s anti-sodomy law in its original 
form. 97 

According to Herrup, throughout the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods, 
the language of anti-sodomy legislation was expressed in ecclesiastical 
rather than common law terms. The definition of sodomy included not only 
“carnal knowledge between two men,” but also bestiality and unnatural 
(anal) coitus between a man and a woman. 98 An important feature of 
English law was that penetration alone determined the felony. 99 

This singular requirement necessary for conviction in sodomy cases 
was difficult, if not impossible, for non-participants to prove. Also, most 
same-sex affairs involved an adult and a minor from the lower class, whose 
testimony like that of a women, was generally held to be unreliable. The 
issue of class distinction also carried over to cases involving two adult 
males since these usually involved a man from the aristocracy and a lower 
class subordinate in his employ. Further, by bringing the case to the atten¬ 
tion of the courts, the accuser automatically implicated himself in a felo¬ 
nious act punishable by death, Herrup pointed out. And, when all else 
failed, there was always bribery and the intimidation of witnesses. 100 

Although many confirmed sodomites, from all classes, may have eluded 
the scaffold or gallows on legal technicalities, it does not follow that they 
escaped punishment altogether. The public humiliation and ostracism of 
known sodomites including their confinement in the stocks were painful 
enough reminders of the horror with which the general populace viewed 
acts of buggery. 

It is interesting to note that a common, though not necessarily untruth¬ 
ful ploy used by the defense in buggery cases, especially those involving 
the aristocracy, was the claim that the defendant was in an intoxicated state 
when the alleged act occurred, thus, he could not be held culpable for his 
actions. 101 


87 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Three examples of how all the multi-faceted contingencies of the law 
against sodomy actually played themselves out in Renaissance England can 
be found in the Christopher Marlowe murder trial of the late Elizabethan 
period; the Castlehaven Affair of the post-Jacobean period; and the Molly 
House trials of the early 18th century. Each case is unique in its own right. 

Sodomy, Spying, Murder and Mayhem 

Catholic and Protestant Intriguing in Renaissance England 

The Reckoning by Charles Nicholl is a masterful re-creation and re¬ 
examination of the circumstances and events leading up to the trial of 
Ingram Frizer for the murder of the famous Elizabethan playwright 
Christopher Marlowe on May 30, 1593—a murder in which “lewd” and 
“unnatural passions” were rumored to have played a part. 10 -’ 

In fact, the murder probably had little if anything to do with Marlowe’s 
alleged homosexual proclivities, and everything to do with his secret life as 
a spy and intriguer in the service of the Crown under the direction of the 
brilliant spy master (later Sir) Francis Walsingham, a Renaissance version 
of a modern James Bond. 

Marlowe was recruited into the world of smoke and mirrors in the mid- 
1580s while studying for holy orders at Corpus Christi College, one of the 
ancient colleges of the University of Cambridge. He continued his espi¬ 
onage career long after he had forsaken the Anglican Church for a success¬ 
ful career in London as a playwright and dramatist. 

As reported by Nicholl, Marlowe posed as a defector to the Catholic 
cause in support of Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots against her cousin Queen 
Elizabeth I. He was said to have played a role in the ill-fated Babington Plot 
of 1586 to kill the Queen and place Mary on the English throne. 103 

Earlier, while still at Cambridge, Marlowe was given an assignment to 
penetrate influential Catholic circles across the channel in Rheims, home of 
the English College that trained Catholic seminarians, priests and mission¬ 
aries (and spies, recruiters and infiltrators) for their eventual return to 
England and the nation’s conversion back to the One True Faith. It remains 
unclear if he ever actually carried out the mission. 104 In any case, it is these 
events, rather than Marlowe’s rumored homosexual affairs, that drew my 
particular attention when reading The Reckoning for reasons that will soon 
be made clear. 

On May 18, 1593, twelve days before his death, Nicholl said that 
Marlowe was called before the Privy Council to answer charges that he was 
a blasphemer and a practicing homosexual. Information concerning the 
playwright’s anti-religious and hostile views toward Scripture had already 
been obtained (under torture) from Marlowe’s former roommate, Thomas 
Kyd. 105 

Another witness against Marlowe, said Nicholl, was a man of the cloth, 
one Reverend Richard Baines who said that he had heard Marlowe blas- 


88 



THE RENAISSANCE 


pheme the Lord by saying that, “St John the Evangelist was bedfellow to 
Christ, and used him as the sinners of Sodoma.” 106 Baines urged that “the 
mouth of so dangerous a member should be stopped.” 107 This latter remark 
was certainly a strange one for a clergyman to utter, but then the Reverend 
Baines was not your ordinary run of the mill minister. He was, like 
Marlowe, a long-time spy and intriguer for the Crown, with a most unusual 
background as an infiltrator and spy against the Catholic Church and would- 
be traitors to the Crown. 

Treachery in the English Seminary 

The young Baines was one of Walsingham’s earliest recruits at 
Cambridge. The ambitious and enterprising lad began his studies at 
Christ’s College, but on cue from his controllers later transferred to Caius 
College in Trinity Street that was home to a large contingent of Catholics. 
Here he became known, in espionage parlance, as a “sleeper.” 

In 1578, Baines was “activated” and sent to Rheims where he enrolled 
as a seminary student at the English College where Walsingham had 
already established an extensive spy network. 

As related by Nicholl, the spymaster’s agents gathered military and 
political intelligence on the French government and English emigres in 
Paris as well as the Catholic religious and lay leaders of the College. They 
also attempted to intercept communications between the College and the 
Vatican, as well as provide the Crown’s secret service with advance warn¬ 
ing of priests entering England, said Nicholl. 108 Within the College itself, 
the English agents were instructed to create maximum friction and dissat¬ 
isfaction among the seminarians and between the seminarians and their 
superiors, reported Nicholl. 109 

Life at the College was very austere. It revolved solely around study 
and prayer. Its seminarians, drawn from England and the Continent, were 
instantly recognizable by their traditional black gowns and tricorn hats. 
There was a great espirit de corps among these young soldiers of Christ, 
many of whom were willing to risk torture and death should they be 
captured on English soil. 

Then, of course, there were men like Baines who were equally dedi¬ 
cated to the cause of the Crown. From what we know of his four years at 
the College, he spent every waking moment plotting against the Catholic 
Church and her ministers, especially the College’s president Dr. (later 
Cardinal) William Allen, while outwardly attending or saying Mass and 
professing his dedication and love for Christ and His Church. 

As reported by Nicholl, Baines was raised to the sub-deaconate and dea- 
conate in March and May of 1581 and was ordained a Catholic priest on 
September 1581. 110 He continued his efforts to insinuate himself deeper 
into the inner circles of senior officials to discover their secret plans and 


89 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


projects and to spread discontent and rebellion against authority among the 
young seminarians; deeds for which Walsingham was said to pay well. 111 

Some of the techniques cited by Nicholl that Baines used to spread dis- 
sention among the young men at the seminary included the use of “licen¬ 
tious” talk to stimulate carnal passions; breeding contempt and resentment 
for the strict discipline and rules of the College and against those superiors 
who enforced the rules; and the urging of hatred of things holy including 
sacred doctrine. 112 

Eventually Baines’ cover was blown, but the College Council did not 
immediately act upon the revelation until he approached Allen about 
returning to England as a missionary in May 1582. After his unmasking, 
said Nicholl, Baines was held at the local jail for almost a year and then 
transferred back to the College where he made a signed confession in 
which he stated he had conceived of a plan to kill Allen, indeed the whole 
College if he could, by poisoning the seminary’s water system. 113 

After a time, Allen permitted him to return to England where he con¬ 
tinued in Walsingham’s service as a man of property and prominent 
Protestant minister in Lincolnshire, reported Nicholl. 114 

Baines, as noted earlier, was certainly not alone in his treachery. 

Another traitor at the College cited by Nicholl was John Nicols, a semi¬ 
narian from Rome who deserted to the English government. 

There was also the case of Gilbert Gifford who enrolled at the College 
at Rheims in 1577 when he was 16 years old. Although he was thought to 
be a Catholic youth of exceptional merit, somewhere along the line the 
English managed to “turn” him also. 

Nicholl, confirmed that Gifford had two primary targets. One was his 
cousin Dr. William Gifford, a Professor of Theology, over whom it is said his 
cousin had a sinister hold. The second was a young man by the name of 
John Savage whom Gifford persuaded to pledge a solemn oath to kill Queen 
Elizabeth. 115 Savage later became one of the conspirators in the Babington 
Plot that was secretly macro-managed by Walsingham. 

Gifford himself returned to England in December of 1585 by which time 
Walsingham was ready to move against the plotters and successfully rid the 
Queen of her rival, Mary Queen of Scots. Gifford, who was born into a poor 
family, soon became a wealthy man—no doubt a reward for his outstanding 
services to his spymaster and the Crown. 116 

Naturally, the English College at Rheims was not the only Catholic insti¬ 
tution infiltrated by English spies working for the Crown. 

Nicholl cited the case of Salomon Aldred, a “turned” Catholic and tailor 
by trade, who infiltrated the English College seminary at Rome and later 
became a spy for Walsingham in France. Aldred was described in a some¬ 
what contemptuous manner by his controller thusly: “He is one in show 
simple, but better acquainted with Romish practices against England 


90 



THE RENAISSANCE 


than any. ...He is unnatural, and of little honesty, yet he is very worth the 
winning.” 117 

Another young Catholic who spied at the seminary for the Crown was 
Charles Sledd who specialized in producing anti-Catholic caricatures of 
prominent figures like Allen. 118 

Of all these Renaissance figures from the “secret theater” of espionage, 
it is Richard Baines who remains the most intriguing. 119 

Baines never “turned.” He was never a “defector” from the Faith. He 
had no vocation, no calling to the priesthood that could be said to have 
“soured.” He was, in fact, never even a Catholic! He simply entered the 
seminary and got himself ordained a Catholic priest for the sole purpose of 
spying on the Church. 

The Baines case is very important to this study because it demon¬ 
strates in a concrete way that the infiltration of the Catholic priesthood as 
an agent provocator is not merely a figment of a “deranged” and “conspira¬ 
torial” imagination. It actually happened! It happened in 16th century 
Renaissance England. And it would happen again, more than 300 years later 
as part of Stalin’s campaign to infiltrate and undermine the Catholic Church 
in England and throughout Europe and the United States. 120 

“A House in Gross Disorder” 

The Trial of the Earl of Castlehaven 

In her exquisitely crafted book, A House in Gross Disorder, Cynthia 
Herrup presents a detailed history and analysis of this late Renaissance 
tragedy that reads like a modern Gothic novel. 

In 1631, Mervin Touchet, the 2nd Earl and 12th Baron of Castlehaven 
was tried, convicted and executed along with two of his accomplices for a 
sundry of sexual crimes that included voyeurism, rape, incest, group sex, 
adultery and sodomy. The original charges against the Earl that included 
rape and sodomy had been brought by his eldest son and heir, James (Lord 
Audley). 

As Herrup related, during the trial, Lord Audley testified that his wife 
was pressured into having sexual relations with his father’s manservants 
including Henry Skipwith (while the Earl occasionally looked on) and that 
he Games) feared the loss of his inheritance to Skipwith, a “favorite” of his 
sodomite father. 121 Skipwith was also accused of being sexually involved 
with Lord Audley’s stepmother, wrote Herrup. 122 

In an unusual judicial ruling, the Court permitted the Earl’s (second) 
wife, Anne, to give incriminating evidence against her own husband and his 
cohorts. Herrup reported that the Countess testified that she was 
restrained by the Earl while he watched her page, Giles Broadway, rape her. 
She also admitted having sexual relations with her son-in-law, John Anktill, 
and confirmed that her husband regularly sodomized his manservants and 
other household attendants including his footman. 123 


91 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Other testimony indicated that the Earl, the father of six children by his 
first wife, played both the active and passive role with his manservants and 
was obsessed with and dominated by them, a shocking and dangerous 
reversal of class norms. 124 Clearly, there were a number of overriding 
issues involving the undermining of an entire social structure and the vio¬ 
lation of the honor of the ruling class that went beyond his indictment for 
sodomy. 

Unfortunately for the Earl of Castlehaven, his total amorality was not 
the only factor weighing in against his acquittal. Although he held mem¬ 
bership in the Church of England (witnesses charged he was an atheist), his 
brother was a Catholic and both had ties to Ireland at a time when the Irish 
were still battling the English. These were the seeds of treason. Also, as 
Herrup noted, unlike his father, James I and his libertine Jacobean court, 
the current sovereign of the House of Stuart, Charles I, was a man of strict 
and conventional morals in both his private and public life. The idea that a 
member of the aristocracy would abet in the rape of his own wife by his own 
manservants had sent shock waves through Whitehall. 

Still, it was possible that Mervin might have been able to escape with 
his life had he shown any sign of repentance. He did not. He continued to 
declare he was innocent of the charges against him, said Herrup. 125 

The actual trial lasted only one day. On April 25, 1631, the judge and 
jury made up of 27 peers including friends of the Countess rendered their 
verdict—guilty. 126 Knowing the king was against the Earl of Castlehaven 
had made that a foregone conclusion. However, it was widely believed that 
Charles would commute the death sentence especially as Lord Audley 
asked for mercy for his father and the distinguished Touchet family lineage 
went back to antiquity. But the king did not. 

The Earl was beheaded on Tower Hill and two of his minions, Broadway 
and Florence Fitzpatrick (who had been promised immunity) were hanged 
at Tyburn three months later. 127 

Had the Castlehaven scandal been simply a case of a master bugging his 
servant, it probably never would have come to trial. However, as Herrup 
concluded, it was the grave social and political implications of the Earl’s 
acts, rather than the acts themselves, that made his downfall inevitable— 
an important observation that is applicable to the debate over homosexual¬ 
ity in our own times. 

The “Molly House” Trials 

Our third and final example of the application of English anti-sodomy 
laws takes us to the end of the English Renaissance period. Here we return 
to the writings of Alan Bray. 

In the spring of 1726, acting under pressure from the Societies for 
Reformation of Manners, a lay committee for the monitoring of public 
morals, the London police conducted a sting operation against the house of 


92 



THE RENAISSANCE 


Margaret Clap in Field Lane, off Holborn, and other “molly houses” 
located in taverns and private homes north of the Thames. 128 As far as the 
Societies were concerned the action was long overdue, reported Bray. 
Earlier police raids against these sodomite haunts conducted in 1699 and 
1707 had apparently not been effective in halting the proliferation of the 
gatherings of all-male debauchees that had been a part of the London social 
scene for more than 100 years. 129 

Molly is the familiar pet form or diminutive of the female name Mary. 
Originally, “molly” was slang for a female prostitute, but later the term 
came to be identified with same-sex devotees who exhibited exaggerated 
effeminate traits and mannerisms. 130 

Although, some writers contend that mollies were drawn from all the 
social classes, including the aristocracy, it is more probable that the lower 
and lower-middle classes predominated at these establishments. 131 

The molly house was, in fact, a male homosexual brothel. According to 
Bray, by the early 1700s, it had become a society within a society—com¬ 
plete with its own jargon, designated cruising areas, customs and rules. 132 
Here men gathered to drink, sing, dance, flirt, gossip, arrange assignations 
and engage in sex with each other or with young male prostitutes hired by 
the proprietors. 

The hallmark of a molly was his extravagance in effeminacy and trans¬ 
vestism, claimed Bray. 133 There was a secret set of signals by which mol¬ 
lies could identify one another. One molly house described by Bray featured 
a room called “the chapel” where men played husband and wife as if it were 
their “wedding night.” 134 Male and female roles were interchangeable. 

At the molly house, Renaissance men with same-sex desires let down 
their hair, figuratively and literally. They wore make-up and adorned them¬ 
selves in female clothing or costumes all the while assuming female voices 
and airs and prancing about with a mincing gait and other caricaturized 
mannerisms of the feminine gender. In other words, mollies were what we 
call today, “flaming queens.” 

As Randolph Trumbach noted in his essay “The Birth of the Queen: 
sodomy and the Emergence of Gender equality in Modern Culture 
1660-1750,” to effect the feminine identity associated with the passive or 
receptive role, the molly was required to adapt artificial help in terms of 
clothing, mannerisms and feminine names. 135 On the other hand, if the 
molly was taking the active role, such adaptations were unnecessary. 

Whether one chooses to identify the mollies, as “homosexual transves¬ 
tites” or “cross-dressing homosexuals,” one thing is clear—they were ulti¬ 
mately organized for the sole purpose of procuring male same-sex partners. 
As Bray suggested, no one ever entered a molly house ignorant of the type 
of trade it provided or the nature of and penalties attached to the homosex¬ 
ual acts committed therein. 136 


93 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


One unusual aspect of London’s molly house was that it served as a 
homosexual enclave for adult sodomites who engaged in sex with each 
other as well as young boys. True, there were some English rakes who 
equated radical politics with radical sex and who sought out the sexual 
diversions and irreverent atmosphere of the molly house offered along with 
houses of female prostitution. However, it appears that most of the patrons 
of the molly houses were adult men who were exclusively drawn to other 
adult men or boys for sexual gratification. The “he-whore” had no interest 
in women, remarked Trumbach. 137 In this sense then, there were some 
mollies in 18the century England whose behaviors and sexual preference 
were characteristic of the modern effeminate homosexual. 

The fact that sodomites were having sexual relations, both active and 
passive, with other adult males at the molly houses did produce some inter¬ 
esting legal implications including the possibility of blackmail and its atten¬ 
dant dangers of public exposure, scandal and possible suicide, suggested 
Trumbach. 138 Homosexual acts with young boys whose testimony in court 
could easily be dismissed were one thing. Homosexual acts with other adult 
males was quite a different matter. These men were playing a dangerous 
game and they knew it. 

Under English law, it was homosexual acts leading to penetration and 
ejaculation that lead to convictions for sodomy and the gallows. 139 

The sensational Clap trial led to the conviction and hanging of three 
men in May 1726. 140 Additional trials followed in July, but these appeared 
to have attracted less public attention, the novelty of the molly perhaps 
having been worn a bit thin. By the mid-1700s, most of the molly houses 
were discovered and closed down. But the concept of a “molly” as an effem¬ 
inate sodomite and a prototype of a male homosexual continued to linger on 
in English society for decades, indeed well into modem times. 

Sodomy Charges Against Three Renaissance Popes 

Before leaving the Renaissance period, I should like to touch upon the 
delicate issue of the three Renaissance popes to whom the label of 
sodomite has been affixed by various writers and historians and whose 
names appear on various “queer” lists as homosexuals. They are Pope Paul 
II, Pope Sixtus IV and most importantly, Pope Julius III. 

With regard to the charges against the first two of these popes, Paul II 
and Sixtus IV the historical evidence against them is virtually non-existent. 

Pietro Barbo, the future Pope Paul II was born in Venice in 1417 to 
Niccolo Barbo and Polixena Condulmer, the sister of Pope Eugene IV 
(1431-1447). After studying for a career in business, the pope’s nephew 
changed his mind and entered the priesthood where he quickly advanced 
from Archdeacon of Bologna to cardinal deacon in 1440. Barbo was elected 
pope in 1464 largely as a reaction against the policies of his predecessor, 
Pope Pius II. Known personally for both his generosity to the poor and his 


94 



THE RENAISSANCE 


love of display and gala festivals, the imposing Paul II did not hesitate to use 
his office to prosecute heretics in France and Germany and to attempt to 
restore order in the Papal States. 141 

With regard to matters of faith and morals, the pope demonstrated a 
great concern regarding the growing influence of the half-pagan and mat¬ 
erialistic side of the Humanist Movement in various Church discasteries. 
In 1466, he abolished the College of Abbreviators that was charged with 
the abridging of papal decrees and edicts before they went to the copyists. 
He also moved to suppress the Roman Academy on the grounds of gross 
immorality on the part of some of its members. Naturally these actions 
ignited a strong negative reaction from those intellectuals and prominent 
public figures who stood to loose their profitable stipends and the many 
privileges associated with the office. 142 

Among those so affected was the well-known Humanist writer and 
archivist Bartolomeo Sacchi, known as Platina, who enjoyed membership in 
both the College of Abbreviators and the Roman Academy. 143 

Platina got his revenge against Paul II five years after the pope’s death 
in a calumnious biography in which he charges his archenemy with being a 
sodomite and a lover of young boys. In fact, Paul II had a reputation for 
sternness in his private conduct and we know he used his office to attack 
immorality, even within the Curia itself. Given Platina’s well-known griev¬ 
ances against the pope, and since there appears to be no collaborative 
testimony to support the charges of gross immorality, this writer is inclined 
to side in favor of Pope Paul II and against Platina. 

The second pope to be charged with sodomy was Pope Sixtus IV a 
radically different personality than his predecessor Paul II to whom he 
owed his ecclesiastical good fortune. 

Francesco della Rovere, the future Pope Sixtus IV was born in humble 
surroundings near Abisola on July 21, 1414. After entering the Franciscan 
Order, he gained eminence as an outstanding student of philosophy and 
theology at the University of Pavia and later rose to the office of procurator. 
In 1467 Pope Paul II created him Cardinal of S. Pietro in Vincoli. Four years 
later, with the death of Paul II, della Rovere himself ascended the Chair of 
Peter. 

Unfortunately for the Church and for the new pope, Sixtus IV’s energies 
were immediately consumed in a series of pressing political struggles both 
within and without the Papal States. Also, his penchant for nepotism entan¬ 
gled the pontiff in some unsavory Italian political intrigues including the 
disastrous Pazzi Conspiracy headed by the pope’s nephew, Cardinal 
Raffaele Sansone Riario, that was designed to bring about the overthrow of 
the Medici and bring Florence under the rule of the House of Riarii. 144 

Although Sixtus IV is remembered in his history as a political rather 
than religious leader, his pontificate was not altogether marked by secular 
interests. He vigorously attacked the heretical doctrine of the Waldenses 


95 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


and was a well-known patron of arts and letters. Unlike Pope Paul II, his 
attitude toward the Renaissance was decidedly positive and he was credited 
with being the second founder of the Vatican Library. Not without a touch 
of irony, Sixtus IV turned over the management of the library to none other 
than Platina who held the office until his death in 1481. 

As to his private life and personal morals Sixtus IV was held to be 
blameless. 

So where did the charges of sodomy against him originate? With a polit¬ 
ical enemy and a life-long conspirator against the Papal government by the 
name of Stefano Infessura. 145 

Born at Rome circa 1435, Infessura was a lawyer by profession and 
served for many years as the secretary to the Roman Senate. He was no¬ 
torious for his anti-papal sentiments and political intrigues including a 
conspiracy against Pope Nicholas V Indeed his life’s work was dedicated to 
the destruction of the Papal States and the transformation of Rome into a 
republic. 

In 1494, Infessura wrote a scurrilous attack on the papacy in the form 
of a chronicle titled, Diarium urbis Romae (Diario della Citta di Roma 
1294-1494). The work, later widely used by Protestants against the 
Church, contained all manner of gossip and rumors of Roman society 
including a host of calumnies against the morals of the Papal Court, which 
during the Renaissance period was certainly not always of the highest cal¬ 
iber. But Infessura did not stop there. Where calumnies against certain ene¬ 
mies were wanting, he created them, as were the charges of incestuous 
pederasty and sodomy made against Pope Sixtus IV 

As evidence in support of these charges, Infessura cited the pope’s 
appointment of his two favorite nephews, Pietro Riario, a Franciscan, and 
Giuliano della Rovere (the future Pope Julius II) to the cardinalate. He then 
went on to claim that the young men became their uncle’s lovers. 

Infessura’s charges of nepotism against Sixtus IV were true. His 
nephews Pietro and Giuliano received their red hats on December 16,1471. 
Raffaele Sansone Riario, not quite 17 years old, received his red hat on 
December 10,1477 along with two other relatives, Cristoforo della Rovere 
and Girolamo Basso della Rovere. 146 Their main qualification for the office 
was that they were family. In these turbulent times, a pope needed to sur¬ 
round himself with men he could trust and this need generally translated 
itself into papal appointments of family members. 

Of Cardinal Pietro Riario (1445-1474) we know little except for the fact 
that he lived the life of a Renaissance prince and became a generous patron 
of the arts and scholarship. He is remembered for the building of the 
Cancelleria Palace allegedly financed from the winnings of one night of dice 
play with the nephew of Pope Innocent VIII. In his personal conduct, the 
unanimous verdict of history was that he lived an immoral life but no 
rumors of homosexuality were attached to his love affairs. 


96 



THE RENAISSANCE 


Cardinal Giuliano della Rovere, proved more worthy of his office. A sol¬ 
dier at heart, he undertook many diplomatic and military tasks for Pope 
Innocent VIII (1484-1492) over whom he held considerable influence. 
Under the Borgia pope Alexander VI (1492-1503) he did not fare as well, 
but nevertheless his ecclesiastical star continued to rise. With the sudden 
death of Pope Pius III on October 18, 1503, after only 26 days in office, 
Giuliano’s moment had arrived. Within hours of the October 31,1503 papal 
conclave he was elected pope and took the name Julius II. 

Under his ten-year reign the Papal States were made secure from inter¬ 
nal struggles and foreign interventions and Italy delivered from its subjec¬ 
tion to France. Interestingly, unlike his uncle, Pope Sixtus IV he was free 
from nepotism. 147 He heard Mass almost daily, often celebrating it himself. 
In 1512, he convoked the Fifth Lateran Council with the intention of insti¬ 
tuting a number of important Church reforms especially within the Roman 
Curia and the monastic orders. 

Let us return now to Infessura’s charges that both Pietro and Giuliano 
served as “catamites” to their pope-uncle Pope Sixtus IV 

First, there is the implausibility that, given the close alliance that 
extended between family members, especially those of great power and 
influence, an uncle, much less a pope-uncle would sexually misuse his own 
natural nephews. Secondly, if hereditary plays any role what-so-ever in 
one’s sexual life, the Rovere lineage was wildly heterosexual and prolific, 
its eminent ecclesiastics not excluded. 

For example, before he became pope, Giuliana fathered three daughters, 
one of whom he gave in marriage to Giovanni Giordano Orsini. 148 Famous 
for his warlike manliness and temperamentally characterized as the pon- 
tefice terribile, it borders upon all credulity to suggest he would submit his 
body for penetration by any man—including his uncle, the pope, no less. 

Later reputable historians of the Renaissance popes have largely dis¬ 
missed the chronicles of Infessura as being grossly unreliable and purpose¬ 
fully maligning. So much so that when Oreste Tommasini, edited the 
Diarium in 1890, all references to Infessura’s accusation of pederasty and 
sodomy against Pope Sixtus IV and his nephews were eliminated on the 
grounds that they lacked any foundation whatsoever in fact. 

The Distinguished Del Monte Family 

Unlike the accusations of sodomy made against Pope Paul II and Pope 
Sixtus IV the charges of unnatural affection between Cardinal Giovanni 
Maria Ciocchi del Monte who became Pope Julius III and the 17-year-old 
Cardinal Innocenzo, appeared during their lifetime. 

Although, once again, the historical evidence appears to disprove that 
the love between the del Monte pope and his adopted nephew was a homo¬ 
erotic one, nevertheless the story of their extraordinary relationship and its 


97 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


tragic consequences is worth retelling, if only to reaffirm the character and 
integrity of one of history’s most maligned popes. 

In Michael L. Doerrer’s historic masterpiece The Life of Cardinal 
Innocenzo Del Monte, A Scandal in Scarlet, we can trace the ecclesiastical 
fortunes—both good and bad—of the del Monte family of Tuscany for 
three generations beginning with the elevation of the most worthy Antonio 
Maria Ciocchi del Monte to the office of cardinal on March 10, 1511. 149 

Antonio assisted Pope Julius II at the Fifth Lateran Council and after 
the death of the old della Rovere pope became a confidant to the youthful 
Cardinal Giovanni de’Medici who took the name of Pope Leo X (1513— 
1521). 150 Antonio was credited with helping to uncover the plot to murder 
the pope and with bringing the would-be assassins to justice. 151 In grati¬ 
tude for his personal service and in recognition of his service to the Church, 
in 1519, Leo X awarded Antonio the See of Albano. 

So esteemed was he among his fellows of the Sacred College that at 
both the 1522 papal conclave following the death of Pope Leo X, and again 
at the 1523 conclave following the death of Pope Adrian VI, Antonio’s name 
was found among the candidates for the papal office. 152 When the honor fell 
to Cardinal Giulio de’ Medici, who reigned for the next 11 years as Pope 
Clement VII, Antonio served him also, both at home and abroad, as he had 
faithfully served the pope’s three predecessors. 

When his brother died, Antonio brought his sister-in-law Margherita 
and her six children to Rome to reside with him, reported Doerrer. He 
raised them as if they were his own taking special care for their spiritual, 
educational and material needs. Later, when his brother, Vincenzo died, 
Antonio likewise aided his widow Crisofora and her children. Of these, the 
eldest son, Giovanni, became the cardinal-uncle’s favorite and the heir 
apparent to the most powerful man in the Church after the pope. 

Pope Julius III—A Great Canonist and Defender of the Faith 

Giovanni Maria (Giammaria) Ciocchi del Monte, the future Pope Julius 
III, was born in Rome on September 10,1487. Following in his father’s foot¬ 
steps, he studied law at Perugia and Siena, and under the tutorage of his 
famous uncle he attended the finest oratory and received his theological 
training under the great Dominican teacher, Ambrosius Catharinus. Thanks 
to Antonio’s influence, Giovanni entered papal service as chamberlain to 
Pope Julius II. In 1512, at the age of 25, he succeeded his uncle as Arch¬ 
bishop of Siponto. 153 

The young prelate later won the favor of both Medici popes. Leo X gave 
him the Diocese of Pavia and continued to retain him for administrative 
purposes at Siponto. Pope Clement VII made him vice-legate of Perugia and 
twice, prefect of Rome. 154 


98 



THE RENAISSANCE 


After the death of his cardinal-uncle on September 20, 1533, Giovanni 
Maria’s star continued to rise on the talented prelate’s own merits. In 1534, 
he was appointed legate to Bologna, the Romagna and Piacenza. 

On October 5,1543 Giovanni Maria received the red hat from the hands 
of Pope Paul III (1534-1549) who later entrusted the new cardinal with the 
preparatory work necessary for convocation of the Council of Trent that 
was called to meet the crisis of the Protestant Reformation. 

On February 6,1545, he was appointed the first president of the Council 
and ten months later, on December 13, 1545 he convened the first session 
of the historic Council that would cover a span of 14 years and would bring 
about major reforms in the life of the Church. 155 

As recorded by Doerrer, in 1547, Pope Paul III relieved Giovanni Maria 
of his duties with regard to the management of the Council due to the 
cardinal’s poor health and made him legate to Bologna where del Monte 
had served 13 years earlier. Doerrer recalled that the inhabitants filled the 
streets with “joyous adulation at the appointment,” a reaffirmation of the 
high esteem in which he was held by the people. 156 

Four years later, following the death of Paul III, Cardinal Giovanni Maria 
Ciocchi del Monte found himself occupying the Chair of Peter as Pope 
Julius III. 

What type of man was the new pope? 

The renowned German church historian Father Hubert Jedin (1900- 
1980) who wrote the definitive history of the Council of Trent, stated that 
del Monte was one of the most skillful canonists of his time with a great 
knowledge of the law and a natural affinity for diplomacy. In the words of 
Doerrer, he possessed, “...that unerring sense of objectivity, that instinc¬ 
tive appreciation of what is politically correct and attainable, which are 
characteristics of the Italian man-of-the-people to this day.” 157 The mem¬ 
bers of the Curia found him a diligent and faithful and honest servant of the 
Church. 158 

As Pope Julius III, he remained a strict defender of the Faith and 
institutions of the Church and a papal leader in the Church’s Counter- 
Reformation. 159 

Pastorally speaking, the pope appeared to have gained the love and 
respect of the populace in the many dioceses where he served, especially 
in Bologna. Perhaps part of his charm was that he never became fully cos¬ 
mopolitan, retaining many of the characteristics of the rural peasants of 
the Tuscany region. He was a distinguished prince of the Church, but his 
personal demeanor was often somewhat coarse and unrefined, confided 
Doerrer. 

He had “an unusual racy and inappropriate sense of humor,” and “an 
unusually melancholy temperament” punctuated by a decidedly short fuse 
and unmovable stubbornness, Doerrer added. 160 Also, good wine was never 


99 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


far away, helping to kill the pain of chronic gout and infections of the eyes 
and teeth and neurological facial problems that plagued his later years. 161 

What his short reign as Pope Julius III might have been like had the eld¬ 
erly del Monte never laid eyes on the young Innocenzo we do not know, but 
there is no doubt that it would have been much more favorable than history 
now records. 

Cardinal Innocenzo—the Last of the Renaissance Princes 

Innocenzo, the future cardinal-prince, was about 15 years old when 
he first met the aging prelate who was then serving as the governor of 
Piacenza. 

Born in 1532, in the northern fortress town of Borgo San Donnino, half 
way between Piacenza and Parma, Innocenzo (not his baptismal name) was 
the illegitimate son of a common soldier and beggar woman who left home 
at the age of 14 to seek his fortune and never looked back. 162 All his life, 
Doerrer tells us, Innocenzo would be driven by an indomitable instinct to 
survive and survive he did, no matter what the cost to those who cared for 
him including his greatest benefactor, Cardinal Giovanni Maria. 

The details of their first meeting are sketchy. According to Doerrer, 
many young men of the neighboring region came to the cardinal’s estab¬ 
lishment seeking work. The story is that Innocenzo attracted the prelate’s 
particular attention when the young boy skillfully wrestled himself free 
from the grasp of the cardinal’s pet ape. Impressed by the youth’s courage 
and spunk, the cardinal brought him into his household where Innocenzo 
served initially as a valero —a combination of footman an'd attendant to the 
sickly prelate. His lack of formal education and over-all coarse behavior, 
which in other households might have mitigated against him, found favor 
with the old del Monte who came to treat the youth with the same affection 
he showed for his own relatives’ grandsons. Soon the witty and charming 
Innocenzo had attached himself to the entire family, Doerrer said. 

Had the cardinal let the matter rest here, we probably never would have 
heard any more about the ill-fated Innocenzo. But once the stubborn old 
man determined that his favorite should be given an opportunity to prove 
himself worthy and advance up the social and ecclesiastical ladder, the 
youth’s fortunes and misfortunes would forever be tied to the del Monte 
name. When, at Giovanni Maria’s request, the cardinal’s brother, 
Boldovino, formally adopted the boy, the relationship between the two men 
was formally sealed. 163 

After seeing to the youth’s general education, the cardinal obtained for 
him a minor position as a provost in the Tuscany Diocese of Arezzo, even 
though it was obvious from the youth’s behavior and temperament, that he 
was totally unsuited for a career in the service of the Church. 

And here, in minor obscurity, he might have remained had not the unex¬ 
pected happened. 


100 



THE RENAISSANCE 


Pope Paul III died suddenly and the elderly del Monte ascended the 
papal throne as Pope Julius III. 

Once again, nepotism swept through the Curia. But as we have already 
seen this was nothing new in the history of the Church. During these dan¬ 
gerous times for the papacy, as Doerrer humorously noted, “Almost every 
cardinalitial consistory was like a little family reunion.” 164 

In a more serious vain, Doerrer noted that while the practice of nepo¬ 
tism is largely disparaged today, during the Renaissance when the Papal 
States and the papacy itself was under constant attack, having one’s rela¬ 
tives in key Church positions served to stabilize Church administration and 
insured loyalty to the reigning pontiff. 

Secondly, is an incontrovertible fact of history, that with the exception 
of his adopted nephew Innocenzo, the confidence that Pope Julius III placed 
in his cardinal-nephews reaped great rewards for the Church during the 
mid-16th and early 17th centuries. 

Among the most praiseworthy of del Monte’s legitimate cardinal- 
nephews listed by Doerrer are: 

• The great reformer Cardinal Fulvio della Corgna. 

• The saintly Cardinal Cristoforo Guidalotti Ciocchi del Monte, a 
Doctor of both civil and canon law. 

• Cardinal Girolamo Simoncelli, Boldovino’s grandson known for his 
great zeal and love for the Church. 

• And the most remarkable of all, Giovanni Maria’s great nephew, 
Saint Roberto de’Nobili, who was made a cardinal at age 12, lived 
an exemplary religious life and died in 1559 with the odor of sanc¬ 
tity at the age of 17, having exhausted his short life in God’s 
service. 165 

Unfortunately Innocenzo was not cut from the same cloth as these men. 
Cardinal Reginald Pole once called him an “impious rogue,” Doerrer said. 166 

When the College of Cardinals heard that the pope intended to raise his 
adopted nephew, a bastardo to boot, there was a sense of outrage especially 
among the leaders of the Counter-Reformation in the Curia who believed, 
with good reason, that the appointment would bring dishonor upon the 
Church. 

Ignoring these protests, Pope Julius III quickly issued a bull legitimiz¬ 
ing Innocenzo (he had done the same for his brother Boldovino’s illegiti¬ 
mate son Fabiano) and in a secret consistory on July 2, 1550 gave him the 
red hat. 107 He then made Innocenzo papal legate to Bologna. Soon, said 
Doerrer, the young prelate was living the life any Medici prince would envy. 168 

With regard to his new ecclesiastical appointment, Innocenzo was never 
more than a figurehead. When the elderly del Monte realized he had made 
a grievous error in selecting Innocenzo for the dual political and diplomatic 
role for which the young man had absolutely no qualifications, he gave his 


101 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


cardinal-nephew’s tasks over to the capable Cardinal Girolamo Dandini, 
Doerrer recorded. 169 This left Innocenzo free to indulge his baser passions 
which included a string of scandalous love affairs including one with his 
future sister-in-law, the poetess Donna Ersilia Cortese. 170 

Whether or not such behavior ever motivated Julius III to consider 
reducing Innocenzo to a lay-state remains in the realm of conjecture. The 
pope was made aware of the Cortese affair which threatened to become a 
public scandal of the first order, but he did nothing to defend the reputation 
of the del Monte family. By this time, Pope Julius III was in failing health 
due to the advancement of gout that made eating too painful. He died liter¬ 
ally of starvation on March 23, 1555 and was buried in Saint Peter’s crypt. 
His plain tomb bearing the name Papa Julius III. 171 

Cardinal Innocenzo was now on his own. He was just 23 years old. 

With the death of his great benefactor—the only person that he proba¬ 
bly ever truly loved and who loved him back—the young Cardinal 
Innocenzo knew his fortunes had taken a turn for the worse. Would he, 
could he reform his life and become worthy of the del Monte name? 

Tragically, the answer was no. 

According to Doerrer, four of the next five popes tried to bring about his 
conversion, but the task proved hopeless. Innocenzo proved to be immune 
to the tidal wave of reform within the Church. 

By the time of his death at the age of 46 on All Souls’ Day, November 2, 
1577, Cardinal Innocenzo had sustained years of imprisonment for staining 
the purple with the murder of at least two innocent men and other crimi¬ 
nal offenses including rapine—offenses for which he remained un¬ 
repentant. 172 He was buried within hours of his death, unattended and 
without ceremony, in the del Monte chapel in the Church of San Pietro 
in Montorio in Tuscany—the “last true Renaissance cardinal-prince,” 
Doerrer concluded. 173 

As to the lingering question as to whether or not there was any homo¬ 
sexual attachment between the elderly del Monte and his young protege, 
or if the relationship was simply one of the love of an indulgent old man for 
a disadvantaged youth born into grinding poverty, let us examine the evi¬ 
dence that Doerrer puts before us. 

But before doing so, it should be noted that prior to the publication of 
the Doerrer book, the popular view as expressed both in the popular media 
and homosexual circles was that the rumors of sodomy against Pope Julius 
III were true. 

In the anti-Catholic work Unzipped—The Popes Bare All by Arthur 
Frederick Ide, published by American Atheist Press in 1987, the author 
stated that Julius III had Innocenzo for a lover. 174 

In Pedophiles and Priests—Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis (1966), 
writer Philip Jenkins, a non-Catholic, labeled Pope Julius III as an active 
homosexual who raised his young lover to the rank of cardinal. 175 


102 



THE RENAISSANCE 


The “updated” version of the initial liaison between Cardinal del Monte 
and young Innocenzo as seen through the lavender lens of various “Queer” 
websites, is that Cardinal Giovanni “discovered” Innocenzo, while roaming 
the streets of Parma (not Piacenza) in search of a young male prostitute on 
whom he could slake his homosexual passions. 176 

Fortunately for posterity, in Scandal in Scarlet, Doerrer devoted an 
entire chapter titled “Zeus and Ganymede?” that is meant to answer these 
grievous charges. With the skill of an experienced surgeon, the young 
George Washington University scholar excised fact from fiction and made a 
final determination that these accusations of moral turpitude against Pope 
Julius XIII and Cardinal Innocenzo were “without factual foundation.” 177 

According to Doerrer, the myth of Pope Julius Ill’s homosexual -rela¬ 
tionship with Innocenzo can be traced back to two sources. 

The first, is a letter written in 1551 by Matteo Dandolo, the Venetian 
ambassador in Rome during the early years of Julius Ill’s pontificate, to the 
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V. In a familiar chatty style, Dandolo retold 
the story of the young Innocenzo’s tryst with the cardinal’s pet ape and how 
the cardinal “came to like the boy as much as he liked the ape.” 178 He then 
added that del Monte provided the youth “with food and clothing, and he 
soon allowed the boy into his bedroom and into his own bed—as if he were 
a son or a nephew.” 179 

Was Dandolo insinuating that theirs was a homosexual relationship? It 
does not appear so. Seen within its proper context, the meaning of this ref¬ 
erence is rather forthright. The diplomat is voicing the opinion that the 
cardinal treated Innocenzo just like he would a son (or grandson) or 
nephew—a relationship that would obviously not have included buggery. 

According to Doerrer, Innocenzo most likely served as the cardinal’s 
valet de chambre, that is, he attended to the elderly and sickly del Monte’s 
needs during the night, a not uncommon practice that continues in the 
Church today among very elderly and sickly prelates not excluding the 
pope himself. 180 The fact that he Innocenzo shared the old man’s bed is 
simply an acknowledgment of practical sleeping arrangements that were 
customary during the Renaissance period. 

Interestingly, Danolo noted that the affection shown by the prelate for 
Innocenzo was so remarkable that it gave rise to a rumor that the youth 
was actually his own son, a back-handed way of affirming that the old 
cardinal possessed normal sexual inclinations. 181 Certainly, as has Doerrer 
pointed out, all of Giovanni Maria’s sisters and brother were extremely pro¬ 
lific—allowing as many children as God would provide. There is no reason 
to assume that had the prelate chose to eschew the religious life and mar¬ 
ried, he would have likewise fathered a large and extensive family. 182 

The second source cited by Doerrer comes from the poisoned pen of the 
16th century chronicler, lawyer and diplomat Johann Philippson (1506- 
1556), better known as Johan Sleidan. As a Protestant partisan in service to 


103 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


the German princes united against Charles V and the Catholic Church, the 
anti-papal bias of Sleidan was readily acknowledged. Trent historian Jedin 
described Sleidan as a one-sided man, “who [laid] the blame for all the evils 
of the schism upon the alleged ill will of the Roman Curia.” 183 

In Commentaries on Religion and the State in the Reign of Emperor 
Charles V published in 1555, the year of Pope Julius Ill’s death, Sleidan, 
who probably had knowledge of or access to a copy of the Danolo letter, 
accused Cardinal del Monte, that is, Pope Julius III, of keeping Innocenzo 
as a lover—as “Juppiter kept Ganymedes.” 184 The work became one of the 
most widely read narratives of the Reformation period. Up until Doerrer’s 
recent research initiative on the life of the del Monte family, Sleidan’s accu¬ 
sations have gone largely unchallenged. 

Among the arguments presented by Doerrer that tend to refute the 
accusation that Cardinal Giovanni Maria del Monte was a practicing ped¬ 
erast and homosexual is the simple fact that the College of Cardinals, dom¬ 
inated by leaders of the Counter-Reformation Movement in the Church, 
nominated and elected him pope. 

If the cardinal, who according to the modern day homosexual gossip 
mill, was as indiscreet and foolish as to openly solicit a youthful male pros¬ 
titute in the streets of Bologna or Parma or Piacenza (while suffering from 
a crippling attack of gout and poor eyesight no less), it is highly unlikely 
that such behavior would have escaped the attention of the College of 
Cardinals. 

With a host of Sleidans waiting in the wings to attack the Church at 
every turn, it strains reason to believe that the Curia assembled for one of 
the greatest Church councils ever assembled—the Council of Trent— 
would consider, much less, elect, a pope with a reputation for pederasty. 

We also know that Cardinal del Monte was greatly beloved by the com¬ 
mon people. Spontaneous crowds gathered and cheered him on wherever 
he went especially in the North country. Would such treatment be lavished 
on a prelate rumored to be an inveterate bugger? Again, the answer must 
be in the negative. 

As for the sexual appetites of the young Cardinal Innocenzo they were 
demonstratively heterosexual, as evidenced by the Cortese affair and the 
alleged rape charges against the two women in Siena. 185 

Of course, this does not absolutely rule out the possibility that he 
engaged in a sexual liaison with the old, sickly and uncomely del Monte in 
order to escape his abject life of poverty, but such a relationship would have 
been difficult for the youth to keep secret for so many years. 186 Also the 
case of Innocenzo remains the only charge of homosexual activity leveled 
against Giovanni Maria. 

In the end, after carefully weighting all the historical and biographical 
data on both Pope Julius III and Cardinal Innocenzo, I believe that Doerrer 


104 



THE RENAISSANCE 


was correct in his conclusion that the charges of homosexuality leveled 
against the two men are without foundation. 187 

In the words of Signora Ava Leopoldo, who provided much of the docu¬ 
mentation used by Doerrer in his chapter on the allegations against Pope 
Julius III: 

There is no valid reason to believe that there existed any manner of sexual 
relationship between the pope and the boy. I see only affection from one 
human being to another, from a grandfather to his grandson. I see a special 
admiration for a poor beggar who was able to stand up and survive. 188 

Not until the twentieth century, would the issue of a homosexual pope 
be raised again. 


Notes 


1 For a fascinating look at the Italian Renaissance see Jacob Burckhardt, “The 
Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy,” translated by S.G.C. Middlemore, 
1878 available from 

http://www.idbsu.edu/courses/hy309/docs/burckhardt/burckhardt.html. 

2 See Guimaraes for an excellent summary and bibliography on the pontificate 
of St. Pius V 358-360. Guimaraes notes that St. Pius V called for the univer¬ 
sal application of the death penalty for convicted sodomites from all classes of 
society including members of the clergy who were to be “stripped of all their 
posts, dignities and income, and after degradation, be handed over to the sec¬ 
ular arm” to be executed as mandated by law according to the appropriate 
punishment for laymen plunged into this abyss. 

3 For a comprehensive review of the complex repercussions of the Reformation 
on Christian life and worship see “The Reformation” by J. E Kirsch as tran¬ 
scribed by Marie Jutras available from 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/12700b.htm. 

4 Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1982), 7. 

5 Ibid., 62. 

6 Technically speaking, the term sodomy was also applied to the act of anal 
penetration of a woman by a man for purposes of family limitation or preven¬ 
tion of illegitimate bastard offspring. 

7 Rocke, 14-15. 

8 Ibid., 11. 


105 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


9 Ibid., 3. 

10 Ibid., 132. 

11 Ibid., 14, 28. 

12 Ibid., 13. 

13 Ibid., 157-158. 

14 Ibid., 150. 

15 Ibid., 189. 

16 Ibid., 13. 

17 Ibid., 166. 

18 Ibid., 94. 

19 Ibid., 107. 

20 Ibid., 13. 

21 Ibid., 15. 

22 Ibid., 21. 

23 Ibid., 32. 

24 For an introduction to the life and works of St. Bernardino of Sienna see 
Pascal Robinson’s essay on the saint translated by Olivia Olivares at 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02505b.htm. Also see “The Franciscan 
Experience” at http://www.christusrex.org/wwwl/ofm/fra/FRAsnt04.html 
that contains a brief essay on the holy friar. 

25 Franco Mormando, The Preacher’s Demons Bernardino of Siena and the Social 
Understanding of Early Renaissance Italy (Chicago: University of Chicago 
Press, 1999). 

26 Ibid., 21-22. 

27 Ibid., 109. 

28 Guimaraes, 364. 

29 Rocke, 36. See also Rocke’s Ph.D. study on St. Bernardino, “Sodomites in 
Fifteenth-Century Tuscany: The Views of Bernardino of Siena,” in The 
Pursuit of Sodomy: Male Homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment 
Europe, eds. Ken Gerard and Gert Hekma (New York: Harrington Park Press, 
1989), 7-31. 

30 Ibid., 117, 39. 

31 Ibid., 41. 

32 Ibid. 

33 Ibid., 33. 

34 Ibid., 35. 

35 Ibid., 37. 

36 Mormando, 133. 

37 Rocke, 142. 

38 Ibid., 4. 

39 Ibid., 84. 

40 Ibid. 

41 Ibid., 162. 

42 Ibid., 82. 

43 Ibid., 52. 


106 



THE RENAISSANCE 


44 Ibid., 71. 

45 Ibid., 269. 

46 Ibid., 139. 

47 Ibid., 233 

48 Ibid., 66. 

49 Ibid., 49, 163. One such explosive case that came to light during Rocke’s 
research involved the former archiepiscopal vicar of Pistonia, messer Donato 
di Piermaria who admitted that he had sodomized many clerics in his service, 
some for years. He named 13 boys with whom he had sexual congress, 
mostly young clerics who came to clean his room, plus many others whose 
names he could no longer remember. 

50 William Clark, Savonarola His Life and Times (Chicago: A. C. McClurg and 
Co., 1890), 30. 

51 Ibid., 31. 

52 The Life and Times of Girolamo Savonarola (London: Whittaker and Co., 

1843), author unknown, 145. 

53 Clark, 239. 

54 Rocke, 206. 

55 Ibid., 211. 

56 Clark, 239. 

57 Rocke, 210. 

58 Ibid. 

59 Pope Alexander VI was a Borgia. Called by many names not the least of 
which was “the scourge of Christendom,” Rodrigo Borgia belonged to a noble 
Spanish family and came to Rome during the pontificate of his uncle, Calixtus 
III. He was made Archbishop of Valentia and cardinal before the age of 25. 
According to Clark, although he was a man of exceptional administrative tal¬ 
ents and a consummate politician, he was more interested in temporal than 
religious concerns. Also, his private life that included a mistress and a large 
number of offspring, was an open scandal. In his confrontation with 
Savonarola which was largely a political affair, he attempted to bribe the 
Dominican firebrand with a red hat. This was a grave error on his part, said 
Clark, as it helped confirm the friar’s suspicion that the Borgia pope had 
“usurped the highest station in God’s temple by the crime of simony.” In May 
1998 on the 500th anniversary of Savonarola’s death, Tertium Millenium, a 
publication of the Vatican Committee for the Preparation of the Jubilee 
announced the beginning of an investigation of the life and works of 
Savonarola directed at the possible beatification of the Dominican monk. 

Fr. Innocenzo Venchi, OP is in charge of the investigation. His interview on 
Savonarola is available from 

http://www.zenit.org/english/archive/9808/zw980816.html. 

60 Ruggiero, 137. 

61 Ibid., 115. 

62 Ibid., 121. 

63 Ibid., 116,126. 

64 Ibid., 135. 

65 Ibid. 

66 The custom of sodomites assigning each other feminine names appears to 
have become a common practice throughout Europe and England by the late 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


1600s. In Lisbon, Portugal, the fanchonos, a self-identified group of effeminate 
sodomites adopted this practice. See Luiz Mott, Ph.D. and Aroldo Assuncao, 
“Love’s Labors Lost: Five Letters from a 17th Century Portuguese 
Sodomite,” in The Pursuit of Sodomy: Male Homosexuality in Renaissance and 
Enlightenment Europe, eds. Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma, (New York: 
Harrington Park Press, 1989), 95. 

67 Ruggiero, 124. 

68 Ibid. 

69 Ibid., 126-127. 

70 Ibid., 134. 

71 Ibid., 141. 

72 Ibid., 142. 

73 Ibid., 129-132. 

74 Ibid., 130. 

75 Ibid., 75. 

76 Mary Elizabeth Perry, ‘“The ‘Nefarious Sin’ in Early Modern Seville,” in The 
Pursuit of Sodomy: Male Homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment 
Europe, eds. Kent Gerard and Gert Hekma (New York: Harrington Park 
Press, 1989), 67. 

77 Perry, 71. 

78 Ibid., 70. 

79 Ibid. 

80 Ibid., 71, 74. 

81 Ibid., 79. 

82 Ibid., 80. 

83 Ibid. 

84 Ibid. 

85 Ibid. 

86 Alan Bray, Homosexuality in Renaissance England (New York: Columbia 
University Press, 1982), 20, 78. 

87 Bray, 19-20, 29. 

88 Ibid., 26. 

89 Ibid., 21, 23. 

90 Cynthia B. Herrup, A House in Gross Disorder — Sex, Law and the 2nd Earl of 
Castlehaven (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999), 34. 

91 Ibid., 27. 

92 Ibid., 28. Although Rev. Udall escaped the death penalty and later went on to 
a successful career in both literary and academic circles, other members of 
the clergy were not as fortunate. In 1580, Matthew Heaton, a clergyman in 
East Grinstead, was prosecuted at the Sussex Assizes for a pederastic affair 
with a boy from his parish. And in 1640, Irish Bishop John Atherson and his 
suspected lover John Childe were executed for the crime of sodomy. 

93 Bray, 34-35. 

94 Ibid., 70. 

95 Ibid., 54. 

96 Herrup, 36. 


108 



THE RENAISSANCE 


97 See Rictor Norton, A History of Homophobia, “The Medieval Basis of Modern 
Law,” available online from http://www.infopt.demon.co.uk/homopho5.htm. 

98 Herrup, 28. 

99 Ibid., 28, 33. Under English law during the 17th century, rape involved both 
penetration and emission. Sodomy was linked with bestiality and both were 
held to be against the order of nature. 

100 Ibid., 28-29. 

101 Ibid., 30. 

102 Charles Nicholl, The Reckoning—The Murder of Christopher Marlowe (New 
York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1992). 

103 Ibid., 131. 

104 Ibid., 92, 121. 

105 The evidence in support of Marlowe’s homosexuality is largely circumstan¬ 
tial. He was not known to have ever had any serious love affairs with either a 
woman or for that matter, a man. He never married, but since he died at the 
early age of 29 this can hardly be used against him. A number of Marlowe’s 
plays including Dido and Edward II demonstrate his marked interest in same- 
sex relations, but then, the Elizabethan theater was a lightening rod that 
attracted many pederasts and adult homosexuals in search of boy actors. On 
the other hand, Marlowe is known to have publicly defended the practice of 
pederasty going as far as to blaspheme Our Lord by suggesting that His 
attachment to St. John was an erotic one. Marlowe was known to be 
acquainted with the occult circles of the “Durham House Set,” as well as with 
members of London’s homosexual cliques that included the brothers Bacon- 
Anthony and Francis (a pederast). And as Nicholl stated, there would have 
been no point in Richard Baines publicly accusing Marlowe of homosexual 
acts if Marlowe had a reputation of being a “vigorous heterosexual,” which he 
definitely didn’t. There is a third option of course. Like many artists, 

Marlowe may have chosen to sink all his energies and passions into his dra¬ 
mas and poetry and his secret life as a spy, eschewing altogether any serious 
love affair, with either a man or a women. 

106 Ibid., 45-46, 342. 

107 Ibid., 46. 

108 Ibid., 121-122. In one report to Pope Clement VIII, an English priest 
informed the pope that the Crown hoped to create enmity against the College 
among moderate English Catholics. 

109 Ibid., 121. 

110 Ibid., 123. 

111 Ibid., 124. 

112 Ibid., 129. 

113 Ibid., 124. 

114 Ibid., 127. 

115 Ibid., 131. 

116 Ibid., 134. 

117 Ibid., 113. 

118 Ibid., 125. The turncoat Catholic Charles Sledd -worked at the English College 
in Rome. He also provided Baines with French intelligence that was passed 
on to Walsingham. 


109 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


119 Super-sleuth writer John Le Carre calls espionage “the secret theater of our 
society.” 

120 Ibid. 96. Nicholl noted that the flirtations of the Cambridge men with 
Catholicism in the late 1500s, was similar to that of the Cambridge men with 
Communism in the 1920s and 30s. For most it was a “dilettante game,” he 
commented, although for the Cambridge spies like Anthony Blunt and Guy 
Burgess it was deadly serious. 

121 Herrup, 38. 

122 Ibid., 38, 41. 

123 Ibid., 42-46. 

124 Ibid., 49. 

125 Ibid., 91-92. 

126 Ibid., 55-56. 

127 Ibid., 95. The verdicts of the jurors in the Touchet Trial are found at 
http://web.ukonline.co.uk/Members/tom.paterson/touchet/touchettrial.htm. 

128 Bray, 82. For an extensive discussion of the role of the Societies for 
Reformation of Manners see Alan Hunt, Governing Morals, A Social History of 
Moral Regulation (London: Cambridge University Press, 1999). According to 
Hunt, homosexual prostitution did not become a major problem in London 
until after the 1720s. He reported that in its campaign for community virtue 
and public order, the primary target of the Societies were homosexual broth¬ 
els rather than individual homosexuals. Also, the Societies concentrated their 
efforts on the lower classes rather than the wealthier upper classes. That the 
Societies should have “Manners” rather than “Morals” in its name suggests 
that these groups were less interested in the “salvation of souls,” that is 
internal conversion, than in outward conformity. The Societies for 
Reformation of Manners was later replaced by the Societies for the 
Suppression of Vice in the early 1800s. 

129 Bray, 91. 

130 Ibid., 137. 

131 Ibid., 85. 

132 Bray, 85. 

133 Ibid., 86. 

134 Ibid., 86. 

135 See Randolph Trumbach, “The Birth of a Queen: Sodomy and the Emergence 
of Gender Equality in Modern Culture 1660-1750,” in Hidden from History — 
Reclaiming the Gay & Lesbian Past, eds. Martin Baum Doberman, Martha 
Vicinus, George Chauncey, Jr., (New York, Penguin Books, 1989), 137-138. 

136 Bray, 93. 

137 Trumbach, 137. 

138 Ibid. 

139 Ibid., 145. 

140 Bray, 90. 

141 These biographical details were taken from a brief essay on the life of Pope 
Paul II (Pietro Barbo) by N. A. Weber, transcribed by Douglas J. Potter and 
found at http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11578a.htm. 

142 Ibid. 


110 



THE RENAISSANCE 


143 For a discussion of the College of Abbreviators see “History of the Catholic 
Church—From the Renaissance to the French Revolution,” by Rev. James 
MacCaffrey, S.J. (1914) and available from 

http://catholicity.elcore.net/MacCaffrey/HCCRFRl_Chapter01a.html. 

144 For information on Pope Sixtus IV see “The Cardinals of the Holy Roman 
Church by Francis A. Burkle-Young, author of Passing the Keys: Modern 
Cardinals, Conclaves, and the Election of the Next Pope (Lanham, Md.: Madison 
Books, 2001). The website is 

http://www.fiu.edu/~mirandas/election-innocentviii.htm. 

145 For a brief review of the life and works of Stephano Infessura see the biogra¬ 
phical sketch by J. E Kirsch, transcribed by Beth Ste-Marie at 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08002a.htm. 

146 Burkle-Young. 

147 See Michael Ott’s excellent summary of the life of Pope Julius III as tran¬ 
scribed by Kenneth M. Caldwell at 

wysiwyg://44/http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08562a.htm. 

148 Ibid. 

149 Michael Leopoldo Doerrer and Francis A. Burkle-Young, The Life of Cardinal 
Innocenzo Del Monte: A Scandal in Scarlet, (together with Materials for a 
History of the House of Ciocchi del Monte San Savino), Renaissance Studies 
Series (Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 1997), 20-26. Burkle-Young was 
a member of the Library of Congress and Doerrer a young scholar at George 
Washington University when he began his research and writings on Cardinal 
del Monte. 

150 Ibid., 26-28. 

151 Ibid., 30. 

152 Ibid., 32, 37. 

153 See a summary of the early life of Pope Julius III by Michael Ott, transcribed 
by Vivek Gilbert John Fernandez at 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08564a.htm. 

154 Ibid. 

155 Ibid. 

156 Doerrer, 72. 

157 Ibid., 68. 

158 Ibid., 60. 

159 Ibid., 136. 

160 Ibid., 69. 

161 Ibid. 

162 Ibid., 80. 

163 Ibid., 83. 

164 Ibid., 98. 

165 Ibid., 101-118. 

166 Ibid., 125. 

167 Ibid., 126. 

168 Ibid., 127. 

169 Ibid., 131-132. 

170 Ibid., 133. 


Ill 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


171 Ibid., 135. 

172 Ibid., 177. 

173 Ibid., 200. 

174 Ide, 162. 

175 Philip Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests —Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis 
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 27. 

176 “Three Gay Popes” was originally posted on 11/13/00 at 
http://bookbuzz.com/panati/homosexual.htm, but is no longer available. 
Lamba’s “Famous GLB People in History” at 
http://www.lambda.org/famous.htm lists Pope Julius III as a “gay.” 

177 Doerrer, 187. 

178 Ibid., 188. 

179 An English translation of the original Danolo letter is provided by Doerrer, 
188. 

180 According to Doerrer, Monsignor Loris Capovilla performed this role in the 
household of the aged Pope John XXIII. 


181 

Ibid., 

188. 

182 

Ibid., 

192. 

183 

Ibid., 

189. 

184 

Ibid. 


185 

Ibid., 

193. 

186 

Ibid., 

185. 

187 

Ibid., 

194. 

188 

Ibid. 



112 



Chapter 4 


Homosexuality and the Rise of 
the Modern Secular State 


Introduction 

Beginning in the late 1700s including the brief period known as the 
Enlightenment, there occurred a dramatic paradigm shift in the phenom¬ 
enon of same-sex erotic relationships throughout the Western world. 

The rise of the modern state with its vast urban centers and secularized 
government opened the door to the development of a new homosexual col¬ 
lective and “sub-culture” in major cities throughout Europe including 
London, Berlin and Amsterdam. These new urban metropolises offered the 
homosexual both anonymity as well as increased opportunities for same- 
sex assignations and political activism associated with “the cause,” that is 
the legalization of consensual homosexual acts. 

From a moral perspective, the final fruits of the Reformation had re¬ 
sulted in a cleaved Christendom. No longer was there one authority, one 
voice, to rule infallibly on matters of faith and morals. Now there were two 
distinct religions, two distinct cultures and two distinct moral codes. 

The Church was no longer the center of a nation’s religious, cultural and 
intellectual life. Nor was “the modern man” preoccupied with matters of 
God. He, like the State he represented, was at once secular of spirit, scien¬ 
tific and progressive in thought and liberal in politics and morals. 

Religious sanctions based on natural law including the prohibitions 
against certain vices such as pederasty and homosexuality were severely 
weakened. However, they had not disappeared entirely. 

Protestantism was still to a large extent living off its Catholic capital in 
terms of family life and sexual morality. In any case, the new Protestant 
doctrine of the supremacy of individual conscience did not extend to the 
sodomite and his pursuit of illicit and unnatural pleasures. The common view 
held by Catholic and Protestant alike, especially within the new middle 
class, remained pretty much what it has always been in Christian society— 
sodomy was a grievous sin against God and a crime against the State. 

Only in the upper classes, for whom discretion was known to cover a mul¬ 
titude of sins, did one find a certain degree of tolerance toward habituated 
homosexuals. As Barnhouse observed, “To engage in the more picturesque 
realms of licentiousness after all, takes both leisure and money.” 1 

In the eyes of many aristocrats or prominent members of society, one’s 
private vices and sexual peccadilloes were no one else’s business. Or as a 
cleaning lady is supposed to have uttered in giving testimony at the trial of 


113 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Oscar Wilde: “I think people should be allowed to do what they want, as 
long as they don’t do it in the street and frighten the horses.” 

However, as we shall soon see, during the 19th century there were a 
significant number of major national and international incidents involving 
homosexuality in which more than the horses were frightened. When the 
details of these sex scandals, especially those involving the aristocracy or 
high government officials reached the general public, there was almost 
always a severe backlash from the populace who demanded a greater 
enforcement of the existing anti-sodomy laws. 

This scenario, however, was the exception not the rule. 

Although anti-buggery laws remained on the books long after most gov¬ 
ernments had abolished the death penalty for sodomy, enforcement of these 
laws throughout Europe was erratic and determined largely by the political 
whims of the governing regime. 

In England and Germany, where anti-sodomy laws were most strictly 
enforced, there were cases that were prosecuted to the full extent of the 
law with catastrophic results for the offender and his family. Public expo¬ 
sure as a habituated homosexual often spelled personal ruin and public dis¬ 
grace. Then there was the matter of harsh legal penalties including heavy 
fines, banishment or exile, or imprisonment in a jail or a lunatic asylum. 

At the end of the 19th century, however, there were new voices being 
raised in opposition to this traditional punitive approach to homosexuality. 
In addition to leaders of an emerging Sexual Emancipation Movement there 
were also a growing number of prominent physicians, including so-called 
“sexologists” who were attempting to find a new solution to the age old 
problem of same-sex erotic attraction. 

Medical science, especially psychiatry, was in the process of developing 
a new medical model to deal with all forms of abnormal sexual behavior 
including homosexuality. No longer were acts of sodomy viewed within the 
traditional context of a willful moral failing to be absolved in the confes¬ 
sional or a crime to be punished by the courts. Rather, same-sex attraction 
was now considered to be a form of psychosexual pathology associated with 
a particular type of individual—the homosexual, who, with proper medical 
or psychiatric treatment could be re-directed toward the goal of sexual 
normalcy. 

Many of these advocates of the “medicalization” of same-sex behavior, 
joined with socialist and anarchist leaders in the call for the “decriminaliza¬ 
tion” of homosexual behavior. The State need not interfere in the life of the 
homosexual, they argued, unless his behavior involved the seduction of 
minors, sexual violence or a disruption of the public order. 

One can easily sense in this new" medical model a subtle change in 
semantics and meaning of the word homosexual from that of an adjective 
describing an act or a vice to a noun indicating a certain kind or type of per¬ 
son, that is, a homosexual or invert. The implications of this important 


114 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


semantic shift did not escape the attention of the leaders of the early homo¬ 
sexual emancipation movement. Vice, like error, has no rights, but people 
(including peverts) do. 

The Victorian Experience: 

The Transition from Molly to Hellenistic Homosexual 

It is somewhat surprising that during the 150 years that laid between 
the emergence of the effeminate homosexual or “molly” of the late English 
Renaissance and that of the new, more sophisticated “Hellenistic” breed 
of homosexuals that marked the Victorian age, anti-buggery statutes 
remained essentially in tact, with three modifications. 

In 1781, the courts ruled that in sodomy cases, the prosecution had to 
prove both penetration and the emission of male seed in order to gain a 
conviction. However, shortly thereafter, this provision was deleted and 
sodomy was once again defined in the terms of penetration only, no matter 
how slight. 2 

During the period the dual-requirement was in force the number of con¬ 
victions for sodomy in England fell off precipitously, as it was difficult 
enough to prove penetration much less emission. 

In 1861,with the passage of the Offenses Against the Person Act, the 
death penalty was abolished for sodomy, but sodomy remained illegal and 
punishable by fines and imprisonment up to ten years. 3 

The most radical change in Britain’s anti-sodomy laws occurred in 
August, 1885, when a provision known as the “Labouchere Amendment” 
was introduced into Parliament during debate on “white slavery” and juve¬ 
nile prostitution. 

Two years earlier, the reform-minded W. T. Stead, editor of the Pall Mall 
Gazette had written a controversial and scalding series on the horror of child 
female prostitution in London’s squalid over-crowded East End and even 
the more prosperous West End. The expose that was based on a six-week 
investigation by Stead and Gazette journalists led to the founding of the 
National Vigilance Association and finally spurred a recalcitrant Parliament 
into action. 

Under the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885, the age of consent 
was raised from 13 to 16 years, and the police were given broader powers 
to suppress brothels and arrest the clients of prostitutes. 4 

Henry Du Pre Labouchere MP, one of the wealthiest and most power¬ 
ful Radicals in the House of Commons, was concerned not only with female 
child prostitution, but also the growing demand for young boys by wealthy 
pederasts. He succeeded in attaching an anti-sodomy clause (Section 11) to 
the Criminal Law Amendment Act. The amendment, in its final form read: 

Any male person who, in public or private, commits, or is party to the 

Commission of, or procures or attempts to procure the commission by 


115 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


any male person of any act of gross indecency with another male 
person, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and being convicted there¬ 
of, shall be liable at the discretion of the court to be imprisoned for 
any term not exceeding two years, with or without hard labor. 5 

Under the new law, the prison sentence for a convicted sodomite was 
drastically reduced from ten to two years. However, whereas the old laws 
had defined sodomy strictly in terms of anal penetration, the Labouchere 
Amendment used a broader terminology, “acts of gross indecency” that 
would extend to other homosexual acts including mutual and interfemoral 
masturbation and fellatio between male persons without regard to active 
and passive roles. It also criminalized both public and private same-sex 
indecencies. 

Naturally, there were those critics who did not consider the Labouchere 
Amendment to be progressive. Some compared it to Germany’s infamous 
Paragraph 175 that will be examined later in this chapter. They dubbed the 
measure, “A Blackmailer’s Charter” since, at least theoretically, any man 
could fabricate a private incident for possible extortion purposes. This 
charge, however, underestimated the severity of punishment meted out 
under English law for false testimony given under oath. There was also 
the matter of self-incrimination, that is, the accuser in a court of law would 
open himself up to possible legal action. It also tended to obfuscate the 
obvious—blackmail and extortion have always been potential features of 
illicit sexual behavior, more so where same-sex acts are involved. 

Many of these opponents of the Labouchere Amendment, then and 
today, appear to overlook the most salient feature of the Labouchere 
Amendment—that is, that its primary objectives was the curbing of under¬ 
age male prostitution combined with a more active prosecution of pederast 
homosexuals. Previously, sexual assault cases involving boys (and girls) 
over 12 years of age was not considered a criminal offense. 

The protection of vulnerable working class boys from older predatory 
homosexuals, rather than the punishment and prosecution of consenting 
adult homosexuals was the driving force behind the Labouchere Amend¬ 
ment. Generally speaking, its passage did not drastically change the over¬ 
all pattern of police enforcement of anti-sodomy laws involving consenting 
adult males. 

With very rare exceptions, from the late 1700s until the turn of the 20th 
century, law enforcement officers usually observed a laissez faire attitude 
toward adult homosexuals and their adult partners, more especially if they 
were members of the aristocracy or men of acquired fortune and influence. 

If an upper class toff wanted to exercise his unnatural passions with a 
willing adult partner—be he a “renter” or “rough trade” or “soldier pros¬ 
titute” and he was willing to pay for the sexual service, that was his busi¬ 
ness. All that was required was a modicum of discretion. 6 


116 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


However, cases involving organized homosexual assignations including 
public houses that catered to homosexual “clubs,” and those cases involv¬ 
ing minors or a disruption of the public order, continued to be the object of 
periodic police action. The danger of arrest and public exposure remained a 
fact of life for those men who chose to immerse themselves in London’s 
criminal underworld, especially for the pederast. 

The Vere Street Scandal 

In July of 1810, the police arrested more than 20 members of the noto¬ 
rious Vere Street coterie who used to congregate and act out at the White 
Swan public house on Vere Street. The members of the homosexual club 
were generally older men, many of whom were married and included some 
prominent public figures. Their young guests were local Mary Anns (male 
prostitutes) who, in “molly” fashion often dressed up in pretty female attire 
and assumed female names and played the passive role. 7 

The “effeminate” model, however, was not the only type of passive 
homosexuals available to the membership. There were also more “manly” 
types to be had for those members who preferred rough trade. 8 

In his 1970 study of the history of homosexuality in Britain, The Love 
That Dared Not Speak Its Name, journalist and former Ml) H. Montgomery 
Hyde presented a lively description of the antics of the Vere Street gang 
including their mock “weddings,” and group “consummations” and obscene 
language. 9 The public was not amused. 

In his report of the events leading up to the conviction and imprison¬ 
ment of a handful of Vere Street conspirators including James Cooke, the 
owner of the White Swan and five of his companions, Hyde described the 
reception the men received as they stood in the pillory for one hour before 
being taken to Newgate prison. He said that angry spectators mercilessly 
pelted the condemned men with all forms of rotten foods and animal dung. 
Afterwards, on their return to prison, the prisoners were continuously 
assaulted with whips and flying projectiles including bricks and stones. 
“The streets, as they passed, resounded with the universal shouts and exe¬ 
crations of the populace,” Hyde concluded. 10 

In December of the same year, guardsman Thomas White, a familiar 
face at the Vere Street gatherings met an even harsher fate. White along 
with Ensign John Hepburn, who proclaimed his innocence to the last, was 
found guilty of sodomy and of offending against good order and discipline. 
Both men were publicly hanged outside Newgate with a vast crowd includ¬ 
ing military officials and several noblemen in attendance. 11 There is little 
doubt that the execution was intended to serve as a warning to other mem¬ 
bers of the armed forces who might be tempted to supplement their mea¬ 
ger wages by acting the catamite for wealthy homosexual patrons. 

In retrospect, the intensity of public outrage against convicted sod¬ 
omites, especially by today’s standards, may be totally incomprehensible 


117 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


were it not for one important, but often, ignored fact. That is, the object of 
choice for many adult homosexuals remained adolescent boys and young 
men. These pederastic relationships were characterized by disparities not 
only in age, but also in terms of wealth, power and influence. It is certainly 
an open question as to whether or not many of the homosexual scandals 
that rocked English society during the Victorian era would have engen¬ 
dered such violent public reaction had they not involved the seduction and 
sexual exploitation of young boys and youth, i.e., the sex abuse of minors. 12 

Clerical Crimes 

In the introduction to his chapter on clerical pederasty and homosexu¬ 
ality in Victorian England, Hyde noted that most cases involving clergymen 
never came to trial. The accused was granted bail, an automatic courtesy 
given his superior social status and he invariably fled the country to escape 
prosecution. 

For example, at the turn of the 19th century, the prominent Rev. John 
Fenwick of Northumberland, who is reported to have acquired “the unmen¬ 
tionable vice” as an undergraduate at Oxford, ensconced not once, but 
twice, to France and finally settled in Naples, Italy to escape the arm of the 
English law. 13 

The Rev. V E Littlehales of Lincolnshire accused of sexually assaulting 
a footman in the employment of a certain Dr. Wollaston, forfeited his bail 
and fled to America. 14 

The case of the Irish aristocrat Right Rev. Percy Jocelyn, the Anglican 
Bishop of Clogher and third son of the first Earl of Roden is very forthright. 
On the evening of July 19, 1822, during a visit to London from Ireland, the 
bishop was caught in flagrante delicto with a private soldier named John 
Moverley at a public house called the White Hart. The next day, both men 
were charged with a homosexual offense before a local magistrate. They 
entered a plea of not guilty. Private Moverley, unable to post the minimum 
bail and sureties was remanded in custody. The bishop on the other hand, 
immediately posted bond, was released and shortly thereafter, fled to 
Scotland where he lived incognito performing menial tasks until his death 
in 1843. 15 

There is an interesting aside to the Clogher scandal that sheds some 
light on the degree to which the bishop’s unnatural passions dominated 
his life. According to Hyde, 11 years before the White Hart incident, Bishop 
Jocelyn had been accused of propositioning a domestic manservant named 
James Byrne. Instead of flying the coop, the bishop responded to the charge 
by suing Byrne for libel and won. Poor Byrne was sentenced to prison for 
two years and publicly flogged within an inch of his life. Perhaps it was the 
memory of this grave injustice that inspired Rev. Jocelyn to compose the 
short epitaph engraved on his nameless coffin: “Here lies the remains of a 


118 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


great sinner, saved by grace, whose hope rests in the atoning sacrifice of 
the Lord Jesus Christ.” 16 

In the fourth case cited by Hyde, the Rev. Thomas Jephson, a prominent 
scholar and cleric of St. John’s College, Cambridge, chose to stand trial 
against charges that he had criminally assaulted a 19-year-old youth, James 
Welch, on Whit Sunday 1823. 

During the trial that took place in Cambridge on July 23, 1823, the 
defense argued that Rev. Jephson was a victim of entrapment and possible 
extortion. The prosecution claimed that he sexually accosted Welch who 
was fortunate enough to be rescued by some local residents before the act 
was completed. 

Following 17 hours of testimony, the jury returned with a verdict of not 
guilty. However, the university authorities did not appear to be totally con¬ 
vinced of Rev. Jephson’s innocence. Although he was never defrocked and 
was permitted to retain his fellowship, the college authorities asked him to 
remove himself from the premises and relocate elsewhere, at least until 
such times as his innocence could be proved without a shadow of a doubt. 
Rev. Jephson promptly obliged his superiors and never returned to St. 
John’s College. 17 

Pederasty at Harrow—The Vaughan Case 

Although the Vaughan Affair was one of the most important cases of 
criminal pederasty by an Anglican cleric in 19th century Victorian England, 
the details of the affair did not become a matter of public knowledge until 
long after the principal players were settled in their graves. 18 

The Very Rev. Charles John Vaughan, D.D. (1816-1897) was not yet 30 
when he was elected Headmaster of Harrow, one of Britain’s prestigious 
“Seven Public Schools” and the chief rival of Eton. 19 

Vaughan, a well-known English classical scholar and eloquent preacher 
was himself a product of the English public (in fact private) boarding school 
system. As a youth he attended Rugby under the direction of the famed 
educational reformer Dr. Thomas Arnold, D.D., and later matriculated at 
Trinity College, Cambridge—both institutions being solid stepping stones 
to upward mobility in Victorian society. 

As G. K. Chesterton so astutely observed: 

The public school is not a sort of refuge for aristocrats, like an insane 

asylum where they go in and never come out. It is a factory for aristocrats; 

they come out without ever having perceptibly gone in. 20 

Although Vaughan was initially drawn to the law, he finally settled upon 
holy orders and in 1841 at the age of 25 took his first church assignment 
as vicar of St. Martin’s in Leicester. 

According to' Christopher Tyerman, author of A History of Harrow 
School, when Vaughan was put in charge of the school in 1845 it was in near 


119 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


ruin—physically and financially. 21 Vaughan must have been an excellent 
administrator and charismatic fund-raiser for by the late 1850s Harrow’s 
enrollment had jumped from 69 to over 500 boys and the school’s endow¬ 
ment program was solvent enough to cover major school renovations and 
the building of a fashionable new chapel. 

Vaughan appeared to be leading a charmed life. Not only had he entered 
into a very socially advantageous marriage, but his income, derived pri¬ 
marily from boarding fees was, according to Tyerman, sufficient enough to 
make him the equivalent of a modern millionaire. 22 As for future plans, 
Vaughan was open not only to a bishop’s miter, but a seat in the House of 
Lords as well. 23 Had it not been for a minor “indiscretion” that took the 
form of a young Harrow pupil named Alfred Pretor, it is very likely that 
Vaughan would have realized all of this and more. 

Before examining the Vaughan-Pretor Case, a few words on the subject 
of vice within the context of the English boarding school. 

As Tyerman has reported, the term vice as it applied to the English 
boarding school covered a multitude of misdemeanors including gambling, 
drinking, lewd speech, idleness and coarse sexual habits, that is, solitary 
and group masturbation and sodomy. 24 But these vices tend to fade into 
relative obscurity when compared to the dangers and viciousness of the 
bullying and flogging of “fags” by upperclassmen, and the general violence 
associated with sport. Indeed the term le vice anglais was used by many to 
refer to the common practice of flagellation or whipping with a birch rod 
not sodomy. 

In general, boarding school authorities tended to turn a blind eye to ado¬ 
lescent sexual antics including the common practice of assigning female 
names to exceptionally attractive and willing young boys. They could not, 
however, overlook pederastic overtures and affairs between students and 
headmasters that could wreak havoc on the reputation of their school. 

This brings us to the Vaughan-Pretor Affair. 

Alfred Pretor was a senior boy of the Upper Sixth. This would put his 
age at the time of his liaison with Harrow’s headmaster somewhere be¬ 
tween 17 and 18. He must have been clueless about the serious nature of 
the relationship because one day in January of 1858, he told his close friend 
John Addington Symonds, a hypersensitive and easily scandalized youth, 
about his secret dalliance and even permitted Symonds to keep one of the 
passionate letters Alfred had received from Vaughan. 25 It was only a short 
while after this revelation that Vaughan made an exploratory sexual pass at 
Symonds in his study when the young man came to him for an essay review. 
It proved to be a costly mistake for the headmaster. 

In Feasting With Panthers, literary historian Rupert Croft-Cooke 
claimed that Vaughan was not a vicious creature and probably did not go 
beyond a patter, a hug or at most a kiss. He suggested that Vaughan was not 


120 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


what could be called “a serious offender, although he might be charged with 
gross indecency.” 26 

The truth is that pederasts are rarely vicious. Slow and selective seduc¬ 
tion, not violence, is the key to their success. Further, from subsequent 
events we can deduce that the affair went beyond a mere “hug” and that 
Pretor was not the first young man to fall under the spell of Vaughan’s 
charms. 

In any case, the nature of Vaughan’s actions continued to trouble 
Symonds whose feelings of disapproval were probably mixed, consciously 
or unconsciously, with pangs of jealousy that Vaughan had picked Pretor 
over him. 

In later years, Symonds would recall in his Memoirs that the dormitory 
environment at Harrow and other English public schools was marked by 
the grossest of sexual immoralities including repulsive scenes of onanism, 
mutual masturbation and obscene orgies with older boys preying on the 
younger boys (“bitches”). 27 There is also some evidence that Symonds 
himself was exposed to sex abuse at the hands of some older cousins in his 
early boyhood years. However, it is clear that Symonds viewed Vaughan’s 
actions in an entirely different light. 

The same hands Vaughan used to stroke Symonds’ thigh were the 
same hands he used to distribute Communion in the school chapel. And it 
was Vaughan who had prepared both him and Pretor for Confirmation. 28 
Confused and troubled, Symonds remained silent. He did not reveal his 
knowledge of the affair or the headmaster’s attempts to seduce him to 
either his parents or school officials. 

At the end of the summer term, Symonds’ father removed him from 
Harrow for health reasons and young Symonds never returned there so 
bitter were his memories of the school. He then enrolled at Oxford, where 
as a sensitive and intellectually refined 18-year-old he began his own 
struggle with his homoerotic desires. In the summer of 1859, Symonds, 
still troubled by the Vaughan incident, finally confided the whole story to 
John Conington, Corpus Professor of Latin, who had befriended the young 
man. Conington advised Symonds to tell his father and Symonds did so. 29 

Upon hearing the charges against Vaughan and reading Vaughan’s letter 
to Pretor that was still in his son’s possession, the senior Symonds, a 
prominent Bristol physician, immediately contacted Vaughan and de¬ 
manded his resignation. Not only was Vaughan forced to resign his position 
as Headmaster of Harrow, but he also had to agree to never again accept 
any important ecclesiastical appointment, (including the Bishopric of 
Rochester) as a condition for Dr. Symonds’ silence. 

That Vaughan had been sexually involved with students before young 
Alfred appeared on the scene is evident by the plea of Mrs. Vaughan to Dr. 
Symonds that she was aware of her husband’s “weakness” but that it 
should not be allowed to overshadow his contributions to Harrow. Dr. 


121 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Symonds was not convinced. 30 On September 16,1859 Vaughan announced 
that he was taking an early and unexpected retirement. 

After he left Harrow School, Vaughan continued to hold a variety of 
posts in the Anglican Church until his death in 1897, but he was never 
consecrated a bishop nor did he enter Parliament. 

Rumors of Vaughan’s sexual attraction to young boys were bantered 
about Victorian high society for years after his retirement, but the actual 
details of the Pretor case remained a well-guarded Establishment (Church 
of England) secret until 1964 when Phyllis Grosskurth revealed the first 
details of the Vaughan Affair in her first biography of Symonds, The Woeful 
Victorian. 

In light of the recent rash of charges of sexual abuse of minors involv¬ 
ing Catholic priests and hierarchy, it is of more than passing interest to note 
how “judicious” private actions and mutually agreed upon silence by Estab¬ 
lishment figures contributed to one of Victorian England’s most successful 
cover-ups of clerical sexual malfeasance. 31 

The Cleveland Street Scandal 

The explosive West End Affair began on July 4, 1889, with a rela¬ 
tively uncomplicated police investigation of a theft of money from the 
Central Telegraph Office located in the General Post Office (GPO) West in 
London. 32 The key suspect was a 15-year-old telegraph messenger boy, 
Charles Thomas Swinscow, who appeared to have an unexplainable source 
of income above and beyond his meager salary. 

According to H. Montgomery Hyde who devoted an entire book to the 
scandal, when questioned by retired Police Constable Luke Hanks, a GPO 
employee, Swinscow, oblivious to the serious nature of his admission, told 
him that he supplemented his wages by sexually servicing adult men at a 
local male brothel on Cleveland Street at Fitzroy Square operated by one 
Charles Hammond. The young man told PC Hanks that he had been origi¬ 
nally solicited by a fellow telegraph employee with the disingenuous last 
name of Henry Newlove who worked for Hammond. 33 

After a preliminary investigation that included an interview with 
Newlove and two other telegraph boys, Hanks submitted his report to 
the Postmaster General who in turn contacted the Metropolitan Police 
Commissioner (Scotland Yard) for assistance. Chief Inspector Frederick 
Abberline was assigned as the principal investigator of the case. 34 

Hammond’s house of ill repute, sometimes referred to as a maison de 
passe, was immediately put under surveillance and arrest warrants issued 
for Hammond, the 18-year-old Newlove and another close associate, 
the phony “Reverend” George Veck, age 45, a homosexual who lived 
with Hammond and kept a 17-year-old boy named George Barber whom 
he passed off as his son. 


122 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


But the police had not acted quickly enough. By the time they reached 
19 Cleveland Street, Hammond and Veck had disappeared leaving the naive 
Newlove holding the bag. As Newlove was being hauled off to the police 
station from his home, he complained to the Inspector Abberline that it was 
unfair that he should be prosecuted while “men in high positions” went 
free. 35 

Among the highly placed personages Newlove named as visitors to the 
Cleveland Street brothel were Lord Arthur Somerset, alias “Mr. Brown,” a 
major in the Royal Horse Guards and Superintendent of the Stables and 
Extra Equerry to the Prince of Wales; the Earl of Euston, a sophisticated 
man-about-town and high-degree Mason; a Colonel Jervois of the 
Winchester Army barracks; and most importantly, “PAV” Prince Albert 
Victor, the eldest son of the Prince of Wales and the successor to the British 
throne. Whitehall and the Royals were alerted to the potentially explosive 
nature of the Cleveland Street case. Obviously this was not your ordinary 
case of homosexual solicitation and under-age prostitution. Abberline knew 
that the rules of the game had just undergone a dramatic change. 

To add to Abberline’s woes, he was informed that Hammond, the key 
figure in the affair, had already fled across the Channel to France to escape 
prosecution. Scotland Yard immediately alerted police officials both in Paris 
and Brussels as to the nature of the charges against Hammond and asked 
that his whereabouts and contacts be carefully monitored. 

Under the existing extradition laws between England and France, 
the French government had the power to authorize the apprehension of 
Hammond who was traveling with Ames, an under-age English boy, and 
ship them both back on a British freighter on the next tide. However, it 
soon became clear that the Royals and Whitehall were more interested in 
keeping Hammond out of England than bringing him home to stand trial. 

Nor was Hammond the only suspect to fly the coop. 

Before Abberline could obtain a warrant for the arrest of Lord Somerset 
against whom there was prima facie evidence in the form of signed postal 
orders issued to a telegraph boy in Hammond’s employ, the inspector 
learned that Somerset had taken a sudden four-month leave from his regi¬ 
ment and fled to Paris to escape the law. 

Before leaving England, Somerset made arrangements for a young 
English solicitor by the name of Arthur Newton to handle the charges 
against him and to aid in the defense of Veck and Newlove. Somerset also 
had Newton act as his go between with Hammond who was demanding a 
large sum of hush money from Somerset reportedly in the realm of £2000 
and first-class tickets to America for himself and his boy, Ames. 

Meanwhile, in London, preparations were underway for the first of 
three trials connected to the Cleveland Street Affair. 

Inspector Abberline had already pieced together a fairly accurate pic¬ 
ture of Hammond’s illegal operation from the testimony of Veck and 


123 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Newlove and that of the telegraph boys including George Wright, Charles 
Thickbroom, William Perkins, Algeron Allies and Charlie Swinscow and 
Veck’s boy, George Barber. The boys ranged in age from 15 to 19. 

They told Abberline that before bringing them to Cleveland Street to 
service gentlemen, Newlove had introduced them to various homosexual 
acts including mutual masturbation, fellatio and sodomy (incomplete) in the 
basement lavatory of the GPO building. 36 

None of the telegraph boys could be considered professional prostitutes. 
Their simplicity and lack of guile certainly appeared to have influenced both 
PC Hanks and Inspector Abberline in their favor. They were fresh faced 
lads, unsophisticated to the ways of the world, traits that would make them 
extra appealing to Hammond’s pederast clientele. They all came from 
respectable families. When interrogated by Abberline, all expressed a 
sense of shame for their actions and were openly distressed when forced to 
reveal to their parents the exact nature of the work they performed for 
Hammond. 37 

However, Newlove, who had procured their services for Hammond 
argued that he never corrupted any of the boys. He said that the telegraph 
boys in general were notorious for their willingness to engage in sex play 
with males willing to pay for their services, so presumably, there was no 
problem in having them prostitute themselves with adult men with unnat¬ 
ural sexual appetites. He said that Hammond received between a half to 
a whole sovereign per trick from his clients and paid out four shillings to 
the boy. 38 

The Trial of Veck and Newlove 

On September 11, 1889 Veck and Newlove stood before Judge Sir 
Thomas Chamber, 72, at the Old Bailey, London’s main courthouse on 
charges of violating the 1885 anti-sodomy statute (Labouchere Amend¬ 
ment) by conspiring to incite and procure “divers persons to commit 
the abominable crime of buggery against the peace of Her Majesty the 
Queen.” 39 

Evidence against the two men had already been given by the telegraph 
boys at preliminary hearings on August 27 and September 4. Interestingly, 
the subject matter of the trial was found to be so offensive that Judge 
Chambers ordered the removal of the only woman in the courtroom. 40 

Newton, no doubt with an eye towards the interests of his primary 
client, Lord Somerset, who was picking up all the legal tabs, urged both 
men to plead guilty which meant they would not be required to testify and 
reveal other persons connected with Hammond’s male brothel (including 
Somerset). 

Veck was sentenced to nine months hard labor and Newlove to four. 41 


124 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


The fact that both men, especially the older Veck, were let off with rel¬ 
atively light sentences, angered Labouchere, who had been watching and 
weighing the Cleveland Street proceedings through his own political prism. 
He rose to his feet on the floor of Parliament and charged that the Home 
Office had cut a deal with Newton and his clients to avoid a wider public 
scandal—a charge that government officials officially denied. 42 

By this time, a warrant had been prepared for the arrest of Somerset, 
but the summons could not be served until he returned to England. 

From his listening post in Paris, Somerset was well aware that his 
chances at a successful defense was near nil as long as Allies, his favorite, 
and the other telegraph boys were around to testify against him. The burn¬ 
ing question was how to get rid of the witnesses. By late September, a solu¬ 
tion was at hand—bribe the witnesses to leave the country. 

One of Newton’s agents, Adolphe de Gallo approached Wright and 
Swinscow and tried to get the boys to go to Australia, while another agent, 
Frederich Taylorson attempted to bribe Allies to go to America. Newton 
had made similar contacts with Thickbroom and Perkins. 43 The boys’ par¬ 
ents were not advised that arrangements were being made to settle their 
sons abroad. 44 

On October 16, 1889, Whitehall was alerted to the fact that Somerset 
had returned to England for his grandmother’s funeral, after which he spent 
several days making the rounds of political and personal associates at vari¬ 
ous high government offices and visiting his club in London. Under orders 
from the Prince of Wales and with the knowledge of Prime Minister 
Lord Salisbury, he was permitted to leave England again for the Conti¬ 
nent unmolested. 

The official argument against his arrest was that the prosecution of 
Somerset as a sodomite would seriously injure public morality without any 
commensurate advantage. His sufferings from a self-imposed exile were 
seen as being sufficient punishment for his alleged misdemeanor. In any 
case, the blame for letting Somerset escape for the second time again was 
cast upon Scotland Yard. 

Lord Somerset had just comfortably situated himself in Rouen and was 
beginning to contemplate a brighter future, when the second trial of the 
Cleveland Street scandal opened at the Old Bailey with an entirely new cast 
of characters. 

Lord Euston Sues for Libel 

The Parke-Euston trial, the last of the three Cleveland Street cases, 
opened at the start of the New Year. 

The North London Press and its editor, the Radical journalist Ernest 
Parke were charged with the criminal libeling of Lord Euston, Henry James 


125 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Fitzroy, whom the newspaper had publicly implicated in the Cleveland 
Street scandal in a fully-illustrated featured article published on November 
16,1889. 45 Euston, a large, strapping figure of a man and a powerful Mason, 
had, unlike Lord Somerset, decided to publicly challenge the accusation 
that he patronized the Cleveland Street brothel. 

Like Labouchere, who, not unexpectedly was carefully monitoring all 
the events connected with the scandal from his MP seat, Parke was con¬ 
vinced that both Hammond and Somerset were tipped off by government 
agents enabling them to flee England and escape prosecution. Further he 
also shared Labby’s openly stated opinion that these same officials had 
negotiated a settlement with Veck and Newlove to protect the reputations 
of certain prominent public figures. Both men were certain that “cover-up” 
was written all over the Cleveland Street scandal. 46 

The sensational trial opened at the Old Bailey on January 15, 1890 with 
Sir Henry “Hanging Judge” Hawkins presiding. 47 

Parke’s case against Euston was built upon evidence gathered from 
his own investigation and from interviews with various eye-witnesses 
the most important of which was a well-known middle-age Irish homo¬ 
sexual prostitute, John Saul, nicknamed Dublin Jack, who had worked for 
Hammond for ten years. 48 

It is an important feature of the Cleveland Street scandal that while both 
Saul and Newlove had given a statement to Inspector Abberline identifying 
Lord Euston as one of his clients, Euston was never picked up for ques¬ 
tioning nor had a warrant heen sworn out for his arrest as in the case of 
Lord Somerset. 49 Perhaps this oversight was connected to the strong con¬ 
nections between the Freemasons and Scotland Yard. 

Also, it was rumored that Lord Euston, had previously submitted to 
blackmail threats in connection with his homosexual relationship with 
Robert Clibborn, a notorious member of London’s homosexual under¬ 
world. 50 

In any case, Saul testified under oath that Euston, or “The Duke” had 
visited the brothel at least five times between 1887 and 1889. Parke also 
had additional witnesses to back up his story. 51 Saul, however, claimed that 
the Earl was not a sodomite but “liked to play with you then ‘spend on your 
belly.’” 52 

The prosecution admitted that Euston had visited the Hammond estab¬ 
lishment, but only once and by mistake. Euston swore that he had left the 
premises as soon as he discovered that he was in a male brothel and not a 
house of poses plastiques (female burlesque). 53 Saul was denounced as a low 
life. In the end, the jury went against Parke whose case was weakened by 
his solicitor’s failure to call either Inspector Abberline or Newlove to the 
stand and his own unwillingness to engage in “a breach of faith” by reveal¬ 
ing the names of certain “sources” quoted in his November article. 


126 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


He was convicted of “libel without justification,” and harshly lectured 
and sentenced to 12 months imprisonment by Judge Hawkins. Saul was not 
arrested nor was he ever prosecuted for perjury or defaming “The Duke.” 
Lord Euston was completely exonerated. 54 

After the sentencing, an editorial titled “The Horrible National Scandal” 
appeared in the Reynolds, a Labour Sunday paper with a strong anti-estab¬ 
lishment bent, alleging that “...Mr. Parke was made an example to others 
who dare tamper with the name of our virtuous and noble aristocracy.” 55 

...Why were the wretched telegraph boys taken to the Old Bailey...whilst 
Lord Arthur Somerset, being duly warned of what had occurred, made his 
escape, and is now living in clover abroad? All this requires, but we suspect 
will not obtain, satisfactory explanation. A Parliamentary inquiry cannot 
open the mouths of those who are determined to keep them closed . 56 

Arthur Newton Convicted of Conspiracy 

The truth, of course, was that while Lord Somerset may have been “liv¬ 
ing in clover” on the Continent, it was not comfortably so. The plan to get 
rid of the telegraph boy witnesses against Lord Somerset backfired. Both 
Somerset and his solicitor Newton had made the mistake of underesti¬ 
mating the character and resolve of the boys who had been propositioned 
to leave the country. 

The incidents had been forthrightly reported to Inspector Abberline 
and on December 23, 1889, Newton and two of his agents, de Gallo and 
Taylorson, were hauled before Magistrate James Vaughan at the Bow Street 
Police Court to face charges of witness tampering and the obstruction of 
justice. 

On January 6, 1890, the hearings resumed before Mr. Vaughan and 
lasted the rest of the week. 

The charges against de Gallo were dismissed and Taylorson was even¬ 
tually acquitted even though the prosecution produced three witnesses 
from Belgium who linked him (and Newton) with Hammond’s successful 
escape with young Ames to America aboard the Pennland. 

The case against Newton was a different matter. 

Five months later, on May 16, 1890, Somerset’s solicitor faced a jury at 
the Queen’s Bench Division in the Law Courts with Mr. Justice Matthew 
Cave presiding. The trial was marked by a conspicuous lack of fervor by the 
government’s prosecuting counsel. 57 

The jury appeared to be swayed by Newton's incredulous plea that he 
only had the boys’ interests at heart when he tried to get them out of 
England. But Judge Cave was not impressed. On May 20, 1890 he sen¬ 
tenced Newton to six weeks in Holloway prison—a symbolic rather than 
punitive punishment. Even so, it was an incredibly light sentence that once 
again, in Parke’s words, had “cover-up” written all over it. 


127 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


With the final sentencing of Arthur Newton, the Cleveland Street scan¬ 
dal was, for all practical purposes brought to a close. The Royal family and 
Prime Minister Salisbury’s Conservative government could breath easier 
now—they had both been saved from a much more serious scandal—one 
that connected Prince Albert Victor to the Cleveland Street brothel. 

A Royal Dilemma: Prince Eddy 

It is highly unlikely that either the Royal family or Prime Minister 
Salisbury or any other highly placed government officials would have felt 
the necessity of interfering in the judicial processes connected with the 
Cleveland Street scandal were it not for the persistent rumors circulating 
in London’s fashionable clubs and soirees implicating Prince Eddy in the 
sordid affair. 

Providentially, during the seven crucial months from late October 1889 
to late May 1890, when these rumors were at their zenith, His Royal 
Highness was out of the country on a pre-planned royal tour of India. 58 This 
had left the Royals and Whitehall room to maneuver. 

As things stood, there were only two principal players in the Cleveland 
Street Affair who had privately made the connection that linked the Prince 
to Hammond’s establishment. They were Lord Somerset’s solicitor Arthur 
Newton and Lord Somerset himself. 

When the scandal first broke during the summer of 1889, it was Newton 
who had warned the Office of Public Prosecutions and ultimately Whitehall 
and the Royal family, of the Prince’s alleged involvement in the affair. 59 And 
it was Lord Somerset who had confided to his intimates and close family 
members that he was sacrificing himself with his self-imposed exile in 
order to protect Prince Eddy. 

In Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld, the English historical 
biographer Theo Aronson examined the evidence of the Prince’s alleged 
involvement in London’s thriving homosexual underworld in general, and 
the Cleveland Street Affair and the Jack the Ripper murders in particular. 

In the case of the famous Whitechapel murders, the evidence was in the 
Prince’s favor—he was clearly not Jack the Ripper unless he possessed the 
power of bilocation. 60 As for the charge that he was a homosexual, though 
not exclusively so, and that he frequented homosexual haunts like the 
Hammond brothel, the evidence is inconclusive although weighed some¬ 
what in the affirmative. 

From a modern-day psycho-sexual perspective, Prince Eddy appeared 
to have possessed certain personal traits from his youth that have fre¬ 
quently been linked to homoerotic tendencies including a delicate physical 
constitution that exempted him from rough and tumble boys play and 
adolescent sports, an extremely intimate relationship with his mother, 
Princess Alexandra of Denmark, and a somewhat distant though certainly 
not hostile relationship with his father Albert Edward, Prince of Wales. 


128 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


A handsome and amiable young man of slight but well-proportioned 
built and mild temperament, “Collars-and-Cuffs” as be was affectionately 
known, had a reputation for dandyism that might have been overlooked had 
he possessed a modicum of intellectual acuity or physical prowess which 
unfortunately he did not. 

Although his family including his doting grandmother, Queen Victoria, 
took all the proper precautions to protect Prince Eddy’s physical and moral 
welfare once he entered adolescence, it would have been impossible to 
shield him completely from the Victorian underworld of vices, including 
sodomy. Whether on board the naval training ship Britannia or in the hal¬ 
lowed halls of Trinity College, Cambridge where the gospel of Hellenistic 
love and a “Higher Sodomy” was both preached and put into practice, 
Prince Eddy would have been exposed to “the unmentionable vice.” 

By the time the Cleveland Street scandal broke, the 25-year-old Prince 
Albert Victor, had already acquired an unfortunate familial and public repu¬ 
tation for sexual dissolution and vice. 61 The exact nature of his “dissipa¬ 
tion,” however, remains vague. 

Most certainly he was not the womanizer his father or younger brother, 
Prince George were, but this did not mean he eschewed female charms 
altogether. He had a number of female confidantes and was reported to have 
formed a few romantic attachments. He was engaged to be married before 
his untimely death on January 14, 1892. 

This minimal attraction to the opposite sex however does not mitigate 
against the possibility that Prince Eddy might have been drawn into a 
homosexual liaison with one or more of the young predatory sodomites that 
were part of his intimate circle of friends at Cambridge. It was also an “open 
secret” that Queen Victoria’s court was strewn with aristocratic sodomites 
any of whom would have been more than willing to introduce the young 
Prince to London’s lively homosexual underworld. 

Perhaps the most convincing argument in favor of Prince Eddy’s alleged 
association with the Cleveland Street brothel was the lengths to which the 
Royal family and Whitehall went to insure that any connection between the 
heir apparent and Hammond’s establishment never be raised in a court of 
law. Lord Somerset and Lord Euston were small fish in a big pond. The only 
thing that really mattered was that the name of Prince Eddy, the successor 
to the British throne, not be tainted by any association with the vice of 
sodomy. Whatever it took to achieve this end—perjury, judicial bribes, wit¬ 
ness tampering, the obstruction of justice—was deemed acceptable. 

It is always interesting to note that when the Establishment rallies, it 
almost always rallies around the “aggrieved” offenders. 

From the very beginning, of the Cleveland Street scandal, private and 
public attention, if not sympathies, appeared to be drawn to the alleged 
adult violators of the Labouchere Amendment—“Poor” Somerset! “Poor” 
Lord Euston! “Poor” Prince Eddy! 62 


129 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


The record does not tell us what happened to Allies and the rest of the 
young telegraph boys who were seduced and sexually exploited by men 
many years their senior and who lost their jobs and were publicly dis¬ 
graced. Other than their immediate families and sweethearts and perhaps 
the sympathetic PC Hanks and Inspector Abberline no one seemed to care 
about their future. How terribly familiar! 

Substitute the Roman Catholic Church for the Royal family and one can 
see how tempting it is for any Establishment— secular or religious—to go 
to extreme lengths to cover up sex scandals especially those of a pederas- 
tic or homosexual nature. 

As the Cleveland Street Affair drew to a close, the overall final verdict 
in the case especially in the eyes of Radical critics like Labouchere and 
Parke was that the Establishment had won out. But that victory was an illu¬ 
sory one. No sooner had yictorian society began to enjoy a respite from fur¬ 
ther unpleasant revelations about' the sodomical affairs of this or that earl 
or prince when another series of public trials even more devastating than 
the Cleveland Street scandal broke on to the London scene. 

The Many “Trials” of Oscar Wilde 

Contrary to popular belief, the “trials” of Oscar Fingel O’Flahertie Wills 
Wilde did not begin with the “persecution” of the eminent Irish-born play¬ 
wright and well-known homosexual playboy of the Victorian world, but with 
Wilde’s “prosecution” of his nemesis the Marquess of Queensberry, the 
father of his young lover and companion in crime, Lord Alfred Douglas. 

Indeed, it is quite clear that while the middle classes were pushing for 
a stricter enforcement of anti-sodomy legislation, the Victorian upper 
classes and high government officials who controlled police enforcement 
were more than happy to ignore the criminal sexual exploits of Wilde and 
Douglas as they did those of other prominent homosexuals of the day, had 
not Wilde himself opened the legal door to his own conviction by initiating 
a civil suit for libel against Queensberry. 63 

Unfortunately for Wilde, it was not Queensberry who was convicted. 
Wilde went to prison, not for libel, but for multiple charges of gross inde¬ 
cencies. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labor, first 
at Pentonville prison, then Wandsworth prison and finally Reading Gaol. 

His last prison transfer on November 21,1985, was one of Wilde’s most 
humiliating and traumatic experiences of his life. Dressed in prison clothes, 
his hands cuffed, the bedraggled Wilde stood at the Clapham Rail Junction 
awaiting public transport. He was flanked by police officers who were 
forced to shield the prisoner from the angry cursing mob and protect him 
from the projectiles of spittle and brickbat. It was a terrible scene made all 
the more tragic by the undeniable fact that the prisoner had brought the 
sentence down on his own head—with a little help from his friends. 


130 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


A Promising Lad 

Born in Dublin on October 16, 1854 into a prominent if somewhat 
eccentric and unconventional family, Oscar Wilde was the second and 
youngest son of Dr. (later Sir) William Robert Wilde, a gifted surgeon, 
renowned antiquarian, prolific writer and “lady’s man” and (Lady) Jane 
Francesca Elgee Wilde, a fierce Irish patriot and talented poetess and 
linguist in her own right. 

According to the distinguished scholar and critic Richard Ellmann, 
author of Oscar Wilde, considered to be the standard biography on Wilde, 
the playwright appeared to have enjoyed a carefree, near idyllic childhood. 
There was his older brother William Charles called Willie, his baby sister 
Isola, the “pet” of the family until her untimely death at the age of 10,’ and 
a large household of agreeable servants, governesses and private tutors. 
As he was growing up, young Oscar was oblivious to the darker events and 
familial scandals that were taking place around him. 64 

At the age of 10, the intellectually precocious Oscar, along with Willie, 
age 11, were sent off to the Portora Royal School in Enniskillen, County 
Fermanagh in Northern Ireland where Oscar was to spend the next seven 
years of his life. 65 Unlike his brother Willie, Oscar was not popular with his 
classmates and he remained somewhat of a bookish loner with an “inordi¬ 
nate passion” for the Greek classics. 66 This passion paid off when in 1871, 
the promising classicist was awarded a Royal School scholarship (and 
later a Foundation Scholarship) to Trinity College, Dublin, the Protestant 
University of Ireland. 67 

During his Trinity years, Wilde was heavily influenced by the pre- 
Raphaelitism and Hellenistic Movements as expounded by some of the 
leading Irish classicists of the day including the Reverend (later Sir) John 
Pentland Mahaffy (1839-1919) and the Latin and Greek literary scholar 
Robert Yelverton Tyrrell (1844-1914). It was at Trinity College that the 
young Wilde gave his intellectual (if not emotional) assent, to the philo¬ 
sophical foundation that would pave the way to his later homoerotic adven¬ 
tures that served as a bridge between aestheticism and decadence. 

The colorful and eccentric Mahaffy, Swiss-born but Dublin-educated, 
was a full-fledged Philhellene—a lover of all things Greek. 68 Before he 
became Provost of Trinity College in 1904, he would often accompany 
Trinity undergraduates on school vacation tours of Greece and Italy. Wilde 
joined him on tour in Italy the summer of his graduation from Trinity. Their 
mutual interest in Greek history, art and literature developed into a long¬ 
time friendship that continued even after Wilde had matriculated to 
Magdalen College, Oxford (England). In 1877, Mahaffy was able to divert 
Wilde to a tour of Greece—after which Mahaffy was able to brag in a letter 
to his wife that he had saved Oscar from “the Scarlet Woman,” i.e., Rome, 
and redirected Wilde from “Popery to Paganism.” 69 It must have been a bit¬ 
ter moment for Mahaffy when Wilde’s downfall came. After this, when 


131 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


asked about his protege, Mahaffy was reported to have sadly replied: “We 
no longer speak of Mr. Oscar Wilde.” 70 

Another of Wilde’s influential mentors who tutored Wilde in classics 
was the brilliant Robert Tyrrell, who held a number of professorships at 
Trinity including that of Latin, Greek and Ancient History. He was best 
known for his commentaries on the correspondence of Cicero and his crit¬ 
ical text of Sophocles and best remembered for his support for Wilde after 
the 1895 trials. 71 

Wilde’s Flirtation with “The Scarlet Woman” (Rev 17:3) 

For most of his life, Wilde had an on-again off-again romance with the 
Roman Catholic Church that may possibly have predated his Trinity years. 

His first and official baptism took place at St. Mark’s Church (Anglican) 
when he was seven months of age. The service was conducted by Oscar’s 
uncle, his father’s oldest brother, Rev. Ralph Wilde. 

His second baptism took place privately when Oscar was about nine or 
ten years old. Jane Wilde had formed a friendship with a Catholic priest, 
Reverend L. C. Prideaux Fox, himself a convert, who was serving as chap¬ 
lain for the Glencree Reformatory near the Wilde’s summer home in the 
Wicklow Mountains. At their mother’s request, both Oscar and Willie re¬ 
ceived instructions in the Faith and were later rebaptized. 

Dr. Wilde, a member of the Church of Ireland (Protestant) who had 
two brothers in Orders, was naturally not pleased with the affair, but he 
let the matter pass. The private baptism was not registered and Father 
Fox was soon transferred to another post never to be seen again by the 
Wilde family.' 2 Dr. Wilde’s opposition to the Catholic Church remained 
strong throughout his life. 

As for Oscar Wilde’s third and final baptism, at the time of his death, a 
Catholic priest administered the Last Rites of the Church that included a 
conditional baptism, the forgiveness of sins and the final sacrament of 
Extreme Unction. 73 

During his four years at Trinity, much to his father’s chagrin, or perhaps 
because of it, the young Wilde considered conversion to Catholicism. He 
had a number of close Catholic friends including a few Dublin priests, 
mostly Jesuits, and was an admirer of the prose of Cardinal John Henry 
Newman who had come to Dublin to serve as rector of Catholic University 
in 1854, the year of Wilde’s birth. 74 Later, Wilde visited Newman at 
Birmingham. 75 

However, at the time of his graduation from Trinity in 1874, Wilde’s 
interest in the Catholic Church had, for the time being, declined in lieu of 
more pressing worldly pursuits and ambitions. 

Also, by the time Wilde left Trinity College for Oxford, the seeds of his 
ambiguous sexuality reflected in his dandified mannerisms and dress and 
his acquired spirit of rebellion against bourgeois morality had been planted. 


132 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


However, at this early stage of Wilde’s academic career, they had not as yet 
manifested themselves so as to interfere with his studies. He remained an 
excellent student. 

As an undergraduate, Wilde took a First Class in Classical Moderations 
and a First Class in Literae Humaniores and in his senior year he captured 
a Berkeley Gold Medal for Greek and a Demyship to Magdalen College, 
Oxford. Many wealthy Irish families sent their young men to Oxford or 
Cambridge (Oxbridge) to complete their education in the fullest sense. For 
Oscar, his presence at Oxford signaled a major turning point in his life. 76 

The Oxford Years 1874-1878 

It might surprise readers to know that for the first year or so at 
Magdalen College, Oxford, Wilde, just entering his twenties, led the life of 
a fairly conventional Oxford undergraduate with no particular fame or noto¬ 
riety. 77 His letters to his family and friends at home in Ireland during this 
period are filled with familial reminiscences and lively candor, good humor 
and a healthy dose of leg-pulling on a wide variety of subjects—his studies, 
his new friendships especially with Reginald “Kitten” Harding and William 
“Bouncer” Ward, his thoughts on religion, his new female acquaintances 
and his sporting activities, most especially shooting, golf, swimming and 
fishing. 78 

As for Wilde’s sexual extracurricular activities at Oxford, we know they 
existed because the young man suffered a case of syphilis and was treated 
with mercury while a student at Oxford. Whether or nor his illicit affairs 
were with female or male prostitutes or both we do not know. 79 

As for sheer academic controversy and excitement, Wilde had come up 
to Oxford at just the right time. The university was about to break into open 
warfare as the proponents of the Hellenistic tradition as espoused by men 
like Walter Horatio Pater, Benjamin Jowett and John Addington Symonds 
came to open blows with the adherents of Protestant traditionalists. The 
indirect influence of Jowette and Symonds on Wilde will be discussed later. 

But at this moment in time, it was the writings of Pater, Oxford’s 
(Brasenose College) premier aesthetic and don, that appeared to most 
heavily influence Wilde’s embryonic theories on art* creative genius and 
homoerotic love in the Greek pederastic tradition. 80 Pater’s proselytizing of 
ill-disguised neo-pagan themes—“The love of Art for Art’s sake; the role 
of art in the social regeneration of Society; the merits of a “refined deca¬ 
dence” as an impetus for creative genius; and the virtue of experience for 
its own sake, struck a particularly agreeable cord in Wilde’s restless psyche 
and helped fill a growing spiritual void in Wilde’s life. 81 

Wilde, as a budding aesthetic, was also impressed with the teachings of 
John Ruskin (1819-1900), Slade Professor of Art at Oxford and one of the 
greatest art critics of the Victorian era. 82 The highly esteemed Professor 
Ruskin publicly favored the Pre-Raphaelite Movement in art as exemplified 


133 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


by the early works of Rossetti, Millais and Holman Hunt. Philosophically, 
he stood almost diametrically opposite Pater in his opposition to the neo- 
classicism and sensual self-indulgence. 83 Ellmann reported that Wilde 
sought out some spiritual direction from Ruskin and a friendship ensued, 
but it was not lasting one. 84 

The same might be said for Wilde’s attraction to Freemasonry, an 
important factor in religious (Church of England), social and professional 
mobility in Victorian society. His father, now Sir William Wilde, was a high- 
ranking member of the Shakespeare Lodge in Dublin and Wilde loved 
Masonry’s secrecy, ritualism and high fashion. 

On February 23,1875, he officially joined the university’s Apollo Lodge 
and quickly obtained the level of 3rd degree. 85 About 18 months later, Wilde 
went over to the Apollo Rose-Croix Chapter—the “High Church” of 
Freemasonry and achieved the 18th degree. Initially, Wilde was an enthu¬ 
siastic recruiter for the order until the novelty of it all began to wear thin. 
Throughout his remaining years at Oxford and in later life, Wilde main¬ 
tained a peripheral interest in Freemasonry, but it never became the all- 
consuming passion it had once been. 86 For Wilde, the source of his new pas¬ 
sions laid in a different direction. 

The Beginning of a Secret Life 

It is impossible to point to a particular date or set of circumstances that 
marked the beginning of Wilde’s flirtation with the homosexual underworld 
at Oxbridge and London, but there are enough clues to indicate that it had 
begun sometime during the latter part of his first year at Oxford. 

We know that one of Wilde’s visitors at Oxford during early summer of 
1875 was the sculpture and “through-paced queer” Lord Ronald Gower 
known to be addicted to rough trade. 87 On one such visit, Gower brought 
along a companion in crime, a young sketch artist by the name of Frank 
Miles, who like Gower, was a “conscious and uninhibited” homosexual and 
exhibitionist. 88 

By the summer of 1876, the two mens’ relationship with Wilde was on 
familiar enough ground for Miles to invite Wilde (and Gower) to his home 
at Bingham, Nottinghamshire. Miles’ father was a rector without a clue as 
to his son’s homosexual behavior. 89 Thereafter, Wilde saw Miles on a more 
regular basis, sharing holidays and school vacations. Interestingly, although 
his two best friends, Kitten and Bouncer, knew Frank or knew of Frank at 
Oxford, Wilde tended to keep his friendship with them separate from his 
growing relationship with Frank Miles. 90 Wilde was beginning to compart¬ 
mentalize his life. 

The Death of Sir William Wilde 

The death of his father on April 19, 1876, at the age of 61, following 
a long-term battle with asthma and gout, combined with the news that 


134 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


his family’s finances now bordered on the disastrous, weighed heavily on 
Wilde's mind as he left Dublin after the funeral to return to Oxford and his 
studies. The young man, consumed with grief and worry entered into a 
period of deep religious introspection in which he contemplated his con¬ 
version to Catholicism—an action his father had consistently thwarted 
when he was alive. 

On occasion, Wilde went to hear his favorite preacher, Cardinal Henry 
Edward Manning at the Church of St. Aloysius in St. Giles, the first Roman 
Catholic Church to be built in Oxford since the Reformation. 91 Prophet¬ 
ically, one of the cardinal’s most persistent themes of his preaching was 
Oxford’s spiritual apathy and decay. 92 Four months after his father’s death, 
on July 19, 1876, Wilde again went to hear Cardinal Manning preach in 
London. 93 

In the summer of 1877, David Hunter-Blair, one of Wilde’s closest 
“Papist” friends at Oxford, made his last stab at his schoolmate’s conver¬ 
sion. The wealthy and zealous Blair, a recent convert himself, who would 
eventually enter the Benedictine Order, helped finance Wilde’s trip to 
Rome ostensibly from some gambling winning. Blair also arranged for a 
private audience for Wilde with Pope Pius IX. 

Wilde joined Blair and Ward, a Protestant, in the Eternal City on the way 
home from his trip to Greece with Mahaffy, who was as eager to keep Wilde 
Protestant (and pagan) as Blair was to make him Catholic. As for Wilde him¬ 
self, after a momentary flicker of inspiration for things Roman, he returned 
to Oxford as elusive as ever regarding any serious and concrete spiritual 
commitment to either Anglicanism or Catholicism. 

There is no question that Wilde was always attracted to the outward 
signs of the Catholic faith especially the beauty and pageantry of the Holy 
Sacrifice of the Mass, the exquisite vestments and the delicious smell of 
burning incense and bees wax candles. But he never gave his assent to 
Catholic doctrine or dogma. And while it is true that he often made refer¬ 
ences to Christ in his works, this was not the Christ of Scripture—God 
made Man. In fact, Wilde often used Christian symbols and references to 
Christ in a manner that would, in effect, turn Christianity on its head. 

In Wilde’s only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, the author has the 
young Dorian contemplate the reasons why he had not converted to the 
Roman Church despite his sensual attraction for Roman rituals and his fas¬ 
cination with its mysteries including the dimly lit confessionals where men 
reveal their darkest secrets: 

It was rumored of him once that he was about to join the Roman Catholic 
Communion. ...But he never fell into the error of arresting his intellectual 
development by any formal acceptance of creed or system, of mistaking, for 
a house in which to live, an inn that is suitable for the sojourn of a night, or 
for a few hours of a night in which there are no stars and the moon is in tra¬ 
vail. Mysticism, with its marvelous power of making common things strange 


135 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


to us, and the subtle antinomianism that always seems to accompany it, 
moved him for a season. ...Yet, as has been said of him before, no theory of 
life seemed to him to be of any importance compared with life itself. He felt 
keenly conspicuous of how barren all intellectual speculation is when sepa¬ 
rated from action and experiment. He knew that the senses, no less than the 
soul, have their spiritual mysteries to reveal . 94 

To the outside world, Wilde remained a minimalist Anglo-Irish-Anglican 
Protestant, but by the start of his third year at Oxford it was clear that his 
intellectual loyalties and emotional desires lay well outside the boundaries 
of Christianity altogether. 

Mahaffy had primed Wilde’s latent pederastic urgings at Trinity and on 
their trips to Greece. Pater and his colleagues had fanned the coals of 
homoerotic desire at Oxford. Now with the death of his father who he loved 
and respected, the last barrier to the release of Wilde’s homoerotic inclina¬ 
tions and his transformation into the “quintsentential London dandy” and 
later into England’s foremost exponent of the virtues of Greek love, came 
tumbling down. 95 

It is significant that Wilde’s brother Willie, who used to visit Oscar at 
Oxford, was among the first to suspect that Oscar’s sexual inclinations 
might not be entirely normal following Wilde’s return from Greece and 
Rome that fateful spring of 1877. 

Some of his closest Oxford friends began to remark on Oscar’s new 
“extreme aesthesism,” the going euphemism for a sexual invert or homo¬ 
sexual—a personae that Wilde was just beginning to publicly exploit with 
his new opulent and sometimes comic wardrobe and his exaggerated effete 
mannerisms and mincing gait. 96 In his biography of Wilde, Croft-Cooke 
reported that Wilde’s letters and manner of speech during the second half 
of his stay at Oxford contained more “campy” and “self-mocking” expres¬ 
sions that reflect a connection, however vague, with a homosexual.milieu. 97 

Happily for everyone, however, Oscar’s last years at Oxford, as at 
Trinity College, had not been all play and no work. By the time he left 
Oxford for a literary career in London in 1878, his reputation as an undis¬ 
puted master of classical poetry and verse was made. In his senior year he 
not only won the coveted (Sir Roger) Newdigate Prize for English verse for 
his poem “Ravenna,” but he also earned a double first in “Greats.” The 
combined academic and artistic honors made him famous not only in aca¬ 
demic circles, but in London society as well. The world lay at Oscar Wilde’s 
feet. The only question that remained for the self-styled “Apostle of 
Aestheticism” was how to best exploit his classical training and literary tal¬ 
ents? That and where and with whom to live in London? 

A New Life in London 

Upon going down from Oxford, the ambitious but financially constrained 
Wilde, now age 25, took up rooms with his close and equally ambitious 


136 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


friend Frank Miles, age 21, settling first at Salisbury Street near the river 
and later at Chelsea. 98 

It was after their second move to Tite Street that Wilde and Miles had 
a violent quarrel over Canon and Mrs. Miles’ objections to one of Wilde’s 
recently published poems, probably “Charmides” with its shocking and for¬ 
bidden psychosexual themes that included necrophilia." Apparently Miles’ 
parents were totally oblivious to their own son’s secret life as an exhibi¬ 
tionist and homosexual. The argument sent Wilde packing. After the death 
of his father, Miles’ life quickly deteriorated. In 1887, he was confined to 
Brislington asylum near Bristol where he died four years later, reportedly 
by his own hand. 100 

The fates appeared to have been kinder to Wilde—at least for awhile. 

In the spring of 1891, the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta Patience opened 
at London’s Opera Comique to rave reviews. 101 Based upon an earlier 
satirical piece by William Gilbert titled “The Rival Curates” about two 
meek, asexual priests (Roman Catholic), Patience represented a frontal 
assault on the Pre-Raphaelite and Aesthetic Movements and a Protestant 
(Evangelical) back-handed swipe at the Roman Church that appeared to be 
attracting more than a few aesthetic converts. 

The lead characters in Patience are the outrageous aesthete, Reginald 
Bunthorpe and the more sensuous and “fleshy” aesthete, Archibald 
Grosevenor. Their manner of deportment is effete, their dress outra¬ 
geously flamboyant, and their favorite flower—the gilded lily (a replace¬ 
ment for the green carnation of the sodomite). 

Since Gilbert wrote the lyrics for Patience while Oscar was still at 
Oxford, Wilde was not the model for either Bunthorpe or Grosevenor. 
Nevertheless, Wilde, a born self-promoter, quickly saw the benefits of 
developing his public image along the lines of these Savoyard characters. 

In his memoirs of his father, Vyvyan Holland Wilde corrects the story 
that it was Richard D’Oyly Carte, the producer of all the Gilbert and 
Sullivan operettas who invited Wilde, England’s leading exponent of aes¬ 
theticism, to deliver a series of lectures in America’s major cities. Actually 
the invitation came from Carte’s business manager Colonel F. W. Morse. 102 
Wilde needed the money and he also wanted to attend to the production 
details of his play Vera (or, The Nihilists) that he wrote in 1880. 103 

On December 24,1881,Wilde embarked for America and began his first 
whirlwind tour that took him from New York to California—140 lectures 
in 70 towns in 260 days. 104 Most Americans couldn’t have been less in¬ 
terested in the English “fop,” but High Society, especially the female 
element, took him to their bosom. Oscar loved to mingle with the upper 
crust and attended a number of private salon engagements in New York 
and California that were especially arranged for him. 

Oscar also had the opportunity to meet with a number of prominent 
American literary figures including the poets William Wadsworth Long- 


137 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


fellow and Walt Whitman. 105 His personal tours took him to a Masonic tem¬ 
ple and to Cherry Grove on Fire Island, the future site of one of New York’s 
most notorious homosexual vacation enclaves. 

By the time he returned home to England after his successful American 
tour, Wilde was a celebrity! For the next two months he was a hot item in 
London’s fashionable literary circles. When his popularity waned he retired 
to the Hotel Voltaire in Paris to finish off his next play, a rather poor work, 
The Duchess of Padua, that was written for, but rejected by, the American 
actress Mary Anderson. 106 Then, having spent the remainder of the £1,200 
he earned on his American tour he sailed back for a second tour and the 
unsuccessful premier of Vera at the Union Square Theater in New York on 
August 20, 1883. 107 

Wilde as a Husband and Father 

When Wilde met his future wife Constance Lloyd in May of 1881 in 
London, he had not as yet fully committed himself to the more “vulgar,” 
physical expressions of “Greek love.” At age 27, he appeared more than 
willing to give marriage and parenthood a try. Besides, he had spent him¬ 
self dry and was mortgaged to the hilt. Croft-Cooke put the matter rather 
tartly, but in hindsight, perhaps quite accurately, “She (Constance) had a 
sufficient income and they set up a home in Tite Street.” 108 

Constance Wilde was Irish born, the daughter of the prominent London 
barrister Horace Lloyd. She was 23 years old when she met Oscar and his 
mother and soon became a regular at Mrs. Wilde’s soirees. The strong- 
willed Francesca Wilde, the dominant force in her son’s life, apparently did 
not view Constance as a serious competitor for Oscar’s affections. Never¬ 
theless, by all accounts, the new Mrs. Wilde was not only beautiful but 
charming, cultured, intelligent, multi-lingual with a hidden strength of 
character that surfaced later in her marriage. 

Although she could not have been unaware of her husband’s reputa¬ 
tion as an “aesthetic” and “dandy,” we cannot assume she thought of her 
husband as a potential or active “sodomite” since these Victorian terms 
were not necessarily synonymous. Despite parental objections on the 
bride’s side, the couple was married on May 29, 1884 at St. James Church, 
Paddington in “a high aesthetic mode” and spent their honeymoon in Paris 
at the Hotel Wagram. 109 

Oscar’s flattering attention and passionate love letters during their 
courtship and the arrival of two sons, Cyril and Vyvyan, within 18 months 
of marriage, must have quelled any early doubts she might have enter¬ 
tained about the wisdom of their marital union. And it certainly was more 
than sufficient to squelch those long-standing dark rumors that had fol¬ 
lowed Wilde down from Oxford. 


138 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


In his memoirs, Son of Oscar Wilde, Vyvyan Holland Wilde, Oscar’s 
younger son, presented a touching portrait of Oscar Wilde as the adoring 
and adored father during the “happy years,”—the games in the park and 
nursery; his father’s famous guests; frolicking at the seashore; the endless 
hours of storytelling; and the mending of precious broken toys. 110 After 
the fatal trials, when the bailiff came to sell the contents of the house, 
Vyvyan recalled that lot number 237, “a large quantity of toys,” realized 
30 shillings. 111 

Professionally speaking, Wilde continued to work hard as a playwright 
while accepting more mundane writing assignments as a book reviewer for 
the Pall Mall Gazette, a drama critic for Dramatic Review and an editor 
(1887-1889) for The Lady’s World (later renamed Woman’s World maga¬ 
zine). With the publication of The Happy Prince and Other Tales in the spring 
of 1888, Wilde entered an unprecedented period of sparkling creativity that 
enhanced his reputation as a literary artist as well as his pocketbook. 

Wilde was now the center of three adoring constellations—his wife and 
young sons, an intimate circle of influential and wealthy friends and associ¬ 
ates and a growing, world-wide audience of adoring fans and admirers. All 
in all, they appeared sufficient to keep Wilde content for a time. Unfortu¬ 
nately for all concerned, it was a rather short time. 

The Marillier Infatuation and Ross Affair 

There are at least two different stories as to what prompted Wilde to 
begin or restart his homosexual affairs just two years into his marriage. 

The least believable version is that proffered by Wilde’s friend and biog¬ 
rapher Robert Sherard who claimed that the return of syphilis forced Oscar 
to abandon normal marital relations and drove him to homosexuality. 112 

The more probable and prosaic reason was that Wilde had simply 
become bored with married life. He still loved being a father, but he now 
longed to taste more exciting and forbidden sexual fruit. 

We know that Wilde, the ultimate connoisseur of beauty, was very upset 
that Constance’s pregnancies had marred her lovely face and lithe figure 
and that he had complained to his friends that she had become “heavy, 
shapeless, (and) deformed” and that he was so disgusted that he had “to 
force himself to touch and kiss her.” 113 With regard to his own bloated facial 
features and middle age spread he ventured no comment. 

There is also the simple element of chance and opportunity. 

His first-born son Cyril was just five months old when Harry Marillier 
reentered Wilde’s life. 

Oscar had first met Harry when the Bluecoat boy was only 15 and Wilde 
had just left Oxford to live with Frank Miles at Salisbury Street. 114 The 


139 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


exceedingly handsome young man was now 20 years old and an under¬ 
graduate student at Cambridge. Wilde invited the young man to meet him 
in London and Harry accepted the invitation. A correspondence began 
between the two men that reflected a desire for a greater intimacy on 
Wilde’s part, but the infatuation came to nothing (possibly through parental 
interference by Marillier’s father) and their letters quit by February of 1886. 115 

Wilde’s unrequited love for Harry Marillier, however, did result in one 
“redeeming” feature. It primed him for what is alleged to have been his first 
homosexual experience with a lad named Robert Ross, a 17 year old 
Canadian who had been brought up in London and was just about to enter 
King’s College, Cambridge. About a year later, school authorities abruptly 
told the undergraduate to leave Cambridge, an incident probably connected 
to his homosexual activities. “Robbie” went on to become a journalist and 
art critic, but he made his reputation as Oscar Wilde’s literary executor. 116 

Literary historian Rupert Croft-Cooke rejected the idea of little 
Robbie’s “seduction” of the 32-year-old Wilde and I tend to agree with 
him. 117 From what we know of Wilde’s last years at Oxford, particularly his 
obsession with sexually-transgressive literary themes and his long-term 
friendship with the homosexuals Frank Miles and Lord Gower, it appears 
that Oscar would not have been a stranger to London’s homosexual under¬ 
world with its ready access to young rent-boys upon whom he could slake 
his pederastic appetites. 118 In addition, as Croft-Cooks so astutely pointed 
out, Wilde’s reputation as an aesthetic would not have grown were it not 
aided “by the gossip of the queers, one of publicity’s most powerful mouth¬ 
pieces then and today.” 119 

On the other hand, if one views Ross’ “seduction” of the older Wilde 
solely within the context of an ideal quasi-intellectual Hellenistic frame¬ 
work, with Wilde acting the respected erestes and the young dark-haired 
handsome Ross his beloved eromenos, then indeed Ross may be the first 
boy that Oscar ever had. 

In his later days, Ross is said to have regretted his early affair with 
Wilde, but he was not to blame. Wilde was ripe—one might even say— 
overripe—for a pederastic relationship with Hellenistic overtones. He had 
longed and desired to partake of the “forbidden love” that promised to free 
him from the shackles of traditional morality, “liberate” his senses and flood 
his being with a fresh wave of intellectual and creative genius. Ross had 
issued the invitation. Dare Wilde refuse? 120 

But Wilde had no sooner consummated his relationship with little 
Robbie, than their physical ardor began to cool, although it was never cut 
off altogether. This was a pattern that Wilde would establish with most of 
his sexual alliances that involved young men from upper or middle class 
families. Wilde was already looking forward to his next conquest. 
Nevertheless, as is not uncommon with many homosexual affairs, the gen¬ 
uine friendship that developed between Wilde and Ross would last a lifetime. 


140 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Oscar Wilde’s Dorian 

It was less than a year later, after Ross had entered King’s College, 
Cambridge that Wilde found his next sexual partner in the person of John 
Gray, a working class youth and aspiring poet who Wilde picked up in a bar 
one evening in 1889. The handsome Gray, who spoke with a lively Cockney 
accent before he remade himself, was 23 years old and he held a daytime 
job at the Foreign Office. It was later said that he provided the model for 
Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, although there were significant differ¬ 
ence between this Gray and the fictitious Dorian Gray. 121 

Wilde immediately began to parade his latest “favorite” about town as 
middle-age queens like to do. For his part, the obviously ambitious Gray 
was content to bask in his master’s spotlight and he soon became a regular 
member of Oscar’s literary and homosexual circles. Wilde’s affair with Gray 
was to last more than two years, although it was taken for granted by both 
men that their relationship was not exclusive, as Wilde had developed a dis¬ 
tinct preference for local lower-class renters (his “honey-sweet boys”) and 
Gray was always on the look out for potential sugar daddies. 122 

Later, when Wilde met his “true love,” Lord Alfred Douglas, he at¬ 
tempted to soften the blow of separation with Gray by agreeing to pay for 
the printing of Silverpoints, a collection of poetry that included 13 original 
works by Gray. This proved unnecessary. 

The tab for Silverpoints was eventually picked up by the wealthy Jewish 
Parisian socialite Marc-Andre Raffalovich who entered Gray’s life just when 
the despondent young man was contemplating suicide. Gray’s new suitor 
laid himself and his vast fortune at the young man’s feet. Gray made a 
remarkably quick recovery. 123 However, in time, what began as a homo¬ 
sexual liaison was suddenly transformed into a deep and abiding chaste 
friendship by an extraordinary turn of events. 

In 1896, following a dramatic religious experience, Raffalovich, con¬ 
verted from Judaism to Catholicism. Together with Gray, who had come 
into the Roman Church six years earlier, the two men embarked upon a 
spiritual journey that brought Gray to Scots College in Rome in October 
1898 to study for the Catholic priesthood. 124 Later Raffalovich became a 
Dominican Third Order tertiary and a daily communicant at Canon Gray’s 
new church that was built with funds provided by Raffalovich. 

After his ordination on December 21, 1901 Father Gray, at the insis¬ 
tence of Pope Leo XIII, settled outside of England, in Edinburgh, Scotland 
accompanied by his gentleman companion. The two men went on to forge 
a lasting fraternal bond that spanned more than three decades—until 
Raffalovich’s death in February 1934. Canon Gray followed his faithful 
friend to the grave just four months later. Their lives had been transformed 
by God’s grace. Agape had conquered Eros. Wilde was not as fortunate. He 
was about to meet the love of his life, Lord Alfred Douglas, and his 
Waterloo. 


141 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Life with Bosie—The Golden Boy 

Lord Alfred Bruce Douglas, affectionately known as “Bosie” was the 
third and youngest son of the 8th Marquess of Queensberry. 125 He was a 
born and bred aristocrat, educated at the elite Winchester Public School and 
later Oxford. He was also an aspiring poet, well built, with exceptionally 
good looks, golden blond hair and an alabaster complexion. 126 The combi¬ 
nation proved irresistible to Wilde. 

Lionel Johnson, a former Winchesterian and a homosexual, had intro¬ 
duced the two men during the summer of 1891. 127 Douglas was barely 21 
and a struggling student at Magdalene College, Oxford when he began his 
explosive affair with Wilde, now 37 and a husband and father. Wilde was 
thoroughly besotted from the moment they met. All caution was thrown to 
the wind. 

Wilde courted the beautiful Boise for several months buying him pres¬ 
ents and entertaining him in high fashion before Douglas permitted Wilde 
to fellate him. Bosie, used to playing the active role (sodomy) in his rela¬ 
tions with adolescent boys later recalled that it was not a particularly pleas¬ 
ant experience. 128 Nevertheless, Wilde’s fame, money, celebrity status and 
most of all, “his magical conversation,” proved to be adequate compensa¬ 
tion for his role as catamite to Oscar Wilde. 129 

Although Douglas’s mother and others blamed the elder Wilde for “cor¬ 
rupting” Bosie, this was not quite true. Boise had engaged in homosexual 
acts, that is mutual masturbation (not sodomy) at Winchester and Oxford 
and had already developed a taste for boys younger than himself. There is 
no evidence, however, he ever engaged in such acts with older men until 
he met Wilde. 

Since their sexual relationship, by mutual agreement, was never exclu¬ 
sive, Boise was able to seek out more adventurous sexual outlets in the 
form of renters and roughers, many of whom he happily shared with Oscar. 
This arrangement of mutual infidelity, however, never prevented Douglas 
from flying into one of his jealous rages over one of Oscar’s new flames. For 
his part, Wilde, who was never possessive about his “he-whores,” often 
referred to his casual affairs with lower-class youth as “feasting with pan¬ 
thers,”—his boy prostitutes being the exotic beasts and Wilde their domi¬ 
nant and masculine “animal tamer.” 130 

Although Douglas eventually gave up homosexual practices altogether 
in his post-adolescent years, Wilde never did. In fact, the older Wilde 
became, the more indiscriminate he became and the younger and younger 
his partners became. As for specific homosexual practices, all the evidence 
available to date shows that both men preferred the dominant and active 
role, although both were known to occasionally play the passive role. 131 The 
record also indicates that both men practiced masturbation of partners, 
mutual masturbation, interfemoral (“frottage”), fellatio, and, at least on 
Wilde’s part, sodomy. 132 


142 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Unfortunately for Wilde, what had begun as a quasi-intellectual search 
for the “Greek ideal love,” had deteriorated into a frenzied pursuit of unin¬ 
hibited pleasure and raw sex accompanied by other illicit homosexual 
accouterments such as drugs and “Socratic” pornography. 133 Eventually his 
homosexual passions became so all consuming that he had to leave London 
to get any writing done at all. 134 

To add fuel to the fire, both Wilde and Douglas actively and openly pros¬ 
elytized for “the cause” whenever and wherever they could. 

For example, in his fourth year at Magdalen College, Oxford, Douglas 
took over the editorship of the Spirit Lamp and used the magazine to pro¬ 
mote a thinly veiled homoerotic ethos under the guise of Hellenistic love. 

The equally dedicated Wilde tried his hand at recruiting fellow debauch- 
ers from his many artistic friends and acquaintances. He credited himself 
with bringing the French writer Andre Gide whom he had met in Paris in 
1891, into “the fold.” In his biography of Gide, the French writer Jean Delay, 
affirmed that Wilde played a decisive role in Gide’s decision to aggressively 
pursue a life of pederasty following their meeting in Algiers in January of 
1895. 135 

The details of that fateful meeting in Algiers when Wilde persuaded the 
young Gide to accompany him on one of his nocturnal pederastic adven¬ 
tures are recorded by a number of writers including Gide himself in his 
autobiography Si le grain ne meurt . 136 It is Delay, however, that best cap¬ 
tured the spirit with which Wilde entered into this singular enterprise. 

According to Delay, Gide was not unaware of the true nature of Wilde’s 
(and Douglas’s) unnatural passions for young boys—passions to which he 
himself was attracted. What set Wilde apart for Gide, however, was the 
enthusiasm with which Wilde was “always trying to instill into you a sanc¬ 
tion for evil.” 137 

Wilde’s New Hedonism left no room for the quaint moralisms that still 
haunted Gide such as Christianity’s emphasis on the mortification of the 
flesh or the condemnation of man’s baser instincts. 138 

The vulnerable Gide was swept away. 

Following his extraordinary sexual encounter with a young Algerian 
musician of about 14, Gide convinced himself that he had at last discovered 
his “true self.” He became a confirmed pederast. What followed was quite 
predictable. As Delay explained, “The minute a young man whose instinct 
has been repressed by moral and social constraints decides to free sexuality 
from guilt, he also generally rebels against the constraints themselves.” 139 
Gide proved to be no exception to the rule. 

Whether in Algiers or Paris or London, the Wilde-Douglas Affair was 
not an “open secret”—it was simply open. 140 From November 1882 to 
December of 1883, Wilde and Douglas were constantly in each other’s com¬ 
pany and traveled everywhere together usually with a bevy of international 
news reporters at their heels. Later, as the sexual intensity of their rela- 


143 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


tionship began to cool, the men continued to enjoy each other’s company as 
friends and companions in crime. Their combined flamboyant antics, camp 
language and mannerisms and dandyish dress attracted attention and 
media coverage wherever they went—in England or on the Continent. 
Meanwhile, on the home front, Wilde’s family—his wife, young sons, 
mother and brother Willie were beginning to feel the painful effects of 
Victorian Society’s disapproval in the form of increased social ostracization 
and isolation. 141 

Entering the Forbidden Zone—The Case of Edward Shelley 

Between 1892 and 1895, Wilde turned London society on its head with 
an unprecedented series of highly successful and lucrative theatrical pro¬ 
ductions beginning with Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), followed by A 
Woman of No Importance (1893), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The 
Importance of Being Earnest (1895). On a more personal level, the cele¬ 
brated middle aged playwright and pederast kept an eye out for potential 
new sexual conquests and began exploring heretofore forbidden territories. 

Enter Edward Shelley. 

It was Wilde who spotted the handsome 18-year-old clerk-office boy 
when he went over to his publishers Elkin Mathews and John Lane’s office 
on Vigo Street one fine day in early 1892 to sign some copies of his Poems. 

Shelley was not what one might call Wilde’s usual cup of tea, that is to 
say, he was neither an Oxbridge queer nor a male prostitute. He came from 
a respectable middle-class family and had attended State schools. On the 
other hand, he had all the essentials Wilde demanded from his sexual con¬ 
sorts. He was young, handsome, most likely a virgin and like John Gray, he 
had some literary aspirations which Wilde could and did exploit. 142 

Flattered that the elder Wilde would take a particular interest in him, 
Shelley accepted an invitation from the elder Wilde for dinner and drinks at 
a public room at the Albemarle Hotel. Later the two men retired to Wilde’s 
private suite for more drinking and probably a smoke of Oscar’s opium 
tipped cigarettes. 143 Shelley was primed for seduction and Wilde carted him 
off to the adjoining bedroom to sample the boy’s physical attributes. Shelley 
later testified that he successfully resisted Wilde’s advances that night. 

The next evening Wilde brought his new favorite to the theater to show 
him off. Shelley also dined with Oscar and Constance at their home and was 
later introduced to some of Wilde’s more intimate friends. At one point 
Wilde asked Shelley to join him for a stay at a Felbrigg farmhouse near 
Cromer, but the invitation was turned down as the lad still had his job to 
consider. 144 

There are conflicting reports as to whether or not Wilde ever engaged 
in explicit sexual acts with Shelley, but there appears to be sufficient evi¬ 
dence that he did so before their relationship ended in March of 1893. 


144 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Although Wilde had grown bored with the now petulant and demanding 
Shelley, it was actually the young man who broke off the relationship osten¬ 
sibly out of concern for the increasing dangers posed by his intimacies with 
the famed playwright. The unhappy youth had become the butt of endless 
jokes at the office where his not-so-nai've fellow workers referred to him as 
“Miss Oscar” or “Mrs. Wilde.” 145 Shelley, who was beginning to exhibit 
signs of an emotional breakdown, soon lost his job, at which point he con¬ 
fided his plight to his father who strictly forbade him to ever see Wilde 
again. Shelley had no contact with Wilde for over a year. 

Then in 1894, Wilde received a telegram from the down-and-out Shelley 
asking for money. In his communication, Shelley said he was haunted by a 
bad conscience resulting from the “sins they had committed together.” 146 
Wilde felt “hurt” and “betrayed.” After all he had done for the boy! Never¬ 
theless, he sent him the money. A case of blackmail or not, Shelley’s 
telegram was an evil omen of things to come, but Wilde was too intoxicated 
with his newly found fame and fortune to take notice. 

Deeper into London’s Homosexual Maelstrom 

The door to London’s homosexual underground had been open to Oscar 
during his early years at Oxford by his friends Frank Miles and Lord Gower. 
Wilde’s affair with Robbie Ross had expanded his connections to Oxbridge’s 
intimate coterie of queer dons. After he met Douglas, Wilde’s initiation into 
Victorian England’s flourishing and mutilayered world of same-sex prosti¬ 
tution and criminal activity was complete. 

Wilde had two primary resources for the procurement of young boys. 
One was Alfred Waterhouse Somerset Taylor and the other was Maurice 
Schwabe. 

Schwabe was the younger, more intelligent and better educated of the 
two men and shared Wilde’s preference for boys from the East End slums. 
The two men had been introduced by Robbie Ross. Wilde, who had a brief 
sexual relationship with Schwabe, would occasionally have the young man 
over for dinner at his home to catch up on the latest gossip of London’s 
homosexual scene. 147 Late in the summer of 1892, Schwabe introduced 
Wilde to his friend Alfred Taylor, a rather gentle individual with a penchant 
for women’s clothing and young renters. 

Taylor, now in his early 30s had been educated at Marlborough and then 
privately tutored. He had planned a military career in London’s Royal 
Fusilier regiment, but when he came into a fortune he decided to pursue a 
life of pleasure instead. Croft-Cooke characterized Taylor as a “harmless 
typical London effeminate queen” who had overspent himself into bank¬ 
ruptcy. 148 He now lived in a set of small rooms on Little College Street that 
served as a campground for other homosexual queens from other 
respectable families. Taylor enjoyed cruising and would often bring his 
young pick-ups back to his apartments for one of his “teaparties.” 149 


145 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


According to Croft-Cooke, a friendly but dangerous competition of sorts 
developed between Taylor and Schwabe as to who could bring Wilde, the 
“best” boys—“nice” “clean” and “feminine.” 150 

One of Taylor’s more classy pickups was a tall, slim lad he spotted at 
the Gaiety Theater by the name of Sidney Mavor, aka “Jenny.” Taylor told 
the young man that Mr. Wilde liked “nice, clean boys.” 151 Shortly there¬ 
after, Taylor introduced Wilde to the impressionable Mavor as a “real Lord” 
at a lavish dinner at Kettner’s that Schwabe had arranged for the occasion. 
Douglas joined the foursome to witness the seduction scene. A few nights 
later Wilde had the boy at the Albemarle Hotel. Sidney Mavor became one 
of Wilde’s extended favorites. 152 

Unfortunately for Wilde, Schwabe was less selective in his choices. 
One of his pickups was a 17-year-old charmer named Frederick “Denny” 
Atkins who, unbeknownst to Schwabe, was an accomplished blackmailer 
with a criminal record a mile long. Schwabe himself became rather attached 
to the boy, but he eventually got around to introducing Atkins to Wilde in 
October 1892. 

Like Schwabe, the earthy and vulgar Atkins fascinated Wilde, so much 
so that he took his new “secretary” to Paris where the two men had con¬ 
necting bedrooms and Freddie received, of all things, a permanent wave at 
the famed Pascal Hair Salon. 153 

Soon after their return to England, the enterprising Atkins brought his 
friend and fellow blackmailer, Alfred Wood, an unemployed clerk, over to 
Taylor’s place. Wilde was away, but Douglas was there and scooped the 
beautiful boy up for himself. That was his first mistake. The second was to 
take this new angelic-faced acquisition to his rooms at Oxford where Wood 
managed to secure some indiscreet love letters that Wilde had written to 
his Bosie. Wilde would later pay out blackmail money for those letters, but 
not before he had tasted Wood’s charms for himself. 

While the Atkins-Wood Affair was being played out, Taylor, not to be 
outdone by Schwabe, had procured two delightful boys for Wilde at the St. 
James Bar through the intercession of a young prostitute named Edward 
Harrington. Enter the brothers, William and Charles Parker, a couple of 
penniless, down-on-your luck young lads looking to survive and willing to 
sell their bodies to a “willing gent.” 154 Taylor kept the boys for himself for 
awhile before introducing them to Wilde and his friends. 

After an evening of superb dining and drinking champagne at a local 
restaurant, Wilde got his choice of the brothers and picked “Charlie” who 
had a girlish face and slight built. William stayed behind with Taylor, while 
Wilde took his brother to his suite of rooms at the Savoy, plied the boy with 
liquor, and sodomized him. Under oath, Charles Parker testified that before 
meeting Taylor he had never been involved in prostituting himself. He said 
at the trial that he had entered the army in August 1894. 


146 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Charlie Parker gave a detailed description of how Wilde liked his sex: 

I was asked by Wilde to imagine that I was a woman and that he was my 
lover. I had to keep up the illusion. I used to sit on his knees and he used to 
play with my privates as a man might amuse himself with a girl. Wilde 
insisted on this filthy make-believe being kept up . 155 

By 1893, Wilde had found it necessary to find new working quarters, 
this time at 10, St. James Place as the proprietors of hotels like the 
Albemarle no longer wanted his business. With Douglas abroad, Wilde con¬ 
tinued his visits with Charlie Parker, Sidney Mavor and Freddie Atkins 
along with several other new boys, among them an actor, Harry Barford and 
an unemployed clerk, Ernest Scarfe, a discard of Douglas to whom Oscar 
gave an inscribed silver cigarette-case. They were, however, only part of 
Wilde’s and Douglas’ common stable of available boys. Others were just 
working class boys they casually solicited from local hotels or on the street, 
like 18-year-old Alphonso Harold Conway who sold papers on the water¬ 
front at Worthing. 156 

Taylor had also been forced to move that same year, but for a different 
reason. The police had learned about his same-sex brothel and his so-called 
“teaparties” and had set watch on his Little College Street apartments 
which they later searched. On August 12,1894, the 32-year-old Taylor was 
arrested along with Charlie Parker, now 19, when the police raided a drag 
party held at a residence at Fitzroy Street. 157 
Wilde remained unfazed. 

Queensberry Attacks and Wilde Sues 

In the opening chapter to The Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde has the dis¬ 
solute Lord Wotton advise his artist friend Basil Hallward (whom Dorian 
Gray will later stab to death) that; “...I choose my friends for their good 
looks, my acquaintances for their good characters, and my enemies for their 
good intellects. A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies...” 158 

It is unfortunate for Wilde that he did not heed his own advice. In taking 
Lord Douglas as a lover, Wilde had also taken on a formidable enemy, 
Boise’s father, John Sholto Douglas, the 8th Marquess of Queensberry. 
Wilde underestimated the tenacity and resourcefulness of Queensberry, 
as well as his own vulnerability at many different levels. 

Wilde’s biographer Ellmann described Queensberry as an “aristocratic 
rebel,” of Scottish descent and an “iconoclast” who rejected Christianity 
until his death bed conversion to Catholicism on January 31,1900, the same 
year as Wilde’s death. 159 Like Wilde, Queensberry was a complex, driven 
character and just as reckless. On the other hand, he had two distinct 
advantages over Wilde. First, he possessed an aristocratic title that buf¬ 
feted him from the consequences of his eccentric behavior and secondly he 
was very wealthy. 


147 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


The fact that Queensberry, after whom the Marquis of Queensberry 
Rules of English and American boxing are named, saw himself as the 
epitome of a “man’s man,” made Wilde’s highly publicized fling with his 
youngest son, Alfred, the equivalent of waving a red flag in front of a raging 
bull. Further, there is evidence to indicate that Queensberry’s claim against 
Wilde may not have been solely motivated out of personal malice or 
spite. 160 

On October 18,1894, Queensberry’s favorite son and heir to the title, 
Francis Archibald Douglas (Lord Drumlanrig), was killed in a hunting acci¬ 
dent. Rumors soon surfaced that the accident was actually a suicide. 161 

Francis Douglas had served as private secretary to Lord Rosebery 
(Archibald Philip Primrose), the 5th Earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), a 
fellow Scot and Foreign Secretary under Gladstone in 1886 and again in 
1892. 162 There were rumors that Francis had become the widowed 
Rosebery’s young lover. The threat of public exposure of the alleged affair 
between Lord Drumlanrig and Lord Rosebery, leader of the Liberal Party 
and England’s future Prime Minister, was said to have driven Francis to 
take his own life. 

Whether or not Queensberry was angry because he had evidence of 
Rosebery’s homosexual relationship with his eldest son, or simply because 
Rosebery had brought Francis into the House of Lords as Lord Kelhead in 
1893, while he (Queensberry), who carried the ancient title of his Scottish 
ancestors languished outside for his unorthodox beliefs, or both, we do not 
know. 

We do know, however, that early that same year, Queensberry had pur¬ 
sued Rosebery to Homburg, Germany where the Foreign Secretary was on 
holiday and, armed with a horsewhip, announced his intention to publicly 
assault the British minister for his part in promoting Lord Drumlanrig to 
the peerage. The Prince of Wales personally intervened and the Chief 
Commissioner of Police arrived on the scene, escorted Queensberry away 
and made sure he was on the morning train to Paris. 163 

Rosebery later wrote to the Queen, “It is a material and unpleasant 
addition to the labours of Your Majesty’s service to be pursued by a pugilist 
of unsound mind.” 164 

Wilde was next on Queensberry’s hit list. 

On April Fools Day, 1894, Queensberry spotted Alfred and Oscar lunch¬ 
ing together at the Cafe Royal. The two men had just returned from Paris 
where Wilde had had a bitter fall-out with Douglas. The pair were now 
openly engaged in one of their proverbial reconciliations. Queensberry 
used the occasion to issue his son a final warning to end his “loathsome and 
disgusting relationship” with Wilde, but to no avail. 163 Queensberry’s next 
stop was to engage a top-notch solicitor, Sir George Henry Lewis, a friend 
of the Douglas family. 166 


148 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


In late June, Queensberry showed up at Wilde’s Tite Street residence in 
a violent rage, cursing and shaking his fists, demanding that Wilde sever his 
relationship with Bosie. He then began to stalk Wilde as he had done 
Rosebery. Wilde prepared himself for a legal battle and sought out the 
advice of a solicitor, but it was not until the following year that he was gal¬ 
vanized into action. 167 

On February 18,1895, four months to the day following the death of his 
beloved son, Francis, Queensberry delivered the most famous misspelled 
calling card in history to a porter at the Albemarle Club. It read “To Oscar 
Wilde posing somomite.” [sic]. 168 Wilde had been away in Algiers with 
Douglas and did not receive the inscribed card until ten days later. 

Goaded on by his own pride and sense of honor and by Bosie, who 
wanted to see his father in the gaol, Wilde filed a civil suit of criminal libel 
against Queensberry who was arrested on Saturday morning, March 1, 
1895. 169 A surety of £1,500 was demanded of Queensberry to insure that he 
would not flee the country, which of course he had absolutely no intention 
of doing. 170 

It is important to keep in mind that although Queensberry was the 
defendant in this first trial, the nature of the case was such that it was 
Wilde, not Queensberry, who was actually on trial. 

As expected, Queensberry pleaded justification and on March 30 filed 
the required bill of particulars that listed 15 separate counts and 12 young 
men (ten named) whom Wilde solicited to commit sodomy. 171 

Both Wilde and Douglas, in the presence of Wilde’s solicitor saw the 
listing with all the familiar names—Shelley, Mavor, Atkins, Schwabe, 
Charles Parker, Wood and so on —before the trial began, but they were 
apparently not aware that these young men were actually in the building 
preparing to give testimony on their relationship with Wilde. It appears, 
from subsequent events, that Queensberry must have secured a promise of 
immunity from prosecution for the boys since none were arrested and held 
for trial after the Wilde ordeal was over. 172 

In any case, Wilde was able to convince his solicitors that although he 
knew the boys, he had never engaged in any sexual improprieties with 
them. 173 He insisted that he was absolutely innocent of the charges made 
against him. On with the trial! The show must go on! 

Wilde Vs. Queensberry 

Following preliminary court proceedings, the first of three sensational 
trials involving Oscar Wilde began at the Old Bailey on April 3, 1895 with 
Mr. Justice R. Henn Collins presiding. The young but formidable barrister 
Edward Carson (later Lord Carson), a fellow student of Wilde’s from Trinity 
College, Dublin, assisted by junior counsel, Charles F. Gill, appeared for the 
defense (Queensberry). Queensberry also retained the services of Charles 
Russell. 174 


149 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


The distinguished Sir Edward Clarke, QC, Mil one of the most re¬ 
spected and renown solicitors in England and “a veritable Titan of the Bar,” 
assisted by Mr. Travers Humphreys and Mr. Charles Willie Matthews, an 
experienced criminal lawyer, appeared for the prosecution (Wilde). 175 Both 
sides were more than adequately represented, but in the end the trial 
proved a no contest. 

As the first day of proceedings came to a close, Clarke knew that despite 
Wilde’s oath to the contrary, his client had deliberately lied to him about his 
pederastic activities. Further, Wilde had just repeatedly perjured himself on 
the stand beginning with a simple lie about his age—he was not 39, he was 
over 40. 176 Moreover, Clarke strongly suspected that Carson had more than 
enough evidence to support Queensberry’s accusation that his client was 
not only a “posing” sodomite, but an active one. What was even more cer¬ 
tain was that no jury in the world was going to convict a father for trying to 
save his son from such a man. 

For his part, Wilde had anticipated that he would be questioned in court 
about his relationship with Queensberry and his son, Lord Douglas and the 
homoerotic implications of some of his published works such as The Picture 
of Dorian Gray and personal correspondence including the blackmail letters 
taken by Wood from Douglas at Oxford. He was prepared to deliver an elo¬ 
quent soliloquy in defense of Socratic love. Yet, for some inexplicable rea¬ 
son, he was not prepared, when, at the end of the first day of the trial, 
Carson began to question him about his relationship with certain young 
men. 

First, Carson asked about Wilde’s relationship with his publisher’s office 
boy, Edward Shelley. Then he passed a note to Wilde without comment with 
Maurice Schwabe’s name written on it. Then he inquired about the dock 
boy, Alphonso Conway, and laid out a selection of gifts including a signed 
edition of one of his works that Wilde had given the semi-illiterate street 
urchin. Next Carson asked about Walter Grainger, barely 16 when Wilde 
met him. He had been a servant at the house in Oxford where Douglas 
had had rooms. Finally, he asked Wilde about a pageboy at the Savoy 
named Herbert Tankard whom Wilde had shipped to Calais for safekeeping 
(Tankard did not testify). Throughout the questioning Wilde insisted, under 
oath, that he had no improper relationship with any of the boys. Further he 
said he had no reason to suspect that any of the boys were of an “immoral” 
or “disreputable” character. 177 

Many thought that Clarke was going to call Lord Douglas to the stand 
to defend Wilde but he did not. 178 Wilde said he opposed putting Bosie in 
the witness box as he was loathed to put a son against his father. Clarke also 
was opposed to opening up another can of worms. 

The following day, Carson continued his reexamination of Wilde, this 
time honing in on Wilde’s relationship with Alfred Taylor and the boys that 
Taylor had procured for him—Charles Parker, Fred Atkins, Ernest Scarfe 


150 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


and Sidney Mavor. The key question was not what Wilde had given them in 
terms of payment or gifts, but what the boys had given to him. He also 
asked Wilde if he remembered the waiter at the hotel in the Boulevard des 
Capuchines in Paris, which signaled to Wilde that Carson had information 
on his sexual exploits outside of London. When Carson announced that the 
defense was prepared to call to the stand at least five of the dozen or so 
boys with whom Wilde had sexual relations, Wilde blanched. 

To his credit, Clarke stood by his client. Wilde was advised of his legal 
options. Privately, however, he was urged to take his wife and family and 
seek voluntary exile abroad while his solicitors gained him time by keeping 
the trial going. Wilde refused. Queensberry’s position stiffened and he told 
his solicitors to refuse any compromise that Clarke was prepared to offer. 

On April 5, the third and final day of the trial, Clarke had no choice but 
to concede defeat and withdraw the prosecution. Queensberry was acquit¬ 
ted of all charges. Mr. Justice Collins instructed the jury to rule that not 
only was Queensberry’s charges against Wilde true but that his actions 
in exposing Wilde were in the public interest. Wilde was ordered to pay 
Queensberry’s court costs of £600. 179 But even worse, his actions against 
Queensberry had opened him up to prosecution by the Crown for the 
violation of the Criminal Law Amendment Act of 1885. 

Once again, Queensberry was willing, even at this late date, to let the 
matter drop if Wilde was willing to leave England and Boise behind. But 
when Wilde again refused, Queensberry immediately ordered his solicitors 
to turn over all evidence against Wilde to the Crown’s Director of Pros¬ 
ecutions’ office in the Treasury building in Whitehall. 180 

At 3:30 p.m. Detective-Inspector Brockwell from Scotland Yard was dis¬ 
patched to seek a warrant for the arrest of Wilde from Sir John Bridge the 
Bow Street magistrate. Before issuing the warrant, Bridge held a meeting 
with Brockwell, Queensberry’s men Russell and Gill and two of the boys 
named in Queensberry’s list of particulars. The delay was no doubt delib¬ 
erate in order to provide Wilde with sufficient time to catch the next train 
to Dover and a boat to France. As H. Montgomery Hyde, a former MP sug¬ 
gested, in the midst of severe economic and political turmoil at home and 
abroad, the last thing the Liberal Government of Prime Minister Rosebery 
or the Royal family needed was an international expose of sodomical prac¬ 
tices among Britain’s upper and aristocratic classes. 181 

But, to everyone’s surprise, when the police arrived at the Cadogan 
Hotel, Wilde was waiting for them. His instinct had been to flee. In this 
he had the support of nearly all his friends and family including his wife, 
Constance. But his mother, Lady Wilde, was against his flight. She de¬ 
manded as a condition for retaining her love, that Oscar remain in 
England and face the charges against him even if it meant imprisonment. 
Later Wilde confided to Boise that he was wont to live the life of a fugi¬ 
tive. 182 Some of Wilde’s friends, however, did not share his scruples. 


151 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Robert Ross and Maurice Schwabe with whom Wilde had been intimate and 
a number of active pederasts crossed over from Dover to Calais that night. 183 

Wilde spent a fretful night in jail at the Bow Street Police Station. The 
next morning he was formally charged with having committed acts of gross 
indecency. Mr. Justice Bridge, a firm proponent of anti-sodomy statutes, 
denied him bail and he was remanded in custody at Holloway prison for the 
next three weeks during which time he underwent three grueling sessions 
of preliminary hearings before a Grand Jury at the Bow Street station. 184 

The prosecution was ready to present the testimony of some of the boys 
Alfred Taylor had solicited for Wilde beginning with Charles Parker. Parker 
was followed by Sidney Mavor, the only public school boy in the bunch. 
Douglas had managed to get to him earlier and convinced him that as a man 
of honor he had a solemn duty to deny having anything to do with Wilde. 
Although Mavor admitted that he had been to bed with Taylor, when the 
prosecution asked what happened when he and Wilde spent the night 
together in Wilde’s bed he replied, “nothing.” 185 The Grand Jury was of 
another mind and both Wilde and Taylor were bound over for trial for vio¬ 
lating Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act. 

The Crown Vs. Wilde—The First Round 

On April 26, 1895, the second of the Wilde trials opened in criminal 
court at the Old Bailey with Mr. Justice Sir Arthur Charles, a distinguished 
authority on ecclesiastical law, presiding. 186 

Wilde stood co-joined with Alfred Taylor as the indictment against both 
men was read. They were charged with twenty-five counts of gross inde¬ 
cencies (not sodomy) and three counts of conspiracy to commit such 
acts. 187 Clarke waived his fee and continued to serve as Wilde’s solicitor 
along with Matthews and Humphreys. Mr. Justice Charles E Gill, a Trinity 
College alumnus like Carson, assisted by Horace Avory and Arthur Gill 
acted for the Crown, under the advisement of the Solicitor General Sir 
Frank Lockwood. 188 

Prior to the start of the trial, both sides maneuvered for advantage. 
Clarke wanted Wilde to be tried separately from poor Taylor who was an 
obvious liability. When the trial ended and the conspiracy charge was 
dropped, the two men were unjoined and retried separately 

Gill, in turn, had reached a deal with Queensberry’s solicitor to keep 
Lord Douglas’s name out of the court proceedings in so far as possible in 
exchange for the evidence Queensberry’s private detectives had assembled 
against Wilde. There was also rumors afloat at Whitehall that Lord 
Rosebery, Queensberry’s nemesis, had considered helping Wilde at one 
point, but was dissuaded from doing so as Wilde was considered to be too 
great a political liability. 189 

Bosie, who had remained in London throughout the Queensberry trial 
and had visited Wilde daily during his incarceration at Holloway prison, had 


152 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


departed for Calais with Oscar’s blessings after Clarke insisted his pres¬ 
ence in London would hurt his client, especially if Douglas were called as a 
witness by the prosecution. Wilde was released on bail, but since no hotel 
would have him, he was forced to find lodgings with one of the few sympa¬ 
thetic friends Wilde had left, Ada Leverson, whom Wilde affectionately 
called “the Sphinx.” 190 

Once the legal preliminaries were over and Wilde’s trial got underway, 
the second trial moved quickly. 

Gill ordered Charles Parker to the witness stand and the youth stated 
that Wilde had committed sodomy and other acts on his person at the 
Savoy, Albemarle and St. James Hotels, Taylor’s house, Wilde’s home on 
Tite Street and Parker’s room in Chelsea. 191 William Parker confirmed his 
brother’s testimony with details that demonstrated both boys were speak¬ 
ing the truth. Next, Gill’s junior aide Avory interrogated Alfred Wood who 
testified that Wilde had also sodomized him. Then came Thomas Price, a 
waiter at the St. James, who stated that Wilde brought boys of quite inferior 
station to the hotel. 192 

The young blackmailer, Fred Atkins, testified after Price. He told the 
jury about his trip to Paris with Wilde, but said there were no indecencies 
between them. Atkins was later removed from the courtroom and charged 
with perjury. 193 A housekeeper who took care of Atkin’s lodgings said that 
Wilde visited the young man there and that the bed sheets were “stained in 
a peculiar way” after Wilde’s visits with Atkins. Sidney Mavor testified next 
and stated there was never any impropriety between himself and Wilde. 
This statement was in contradiction to the testimony he had given previ¬ 
ously to police officers that he and Wilde were intimate. 

Gill then brought the prosecution’s star witness to the stand. The testi¬ 
mony of Edward Shelley was important for the prosecution’s case. Wilde 
had corrupted and ruined him. Unfortunately, Shelley was both mentally 
and emotionally unfit to testify, but he gave his statement nevertheless. 
Later Wilde denied he conducted himself improperly with Shelley or that 
he had any improper relations with Charles Parker, Wood or Conway. Asked 
what was Wilde’s business with these lads, Wilde replied that he loved 
youth and found the boys’ company entertaining. 

The prosecution now brought to the witness stand several employees 
of the Savoy Hotel who had observed Wilde naked in bed with naked young 
boys. Antonio Migge, a professional masseuse who had attended Wilde said 
he saw Wilde in bed with a young man. His evidence was confirmed by a 
chambermaid, Jane Cotter who testified that she saw Wilde in bed with a 
boy of about 16. Later Cotter said she received instructions from the 
housekeeper Mrs. Annie Perkins on how to deal with the stained sheets. 194 
Gill filed additional transcripts with the judge and the case for the Crown 
was completed. 


153 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Wilde Sings the Praises of Socratic Love 

Sir Clarke then opened the case for the defense. After his opening 
remarks he called Mr. Oscar Wilde to the stand. Wilde was asked if he had 
given truthful testimony at the Queensberry trial and Wilde answered that 
he did. He also said the allegations of gross indecencies made against him 
in court carried “no truth whatsoever.” 195 

Upon cross-examine of Wilde, Gill asked the accused about the mean¬ 
ing of Lord Douglas’s sonnet “The Two Loves” written in November or 
December of 1892. Wilde used the occasion to deliver one of the greatest 
performances of his life, an exposition on the “Love that dare not speak its 
name.” It was the high point of the trial for Wilde. 

That “Love” waxed Wilde was the supreme affection “of an elder for a 
younger man as there was between David and Jonathan,” ...it was a Platonic 
Love ...it is found in “the sonnets of Michelangelo and Shakespeare. But, 
grieved Wilde, it is a “Love that today is gravely misunderstood.” This ter¬ 
rible misunderstanding is responsible, Wilde asserted, for his unfortunate 
presence in the docket this very day. “There is nothing unnatural” about 
this Love, Wilde proclaimed, “It is beautiful, it is fine, it is the noblest form 
of affection. ...It is intellectual, and it repeatedly exists between an elder 
and a younger man, when the elder has intellect, and the younger man has 
all the joy, hope and glamour of life before him.” 196 

The whole court was carried away and there was a tremendous sponta¬ 
neous burst of applause in the courtroom. 

Clarke took advantage of the high ground that Wilde had momentarily 
captured by hammering away at the “low life,” that is, the boy prostitutes 
that were attempting to sully the character of one of England’s most dis¬ 
tinguished playwrights and man of letters. How reliable was the testimony 
of a Parker or a Wood or an Atkins? They were blackmailers, prostitutes, 
perjurers and petty criminals! In short, they were ungrateful wretches who 
had taken advantage of Wilde’s generous and kindly nature. A verdict of 
“not guilty” for Wilde, Clarke concluded, would not only clear the name of 
this great man, but “clear society from stain!” 197 

Wilde’s speech on the high aesthetics of man-boy love in the Socratic 
tradition might have carried the day had the jury not already been exposed 
to all the lurid details of Wilde’s promiscuous sex life. However, the vision 
of Wilde, with his rotund figure and “jaded and flabby appearance” sodom¬ 
izing or being fellated by young, fresh-faced boys like Charles Parker must 
have been a difficult image for the jurors to put out of their mind. 198 
Obviously, Wilde’s “Love that dare not speak its name,” appeared to have 
suffered in the translation. 

How was it possible for the jury to reconcile Wilde’s high-minded philo¬ 
sophical idealization of man-boy affection with his alleged acts of buggery 
and masturbation upon young, poor, semi-literate boys from the East End 


154 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


who sold their bodies to wealthy pederasts like Wilde for a promise of warm 
lodgings, a decent meal and a few pounds with which to survive another 
day? Wilde’s “Love” had sordid, commercial sex written all over it. The 
implications of his sordid involvement with decent lads like Shelley and 
Mavor, and the Parker Brothers before they met Alfred Taylor, were even 
worse. 

Alfred Taylor, Wilde’s fellow prisoner, represented by J. P. Grain took 
the stand next. After a few brief questions by Gill on the manner in which 
he earned a living and the boys he brought to his residence, he was 
excused. The rest of the fourth day’s proceedings was taken up with clos¬ 
ing statements with Clarke who denounced the low character of the boys 
who testified against Wilde, and Gill who reminded the jury that these boys 
had nothing to gain and everything to lose by testifying against Wilde. 

On the fifth and final day of the trial, Judge Charles rendered his opin¬ 
ion before turning the matter over to the jury—an opinion that overall was 
in favor of Wilde. 

Justice Charles determined that Wilde and Taylor were not co-conspir¬ 
ators and the charges of conspiracy were dismissed. He also declared 
Shelley to be unstable. With regard to Wilde’s literary works, he said he did 
not regard Dorian Gray as a “culpable” novel. As for the testimony of the 
Savoy employees he said that he found it difficult to believe that Wilde car¬ 
ried on so openly at the hotel and that the employees did not speak out 
about the incidents before the trial. 199 However, he declared, he did not 
reject the testimony of witnesses about Wilde’s and Taylor’s behavior with 
Shelley and Wood and Atkins and the Parker brothers. It was the task of the 
jury to determine if Wilde committed “indecent acts” with these young 
men in violation of the law and if Taylor assisted him in any way and/or 
committed such acts. 

Jury deliberation took place on May 1. The 12-member, all-male jury 
was out for just under four hours. A verdict of “not guilty” was pronounced 
on the count relating to Atkins. Regarding the other counts there appears 
to be some discrepancy. One juror is supposed to have later revealed that 
the vote to convict Wilde was eleven to one. However, no unanimous con¬ 
sensus was forthcoming. A retrial was ordered. Clarke was able to obtain 
bail from another judge in chambers. 200 Wilde had three weeks of freedom. 
It was his last chance to run. 

The Crown Vs. Wilde—Conviction 

Wilde’s retrial lasted six days from May 20 to 25, 1895. 201 The presid¬ 
ing judge was Sir Alfred Wills a staunch Conservative. Justice Gill was 
replaced by the Crown’s high-powered Solicitor General, Sir Frank 
Lockwood and Sir Edward Clarke continued his defense of Wilde. 

Although the trial was largely a replay of Wilde’s first trial, there were 
some new revelations. For example, the jury was informed by the defense 


155 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


that the prosecution (Queensberry) had been paying the boy-witnesses 
against Wilde a five-pound stipend from day one of the Wilde-Queensberry 
trial. 202 Lockwood insisted that the prosecution did only that which was 
necessary to keep the witnesses from being tampered with and housed in 
a central and safe location for trial purposes. It was also revealed that the 
prosecution had been able to arrange for a three-month leave of absence 
from the Army for Charlie Parker in order to secure his testimony against 
Wilde. The jurors were also informed that it was Maurice Schwabe who had 
introduced Taylor to Wilde. This would not have been of any particular 
interest except for the fact that Schwabe was Lockwood’s nephew by mar¬ 
riage. Coincidentally, Schwabe was now safely tucked away in France. 

On the political scene, there were signs that the original neutral (if-not 
favorable) views of Rosebery’s Liberal Government’s had hardened against 
Wilde as evidence by Lockwood’s take-over as lead prosecutor for the 
Crown. 203 Wilde had been given every opportunity to seek asylum from 
prosecution abroad, but he stubbornly chose to stay in England. 

Queensberry was still on the warpath and it was widely believed that he 
held evidence against Rosebery (possibly linked to his association with 
Lord Drumlanrig) that could effect the upcoming elections if made public. 
There was also considerable pressure building from certain political fac¬ 
tions in Parliament and from the general public who perceived the Crown’s 
less-than-enthusiastic prosecution of Wilde as an indication that the rich 
and famous, by way of their privileged class or station in life, were immune 
from prosecution for the violation of England’s anti-sodomy statutes. 

The Crown made quick work of poor Alfred Taylor. 204 He was again 
poorly represented in court by Mr. Grain who was no match for Lock- 
wood. 205 Taylor’s earlier public school connections did not save him. In 
fact, they contributed to his downfall. He was quickly tried for “gross 
indecency,” and convicted after only one day of testimony. Now he was an 
all but forgotten and pathetic figure sitting in jail awaiting sentencing. Why 
was the Crown dragging its feet with regard to Oscar Wilde? 

The one thing that Wilde did have going for him was the fact that the 
original charges against him (and Taylor) had been modified and reduced. 206 
The conspiracy charge with Taylor was dropped and the new indictment 
was reduced from twenty-five to only eight counts. Justice Wills ordered a 
new jury empanelled for Wilde and the witnesses had to be recalled. 

As the prosecution began its case, it was clear that their star witness 
Edward Shelley had become more of a liability than an asset. Justice Wills 
declared that Shelley was an accomplice to Wilde and therefore his testi¬ 
mony was not credible unless corroborated. 207 

Clarke had revised his strategy by this time and his arguments came 
across as more of a plea for mercy for Wilde than an aggressive attack upon 
the prosecution’s witnesses, although he took several swipes at Charlie 
Parker as an “uncollaborated” and “unstable” witness. What he had not 


156 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


been able to prove, however, was that the boys were lying about the sexual 
favors they performed for Wilde. 

At one point Clarke declared that the Wilde trial was “operating as an 
act of indemnity for all the blackmailers in London.” 208 

Clarke admitted that Wilde was now “a broken man,” and lamented that 
a life filled with “brilliant promise” with a “bright reputation” should have 
been brought so low by the “torrent of prejudice” spewed from Fleet Street 
(the press). A “not guilty” verdict, Clarke concluded, would save Wilde 
from “absolute ruin” and permit him “to live among us a life of honor and 
repute, and to give in the maturity of his genius gifts to our literature, of 
which he has given only the promise in his early youth.” 209 

Lockwood closed the case for the prosecution by reiterating the homo¬ 
erotic nature of Wilde’s love letters to Lord Douglas, Wilde’s blackmail 
payment to Wood and the testimony of the many boys who were alleged to 
have had sexual relations with Wilde—testimony that appeared to be col¬ 
laborated by other more reputable sources including the employees of the 
Savoy. 210 

Concerning the issue of blackmail raised by Clarke, Lockwood 
reminded the jury that “the genesis of the blackmailer is the man who has 
committed these acts of indecency with him. Were it not for men who were 
willing to pay for the vice, there would be no blackmail,” he said. 211 

After Lockwood and Clarke had delivered their concluding statements, 
the jury foreman who was permitted to ask the judge questions, asked the 
one question that was on every one’s mind—“In view of the intimacy 
between Lord Alfred Douglas and Mr. Wilde, was a warrant ever issued for 
the apprehension of Lord Alfred Douglas? ” 212 Judge Wills replied that the 
jury’s duty was to determine the guilt or innocence of the man in the 
docket—Mr. Wilde—and no other. 213 

It was time now for Justice Wills to have his say. 

Unlike Justice Charles, he found Wilde’s letters to Lord Douglas to be 
indecent. 214 He also said that it is fair to judge a man by the company he 
keeps—a reference to Taylor and his low-class boys. 215 He then thanked 
the members of the jury for their patience and instructed them to retire to 
deliberate the verdict. Lockwood thought he had lost the case and congrat¬ 
ulated Clarke on his win, but Clarke knew better. Two hours later the jury 
returned with a guilty verdict on all counts except that relating to Edward 
Shelley. 

On May 25, 1895, Justice Wills passed sentence upon Wilde and Taylor 
for having violated Section 11 of the Criminal Law Amendment Act: 

Oscar Wilde and Alfred Taylor, the crime of which you have been convicted 
is so bad that one has to put stern restraint upon one’s self to prevent one’s 
self from describing, in language which I would rather not use, the senti¬ 
ments which must rise to the breast of every man of honour who had heard 
the details of these two terrible trials. That the jury have arrived at a cor- 


157 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


rect verdict in this case I cannot persuade myself to entertain the shadow of 
doubt; and I hope, at all events, that those who sometimes imagine that a 
judge is half-hearted in the cause of decency and morality because he takes 
care no prejudice shall enter into the case, may see that that is consistent at 
least with the common sense indignation at the horrible charges brought 
home to both of you. It is no use for me to address you. People who can do 
these things must be dead to all sense of shame, and one cannot hope to pro¬ 
duce any effect upon them. It is the worse case I have ever tried. That you, 
Taylor, kept a kind of male brothel it is impossible to doubt. And that you, 
Wilde, have been the centre of a circle of extensive corruption of the most 
hideous kind among young men, it is equally impossible to doubt. I shall, 
under such circumstances, be expected to pass the severest sentence that 
the law allows. In my judgement, it is totally inadequate for such a case as 
this. The sentence of the Court is that each of you be imprisoned and kept 
to hard labour for two years . 216 

Although Wilde appeared to be reeling from a state of shock as the sen¬ 
tence was pronounced, it could not have been totally unexpected. In a 
sense, he had already been convicted (and later sentenced by the press) 
when he was forced to drop his case against Queensberry almost two 
months before. 

In retrospect, Clarke’s strategy of having Taylor and Wilde tried sepa¬ 
rately may have backfired. Taylor’s trial and conviction for gross indecen¬ 
cies and the procurement for illicit purposes had piggy-backed Wilde’s sec¬ 
ond trial so closely that it would have been an obvious miscarriage of jus¬ 
tice for Justice Wills to have sentenced Taylor to prison and let Wilde, his 
accomplice in crime, go free. 217 

All in all, despite the worldwide notoriety that surrounded the trials, 
Wilde had received a fair trial. All the justices involved, whatever their per¬ 
sonal feelings, appeared to have acted with integrity and compassion for all 
the witnesses including Wilde and they gave Wilde’s solicitors the greatest 
latitude in the defense of their client. Wilde was found “guilty” because the 
evidence against Wilde was too damning to permit any other verdict but 
“guilty.” But did the punishment fit the crime? After all, violation of the 
Labouchere anti-buggery statute was a misdemeanor not a felony. 

Obviously, Justice Wills believed that in the case of Oscar Wilde and 
Alfred Taylor, the punishment, did fit the crime (at least in a minimalist 
sense). And equally obvious is the fact that an overwhelming majority of 
Englishmen agreed with him. The spontaneous outpouring of public sup¬ 
port from every quarter and every class of English society for Queensberry 
and against Wilde that followed Justice Will’s ruling reflected the prevailing 
sentiment that “the High Priest of Decadents” had finally gotten what he 
deserved. 218 

Among the prominent Victorian personalities that volunteered an opin¬ 
ion on the subject of Oscar Wilde’s impending imprisonment was Henry 
Labouchere, MP, editor of the journal Truth who had known Wilde on and 


158 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


off for years. Labouchere believed that the root cause of Wilde’s tragic con¬ 
dition stemmed from his “pathological need for attention.” 219 Alluding to 
the Irish playwright’s unbalanced mental state that prompted him to seek 
notoriety at any cost, the Liberal leader wrote: “...it would not surprise me 
if he were depriving a keen enjoyment from a position which most people, 
whether really innocent or guilty, would prefer to die rather than occupy.” 220 

Mr. Travers Humphreys, who had assisted Clarke in the defense of 
Wilde, expressed similar feelings in his A Book of Trials, published more 
than a half-century later. Humphreys blamed Wilde’s “vanity and exhibi¬ 
tionism that are typical of the moral code held by men like him,” as the pri¬ 
mary cause of his downfall. 221 

Others, like W. T. Stead, whose moral campaign against “white-slavery” 
was instrumental in marshalling Parliament’s support for the 1895 Criminal 
Law Amendment Act, tied Wilde’s pederastic habits to the rise of the 
Hellenistic tradition in England’s public schools and Oxford and Cambridge 
and other centers of higher education. “If all persons guilty of Oscar Wilde’s 
offenses were to be clapped into goal, there would be a surprising exodus 
from Eton and Harrow, Rugby and Winchester, to Pentonville and Holloway 
(prisons),” he said. Stead then called upon all headmasters to “pluck up a 
little courage from the results of the Wilde trial, and endeavor to rid our 
Protestant schools of a foul and unnatural vice, which is not found in 
Catholic establishments, at all events in this country.” 222 

Stead was by no means alone in connecting the rise of pederasty among 
Oxford and Cambridge-educated youth to the morally corrosive influence of 
the English School of Aestheticism as preached by the likes of Benjamin 
Jowett and Walter Pater. 

In Hellenism & Homosexuality in Victorian Oxford, classicist Linda 
Dowling examined the crucial role played by the proponents of the 
Hellenistic tradition in fashioning the “Greek vice” as a culturally accept¬ 
able phenomena at Oxford (and Cambridge). 223 Men like Jowett, she wrote, 
were skilled in subverting Christianity’s opposition to homosexual behav¬ 
ior, particularly in its Greek form, by presenting these traditional moral 
prohibitions as being outdated and parochial. Homoerotic behavior, hereto 
associated with effeminacy, was to be “masculinized” along Hellenistic 
lines (the Greek warrior virile model) and offered as an alternative by 
which a post-Christian and decaying society could rejuvenate itself. 224 

It is not surprising then, that the few voices raised in Wilde’s defense 
after his conviction for pederasty came almost exclusively from Oxford and 
Cambridge and London’s literary and artistic circles. Even here, however, 
great care was taken to avoid any suggestion that any defense of Wilde 
implied a defense of his homoerotic behavior. 225 

For example, Robert Buchanan, a well-known playwright and contribu¬ 
tor to the Daily Telegraph, one of London’s largest metro-dailies, called for 
a modicum of charity, Christian or otherwise, toward Wilde and warned 


159 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


against “casting the first stone.” 226 Buchanan’s call for forgiveness of 
Wilde’s sexual transgressions in light of his many literary and artistic con¬ 
tributions to society takes on a somewhat sardonic overtone when one real¬ 
izes that Wilde himself never expressed a desire to be forgiven. Why should 
he? In his mind he never truly believed he had done anything wrong. 

Laws were for ordinary people—not Wilde. His art put him above the 
law. As Croft-Cooke so aptly put it, “Wilde was the apotheosis of the artist 
whose privilege it was to ignore all rules of human conduct, all ethical 
values, all conventions, all legislation.” 227 

Justice Wills was correct in his assessment when he said that any ref¬ 
erences to shame or guilt would be wasted on the convicted prisoners, at 
least as far as Wilde was concerned. Wilde did not have to overcome any 
sense of shame or guilt because he did not entertain those feelings in the 
first place. 

In a poignant letter of February 27, 1898, written shortly before her 
death in Italy, Constance lamented that Wilde’s punishment hadn’t done 
him much good since it did not teach him the lesson he most needed— 
“namely that he is not the only person in the world.” 228 

As for the rest of Victorian society, the near unanimity and ferocity of 
public opinion against Wilde was a timely barometer of the horror with 
which most Englishmen continued to view male homosexual behavior. 
Further, the public’s exposure to the sordid realities of London’s criminal 
homosexual underworld (prostitution, drugs, pornography, blackmail) when 
combined with the airing of Wilde’s dirty laundry, literally and figuratively, 
reinforced public support for Britain’s anti-sodomy laws. 229 

Prison Life and Beyond 

After their joint sentencing on May 25, 1895, Wilde and Taylor were 
taken to the harsh environs of Newgate prison to await transfer to 
Pentonville prison. Later, Wilde was sent to Wandsworth prison in North 
London where he despaired of life. When he became seriously ill, he was 
brought to the prison infirmary where he spent two months convalescing. 
Then on November 13, without notice, he was hauled from the hospital 
ward dressed in prison clothing, handcuffed and taken to Clapham Train 
Junction to await public transport to Reading Gaol where he served out the 
remainder of his two-year sentence. 230 

In De Profundis, Wilde recalls the humiliation of that day, most espe¬ 
cially the jeering crowd of passers by who laughed and mocked him as he 
waited for the train, policemen on either side, in the pouring rain for one- 
half hour. They appeared to him to be without pity. “They should have 
known ...how to interpret sorrow better,” he recalled from his jail cell. 231 

Fortunately for Wilde, his health and mental outlook improved signifi¬ 
cantly at Reading, especially when eight months after his arrival there the 
governorship of the prison was transferred from Major Henry B. Isaacson 


160 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


to Major J. 0. Nelson, a progressive and compassionate reformer who was 
sympathetic to Wilde. 

In February 1896, Constance traveled from Genoa to inform Oscar of 
the death of his beloved mother. This would be their final meeting. She was 
in poor health. That summer the courts ordered that joint guardianship of 
Wilde’s two sons be given to Constance and her cousin Adrian Hope. 232 
Constance died in relative obscurity on April 7, 1898 in Genoa, Italy after 
complications from an earlier operation on her spine. 233 

To say that Wilde had ushered his wife to an early grave by his brutal 
indifference to her for most of their married life would be a gross under¬ 
statement. The fact that Wilde brought his sex partners to his own home 
and that he engaged in sexual familiarities with these young men in front of 
his family and the servants, demonstrated the contempt with which he held 
his wife, his children and his marriage vows. 

While at Reading, Wilde wrote a number of poignant letters to Robbie 
Ross, whom Wilde had designated as his literary executor at the time of his 
death with complete control of all his plays, books and papers. Wilde said 
that he chose Robbie because “my wife doesn’t understand my art,” and his 
son Cyril was too young. 234 

In a short letter to Ross dated March 10, 1896, concerning some legal 
matters with Constance’s solicitors, Wilde acknowledged the “unhappi¬ 
ness” that he had brought upon his wife and the “ruin” brought on his chil¬ 
dren. 235 He expressed gratitude to Aurelien Marie Lugne Poe who, despite 
Wilde’s disgrace in England, had produced Wilde’s Salome at the Theatre 
de 1’ Oeuvre in Paris. 236 

The following fall, Wilde sent Ross another letter informing him that his 
application to Whitehall to commute the remainder of his sentence had 
been refused. On the brighter side, he had been granted an unlimited sup¬ 
ply of ink and paper, he was free from hard labor and he had ready access to 
a number of his favorite books. 237 Contemplating his release from prison, 
Wilde said that he was conscious that he would be entering “a world that 
does not want me.” 238 “Do not think that I would blame any one for my 
vices. My friends had as little to do with them as I had with theirs,” he told 
Robbie. “Nature was in this matter a stepmother to us all,” Wilde mused 
without bitterness. 239 Making an oblique reference to his homosexual mis¬ 
adventures, Wilde confessed, “I admit that I lost my head. ...I curse myself 
day and night for my folly in allowing something to dominate my life.” 240 At 
the end of his letter, Wilde repeated his instruction to Ross that all his 
letters were confidential and were not to be shown or discussed with 
anyone. 

De Profundis —Wilde’s Last Will and Testament 

On April 1, 1897, about seven weeks before his anticipated date of 
release from Reading Gaol, Wilde sent Ross a letter stating that he had 


161 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


completed a manuscript that would fully explain (“not defend”) his 
“extraordinary behavior”—a psychological catharsis that will tell “the 
truth”—concerning the circumstances that led to his imprisonment, the 
lessons that prison life has taught him and the promise of a new life that 
awaits him beyond Reading’s gates. 242 

Wilde was as good as his word. The completed work in the format of a 
letter to Douglas that Wilde had worked on at intervals during the last 
months of his imprisonment, written on blue stamped prison foolscap 
paper, was presented to Ross shortly after his release from prison. Wilde 
instructed Ross as his literary executor to send the original letter to Bosie 
and to retain a copy for himself. In fact, Ross kept the original and sent a 
typed copy to Douglas who is reported to have read the first few pages and 
trashed it. After Wilde’s death, the Douglas family tried to secure the orig¬ 
inal from Ross, but he had deposited it in 1909 with the British Museum 
under a 60-year embargo. The original letter to Boise was released to the 
Wilde family estate on January 1, 1960 and made available to scholars and 
the general public. 243 

A heavily excised version of Wilde’s letter to Boise, however, did ap¬ 
pear in 1905, five years after Wilde’s death. Ross had it published first in 
German and then in English. The title De Profundis was assigned to the 
manuscript by Robert Ross, not Wilde, and was based on the Old Testament 
psalm which begins with the words, “Out of the depths I cry to you, 0 
Lord.” (Ps 129). 244 

As with all of Wilde’s writings, De Profundis lends itself to a multitude 
of interpretations. Wilde’s biographer, Richard Ellmann called it possibly 
the longest “love letter” ever written. 245 Boise’s biographer, Douglas 
Murray, while noting that the work contains some of Wilde’s greatest prose, 
nevertheless saw it as “a series of pathetically mundane squabbles.” 246 
Others viewed the work as a welcome but brief respite from Wilde’s per¬ 
petual narcissism. Clearly, it was all of these and more. 

Read from a traditional Catholic perspective, I believe that one could 
also characterize De Profundis as “highly subversive.” As he had done so 
many times before, Wilde used Scripture and Christian references in this 
work to undermine Christian beliefs and morals. 247 In De Profundis, Wilde 
recreated the Passion of Our Lord in his own image with Wilde as the 
“Christ” who willingly lays down his life for his art, his beloved Boise as 
Judas who betrays his master, his trials as his Garden of Gethsemane, hyp¬ 
ocritical British Society as the New Pharisees demanding Wilde’s death, 
and his imprisonment in Reading Gaol as his crucifixion and burial. That 
Wilde intended for his work to be more than a simple letter of an aggrieved 
lover is evident in his letter of April 1,1897, to Ross in which he explained 
that he conceived the work as an encyclical letter or bull,” similar to those 
issued by the Holy Father in Rome that are titled after the opening words 
of the document. 248 Wilde’s Epistola opened with the words “in Carcere et 


162 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Vinculis” (In Prison and Chains). That Wilde was angry with Douglas can¬ 
not be doubted. That he had a bone to pick with God is less obvious. But 
before exploring these subtleties, let us look at the overall content of the 
work. 

In his “Prefatory Dedication” to De Profundis that accompanied the 
1905 English printing of Wilde’s work by Messrs. Methuen in London, 
Robert Ross acknowledged the assistance of Herr Meyerfeld, who pub¬ 
lished the first translation of Wilde’s (abridged) letter in German in Die 
Neue Rundschau , 249 Ross explained that the original manuscript consisted 
of 80 close-written pages on 20 folio sheets, and that only he, Major Nelson 
of Reading Gaol and a confidential typist had read the whole of it. 250 
“Contrary to a general impression, it contains nothing scandalous,” Ross 
explained. “A large portion of it is taken up with business and private mat¬ 
ters of no interest whatsoever,” he added. 251 

The portion of the manuscript which occupied more than one-third of 
the original text, and which was suppressed and not released until 1960, is, 
of course, Wilde’s bitterly scathing attack on Douglas as the architect of his 
destruction. 

In his opening salvo against his “dear Bosie,” Wilde decried the fact that 
during his two long years of imprisonment, he never received a “single 
line” from Douglas. 252 “Our ill-fated and most lamentable friendship has 
ended in ruin and public infamy for me,” Wilde wrote. Nevertheless, he said 
that his memory of their “ancient affection” had helped him to curb his bit¬ 
terness toward Douglas. 253 That Wilde found it difficult to actually do so is 
evident in the charges that he proceeded to make against Douglas. 

Wilde accused Boise of being spoilt and vain, a mama’s boy, a financial 
bloodsucking leech, a mad man from a family of mad men and the font of 
Wilde’s “artistic” and “ethical” degradation. 254 He reminded Boise that he 
was corrupted before Wilde met him and that it was Boise who first con¬ 
tacted Wilde by letter asking for assistance in dealing with a blackmailer 
with whom Douglas had had a homosexual relationship. 255 He reiterated 
the details of the Savoy Hotel fiasco and the terrible circumstances of “the 
Brighton incident” when Douglas deserted the seriously ill Wilde to seek 
his own pleasures, justifying himself later with the hurtful quip, “When you 
are not on your pedestal you are not interesting. The next time you are ill 
I will go away at once.” 256 

Wilde admitted that at this point in their relationship he had decided to 
separate himself completely from Douglas, but the untimely death of 
Boise’s elder brother Francis sent him rushing back to console his beloved 
Boise. The only thing that made Boise bearable to him, Wilde said, was his 
deep, heart-felt conviction that, through it all, Douglas really did love 
him. 257 

Wilde, of course, was still filled with anger that Douglas had succeeded 
in making him the “catpaw” between him and his father and for deliberately 


163 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


goading and taunting Queensberry into writing the libelous calling card that 
started Wilde on his way to prison. 258 And he struck out at Douglas’s care¬ 
lessness in leaving Wilde’s personal letters around where blackmailers 
could get them, an obvious reference to the famous “Hyacinthus” letter 
that was used against him at his trial. 259 

Then Wilde delivered the coup de grace. Of all Boise’s defects of charac¬ 
ter, Wilde wrote, the most fatal was his utter “lack of imagination”—the 
quality “that allows one to see things and people in their real as in their 
ideal relations.” 260 

If Douglas hadn’t already thrown Wilde’s letter into the garbage in a fit 
of rage, he probably did so now. Many of Wilde’s charges against him, he 
knew to be true, but not all. The only thing Boise knew for certain was that 
he was devoted to Oscar as Oscar was to him. Hyde goes one step further 
and states that Douglas was completely captivated by Wilde’s charms and 
in the end he was without doubt more devoted to Wilde than the older man 
had ever been to him. 261 

Having vented his spleen on poor Boise, the penniless, fatherless, dis¬ 
traught Wilde now turned his attention to the horrors of prison life. This 
marks the point at which Ross chose to start the 1905 abridged version of 
De Profundis. 

Wilde described his current position in society as being between that of 
Gilles de Retz, the 15th century companion to Joan of Arc, who was charged 
with witchcraft, child murder and sodomy and burned at the stake, and the 
Marquis de Sade, who needs no introduction. 262 

Wilde had become a “man of sorrows.” 263 The small iron-barred win¬ 
dow of his cell prevented him from seeing the sun and the moon. “It is 
always twilight in one’s cell, as it is always midnight in one’s heart,” he told 
Douglas. 264 

Wilde said that his sorrows of late has been compounded by the sad tid¬ 
ings of the death of his revered mother; by legal action that has taken his 
two children from him; by the incessant hounding of his creditors; and by 
the growing realization of the disgrace which has fallen on the Wilde name 
as a result of his “terrible and revolting scandal.” 265 Unlike other men, 
Wilde wrote, prison has offered no sanctuary for him. 266 

Wilde said he remembered “that beautiful unreal world of art,” where 
he was once King and where he would have remained had he not let him¬ 
self “be lured into the imperfect world of coarse uncompleted passion, of 
appetite without distinction, desire without limit, and formless greed.” 267 

“I was a man who stood in symbolic relations to the art and culture of 
my age,” Wilde wrote Douglas. 268 He then acknowledged all the gifts that 
the “gods” had lavished upon him, “genius, a distinguished name, high 
social position, brilliancy, intellectual daring,” and how he ultimately threw 
away this inheritance in a search “for new sensations” and perverse desires 
which at the end “was a malady, or a madness, or both.” 269 With obvious 


164 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


reference to his double life as a pederast, Wilde said he “forgot that every 
little action of the common day makes and unmakes character, and that 
therefore what one has done in the secret chamber one has someday to cry 
aloud from the housetops.” 270 

Happily, Wilde continued, his horrific suffering in prison had not been 
without meaning for it had revealed to him something that would always be 
part of his nature, but until now hidden—“Humility.” 271 And it is this new 
element found within himself that held the promise of a new life, “a Vita 
Nuova” for him and the means of unearthing “a fresh mode of realiza¬ 
tion.” 272 That his “new life” would include a reconciliation with his beloved 
Bosie, whom Wilde ultimately forgives, is a possible interpretation of one 
of the most haunting sentiments Wilde expressed in his “epistle” to 
Douglas, “When you really want it (forgiveness) you will find it waiting for 
you.” 273 

Among the many essential tasks that he must tackle in order to suc¬ 
cessfully approach life “from a completely new standpoint,” Wilde told 
Bosie, is to free himself “from any possible bitterness of feeling against the 
world,” and to seek happiness apart from the “external things of life.” 274 
In this endeavor however, Wilde said he must look solely to himself and 
rejected outright any benefits said to be accrued from “morality” or “reli¬ 
gion” or “reason.” 275 

Regarding morality, Wilde said he is “a born antinomian, a man made for 
exceptions, not for laws.” 276 

As for religion, he said his “Gods” are not “unseen” but “dwell in tem¬ 
ples made with hands.” His creed, he said, has been “made perfect and 
complete...within the circle of actual experience:” 

When I think about Religion at all, I feel as if I would like to found an order 
for those who cannot believe: the Confraternity of the Fatherless one might 
call it, where on an altar, on which no taper burned, a priest, in whose heart 
peace had no dwelling, might celebrate with unblessed bread and a chalice 
empty of wine . 277 

Wilde rejected God the Father, since he believed God the Father had 
rejected him. 

Wilde also said he rejected reason as a helpmate, in so far as it is ex¬ 
pressed through law, for he himself had been convicted both by “wrong and 
unjust laws” as well as “a wrong and unjust system.” 278 “The supreme vice 
is shallowness,” Wilde asserted and society shares in this “vice” when 
it fails to acknowledge the pain caused by the punishment it inflicts on 
individuals. 279 

Where then did Wilde believe his salvation lay? In his art and in his life 
as an artist, he told Douglas. 280 Then on a somewhat peevish note, Wilde 
told Douglas that the only persons he chooses to associate with at this point 
in his life are “artists and people who have suffered.” 281 Obviously this left 
the pampered Lord Douglas out of the running—at least for the day. 


165 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Wilde tried to impress upon Bosie once again the horror of prison life 
with “its endless privations and restrictions” that makes one rebellious not 
humble. 282 The most terrible things about prison life, Wilde wrote is “not 
that it breaks one’s heart—hearts are made to be broken—but that it 
turns one’s heart to stone,” and makes it impervious to “grace.” 283 

Then in a softer more conciliatory tone, Wilde assured his Bosie that he 
hasn’t forsaken his old life altogether. In fact he said his “New Life” is “of 
course, no new life at all, but simply a continuance by means of develop¬ 
ment and evolution, of my former life.” 284 

“I don’t regret for a single moment having lived for pleasure,” Wilde 
told his lover, but to live for pleasure only is a very limiting experience, 
one that interferes with “self-development” and is unworthy of the true 
artist. 285 

It is at this point in his monologue that Wilde assumed the persona of 
Christ, the “supreme artist” as well as the “supreme individualist.” 286 And 
Wilde was His prophet. Like Christ, Wilde believed that he was betrayed 
with a kiss, denied by his friends, rejected by the “high priest of orthodoxy,” 
condemned by “the magistrate of civil service,” covered with a scarlet 
cloak, crucified before his own mother, died and was buried in a tomb. 287 

Then in a slight digression from self-pity, Wilde said that no man is truly 
worthy of love, yet God bestows His love freely on man. “Love is a sacra¬ 
ment that should be taken kneeling, and Domine, non sum dignus should be 
on the lips and in the hearts of those who receive it,” Wilde told his lover. 288 
The homoerotic implications of Wilde’s prose is readily distinguishable. 

The next time that Wilde applied ink to paper, he informed Douglas that, 
should he (Wilde) ever resume his writings, he would take up two particu¬ 
lar themes. The first being the role of Christ as the “precursor of the Ro¬ 
mantic Movement in life” and the second, “the artistic life considered in its 
relation to conduct.” 289 

In Wilde’s eyes, Christ’s morality is “all sympathy, just what morality 
should be,” and His justice is “all poetical justice, exactly what justice 
should be.” 290 “His chief war was against the Philistines,” Wilde wrote 
Douglas, “...the war every child of light (presumably this includes himself) 
has to wage.” 291 Christ condemned “...their inaccessibility to ideas, their 
dull respectability, their tedious orthodoxy, their worship of vulgar suc¬ 
cess, their entire preoccupation with the gross materialistic side of life, 
and their ridiculous estimate of themselves and their importance...” Wilde 
continued. 292 

For Wilde, however, “it is when he deals with a sinner that Christ is 
most romantic, in the sense of most real.” 293 “His primary desire was not 
to reform people, any more than his primary desire was to relieve suffer¬ 
ing,” Wilde wrote. Rather, he told Douglas that “...in a manner not yet 
understood of the world he regarded sin and suffering as being in them¬ 
selves beautiful holy things and modes of perfection.” 294 That Wilde 


166 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


juxtaposed sin and suffering and then claimed that Christ held sin to be a 
“holy and beautiful thing” and the sinner to be in a “mode of perfection,” is 
indeed a “Christ” fashioned in Wilde’s own image. 295 

With his days of imprisonment drawing to a close, Wilde sought to end 
his letter to his beloved Boise on a hopeful note. While he dismissed the 
idea that prison has brought about any “reform” in the matter of morals, 
Wilde reiterated his belief that his suffering in prison had helped him to 
become a “deeper man.” 296 

Wilde then attempted to put to paper a partial explanation as to the 
nature of his pederastic affairs with lower class young men. This section of 
De Profundis represents some of the writer’s most familiar prose: 

People thought it dreadful of me to have entertained at dinner the evil things 
of life, and to have found pleasure in their company. But then, from the point 
of view through I, as an artist in life, approach them they were delightfully 
suggestive and stimulating. It was like feasting with panthers; the danger 
was half the excitement...I don’t feel at all ashamed at having known them, 
they were intensely interesting; what I do feel ashamed of is the horrible 
Philistine atmosphere into which I was brought...To entertain them was an 
astonishing adventure ...What is loathsome to me is the memory of inter¬ 
minable visits paid by me to the solicitor Humphreys when in the ghastly 
glare of a bleak room I would sit with a serious face telling serious lies to a 
bald man till I really groaned and yawned with ennui. ...I had to come for¬ 
ward as the champion of respectability in conduct, of puritanism in life, and 
of morality in art . 297 

Wilde then expressed his appreciation to his loyal friends who have 
stood by him throughout his many trials and imprisonment including 
Robert Sherard, Frank Harris, More Adey, Arthur Clifton, Robbie Ross 
and to the many nameless persons who have been kind to him in his 
prison life. 298 

Wilde confessed that he has grown tired of “the articulate utterances of 
men and things,” and he expressed his longings to discover “The Mystical 
in Art, the Mystical in Life, the Mystical in Nature...” 299 He said he knew 
“Society...will have no place for him,” but he is not discouraged for he 
believes Nature, “whose sweet rains fall on the unjust and just alike” will 
welcome him with Her eternal embrace: 

She will hang the night with stars so that I might walk abroad in the dark¬ 
ness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none 
may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great water and with bitter 
herbs make me whole . 300 

In terms of their future relationship, Wilde told Douglas that he in¬ 
tended to be more of an “individualist,” not less, in his New Life. 301 
However, if Boise were agreeable, Wilde said they could meet in June in 
some quiet town like Bruges and that hopefully “Love would show them 


167 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


the way to a future happiness.” 302 Wilde made it clear that he considered 
his exile from England to be permanent. 

Wilde then instructed Douglas that he must “not be afraid of the past.” 
“If people tell you that it is irrevocable, do not believe them,” he said. “The 
past, the present, and the future are one moment in the sight of God, in 
whose sight we should try to live.” 303 “You came to me to learn the 
Pleasure of life and the Pleasure of art,” Wilde concluded. “Perhaps I am 
chosen to teach you something more wonderful, the meaning of Sorrow 
and its beauty.” 304 

Wilde signed his letter, “Your affectionate friend, Oscar Wilde” 

The Release and Death of Oscar Wilde 

On the evening of May 18, 1897, Wilde was taken from Reading Gaol to 
Pentonville prison since prisoners were required to be released from the 
prison they were originally admitted to. This helped to avoid any unpleas¬ 
ant public demonstration the following morning. 305 There was a report that 
he had made a request for a six-month stay with the Jesuits of Farm Street, 
but the request was turned down. 306 

Wilde met his dear friend More Adey and Reverend Stewart Headlam at 
the prison gate and there was a brief meeting with intimate friends before 
Wilde and Adey left England for France. Robert Ross and Reginald Turner 
were waiting for them when the boat docked. 307 The gentlemen then went 
to the Hotel Sanwich in Dieppe where Wilde registered under the assumed 
name of Monsieur Sebastian Melmoth. It was at this point that Wilde gave 
Ross the De Profundis manuscript. 308 

Wilde later moved to the Hotel de la Plage at the seaside coastal town 
of Berneval-sur-Mernr, near Dieppe where be began his most famous poem 
and his final literary work “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” 309 

H. Montgomery Hyde, who had access to much of Wilde’s private cor¬ 
respondence during this period reported that immediately upon his arrival 
in Paris, Wilde kindled his homosexual affair with his little Robbie, and that 
he also resumed his indiscriminate prowling for young sexual partners in 
Paris and abroad, a practice that continued up until his final illness in the fall 
of 1900. 310 

Then, much to Ross’ regret, Wilde and his Boise, who by now had lost 
much of his youthful beauty that was so important to Wilde, met and rec¬ 
onciled their differences in Rouen and started to travel together once again. 
Their first stop was Naples. Unfortunately, once it became public knowl¬ 
edge that Wilde had rejoined Douglas and had reverted to his former “life 
of the sewer,” his visitors dwindled down to almost zero as did the funds 
that he had been receiving from his wife and old friends. 311 

In his Autobiography, Douglas declared that for six months prior to 
Wilde’s imprisonment and after Wilde had been released from Reading 


168 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Gaol, they no longer engaged in any sexual intimacy with one another. 312 
Douglas blamed Ross for stirring up Wilde’s homoerotic passions again at 
Berneval, although it is more than likely that Wilde would have resumed his 
homosexual exploits without Ross’ incitement. 313 

Queensberry had hired a detective to track Wilde and Douglas on the 
Continent and keep them apart, but this attempt, like all the others, 
failed. 314 When they broke up they would do it on their own. 

By late December of 1898, Wilde and Douglas had had their bitterest 
quarrel ever and separated for the last time. Wilde continued his travels 
sometimes in the company of Robbie Ross and at other times alone. 

In spite of his homosexual pursuits, or perhaps because of them, Wilde 
did at times turn his mind and heart to things spiritual. He occasionally 
went to Mass and in March was in Rome for Easter and received the pope’s 
blessings seven times. Ross said that Wilde told him, “The artistic side of 
the Church and the fragrance of its teaching would have cured my degen¬ 
eracies.” 315 

By the time Wilde made the decision to leave Rome and Sicily and 
return to Paris he was nearly penniless and his health had drastically de¬ 
clined due in part to his increased dependency on drugs, especially liquor 
and absinthe which he used to numb the pain of social isolation and the 
physical effects of premature aging. 316 His life as an artist had come to an 
end, but his homoerotic passions were hanging on for dear life. 

Oscar Wilde died on November 30, 1900, at the age of 54 at the Hotel 
d’Alsace. The proprietor M. Jean Dupoirier had compassion on the ailing 
Wilde and never pressed him for payment. 317 The cause of death was most 
likely a form of encephalitic meningitis resulting from a chronic ear infec¬ 
tion although tertiary syphilis cannot be fully ruled out. 

Two days before his death, Robert Ross asked an English priest from 
the Passionist Order, Father Cuthbert Dunne, to come to Wilde’s room. 
With Ross answering for Wilde, the dying man was given conditional 
Baptism and anointed with the oils of Extreme Unction. Although Wilde 
remained heavily sedated with morphine, he did experience brief periods of 
lucidity, during which time Father Dunne was able to confirm that Wilde of 
his own free will did desire to enter the Roman Catholic Church. 318 

Ross said that Wilde had once told him that “Catholicism is the only reli¬ 
gion to die in.” 319 From his writings it appears that Wilde’s alienation from 
his early Protestant roots appeared to increase the older he got. 

A Requiem Mass was said for Wilde by Father Dunne and the church 
rector at the chapel of the Sacred Heart behind the grand altar of Saint- 
Germain-des-Pres Church in the Latin quarter of Paris. Wilde was buried 
in a pauper’s grave at Bagneux outside the walls of Paris on December 3, 
1900 in the presence of Robert Ross and Lord Douglas. The latter was hys¬ 
terical with grief and nearly collapsed into the gravesite. 320 


169 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


As noted earlier, Wilde’s old nemesis, Queensberry, died the same 
year as Wilde. Like Wilde, he had also made a deathbed conversion to 
Catholicism. 321 

As for Bosie, his life changed drastically after Wilde’s death. On March 
4,1902, he married Olive Custance with the resentful Robert Ross looking 
on. 322 The couple had one son, Raymond. 323 Like Wilde, Douglas was an 
affectionate and dutiful father. In 1911, Lord Douglas converted to 
Catholicism and, convinced of the sinfulness (but not criminality) of homo¬ 
sexual behavior, he turned from his former life as a pederast and never 
looked back. 

After his marriage and conversion, Douglas was naturally anxious to 
disassociate himself with Wilde’s “crime.” He opposed the publication of De 
Profundis and later became engaged in a series of bitter court battles with 
Ross and other antagonists that exhausted his financial resources and 
finally alienated his wife. 324 By the time of his death on March 20, 1945, in 
Sussex (England), however, he managed to put off his lifelong impetuous 
and self-destructive behavior long enough to be reconciled with his family 
and to ask and receive forgiveness from the many enemies he had created 
throughout his lifetime. 

Although Lord Alfred Douglas outlived Wilde by almost half-a-century, 
I think it only fair to add that Wilde’s writings, particularly his plays and 
fairy tales, outlived both Queensberry and his son. 

New Revelations Concerning the Wilde Trials 

Throughout all the Wilde trials, his solicitors (and many of his later 
biographers including Richard Ellmann) repeatedly emphasized that the 
young men with whom Wilde was alleged to have committed acts of inde¬ 
cency were all over the statutory age of 17. 325 H. Montgomery Hyde also 
claimed that, as far as it was known, “he never debauched any innocent 
young man.” 326 Presumably Wilde’s sexual relations with young (possibly 
preadolescent) boys in Algiers and other well-known homosexual happy- 
hunting grounds outside of England were not to be counted. 

However, newly uncovered documents on the Wilde trials suggest that 
much of the more damning evidence against Wilde was actually never used 
against him at his trials. 

In a story titled “Wilde’s sex life exposed in explicit court files,” by 
Vanessa Thorpe and Simon de Burton that appeared in the Sunday, May 6, 
2002 issue of the London Observer, the authors reported that new docu¬ 
ments on the 1895 Wilde trials reveal that much of the more damaging evi¬ 
dence against Wilde was withheld by Queensberry and his solicitor Charles 
Russell and never made public. 327 

The 52 pages of hand-written statements on heavy parchment paper 
from 32 witnesses were obtained by Queensberry’s agents and then handed 
over to his solicitor at Day, Russell & Co. A London collector picked up the 


170 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


bundle in the 1950s in a junk shop and put them up for auction at Christie’s. 
According to Thorpe and Burton, the packet of documents that was pur¬ 
chased for just a pittance was now expected to fetch £12,000. 328 

Thomas Venning, a manuscripts specialist at Christie’s, said the docu¬ 
ments provided a new account of Wilde’s undoing and had “very detailed 
sexual content which was only mentioned in the trial euphemistically.” 329 

One of the documents made available to the press was a statement by a 
young man named Wallis (Walter) Grainger. 

Grainger stated that Wilde took him to a cottage in nearby Goring-on- 
Thames which the playwright had rented and where he wrote An Ideal 
Husband. On the second or third night, said Grainger, Wilde “came into my 
bedroom and woke me up and told me to come into his bedroom which was 
next door. He worked me up with his hand and made me spend in his 
mouth.” The former butler of the Marquess of Queensberry was reported 
to have been in the next room. 330 Grainger, who was just 16 when Wilde 
met him, was never called to testify against Wilde. 

Another newly uncovered document contained a statement by Gertrude 
Simmons, governess to Wilde’s two sons, who said she saw Wilde “holding 
the arm of George Hughes, a boat boy, and patting him very familiarly.” 331 
George Hughes was never brought forth to testify against Wilde. 

Then there is the matter of the testimony given by employees of the 
Savoy Hotel who claimed that they saw Wilde with young boys in his room 
on several different occasions. These included the statements of the 
masseuse, Antonio Migge and that of Jane Cotter, the hotel chambermaid. 
The young boys were never identified. 

There was also evidence concerning the stained sheets. Clarke offered 
the simple explanation that Wilde had a case of diarrhea that accounted for 
the feces found on the bed linens. 

The newly uncovered documents from the Day, Russell & Co. law firm 
shed new light on these matters and suggest that if indeed the testimony 
of the Savoy employees at the Wilde trials were skewed, they were skewed 
in Wilde’s favor not against him. 

For example, found among the transcripts was the original statement of 
a Savoy chambermaid named Margaret Cotta that was given to the police 
or to Queensberry’s detectives before the trial. It is obvious from the text 
that Margaret Cotta and Jane Cotter who testified at the Wilde trials in 1895 
were one and the same person. 332 However the original statement is dif¬ 
ferent from the testimony she gave at the trials. 

First Cotta stated that the age of the “common boy, rough looking” in 
Wilde’s bed was about 14 not 16 as she later testified. Cotta then reported 
that the sheets of Wilde’s bed were always in a “most disgusting 
state... [with] traces of vaseline, soil and semen.” [sic] She said she 
received instructions that these linens were to be kept apart and washed 


171 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


separately. Cotta added that a stream of pageboys delivering letters were 
usually kissed by Wilde, who tipped them two shillings and sixpence for 
their trouble. 

Why did Cotter (Cotta) change her testimony concerning the age of the 
boy she said she saw in Wilde’s bed? Was it because he was underage, in 
which case Wilde would have been facing more serious charges than a mis¬ 
demeanor? Why were the other boys in Wilde’s bed at the Savoy never 
identified? Why did the prosecution not have expert forensic witnesses tes¬ 
tify as to the exact nature of the unusual stains on Wilde’s bedding? 
Evidence of semen together with Vaseline, commonly used as lubricant for 
anal penetration, would have sealed their case. 

The answer to these questions may be that while Queensberry wanted 
Wilde convicted, he was also interested in protecting his own son, Lord 
Douglas, who though in France, was not entirely outside the long-reach of 
the law. It was probably no great secret that both Wilde and Douglas had had 
sexual relations with underage young boys in Algiers. If he upped the ante 
against Wilde perhaps Queensberry believed he might also do his son 
harm. There was also an outside chance that Queensberry had sufficient 
evidence against Prime Minister Rosebery of a “personal” nature, which 
would guarantee a guilty verdict for Wilde, thus making any additional evi¬ 
dence against Wilde superfluous. 

In the end, much of the written testimony that could have been used 
against Wilde was thrown in a desk drawer at Day, Russell and Co. to gather 
dust until their public auctioning 100 years later—a remarkable footnote 
to a remarkable trial. 

The Importance of Being Wilde 

Although Oscar Wilde has recently achieved icon status as a precursor 
of the “Modern Homosexual” and a pioneer for “Gay Rights” it is highly 
unlikely that Wilde ever thought of himself in these terms. 

In De Profundis Wilde made it clear that he underwent his passion and 
martyrdom at Reading Gaol solely for the sake of his Art. Although De 
Profundis is one of the few works in which Wilde discussed his “vices,” 
these references to his homoerotic passions are all filtered through the lens 
of Wilde as the supreme artist, not Wilde the supreme revolutionary who 
“seized and articulated the modern homosexual identity.” 333 

Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the public trials of Oscar Wilde did 
play an important role in exposing the Oxbridge upper-class homosexual 
network as well as London’s seedier homosexual underground to the out¬ 
side world. This exposure provides certain insights into the here-to clos¬ 
eted, semi-secret underworld of the Victorian sodomite that are of particu¬ 
lar importance to this study. 

The first is that the primary mode of homosexual expression in 19th 
century England was pederasty—that is, same-sex liaisons that typically 


172 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


involved an older man who assumed the dominant, i.e., the male gender 
role and a younger passive partner. The latter gave pleasure to the former 
and roles were rarely interchanged. Casual affairs with multiple partners 
characterized homosexual relations at all levels of Victorian society. Al¬ 
though there were some notable exceptions, these merely serve to empha¬ 
size the rule. 

Secondly, the Wilde case demonstrates that despite all the rhetoric 
about the “democratic” and “egalitarian” aspects of male homosexuality, 
the essential predatory nature of pederastic homosexuality and the barriers 
of class (or ethnic) distinctions remained. Indeed, as Wilde explains in De 
Profundis, the danger posed by slumming with his inferiors was “half the 
excitement.” 334 The rich and famous Wilde unabashedly used poor, work¬ 
ing class boys for his own sensual pleasure, not out of any altruistic or 
humanitarian consideration for which a quid, a smile and handshake would 
have sufficed nicely. 

But perhaps one of the most instructive insights afforded by the Wilde 
case is the ability of social institutions to stimulate and promote homosex¬ 
ual behavior. The emphasis placed on the Hellenic tradition in British 
boarding schools and at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge with its 
subtle homoerotic overtones played an important role in undermining reli¬ 
gious and moral sanctions against sodomy among the predominantly 
Protestant aristocracy and upper middle classes. Particularly insidious was 
the linking of art to the dogmas of Aestheticism which proclaimed the 
superiority of a “Higher Sodomy” and which held artists to be above the 
law and moral and religious restraints that bind humanity together for the 
common good. 335 

There is one other important footnote to the Wilde story that I should 
like to add at this time, although the full impact of its significance will not 
be readily discernable until a much later chapter on the 20th century popes. 
It concerns a certain young man who was known to be an admirer of Oscar 
Wilde’s works. 

The young man was born on September 26, 1897 in Brescia to a promi¬ 
nent Italian family with strong ties to the Church. He lived a somewhat cos¬ 
seted life as a child, due in part to frequent bouts of illness. He grew into a 
shy, melancholy, somewhat effete adolescent with a limited ability in mat¬ 
ters intellectual, but highly attuned to things political (decidedly liberal and 
anti-fascist). At age 19, he told his parents he had a calling to the priesthood 
and entered the local seminary on an “out-patient” basis necessitated in 
part by hectic wartime conditions. Thus he never had the opportunity of 
experiencing the normal vigors of seminary life nor was he forced to enter 
into an academic competition with his peers. 336 

Having received a dispensation from Bishop Giacinto Gaggia to live at 
home (the local seminary was in use as a military hospital), he commuted 
to his seminary lectures held at make-shift facilities at San Cristo dressed 


173 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


in civies as he had also been dispensed from wearing the required soutane 
(cassock) that marked ordinary seminarians as men set apart for God’s 
service. He was, as Wilde would say, a young man born for exceptions. 337 

Second only to his passion for politics, was our young friend’s passion 
for reading. His living arrangements, away from the “censorious” eyes of a 
seminary rector or room proctor, permitted him the widest latitude in pri¬ 
vate readings. His readings included the works of Adam Mickiewicz, the 
leader of Polish Romanticism, as well as Tolstoy, Goethe and, most surpris¬ 
ingly, Oscar Wilde, whose books and writings at the time were still difficult 
to obtain. 338 

He read De Profundis (a “sketchy” Italian translation) and underlined 
the passage: “The poor are wiser, more charitable, more inclined to good, 
more sensitive than we are. In their eyes prison is a tragedy in a man’s life, 
a misfortune, a misadventure, something which calls for sympathy.” 339 
Later in the poem, next to Wilde’s complaint, “A day without lamentations 
is a day in which one has a closed heart, not a day about which one can be 
happy... a single London suburb contains enough unhappiness to demon¬ 
strate that God does not love men,” our young man writes in the margin, 
“Or that men do not love God.” 340 

On the subject of the heretical statements found in De Profundis related 
to Christ, His mission on earth, or the “holiness” of sin, where one would 
expect expressions of outrage from a young man aspiring to the priesthood, 
one finds only silence. 

By any measure, the reading of Oscar Wilde’s works by the young 
Italian seminarian was decidedly strange. All the more so when one con¬ 
siders the time period (1917) and the still close connection in the public 
mind between Wilde and the crime of sodomy. Was there any connection 
between the seminarian’s liberal political ideology and his fascination with 
Wilde as a religious and moral rebel? I will explore these questions and 
many more later in the book. For now I think it sufficient to identify the 
young seminarian in question—he was Giovanni Battista Montini—the 
future Pope Paul VI. 

John Addington Symonds—A New Homosexual Model 

John Addington Symonds, the prominent 19th century man of letters 
and Renaissance historian, to whom the reader has been briefly introduced 
in connection with the Vaughan scandal at Harrow, offered Victorian society 
an alternative to the Wildean model of male homosexuality. 341 

An early advocate of “homosexual emancipation,” Symonds espoused a 
“modern” and “scientific” approach to same-sex eroticism onto which he 
grafted a heavy larder of Romanticism and utopian socialist politics. His 
writings on what he preferred to call “sexual inversion,” come very close 
to many contemporary assumptions about homosexual identity and per- 
sonhood, and they provide an excellent introduction to the new breed of 


174 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


sexologists who would begin the process of raedicalizing homoerotic 
relations. It was Symonds and not Wilde who helped engineer the new 
paradigm shift on same-sex relations that would characterize the direction 
of discourse on homosexuality into the next century and beyond. 

Born in Bristol on October 5, 1840, into a wealthy upper-middle class 
English family with ties to the aristocracy and Oxbridge, Symonds’ early 
life was marred by two great losses—that of his mother at the tender age 
of four and the loss of health that would overshadow his entire life until his 
death at age 52. 

Symonds’ principle biographer, Phyllis Grosskurth, noted that his 
father, a physician, continually fussed over the young boy’s delicate state 
while at the same time urging the sickly and morbidly timid youth to be 
stronger and manlier. 3 ' 12 Symonds, in the words of literary critic Van Wyck 
Brooks, “considered himself an Ugly Duckling.” 343 

Young Symonds was both intellectually and sexually precocious, the lat¬ 
ter attributed to his early initiation into male sex play including fellatio at 
the hands of his older male cousins and other boyhood acquaintances. His 
erotic interest in young boys lingered on throughout his formative years at 
the boarding school at Harrow and later at Balliol (Oxford) where he dis¬ 
covered the true “liber amoris” after a reading of Plato’s Phaedries and the 
Symposium and William Johnson’s Ionica. 344 He studied Greek under 
Benjamin Jowett and was heavily influenced by Jowett’s Hellenistic teach¬ 
ings, both expressed and implied. 345 Symonds’ homosexual passions, how¬ 
ever, did not find full physical expression until he was in his late twenties, 
by which time he had married and fathered four children. 346 

Between 1878 and 1880, Symonds, beleaguered by chronic illness 
(pulmonary tuberculosis) and mental exhaustion, moved his family to 
Switzerland where he eventually established a permanent resident at the 
ancient village of Davos Platz and winter quarters in Venice, Italy. 347 Having 
reached an “understanding” with his wife whereby he pledged to support 
his family and continue to play the role of husband outside the boudoir, 
Symonds threw off his shackles of sexual restraint and began a long series 
of homosexual affairs with local youths and tradesmen including a wide 
assortment of manly Swiss athletes and handsome Venetian gondoliers. 

Symonds, having first dispensed with his Calvinist-Protestant con¬ 
science, soon did away with Christianity altogether in favor of a more 
flexible less censorious creed that would serve his homoerotic needs and 
permit him to spin his own “cocoon.” 348 Among Symonds’ close acquain¬ 
tances his homosexuality was an “open secret,” i.e., known, but not openly 
discussed. 

Professionally, Symonds continued his life of lecturing and travel as 
a distinguished man of letters. During his Oxford days he had distin¬ 
guished himself as a promising classicist of the first degree by winning the 


175 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Newdigate Prize for English Verse at Balliol College (1860) and graduating 
with honors in Literae Humaniores. Under an Open Fellowship at Magdalen 
College he had won the Chancellor’s Prize for his writings on “The Renais¬ 
sance,” that laid the foundation for his seven volume work Renaissance 
in Italy and his studies on Dante, Michelangelo, and Greek and Italian 
literature and art. 349 

Symonds’ works on Hellenistic Greece and the Renaissance, brought 
him worldwide attention in England and on the Continent along with mod¬ 
est monetary rewards. 350 They also provided for his less tangible needs. As 
Rictor Norton, the prolific writer of all things homosexual explained, 
“Symonds was a sensualist and a romantic rather than an academic.” 351 His 
“cultural studies gave him the opportunity to indulge his central aesthetic 
preoccupation with healthy naked men, nude youths in the gymnasia, the 
male nudes of Signorelli and Michelangelo and contemporary photographs 
of nude young men in classical poses.” 352 Symonds also used his historic 
studies, particularly his Hellenistic works, to demonstrate that his “unnat¬ 
ural” sexual appetites were in line with the noblest traditions of the Greek 
paiderastia and to propagandize for changes in the law aimed at the “eman¬ 
cipation” of “inverts” and the decriminalization of consensual homosexual 
acts. 

Symonds, who fashioned himself “a born Bohemian,” generally sought 
out companions for his romantic adventures in Davos and Venice among 
working class youth in their late teens and early twenties. 353 In addition to 
the difference in age and social status, his choice of Swiss and Italian young 
men provided an ethnic “otherness” that added additional excitement and 
romance to his experiments in “democratic” sex. 354 

In his Memoirs Symonds wrote that he believed that he helped these 
young men broaden their sexual experiences without altering their normal 
sexual appetites and that some even discovered pleasure in it for them¬ 
selves. 355 Thus, he could not be accused of corrupting the morals of youth. 
Nevertheless, Symonds always felt obliged to reciprocate this act of friend¬ 
ship with money or with influence. 356 

Symonds also admitted he sought out rough trade, strangers, including 
soldiers, sailors, male (and female) prostitutes with whom he took “occa¬ 
sional liberties,” although he adds that he considered these overt commer¬ 
cial affairs to be “always abhorrent” to his nature. 357 

Not all of Symonds’ sex partners however were outside his own class. 
One of these exceptions was a young English schoolboy by the name of 
Norman Moor who Symonds had met in 1868. 

Symonds as a Seducer and Pederast 

Symonds was 28 years old and married when he first saw Norman 
Moor, 17, a handsome blond Sixth Form student at Clifton College, at a din¬ 
ner-party given by an intimate friend H. Graham Dakyns, a classics master 


176 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


at the college. 358 Symonds became immediately infatuated with the youth 
and was determined to possess him regardless of the dangers any intimacy 
with the well-born lad might present. 359 

In his Memoirs, Symonds described how he determined the course of 
action that would put the boy within his grasp: “In order to approach him, I 
contrived that Percival, the headmaster... should invite me to lecture to the 
Sixth Form.” 360 A successful seduction followed the details of which 
Symonds carefully recorded in his diary in a rather ethereal style. 361 The 
affair, with its “relatively buttoned-down” sexuality that most likely did not 
include sodomy, lasted four years with most of the enthusiasm on the elder 
man’s side. 

In January 1869, Moor went up to Oxford much to Symonds’ joy, but the 
lad unfortunately failed to live up to Symonds’ expectations as a scholar. 
Nevertheless, Symonds overcame his disappointment and their romance 
continued during Norman’s vacation days. In the summer of 1872, Symonds 
took Moor on a Continental tour and then brought the young lad home 
to visit his wife and daughters. According to Symonds, the two men had 
traveled in the spirit of comradeship as “amorous caresses had gone by.” 362 
Symonds’ wife, Catherine, was always jealous of Norman. 363 

Symonds’ Memoirs included a letter from Norman to Symonds written 
on November 26, 1886, in which Moor gave some details of his early sex¬ 
ual life. He said that he was corrupted by an 11-year-old classmate and later 
developed a taste himself for younger boys. 364 Moor said that it was John 
Percival and Symonds that “did something to cure me of this,” that is, they 
helped cure him of pederasty. 365 

Symonds interpreted this sentence as an affirmation that his seduction 
of Moor did no harm and “...that he (Moor) after the lapse of sixteen years, 
looked back upon my influence as salutary in the matter of love between 
male and male.” 366 Symonds said, he did not regret his passion for Norman 
as it was “natural,” and the young man “responded to it naturally, so far as 
temperament, age and constitution of his emotional self permitted.” 367 

Happily, Moor went on to become a husband, a father and, Symonds’ 
evaluation of his poor scholarship potential aside, one of Clifton College’s 
most popular and excellent classics master. 368 Norman Moor died of 
influenza in 1895. 

The other “great love” of Symonds’ life was Angelo Fusato, a young, 
blithe, pretty-looking gondolier and gigolo who Symonds discovered one 
May day in 1881 in Venice. Angelo, 24, already had a common-law wife by 
whom he had fathered two children, but Symonds took that all in stride. 369 
He wanted the young man and he had him. That Angelo was heterosexual 
merely added to his allure. Symonds helped support his new lover and his 
relatives and gave Angelo money to purchase a house. Later, Symonds 
obtained a position for Angelo at the Post Office that enabled the young man 
to marry. The two men made a mutually satisfactory arrangement where- 


177 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


by Angelo continued to serve Symonds as lover, personal gondolier and 
traveling companion. Much to Catherine’s displeasure, Angelo was brought 
to the family home in Davos as a guest and accompanied his master to the 
theater and to the residences of Symonds’ acquaintances when they visited 
in England. 370 Angelo remained with Symonds until the last. When his 
master died in Rome on April 19, 1893 Angelo was there to console him. 
Catherine was not. 371 

Sodomy is for Sissies 372 

Symonds had an unusual take on sodomy. On one hand, he condemned 
the practice out of hand as the behavior of degenerate effeminates because 
the practice forced one partner to take a passive, feminine role. 373 Contrary 
to popular opinion, he argued, buggery was not instinctual in homosexuals 
and those who engaged in such acts felt repugnance not pleasure. 374 On the 
other hand, he held that no physical harm came of sodomy and that Nature 
herself provided for universal rectal pleasure by surrounding the orifice 
with the same nerves found in the reproductive organs. 375 

Obviously, as a practicing homosexual who was attempting to sell 
Victorians on a new, “masculinized” homosexuality, Symonds public dis¬ 
course against sodomy was both understandable and self-serving. Symonds 
had realized early on in the game that for most Englishmen, sodomy con¬ 
tinued to be associated with anti-social and anti-religious beliefs. 376 Further, 
as the Wilde trials would later demonstrate, sodomy carried little aesthetic 
appeal. Symonds’ own writings suggest he practiced fellatio and voyeuris¬ 
tic solitary and mutual masturbation, and when he engaged in sodomy, he 
played the dominant, manly role not the passive effeminate role. 

Interestingly, although Symonds had hundreds of sex partners, he didn’t 
consider himself to be “a voluptuary” like his friend (and Wilde’s friend) 
Lord Ronald Gower. Nor did he see himself as an Apostle of Decadence like 
the “vicious” sodomite Oscar Wilde. On the contrary, he convinced himself 
that he indulged his sexual appetites only in “moderation” (without harm to 
the entire organism) and with a spirit of pure and manly shared comrade¬ 
ship rather than pure animal lust. There was, however, a very real and dark 
aspect to Symonds’ promiscuous relationships that had better gone 
unshared. 

When Symonds was originally diagnosed with phthisis (tuberculosis of 
the lungs) in 1877 at the age of 15, it was thought to be a congenital degen¬ 
erative disease with no known cause or cure. Physicians usually prescribed 
rest, pure air and good food to tuberculin patients like Symonds. By the late 
1880s, however, it had been confirmed by medical science that the “White 
Death” was a contagious disease contracted by the inhalation of infectious 
airborne bacteria. 377 Nevertheless, Symonds continued to expose young men 
to the dangerous and fatal disease by engaging in intimate sexual relations 
with them. 


178 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Symonds as a Disciple of “Greek Love” 

Symonds writings on homosexuality served two primary purposes— 
one personal, one public. The first, was to justify his own sexual behavior 
and to assist the highly compartmentalized Symonds in integrating his 
homosexual identity with his “total self.” The second, was to change 
Victorian opinion with regard to the legitimacy of same-sex relations. He 
took great care to frame the phenomena of sexual inversion in pseudo-sci- 
entific/medical terms so as to make the indelicate subject of buggery an 
acceptable topic of drawing room conversation. 378 He was also the first 
writer to use the word “homosexual” in an English publication. 379 Much of 
Symonds’ writings in defense of homoerotic relations are so strikingly 
familiar that it is hard to believe they were written well over a century ago. 

By the early 1880s, Symonds had already produced a large number of 
both privately circulated and published homoerotic poems, sonnets and 
translations, some of which were “frankly masturbatory” and others clev¬ 
erly disguised as Scriptural “meditations.” 380 But it was not until 1883 that 
his first major polemical work on pederasty and homosexuality, A Problem 
In Greek Ethics Being An Inquiry Into The Phenomenon Of Sexual Inversion 
Addressed Especially To Medical Psychologists And Jurists, appeared in print, 
and then only in a closeted limited edition of ten copies. In 1891 he pub¬ 
lished a follow-up study, A Problem in Modern Ethics, again with a limited 
edition. 381 

That both these works contained all manner of contradictions and spec¬ 
ulation is not surprising. Medical science’s views on the nature, cause and 
treatment of homosexuality were in a rapid state of flux and were virtually 
inseparable from the popular discourse of the Victorian era on congenital 
“degeneracies” of all kinds—physical, mental, moral, social and civic. 

From A Problem, in Greek Ethics to 
A Problem in Modern Ethics 

To ignore paiderastia is to neglect one of the features by which Greek civi¬ 
lization was most sharply distinguished. Yet this has been done by nearly all 
writers on Greek history and literature. The reasons for evading the inves¬ 
tigation of a custom so repugnant to modern taste are obvious; and it might 
even be plausibly argued that the topic is not sufficiently important in its 
bearing on Greek life and thought to justify its discussion. Still the fact 
remains that paiderastic was a social phenomenon of one of the most bril¬ 
liant periods of human culture, in one of the most highly organized and nobly 
active races. The fact remains that the literature of the Greeks, upon which 
the best part of humanistic education rests, abounds in references to the 
paiderastic passion. The anomaly involved in these facts demands dispas¬ 
sionate interpretation. I do not, therefore, see why the inquiry should not be 
attempted; why some one should not strive to ascertain, so far as this is pos- 


179 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


sible, the moral feeling of the Greeks upon this subject, and should not trace 

the history of so remarkable a custom in their several communities. 382 

From Original 1883 Introduction to 
A Problem in Greek Ethics 

Symonds began his defense of homosexuality with a defense of man-boy 
love in the Hellenistic tradition. This was significant. Wilde would raise the 
same defense at his own trial a decade later and fail. Symonds fared no bet¬ 
ter. Certainly the eromenos—erestes pedagogical relationship was a reality 
among the upper classes in Athens in the late Archaic period and adult 
homosexuality existed in the militaristic city-state of Sparta. But these 
were neither universal practices nor universally approved practices among 
all classes, in all regions and at all times in ancient Greece from the 
Homeric to the Hellenistic Age. Also, even where certain forms of homo¬ 
sexuality existed they were not exclusive. A man was still expected to 
marry and have children. Further, such practices were always surrounded 
by tightly proscribed customs and laws—an altogether unpromising foun¬ 
dation for Symonds to build his case for homoerotic “emancipation.” 

In his more lengthy sequel, A Problem in Modern Ethics, Symonds 
began with an appeal for a frank and open public discourse on a passion 
which society was reluctant to acknowledge much less name—so Symonds 
provided a name—the “inverted sexual instinct.” 383 Modern science, he 
stated, had adopted this “neutral nomenclature” that was free of prejudice 
and he would also. 384 

Like the true Modernist he was, Symonds claimed that Christian opin¬ 
ion against sexual inversion must be re-examined in light of new evidence 
provided by science. This new evidence, Symonds stated, had dispelled 
many “vulgar errors” concerning the sex practices of inverts, including the 
belief that all inverts practiced the aversa Venus (sodomy); that same-sex 
practices produced disease (even when practiced in moderation not ex¬ 
cess); that inverts preyed upon underage boys; and that all inverts were 
effeminate. 385 

Symonds drew upon the work of a variety of writers on the subject 
of sexual inversion that included the famous Austrian physician Pro¬ 
fessor Richard von Krafft-Ebing, the Italian criminal psychologist Cesare 
Lombroso and the German jurist, political activist and self-avowed homo¬ 
sexual Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. 386 

Dr. Richard Yon Krafft-Ebing (1840-1902) 

Dr. Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology at 
the University of Graz (and of Strasbourg and Vienna) gained worldwide 
recognition as the foremost specialist in the categorizing of mental ill¬ 
nesses with the publication of Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie ( Text-Book of 
Insanity) in 1879. 387 It was followed in 1886 by Psychopathia Sexualis 


180 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


(Aberrations of Sexual Life), a catalogue of all known sexual pathologies in 
which Krafft-Ebing identified four specific diseases of the nervous system 
that were characterized by an individual’s attachment to deviant sex objects 
—sadism, fetishism, masochism and the antipathic sexual instinct (homo¬ 
sexuality). 388 

Krafft-Ebing did not view homoerotic attraction as a simple criminal 
vice, but as a complex degenerative moral-physiological disorder that was 
generally inborn although it could be acquired by habits of masturbation or 
debauchery. Thus, homosexuals should be considered “diseased degener¬ 
ates,” not “criminals.” 389 

Krafft-Ebing classified and subdivided sexual inverts into three main 
categories and an assortment of subdivisions: 

• The Psychical Hermaphrodite —a person who is predominantly 
sexually attracted to his own sex but who retains a rudimentary 
attraction toward the opposite sex. 

• The Urning — a true homosexual who is solely attracted to his 
own sex and has an aversion to the opposite sex. Some male urn- 
ings appeared to be normal in every way except their sexual 
appetites. Others assume a feminine gender role in their manner 
of dress, voice and body movements. 

• The Androgyny —a person who possesses the soul of a one sex but 
is entrapped in the body of the opposite sex. 390 

Krafft-Ebing was publicly opposed to legal and criminal sanctions 
against sexual inverts because such individuals, “...in the light of science, 
are not responsible for their acts.” 391 He advocated medial treatment (in¬ 
cluding hypnosis) not incarceration of sexual inverts. His theories on the 
necessity of the conservation of sexual energy as the hallmark of a civi¬ 
lized society were closely connected to his views on onanism (solitary 
masturbation). Like many Victorians, the Austrian psychiatrist viewed 
“self-pollution” as a neuropathic disposition or taint that resulted in a 
variety of physiological ailments, destroyed virility, weakened the will and 
eroded one’s moral character. 392 He also viewed habituated masturbation 
as a major component of the etiology of homosexuality. 393 He believed 
that every homosexual was an inveterate masturbator, but not every 
habitual masturbator was an invert. 

Symonds disagreed with Krafft-Ebing’s exposition on the connection 
between onanism and sexual inversion as well as his claim that inherited 
neuropathy was the root cause of same-sex attraction, but he found Krafft- 
Ebing’s opposition to anti-sodomy laws ideologically useful. 

Dr. Cesare Lombroso (1835-1909 ) 

Dr. Cesare Lombrosa was an Italian psychiatrist professor and criminal 
forensic specialist whose studies on characterology and criminology were 


181 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


well known in Victorian professional circles. He studied at the Universities 
of Padua, Vienna and Paris and later became Professor of Psychiatry at the 
University of Pavia. 

During the early part of his career, Lombroso, a disciple of Darwin (evo¬ 
lution) and Galton (eugenics), focused much of his attention on phrenology 
(craniology), the study of character and mental capacity based on the con¬ 
formation of the skull. He became the leader of what was known at the time 
as the Italian School of Criminology distinguished by its adherence to bio¬ 
logical determinism rather than free will as being the key factor in criminal 
behavior. Lombroso’s name became virtually synonymous with the term 
“atavism,” that is, the reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after 
several generations of absence. Lombroso applied the term “atavist” to 
those persons who had reverted back to primitive or primordial man and who 
retained an innate potential for anti-social behavior (the born criminal). 394 

Lombroso divided criminal types into four categories: 

I. The Born Criminal 

II. The Criminal by Passion 

III. The Insane Criminal 

IV. The Occasional Criminal 

Lombroso placed the pederast in Category III (the criminally insane), 
along side kleptomaniacs, nymphomaniacs and habitual drunkards. Such in¬ 
dividuals, he claimed, commit crime because of a neurological defect of the 
brain which rendered them incapable of determining right from wrong. As 
a criminal class they could not be held responsible for their action, he said, 
therefore treatment and social isolation (to prevent breeding) rather than 
punishment was preferable in such cases. 395 

He distinguished homosexual offenders who have been born as such, 
from those who acquired the vice from “barracks, or colleges, or by a forced 
celibacy,” and who would return to their normal sexual appetites when they 
were introduced back into normal society. Where homosexuality was 
inborn however, he recommended that these unfortunates “...should be 
confined from their youth, for they are the source of contagion and cause a 
great number of occasional criminals.” 396 

As expected, Symonds adamantly objected to Lombroso’s classification 
of pederasty as a form of “moral insanity.” And although he does not 
entirely dismiss Lombroso’s theory that homosexual practices found 
among primitive and warlike tribes such as the Tartars and Celts are an 
indication of cultural atavism, he fiercely rejected the idea that the ancient 
Greeks should be so classified. 397 

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1826-1895) 398 

Ulrichs, who used the pen name “Numa Numantius,” came closest to 
being a kindred spirit to Symonds, not only because he shared Symonds’ 


182 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


homoerotic appetites, but also because he shared Symonds’ zeal in remov¬ 
ing the “prejudice” and “ignorance” that surrounded society’s attitudes 
toward homosexuality. 399 In 1854 Ulrichs took an early forced retirement 
from his civil servant post as a lawyer after his homosexual activities were 
made public. 400 

Much of Ulrich’s writings on sexual inversion were directed at estab¬ 
lishing a scientific basis for the theory that the homosexual condition was 
inborn and immutable and that the men who possessed these instincts 
were not inferior in any way to normal men—physically, intellectually or 
morally. Like Symonds, Ulrichs opposed all laws directed at the repression 
or punishment of such individuals. 

Ulrich developed his own vocabulary of sexual inversion: 

• The Dioning —the normal man 

• The Urning —the abnormal man or male sexual invert (a member 
of the “Third Sex”) The Urningin—a female sexual invert (a 
member of the “Fourth Sex”) 

• The Mannling —the invert who prefers effeminate males. 

• The Weibling —the invert who prefers powerful and masculine 
adult partners. 

• The Zwischen-Urning —the pederast who seeks out adolescent 
boys as sex partners. 

• The Uranodioninge —the bi-sexual who is attracted to both males 
and females. 

• The Virilisirt —a genuine invert who forces himself to cohabit 
with women and may even marry. 

• Th e Hermaphrodite 401 

What distinguished Ulrichs writings on sexual inversion from his con¬ 
temporaries was the emphasis that he placed on the sexual invert as a dif¬ 
ferent being or species of man, not simply a person with an abnormal sexual 
appetite. 402 Ulrich’s theories and discourse on the “Third Sex” came at a 
time when the public was already beginning to think of the homosexual as 
a different type of person rather than simply as a person who engaged in 
perverted sexual acts. The homosexual was acquiring his own identity and 
Ulrichs played an important part in that acquisition. In fact, in 1865, Ulrichs 
drafted a set of bylaws for a “Urning Union”—a bill of rights for homosex¬ 
uals that is virtually identical to the agenda of the homosexual movement 
today. 403 

Ulrichs traced the cause of sexual inversion to a biological mishap in 
early embryonic development during pregnancy that resulted in a female 
soul becoming entrapped in a male body thus creating a “Third” or “Inter¬ 
mediate” Sex. 404 In such cases, one’s innate sexual, psychic and emotional 


183 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


attachment to members of one’s own sex betrayed one’s physical anatomy 
(including the genitalia), he wrote. 

The German jurist has some unique views on the nature of same-sex 
attraction. He argued that the love Urnings practiced, was superior to soli¬ 
tary masturbation because it involved an “I” and “Thou,” that is, the 
Urning and his beloved, and because it produced a “higher level” of love in 
terms of both physical release and emotional gratification. 405 

Ulrichs also promoted the theory that a “delicious passion” in the form 
of a “magnetic current” (animal magnetism) went through the body of a 
Urning whenever he made physical contact with an attractive young 
man. 406 Urnings were driven to “embrace” and “cling” to such persons and 
“to touch their sexual parts intimately...in spite of the fact that they (male 
sex organs) are completely useless for his kind of intercourse,” he said. 407 
However, since the object of the Urning’s passions was not endowed with 
a female orifice to accept the male sexual organ, other parts of the male 
body including the anus must be used, he explained. 408 Ulrichs admitted 
that sodomy was an “unaesthetic act,” but he said, it was no more disgust¬ 
ing than the ordinary conjugal act. 409 One of his many accurate observa¬ 
tions concerning same-sex relations was that, historically speaking, 
Urnings have always put a high premium on large male genitalia. 410 

With regard to possible health hazards connected with anal penetration, 
he said that science and medicine had established the fact that sodomy was 
not any more dangerous than ordinary intercourse between a male and 
female. 411 However, Ulrichs always took care to point out that there were 
other ways and means besides anal penetration (sodomy) that the Urning 
used to achieve sexual satisfaction. 412 

To these opinions there were obviously many objectors. In one medical 
journal, an anonymous reviewer attacked Ulrich’s belief that the anus 
“which is meant by nature for defecation...be made a place of amusement 
for the male member, to make use in case of necessity of the various parts 
of the body as makeshift for those that are missing.” 413 “The fact that the 
health of the kinaidos (Urning) is seriously and incurably threatened by this 
abominable act is not taken into consideration by this half-mad author,” the 
reviewer said. 414 

Homosexuality and the Law 

Symonds did not share all of Ulrichs views on the topography of homo¬ 
erotic attractions. For example, he believed that a man with normal sexual 
appetites might acquire the taste for homosexual pleasures when isolated 
from the company of females as in the case of military barracks or prisons. 
Nevertheless, he enthusiastically embraced Ulrich’s (and Krafft-Ebing’s 
and Lombroso’s) beliefs that homosexual acts should be decriminalized. 

In The Problem of Modern Ethics , Symonds gave considerable space over 
to Ulrichs’ arguments against the legal persecution and social ostracism of 


184 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


sexual inverts whose only crime was that they “cannot feel sexually as the 
majority feel ...because they find some satisfaction for their inborn want in 
ways which the majority dislike.” 415 Sexual inverts had to be measured by 
a different standard than other men, Ulrichs argued. He proposed that soci¬ 
ety should “leave nature to take her course” and leave the Urnings to 
themselves. 416 

What then should the law be as with regard to sexual inverts? No dif¬ 
ferent from other men, Ulrichs answered. Consensual sexual relations be¬ 
tween men should not be criminalized unless violence is involved, “public 
decency” is offended, or in cases involving an adult and an underage boy, 
although on the last two points, his writings reveal a decided equivocation. 417 

Ulrichs insisted that since the homosexual inclination in a Urning was 
natural to him and could not be altered, society should not sentence him 
to a life of forced sexual abstinence, but let him act out his passions as 
he willed. 418 Such an enlightened approach would permit the Urning to 
develop voluntary, wholesome and sexually satisfying and possibly perma¬ 
nent relationships with other men, Ulrichs wrote. He was convinced that 
once people saw the “sublime side” of Uranian love and the “loyalty, devo¬ 
tion and spirit of sacrifice” practiced by Urnings toward their partners, they 
would, “without hesitation” approve of homosexual relations. 419 

Symonds, on the other hand, appeared to be more realistic and less opti¬ 
mistic concerning the ability of sexual inverts to establish such edifying and 
permanent bonds. In his Memoirs, he acknowledged that homosexual 
relationships were inherently unstable due to the absence of marriage and 
children and a common life. However, all was not lost, he added, because 
this left the parties “free to form new alliances as they desired with no 
harm to anyone.” 420 

On the question of predatory sexual inverts, Symonds agreed with 
Ulrichs that only “old debauchees or half-idiotic individuals are in the habit 
of misusing boys.” 421 

Although Ulrichs came from a long line of Lutheran ministers, he re¬ 
jected Protestant morality and blamed the plight of the Urning squarely on 
the shoulders of Christianity. 422 Like Symonds, he rejected the idea that 
Holy Scriptures condemned homosexual acts or that the biblical directive 
to “increase and multiply,” had any relevance in modern society. Ulrichs 
dismissed the later argument with a Malthusian quip that “habitable por¬ 
tions of the globe are rapidly becoming overcrowded.” 423 Symonds agreed 
with that assessment and added that the sterile acts of inverts were bene¬ 
ficial “in the present state of over-population.” 424 

As for the Church’s prohibition of homosexuality, Ulrichs claimed that 
the writers of the Old and New Testament were scientifically ignorant of 
the existence of the “Third Sex.” Homosexuals were not acting against the 
natural law he insisted by following sexual instincts that were natural for 


185 




THE RITE OF SODOMY 


them. Ulrichs demanded that the Church stop “tormenting” the conscience 
of the Urning and start teaching a “sexuality without sin.” 425 

Like Wilde at Reading Gaol, Ulrichs took upon himself the mantle of 
Christ and wrote that he too had been persecuted, exiled, defamed and pro¬ 
scribed. Catholic priests may voluntarily take a vow of celibacy, Ulrichs 
said, but it was absurd to doom inverts to such a fate. “We maintain that we 
have the right to exist after the fashion in which nature made us. And if we 
cannot alter your laws, we shall go on breaking them,” he said. 426 With 
these words of defiance by Ulrichs, Symonds brought his defense of homo¬ 
erotic love in to a close. 

The influence that Ulrichs had on Symonds was extraordinary. What is 
even more extraordinary is the degree to which Ulrich’s theories on the 
“Third Sex” had permeated the Victorian consciousness at least among the 
upper classes by the start of the 20th century. 

For example, in her book Oscar Wilde and His Mother A Memoir (1911), 
Anna Dunphy, the Comtesse de Bremont, an acquaintance of Lady Wilde, 
waxed solemnly over Wilde’s irregular passions that she attributed to his 
“feminine soul” that inspired his artistic genius, but also was responsible 
for “the lust for strange, forbidden pleasures...” 427 She confessed that she 
recognized this tragic mix-up of Nature the very first time they met when 
she beheld, “his feminine soul, a suffering prisoner in the wrong brain- 
house.” 428 

Symonds’ American Hero 
Poet Walt Whitman 

In his closing pages of A Problem in Modern Ethics, Symonds devoted a 
special section to the homoerotic verse and prose of the American poet 
Walt Whitman (1819-1892) with special attention to his poem “Calamus” 
found in Leaves of Grass and prose passages taken from Democratic Vistas 
in praise of Democracy as “the new religious ideal of mankind.” 429 

The two men had engaged in a lively exchange of correspondence for 
two decades although they had never met. Symonds’ affection for Whitman 
bordered on idol worship. As for the vain, self-promoting Whitman, already 
a cult figure in America, Brooks said he was always happy to accept “an¬ 
other weaver of fresh laurels for the imaginary crown he wore on his 
head.” 430 

Although Whitman, unlike Symonds, was born into a large working 
class American family and received little formal education, the two men 
actually shared much in common. 431 

First, they were both “slow fruit,” that is they did not “come out” to the 
homosexual life until early middle age and then only to a close circle of 
friends. 432 

Secondly, they shared a mutual enthusiasm for young, virile “butch- 
type” sexual partners and an open disdain for effeminate “faggots.” 433 Both 


186 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


en were avid cruisers and diarists. In the 1850s, Whitman kept a notebook 
that listed the names of young workingmen whom he had prospected along 
with details of their personal life such as their age, marital status and 
looks. 434 Whitman liked his sex rough and ready, and unlike Symonds, ap¬ 
peared to have no aversion to sodomy. Although Symonds and Whitman 
both had serious affairs, neither man was monogamy-minded. Whitman was 
adept at juggling more than one young lover at a time, a practice that often 
lead to petty quarrels and resentments. 435 

Lastly, and most importantly, both men embraced, propagandized and 
fought for a new homosexual ethos based on democratic principles that 
transcended class, religion, race and nationality. 

The ever-romantic Symonds, was absolutely besotted by Whitman’s 
poetry and writings that extolled the virtues of “manly love,” “athletic 
love” and “the high towering love of comrades.” 436 In his American friend, 
Symonds saw another sexual visionary like himself, and 19th century 
America as some kind of sexual frontier where the homoerotic ideals of 
Whitman were heartily welcomed. Whitman of course, knew better. 

American common law was no more friendly to sodomy (anal penetra¬ 
tion) than the English anti-buggery laws from which it was derived. Even 
after the death penalty for sodomy was eliminated after the American 
Revolution of 1776, harsh legal punishments remained including public 
exposure in the pillory, fines, prison time or loss of property. What is more 
important, homosexual behavior, especially sodomy, remained an ignomin¬ 
ious crime against God and country in the eyes of the American people and 
a vice that needed to be repressed by society. 437 

Among the most vociferous opponents of Whitman’s “smutty” poetry 
were the Philadelphia Society and the New York Society for the Sup¬ 
pression of Vice. 438 

Naturally, Whitman never confided in Symonds that he had once been 
the victim of a vigilante-brand of American justice for committing a homo¬ 
sexual rape on a young schoolboy. 

The alleged incident that came to be known as the “Southhold” or 
“Sodom School” Affair or simply “The Trouble” was reported to have oc¬ 
curred in 1841 when Whitman, age 22, was a schoolteacher in the small 
town of Southhold on the far tip of Long Island. He was a boarder of a local 
family and, as was the custom of the times, shared a bed with one of his 
young students. 

On January 3, 1841, Reverend Ralph Smith, a Protestant minister de¬ 
nounced Whitman for the crime of sodomy from the pulpit. A group of angry 
citizens, presented with evidence of “bloody sheets,” went hunting for the 
young schoolteacher. They found him hiding in the attic of the Corwin 
residence. They dragged him out of the house, tarred and feathered him, 
and rode him out of town on a rail. 439 


187 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Whitman appeared to have a genuine affection for Symonds even though 
he sometimes became irritated when the Englishman tried to pressure his 
American friend into admitting that he was, like him, a sexual invert. But 
Whitman would not be wheedled out of his “great secret.” Finally, in 1890, 
after years of Symonds’ gentle inquisition, Whitman exploded and wrote 
Symonds an indelicate and untruthful response in which he rejected the 
“damnable” inferences that he was such a person and that he had a gaggle 
of six illegitimate offspring to prove it. 440 Although Symonds was probably 
hurt by Whitman’s lie, he did not press the subject any longer and contin¬ 
ued with his correspondence from across the sea until his death three years 
later. 

Symonds’ Collaboration with Havelock Ellis 

In 1892, Symonds, anxious to have a medical physician affirm his advo¬ 
cacy of the homosexual life, began a collaborative effort with the 33-year- 
old pioneer sexologist Henry Havelock Ellis who was at work on the first 
of a seven-volume opus Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1897-1910). 441 
Unfortunately, Symonds died in 1893, leaving Ellis to complete Sexual 
Inversion on his own. However, anyone acquainted with Symonds writings 
on homosexuality can see that his influence on the book was substantial. 

In his autobiography, My Life, Ellis admitted that prior to his correspon¬ 
dence with Symonds, the subject of sexual inversion had interested him 
less than any other topic because he “had known very little about it.” 442 
The original version of Sexual Inversion contained the complete text of 
Symonds’ Greek Ethics, portions of Modern Ethics and many of his obser¬ 
vations and comments on various aspects of homosexuality. 

Since the 1895 Wilde trials made the publication of their completed 
manuscript in defense of homosexual practices problematic in England, 
Ellis secured a German publisher in Leipzig. Sexual Inversion was pub¬ 
lished in 1896 under the title Das kontrare Gestchlechtsgefuhl (The Contrary 
Sexual Feeling) and bore the names of both authors. In November 1897, 
Ellis managed to secure the first English printing of the controversial work. 
It was still published under joint authorship. However, Symonds’ executor, 
Horatio Brown bought out almost the entire first printing out of deference 
to the sensibilities of Catherine Symonds and the Symonds family. When 
the next printing appeared, Symonds’ name was eliminated altogether and 
Havelock Ellis listed as the sole author. 

But this run in with Symonds’ wife and heirs appeared to be the least of 
Ellis’ problems. Ellis was drawn into an extended legal battle over his book 
that was condemned as “homosexual pornography.” The courts eventually 
declared Sexual Inversion to be obscene and ordered all remaining copies 
destroyed. 443 Nevertheless, Symonds’ selection of Ellis as his partner 
in crime proved to be a rather prophetic choice for Havelock Ellis be- 


188 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


came one of the founding fathers of modern sexology and a precursor of the 
Kinseyian Sex Liberation Movement of the late 1940s. 

Dr. Ellis’ entire world revolved around sex—romantic sex—“the chief 
and central function of life ...ever wonderful, ever lovely.” 444 He himself 
however was unlovely, a rather unattractive man with a slightly effeminate 
demeanor. 

Ellis, who saw himself as a “sexual visionary” believed that Victorians 
were too obsessed with traditional (read religious) views on sex (i.e., mar¬ 
riage, family and conventional, heterosexual, sex) and needed to be per¬ 
suaded to expand their sexual horizons and introduce greater variety into 
their sexual repertoire. 445 Ellis’ radical views on sex were a reflection of his 
radical politics, or perhaps it is more accurate to say that his radical politics 
were a reflection of his radical sexual views and practices in line with the 
Nietzchean dictum that “the degree and kind of a person’s sexuality reach 
up into the ultimate pinnacle of his spirit.” 446 Like Symonds, but more so, 
Ellis was intimately connected to radical Socialist groups including the 
Fabian Society and its small but influential coterie of feminists, Darwinists, 
Malthusians, eugenicists and sexual inverts. 

In many ways, Ellis’ public campaign against Christian morality served 
to mask his own sexual inadequacies and fetishes. From his early years, he 
was a habitual masturbator and his frequent bouts with impotence led him 
to bypass normal male-female coitus in favor of acts with more “erotic 
symbolism” such as urologina. 447 He was not a homosexual, but he did 
marry one, a confirmed lesbian and fellow radical named Edith Lees. Their 
union proved a disaster for both. 448 Ellis, like his wife, took on many female 
lovers during his lifetime. His most notorious affair was with Margaret 
Sanger whom Ellis met in 1914. She later publicized his works in her Birth 
Control Review. It comes as no surprise then that he was in favor of “open 
marriages,” in which both men and women could freely engage in extra¬ 
curricular sex. Nor is it surprising that his theories of sexual liberation 
extended to include sexual inverts. 

Sexual Inversion —An Apologia for Homosexuality 

The Ellis-Symonds text of Sexual Inversion, although written over 100 
years ago, is quite modern in its polemics in favor of homosexuality. Krafft- 
Ebing’s theories of sexual inversion of homosexuality as an inborn disease 
or acquired vice are dismissed in favor of the view that homosexuality is 
simply an inborn variation or “sport” on the norm that is incapable of being 
modified. 449 

Although Ellis used the words “homosexual” and “sexual invert” inter¬ 
changeably, he thought the former “a barbarously hybrid word” and dis¬ 
avowed having responsibility for it. 450 Ellis translated sodomy in modest 
Latin terms, immissio membri in anum hominis vel mulieris. 451 


189 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


References to animal studies and human anthropological patterns were 
used to sustain the overall premise of the book—that sexual inversion 
harmed no one including the invert himself; that the invert should be per¬ 
mitted to indulge his natural sexual appetites; and that society reaps the 
benefits of the special artistic and intellectual superiority possessed by sex¬ 
ual inverts. 452 Ellis presented 33 selective case studies designed to illus¬ 
trate the validity of his arguments in favor of sexual inversion. 

However, the use of the term “case studies” was patently dishonest as 
it gave the impression that they were the result of Ellis’ professional clini¬ 
cal studies with his patients. They were not. 

Ellis graduated with the minimum education necessary to receive a 
medical degree and had no specialized training in psychiatry or psychology 
and never had a medical practice. Ellis did acknowledge that Symonds pro¬ 
vided about half of the case studies. 453 Other self-avowed homosexuals like 
Edward Carpenter wrote up their own sexual histories and gave them to 
Ellis for inclusion in the book. Few of the sexual inverts in the study admit¬ 
ted to the practice of sodomy. 454 All defined themselves as manly, not 
effeminate. All said they appreciated the opposite sex. Indeed all portrayed 
themselves as paragons of personal and civic virtue—“high bred, refined 
and sensitive.” 455 

Ellis’ writings, like those of Symonds and Wilde, provide us with a fairly 
broad prospectus on how proponents of homosexuality attempted to sell 
their homerotic wares to the predominantly Protestant, urbanized popula¬ 
tion of Victorian and Edwardian England. And, although it was not the 
intention of the authors, they also reaffirmed, directly and indirectly, that 
English society as a whole, continued to view homosexual acts and the 
emerging homosexual person with the same degree of disgust, horror and 
intolerance experienced by their Cromwellian and Calvinist forebears. The 
sexual invert of Oxbridge may have been more “learned” and more “mas- 
culanized” than London’s lower-class mollies and Mary Anns of the previous 
century, but they were no less shunned and abhorred as being subversive to 
Church and State. Nor did the Englishman stand alone in his aversion to 
homosexual relations. 

The Prosecution of Umings in Germany 

Thanks to the prolific writings of Herr Karl Ulrichs, the self-avowed 
German ‘Urning” (to whom the reader has already been introduced in con¬ 
nection with the writings of John Addington Symonds), we have a fairly 
extensive record of how Germany’s anti-sodomy laws were promulgated in 
the years leading up to the end of the First Reich and the founding of the 
Second Reich under Kaiser Wilhelm I in 1871. 

Historically, the German Prussian States had strict anti-sodomy statues 
that were based on the 1532 Penal Code of the Constitution Criminalis 
Carolina under Holy Emperor Charles V 


190 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


The provisions of Paragraph 143 as interpreted by Prussian courts in 
the second-half of the 19th century stated that all unnatural practices 
between men (widernatiirliche Unzucht) including sodomy or acts leading 
up to sodomy but excluding mutual masturbation, constituted a felony and 
were punishable by three to six months of imprisonment or less. 

Other German Kingdoms, notably Hannover, Oldenburg, Thuringia, 
Wurttemberg, Braunschweig, Saxony and Bavaria had sodomy statutes that 
were based on the more liberal 1804 Code Napoleon. Homosexual acts per 
se were not prosecuted unless minors were involved or the public peace 
was disturbed. 456 

In The Riddle of ‘Man-Manly’ Love, Ulrichs’ opus work on homosexual 
life and death in and about Germany under the First Reich, he presented a 
number of important civil and criminal trials involving Urnings that took 
place between 1860 and 1869. 457 

One of the most controversial trials cited by Ulrichs took place in 
September 1864 in the Tyrolian region of Austria near the southern most 
tip of Germany. A 43-year-old Catholic priest was arraigned on multiple 
charges of the rape of a minor, crimes against nature (sodomy), seduction 
and fornication. These crimes were reported to have taken place over a 
period of 12 years. In addition to these violations of the civil law, the priest 
had also violated Church law. Not only had he broken his vows of chastity 
and celibacy, but he had also committed sacrilege by using the confessional 
to solicit sexual favors from young male penitents. 458 

The pastor was brought to trial on September 3 before a five-judge 
panel at the Botsen County Court. The trial was closed to the public. Seven 
of the seventeen boys with whom the priest had sexual relations were sub¬ 
poenaed to testify. It is unclear if the 12-year-old boy he raped was called as 
a witness. 

It took only one day for the judges to reach a verdict of guilty. The priest 
was sentenced to the maximum punishment allowable under the law, nine 
years in prison with hard labor to be made more severe during fast days. 
Sentences ranged from two to four months for some of the priest’s older 
accomplices. 459 

In addition to the Tyrol case, Ulrichs cited nine others that included 
Protestant as well as Catholic clergy who were charged either with homo¬ 
sexual solicitation of adult male partners (usually soldiers) or the seduction 
and corruption of young boys. 460 In connection with the latter category, it 
is interesting to note how little the strategies of predatory “man-boy” 
lovers have changed over the years. The clerical pederasts of the mid-19th 
century went “where the boys were,” that is, they sought out their prey in 
schools and orphanages. Convictions in these cases drew anywhere from a 
week to three or four months in jail. 

In general, all of the cases appeared to have been isolated incidents with 
no connections to any organized ring of clerical pederasts. Nor is there any 


191 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


evidence that their numbers were greater than non-clerical offenders in the 
general population. 

The Infamous Zastrow Case 

As shocking as the Tyrol case and others involving clerical sex abuse 
were, they paled into insignificance when compared to the case of Carl 
Ernst Wilhelm von Zastrow whose trial opened in Berlin on July 5,1869. 461 
It was a criminal case that involved the brutal attack, sodomization and 
mutilation of a young boy and the suspected murder, sodomization and 
mutilation of a second boy. Ulrichs took an extraordinary interest in the 
case although he denied having any contact with the accused. 462 From the 
numerous articles he collected on the trial from Berlin papers, he formed a 
profile of the accused and made a detailed analysis of the motivations for 
the crimes—all of which appeared in his final chapters in ‘Man Manly’ 
Love. 

Zastrow, a painter and former militia lieutenant, was a wealthy member 
of an influential and noble family. 463 Little is known about his formative 
years except that his mother and maternal grandfather were reputed to 
be of unsound mind—an argument used by Zastrow’s attorney at his 
trial. 464 Ulrichs reported that Zastrow had been dismissed from his military 
unit and banished from Dresden because of his “disreputable lifestyle.” 465 
In his work, Ulrichs described Zastrow as an effeminate, refined, gentle, 
pious Urning with a “cold, colorless facial expression” that hid “a secret 
passion.” 466 But Ulrichs was uncertain if the accused was a “Mannling” 
or a “Weibling” or a mixture of both. 467 

The story began on January 17, 1869 when Zastrow was picked by the 
Berlin police in connection with the attempted murder, rape and sexual 
mutilation of five-year-old Emil Hanke. 468 The boy had been sodomized, 
bitten on the face and freshly circumcised. 469 His wounds to the rectum 
were such that the child was unable to hold a bowel movement. 470 After the 
sexual assault, his assailant(s) tried to strangle him. When that failed, his 
attacker(s) tried to stuff him into a heating duct to hide or suffocate the 
child. Amazingly, the boy survived, although he remained in critical condi¬ 
tion at Bethany Hospital for several weeks. 

This was not the first run-in that Zastrow had had with the Berlin police. 
On the same day, two years earlier, on January 17, 1867, Zastrow had been 
taken into custody and questioned about the brutal murder-mutilation of a 
15-year-old baker’s apprentice named Corny. The boy had been sodomized 
and then a wooden stake was driven up through his rectum into his lungs. 
His body was found in Panke Brook. 471 The coroner reported that the mur¬ 
derer had attempted to cut out the lad’s rectum and in fact, did cut off the 
boy’s privates while he was still alive and then fled carrying the pieces of 
flesh with him. 472 Unfortunately, there was not enough evidence against 
Zastrow and he was released. 


192 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Legal proceedings against Zastrow in connection with the Hanke attack 
began on July 5, 1869. Public officials, fearing a public riot and lynching, 
held his trial in a room at the jail rather than transport the accused to the 
courthouse. The child Hanke was present at the trial, but he was unable to 
make a positive identification of his attacker. 473 The trial was closed to the 
public, but the judge permitted members of the press to be present. 474 

In the early publicity surrounding the trial, no reference was made to 
Zastrow’s homosexuality, but the police were aware of his unnatural sexual 
appetites. 475 Later, when they searched Zastrow’s residence they found a 
copy of Ulrichs’ book Memnon (The Lone Voice) in Zastrow’s library. 476 

When Zastrow took the stand, he said he was indeed a member of a 
“Third Sex” as described in Ulrichs’ writings and that he always had a sex¬ 
ual attraction for “handsome manly forms,” but never for women. 477 In a 
letter written to a friend from his jail cell, he wrote, “I feel I am an unnatu¬ 
ral criminal. I indulged in my favorite sin too often.” 478 Commenting on 
Zastrow’s claim that he felt isolated and cut off from society and that he had 
never formed any real relationships, Ulrichs retorted that all Urnings in 
Germany shared the same sentiments—that they were all “loners.” 479 

Among the expert witnesses called to testify at the trial was Dr. Karl 
Westphal, the prominent German psychiatrist who coined the term “con¬ 
trary sexual feeling” to identify homosexuality. In contradiction to testi¬ 
mony presented by other forensic doctors, he stated that Zastrow’s homo¬ 
sexuality was an inborn condition not an acquired vice, and that it was not 
the result of debauchery caused by habitual masturbation or other external 
factors. 480 

Although three witnesses placed Zastrow outside the district when the 
crime was committed, there were two items—a walking stick and a hand¬ 
kerchief with his initials stained with blood from the victim—linking him to 
the crime. However, this was only circumstantial evidence. Except for the 
fact that a forensic specialist was able to match the teeth marks found on 
the child’s face with an imprint formed by Zastrow’s teeth, the defendant 
might have gone free, yet again. 

After Zastrow’s attorney played the insanity card, the judge permitted a 
three-month postponement of the trial in order that a more thorough eval¬ 
uation of the accused’s mental state be undertaken. The trial resumed in 
late October 1869. 

On October 29 the jury returned a unanimous vote of guilty on charges 
of forcible rape and bodily harm, but Zastrow was found innocent of the 
charge of premeditated attempted murder. The judge sentenced Zastrow to 
15 years in prison plus a 10-year probationary period under police supervi¬ 
sion following his release. Death took Zastrow in February 1877 before his 
sentence was complete. 481 

Ulrichs, a lawyer who was known to take up the legal defense of accused 
homosexuals (with or without their solicitation) had taken up Zastrow’s 


193 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


cause, not to defend his actions, but to make sure that the accused was not 
deprived of his constitutional right to a fair trial simply because he was a 
homosexual. 

There is little doubt that Ulrichs saw the Zastrow trial as an opportunity 
to expound his own theories on sexual inversion and to attack Prussia’s 
anti-sodomy laws. The main theme that extended throughout his writings 
on the Zastrow case was that the accused was driven to commit his crimes 
by certain pathological circumstances that were unrelated to his Uranism, 
but aggravated by society’s hatred and contempt for the Urning. 

In Book Eight titled “Incubus: Uranian Love and Bloodthirstiness” 
(1869) and Book Nine “Argonauticus: Zastrow and the Urnings of the 
Pietistic, Catholic and Freethinking Parties” (1869) of ‘Man-Manly’ Love, 
Ulrichs reported on 15 criminal cases that he believed were related to the 
Zastrow case. 

After reviewing these cases, Ulrichs said he had come to the conclusion 
that: “In the case of certain individuals, pathological emotional disturbances 
appears to be possible—be they chronic or only of a moment’s duration, 
whether accompanied by actual visions or not—where the individual is 
forced into behavior of wild cruelty and bloodthirstiness by an unconquer¬ 
able inner impulse.” He believed that Zastrow had suffered from such a 
condition. 482 In making such a supposition, Ulrichs became one of the few 
homosexualist writers of his era to touch upon, knowingly or unknowingly, 
the existence of a phenomena commonly referred to today as homosexual 
rage. 

Indeed, in ‘Man-Manly’ Love, Ulrichs revealed a great deal more of the 
darker aspects of the homosexual psyche than he probably intended to. In 
all his public pronouncements Ulrichs consistently portrayed the Urning as 
a feminine, gentle creature of high moral character. Yet his book was filled 
with incidents of violence of all kinds and dead bodies are strewn all over 
its pages. 

There was the story of Johann Gnieser, a gentle pederast who axed 
a 12-year-old boy to death to prevent him from telling his stepfather that 
Gnieser had repeatedly sexually abused him. 483 

There was the case of Joseph Kraft (1868), “a very feminine” homo¬ 
sexual who excelled in “womanly occupations,” who strangled his beautiful 
young wife with his own hands because she was a reminder of his sexual 
inadequacies. 484 

There was the tale of a trio of suspected Urnings who seized and partly 
castrated a retired soldier in the town of Klein-Korren (1869). 485 

There is a story of two Urnings raping an Austrian soldier (1849). 486 

There were several tales of Urnings who were murdered by their sex 
partners such as Herr Lindemann who was murdered and robbed by his 
young lover, Konig (1865). 487 


194 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


And there are numerous references to Urnings who are killed by their 
own hand (by poison, pistol or hanging) out of fear of public exposure or 
who were victims of blackmail or extortion by criminals who populated the 
sexual underworld of which these desperate men were a part. 488 

Fritz Krupp “The Oscar Wilde of the Second Reich” 489 

On November 22. 1902, news of the sudden death of Friedrich “Fritz” 
Alfred Krupp, “The Cannon King” and the heir to the great German indus¬ 
trialist/munitions fortune made headlines around the world. 490 

The official story was that Krupp, age 48, had died of natural causes— 
a stroke. However, no autopsy was performed as required by law and there 
was no official inquest into his death. Also his coffin was sealed before his 
wife and two young daughters could pay their respects, in breach of custom. 

The Cannon King’s funeral in Essen was, as expected, a real Volksfest, 
carried out with great pomp and fanfare as befitting an illustrious son of the 
Reich, complete with a glowing testimonial from Kaiser Wilhelm II who 
was in attendance with a large contingent of his military entourage. 491 

The unofficial story was that Krupp had died by his own hand. His 
alleged suicide was attributed to a series of public exposes on his pederas- 
tic affairs with young boys in Berlin and in Capri. Articles and lurid photo¬ 
graphs of Krupp’s homosexual trysts with underage Italian boys on the 
island of Capri and at the Hotel Bristol in Berlin were already in circulation 
in Germany and abroad at the time of his death. 492 

Although sodomy continued to be a criminal offense throughout the 
entire German Reich under Paragraph 175 (the former Paragraph 143 of the 
earlier Prussian Penal Code), in cases involving powerful public figures like 
Krupp, the police had, as a matter of course, simply been forced to look the 
other way. 493 

In Italy, Krupp was permitted even more latitude to indulge his sexual 
fantasies since homosexuality per se was not a punishable offense under 
Italian law. Nevertheless, it was in Italy and not Germany that Herr 
Krupp’s difficulties began. 

When Krupp, an amateur oceanographer and avid yachtsman, first 
established his vacation residence on the island of Capri he arranged for 
young native boys to be sent to his luxurious suites at the Quisisana Hotel. 

Then, perhaps acting on a whim, the physically unappealing but con¬ 
genial and Midas-rich eccentric decided to create a new “religious order” 
dedicated to pederasty. Krupp created his temple of worship at the Grotto 
of Fra Felice, an above ground isolated ocean cave on the far side of the 
island named after a venerated 16th century hermit. 494 The young “monks” 
who guarded the grotto gates wore Franciscan robes as uniforms. So to the 
charge of gross immorality against the new fellowship, one could add the 
grave sin of blasphemy. 


195 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Whereas Oscar Wilde gave his male consorts silver cigarette cases, 
Krupp designed solid gold insignias in the shape of artillery shells adorned 
with two cross forks to identify members of his innovative fraternity. 495 
Krupp also created ritualistic homosexual orgies on the formerly hallowed 
site and even permitted some of these to be photographed. It did not take 
long for reports and photos of Krupp engaged in sodomy and other sex acts 
with young, pre-adolescent children to reach the Italian police and govern¬ 
ment officials. A formal, high-level investigation of Krupp’s activities at the 
grotto was completed in the spring of 1902 and the government of Victor 
Emmanuel II ordered Krupp out of the country. To emphasize its displeas¬ 
ure, Berlin was informed by diplomatic courier that Krupp was now persona 
non grata in Italy. 496 

The Kaiser, who was well aware of Krupp’s double life, accepted the 
Italian reproof with a minimum of concern, and the matter was put on the 
back burner. 497 As for Krupp, he didn’t get overly excited. The Capri Affair 
would be covered up just like all his other indiscretions had been. Besides, 
there were other islands he could buy and colonize. 

This time however, Krupp was wrong. The genie was already out of the 
bottle. Given the publicity surrounding the carabinieri’s investigation of 
Krupp’s activities on Capri, it was not long before the Italian press picked 
up the scent of an international scandal of the top magnitude. 

According to William Manchester, one of Krupp’s biographers, the first 
papers to break the story were Propaganda in Naples and Avanti in 
Rome. 498 Less than a week later, the German Catholic paper Augsburger 
Potzeitung using a Rome dateline, carried a lengthy article on Krupp’s sex 
circus at the sacred grotto. Although Fritz Krupp was not named in the arti¬ 
cle, he was readily identifiable by the description of the key villain—“a 
great industrialist of the highest reputation” with “intimate” connections to 
the Imperial court. 499 

On November 15, Berlin’s less scrupulous Socialist Democratic journal 
Vorwarts (Vol. 268) in an article titled “Krupp auf Capri,” exposed 
“Exzellenz Krupp” as a pederastic fiend and demanded that the public pros¬ 
ecutor’s office begin legal action against Krupp under Paragraph 175 of the 
German penal code. 500 This feigned indignation of the Socialist leaders was 
rather ironic considering the fact that their party was on record as opposing 
Paragraph 175. Also, whatever his personal crimes, Fritz Krupp was, by 
contemporary standards, a progressive and fair employer of the 50,000 fac¬ 
tory workers that manned Krupp industries. 

In any case, Krupp and his agents put the Kaiser and his advisors on 
high alert. 

Within hours of Fritz’s telegraphed plea to the Imperial palace for help, 
Germany’s chancellor was ordered to prepare a legal brief against the pub¬ 
lishers of Vorwarts, and the Imperial police raided the offices of the Social 
Democratic Party (SPD) and confiscated all copies of the offending issue. 


196 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Krupp, a la Wilde, reluctantly prepared to sue both the Augsburger 
Potzeitung and Vorwarts for criminal libel. 

As if all this damning publicity weren’t enough, the Cannon King’s trou¬ 
bles were further complicated by problems at home. 

In early October of 1902, after receiving an anonymous mailing filled 
with clippings of her husband’s sexual misadventures in Capri, Krupp’s 
wife, Marga, asked the Kaiser to intervene in the matter. The possibility of 
having Fritz declared incompetent was discussed by Kaiser Wilhelm and 
Frau Krupp, but not acted upon. Marga Krupp was simply told to be silent. 
When she would not be quiet, it was she, not Fritz, who was put away. 501 
On November 2, with the tacit approval of the emperor, Krupp had his wife 
forcibly taken from their castle at Villa Hiigel and committed to a private 
asylum in Jena as a lunatic. 502 

On November 21, Krupp was advised that doctors were coming to the 
castle to discuss the final disposition of his “insane” wife. Fritz was unwill¬ 
ing to commit his wife for life and to deprive his two young daughters of 
their mother. Such a cowardly act would be useless and unworthy of a 
Krupp. Besides, it was plain that the whole world would soon know of the 
ignominious fall of Kruppdom. Krupp believed that there was only one way 
out for him and he took it. 

According to Manchester, a hasty cover-up of Krupp’s suicide was ar¬ 
ranged with the cooperation of the household staff by the four visiting 
physicians who arrived at the castle the morning of November 22, 2002, 
after Fritz’s body was discovered by a servant. Marga was immediately 
released from her confinement to attend her husband’s funeral, after which 
she forbade any further legal action to clear Fritz’s name, thus bringing the 
ugly scandal to a quick and merciful end. 

Although the Krupp Affair is more than a century old, it continues to be 
topic of interest to homosexual activists in this country and abroad as evi¬ 
denced by the numerous pro-homosexual websites that carry details of the 
suicide, but not for reasons one might readily suspect. 

It appears that prior to the Capri expose, Socialist Party leaders had 
already been tipped off that Herr Krupp was an active pederast. The alleged 
informer was said to have been a Berlin physician with ties to Berlin’s 
homosexual underworld. He had attempted to blackmail the wealthy indus¬ 
trialist out of 100,000 marks, but had failed. 503 The collaborating evidence 
provided by the informer when combined with the Italian press reports 
against Krupp made it possible for the publishers of Vorwarts to go for the 
jugular of their political foe. 

And who was this alleged informer? 

He was reputed to be none other than the young Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, 
the head of Berlin’s Scientific Humanitarian Committee (SHC) a pro¬ 
homosexual pseudo-scientific propaganda organization. 504 The irony of 


197 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Hirschfeld’s alleged treachery was that the SHC was dedicated to the elim¬ 
ination of anti-sodomy laws and the legal protection of homosexuals like 
Krupp. 

Magnus Hirschfeld and Germany’s 
“The Rights of the Behind Movement” 505 

Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, was only 34 years old when the Krupp Affair 
broke out, yet he was already the acknowledged leader of the German 
Sexual Emancipation Movement. As with Symonds and Ulrichs, his writ¬ 
ings, research and politics were all intimately tied to his own self-interests 
and they permitted him to indulge his own voyeuristic homoerotic appetite. 
At a time when being a German Jew, a Socialist/Communist and homosex¬ 
ual were social and professional liabilities, Hirschfeld distinguished himself 
by being all three. 

Born on May 14, 1868, into a large bourgeois Jewish family with seven 
siblings, a well-known physician-father and a loving, practical mother in 
the beautiful historic seaside region of Pomerania, Prussia, Magnus’ early 
childhood was a lively and happy one. According to his chief biographer, 
Charlotte Wolff, after completing his early academics at the Dom Gym¬ 
nasium, Magnus entered the liberal arts program at the University of 
Breslau, but changed his mind mid-stream and decided in favor of a medical 
career. He combined his medical studies at Strassburg, Munich, Heidelberg 
and Berlin with his military obligations and received his medical degree in 
February 1892. However, he still remained ambivalent about his ultimate 
life’s work. 506 

At what point in his life the young Magnus began to personally identify 
himself as a homosexual male we do not know. But no doubt his homosex¬ 
ual desires played a pivotal role in his final decision to pursue a career in 
the field of sexology in which he could combine his private interests as a 
homosexual with his scientific and political interests in promoting homo¬ 
sexuality. 

By the time he helped organize the Wissenschaftlich-humanitare 
Komitee (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee) on his 29th birthday in 1897, 
he was already well acquainted with major works on sexual inversion by 
Krafft-Ebing and Ulrichs. Hirschfeld had also written articles in favor of 
homosexuality under the pseudonym Dr. Med. Th. Ramien, including the 
pamphlet “Sappho und Sokrates” (1896). 507 

At about the same time that Hirschfeld was organizing the Scientific- 
Humanitarian Committee (SHC), the well-known pederast Adolf Brand was 
converting his anarchist journal Der Eigene (The Original) into a mouth¬ 
piece for pederasty and homosexuality under the guise of “male culture” 
that emphasized the Greek military model and the “butch” model of the 
male homosexual. 508 


198 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Although Brand and other leaders of the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (the 
Community of the Elite) and Hirschfeld differed on the direction and strate¬ 
gies of the homosexual movement in Germany, they were united in their 
opposition to Paragraph 175 and the need for an ongoing propaganda and 
political campaign designed to discredit and eventually repeal the nation’s 
anti-sodomy laws. 509 Hirschfeld’s Committee was seen as the vehicle 
whereby they could establish a scientific basis for their anti-sodomy cam¬ 
paign. 510 

By the time young Dr. Hirschfeld and his team of SHC interviewers and 
data collectors entered the vast “Boyopolis” of Berlin, the epicenter of 
European life, to begin their “scientific” investigations and studies of male 
and female sexual inversion, the phenomena of urbanized colonization by 
large numbers of homosexual men and women was already well under¬ 
way. 511 

That a highly sophisticated international homosexual network was 
already in place in major cities in Germany as early as the 1850s was clear 
from the journals and writings of homosexualist writers of the period. 

For example, in April 1867, when the Prussian police arrested Uranian 
activist Karl Ulrichs on grounds of sedition and raided his apartment in 
Burgdorf, they discovered lists that Ulrichs had drawn up containing the 
names of prominent homosexuals living in Berlin and the names and 
addresses of homosexuals living in Paris, London and Rome. 

As in Victorian England, the sexual underworld of cosmopolitan Berlin 
was divided along class lines. 

The homosexual “haute votee” favored the elegant first class hotels and 
bars in West Berlin where members of the aristocracy, high government 
and military officials and the otherwise rich and famous could indulge their 
every sexual whim and attend lavish costume balls all awash with homo¬ 
sexuals, lesbians and transvestites of every imaginable description. 512 

The lower classes had their own haunts for pickups and entertainment 
in the poorer neighborhoods of North and South Berlin. In addition to pri¬ 
vate houses, homosexuals could drink, eat, dance and carry on their affairs 
at the cafes and taverns along the Tiergarten and the Friedrichstrasse that 
catered to homosexuals and other criminal trade. The soldier-prostitute 
was as familiar a figure in the garrison districts of Germany as he was in 
England. There were also numerous sports clubs and fraternities that oper¬ 
ated as centers of male culture. 

In terms of law enforcement, by the late 1800s, the Criminal Police 
Department (Kriminalpolizei) in Berlin had already established a spe¬ 
cial homosexual unit in Room 161, at police headquarters on the Alex- 
anderplatz. Here records were kept on suspected and convicted homo¬ 
sexuals and transvestites as well as blackmailers. From 1905-1919 Police 
Commissioner Hans von Tresckow served as director of the homosexual 


199 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


task force. Commissioner Tresckow estimated that there were more than 
100,000 men living in Berlin who were addicted to the vice. 513 

As a whole, the police had mellowed in their treatment of Urnings since 
the days of Wilhelm I. They now dealt more leniently with cases involving 
consenting adults, but harsher with male transvestites whom they forced 
to register as women. The police were most severe in cases involving 
violence and/or convicted pederasts and prostitutes, and con men who 
attempted to blackmail wealthy or influential homosexual clients. Agents 
provocateur were rarely used by the authorities to spy on suspected homo¬ 
sexuals except in extraordinary cases such as those involving national 
security or organized male prostitution rings. 514 

Every once in awhile there were incidents of police corruption by 
wealthy homosexuals as with the case of Herr von Meerscheidt-Hullesem, 
a high official of Berlin’s criminal police and member of Hirschfeld’s SHC 
who used to run interference for Fritz Krupp at the bureau before he 
(Krupp) committed suicide. 515 

Of course, as the founder and leader of the SHC and as an active homo¬ 
sexual, Hirschfeld’s name was on the Polizeipraesidium’s notorious pink 
list along with many lesser-known homosexuals who had found both safe 
haven from the police and employment at the SHC headquarters located in 
the Charlottenburg district of Berlin. 

The SHC’s Campaign for Sex Reform in Germany 

As stated in its Articles of Incorporation and Constitution of May 15, 
1897, the aims of Hirschfeld’s Scientific and Humanitarian Committee 
(SHC) were to conduct “research into homosexuality and allied variations, 
in their biological, medical and ethnological significances as well as their 
legal, ethical and humanitarian situation,” and “to change public opinion 
about homosexuality through publications ...pamphlets, scientific talks and 
popular lectures.” 516 Executive power rested with a small circle of super¬ 
visors called “Obmanner.” 517 Membership was open to all. However, by 
1900 it had only 70 members. 518 In 1899, the first volume of Jahrbuch fur 
sexuelle Zwischenstufen, the official journal and organization mouthpiece of 
the SHC, rolled off the presses. 

The philosophical underpinnings of the Committee were a mixture of 
Social Darwinism, Nietzscheism, Racial Hygiene and Sexual Improvement. 
For Hirschfeld especially, eugenics remained the focal point of sexology and 
sociology. 519 

Politically, the SHC preached the gospel of radical Socialism and Com¬ 
munism. And although its primary goal was the decriminalization of homo¬ 
sexual acts and the repeal of Paragraph 175, in fact, the SHC involved itself 
in the widest possible range of “sexual reform” issues including “abortion 
rights,” birth control for individuals combined with Malthusian programs of 
population control for national governments, sex instruction for youth and 


200 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


adults, women’s emancipation, eugenic sterilization, artificial insemina¬ 
tion, open marriages, no-fault divorce, pornography, prostitution and 
venereal disease. 520 It is note worthy that one of Hirschfeld’s first acts as 
the head of the SHC was to lobby for the repeal of Paragraph 218 of the 
German penal code that prohibited induced abortion. 521 

The SHC opened its campaign against Paragraph 175 on December of 
1897 by delivering a Petition to decriminalize homosexual acts to the 
Reichstag and Bundesrat. The Petition had been drawn up by Hirschfeld 
and signed by more than 3000 German citizens including Professor Richard 
von Krafft-Ebing, Albert Einstein, Thomas Mann and other prominent sex¬ 
ologists, jurists, artists, publishers and Socialists. 522 

The opposition forces composed of main-line Protestant Churches and 
the Roman Catholic Church were led by Pastor Scholl who opposed the 
SHC Petition in a speech to the Reichstag on January 19, 1898, reminding 
government officials of the biblical injunction against homosexual acts. 523 

Among the many arguments for the decriminalization of homosexual 
acts presented by Hirschfeld were: 

• New scientific research into the nature of sexual inversion had demon¬ 
strated “without exception” that it is an inborn and irreversible condition, 
therefore the Urning or Uranier should not be punished for acting on his 
natural erotic attraction towards the same sex. 

• Homosexual intercourse was “in no way” different from heterosexual 
acts. 

• The repeal of anti-sodomy laws in France, Italy and Holland and other 
countries did not result in “lowered moral standards.” 

• Homosexuality was not synonymous with sodomy and coitus analis and 
oralis occurred comparatively rarely in homosexuals,” at least as rarely 
as among “normal” people. 

• Homosexuals did not seduce immature juveniles and pedicatio (ped¬ 
erasty) and love for juveniles was as rare in inverts as in normal popula¬ 
tions. 

• Paragraph 175 made people feel guilty about their homosexual appetites 
and drove many to commit suicide or pay off blackmailers. The law also 
“encouraged the vice of male prostitution.” 

• Prosecution of inverts caused exilism and depravation of the Fatherland. 524 

The Petition did note the conditions under which homosexual actions 
should be punished. They included cases that involved force or threat of 
force, minors under the age of 16, the “feeble-minded”, or those actions 
which offended public decency.” 525 

The 1897 Petition failed, but the SHC continued its lobbying efforts 
against Paragraph 175 for another 30 years. In spite of all its propaganda 
efforts in favor of homosexuality, the SHC could not convince the burgeon¬ 
ing middle-class that homosexuality was normal and that homosexuals as a 


201 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


group presented no moral or physical threat to society, particularly youth. 
Moreover, as Wolff acknowledged, the majority of scientists dismissed 
Hirschfeld’s theories and SHC actions as self-serving and a “vulgarization” 
of science. 526 The political “Right” was against the repeal of Paragraph 175. 
The national press was divided on the matter. 

Many Berliners were particularly hostile to SHC’s nonstop use of 
public “surveys” on homosexuality, which they viewed (correctly so) as a 
form of homosexual prostelization and recruitment. In one case, a group of 
students found the Committee’s questionnaire on homosexuality offen¬ 
sive and took Hirschfeld to court. Hirschfeld’s biographer, Charlotte Wolff, 
claimed that the presider in the case, Chief Justice Isenbiel, was a noto¬ 
rious “homophobic” who fined Hirschfeld and ordered him to pay court 
costs. 527 

Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld as Physician and Social Scientist 

Hirschfeld attracted a large number of patients from around the world 
to the SHC center. Wolff characterized his attitude toward these men 
and women seeking relief for various psychosexual and physical ailments 
including homosexuality, pedophilia, transvestism, genetic disorders and 
impotency as helping them to become their “Ideal Self.” 528 

Throughout his career, Hirschfeld never abandoned his belief that sex¬ 
ual inversion was a biological and unchangeable condition resulting from an 
interruption of normal fetal development during the first three months of 
gestation. Hirschfeld placed great emphasis on sexual inversion as a “state 
of mind,” that is, he defined a Urning by his sexual feelings or emotional 
attraction toward men not by his homoerotic actions. Homosexual acts, 
such as sodomy, he said, played only a “minor” role in the condition. The 
proposition that homosexuality was “all in the mind” and rarely acted upon 
was, of course, a lie as Hirschfeld well knew and Wolff admits. 529 Never¬ 
theless he found it a useful tool in his efforts to refashion the public’s image 
of the homosexual. 

Although Hirschfeld had publicly testified that he favored laws to pro¬ 
tect youth from homosexual predators, he personally did not believe that 
pederasty was a criminal offense per se, but rather a form of mental illness. 
In any sex abuse involving minors, the SHC leader said, it was necessary 
to establish if the attacker was motivated by criminal motives or by patho¬ 
logical conditions. In cases involving inborn drives, the accused needed 
treatment not a prison sentence. Wolff reported that Hirschfeld also 
believed that sex abuse of minors and the mentally disabled was more 
prevalent in the lower classes. 530 

In 1914, Hirschfeld published a major work on homosexuality and les¬ 
bianism, Die Homosexualitat des Marines und des Weibes, a pre-Kinseyian 
work based on his interviews with male and female homosexuals from 
around the world. 531 


202 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Among the German professionals who went over to Hirschfeld’s side after 
reading the text was a chemistry professor named Dr. Wilhelm Oswald who 
thanked Hirschfeld for ridding him of his “religious prejudice” against homo¬ 
sexuality. Oswald said he was now convinced that the homosexual condition 
was “neither a vice nor a perverted habit.” 532 “The time had come for reli¬ 
gion to try to solve its problems concerning the important question, that it 
had never dared to ‘look in the face,’” he wrote to Hirschfeld. 533 

On the other hand, there were men like Dr. Sigmund Freud, a Kabalistic 
Jew, who were critical of Hirschfeld’s absolutist position on sexual inver¬ 
sion as an inborn and nonreversible condition. Freud’s views on the nature 
and cause of homosexuality were rather complex and often contradictory, 
but he did insist that there was a form of homosexual attachment that was 
acquired and not innate and that it could be cured through psychoanalysis. 534 

Freud was joined by Dr. August Forel, who also believed that there were 
two kinds of sexual inversion, one inborn, and a “pseudo-homosexuality” 
that was acquired and could be cured. Interestingly, Forel advised his homo¬ 
sexual patients against marriage not only out of hereditary considerations, 
but also because “they used women as housekeepers and had contempt for 
them in their hearts.” 535 

It was not until 1920 that Hirschfeld completed his premier opus, 
Sexualpathologie (Sexual Pathology). The three-volume work covered a wide 
range of sex-related issues including masturbation, artificial insemination, 
sexual neurosis, endocrine functions in human sexuality and homosexuality. 

During his long career, Hirschfeld published hundreds of medical and 
socio-political articles and tracts on every aspect of human sexuality, but 
in all cases, the bottom line remained the same—down with Paragraph 
175—full sexual emancipation for homosexuals. 

With the creation of the Institute for Sexual Science (ISS) in Berlin in 
1918, Hirschfeld’s life-long dream of an international center for sexology 
research and treatment of sexually dysfunctional men and women was 
realized. The offices of the SHC were transferred to the Institute and 
Hirschfeld established his residence in what had been the grand domi¬ 
cile of the French Ambassador to Berlin. The Institute embodied a vast 
complex of medical offices, research and forensic laboratories, fully 
equipped lecture halls, a library containing 24,000 books and a collection of 
35,000 photos and exquisite guest rooms for visiting dignitaries, foreign 
physicians and sexologists and well-known homosexual visitors including 
Andre Gide and Christopher Irsherwood. 536 

Magnus Hirschfeld—The Private Man 
A Prototype of the Cosmopolitan Uming 

To the casual observer, Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld would have appeared to 
be just another typical well-to-do bourgeoise Berliner, reserved in manner, 


203 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


fashionably dressed, with a kindly grandfatherly face. It was an image that 
Hirschfeld carefully cultivated. 537 

In private life, however, when he knew he was safe and among his own 
kind, the highly compartmentalized SHC leader would let down his hair 
and indulge his predatory sexual instinct for feminine-looking, respectable 
young men, with just enough rough trade thrown in to make life interest¬ 
ing. Like Wilde, he took a certain pleasure in introducing some “well-hung” 
but uneducated young men to his world of culture and taste. Also like 
Wilde, he always had to be the center of attention surrounded invariably 
by a crowd of adoring young men each vying for their master’s affection. 
“Please! Call me Papa,” he would tell them. And they did. 538 

Over his lifetime Hirschfeld had hundreds of sexual partners. But there 
were only two who were really important to him. 

The first was Karl Giese, a handsome looking, but effeminate acting 
“girly” young man who met Hirschfeld sometime in 1919 or 1920. Giese 
became Hirschfeld’s long-time lover, trusted collaborator and principal 
archivist at the Institute for Sexual Science. 539 With the exception of his 
favorite sister, Franziska, like many homosexuals, Hirschfeld had little 
if any contact with other members of his own family. Giese and his fellow 
queens and transvestites became Hirschfeld’s new family at the Insti¬ 
tute. 540 After “Papa’s” death, Giese attempted to get a medical degree to 
continue the work of his master, but was unsuccessful. He committed suicide 
in the spring of 1938. 541 

The other great love of Hirschfeld’s later life was Tao Li, a 23-year-old 
Chinese scholar whom Hirschfeld met in Shanghai in 1931 while he was on 
a world tour. Tao Li quickly became a rival of Giese for Hirschfeld’s affec¬ 
tions even though Giese had taken on another lover to satisfy his darker 
masochist needs. Tao Li had aspirations of becoming a “Chinese Hirschfeld,” 
but after Hirschfeld’s death he left Europe for Hong Kong and was not heard 
from again. 542 

At still another level, Hirschfeld satisfied his voyeuristic tendencies by 
taking periodic jaunts to Berlin’s red light district. Here he carried on his 
scientific expeditions and interviews with homosexuals from all classes 
and picked up renters to fill his more carnal needs. 

Spiritually speaking, Hirschfeld was fundamentally a Gnostic Kabalistic 
Jew. Like many homosexuals, he felt drawn to esoteric and occultic belief 
systems that were free of dogma and moral sanctions. In the fall of 1931, 
during a trip to India, he attempted to make contact with Annie Besant, the 
head of the Theosophy Movement in India, but she was unable to receive 
him due to illness. 543 

What Hirschfeld lacked in personal religiosity, how'ever, he more than 
made up in his hatred for the Catholic Church. Three hundred plus years 
later and poor Magnus hadn’t yet recovered from the Council of Trent held 
from 1545 to 1563. 


204 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


In “Sexual Reform in the Light of Sexual Science” a lecture presented 
at the World League for Sexual Reform in Copenhagen in 1928, Hirschfeld 
decried the Church’s attempts to use theology instead of science to formu¬ 
late sexual morals. A new scientific view of love was needed, unprejudiced 
by the Church, one that separated love and sex from procreation, he 
claimed. 544 According to Hirschfeld, sex reform within the Catholic Church 
had been “stifled” at Trent and forever after. 545 

At a later WLSR forum held in Vienna in 1930, in a speech titled “Sexual 
Liberation,” Hirschfeld restated his antagonism towards the Church as the 
final arbitrator of morals. He concluded with the warning that: “We can’t 
deceive ourselves that we have yet fully overcome the sexual legislation of 
the Middle Ages,” and he urged his audience to do everything they could 
to end all laws that attack “sexual and national minorities.” 546 

Hirschfeld in Stalinland 

From his youth, Hirschfeld was always attracted to Marxism and radical 
Socialist causes. 

In 1900, when he was 32, Hirschfeld and his sister, Franziska, joined the 
pioneer utopian commune of the Order for the True Life founded by radical 
socialists Heinrich and Julius Hart in the village of Friedrichshagen near 
Berlin. 547 Although he enjoyed the comradeship the society offered, he did¬ 
n’t have much use for its founding spirit based on “the brotherhood of man 
cultivated in a spirit of purity of mind and body.” 548 For a highly sexed 
homosexual male like Magnus, all the talk about purity of the mind and 
body was a real turn off. 

Even after the founding of the Weimar Republic in 1918 when Hirschfeld 
hastily changed his allegiance from the Kaiser to the new Socialist State 
with “democratic principals,” he still believed the Soviet model to be supe¬ 
rior. Wolff recorded that Hirschfeld had documented membership in and 
was a “fellow traveler” of the Union of Socialist Physicians which was 
closely aligned with the Communist Party. 349 

After the Bolsheviks seized power in Russia in October of 1917, 
Hirschfeld warmly embraced Lenin’s Revolution. This was a significant 
decision given the fact that both Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels were 
hopelessly “homophobic,” as was Lenin. 550 From their perspective as be¬ 
lievers in enlightened, scientific and biological determinism, heterosexual 
monogamy was man’s natural condition, whereas homosexuality was the 
by-product of the degenerate and effeminate bourgeoisie that would disap¬ 
pear with the victory of the proletariat. Engels was particularly critical of 
anything that smelled “Greek.” 351 

Lenin, a disciple of Marx and Engels, was even more vicious in his per¬ 
sonal attitudes towards homo-sex which he viewed as a narcissistic, self- 
indulgent anti-social contagion that robbed the collective of heirs and 
undermined the new social order. 552 Marxist-Socialism demanded that the 


205 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


individual subordinate his personal needs and desires to the needs of the 
State, a demand that created a historical ambivalence, if not outright hos¬ 
tility, toward the idea of homosexual emancipation. And while it is true that 
between 1917 when the entire Russian czarist criminal code was abolished, 
and 1933-34 when Stalin restored the penalties for sodomy under the 
Soviet criminal code, there existed a legal limbo in which sodomy was 
not criminalized, nevertheless many government officials, jurists and 
the Russian people remained hostile to same-sex relations and continued 
to take steps to repress such acts under existing statutes that prohibited 
disorderly conduct and the corruption of minors. 553 

In June 1926, Stalin invited Hirschfeld to make a study tour of Russia to 
see how the Soviet Union’s new sexual freedoms were working and to visit 
Soviet eugenics laboratories. 554 The Soviet Party line of benign neglect 
toward adult consenting homosexuals during this period was influenced by 
three factors. The first was that Stalin was too preoccupied with consoli¬ 
dating his power and eliminating his political rivals to think about a new 
criminal code. The second was the rise of the Sex Reform Movement in 
Russia that advocated the decriminalization of same-sex behavior. The third 
was the growing influence of psychoanalysis in the Russian medical profes¬ 
sion that saw homosexuality as a mental and/or emotional disorder that 
should be treated rather than as a crime to be punished. 

One can only imagine the disappointment that Hirschfeld must have 
experienced when he learned that in December 1933, acting under Stalin’s 
orders, the Executive Committee of the Communist Party, had introduced 
legislation that would recriminalize sodomy between consenting adult 
homosexuals throughout the USSR. 555 The penalty for simple sodomy 
under Article 154a was set at three to five years imprisonment. If force was 
used or dependents or minors were involved, the punishment was raised to 
five to eight years at hard labour. 556 

The idea that homosexuality was a disease had simply been a ruse insti¬ 
gated by the decadent West to undermine the Soviet state, claimed Stalin. 
But that error had now been corrected. Sodomy was once again a crime. 
The Soviets had learned a valuable lesson. A society intent on its own sur¬ 
vival and welfare must repress vice. Counterrevolutionary perverts must be 
excised and isolated to prevent the moral contamination of Soviet society, 
public officials declared. These were some of the arguments presented by 
Party leaders in favor of recriminalization. Apparently, both the Soviet peo¬ 
ple and Soviet leaders who followed Stalin agreed with the prohibition for 
it remained essentially in tact until the 1980s. 

Before closing the page on Hirschfeld and Stalin, I think it important to 
note that regardless of the legal status of sodomy in the Soviet Union and 
regardless of the scorn that Marx, Engels and Lenin (and later Stalin) 
heaped upon the heads of homosexuals, Russian leaders, including Czar 
Nicholas II, were not above exploiting sodomites for certain tasks that the 


206 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


government deemed essential to its welfare including sexual entrapment, 
espionage and spying. 557 

Which leads us to the important, and still unanswered question, as to 
whether or not Hirschfeld shared his vast lists, questionnaires and patient 
records of German, other European, English and American homosexuals 
with Stalin. 

We already know that during the 1920s and early 1930s, both Com¬ 
munist and National Socialist (Nazis) undercover agents were employed 
at Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. There they had access 
to ill-secured secret lists of SHC members and Hirschfeld’s private files of 
prominent homosexuals from around the world including those who had 
been treated at the ISS. 558 

We also know from the Krupp Affair that Hirschfeld himself was not 
above using blackmail in order to secure “donations” with which to build 
his palatial Institute and that the Social Democrats with whom he was polit¬ 
ically aligned, used Hirschfeld’s evidence against Krupp that ultimately led 
to the Cannon King’s suicide. 

It is my belief that Stalin did secure at least some of Hirschfeld’s secret 
files, either from Hirschfeld himself, or, as in the case of Hitler, from files 
Soviet agents pilfered from the SHC/Institute files and that these files were 
used by Stalin for purposes of entrapment and recruitment of spies and 
espionage—an area that we will explore in depth in Chapter V on the 
Cambridge spies. 559 

When Hirschfeld died on May 14, 1935 in exile in Nice (France) he was 
still wearing his political blinders concerning all things Soviet. Nor had he 
ever given up on his campaign to abolish Paragraph 175. 

Yet, at the time of his death, Germany’s anti-sodomy laws were more 
entrenched than ever. 560 The credit or blame, as the case may be, for this 
continued support by the German people for anti-homosexual legislation 
can be traced to what became the most notorious homosexual scandal of 
the 20th century—The Eulenburg Affair. 

The Eulenburg Affair 

Unlike the Wilde and even the Krupp scandals that were essentially 
personalist in nature, the Eulenburg Affair involved many of Germany’s 
leading government and military figures as well as the Royal household of 
Kaiser Wilhelm II. Its far-reaching ramifications left an indelible mark on 
Germany’s national life and foreign policies for decades to come. 561 

The chief players in the Eulenburg Affair were: 

• Ex-Chancellor Otto von Bismarck (1871-1890) who served Kaiser 
Wilhelm I in the founding of the Second Reich and was the primary archi¬ 
tect of Realpolitik that brought a balance of power to Europe. 


207 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


• Kaiser Wilhelm II (1888-1918), 9th King of Prussia and the 3rd Emperor 
of Germany 

• Maximilian Harden (Felix Ernst Witkowski), (1861-1927), the Jewish 
editor and publisher of Die Zukunft (The Future) 

• Count, later Flirst (Prince), Philipp von Eulenburg-Hertefeld, Count of 
Sandel (1847-1921), the Kaiser’s closest advisor and devoted friend. 

• Count Kuno von Moltke (1847-1923), Commander General of the Berlin 
Military Garrison and Eulenburg’s intimate friend. 

• Bernhard Prince Heinrich Biilow the Imperial Chancellor 

The genesis of the Eulenburg crisis began in March 1890, 17 years 
before the first Eulenburg-Harden trial, when Kaiser Wilhelm II wrested 
the reins of power from Germany’s Iron Chancellor, Otto von Bismarck and 
his son Herbert, the Foreign Minister. Bismarck’s “Chancellor-dictator¬ 
ship” was supplanted by a Hohenzollern monarchical regime in which the 
Kaiser, the Imperial family and court formed the center of the Reich’s rul¬ 
ing body and upon which all government officials, military and civilian and 
the vast State bureaucracy were dependent. 562 

Wilhelm II was a complex character, whose life, in the words of one of 
his most sympathetic but realistic biographers, Isabel V Hull, was “an elab¬ 
orate masquerade.” 563 “He paraded as the consummate soldier—warlord, 
always in uniform, always fierce, hard, steady, an amalgam of the “mascu¬ 
line virtues,” of his beloved grandfather whom he tried to emulate, Hull 
said, “but he was actually none of these.” 564 He was, in fact, “slightly fem¬ 
inine in appearance, with delicate health” and a nervous, volatile and unsta¬ 
ble constitution. 565 

Historian Professor John C. Rohl of the University of Sussex cites six 
dominant features of the Kaiser’s personality—immaturity, vindictiveness, 
unrealism, an over-estimation of his own abilities, an offensive even sadis¬ 
tic sense of humor and finally a love of ostentation in dress including mili¬ 
tary uniforms and historical costumes. 566 These were traits that would 
hardly recommend themselves to a description of a ruler committed to 
restoring power to the throne. Further, whereas his grandfather, Kaiser 
Wilhelm I, had surrounded himself with men of outstanding ability like von 
Bismarck, the grandson preferred the company of less capable political 
and military advisors that were more pliant to his will and the spirit of 
Weltpolitk. 

Wilhelm II’s entourage or “inner circle” was divided into two compet¬ 
ing camps—the powerful Army Officer Corps of the Prussian military and 
the civilian Junker ruling class, Prussia’s privileged, landed nobility headed 
by the Kaiser’s sole “bosom friend” Count Philipp von Eulenburg. 567 

There is absolutely no mystery as to why the young Kaiser was so 
attached to Eulenburg. Politically, the count was a staunch archconservative 
royalist. 568 Personally, he was a thoroughly “continental,” gracious, cul- 


208 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


tured, knowledgeable aristocrat, a brave soldier decorated with the Iron 
Cross and an accomplished artist and writer. 569 Gymnasium educated, 
Eulenburg had forsaken a career in the military for a career in the law and 
later the diplomatic corps which brought him to the Wilhelminian court. 570 
Eulenburg and his “Darling” Kaiser, also shared a special interest in reli¬ 
gious spiritualism (seances, mediums and events of the paranormal and 
supernatural), a movement that was very much in vogue in Germany and 
throughout Europe during the mid-19th century. 571 Dabbling in the occult, 
however, invited condemnation from certain military and diplomatic quar¬ 
ters—more so perhaps than dabbling in homoerotica. 572 

In 1875, Eulenburg married the Swedish countess Augusta von Sandels 
by whom he had eight children, but the most important woman in Eulenburg’s 
life remained his mother, Alexandrine von Eulenburg, his supreme confi¬ 
dante and solace until her death in 1902. 575 

All of this biographical data would be meaningless, however, if it were 
not put into the proper context of “the central, shaping impulse” that dom¬ 
inated Eulenburg’s private and public life—his love of men and the ideal¬ 
ized, passionately romantic, sometimes sexual, male friendships he formed 
into a small but influential coterie around the Kaiser that became known as 
the “Liebenberg Circle.” 574 

It is noteworthy that in October 1897, Eulenburg’s younger brother 
Friedrich (Fredi) was forced to resign from his officer corps regiment in 
order to escape a military court martial investigation into his alleged homo¬ 
sexual behavior, charges that had been initiated by Friedrich’s wife who was 
seeking a divorce after 20 years of marriage. 575 

There is no question that Eulenburg’s homosexual life had been an 
“open secret” in the inner circles of the Kaiser’s Court long before the 
scandal broke. 

For example, in 1899 when the old Reich Chancellor Prince Chlodwig 
zu Hohenlohe-Schillingsfiirst, a relative of the Empress heard the rumor 
that Count von Eulenburg was to be raised to the rank of Fiirst (Prince), he 
wrote an angry letter to his son Alexander denouncing Eulenburg as a 
“prize scoundrel” who literally “begged” for the title while protesting he 
“resisted” the honor. 576 Alexander Hohenlohe responded to his father’s 
letter by mocking the Kaiser’s “newly baked princes”: 

I have just read in the newspapers that Phil. E. is to be raised to the rank of 
Prince. ...The assumption that Ph. Eul. is aiming to acquire the post of 
Statthalter (Governor) of Alsace Lorraine seems very plausible to me. The 
[salary of] 200,000 marks he could make good use of, as we know, for all 
kinds of purposes. It’s a matter of indifference to me as I certainly won’t 
become Statthalter in the near future. And if he should treat me badly, I’ll 
simply submit my resignation [as Bezirksprasident in Colmar] and buy 
myself a hundred thousand acres of land in Siberia. 5 '' 


209 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Also, the ever-efficient Berlin police had Eulenburg’s name on their 
pink list for homosexual incidents purported to have occurred before 
Wilhelm II had come to power. 578 

However, the subject of same-sex relations was so taboo that it was 
never spoken of in polite circles and only in whispers in private—lest 
the accused demand satisfaction in a duel. Also, it bears repeating that 
the Liebenberg Circle, though small in number, cast a wide net over 
Wilhelminian society. If Eulenburg ever went down on charges of sodomy 
(which he eventually did) many of his friends and associates would also be 
drawn into the wake of the scandal, not excluding the Kaiser himself. 579 

One of Eulenburg’s most cherished friends was Count Kuno von Moltke, 
Commander of the Berlin Garrison—a title one should take with a grain of 
salt since the only military distinction that the poor Moltke could claim was 
that he had a knack of falling off his horse during maneuvers. 580 

It has always been assumed that Eulenburg and Moltke were involved 
sexually although some writers including Hull say there is no evidence to 
confirm this belief. 581 We do know that the two men were constant com¬ 
panions, that Moltke addressed Eulenburg by the feminized form of Philipp, 
“Philine,” and that they engaged in a highly romanticized correspondence 
when they were apart. Also, Eulenburg was intensely jealous and upset 
when Moltke married, an oddity in itself since he was married, or better 
said, “well” married with eight children to demonstrate that he had not 
found normal marital relations beyond the pale of his sexual instincts. 582 

In the spring of 1894, the Kaiser appointed Eulenburg to one of Germany’s 
most important diplomatic posts as Germany’s ambassador to Vienna, even 
though the count never showed any special aptitude in the diplomatic 
field. 583 Here the count was able to mix business with pleasure. He began 
to regularly patronize some of the city’s most notorious bathhouses where 
he eventually fell into the hands of bad company. 584 

The Foreign Office in Berlin was called upon to assist the ambassador 
in paying out a large sum, over 60,000 Kronen taken from the office’s slush 
fund, to pay off the blackmailers. 585 

In August 1897, Eulenburg arranged to have Moltke appointed as mil¬ 
itary attache to Vienna. Unfortunately for both men, Moltke brought his 
wife Lily with him and it was not long before quarrels over her husband’s 
inordinate attachment to the count led to a public scandal and a divorce. 586 
Moltke was quickly shuffled back to Berlin where he advanced up the mil¬ 
itary ladder to a major general in the manner of Gilbert and Sullivan’s First 
Lord of the Admiralty, Rt. Hon. Sir Joseph Porter, K.C.B. 

Enter Maximilian Harden 

In 1892, two years after his forced retirement, Bismarck contacted the 
popular and respected journalist Maximilian Harden, an ardent German 


210 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Nationalist and admirer of the ex-chancellor. He informed him that a coterie 
of cinaedi, that is male homosexuals, had attached themselves like barna¬ 
cles to the Kaiser and that these men posed a threat to the country’s inter¬ 
ests and national security. 587 Their first loyalty, he said, was not to any 
country, creed or class, but to their own kind. 588 Bismarck told Harden 
that the ringleader of these sexual subversives was none other than the 
Kaiser’s favorite, Count von Eulenburg. 

Harden, took the information under advisement, but did not immedi¬ 
ately act upon it. Like many bourgeois Jewish liberals he was on record as 
opposing Paragraph 175 so he could not be accused of intolerance towards 
homosexuals. Nevertheless, as a great admirer of Bismarck and an ardent 
German nationalist he took Bismarck’s warning seriously. 

In 1893, Harden began a lengthy, on-going series of editorials and arti¬ 
cles in his weekly newspaper Die Zukunft that attacked Eulenburg and his 
Liebenberg Circle without alluding to the count’s personal vices. His objec¬ 
tive was to remove the count and his appointed hirelings from positions of 
power and public trust. 

In the meantime, Harden began collecting information on Eulenburg’s 
numerous sex partners and intimate friends that included Count Kuno von 
Moltke and Baron von Richthofen, head of the Berlin police. 

He also learned of Eulenburg’s blackmail intrigue in Vienna and that 
Eulenburg’s wife had begun divorce proceedings against her husband. 
Harden was now prepared to take more decisive action against the Kaiser’s 
favorite who had been elevated to Fiirst (Prince) on January 1,1900, a scan¬ 
dal in its own right that created much ill-will against Wilhelm II. 589 

In 1902, Harden forced Eulenburg into an early, but temporary, retire¬ 
ment from public life by threatening to expose his secret life as a homo¬ 
sexual. The Prince, already despondent over the death of his mother and in 
poor health capitulated and retreated to Schloss Liebenberg, his country 
estate north of Berlin. 

It was not until early 1906 that Eulenburg returned to Court to reac¬ 
tivate his Wildean “camarilla” (homosexual band). He also resumed his 
political and diplomatic forays at Court; this time, it was rumored with an 
eye on the Chancellorship. 590 

When Harden heard that Eulenburg was back in circulation and that 
the Kaiser had decided to reward him for his services to the Crown with 
Prussia’s highest honor, the ultimate symbol of Prussia’s heroic-aristo¬ 
cratic warrior state, the Order of the Black Eagle, he traded in his kid 
gloves for a pair of steel gauntlets. 591 

The Lecomte Debacle—Fact or Fiction? 

The idea that Eulenburg and his clique represented an actual not merely 
theoretical threat to the Fatherland is alleged to have been brought to 


211 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Harden’s attention by the Imperial Chancellor Bernhard Prince Heinrich 
Biilow, who was a former close friend and political ally of Eulenburg in the 
1890s. 592 

Biilow, was reported to have informed Harden that the Liebenberg 
Circle had played a key role in Germany’s humiliating diplomatic defeat at 
the international Algeciras Conference held in April 1906 at which France’s 
“sphere of influence” over the hotly contested, mineral-rich and strategic 
African protectorate of Morocco was formally recognized. Negotiators for 
the French delegation confidently played diplomatic hardball at the confer¬ 
ence because they had inside information that Germany was not willing to 
go to war to challenge France’s hegemony in the region. 

At this point in our story we encounter the shadowy figure of Raymond 
Lecomte, a secretary at the French Embassy in Berlin, and a close friend 
of Eulenburg from the early 1880s. Although he was not an intimate 
Liebenberger, he was a known pederast, the kind of man that attracted 
rumors of dark intrigues wherever he went. 

The Paris Foreign Office, of course, knew all about the unnatural sexual 
appetites of the “King of the Pederasts” since Lecomte had gotten into dif¬ 
ficulties with the Munich police on his last posting. 593 Whereupon he had 
been transferred to the French Embassy in Berlin and later became a mem¬ 
ber of the Berlin/Potsdam homosexual cabal. 594 

In the early spring of 1906, Lecomte was said to have obtained secret 
diplomatic information on the Morocco situation as a result of his contacts 
with his fellow-homosexuals in the Liebenberg Circle that convinced him 
that Germany’s saber rattling was all bravado. He was reported to have 
relayed this information to his superiors, who in turn transmitted the infor¬ 
mation to their representatives at the Algeciras Conference, thereby giving 
the French an advantage in the negotiations. By the time the Germans dis¬ 
covered Lecomte’s treachery, he was safe at the French home office in 
Paris where he was congratulated and given a new diplomatic posting. 395 

The Lecomte Affair appeared to be filled with intrigue and duplicity, but 
according to Hull there was no great betrayal by anyone, at least in this par¬ 
ticular incidence. The French did not need Lecomte to tell them that of the 
specific intentions of the Kaiser with regard to colonial matters. According 
to Hull, Wilhelm II, much to the shock and chagrin of his Foreign Office, had 
already revealed Germany’s position with regard to Morocco in at least two 
public speeches given in March and May 1905, months before the Algeciras 
Conference began. 596 

The important point here is that Harden did believe the Lecomte be¬ 
trayal and the complicity of the Liebenbergers in the Morocco matter. 597 
For him it became the proverbial last straw. Starting in November 1906, and 
continuing through the spring of 1907, Harden launched a one-man media 
campaign in Die Zukunft against Eulenburg and Moltke aka “TuTu.” For 


212 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Berliners who could decipher the coded references to homosexuality in 
the articles, the picture that Harden painted of the moral corruption and 
political intrigues engendered by the Liebenberg coterie was plain enough. 
That the Kaiser should appear to be heavily influenced and side with these 
degenerates was even worse. 

Eulenburg was asked by the Kaiser, who appeared to be still in his cor¬ 
ner, what he intended to do about Harden’s libelous articles. 

Eulenburg, trained in the law, took the least dangerous way out. He pub¬ 
licly denied he had violated Paragraph 175, then privately turned himself 
over to the state prosecutor of his district to have him conduct an investi¬ 
gation of his past life. 598 

In the meantime, the Crown Prince became the bearer of bad news to 
his father. He presented the Kaiser with hard evidence against Eulenburg 
and Moltke including some of their intimate correspondence and police files 
on key homosexuals within the Kaiser’s entourage. The Kaiser, egged on 
by Eulenburg’s enemies in the military, issued an Imperial ultimatum— 
Eulenburg was informed that he must clear himself or go into exile. 
Eulenburg resigned from diplomatic service on June 28. 599 On July 28, 
1907, the investigation by the state prosecutor turned up no evidence 
against Eulenburg and the Prince was cleared of the charges without a 
public trial. But this did not help him because Moltke had been forced into 
court action. 600 

After Harden had refused to engage in a duel with Moltke, the Count 
was left with no other choice than to sue for libel. Although he wanted to 
bring criminal libel charges against Harden, on the advice of his legal 
counsel, he had settled for a civil libel suit. 

The Harden-Eulenburg Trials and Mistrials 

Over the next 14 years, the publicity surrounding the multiplicity of 
Harden-Eulenburg-Moltke related trials exposed the German people to an 
unprecedented glimpse of homosexual life at all levels of society, but most 
especially among the nation’s bluebloods and military elite. 

Moltke vs. Harden, the first of a long series of sensational trials moni¬ 
tored by the international press opened on October 23, 1907 with Chief 
Justice Isenbiel presiding. Harden had excellent legal representation. 
Moltke, who appeared in court wearing makeup, was obviously less com¬ 
petently represented. 601 

The three key witnesses for the defense were Lily von Elbe, Moltke’s 
ex-wife, a soldier named Bollhardt from the Potsdam regiments and Dr. 
Magnus Hirschfeld. 

Moltke’s former wife, who admitted that she did not know of the exis¬ 
tence of homosexuality until the trial, testified that her husband ended his 
conjugal duties only days after they were married because he was in love 
with his “Phili” (Eulenburg). 602 


213 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Bollhardt testified that he was an eye-witness to a number of homosex¬ 
ual orgies involving officers and enlisted men from his Potsdam regiment 
including Lieutenant General Wilhelm Count von Hohenau, commander of 
the elite Garde du Corps and a blood relative of the emperor and Count von 
Moltke. The Kaiser had already released both men from active duty. 603 

Magnus Hirschfeld was called by the defense as a forensic expert and 
the foremost authority on homosexuality in the world. In keeping with 
Harden’s strategy to show that Moltke was a sexual invert (but not neces¬ 
sarily an active sodomite), Hirschfeld testified that homosexuality was an 
inborn condition and that from the evidence already presented and his own 
observations, he believed Berlin’s top military commander was “psychi¬ 
cally homosexual.” 604 

On October 29, Harden was acquitted, but his victory was short lived. 

Moltke, now publicly disgraced, was ordered to pay court costs. 

The public felt that justice had been done. 

The Kaiser felt otherwise and a legal challenge was quickly put into 
motion. 

Justice Isenbiel, who incidentally, was a long time foe of Hirschfeld and 
who believed that homosexuals had “the morals of dogs,” declared a mis¬ 
trial on the basis of “faulty procedure.” 605 The verdict against Moltke was 
set aside and the state prosecutor was instructed to order a new trial. 606 

In the meantime, Eulenburg, who had been publicly identified with 
Moltke was drawn into a separate court battle. The trials were beginning 
to take on an aura of a Keystone Cops comedy—but few Germans were 
laughing. 

On November 6,1907, the trial of Billow vs. Brand opened and closed in 
Berlin. The self-avowed pederast and anarchist, Adolf Brand who had 
worked with Hirschfeld against Paragraph 175 was charged with libeling 
Chancellor Biilow by accusing him of having a homosexual tryst with 
Geheimrat Schaefer, his Privy Counselor. 607 It appears that Brand had a 
number of sources for his charges against Biilow. Two names that came to 
the fore were the political intriguer Count Guenther von der Schulenburg 
who fled the country as the Brand trial opened and the journalist Joachim 
Gehlsen who stated that he got the information from Magnus Hirschfeld. 608 

In the end it was Brand who was left holding the bag. All he knew and 
had reported in his magazine Der Eigene was what his “sources” had passed 
on to him—that Biilow had been blackmailed because of his homosexual¬ 
ity and that he and Schaefer were seen in a compromising pose at an all¬ 
male gathering hosted by Prince von Eulenburg. But he had no witness to 
confirm this story or back up his charge against Biilow. 

Biilow then took the stand and declared himself to be innocent of any 
violation of Paragraph 175. His morals and manners were blameless, he 
said. 609 


214 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Eulenburg then took the stand and swore under oath that he had never 
engaged in either sodomy or other same-sex acts and that he was never 
present at the orgies described by Brand. Further, he said, he vigorously 
resented the fact that genuine and natural male friendships were being 
made the basis for calumnious accusations. 

The trial was concluded in one day. Brand was found guilty of defama¬ 
tion of character and was sentenced to a prison term of 18 months. Billow 
had defended his honor. With the libel retrial of Harden coming up, all 
Berlin was anxious to see if Count von Moltke could do the same. 

The Moltke Vs. Harden Retrial Debacle 

Unlike the first trial, the second round between Count von Moltke and 
Harden that opened on December 18,1907, again under Judge Isenbiel, saw 
the prosecution on the offensive. 

Medical witnesses were called to discredit the testimony of Frau von 
Elbe as the ravings of a “classic hysteric,” and jealous woman. 610 Both 
Moltke and Eulenburg took the stand and in a performance reminiscent of 
Oscar Wilde’s brilliant monologue in praise of Greek love at his second 
trial, they defended the idealized spirit of male friendship and esprit de corps 
as being in keeping with the finest of German traditions. 

Eulenburg, the most important witness, repeated the sworn statement 
testimony he had given at the Brand trial that he had never violated 
Paragraph 175 and that he had never engaged in “swinish” behavior 
(sodomy) or “dirty” sex, (mutual masturbation). 611 

But the most surprising turn-of-events came when Hirschfeld retracted 
his original professional opinion that Moltke was an effeminate homosex¬ 
ual. The case of the Count’s homosexual orientation, he said, had not been 
proven. It was a humiliating moment for Hirschfeld and the hostile press 
had a field day exposing his “incompetency.” 

On January 3, 1908, a verdict was rendered—this time against Harden 
who was given a four month prison term (that he probably served under 
house arrest). The Kaiser was ecstatic with the news and made plans to 
raise the “innocents” Moltke and Eulenburg to higher posts. He wanted his 
dear friends back. The public was convinced that the original verdict against 
Moltke was the right one. The large international press corps, like every¬ 
one else, thought the Eulenburg Affair was over and departed, leaving scan¬ 
dalized Berliners to lick their wounds and recover their moral equilibrium. 

In actuality, the affair was just heating up. 

After his 1908 conviction, Harden remained more determined than ever 
to get a conviction against Eulenburg and thus insure the Prince’s perma¬ 
nent exclusion from the Kaiser’s circle of political and diplomatic advisors. 


215 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


In mid-April 1908, Harden, with the cooperation of a Bavarian editor 
Anton Stadele, engineered a phony libel trial in Munich, well out of reach 
of Prussian authorities, to entrap Eulenburg. Harden charged Stadele with 
printing an article that claimed the Prince had bribed Harden into calling off 
his attacks. As part of his “defense” at the court proceedings, Harden intro¬ 
duced new and substantial evidence against Eulenburg. 612 

Two men, a common laborer and a fisherman on the Starnbergeress who 
had once served under Eulenburg, 20 years before (pardon the pun), were 
subpoenaed and put under oath. 613 The men testified that they had been 
seduced by Eulenburg and had “fooled around” with both the Prince and 
Moltke (they were unacquainted with the term “sodomy”). 614 The fisher¬ 
man, Jakob Ernst, gave Eulenburg the coup de grace stated when he testi¬ 
fied that he had never ended his intimate relationship with Eulenburg. 615 

Berlin reacted to the news evidence immediately. Eulenburg, on the 
order of Chancellor Biilow, was arrested on charges of perjury and taken to 
the County Court of Berlin. His castle was also searched for incriminating 
evidence. He was formally arraigned on May 7,1908. The Kaiser demanded 
that he return the Order of the Black Eagle. 616 

The Imperial Supreme Court then reversed Harden’s libel conviction 
and called for a second retrial. Eulenburg attempted to get his trial post¬ 
poned, but to no avail. The Prince was advised that the list of witnesses 
who were prepared to testify against him had grown at an expediential rate 
and that the state prosecutor had damning new evidence that included a 
love letter that Eulenburg had written to Ernst. 

Eulenburg’s trial lasted from June 29 to July 17, 1908. On occasion 
Eulenburg became so ill on the witness stand that the proceedings had to 
be put off—and put off—and put off—until it was clear that Eulenburg was 
never going to be healthy enough to stand trial. A close friend and member 
of the Liebenberg Circle, at one point, urged the Prince to commit suicide, 
but Eulenburg demurred. 617 The legal charade continued for another decade 
until Eulenburg’s death in 1921, interrupted only briefly by a World War. 

As for the three-ring legal circus involving Harden and the “rehabil¬ 
itated” Count von Moltke, these trials continued from May 1908 through 
April 1909 when they came to an abrupt end. The Kaiser and the country 
had had enough. 

After arduous negotiations, a settlement was finally reached in which 
Harden agreed not to appeal the latest verdict against him. Chancellor Biilow 
had his office secretly pay off Harden’s court costs of 40,000 Marks for all 
three trials. 618 Moltke withdrew his suit. His peers cooperated by clearing 
his name at a military court martial. After a time he was received again 
at Court functions. 619 The Kaiser took his doctors’ advice and went to 
England to recoup from the scandal. There would be no more trials for any 
of the key players involved with the scandal—but the moral, political 


216 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


and military fallout from the Eulenburg Affair would continue on for years 
to come. 

The Aftershocks of the Eulenburg Affair 

The Eulenburg Affair broke the heart of the German people and sent 
them into a period of national mourning. Private vice has public conse¬ 
quences. And sometimes these consequences prove catastrophic not only 
for the individuals and families involved, but for an entire nation. 

But nations like families do not mourn forever. When the German peo¬ 
ple had sufficiently recovered from the dreadful scandal, the expected pub¬ 
lic backlash began. It was time to put “constitutional thumb-screws” on the 
Kaiser and rein in the nobility. The call for government reform from the top 
down and for the moral regeneration of society echoed from every quarter 
of German society—every class, every religious denomination and every 
political party—from the Catholic Center Party to the Social Democratic 
Party. A new wind of conservatism, both political and moral, swept across 
the nation, particularly among the swelling middle class. 

Among the first of these reforms was the demand for a more widespread 
and stringent enforcement of Paragraph 175. Public officials and the police 
were happy to oblige. In the years immediately following the height of 
the Eulenburg-Moltke-Harden lawsuits, prosecutions for homosexuality 
rose 50 percent. 620 Surveillance of popular places of Uranian assignation 
was increased and a general warning was issued to Uranians that those 
who chose to violate Germany’s anti-sodomy laws would be prosecuted. 

In addition to the civilian enforcement of Paragraph 175, the Reichstag 
demanded that the Kaiser clean out the Augean military stables in Berlin 
and Potsdam, where the Kaiser had his official residence. This was the bit¬ 
terest hurt that the Kaiser had to endure for the military had always been 
closest to his heart. 

Isolated incidents of homosexuality in the German military had been 
reported and punished under the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm I and Chancellor 
von Bismarck, but under Wilhelm II the problem had become endemic not 
only among enlisted men but among officers as well. 621 The vice had spread 
outward from Berlin and Potsdam to the garrison towns of Dresden, 
Munich, Magdeburg and Koenigsberg. 622 

Further, the nature of the homosexual offences went far beyond the 
lower-class conscript who occasionally rented out his body to an upper 
class Urning. Top officers of the Imperial German Army had been accused 
and convicted for violating the persons of men under their command. 

Police Commissioner Tresckow reported that Lieutenant General 
Wilhelm Count von Hohenau, Commander of the Regiments of the Cuirassier 
Guards and Gardes du Corps in Potsdam, had dared to make his subordi¬ 
nates the instrument of his unnatural passions. 623 Major Johannes Count 


217 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


von Lynar, another officer stationed in Potsdam with the Gardes du Corps, 
the elite bodyguard regiment of the German Kaisers, was charged with 
coercing his aide-de-camp to masturbate him. 624 

Between 1903 and 1906 there had been 20 military officers court-mar¬ 
tialed for homosexual offenses and there was a spate of suicides among the 
“Warm Brethren” (homosexuals) who were being blackmailed or under in¬ 
vestigation by military police. Between 1906 and 1907, six officers took 
their own life. 625 At the time of the Eulenburg Affair, military morale and 
discipline, even among the elite corps made up of members of the aristoc¬ 
racy, had sunk to a new low. Germany’s Armed Forces had been publicly 
humiliated and national security had been compromised. 

After the Eulenburg Affair, the Kaiser took Tresckow’s advice and or¬ 
dered that all company and squadron heads treat homosexual violations 
with the greatest severity and to exercise stricter supervision over their 
men. Surveillance was increased around the perimeters of the garrisons to 
discourage homosexual assignations. All known Urning officers were ad¬ 
vised to retire as they would be shown no mercy if they were later brought 
up on morals charges. 

Despite these shake-ups, however, German military leaders recognized 
that the overall effect of the demise of Eulenburg’s civilian, pacifistic 
Liebenberg Circle was to increase their influence and power especially in 
the realm of foreign affairs. 

As for Germany’s Homosexual Movement that appeared to have been 
gaining momentum before the Eulenburg scandal, it was driven under¬ 
ground. The SHC’s campaign against Paragraph 175 was dead in the water. 
Hirschfeld had discredited himself at the Moltke-Harden trials, but he still 
managed to continue to lecture and write until a more favorable political sit¬ 
uation presented itself. It was a long wait. 

Not until 1918 when Kaiser Wilhelm abdicated the throne and the Red 
flag of the Weimar Socialist Republic flew over Berlin did the leaders of the 
“Rights of the Behind Movement” feel secure enough to emerge from the 
shadows and enter the decadent world of post-war Berlin on the eve of the 
Third Reich—the world of Cabaret. 626 

In the meantime, the German people had received a quick shorthand 
course in Homosexuality 101—and what they saw they did not like. Even 
enlightened liberals like Maximilian Harden, who had once been an ardent 
foe of Paragraph 175, now perceived the law in a more favorable light. 

On the international scene the response was mixed. 

The English response throughout the Eulenburg Affair was subdued but 
still negative. England had not yet fully recovered from the Oscar Wilde 
trials. Besides, the Kaiser was the beloved grandson of Queen Victoria and 
as everyone knew quipped writer Brent McKee, “the British Royal Family 
was probably more German than the Hohenzollerns.” 627 It was not until 


218 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


World War II that England exploited the Eulenburg scandal in its wartime 
propaganda campaign directed at demoralizing German troops. 

The French, Italians and Austrians on the other hand were delirious 
with joy over the humbling of their historic enemy and rival on the world 
stage. 

In the end, there were no real winners in the Eulenburg Affair—but 
there were many losers. 628 

Homosexuality in France— 

From the French Revolution to the Third Republic 

It is one of those inexplicable ironies of history that it was Catholic 
France, Eldest Daughter of the Church, that was among the first of the 
European powers to decriminalize sodomy, or to be more precise, to fail to 
sustain its former prohibition as a “crime contre nature.” 

Under the Ancien Regime, sodomy remained a capital offense even 
though the extreme penalty of the vindices flammae was rarely carried out. 
The exceptions were sodomy cases that involved additional crimes such as 
murder, or sexual assault of a minor, or blasphemy, or where public officials 
were attempting to suppress the vice by making examples out of one or two 
notorious sodomite offenders. 

There were seven sodomites burned at the stake in Paris in the 18th 
century, the last of whom was a Capuchin monk, Pascal, who was committed 
to the flames in 1783 under the reign of King Louis XVI. 629 

The pattern of homosexual practices in 18th century Paris and other 
large urban centers of France was virtually identical to that of Victorian 
England and Wilhelminian Germany. 630 The male homosexual was part of 
the general criminal class without a distinctive sub-culture, but he had an 
underground network that served his minimum needs. The French version 
of mollies had their favorite haunts for assignation and socialization, secret 
signals of recognition, favorite pet female names for themselves and their 
sexual partners and a campy dialect. Pederasty, that is sexual relations 
between older (usually wealthy) homosexuals and younger patrons from 
the working class or local military garrison, continued to be the most pop¬ 
ular mode of homosexual expression. 

Typically, the activities of ordinary homosexuals came under police 
scrutiny only when they became public nuisances; when they were caught 
soliciting sex, engaging in sodomy or mutual masturbation or exposing 
themselves in public places such as public urinals and public parks; when 
they were charged with the corruption of a minor; or when they became 
victims or facilitators of blackmail or extortion. Penalties were tailored to 
fit the seriousness of the offenses. Repeat offenders were treated more 
harshly. In most cases the upper class got away with a warning while the 
less privileged were fined a few pennies and/or imprisoned for a few days 
or weeks—rarely longer. 


219 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


The first major break France made with her Catholic heritage (and the 
traditional legal system that was based on ecclesiastical law and the natural 
law) came in August of 1789 with the adoption by the National Assembly of 
the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen and the establish¬ 
ment of a constitutional monarchy under King Louis XVI. 631 

The Declaration created a revolutionary New Order that touched upon 
every aspect of French life—political, legal, economic, social, religious and 
moral. Men were declared free and equal from birth. (Art. 1) The font of all 
men’s rights was the Nation. (Art. 3) 

In matters of private action (including private vice), the citizen was 
granted full liberty in so far as he did not “harm other people.” (Art. 4) The 
law could only forbid those actions that were detrimental to society. Any¬ 
thing that was not forbidden by law was licit and none were compelled to do 
what the law does not require. (Art. 5) No man could be accused, arrested 
or detained except in the cases determined by the law and according to the 
methods that the law has stipulated. (Art. 7) No one could be harassed for 
his opinions, even religious views, provided that the expression of such 
opinions did not cause a breach of the peace as established by law. (Art. 10) 

In the fall of 1791, the National Constituent Assembly approved a new 
Civil and Penal Code and judicial system that would embrace the basic prin¬ 
ciples enunciated in the Declaration of 1789. 

Earlier, on July 19-22, the Assembly had reached agreement on the cat¬ 
egory of “Misdemeanors,” that is minor infractions of the law that do not 
require a trial or jury. The new code for Municipal Police and Correctional 
Police provided for penalties of fines and incarceration for acts of public 
indecencies and corruption of the morals of minors and other “unseemly 
actions” by members of the same or opposite sex. 

In August and September, 1791, the National Assembly made its deter¬ 
mination on the laws regulating the prosecution of felonies. The only sex 
crime included in the Criminal Code was female rape. Unlike misde¬ 
meanors, felony cases required a trial by jury and persons convicted of such 
crimes were open to a prison sentence of two years or more. A separate 
provision criminalized child prostitution, but man-boy sex acts were not 
penalized per se . 632 

As to the crime of sodomy, the National Assembly passed over the 
former capital offense in silence. The secularized State now distinguished 
between crimes in which it had an interest and acts of vice and irreligion 
in which it did not. Private consensual sexual behavior fell into the latter 
category. 

But while the law was silent on acts “contre nature,” French society like 
every other society had means, other than the law, by which it manifested 
its objections to unacceptable behaviors and punished sexual miscreants. 
French homosexuals were not free from scorn as Ulrichs believed. In¬ 
deed, as the Jesuit-educated statesman Marquis de Condorcet (Marie- 


220 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Jean-Antione Caritat) publicly stated, “scorn not burning” was the best 
punishment for sodomites. 633 Where the law feared to tread, public oppro¬ 
brium was as powerful a deterrent as any law. What was more, it had uni¬ 
versal application as it could be practiced by rich and poor alike. 

So while the laws punishing sodomy disappeared, the anti-sodomy atti¬ 
tudes of the French people remained essentially unchanged for the next 
150 years. The sodomite remained what he had always been in French soci¬ 
ety—a moral and social pariah and sodomy remained a vice to be repressed 
and a mortal sin to be confessed. The decriminalization of sodomy did not 
translate into an acceptance of sodomy. Besides, the law was not entirely on 
the sodomite’s side. 

In July 19-22,1791, the National Assembly adopted legislation that em¬ 
powered the municipal police to arrest and punish by means of fines or 
imprisonment (without trial), any public act of gross indecency including 
sodomy and pederasty. 634 In practice, however, the law was ambiguous 
enough to discourage the police or public authorities from actively repress¬ 
ing the vice. The uncertain law also discouraged many people from report¬ 
ing public acts involving sodomy or the seduction and corruption of youth 
to the police. The results were predictable enough. 

In the decade that immediately followed the workings of the National 
Assembly, from the guillotining of King Louis XVI and his family to the 
fleeting days of the First Republic, from the Committee of Public Safety 
and its Reign of Terror to the fall of Robespierre and the rise of Napoleon 
Bonaparte, the practice of sodomy increased in France. 

By 1798, the French police expressed concern at the alarming rate that 
the vice of sodomy had contaminated not only Paris but the rural provinces 
as well. 635 Homosexual cruising of public areas by sodomites had become a 
major public nuisance. The solicitation of young male prostitutes, some as 
young as 12, by wealthy Parisians and foreign pederasts and sexual tourists 
added to the overall alarm of public officials. Cases of molestation of ado¬ 
lescent boys by clerics and schoolteachers were reported with increased 
frequency. Little changed when Napoleon Bonaparte came to power. 

Sodomy under Napoleonic Law 

Although the task of revision and consolidation of French laws had 
begun immediately after the French Revolution, it fell to General, later 
Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte I, to complete the work. Plans for the estab¬ 
lishment of a special commission to oversee the lengthy project were 
set into motion soon after the establishment of the tri-part Consulate in 
November of 1799 and the subsequent rise of Napoleon to First Consul 
with Jean-Jacques-Regis de Cambaceres (1753-1824) as Second Consul 
and Charles Franqois Lebrun as Third Consul. 

It was to Cambaceres that Napoleon delegated the leadership of a spe¬ 
cial commission to create a new legal framework for France and the French 


221 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Empire. The most famous section of the completed work that combined 
Germanic laws with Roman principles was the Civil Code of 1804 (as dis¬ 
tinguished from the Penal Code)— : known to history as the Code Napoleon. 

As in the earlier laws of 1791, no specific reference was made to sodomy 
in the Code Napoleon. However, Article 330 of the Penal Code of 1810 pro¬ 
vided for a fine of 16-200 francs and/or a prison term of three to twelve 
months for persons who created a “public scandal.” Article 331 set the age 
of consent at 11 years. 636 The definition of rape was expanded to include 
male rape (sodomy). Judges were also granted more latitude with regard 
to sentencing convicted felons including the possibility of life imprison¬ 
ment. 637 Although the leverage granted to police and public authorities did 
not differ dramatically from that provided under the old 1791 laws, the 
courts were given more power in cases in which the charge of sodomy was 
combined with a felony such as murder. 638 

It was commonly assumed that Cambaceres, a notorious homosexual, 
whose critics dubbed the “Piped-Piper of Pederasty,” masterminded the 
anti-sodomy coup. The historical evidence, however, points to Napoleon 
himself. 639 According to historian Michael David Sibalis, an authority on 
early 19th century France, Bonaparte had pledged to restore a high level of 
morals to France and to severely punish violators of the public order, but he 
was not in favor of recriminalizing homosexual or pederastic offenses per se. 

Sibalis states that Napoleon’s views were based on his beliefs that 
Nature had, on Her own, limited the practitioners of the “unnatural vice” to 
a very small number. Further, he opposed public trials that generated pub¬ 
licity for the existence of the “unnatural vice,” and were, therefore, more 
harmful than helpful in promoting good public morals. Justice was better 
served, Bonaparte believed, by having local police and law enforcement 
officials, rather than the judiciary, handle cases of sodomy and pederasty 
that came to their attention. 640 

Sibalis cites the landmark Chartes Case of 1805, to illustrate the man¬ 
ner in which sodomy incidents were traditionally handled during the 
Napoleonic era. 

The case involved an assault, a “gay-bashing” if you will, against two 
notorious inveterate homosexuals who were part of an active homosexual 
network operating out of the city of Chartes. The leader of the small group 
of soldiers that attacked them had been the recipient of unwanted sexual 
advances by a masked invert at a local carnival ball. In an effort to get 
revenge for the affront to his person, the soldier and some of his regimen¬ 
tal buddies planned an assault on the two members of the homosexual 
coterie whom they were able to entrap by posing as willing customers. The 
soldiers carried out their plan and were subsequently arrested and charged 
with assault by the local magistrate. But when the magistrate learned of the 
motivation for the attack he did an about face. He instead charged the two 


222 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


homosexuals “with an offense against morals and corruption or attempted 
corruption of young people.” 641 When the prosecutor for Chartes and the 
imperial prosecutor locked horns on the question—“If the law is silent on 
the criminality of same-sex relations, did the soldier have the right to de¬ 
fend his honor against a predatory sodomite?—an outside opinion from a 
higher authority was sought out. The matter was submitted to the Emperor 
Napoleon for a definitive ruling at the next meeting with his minister of 
justice on July 17, 1805. 642 And rule he did. 

Napoleon declared that the law did not interfere with private vice, 
including the “unnatural vice.” On the other hand, public acts that disturbed 
the peace, were a matter for local law enforcement to deal with as they saw 
fit. Thus the Chartes police were free to banish or fine or imprison the 
offending homosexuals. Above all, he instructed, there was not to be any 
public investigation or trial in connection with the incident. 

According to Sibalis, in the end, for reasons unknown, the police let the 
most prominent of the two homosexuals go free. Neither he nor anyone 
else connected with the case spent even one day in jail, (his associate had 
already fled from Chartes). 643 

The Chartes case, of course, involved all adult males. Did the authori¬ 
ties treat pederastic assaults on young boys, 10 years of age or younger, any 
differently? It appears that in some situations they did. The Almery trial of 
1807 demonstrated that the public’s tolerance level for men who preyed on 
young boys was extremely low. 

Jean-Claude Almery was a teacher-pederast who operated freely in 
southern France at the turn of the 19th century. His modus operandi was 
simple—he would molest his adolescent students until he was discovered 
and then move on to a new school and new victims. Sibalis reported that in 
October 1807, Almery attacked a 16-year-old domestic servant who shared 
his bed. 644 The youth immediately reported the incident to police officials 
in Avignon. Recognizing that the molestation was a misdemeanor not a 
felony under the law, the officer in charge sentenced Almery to six months 
in jail. 

However, Sibalis noted, for some inexplicable reason, a trial did in fact 
take place and on January 8, 1808 the schoolteacher was sentenced by the 
correctional court of Avignon to serve one year in prison and pay a fine of 
500 francs—the maximum permitted by law. 

The Prefect of the Vaucluse called Almery “one of those depraved 
beings who could not be sequestered long enough from the society that 
they infect, “and the prosecutor as well as the judges publicly stated that 
the sentence was much too lenient considering the nature of Almery’s 
crime. 645 They resented the fact that the law had tied their hands in the 
matter. Sibalis ends the story with a note that once in prison, Almery had 
to be put in solitary confinement to prevent him from having sex with the 
other prisoners. 646 


223 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Two Cases of Clerical Sex Abuse 

In addition to a number of other secular cases involving sodomy and 
pederasty in early 19th century France, Sibalis reported on two sexual 
abuse cases that involved Catholic priests. What was significant about 
these incidents is the reactions of the local hierarchy to the molestations. 

The first pedophile case occurred in Normandy in 1811. A village priest 
sodomized a young male child he was preparing for First Communion. He 
told the boy that this was his “penance” and that it should be kept “a 
secret” like the seal of confession. 647 The child, however, did not keep the 
secret and told his father and uncles. The men hid themselves in the sac¬ 
risty and caught the priest in the act when he again attempted to assault the 
boy. The priest was then brought to the police. 

Local officials, however, were worried about the scandal that would 
arise if they should prosecute the priest. The minister of justice was con¬ 
tacted and asked for a determination on how to proceed. 

When the matter reached the justice department, a letter was drafted 
by an undersecretary for the minister to sign. It instructed the local magis¬ 
trate to go ahead with the prosecution of the priest under Article 331 of the 
Penal Code as the child involved was under the age of consent, that is under 
eleven. 648 The draft letter stated that fear of scandal should not prevent jus¬ 
tice from being carried out for a “crime of such enormity.” 649 It ended by 
informing the local magistrate that the prosecution of the offending priest 
would prevent further outrages of betrayal of the trust of parents as well as 
the betrayal of the sanctity of the priestly ministry. 

According to Sibalis the letter was never sent. The minister rejected 
the recommendations and instead referred the matter over to the local min¬ 
ister of police and the Prefect of Calvados. Initially, the angry prefect 
decided to imprison the priest for several years and then banish him from 
the region. But, according to Sibalis, “In the end, he merely had the bishop 
transfer him to the nearby Diocese of Bayeux.” 650 

The second clerical abuse incident reported by Sibalis took place in the 
Diocese of Valance in 1812. In this case the Bishop of Valance asked the 
government to mete out a suitable punishment for a priest who had sexu¬ 
ally molested children. He explained, “You will serve...good morals, reli¬ 
gion, honor, and the security of families and of the priesthood, by taking 
effective action as soon as possible to rid society of this individual.” 651 The 
records of the Archives Nationales unfortunately do not provide any further 
details that would indicate how this case was resolved. 

Thus we have two Catholic bishops who were faced with priests who 
abused children—one simply transferred him to a nearby parish while the 
other turned the priest over to the authorities and insisted that they do 
their duty by punishing the cleric. It appears that some things never 
change. 


224 


HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Sibalis reports there were only four court trials that involved homo¬ 
sexual activities during the entire Napoleonic period and three of those 
involved men who molested boys. 652 

A Historical Sidebar on the Marquis De Sade 

The life of the Marquis Donatien Alphonse Franqois de Sade, one of his¬ 
tory’s most notorious sodomites, spanned five regimes. He was born, edu¬ 
cated, married, tried and imprisoned under the monarchy of King Louis XV; 
jailed, escaped and reincarcerated under King Louis XVI; freed; accused of 
conspiracy against the Republic; condemned to the guillotine, freed and 
jailed again under Robespierre; and finally placed in a lunatic asylum for 
his criminal recidivism and pornographic writings by Napoleon Bonaparte, 
First Consul General and Emperor. It appears then, that while the Marquis’ 
greatest quarrel in life was with God, he also managed to draw the ire of the 
Crown and State on his head for more than half a century, that is, more than 
half of his adult life. 

We know that the Marquis engaged in sodomy, therefore, he could be 
properly called a “sodomite,” but was he a homosexual, that is, did he pre¬ 
fer homosexuality over normal heterosexual coitus? Although I believe 
there is sufficient evidence to answer that question in the affirmative, for 
the purposes of the study of Sade, it is not necessary to do. 

First, because as Gilbert Lely, Sade’s most influential and sympathetic 
biographer has pointed out, the sexual inversion of the Marquis was “so 
tangled up with blasphemy and mystification that there is no possibility of 
treating it separately from these.” 653 

Secondly, and perhaps more to the point, was the fact that Sade en¬ 
gaged in sodomy for reasons that were largely peripheral to his homo¬ 
sexual desires, be they inborn or acquired. In both his life and his writings, 
sodomy became the expression of his will to power as well as the ultimate 
symbol of his hatred and rebellion against God and Church—a means of 
transvaluing traditional moral, familial and societal virtues including love, 
fidelity and honor into the “virtues” of Sadian Society—lust, infidelity and 
dishonor and above all, evil. 

To gain some insight into the origins of Sade’s transgressive ideology as 
well as his actual acts of criminal violence including forced sodomy, it is 
necessary to examine his childhood and the complex and troubled relation¬ 
ship that existed between Sade and his parents, particularly his mother and 
between the parents themselves. One of the best sources on Sade’s early 
life is Sade—A Biographical Essay by Laurence L. Bongie, Professor 
Emeritus of French, at the University of British Columbia. 

Donatien, born on June 2, 1740, was the only surviving child (of three 
siblings) of Marie-Eleonore de Maille de Carman Comtesse de Sade and 
Jean-Baptiste-Joseph-Francois, Comte de Sade. From birth, the child was 
impressed with the idea of his superiority in life by virtue of his class and 


225 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


distinguished maternal ancestry to the royal blood of the Condes. With his 
father away, Sade’s mother raised her son virtually by herself for the first 
four years of his life. 654 In spite of chronic illness, she was a faithful wife to 
her wayward diplomatic husband and a loving, conscientious mother to 
Donatien, with one glaring weakness—her hopeless indulgence toward 
her son’s every desire. 

Donatien’s father, the Comte de Sade, had aspirations for a diplomatic 
career at the Imperial Court in Versailles. He was appointed to a high 
French government post at the elector’s court in Bonn, Germany. 655 

Bongie claimed that Jean-Baptiste became involved in some unsavory 
financial irregularities and other misadventures in Bonn that eventually 
earned him the lifelong enmity of King Louis XV and dashed all hopes for 
any future at court. When the Comte realized his diplomatic career was 
going nowhere, he rejoined his wife and incorrigible young son in Paris. 
When his attempt to purchase a title for himself as a “prince of the empire” 
also failed, Donetien’s father recognized that his future laid in the hands of 
his son and began to plan and plot accordingly, said Bongie. 

It must be noted, that whatever his professional disappointments, they 
did not interfere with the Comte de Sade’s extramarital sex life. Not only 
was he an enthusiastic debaucher of young women, but of young men as 
well. Bongie notes that he regularly engaged in sodomy with the man- 
servants and domestic staff of the Hotel de Conde where the Sade family 
had their residence. He also employed the services of male prostitutes who 
brought the Comte into direct contact with Paris’ criminal underclass as 
well as the Paris police. 656 

According to Bongie, one of his particular favorites whom the Comte 
eventually brought into his household was a young tradesman and male 
prostitute, Francois Le Poivre. 657 In addition to the elder Sade, the enter¬ 
prising Poivre was also servicing the Bishop of Frejus, Martin du Bellay. 658 
Du Bellay had replaced Bishop (later Cardinal) Andre-Hercule de Fleury 
who resigned in 1715 to become tutor to the future King Louis XV and who 
became one of France’s greatest diplomats and statesmen. 

Bongie reports that the Paris police records for early 1749 showed that 
young Poivre charged the bishop twice what he charged Jean-Baptiste de 
Sade for sexual favors rendered beneath the stairwells of the Hotel de 
Conde. 659 

By this date, his dissolute father had taken the young Sade from his sup¬ 
posedly “invalid” mother and placed him in the care of his paternal grand¬ 
mother in Avignon. The timing proved to be a dreadful and decisive error. 
Two years later, Donatien was entrusted to his paternal uncle, the worldly 
and unchaste Jacques-Francois-Paul-Aldonse who was the Abbot of the 
Benedictine monastery of Saint-Leger d’Ebreuil. This was an even more 
grievous error. 


226 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


At the age of ten, Donatien was placed in the care of the Jesuits at 
Louis-le-Grande, a preparatory school for young noblemen where, by 
the end of his fourth year, his early predilection for sexual violence was 
cemented by his exposure to a wide-assortment of other vices including 
onanism, flagellation and school-boy exercises in sodomy. 660 Bongie re¬ 
ported that by the time Sade was in his early teens he had become “a good- 
looking bugger.” 661 

Sade had barely reached his 14th birthday when his father secured a 
certificate of nobility for him that enabled the lad to enter the elite school 
of Chevaulegers, the Light Horse Regiment of the Royal Guards garrisoned 
at Versailles. As soon as his training was complete he joined the Regiment 
du Roi. He was only 15 and France was poised at the brink of war. Three 
years later, Sade secured a commission with the Carabiniers de Monsieur 
and saw military action in Prussia. By the time the Seven-Year War had 
ended in 1763, he had attained the rank of cavalry captain and along with 
that, a reputation for dissolute and violent behavior that was already known 
to his family and to the ever-vigilant Paris police. 

Once again his father intervened, this time to secure a financially and 
socially advantageous marriage for his wayward son with Mademoiselle 
Renee-Pelagie de Montraiul, the daughter of a wealthy and aristocratic fam¬ 
ily. The marriage took place on May 17,1763. It was a foregone conclusion 
that Sade had no intention of abiding by his marriage vows, as he had 
already prepared a secret hideaway for his future extramarital liaisons. 

Crimes Against Church and State 

With the death of Sade’s father on January 24,1767, one of the few per¬ 
sons for whom he appeared to have had a genuine affection and respect, the 
last restraint on Sade was removed. 662 The birth of his first son on August 
27 of the same year, followed by the subsequent birth of a second son in 
1769 and daughter in 1771 had no moderating effect on Sade’s horrific 
private life that had already landed him in the gaol. His behavior had also 
attracted the King’s wrath and he had become the object of constant sur¬ 
veillance by the police and vice squad. 

Despite the myth propagated by contemporary writers like Gilbert Lely, 
that the Marquis de Sade was a “prisoner of conscience,” a man imprisoned 
for his ideas and his ideals, the historical record clearly demonstrates 
that Sade was imprisoned for the commission of violent civil crimes that 
were accompanied by acts of blasphemy and sacrilege. As documented by 
Bongie, all of these criminal actions including the infamous Testard (1763) 
Keller (1768) and Marseilles Incidents (1772) involved the sodomization 
(or attempted sodomization), whippings and death threats against lower 
class women, not all of whom were prostitutes. 

The Testard Affair took place on October 18, 1763 in the Paris quarter 
where Sade picked up a prostitute, Jeanne Testard. Her deposition to the 


227 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


police included the statement that the man she later identified as the 
Marquis de Sade threatened to kill her if she did not participate in the blas¬ 
phemous and sacrilegious activities that involved consecrated hosts and the 
crucifix. The nature of his actions were so shocking that the King was 
advised of the incident and ordered Sade’s arrest. He was gaoled briefly at 
the fortress of Vincennes, then released into the custody of his family. Both 
before and after the incident the Paris vice squad had Sade under regular 
surveillance and the police had warned brothel keepers not to let out their 
girls to him because of his violent nature. Jeanne Testard’s pimp had obvi¬ 
ously not gotten the message. 

The Arcueil incident occurred on Easter Sunday morning April 3,1768. 
The 28-year-old Sade lured a respectable domestic and widow named Rose 
Keller to a rented cottage in Arcueil where he again engaged in a litany of 
blasphemous acts and the scourging of the young woman whom he also 
threatened to kill. After her escape from Sade, she reported the incident to 
the local magistrate. Keller, however, was bribed into silence and dropped 
her charges against the Marquis. In the meantime Parisian authorities were 
advised of the assault on Keller, and Sade was arrested and brought to the 
stricter confines of Pierre-Encise fortress near Lyons. Here he remained 
until the King granted him clemency and released him to his wife and her 
family on November 16, 1768. 

The next notorious incident took place in June 1772 in Marseilles. 
Sade’s manservant Armand Latour was instructed to pick up some young 
prostitutes for the Marquis to sodomize. The incident involved more whip¬ 
pings and reciprocal acts of master-servant sodomy that were performed in 
front of the frightened girls. Sade also gave the girls some experimental 
“sweet-treats” he had concocted which made some of them violently 
ill. They thought they had been poisoned. After learning of Sade’s orgy, 
Marseilles authorities ordered the arrest of both Sade and Latour, but the 
men were already in flight. Sade was accompanied by his sister-in-law, 
Lady Anne, a cannoness whom he had seduced and with whom he had 
incestuous relations. 

The final escapade that resulted in his long-term imprisonment took 
place in late 1774 after he had returned to his residence at La Coste. This 
incident involved the alleged abduction of a number of respectable young 
girls from Lyons and Vienne for questionable purposes. His imprisonment 
on September 7, 1778 signaled the first of his long-term convictions for 
sodomy and other crimes against the Church and the Republic. 

By 1772, the year of the Marseilles Incident, Sade had become a fugi¬ 
tive from the law. Following a trial held in absentia on September 3, 1772, 
he was publicly “beheaded” in a mock sentencing at the guillotine as pun¬ 
ishment for his alleged crime of poisoning, his body was burned in effigy, 
and his ashes scattered to the four winds for the crime of sodomy. 663 After 
cooling his heels in Italy for a year where he was drawn to the cultural life 


228 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


of Florence and Rome, Sade returned to France in 1777. He was subse¬ 
quently arrested, tried, placed in police custody, escaped, recaptured and 
imprisoned at the fortress of Vincennes. 

Seven years later he was transferred to the Bastille where he com¬ 
pleted a number of pornographic novellas in order to earn some cash. 
These included The 120 Days of Sodom and Justine or The Misfortunes of 
Virtue. One anonymous writer for Kirkus Reviews remarked that Sade’s 
“greatest distinction as an imaginative writer was to create a self-contained 
repetitious rhythm of impossible sexual acts that have no relation to what 
real people would do (or want to do), the likes of which have never been 
repeated in prose.” 664 

Shortly before the storming of the Bastille on July 14, 1789 and the 
unceremonious sacking of his cell by rioters, Sade had been taken to 
Charenton Asylum where he remained until his two grown sons Louis- 
Marie and Donatien-Claude-Armand, whom he had not seen for more than 
a decade, came to claim him in April of 1790. 

After he had publicly declared his loyalty to the cause of the Revolution, 
Citizen de Sade embarked upon a short theatrical and political career 
that came to an abrupt end when he was arrested as an enemy of the 
Republic on December 8, 1793. Sade was scheduled to go to the guillotine 
on July 27, one day before Citizen Robespierre’s head left his shoulders, but 
for some inexplicable reason was not brought to the block and was set free 
having served 312 days of detention. 

In the company of the young actress Marie-Constance Renelle (Mme. 
Quesnet) with whom he had formed an intimate attachment that lasted the 
rest of his life, and her young son, the penniless aristocrat attempted to 
make a living as a part-time soldier. He also staged a few of his plays and 
published some of his obscene works including Juliette and Justine , 665 

His pornographic writings, however, soon brought Sade back behind 
bars without trial for the last time. The year was 1801. The new regime was 
the First Consul of Napoleon Bonaparte. Sade was first sent to Sainte- 
Pelagie prison then to Bicetre prison and finally at the request of his family 
back to Charenton Asylum where he died on December 2, 1814. 666 After 
the fall of Napoleon, under the reign of the Bourbon Kings and for decades 
to follow, Sade’s books were banned in France. 

Life and Death in Sadeian Society 

The most important feature of the world that Sade created in his fiction 
and the fantasy world in which he lived was that it was a world without God. 
However, to deny God was not enough—God must also be hated and re¬ 
viled as “the supreme evil.” In a sense, Sade’s entire life was, as Bongie 
has suggested, one long temper tantrum against God and all authority— 
secular and religious. 


229 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


It followed then, that if God had no place in Sadeian society, neither did 
love nor hope nor virtue nor compassion nor honor nor any other human 
quality that gives meaning to the life of ordinary human beings. It was a 
world in which man could not survive and remain human. 

Although some writers continue to portray Sade as a “liberation theolo¬ 
gian” and his world as a paradise of freedom, he, in fact, had very little by 
way of “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite” to offer his inmates. This was a motto 
that Citizen de Sade proclaimed to save his own hide, but one that the 
Marquise de Sade rejected in practice. His wealth, upper-class credentials 
and connections enabled him to routinely escape “the ignominy and horrors 
of this century’s ordinary criminal justice.” 667 Sade’s New Order based on 
the law of the jungle and the survival of the fittest presented no problem 
for the Marquis. He knew himself to be a superior being that was born to 
be served—not serve. 668 

In terms of a sexual ethos, the Sadeian world was fundamentally sodom- 
ical. In both his personal and fantasy life, Sade was obsessed with but¬ 
tocks and with anal sex, first and foremost as an expression of the ultimate 
outrage against God and secondly as a vehicle of supreme pleasure. Sade 
declared that Nature was indifferent to morality and that She held no 
objection to sodomy as the practice violated neither her tenets nor reason. 
The waste of seed occurred naturally enough in man, Sade argued so as 
to rule out the Church’s injunction that sex cannot be divided from pro¬ 
creation. 

Although Krafft-Ebing created the term “sadist” using Sade’s name to 
identity a person who received sexual stimulation and pleasure from the 
infliction of pain upon others, the Marquis’ personal preference was in¬ 
clined towards sadism’s twin—masochism. He was also a habitual onanist 
and voyeur. He preferred the passive role accompanied by acts of humilia¬ 
tion, violent beatings and coprophilia in his sodomical relations with his 
young secretaries, domestics and male and female prostitutes. All of Sade’s 
pornographic fiction are filled with references to anal penetration ad 
nauseam . 669 It is not the human face that captivated Sade, but rather human 
feces, the size of the male organs and the anal orifice. 

When one considers that the 19th century sexual fantasy world of the 
Marquis de Sade has become the real “gay” world of the 21st century, it 
becomes clear why this writer has included his brief biography in this 
study. 670 

French Physicians’ View— 

Sodomy Remains a Vice 

Even after the abdication of Napoleon in 1814, the year of Sade’s death, 
there was no change in the legal status of sodomy. From the reign of the 
Bourbon Kings, Louis XVIII (1815-1824) and Charles X (1824-1830), to 
that of Louis Phillipe (Due d’Orleans) (1830-1848), sodomy remained out- 


230 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


side the purview of the law—indeed sodomy would never be re-criminal¬ 
ized again in France. In April 1832, there was only one minor amendment 
to the Penal Code of 1810 that touched upon homosexual acts. The new 
provision made it a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a boy under 11 
even if no force was used. 671 

When Emperor Louis Napoleon III (1852-1870) proclaimed a “new 
moral order,” in France, the only concrete change in the nation’s sex laws 
was the criminalization of transvestitism in public places and balls (Art. 471 
Penal Code of June 10, 1853). 672 

The consensus among French rulers and lawmakers was that private 
vice could not be punished without violating the sanctity of the home and 
that was unacceptable. 

But perhaps the most important factor in retaining the legal staus quo of 
sodomy was the simple fact that the vast majority of Frenchmen of the 
period knew little about same-sex relations, and even less about the homo¬ 
sexual underworld of Paris or the more informal sodomical networks that 
existed in places like Chartes and Valance. This latter state of affairs, how¬ 
ever, was about to change. 

By the mid-to-late 1800s, the wisdom of France’s official laissez faire 
attitude toward sodomy and sodomites was drawn into question largely 
as the result of the popularization of writings on “sexual inversion” by a 
growing number of prominent French physicians notably Jean-Martin 
Charcot (1825-1893), his associate Valentin Magnan (1835-1916), 
Benedict A. Morel (1809-1873) and Professor Auguste Ambroise Tardieu 
(1818-1879). Of these, Tardieu, a leading medico-legal and forensic expert, 
was the most influential. 673 

Unlike Symonds, Ellis and Hirschfeld, Tardieu viewed homosexuality in 
the traditional Catholic sense as an acquired vice, and pederasty as learned 
behavior caused by early seduction and sexual debauchery. He did not 
believe that sexual inverts were insane, although he held out the pos¬ 
sibility that they might suffer from some neurosis. 674 

In many ways, Tardieu was ahead of his time. For example, he was one 
of the first writers on sexual inversion to draw attention to the public health 
issue of venereal disease that was endemic among sodomites and the male 
prostitutes who serviced them. He was also careful in his works to distin¬ 
guish between men and women who desired same-sex relations exclu¬ 
sively and those who preferred normal man-woman relations, but, who 
because of circumstances (prison, the military) or for monetary considera¬ 
tions engaged in homosexual acts. 675 

Tardieu’s career in pathology, toxicology and forensics paralleled his 
interest in criminal behavior and historical crimes and he was frequently 
called as an expert witness in high profile murder cases. It is not surpris¬ 
ing, therefore, that he should have espoused certain theories that linked 
same-sex activity to criminality—not that homosexuality was a crime in 


231 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


and of itself, but that it frequently led the practitioner of the vice into the 
environs of the criminal underworld. 

Tardieu noted that the fascination of many upper-class inverts with 
rough trade and renters brought them into contact with prostitutes, black¬ 
mailers, extortionists, thieves and other elements of the criminal world. 676 
There was also the proverbial problem of solicitation and exhibitionism by 
predatory pederasts who sought to corrupt young boys. 

Tardieu was also cognizant of the violence, including beatings and even 
murders that frequently accompanied same-sex relations. Sometimes this 
violence occurred when clients brought strangers into their homes and 
sometimes it was connected to the jealousies and rages of paired-off homo¬ 
sexuals. 677 There was also the addiction of homosexuals to pornography 
and drugs. 

Overall, Tardieu held that, like all practitioners of organized vice, homo¬ 
sexuals lowered the moral tenor of neighborhoods where they congregated. 
Alas, this was a far cry from the picture that Ulrichs had painted of France’s 
rapprochement with Uranians that had resulted in greater familial and soci¬ 
etal stability and happiness. 678 

That Tardieu’s astute observations on the malignant elements of the 
homosexual life in 19th century France, where homosexual acts were legal, 
should be virtually identical (if not in quantity at least in quality) to the 
criminal elements of the homosexual underworld of 19th century England 
and Germany, where homosexual acts were illegal, should not surprise the 
reader. 

French sexual inverts of all classes, like their English and German 
counterparts, still had other reasons than a run in with the law to keep their 
unnatural sexual proclivities secret. The disclosure that a man was a 
sodomite remained a social liability both privately and publicly. Such a dis¬ 
closure could and did lead to scandal, dishonor, ostricization, public censure, 
and in some cases divorce, financial ruin and family banishment. 679 

Homosexuals who restrained their actions to private quarters and did 
not cross class lines could generally carry on their double life with relative 
safety. However, purely private same-sex acts lacked the essential element 
of danger, which, to quote Oscar Wilde, was “half the excitement.” Hence, 
the willingness of many homosexuals to cross the legal barrier to engage in 
public solicitation of male prostitutes and renters and to engage in public 
sex acts at municipal urinals and public parks—actions destined to lead 
them into the arms of the law and outlaws. 

The warning of physicians like Tardieu about the serious negative con¬ 
sequences of sexual inversion on society did not go unheeded. After the 
excesses of the Revolution, France was ripe to moral reform. 

An important factor in this renewed spirit of religious and moral con¬ 
servatism were the reforms that were put into motion in the Catholic 
Church following the First Vatican Council (1869-1870) called by Pope 


232 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Pius IX. 680 A sense of renewed piety and a rise in level of public and private 
morals was manifested not only in a new vigor in the religious life of secu¬ 
lar and order priests and nuns, but also among the French laity of all 
classes. 

Such were the moral conditions of France on the eve of the Franco- 
Prussian war. Into such an environment was born one of France’s most 
famous writers and certainly its most famous homosexual—Andre Gide. 

The Early Life of Andre Gide— 

A Solitary and Sullen Childhood 

If ever there was a combination of inborn dispositions and childhood 
influences that conspired against a young man’s strivings toward manhood 
and normal heterosexual maturity, it was in the early life of a young Parisian 
boy named Andre Gide. Tardieu believed that homosexuals including ped¬ 
erasts were made not born. In Jean Delay’s biographical masterpiece La 
Jeunesse d’ Andre Gide that appeared in France in 1956, five years after the 
death of Gide, we can put Tardieu’s theory to the test and in doing so gain 
some important insights into the multi-faceted factors that turned one ugly, 
nervous and divided little boy into a divided man, a pervert and a Noble 
Prize Winner in Literature. 

Andre Gide was born on November 22,1869, the only surviving child of 
a less than happy marriage. 681 

Andre’s highborn mother Juliette married below her station when she 
took Paul Gide, a lawyer, as her husband. Her decision tipped the scales in 
the struggle for power in the Gide household to her advantage. So it was 
that their young son soon found himself in the unenviable position of hav¬ 
ing to choose between his father—“tender but distant, charming but 
absent, gentle but inattentive”—and his mother, who lacked the warmth, 
charm and feminine instincts that might have made her dark Calvinist 
beliefs less cold and threatening to Andre. 682 Unfortunately for young Gide, 
death stepped in and made the final choice for him. His father died of intes¬ 
tinal tuberculosis in 1880 when Andre was just 11 years old. 

Now the death of a father at any age, is always tragic, most especially 
when he leaves behind an only son who stands at the threshold of manhood, 
but it is not necessarily a prescription for lifelong disaster. It was, however, 
in the case of young Gide. 

It was not that Madame Gide did not love her son. She did love him, but 
as Delay recalls, she loved him “badly.” 683 From his earliest years, she 
treated her son as if he were an invalid. He was not. She catered to his 
every whim, fed his narcissistic tendencies and left his youthful vices 
uncorrected. In short, Delay stated, she transformed Andre from a spoiled 
and “depraved child who needed to be reformed” into “a sick child who had 
to be cared for.” 684 In these and other less subtle ways she succeeded in 
stripping her son of his fragile virility and his sense of manliness. Delay 


233 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


recalled a number of occasions when Madame Gide effectively interfered 
with the normal psychosexual development of her son not the least of 
which was her discouragement of his early interest in members of the 
opposite sex. 685 

In terms of physical appearances, young Andre did not have a lot going 
for him. He was an unattractive child, puny in stature whose poor fitting 
school clothing accentuated his ill form. His general disposition as a youth 
was somewhat sullen with a tendency toward morbid introspection, qualities 
that Delay linked to Gide’s inborn condition of “constitutional anxiety,” that 
tended toward “nervous hysteria.” 686 

Gide’s largely self-induced, psychosomatic illnesses, he discovered, 
helped bring his mother under his control and resolved the “authority-sub¬ 
mission conflict” (not a sexual conflict) between them in his favor. 687 His 
“bodily flights into illness,” Delay explained, also provided an escape from 
reality—a common childhood subterfuge that Gide carried with him into 
adult life. 688 

Delay noted that Gide displayed early signs of neurosis as a child and 
schoolboy that included evidence of early masochistic behavior and an 
instinct for self-destruction and aggression towards others. The former was 
manifested in Gide’s unchaste behavior at an early age. As a schoolboy he 
was dismissed for a time from the Ecole Alsacienne for onanism. 689 

The frenzied level of young Gide’s masturbatory habits, explained 
Delay, were symptomatic of the young boy’s hidden anxieties and feelings 
of inadequacies. What began “as a very ambiguous autoeroticism” he said, 
“translated later into narcissism: self-love and self-hate.” 690 When Gide 
entered manhood and discovered what he called his ‘authentic-self,’ that is 
his pederastic nature, all he had really done was trade in his childhood 
onanism for mutual onanism with young boys. As Delay explained: 

When the organism is accustomed exclusively to solitary vice, as though 
it were a kind of “toxicomania,” the sexual instincts become centered 
exclusively on the organ that gives habitual pleasure, and desire cannot be 
transferred except to a human object endowed with the same advantage. 
Thus the finality of the instinct—the complete union of the two opposite 
sexes—is thwarted; the homosexual is not attracted by the different but 
by the homology that recalls his own sexual organ, the object of all his 
complacency .” 691 

Had Gide been a Catholic child instead of a Protestant child, Delay sug¬ 
gested, he would have benefited from the sacrament of confession for he 
would have known absolutely that all his sins were forgiven and, in addition 
to God’s grace, would have received much needed advice and practical 
encouragement from an understanding priest and a male role model. Like¬ 
wise he would have found comfort in his loneliness knowing that he was 
always surrounded by his guardian angel and the saints and martyrs with 
whom he could have shared his confidences. His mother’s shortcomings 


234 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


would perhaps have not appeared so terrible and unforgivable for he would 
have had the consolation of a second Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. 692 

But young Andre Gide had none of these spiritual and emotional com¬ 
forts. In matters of conscience, he was his own judge and jury. Delay sur¬ 
mised that once Gide reached the age of reason, his onanistic habits must 
have filled him with dread and guilt for under the doctrines of Calvinism, 
carnal sins are the deadliest of all sins. 693 The resulting moral conflict over 
his habituation to unchastity and later homoerotic desires made Gide’s self¬ 
division and dualism virtually inevitable, said Delay. 694 

It was not surprising that when Gide decided to abandon his religious 
heritage in his late 20s, he rationalized his actions by stating that his 
mother worshipped a different Christ than he did. Like Oscar Wilde, he 
condemned the church for distorting the teachings of Christ and accused 
Saint Paul of betraying the Gospel with his condemnations. In language that 
foreshadowed Wilde’s De Profundis, Gide said that his Christ did not con¬ 
demn. Rather he said, his Christ had emancipated him so that he might be 
free to follow a “high wisdom” [really a higher immorality] and act upon his 
homosexual desires. 695 

Gide’s Diaries and Writings 

Diary-keeping is as “necessary to psychological narcissism as a mirror 
is to physical narcissism.” 696 This astute observation by Delay is validated 
in Gide’s extraordinary commitment to his diary and journals that covered 
most of his adult life, a span of nearly 60 years. 697 

Legend tells us that the original Narcissus looked into the placid stream 
and fell in love with his own image—a physical narcissism. Gide on the 
other hand saw his own image in the faces of the young boys with whom he 
played childish sex games—a psychological narcissism. He prided himself 
on “taking pleasure face to face, reciprocally and without violence.” 698 
Afterwards, he recorded the details of his furtive amorous adventures in his 
diary, reliving them over and over with each reading. Gide also used his 
diary to help him analyze his moods and catalogue his emotions, said 
Delay. 699 

Gide invested a great deal of himself in his writings. In his first pub¬ 
lished work, Les Cahiers (Notebooks) of Andre Walter (1891), Gide gave 
fictitious Walter, a Huguenot struggling with the vicissitudes of life, two 
of his own vices—masturbation and pederasty. 700 Gide’s Walter, was, 
like himself, a Manichiean and dualist. Fortunately for Gide, whereas 
Walter fell victim to his own fantasy world and went mad, he (Gide) 
managed to survive. 

In perhaps his most famous book, Corydon, which he wrote in 1907 but 
dared not publish until 1924, Gide used the debonair man-about-town and 
confirmed pederast Corydon to make his case for man-boy love in the 
Greek warrior tradition. The outstanding feature of Corydon’s persona was 


235 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


his manliness and aggressive, almost militaristic virility—an image Gide 
desperately wanted to cultivate in order to offset the popular notion of the 
homosexual as an effeminate and passive creature. 701 His timing proved 
disastrous. The last thing the people of war-torn France wanted to read was 
Corydon’s praise of Wilhelminian militarism draped in homoerotic dress 
(shades of the Eulenburg Affair) and the virtues of the war mongering 
Spartan pederast. Besides, as writer Martha Hanna so aptly quipped, “The 
last advice you ever give to a Frenchman is that he become more like a 
German.” 702 

Gide was not successful in convincing the French people that Greek 
pederasty was an all around healthy and honorable endeavor that filled 
the sexual needs of both man and boy—an untruth that Gide desperately 
wanted to be true in order to rationalize his own perversion. 703 

Although Corydon’s dialogue format and neo-classical style is different 
from John Addington Symonds’ Greek and Modern Ethics written 40 years 
before, its arguments in praise of pederasty are virtually identical. 

In both his autobiography, Si Le Grain Ne Meurt that begins with his 
birth and ends with his engagement to his cousin Madeleine, and his 
Journals published in 1932-1933, Gide reiterated two of his favorite stories 
concerning his early misadventures into the world of pederasty. 704 

The first, already recorded earlier in this chapter, is his famous debauch 
of Algerian boys with Oscar Wilde in January 1895. 705 The second is Gide’s 
famous vampire story of 1897 in which he watches his friend Daniel B. 
sodomize a young boy named Mohammed with whom Gide had been inti¬ 
mate. “He seemed like a huge vampire feeding on a corpse. I could have 
screamed out with horror...” wrote Gide. 706 

Gide’s diary and journals give us an idea of how the married writer lived 
out his compartmentalized life. 

We can see for example, how he divided his “sex life” from his “love 
life.” Gide “loved” his childhood sweetheart and wife of 42 years, Madeleine 
Rondeaux, even though their marriage was never consummated. But his 
sex life revolved about a group of young boys he collected for his sexual use 
from his home region and from abroad as circumstances permitted. Only in 
the person of Marc Allegret did love and sex come together for Gide. 707 

In all probability, Madeleine Gide must have suspected that Gide was 
not sexually normal when she married him and she most certainly knew 
it after their uneventful honeymoon. Delay reported that while they were 
in Florence, Gide resisted his pederastic desires. But a few weeks later in 
Rome when he was at Saraginesco’s art studio with his wife, he arranged 
for a few of the young male models to accompany him to his villa under the 
pretext of photographing them. 708 Later, his wife remarked that when she 
looked at her husband’s face when he was surrounded by a group of young 
boys, he looked like “either a criminal or a madman.” 709 


236 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Once the couple had returned to France, Madeleine resolved to take 
that part of Gide that he was willing to offer her—the part he had formerly 
given to his mother, and to ignore his exotic Italian and Arabian excursions 
and his local forays into the Coverville countryside where they lived. 710 

A full-bloom crisis did not develop in their relationship until 1917 when 
the 47-year-old Gide “fell in love” with 16-year-old Marc Allegret. 711 

Gide’s affair with the young Allegret, like Symonds’ affair with Norman 
Moor, was a very dangerous undertaking. Marc’s father, Pastor Elie 
Allegret had been best man at Gide’s wedding and his children knew 
Gide as “Uncle Andre.” 712 Marc had been placed under Gide’s unofficial 
guardianship while Pastor Allegret was away on missionary work in 
Africa. 713 The idea that he had violated this sacred trust by taking his 
adopted son as a lover in May of 1917 apparently never occurred to Gide— 
or if it did it was quickly buried beneath a storm of unbridled passion. The 
following year they became traveling companions leaving Madeleine at 
home to nurse her growing resentments and jealousies. 

Gide’s intimate relationship with Allegret continued intermittently for 
the next few years despite Marc’s growing skirt-chasing escapades, but 
his friendship with the young man lasted a lifetime. Allegret went on to a 
successful career in film directing and by the time of his death in 1973 had 
become an icon of the French cinema. Marc did not marry until 1938 at the 
ripe old age of 38—the same year Madeleine Gide was laid to rest. 714 

In his assessment of Gide’s sexual perversion, Delay notes that while 
Gide’s heterosexual experiences were thwarted throughout his entire life 
by anguishing feelings of guilt, inferiority and insecurity, none of those inhi¬ 
bitions ever intervened in his pedophilic relations. 715 Gide nursed an infe¬ 
riority complex about his virility and feared sexual intimacy with a woman, 
even though he was physiologically sound. The only sexual relationship he 
believed that he could measure up to and dominate was sex with a child. 716 

Tardieu theorized and Delay confirmed that Gide’s homosexuality was 
not inborn. It was acquired and therefore modifiable. But Gide remained 
“extraordinarily ignorant of things sexual which contributed to his devia¬ 
tion,” said Delay. 717 

It (homosexuality) was not inscribed in his nature, but produced by diverse 
factors which had arrested the normal development of his sexual instinct, 
factors so entangled that to disentangle them would have been a difficult, 
but not impossible task. He had a homosexual neurosis—in other words, 
a sexual neurosis—which is susceptible of medical treatment, at least today. 
Later in life, Gide wondered if he could have been helped at these early 
stages of his life. But by the age of 50 he had long decided that his sexual 
habits could not be changed; his sexual neurosis had become a perversion 
to which he gave his full consent and with which he shamelessly came to 
terms.” 718 


237 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Like Wilde, Symonds and Ellis in England and Hirschfeld and Ulrichs in 
Germany, Gide had devoted his entire adult life to selling the “good news” 
of pederasty and by implication of all same-sex relations to an unresponsive 
and even hostile citizenry. By the time of Gide’s death in 1951 it was clear 
that he had lost the propaganda war. The French people and the French gov¬ 
ernment were more ill-disposed toward homosexuality than ever before. 

Shortly after de Gaulle’s return to power in 1958, the Gaullist deputy 
Paul Mirguet denounced homosexuality as a public scourge. The demo¬ 
graphic reality of a nation ravaged by two World Wars had spelled the end 
of France’s liberality with regard to non-reproductive homosexuality. Large 
families were in fashion and homosexuality and lesbianism were out of 
fashion. 

Prison sentences and fines were raised for the crime of pedophilia and 
the seduction of minors between the ages of 15 and 21. The maximum time 
for incarceration of a convicted pederast was raised to three years and the 
maximum fine was set at 50,000 francs. Fines against homosexual inde¬ 
cency were set higher than those for heterosexual indecency. 

Under the Fourth Republic and the early years of General Charles 
de Gaulle’s Fifth Republic, sodomy had returned to its medieval status as 
both a sin against nature and a crime against the nation. 719 

The Homosexuality of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky— 

A View of Sodomy in 19th Century Russia 

Unlike some nations of the West, homosexual acts never became “fash¬ 
ionable” in Czarist Russia. 

From the Middle Ages on, sodomy or buggery was always considered a 
vice to be suppressed, a serious sin and an object of public scorn and ribald 
humor although not always a matter of criminality unless minors or vio¬ 
lence was involved. 

In the 18th century, Peter the Great established a military code (1706) 
based on the Swedish model that made “unnatural lechery” a crime pun¬ 
ishable by burning at the stake, although this was later reduced to corporal 
punishment. If force (rape) was used in the commission of the crime then 
harsher penalties of death or imprisonment with hard labor prevailed. 720 

In 1832, under Czar Nikolai I (1825-1855), the grandson of Catherine 
the Great, all Russian laws were gathered and systematically indexed into 
the Digest of Russian Law. 

Under Article 995 of the new criminal code law (1845) that was based 
on the German model, sodomy or “male lechery” (muzhelozhstov) was 
criminalized. The offense of sodomy was punishable by exile to Siberia for 
up to five years. Under Article 996 pertaining to the seduction and abuse of 
minors, dependents and mentally retarded persons, and to sodomical rape, 
the penalty was more severe—from 10 to 20 years’ hard labor in Siberia. 721 


238 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


In 1845, the definition of sodomy that had been strictly interpreted by 
the courts to mean anal penetration, was broadened to read “vice contrary 
to nature,” that is, both sodomy and bestiality. Punishments of penal servi¬ 
tude remained high for both simple sodomy and cases involving aggravated 
assault or abuse of minors. Members of the Russian Orthodox Church were 
also given a religious penance that was assigned by church authorities. 722 

In terms of the practical application of the anti-sodomy statutes during 
the mid-19th century, they were as a rule sparingly and unevenly applied 
by the czarist courts. Adult consenting homosexuals were rarely prose¬ 
cuted. In cases that involved members of the Russian aristocracy, authorities 
looked the other way. Custom tended to tolerate the sexual eccentricities 
of prominent artists and men of letters. The State depended more on reli¬ 
gious sanctions imposed by the Church to repress the vice than on legal 
penalties to punish homosexual offenders. In assigning penalties, mitigating 
factors including age, recidivism, marital status and degree of intoxication, 
if any, were considered by jurists. 723 

It was not until 1903 under Nicholas II (1894-1917), that a revised 
criminal code (never fully enacted) under Article 516 reduced imprison¬ 
ment for homosexual acts, including those between consenting adults, to 
a minimum of three months, except for rape or seduction of a minor where 
the penalty remained high—from three to eight years imprisonment. 
Bestiality was decriminalized. 724 

This tendency toward greater leniency in the law reflected the growing 
influence of Westernization on Russia and a basic attitudinal shift among 
physicians and jurists that inveterate sodomites needed treatment rather 
than incarceration. Despite these new accommodations by the law, how¬ 
ever, social sanctions remained in place especially for the aristocracy and 
upper classes where if a man was caught in flagrante delicto with another 
man, he was expected to do the right thing, that is, save his honor and 
commit suicide. 725 

The sweeping winds of urbanization, industrialization and social change 
that swept through Russia during the mid-1800s, was reflected in the 
growth of an elaborate, mutitiered homosexual underworld in the new cap¬ 
ital city of St. Petersburg and to a lesser degree in older Moscow. 

“Blues” or “blue men,” as males seeking same-sex relations were 
called, were usually married, preferred younger partners and frequently 
carried out their homosexual activity ostensibly “under the influence” of 
vodka to avoid the social stigma of being known as a sodomite. There was 
also an exclusively homosexual grouping of Uranians, popularly known as 
tyotki, the Russian word for tantes, that is, aunties or middle age, passive 
queens who organized their own forms of entertainment and social cama¬ 
raderie, and called each other by feminine diminutives. 726 


239 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Traditional Russian bathhouses, some fitted with private rooms, as well 
as public taverns, beer-halls and urinals offered the most common sites for 
homosexual assignation and activity with male prostitutes. 727 

Generally, men of wealth and influence including members of the Im¬ 
perial court preferred to make private arrangements for their homosexual 
liaisons rather than cruise the streets or parks in order to avoid public 
scandal and occasions for blackmail. It was not uncommon for these men to 
use their manservants or domestic staff for sexual relief or to hire a per¬ 
sonal valet specifically for sexual purposes. There was of course, always the 
proverbial soldier-prostitutes in garrison regions who made themselves 
available to wealthy clients. 728 

Finally there was the emergence of the Mir Iskusstva (The World of Art) 
Movement of the late 19th century that provided a respectable social cover 
for prominent Russian artists, male ballet stars, writers and intellectuals— 
among the most famous of whom was Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky. 

The Formative Years of the Russian Composer 

Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born on May 7,1840 in Kamsko-Votkinsk 
in the Ural Mountains, far from the glittering world of St. Petersburg and 
the Imperial Court. 

His father, Ilya Petrovich Tchaikovsky, was a government inspector of 
mines—an unsophisticated, loving, good-natured man with two great 
loves—his large family and the opera. His mother, Ilya Petrovich’s second 
wife, Aleksandra Andreevna d’Assier, was a well-bred, highly ambitious 
woman who spoke fluent French and German and shared her husband’s 
love of music. Her maternal instincts, however, did not match her artistic 
talents. She was generally regarded as a domineering wife and an adequate 
but cold and undemonstrative mother, although this did not appear to have 
dampened young Pyotr Ilyich’s intense love for her. 729 

The Tchaikovsky children—Zinaida, born of Ilya Petrovich’s first mar¬ 
riage, Nikolay, Alexandra (Sasha), Pyotr, Ippolit and the twins Modest and 
Anatoly—had plenty of company in each other and the special joys that 
large-family living in a rural setting brought. 

In 1843, Madame Tchaikovsky hired a young French Protestant gov¬ 
erness, Fanny Diirbach, who was particularly fond of Pyotr whom she 
dubbed ‘un enfant de verre ’ (child of glass) because of his fragile but lively 
disposition and musical giftedness. 730 Fanny lovingly attended to her charges 
until an ill-fated family relocation to Moscow and then St. Petersburg brought 
on a financial crisis and her employment was abruptly terminated. Pyotr 
was particularly devastated by the loss of Fanny. 731 

A second major crisis for Pyotr came when he was eight years old from 
serious complications associated with childhood measles. He developed a 
disease of the nervous system possibly meningitis that left him in a chron¬ 
ically insomniac and nervous state of ill health for months. Like young 


240 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Andre Gide, Pyotr was quick to use his invalid status to avoid his return to 
the Schmelling School that he hated and to manipulate his mother. Pyotr 
turned into a clinging, insecure mama’s boy. 732 

Although the young boy wanted to pursue a career in music, his parents 
insisted that he enter a more sensible profession. At the age of 10, Pyotr 
was sent away from his family to a preparatory school where he studied for 
his entrance into the School of Jurisprudence in St. Petersburg. 

As described by one of Tchaikovsky most prominent biographers, 
Anthony Holden, the Russian lycee of the 1850s shared many of the more 
unsavory characteristics of the English boarding (public) schools including 
public floggings of naked boys and rampant homosexual experimentation 
including mutual masturbation and buggery. Pyotr developed a number of 
boyhood crushes and homoerotic attachments that appeared to have taken 
on a greater significance when his beloved mother died of cholera on June 
25, 1854. He was but 14. 733 Tchaikovsky’s disposition toward homosexual¬ 
ity, or to be more specific, toward pederasty, was primed but it was not as 
yet fixed. On the other hand, his great passion and love for music that had 
claimed him almost from the cradle would now come to the fore and 
become the center of his life. 

In 1863, Tchaikovsky, who without any particular enthusiasm or effort 
of his own, had managed to secure a respectable position at the Ministry of 
Justice after his graduation from the School of Jurisprudence, resigned his 
job and enrolled at the newly created St. Petersburg Conservatory. It was 
here that he began his career as a composer in earnest. After his gradua¬ 
tion in 1866, he accepted the position of Professor of Composition at the 
Conservatoire in Moscow where new doors were opened for the composer 
both professionally and socially. On the darker side, there was his growing 
pederastic interest in young adolescent boys, his seamy affairs with lower- 
class renters and male prostitutes and an increased habituation to alcohol 
and gambling. 

In 1867, Tchaikovsky developed an all-consuming infatuation with 
Desiree Artot, a Belgium operatic diva five years his senior. The affair led 
nowhere, possibly because Artot and her controlling mother had been 
informed of her intended’s unnatural sexual appetites. 734 Tchaikovsky felt 
genuinely distraught, humiliated and betrayed when he discovered that his 
fiance had taken flight and married another man—a Spanish baritone to 
boot! 735 

Ten years later, on July 18,1877, Tchaikovsky took the “cure” and mar¬ 
ried Antonina Milyukova, a woman about whom he knew little and whom 
he did not love. The two had met briefly in 1865 at the home of a mutual 
friend and the pretty 16-year-old Antonina formed an attachment to the 
composer. Over the years, this schoolgirl crush had developed into a one¬ 
sided love affair that drove the young woman, now age 28, to contemplate 
suicide if Tchaikovsky spurned her advances. 


241 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


The flattered Tchaikovsky arranged to meet her, they talked, met again, 
he proposed marriage at the same declaring that he could never love her as 
anything but a faithful friend, she agreed, they married in a quasi-secret 
ceremony followed by a reception that was more like a funeral wake and 
an unconsummated wedding-night. After a botched, somewhat comical, at¬ 
tempted suicide by self-inflicted pneumonia, Tchaikovsky sent his younger 
brother Anatoly off to Moscow to inform Antonina that their marriage of 
less than three months was over—forever. 736 

Tchaikovsky’s Secret Life as a Pederast 

Like many of the more publicly identifiable pederasts and homosexuals 
of his day including Oscar Wilde, Tchaikovsky lived very close to the edge 
in terms of his sexual life. 

His same-sex partners and contacts were drawn from three separate 
but contiguous circles. 

The first of these groupings was the homoerotic circle of Prince Alexey 
Golitsyn who boldly kept a male lover and organized soirees frequently 
attended by Tchaikovsky. 737 

The second grouping involved a variety of lower-class male prostitutes 
and domestics who serviced wealthy clients like Tchaikovsky. During his 
stays in St. Petersburg and Moscow and at various provincial towns like 
Kiln and during his visits to the United States and Paris, which was his 
favorite European city, the famed composer-conductor rarely failed to sam¬ 
ple both the local and more exotic sexual fauna. Like his Parisian pederast 
counterpart Andre Gide, the Russian composer looked down upon adult 
same-sex relationships. He had a particular aversion to the campy antics of 
flaming middle-age queens. 738 

Tchaikovsky used his own manservant Alexey Sofronov, who entered 
his service in 1871 at the age of 12 for sexual relief until the young man lost 
his adolescent charms. 739 Alexey’s older brother Mikhail was less suited to 
the composer’s sexual tastes, but proved useful as a pimp for Tchaikovsky. 
Alexey, whose own sexual tastes were normal, later married (twice) and 
fathered a child, but he faithfully and discreetly served his master to the 
end. In his will, Tchaikovsky left him one-seventh of his estate. 740 

Engaging in homosexual relations with his peers and consenting young 
males below his station was dangerous enough, but it was Tchaikovsky’s 
unrelenting passion for young adolescent boys that propelled him into the 
criminal ranks. As Holden records, once he crossed the fine line between 
true affection and lust and yielded to his darkest desires he never looked 
back. With each new conquest it became easier and easier to rationalize his 
sexual exploitation of his adoring pupils and proteges. Fame and musical 
genius aside, Tchaikovsky had become a moral danger to the young boys 
with whom he came in contact. 

After his separation from Antonina, Holden reports, Tchaikovsky be¬ 
came fixated upon a 15-year-old pupil, Eduard Zak. It was his belief that 


242 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


boys of 15 were “at the height of their sexual allure” 741 What physical 
expression the affair took we do not know. What we do know was that Zak 
was not the first adolescent boy to be seduced by the composer nor the last 
and that the young man committed suicide four years later at the age of 19. 

Another young man with whom the composer is reputed to have taken 
as a lover was the young violin student, Yosif Kotek to whom Tchaikovsky 
owed the long-term patronage of the wealthy Nadezhda Filaretovna von 
Meek. 742 According to Holden, when Kotek grew up he became a “desper¬ 
ate womanizer,” but he remained a close friend of the composer for life. 743 

In letters to Modest (also a passive homosexual) concerning the 9-year- 
old Nikolay Konradi, called “Kolya,” a deaf-mute that his brother was tutor¬ 
ing, it was clear that even little Kolya was not “beyond the range of the 
composer’s sexual aspirations.” 744 

Perhaps the greatest “boy-love” of Tchaikovsky’s life was his own 
nephew Vladimir Lvovich Dav'idov whom his uncle affectionately named 
“Bob.” It is to Bob, the young son of his sister Sasha, that the composer 
dedicated his sixth and final symphony, the Pathetique. 

Bob was only eight when his uncle announced that Bob was his preem¬ 
inent favorite. 745 According to Holden, by the time his nephew was 13 
years old his uncle’s genuine affections for him had been transformed into 
an all consuming erotic fixation. 746 Tchaikovsky expressed “guilt” over his 
“unthinkable sexual feelings” for Bob, says Holden, but this did not prevent 
him from sending the boy wildly sentimental letters expressing his love 
from every city that he toured. 747 Bob was flattered by his famous uncle’s 
attention, but was also troubled by the increasingly intimate nature of the 
letters he received. 

As he grew into manhood Bob became a nervous, high-strung, mercu¬ 
rial young man prone to fits of depression and suffering from obesity and 
diabetes. 748 He was anxious to make his mark in the world, preferably by 
writing, but he lacked the driving ambition needed to translate his day¬ 
dreams into reality. Although Bob did establish separate interests and his 
own circle of friends, he continued to live vicariously off the fame and for¬ 
tune of his world-famous uncle, says Holden. 749 

In his middle years, Bob developed homoerotic tastes of his own. 
Holden reports that on occasion Bob accompanied Tchaikovsky on his 
evening excursions in St. Petersburg, sometimes acting as a procurer 
for his uncle. However, the two men were never sexual partners. 750 
Tchaikovsky’s love for Bob, as passionate as it was, remained unrequited. 

After his uncle’s death, Bob helped Modest to set up the Tchaikovsky 
Museum and Archive at the family homestead in the small town of Klin. As 
recorded by Holden, he served as the curator of the museum until his tragic 
death, by his own hand, at the age of 34. 751 

As noted earlier, however, not all of Tchaikovsky’s sexual partners were 
young boys. 


243 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


In 1886, while visiting the provincial town of Tiflis, Tchaikovsky made 
the acquaintance of a handsome artillery officer, Ivan Verinovsky, whom he 
dubbed ofitserik or “little officer.” 752 According to Holden, the young man 
had expressed a love for the composer’s music which was a sufficient 
enough recommendation for him to be invited to the home of his younger 
brother Anatoly where the composer was visiting. 733 In this fleeting infat¬ 
uation, the composer was forced to vie for the affection of the soldier with 
his flirtatious sister-in-law Praskovya (“Panya”). Tchaikovsky apparently 
lost the war or became so frustrated with Panya that he left the house. 
Shortly after Tchaikovsky’s departure, the young man put a bullet through 
his head. 754 

As usual, Tchaikovsky was devastated by the news of Verinovsky’s sui¬ 
cide, said Holden. Nevertheless, he soon found a pleasant replacement in 
the person of a young cellist, Anatoly Brandukov, who would remain close 
to his master until his death. 755 

In 1888, the prematurely aging Tchaikovsky met a talented young 
Russian pianist Vasily Sapelnikov. The composer confessed to his Modest 
that he had not loved anyone so much since Kotek. 756 Although their rela¬ 
tionship was reported to be simply “platonic,” nevertheless, Sapelnikov, 
like Brandukov, would on occasion become an evening fellow traveler with 
the composer in search of young men at local homosexual haunts. 

Since Tchaikovsky was never involved in any public scandal or trial like 
Oscar Wilde, and because he did not publicly acknowledge his pederastic 
taste like Andre Gide, almost all of the information about his private life and 
sexual exploits has come down to us from entries found in his private 
diaries and from his voluminous correspondence. 

Anthony Holden had revealed that the composer-conductor recorded a 
great deal of information about his homosexual liaisons in letters to Modest 
and other close friends. Beginning in the late 1870s and continuing through 
the early 1890s, he also kept a series of diaries and journals in which he 
confided his sexual longings and details of his homoerotic affairs. By neces¬ 
sity all these entries and incriminating letters were heavily coded. Two 
years before his death in 1893, Tchaikovsky destroyed most of his telltale 
journals and correspondence. 757 Only the summer diaries of 1884 that re¬ 
corded the 44-year-old composer’s obsession with his 13-year-old nephew 
Bob survived. 758 Modest later published a number of letters and other writ¬ 
ten remembrances of his famous brother, but these were heavily sanitized 
to remove any references or clues to Tchaikovsky’s unnatural sexual desires. 

Nevertheless it has been possible for historians and biographers to 
piece together a fairly accurate picture of Tchaikovsky’s double life as a 
predatory, self-destructive homosexual dominated by pederastic passions. 
Like Wilde and Gide and all the other homosexuals covered in this histori¬ 
cal overview, he possessed an uncanny ability to compartmentalize his life 
and to rationalize away all obstacles that stood in the way of his inordinate 


244 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


sexual desires no matter what the price to himself or to the many young 
men he seduced, some of whom took their own life. 

Tchaikovsky’s mysterious death on November 6,1893 in St. Petersburg 
has been the subject of much controversy in recent years. While the official 
death certificate listed cholera as the cause of the composer’s death, there 
is an abundance of new historical data that strongly supports the theory 
that Tchaikovsky took his own life. 759 

In his biography of the famed composer, Holden presents what appears 
to be the most plausible explanation for Tchaikovsky suicide. He writes that 
in 1893, the year of his death, Tchaikovsky began a homosexual liaison with 
Alexandr Vladimirovich Stenbok-Fermor, the 18-year-old nephew of Count 
Alexy Alexandrovich Stenbok-Fermor, a close friend of the Czar Alexander 
III. 760 The outraged Count, used the prominent lawyer, Nikolay Jacobi, a 
graduate from the composer’s alma mater, the School of Jurisprudence, to 
present his letter of complaint directly to the czar. In order to avoid a pub¬ 
lic scandal, Jacobi took it upon himself to immediately convene a secret 
“court of honor” at his home composed of Tchaikovsky’s schoolmates and 
contemporaries who were in St. Petersburg at the time. 761 The composer 
was summoned before the make-shift court and ordered to defend himself 
against the charges put forth in the letter of the Count or take the honor¬ 
able way out and kill himself. 762 Within a day or two, news had spread 
throughout the city that Tchaikovsky was mortally ill. On November 6, 
1893, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky died. His funeral was the largest St. Peters¬ 
burg had ever seen. 763 

Conclusion 

The critical assessments of Tchaikovsky and other prominent homo¬ 
sexuals and pederasts of the 19th century found in this chapter are not 
intended to disparage their worldly accomplishments. Nor are they meant 
to suggest that these men were totally lacking in certain admirable quali¬ 
ties. And most certainly they are not to be interpreted as an indication of 
the ultimate eternal fate of their immortal souls, for as a 6th century 
philosopher once said, “the soul of a man is a far country, which cannot be 
approached or explored.” 764 God is the final judge, not man. But this does 
not mean that we cannot judge a person’s outward acts or weigh the his¬ 
torical evidence for or against his character. 765 

The historical biographical sketches that have been presented in this 
section are intended to draw the reader’s attention to the innate destruc¬ 
tive nature of homosexual passions on men of every age whose misfortune 
it was to be caught up in the vice; on those young men who were drawn 
into the web of perversion; and on those family members who were left to 
pick up the pieces of tragic affairs gone wrong. It is difficult to imagine any 
vice that leaves as many dead bodies and dead souls in its wake as does 
homosexuality. 


245 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Notes 


1 Barnhouse, 28. 

2 H. Montgomery Hyde, The Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name (Boston: 
Little, Brown and Company, 1970), 68-69. 

3 Bray, 17. 

4 Hyde, 135. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1885 (48 & 49 Vict.C.69) that 
included the Labouchere Amendment became law on January 1,1886. 

5 Theo Aronson, Prince Eddy and the Homosexual Underworld (New York: 
Barnes and Noble, 1994), 17. 

6 Hyde, 198. 

7 Ibid., 79,122. 

8 Ibid., 81. 

9 Ibid., 79-80. 

10 Ibid., 79. 

11 Ibid. 

12 Ibid.,127-138,155-157. One of a series of homosexual scandals was known 
as the Dublin Castle Case. Most of the court records dealing with incidents 
were destroyed in the Irish Civil War. However, the basic facts of both the 
1884 and 1907 scandals are well known. The venue for the 1884 scandal was 
“the Castle” in Ireland, the official seat of the English government. The fuse 
was lit when two militant members of the Irish Nationalist Home Rule 
Movement, William O’Brien and “Tim” Healy, were informed that there was 
an active clique of adult male sodomites at Dublin Castle. After a preliminary 
investigation that included the testimony of several Irish police officers, 

Healy wrote an unsigned article in O’Brien’s militant journal United Ireland 
in which he publicly implicated Inspector James Ellis French, head of the 
Criminal Investigation Department in the alleged homosexual ring that 
involved Irish underage boys. French promptly obtained a writ for libel and 
the battle was on. Among the prominent aristocrats that were swept up into 
the scandal were Mr. Gustavus Cornwall, Secretary of the General Post 
Office and Captain Martin Kirwan of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers. Eventually 
French, Cornwall, Kirwan and seven other defendants were committed for 
trial based on the evidence provided in the libel trials that found O’Brien 
innocent. However, these felony proceedings were not publicized in the inter¬ 
est of “public morality.” In the end, Cornwall and Kirwan were acquitted due 
to “insufficient evidence.” French and other members of the homosexual 
clique were given prison sentences and the case was closed. The second 
Dublin Castle scandal with homosexual implications occurred in 1907 and 
involved the theft of the Irish crown jewels from the library safe at the 
Castle. The caretaker for the gems was the Ulster King of Arms, Sir Arthur 
Vicars, a known homosexual. On one occasion when Vicars and his house¬ 
mate and assistant Francis Shackleton were entertaining some homosexual 
associates in the Castle’s Office of Arms, Shackleton and a pederast by the 
name of Captain Richard Gorges plied Vicars with liquor and made a key to 
the safe and later stole the Irish jewels. When the culprits were caught, they 
threatened to expose the entire homosexual ring including Vicars and a num¬ 
ber of other prominent personages including one related to the Royal family. 
The ruse worked. Due largely to the interference of King Edward VII, who 
was already reeling under the Eulenberg homosexual scandal in the court of 


246 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


his nephew, Kaiser William II of Germany, no arrests were ever made in con¬ 
nection with the theft and the jewels were not recovered. Vicars was dis¬ 
missed and returned to his estate in Kerry where he met an unhappy end at 
the hands of the Sinn Feiners in 1921. Both Shackleton and Gorges were 
later convicted for unrelated crimes and spent much of the remainder of their 
lives in penal servitude. 

13 Ibid., 82-83. 

14 Ibid., 83. 

15 Ibid., 84-85. 

16 Ibid., 85-86. See also Hyde’s account of the tragic case of Robert Stewart, 
Viscount Castlereagh, the second Marquess of Londonderry and a neighbor 
of the Bishop of Clogher in The Strange Death of Lord Castlereagh (London: 
Heinemann, 1959). The case raises the specter of blackmail and sodomy and 
the suicide of Lord Castlereagh. 

17 Ibid., 89. 

18 Phyllis Grosskurth, The Woeful Victorian 31-41. 

19 “The Seven Public Schools” of Britain were Eton, Winchester, Westminster, 
Harrow, Rugby, Charterhouse and Shrewbury. By the 1800s, these large, 
fee-paying boarding schools drew pupils from around the world and were 
considered the main-feeders for Oxford and Cambridge universities and later 
key positions in the civil service. In the UK, the meaning of “public schools” 
is opposite of here in the United States. It is an entirely independent school. 
Originally founded as charity schools for the poor, when foundation money 
ran out to keep them up, fees were introduced for tuition and additional fees 
for boarding. There are also “state schools” financed by government which 
charge no fees and follow a national curriculum. See Terence Copley, Black 
Tom Arnold of Rugby—The Myth and the Man (New York: Continuum, 2002). 

20 G.K. Chesterton, What’s Wrong With the World, Chapter X, “The Case for the 
Public Schools” is available from 
http://www.bookrags.com/books/wwwtw/PART38.htm. 

21 Christopher Tyerman, A History of Harrow School 1324-1991 (London: 

Oxford Press, 2000). 

22 See Mary Beard, “Degradation, Ugliness and Tears,” available from 
http://www.londonreviewofbooks.com/v23/nll/bear01_.html. Beard gives 
an excellent book review of Tyerman’s A History of Harrow School. 

23 Hyde, 111. 

24 Tyerman, 272. 

25 Hyde, 111. 

26 Rupert Croft-Cooke, Feasting With Panthers—A New Consideration of Some 
Late Victorian Writers (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967), 96-97. 

27 See Phyllis Grosskurth, The Memoirs of John Addington Symonds (London: 
Hutchinson, 1984). 

28 Hyde, 11. 

29 Phyllis Grosskurth, The Woeful Victorian (New York: Holt, Rinehart & 
Winston, 1964), 35. John Conington, must have mixed emotions when 
Symonds approached him on the matter of Vaughan’s sexual transgressions at 
Harrow. In her classic work Hellenism and Homosexuality writer Linda 
Dowling noted that it was Conington who introduced his young protege to 
William Johnson’s Ionica (1858), a volume of verse that inspired and 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


encouraged Symonds’ pursuit of the Platonic paiderstia ideal. In The Woeful 
Victorian, Grosskurth said that Conington, a homely, bespeckeled man, who 
held “reading-parties” for promising young men like Symonds “encouraged 
Symonds’ homosexual tendencies.” On the other hand, she also noted that 
with regard to his own conduct, Conington was “scrupulously correct.” This 
curious and ambiguous dichotomy between promoting Greek love and at the 
same time avoiding its logical sequela in terms of personal behavior appears 
to have been a common phenomenon among many Oxbridge professors. 

30 Tyerman, 278. 

31 See Hyde, 116-120. The author cites two pederast incidents at Eton between 
1845 and 1875 that involved homosexual masters William Johnson (Cory) and 
Oscar Browning. 

32 See H. Montgomery Hyde, The Cleveland Street Scandal, (New York: Coward, 
McCann & Geoghrgan, Inc., 1976). 

33 Hyde, Scandal, 26. 

34 Ibid., 26. 

35 Aronson, 11. 

36 Ibid., 9-10. 

37 Hyde, Scandal, 175. 

38 Ibid., 50. 

39 Aronson, 11. 

40 Hyde, Scandal, 49. 

41 Aronson, 137. 

42 Hyde, Scandal, 48. 

43 Ibid., 179. 

44 Ibid., 184. 

45 Under the libel laws in place during the Victorian era, the libel not only had 
to be true in fact, but the revelation of the charge had to be in the public 
interest, that is, for the public’s benefit. In some criminal libel cases involving 
accusations of “unmanly vices,” though the defendant was deceased, his 
family could start a court action to preserve the dead man’s reputation as 
happened in the case of George Nassau Clavering-Cowper who died in 1789. 

46 Hyde, Scandal, 46. 

47 Aronson, 153. 

48 Ibid., 155. See Anonymous (Jack Saul), Sins of the Cities of the Plain, (New 
York: Masquerade Books, Inc., 1992). 

49 Ibid., 157. 

50 Ibid., 160. 

51 Hyde, Scandal, 118. 

52 Ibid., 108. 

53 Ibid., 115. 

54 Aronson, 160. 

55 Hyde, Scandal, 161. 

56 Ibid. 

57 Ibid., 172. 

58 Aronson, 147. 

59 Ibid., 171. 


248 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


60 Ibid., 93-115. 

61 Ibid., 116. 

62 The publicity surrounding the trial and Judge Cave’s ruling finally sealed the 
fate of Lord Somerset. He could never return to England. He continued to 
live incognito in France with a male companion until his death on May 26, 
1926. The warrant for his arrest in England was never revoked. Euston 
became Grand Master of the Mark Masons. He died of dropsy in 1912. Prince 
Albert Victor died on January 14,1892 of complications related to pneumonia 
and influenza. Information on William T. Stead’s continuing campaign for 
“moral purity” is available from 

http://www.attackingthedevil.co.uk/july6.htm. See also Judith R. Walkowitz, 
Prostitution and Victorian Society Women, Class and the State, (London, 
Cambridge University Press, 1980). By the late 1800s, the Movement for 
Sexual Purity which had replaced the earlier anti-vice societies was making 
its influence known through legislation rather than police actions as was the 
Societies for Reformation of Manners. Both came into conflict with the 
emerging Social Hygiene Movement with the latter’s emphasis on external 
and prophylactic remedies to vice as opposed to reforming one’s moral 
behavior. Stead died on the Titanic’s maiden voyage on April 15,1912. 

63 Hunt, 3. 

64 Richard Ellmannn, Oscar Wilde (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988), 13-15, 20. 
For a glimpse of Oscar Wilde’s early life and biographical data on Wilde’s par¬ 
ents and siblings see Joy Melville, Mother of Oscar—The Life of Jane 
Francesca Wilde, (London: John Murray Ltd., 1994). Before his marriage, Dr. 
Wilde fathered three illegitimate children, a boy, Harry Wilson, Oscar’s half- 
brother, and two girls Emily and Mary. To his credit, Dr. Wilde financial sup¬ 
ported and educated his out-of-wedlock children. Tragically, his beloved 
daughter Isola died at age 10, and Emily and Mary were burnt to death in a 
crinoline fire at a ball in County Monaghan. See 

http://home.arcor.de/oscar.wilde/theatre/june_festival.htm. After the death 
of Isola, there may have been a change in the family constellation that 
resulted in an increase in sibling rivalry between Wilde and his brother 
Willie. In 1864, the year he was knighted, Sir Wilde was accused of chloro¬ 
forming and then raping a mentally distraught patient, Mary Josephine 
Travers. Melville gives an excellent account of the trial in Mother of Oscar. 

No doubt, the distress attached to the scandal was a contributing factor to Sir 
William’s death in 1876, only two years after Oscar had gone up to Oxford. 

65 The Portora Royal School was a free school founded by James I in 1608 
(1618?) By the late 1800s, it had a distinctive Ulster Unionist, Church of 
Ireland milieu. After Wilde’s conviction, his name was erased from the 
Scholars’ Board, but it was reinstated in 1930. For a more intimate glimpse of 
Wilde’s life at the Portora Royal School see Heather White, Forgotten 
Schooldays, Oscar Wilde at Portora (Gortnaree, County Fermanagh: Principia 
Press, 2002). 

66 Vyvyan Holland (Wilde), Oscar Wilde (London: Thames and Hudson, 1960), 

15. Wilde’s son Vyvyan also wrote Son of Oscar Wilde (London: Oxford 
University Press, 1987) with a foreword by Merlin Holland, Wilde’s grandson. 

67 H. Montgomery Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde (New York: Dover 
Publications, 1962), 29. 

68 Mahaffy was not uniformly successful in preventing conversions to Roman 
Catholicism. According to Professor Brian Arkins of the National University 
of Ireland, Galway, another young man, John Sullivan (1861-1933) son of the 


249 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


Lord Chancellor of Ireland and, like Wilde, a student at Portora Royal School 
in Enniskillen and Trinity College, Dublin also accompanied MahaiJy to 
Greece. Unlike Wilde however, he converted to Catholicism in 1896, entered 
the Jesuit Order in 1900 and lead a life of prayer and service to the poor. 
Father Sullivan is currently a candidate for beatification in Rome. 

See http://www.ucc.ie/iihsa/mahaffy.html and 
http://www.jesuit.ie/irl/history.htm#sullivan. 

69 Ellmann, 70. 

70 Holland, Oscar Wilde, 17. 

71 Hyde, Trials, 33. 

72 Ellmann, 119-120. 

73 Wilde’s third Baptism. See essay written by Anne Varty, Royal Holloway 
University of London on Oscar Wilde at 

http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php/rec=true&UID=4718 Note: The 
Roman Catholic Church teaches that the Sacrament of Baptism can only be 
administered once. However, if there is a reasonable doubt as to the validity 
of a prior baptism, a conditional baptism may be administered beginning with 
the words “If thou art not already baptized, I baptize thee...” The conditional 
form (si capax es ) is used when it is doubtful whether the person is a valid 
subject for the sacrament, e.g., whether he is not already dead, whether he 
has been baptized, has attained the use of reason, or has the implicit habitual 
intention of dying in a Christian manner. See 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05716a.htm. 

74 Ellmann, 34. In 1858, Newman, returned to England frustrated at the 
“provincialism” of the Irish bishops. He was made the editor of The Rambler, 
but he was asked to resign shortly after assuming this position because his 
essay, “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine,” was censured by 
Rome, where it was thought to be a statement against papal infallibility. 

75 Holland, 24. 

76 The two great turning points in my life, Oscar Wilde wrote in De Profundis, 
were “when my father sent me to Oxford, and when society sent me to 
prison.” 

http://www.nyu.edu/library/bobst/research/fales/exhibits/wilde/3oxford.htm. 

77 Holland, 24. 

78 Croft-Cooke, 192. See also Son of Oscar Wilde (London: Oxford University 
Press, 1987), 30-32. 

79 Hyde, Trials, 51. 

80 Ellmann reported that in 1874, Pater (1839-1894) and the “Conclusion” to 
his Studies in the History of the Renaissance were denounced from the pulpit 
as immoral. A few years later, there were more attacks on Pater and 
Symonds and on Aestheticism and Oxford Hellenism, including W. H. 
Mallock’s attack in The New Republic that forced both men to withdraw from 
the election for the Slade Professorship of Poetry. According to Croft-Cooke, 
Pater was a rather ugly, little, slightly hunchbacked man (“the Caliban of 
Letters”) whose atheism foiled his early clerical aspirations, but appeared to 
serve him well as a fellow at Brasenose College where he spent most of his 
life. Pater himself was influenced by classical antiquity, Hellenism and the 
Renaissance, and was a proponent of intense male friendships. Although 
Pater was close to a number of accused homosexual pederasts like the artist 
Simeon Solomon and Eton’s Oscar Browning, he never was publicly accused 
himself. Pater’s own household was always filled with handsome young men 


250 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


81 

82 


83 

84 

85 

86 


87 


88 

89 

90 


91 

92 

93 


from sporting fraternities. As Rupert Croft-Cooke so aptly observed, many of 
Oxbridge’s “academic old queers” lived lives of affluence and leisure. They 
had plenty of money and large comfortable homes and servants. They often 
took their young friends abroad, attended public functions with their 
“favorites,” and so forth. Yet they managed to carry on a full academic life. 
Wilde’s affinity for Pater’s teachings, especially Pater’s belief that the highest 
ethical principle was the pursuit of sensual pleasure, was reinforced by his 
continued friendship with Mahaffy, who served as a traveling companion to 
Oscar on summer vacations to the Continent including a 1875 excursions to 
Florence, Bologna, Venice, Padua, and Verona then home to Ireland via Paris. 
Ellmann, 50. 

Ruskin’s private life at Oxford was not as successful as his academic life. 
Brought up in a strict Victorian brand of Evangelical Anglicanism he was 
troubled by religious and moral scrupulousness throughout much of his adult 
life. Ruskin had what was referred to in Victorian times as a “white mar¬ 
riage” that is, an unconsummated marriage to Euphemia Gray, his wife of six 
years. Although Ruskin opposed homosexual pederasty in the Hellenistic tra¬ 
dition, he was emotionally, if not in fact, a clinical pedophile with an obsession 
for young girls, and most likely never experienced a normal sexuality. 

Ibid., 48. 

Ibid., 52. 

Ibid., 41. 

Ibid., 68. In 1892, Wilde met George Ives who had formed a Masonic-based 
secret homosexual clique called the Order of Chaeronaea, but there is no 
record he ever joined this group. It was the battle of Chaeronaea (Greece) in 
338 BC that the Theban Army of matched homosexual partners met defeat at 
the hands of Philip II of Macedonia. 

Croft-Cooke, 194. The sculptor Ronald Sutherland, better known as Lord 
Gower (1845-1916) is reputed to have been the decadent model for Lord 
Henry Wotton in Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray. 

Ibid. 

Ibid., 195. 

Ibid. The friendship between Harding, whom Oscar treated like a younger 
brother, Ward and Wilde (nicknamed “Hosky”) remained close until Oscar 
graduated and went down to London to begin his literary career. 

Ellmann, 59. 

Ibid. 

Henry Edward Manning, educated at Harrow and Balliol College, Oxford, an 
Anglican cleric and widower who had been heavily influenced by the Oxford 
and Romeward Tractarian Movements, was received into the Church on 
Passion Sunday, April 6,1851 by Father Brownbill, SJ. Recognizing the 
extraordinary circumstances of his person, the Holy See approved his ordina¬ 
tion as a Catholic priest only two months later on Trinity Sunday, June 14, 
1851. He was consecrated the second Archbishop of Westminster on June 8, 
1865. Manning received the cardinalate ten years later in 1875. Manning 
attacked the growing decline in morality at Oxford where the forces of 
Hellenism had been in ascendancy for a number of years. He also had a num¬ 
ber of doctrinal differences with John Henry Newman that included the prom¬ 
ulgation of the doctrine of papal infallibility. Manning supported it without 
reservation. Manning dedicated his life to the service of the poor and reform 


251 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


of abuses at all levels of society. See 

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09604b.htm excellent review and insight¬ 
ful remarks by W. H. Kent as transcribed by M. E. Smith. 

94 Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, 5th edition (New York: Dell 
Publishing Co., 1964), 135-136. 

95 Oscar Wilde’s adaptation of the role of a fop adorned with lace ruffles and silk 
stockings did not necessarily mean that he was also automatically assumed to 
be an invert or sodomite. Nor, as Ellmann has pointed out, did Wilde’s 
“dandyism” make him unattractive to women. On his European vacations 
between 1875 and 1877 that included visits to Rome, Paris, and Greece and 
on his U.S. tours Wilde had met a number of admiring aristocratic and 
accomplished women. 

96 Ellmann, 87-89. 

97 Croft-Cooke, 204-205. 

98 Ibid., 195. 

99 Ellmann, 148. 

100 Ellmann, 149. Also Croft-Cooke, 197. 

101 See William R. Terpening’s essay “Patience, Satire, and Self-Righteousness,” 
on the Victorian website: 
http://65.107.211.206/mt/gilbert/patience.html. 

102 Holland, 32. 

103 Hyde, Trials, 38. 

104 The texts of a number of Wilde’s American lectures appear in The Essays of 
Oscar Wilde (New York: Cosmopolitan Book Corp., 1916) including “The 
Practical Application of the Principles of the Aesthetic Theory to Exterior 
and Interior Home Decoration” (May 11, 1882). 

105 Wilde met Walt Whitman on January 18, 1889 at the poet’s home in Camden, 
N.J. Wilde was 27 and Whitman was 62. Wilde later tattled to one of his close 
friends that Whitman did not bother to keep his homosexuality from Oscar. 
On the other hand, Whitman confessed to a friend that the young Irishman 
had “come-on” to him. 

106 Holland, 41-43. 

107 Hyde, Trials, 44-45. 

108 Croft-Cooke, 201. 

109 Ellmann, 245-246. 

110 Holland, 50-58. 

111 Ibid., 63. 

112 Hyde, Trials, 55. 

113 Joy Melville, Mother of Oscar—The Life of Jam Francesca Wilde (London: 
John Murray Ltd., 1994), 196. 

114 The Bluecoat boy was generally a young man of academic promise whose 
families were unable to pay the high costs of public school boarding. He wore 
the distinctive “charity dress” of a long cassock-like bluecoat, kneebreeches 
and bright yellow stockings. Christ’s Hospital was among the best known of 
the Bluecoat schools. 

115 Harold Marillier became an art critic, and an authority on Aubrey Beardsley 
(1872-1898) a prominent illustrator and aesthetic of the Victorian era. 
Marillier died in 1951. 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


116 Hyde, Trials, 58. 

117 Croft-Cooke, 172. 

118 The ages for “rent boys” ranged in age from the early teens to the early 
twenties. Technically speaking then, many so-called “rent boys” were in fact 
young men who had come of age. 

119 Croft-Cooke, 196. 

120 In A Picture of Dorian Gray, Wilde has his alter ego, the cynical Lord Henry 
Wotton upon his first encounter with the exceptionally attractive Dorian Gray 
declare: “I believe that if one man were to live out his life fully and com¬ 
pletely, were to give form to every feeling, expression to every thought, real¬ 
ity to every dream—I believe that the world would gain such a fresh impulse 
of joy that we would forget all the maladies of medievalism, and return to the 
Hellenic ideal. ...The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” 

121 See Jerusha Hull McCormack’s excellent character study, John Gray Poet, 
Dandy, & Priest (Hanover, N.IL: Brandeis University Press, 1991). 

122 Croft-Cooke, 203. There appears to be some disagreement between 
McCormack on one hand and writers like Richard Ellmann and Douglas 
Murray on the other, concerning the degree of sexual intimacy between 
Wilde and Gray. However, I think that all would agree with the assessment 
of McCormack that the sexually ambivalent, almost asexual Gray was more 
interested in Wilde’s professional and artistic connections than in any 
passionate homoerotic relationship. 

123 Though Wilde was happy enough to let Gray go over to Raffalovich’s bed, the 
latter held a long and spiteful grudge against Oscar, partially because both he 
and Gray were jealous of Wilde’s literary and dramatic successes and partially 
because Wilde had had Gray first. After the Wilde trials in England, 
Raffalovich wrote a mean-spirited book against Wilde titled LAffaire Oscar 
Wilde. Croft-Cooke called the book “a filthy little pamphlet.” 

124 Neither Raffalovich and Gray ever talked at least publicly about their earlier 
experiences in London nor mentioned the name of Wilde after their conver¬ 
sion. In April 1900, shortly before his death in France, Wilde accompanied his 
friend Harold Mallor for a visit to Palermo and Rome, where he spotted Gray 
in his cassock walking with some fellow seminarians. Gray saw Wilde but 
quickly averted his eyes and passed him by. Gray had begun a new life—one 
totally unconnected with the now infamous Oscar Wilde. The two men never 
met again. 

125 Douglas Murray, Bosie—A Biography of Lord Alfred Douglas (New York: 
Hyperion Books, 2000. 

126 Ellmann, 386. Douglas' first published poem was “De Profundis.” He also 
wrote the famed “The Two Loves” from which comes the oft-quoted refer¬ 
ence to sodomy, “the Love that dare not call its name.” 

127 Croft-Cooke, 232-238. According to Croft-Cooke, Johnson was dwarf-like in 
stature, an excellent scholar, an alcoholic, and a leader of Winchester’s homo¬ 
sexual clique until his conversion to Catholicism. 

128 Ellmann, 386. 

129 Ibid. 

130 Croft-Cooke, 173. 

131 Hyde, Trials, 60. Although Wilde was said to have initially been repulsed by 
the act of sodomy, preferring instead interfemoral or oral stimulation, he had 
been weaned over to buggery by the time of his trials. 


253 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


132 Ibid., 65. 

133 Like most modern-day homosexuals, Wilde used same-sex pornography, in 
addition to alcohol and drugs, to stimulate and enhance his sexual perform¬ 
ance. There is also some evidence that he tried his own hand at writing 
homoerotic pornography. While there are a number of these books such as 
Sins of the Cities of the Plain that have been wrongly attributed to Wilde, 
there is some evidence to support the belief that he did contribute to Teleny, 
a “how-to-do-it” guide for upper class Victorian gents interested in exploring 
“Greek love.” Unlike the anonymously written Sins of the Cities which is 
undisguised raw titillation, Teleny is replete with sophisticated references that 
range from Holy Scripture to the works of Chaucer, Dante and Shakespeare. 
The “aesthetics” of Teleny, however, are reduced to a hysterically comic level 
by the detailed physiological description of how the sexually experienced M. 
Rene Teleny goes about seducing and buggering his new lover, M. Camille 
Des Grieux—“...the sap of life began to move slowly, slowly, from within the 
seminal glands; it mounted up the bulb of the urethra...” It is high camp at its 
best. How Wilde’s name became linked with Teleny is an interesting story 
that may be as fictitious as the book itself. It began with a man named 
Charles Hirsch, who owned a little bookshop on Coventry Street in London 
called the Librairie Parisienne. Hirsch reported that Wilde was a regular 
client for whom he special-ordered expensive, high quality erotica of a 
“Socratic” nature, that is, same-sex pornography. In 1892, shortly after Lady 
Windermere’s Fan had opened at the St. James Theater, Hirsch said that 
Wilde left a wrapped package with him with special instructions for its deliv¬ 
ery to a friend who would call for the “manuscript” and identify himself by 
presenting Wilde’s calling card. Three men came and went, the last returning 
with a sloppily wrapped marked-up manuscript for a homoerotic novel titled 
Feleny, (changed to Teleny). The novel was published under the fictitious 
imprint Cosmopoli by Leonard Smithers in 1893. Wilde was reputed to be the 
brains behind the work that included other contributors. According to H. 
Montgomery Hyde, the Olympia Press in Paris republished the original 
English version in the early 1960s and listed the author as Oscar Wilde. 
Whether or not he actually micro-managed its writing is perhaps secondary 
to the fact that he certainly was capable of doing so by 1892. For a fuller dis¬ 
cussion of possible contributors see the Introduction to the Gay Men’s Press 
1986 edition of Teleny by John McRae. Interestingly, none of Wilde’s best- 
known biographers including Richard Ellmann and Rupert Croft-Cooke make 
any reference to Wilde’s possible association with the Teleny manuscript. 

134 Croft-Cooke, 174. 

135 Delay, 291-292. 

136 Andre Gide, If I Die ... An Autobiography, translated by Dorothy Bussy (New 
York: Vintage Books, Random House, 1935). 

137 Delay, 291. 

138 Wilde enjoyed mocking and subverting conventional morality in all his writ¬ 
ings and plays. He often made coded references to homosexuality and other 
sexual transgressions. For example, the word “earnest” as in The Importance 
of Being Earnest was a common slang term for homosexual among “in” 
groups in upper Victorian society. In Fairy Tales and the Art of Subversion 
(New York: Methuen, 1983), writer Jack Zipes explains that “Wilde was 
highly disturbed by the way society conditioned and punished young people if 
they did not conform to the proper rules.” He had always been sensitive to 
the authoritarian schooling and church rigidity which most English children 


254 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


were expected to tolerate,” writes Zipes. The author contends that Wilde’s 
“purpose” in writing his fairy tales was “subversion”: “He clearly wanted to 
subvert the messages conveyed by [Hans] Andersen’s tales, but more impor¬ 
tant his poetical style recalled the rhythms and language of the Bible in order 
to counter the stringent Christian code,” says Zipes. Wilde’s views on mar¬ 
riage and fidelity, most especially those expressed in The Picture of Dorian 
Gray, must have distressed the two women who loved him most—his wife, 
Constance and his mother, Lady Wilde. For example, Lord Henry tells Basil, 
“...the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely 
necessary for both parties. I never know where my life is, and my wife never 
knows what I am doing.” “What a fuss people make about fidelity!” exclaimed 
Lord Henry to Basil and Dorian. “My dear boy, the people who love only 
once in their lives are really the shallow people. What they call their loyalty, 
and their fidelity, I call either the lethargy of custom or their lack of imagina¬ 
tion. Faithfulness is to the emotional life what consistency is to the life of the 
intellect—simply a confession of failures.” “Never marry at all, Dorian,” 

Lord Henry advises. “Men marry because they are tired; women because 
they are curious; both are disappointed.” 

139 Ibid., 394. 

140 The Wilde-Douglas Affair was so notorious that even London’s commoners 
were aware of the nature of their relationship as evidenced by later trial tran¬ 
scripts of testimony of parents whose boys Wilde used. The only two persons 
who appeared to be suffering from denial were Constance and her mother-in- 
law, Mrs. Wilde. 

141 See Anna Dunphy, Comtesse De Bremont, Oscar Wilde and His Mother A 
Memoir [London: Everett & Co., Ltd., 1911). 

142 Croft-Cooke, 175. 

143 Wilde was reported to be an opium eater. Drug addiction was not uncommon 
in Victorian society. The working class used it as a magic elixir to treat all 
sorts of ailments and the upper classes for the exotic experience it afforded 
the senses. Within the middle classes, its use was generally associated with 
the Bohemian life and writers and artists including Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, 
creator of Sherlock Holmes. Wilde had his Lord Henry Wotton preach his 
gospel of decadence while puffing on an opium-tipped cigarette or opium 
pipe. 

144 Croft-Cooke, 210. 

145 Ibid., 261. 

146 Ibid., 264. 

147 Ibid., 232. 

148 Ibid., 268. 

149 Ibid. 

150 Ibid., 270. 

151 Ibid. 

152 Ibid., 269-270. Sidney Mavor later entered the Church of England as a 
curate. 

153 Michael S. Foldy, The Trials of Oscar Wilde Deviance, Morality, and Late- 
Vidorian Society (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997), 17. 

See also Croft-Cooke, 271. 

154 Croft-Cooke, 27. 

155 Ibid., 274. 


255 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


156 Ibid., 278-279. 

157 Ibid., 157. 

158 Wilde, Dorian Gray, 16. 

159 Ellmann, 387, 577. 

160 John Graham Chambers, a member of the Amateur Athletic Club (AAC), 
wrote these rules in 1865. They were published in 1867 with the financial 
patronage of John Sholto Douglas, the 8th Marquis of Queensberry. 

161 Queensberry had four sons: Viscount Francis Archibald Douglas (Lord 
Drumlanrig); an eldest surviving son, Lord Douglas of Hawick, and younger 
sons Lord Percy Douglas, and Lord Alfred Douglas, and one daughter. 

162 Like his nemesis, Queensberry, Archibald Philip Primose, Fifth Earl of 
Rosebery was a Scot, titled, an outstanding sportsman (“best shot in 
England”), and fabulously wealthy—a man who from birth viewed the world 
from the top down. He was born on May 7,1847, the third child and eldest 
son of Lord and Lady Dalmeny. Archie was the favorite of his father, but not 
his mother. He was but three years old when Lord Dalmeny died. The loss of 
his father cast a long shadow over his early childhood and Archibald withdrew 
into himself. He was an attractive child with girlish good looks that stayed 
with him until well past middle age. His early tutor was the brilliant Eton 
scholar, classicist and pederast William Johnson (Cory) (1823-1892). He later 
attended Bayford House boarding school, Eton (1860-1865) and Christ 
Church, Oxford (1866-1869). He left Oxford, however, without taking a 
degree due to a disagreement with university authorities over his refusal to 
give up his stable. He took a world tour instead. Even at the age of 18, he 
remained somewhat of an enigma to his family and friends. He was intelli¬ 
gent, charming, an avid reader and chronicler and mature beyond his years 
but his sarcasm, “flaming temper” and moody personality tended to alienate 
many of his acquaintances. He had few close friends and even fewer who 
were permitted to call him by his familiar name “Archie.” In 1868, at the age 
of 21, he met his future wife, Hannah de Rothschild. Over his mother’s 
objections (Hannah was a Jewess), the couple were married ten years later 

in a lavish wedding (civil and religious). Hannah proved to be a woman with 
uncommonly good sense, a devoted wife, an excellent mother to her four 
children and an outstanding social hostess as befitting the Rothschild name 
she bore. Lord Rosebery’s marriage to a Rothschild brought him into what is 
perhaps the world’s most influential and wealthiest family. It also opened to 
doors into Whitehall’s most elite political circle. Although Rosebery held 
expansionist Imperialist views, he nevertheless aligned himself with the 
Liberal Party in the House of Lords where he had taken his place in May 
1867 at the age of 20 when he inherited his title following the death of his 
grandfather. In 1880, after the General Elections Prime Minister William 
Gladstone made Rosebery Under-Secretary for the Home Office for Scottish 
Affairs. Between 1881 and 1886 he continued to hold various government 
posts including the Commissioner of the Board of Works and entered the 
Cabinet as Lord Privy Seal. He served as PM Gladstone’s Foreign Secretary 
for brief period in 1886 and for a full term beginning on August 15, 1892. This 
latter appointment came two years after the death of his wife Hannah. On 
March 5,1894, Gladstone resigned and Queen Victoria named Rosebery 
Prime Minister. By the time of the opening of the Queensberry-Wilde trial on 
April 3, 1895, the Liberal Party was in utter chaos and on June 22, 1895 
Rosebery tendered his resignation. In 1905 he abandoned the fractionalized 
Liberal Party and quit politics all together to return to private life. At the out- 


256 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


break of World War I, Rosebery became Governor of the British Linen Bank. 
The remainder of his life was spent with his children and grandchildren and 
in pursuing the hobbies he loved—collecting books, tapestries, old silver. 

He also now had the time and money to indulge in his life-long passion for 
the Turf (horse racing) and breeding of race horses. He died on May 21,1929 
following a series of strokes that left him partially crippled. There are 
currently four major biographies on Lord Rosebery: Edward Raymond James, 
The Man of Promise Lord Rosebery—A Critical Study by (Freeport, N.Y.: 
Books for Libraries Press, 1923,1972); Robert Rhodes James, Rosebery A 
Biography of Archibald Philip, Fifth Earl of Rosebery (New York: Macmillan 
Company, 1963); Gordon Martel, Imperial Diplomacy Rosebery and the Failure 
of Foreign Policy (London: McGill-Queen’s University Press, Mansell 
Publishing Ltd., 1986); and David Brooks, ed., The Destruction of Lord 
Rosebery From the Diary of Sir Edward Hamilton 1894-1895 (London: The 
Historians’ Press, London, 1986). None of these biographies make any direct 
reference to Lord Rosebery’s alleged homoerotic passions. However, in 1997 
writer Michael S. Foldy, reopened the question of Lord Rosebery’s alleged 
homosexuality in The Trials of Oscar Wilde: Deviance, Morality, and Late- 
Victorian Society. Unlike the case against Wilde, the matter of Rosebery’s 
alleged homosexuality including his involvement with Queensberry’s eldest 
son, Lord Drumlanrig, when Rosebery was in his late forties, is based 
primarily on circumstantial evidence. Nevertheless, that evidence it is worth 
examining in light of its potential importance with regard to Queensberry’s 
legal victory over Oscar Wilde. The first question is, if Rosebery did enter¬ 
tain homosexual affectations during his lifetime, where did they begin? There 
are of course the usual general suspects—boarding school and Oxford—but 
there is also one that has as yet been explored. In his excellent 1963 biogra¬ 
phy of Rosebery, Robert James noted that the classicist and poet William 
Johnson (Cory) had been a tutor to the young Rosebery. Johnson, a well- 
known disciple of Platonic paiderastia and a member of the Apostles, a secret 
society at Cambridge University, was dismissed from his teaching post in 
1872 following the exposure of his affair with one of the young men in his 
charge. According to Richard Deacon, author of The Cambridge Apostles (New 
York, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1985), that pupil was none other than the Earl 
of Rosebery. Johnson’s famous book of verse, lonica (1858) reflects the 
author’s romantic vision of the ideal man-boy relationship based on the 
Hellenic model. Young Rosebery’s Adonis features combined with his solitary 
and melancholic disposition would have made him an appealing candidate for 
seduction to a Uranian like Johnson. None of Rosebery’s biographers mention 
that he had any serious female attachment before his marriage to Hannah at 
age 30, even though he was one of London’s richest and titled bachelors. But 
this would not have been unusual in aristocratic Victorian society. His 
biographers do, however, note that he was a heavy gambler and that he was 
addicted to the Turf. With regard to his other vices, Edward Thompson wrote 
that Rosebery, like other “noblemen” had a relish for the “coarser pleasures 
of sense,” and Rosebery himself often made reference in his diary to his 
personal struggle against “...temptations of the sensual life,” “his own 
nature” and his “egotistic belief.” On a rather strange note, James wrote that 
“throughout his life Rosebery was always surrounded with peculiarly mali¬ 
cious gossip,” but goes no further. Martel tells us that Rosebery collected 
pornography, but is not specific as to gender. In his own investigation of 
Rosebery, Foldy mentions a curious letter sent by E. Neville-Rolfe of the 
British Consul (Italy) to Lord Rosebery at his private villa near Naples, on 


257 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


December 30,1897. The letter alerted Rosebery to the fact that the “infa¬ 
mous” Oscar Wilde, calling himself Mr. Sebastian Nothwell [sic], was staying 
not two miles away in a small villa at Posilllipo. Neville-Rolfe writes that 
Wilde had separated from Douglas and was living the life of a recluse. He 
assures Rosebery however that he doesn’t think “the poor devil” will give 
him “any trouble.” In the late 1800s, Naples, like Algeria, was a well-known 
sexual enclave for English pederasts. However, Foley’s suggestion that 
Rosebery selected his vacation spot to have ready access to Neapolitan boys, 
like Wilde and Douglas did, fails to take into consideration that his villa was 
an ancestral residence that he and his brother and sisters used to vacation 
when Rosebery was a little boy. Why did Neville-Rolfe decide to share the 
information with Rosebery? Again, there are many possibilities. If Rosebery 
was in fact known to frequent local homosexual haunts, then the letter 
concerning Wilde’s close proximity would have served as a warning to him. 
Even if Rosebery was not involved in any homosexual liaisons, the letter 
could have been written to spare him possible social or political embarrass¬ 
ment from guilt by association. Or it may have been simply a juicy piece of 
gossip to break the tedium or gain favor with the influential English Lord. 
Foley also raises the question as to whether or not Rosebery’s bout with 
ill-health and his virtual nervous breakdown while serving out his term as 
Prime Minister was in anyway connected to the Wilde trials and to a success¬ 
ful effort at blackmail by Queensberry for the purpose of insuring that the 
Crown got a conviction against Wilde without involving Bosie. It is possible 
to put together a timeline for the period in question. For almost two years 
after Hannah’s death in 1890, Rosebery suffered from severe depression and 
insomnia. However, by June 1892, he appeared to have sufficiently recovered 
to accept the important post of Foreign Secretary under Gladstone. 
Queensberry’s attack on Rosebery in Homburg took place in early 1893. 

H. M. Hyde, in his Trials said the attack was provoked by Rosebery making 
Drumlanrig an English peer. On March 5, 1894, Rosebery became Prime 
Minister of England. Almost eight months later, on October 18,1894, Lord 
Drumlanrig met his death, a death rumored to be tied to an unnatural attach¬ 
ment to Rosebery. In De Profundis, Wilde recalls the accident that occurred 
on the eve of Lord Drumlanrig’s marriage and states that the incident was 
“stained with a darker suggestion.” The tragic death of Rosebery’s young 
protege is not mentioned by any of his biographers. On March 1, 1895, 
Rosebery, who was recovered from an attack of influenza, received the news 
that his old nemesis, the “crack-brained” Queensberry was arrested after 
being named in a libel suit initiated by Oscar Wilde. One week later, 

Rosebery was reported to be seriously ill. By March 18, his depression and 
acute insomnia were reported to be so severe that his closest friends feared a 
complete mental breakdown. Rosebery’s poor state of health continued 
through to the latter part of April. On April 25, one day before the start of 
Wilde’s first criminal trial, Whitehall reported that the Prime Minister was 
doing better. By May 9, Rosebery was seen out in public but appeared to 
suffer a relapse. From May 13-20 Rosebery was reported to be on a yachting 
trip. On May 28, only days after Wilde was convicted at Old Bailey, Whitehall 
reported that Rosebery had made a satisfactory recovery and no further word 
was heard about his health. Unfortunately, his Liberal Party had not recov¬ 
ered from its fratricidal battles and Rosebery was forced to resign on June 22, 
1895. According to Foldy, two of Wilde’s major biographers, H. Montgomery 
Hyde and Richard Ellmann, intimate that Queensberry had evidence against 
highly placed government officials, specifically Prime Minister Lord 


258 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Rosebery, in connection with alleged sodomical crimes. And that 
Queensberry used that evidence to keep his son, Lord Douglas’ name out of 
Wilde’s criminal trials and to make sure the Crown won its case against 
Wilde. This may have been why the Crown replaced Mr. Justice Gill with the 
high-powered Solicitor-General Lockwood when Wilde was retried. Were the 
charges of homosexuality against Lord Rosebery true? Possibly, at least for a 
early period in his life and maybe in his later years. One can wonder if the 
Rothschild family, with its worldwide intelligence service would have 
permitted Hannah to marry Lord Rosebery if there was even the remotest 
suspicion that he was a practicing sodomite at the time of his marriage? If 
Rosebery was in fact involved with Queensberry’s son, there might have 
been extenuating circumstances surrounding the affair. It is possible that 
Rosebery engaged in same-sex acts as a youth, abandoned them when he 
married, and then, when Hannah died, renewed his homoerotic liaisons with 
his personal secretary, Lord Drumlanrig, out of loneliness. It is not an 
uncommon phenomena. Writer Howard J. Booth in his essay “Surpassing the 
Modernist Reception of Symonds,” in John Addington Symonds— Culture and 
the Demon Desire (New York: St.Martin’s Press, 2000) includes Lord 
Rosebery in the Naples Bay homosexual clique. If I were to venture an 
opinion on the Rosebery case, I would say that there is a good possibility that 
Rosebery, at some stage during his life, did engage in homoerotic activity. 

The fact that James reports that Rosebery was plagued by “peculiarly mali¬ 
cious gossip” throughout his life tends to reinforce that belief. Queensberry 
hired detectives to get the goods on Wilde. There is no reason why he would 
not have done the same with Rosebery. However, whereas Wilde was fairly 
easy prey—Rosebery was not—he was a nobleman, he had unlimited finan¬ 
cial resources, and most importantly he was protected by one of the world’s 
most powerful families—the Rothschilds. In the end perhaps Queensberry 
simply had to settle for Wilde’s head and leave Rosebery to his Maker. 

163 Robert Rhodes James, Rosebery A Biography of Archibald Philip, Fifth Earl of 
Rosebery (New York: Macmillan Company, 1963), 287. 

164 James, 287. 

165 Ellmann, 417. 

166 Ibid., 441. 

167 Ibid., 419. 

168 Ibid., 438 

169 Hyde, Trials, 80. 

170 Ibid., 81. 

171 Ibid., 443. 

172 Foldy, 12. 

173 Ellmann, 468. 

174 The summation of the Wilde trials is based on the following texts—Michael 
S. Foldy, The Trials of Oscar Wilde: Deviance, Morality, and Late-Vidorian 
Society (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1997); Rupert Croft- 
Cooke, Feasting With Panthers A New Consideration of Some Late Victorian 
Writers (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1967); Richard Ellmann, 
Oscar Wilde (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1988); H. Montgomery Hyde, The 
Trials of Oscar Wilde (New York: Dover, 1962); and Vyvyan B. Holland, 

Merlin Holland, Rupert Hart-Davis, The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde (New 
York: Henry Holt and Company, 2000). There are thousands of on-line refer- 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


ences to the Wilde trials including portions of the transcripts from the trials. 
See http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/wilde/wilde.htm. The 
reader may want to keep in mind, however, that there is good reason to 
believe that these historical records may have been doctored and tampered 
with at the time of the trials, so they may not be as accurate as once 
believed. We know Wilde lied under oath, first about his age and then about 
his relationships with the boys Taylor brought him and others he and Douglas 
solicited. 

175 Hyde, Trials, 86. 

176 Ellmann, 445. Wilde’s solicitors were not the only ones in denial. The follow¬ 
ing story is related by Ellmann. Frank Harris was one of Wilde’s closest 
friends who stood by him throughout the trials. After Wilde’s first trial, when 
Harris heard about the testimony of the chambermaids at the Savoy Hotel 
concerning Wilde’s young bedroom companions, he told Wilde that they must 
have mistaken Douglas for him and that the whole thing was a pack of lies. 
Harris also decried the testimony of Shelley, but noted that there was no one 
to collaborate the young clerk’s story anyway. At which point, Wilde broke 
into the conversation and exclaimed, “You talk with passion and conviction, 
as if I were innocent.” “But you are innocent, aren’t you,” Harris asked. 

“No,” replied Wilde. “I thought you knew that all along.”To which Harris 
responded “I did not believe it for one moment.” Harris told Wilde that it did 
not make a great deal of difference to him, and it seems, from subsequent 
events that it did not. Wilde relates the same conversation with Harris in De 
Profundis: “A great friend of mine—a friend of ten years standing—came to 
see me some time ago, and told me that he did not believe a single word of 
what was said against me, and wished me to know that he considered me 
quite innocent, and the victim of a hideous plot. I burst into tears at what he 
said, and told him that while there was much amongst the definite charges 
that was quite untrue and transferred to me by revolting malice, still that my 
life had been full of perverse pleasures, and that unless he accepted that as a 
fact about me and realised it to the full I could not possibly be friends with 
him any more, or ever be in his company. It was a terrible shock to him, but 
we are friends, and I have not got his friendship on false pretences.” 

177 Foldy, 18. 

178 Ibid. 

179 Ellmann, 459. 

180 Foldy, 20. 

181 Hyde, Trials, 151. 

182 See Edmund Bergler, M.D., Homosexuality: Disease or Way of Life? (New 
York: Collier Books, 1962), 92. 

183 Ellmann, 457. 

184 Much of the evidence against Wilde was actually volunteered by an actor 
named Charles Brookfield, who held a personal grudge against Wilde. Private 
detectives Kearley and Littlechild, formerly with the Metropolitan police, 
were also hired by Queensberry to get evidence against Wilde going back 
approximately three years to the time when Wilde took up his affair with . 
Douglas. It was not a difficult task. Neither Wilde nor Douglas ever bothered 
to hide their own affair much less those with the young men they solicited 
for sex. On the contrary, Wilde appeared to take special .delight in exhibiting 
his youthful catamites at the theater and other public places. Some writers 
have criticized Queensberry's hirelings for engaging in-unethical and even 


260 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


unlawful means to secure evidence against both Alfred Taylor and Wilde and 
for coaching witnesses in their oral testimony. They are silent, however, 
about the fact that Wilde and Douglas visited a number of these same young 
men including Shelley, Scarfe, Mavor, and Atkins in order to secure their 
silence should they be questioned by Queensberry’s men. Obviously, detec¬ 
tive work in the Victorian era was not without its special dangers especially 
when it involved gathering evidence in connection with sexual transgressions 
including adulterous or homosexual liaisons. Death threats were common¬ 
place especially in cases that involved tracking prominent sodomites through 
the corridors of the criminal underground. 

185 Ellmann, 460. Also Foldy, 34. 

186 Hyde, Trials, 166. 

187 Foldy, 32. The 25 counts were broken down as follows: nine counts miscon¬ 
duct with the Parker brothers; three counts with Freddie Atkins; five counts 
with Alfred Wood; two with unknown boys at the Savoy; two with Sidney 
Mavor; and one with Edward Shelley. 

188 Lord Douglas of Hawick, Queensberry’s heir and Douglas’ elder brother was 
legally represented at the trial also. He had met one of the boys in the case, 
Ernest Scarfe, on his way to Australia in 1893 and thought he should protect 
himself legally. 

189 Ellmann, 462. 

190 Ibid., 392. 

191 Hyde, Trials, 171-173. 

192 Ibid., 184. 

193 Ibid., 193. 

194 Ibid., 194. 

195 Ibid., 198. 

196 Ellmann, 463. 

197 Ibid., 464. 

198 Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901), a friend of Wilde’s, was present at 
the trials and characterized Oscar’s appearance as “jaded and flabby.” 

199 Ibid., 464-465. 

200 Ibid., 465. 

201 By the end of the final trial, Wilde was bankrupt. When the promised financial 
assistance from Bosie’s brother fell threw, bailiffs seized all of Wilde’s prop¬ 
erty and goods and liquidated his estates to pay Queensberry’s costs and to 
satisfy Wilde’s other creditors. See 

http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters_outlaws/cops_others/ 

oscar_wilde/ll.htm. 

202 See “All About Oscar” at 

http://www.crimelibrary.com/gangsters_outlaws/cops_others/ 

oscar_wilde/13.htm. 

203 Foldy, 23-30. The author provides an excellent summary on the circumstan¬ 
tial nature of Queensberry’s claims against Rosebery. 

204 Taylor was tried separately and the jury found him guilty. At his trial, that 
was attended by the silent Clarke, there were a number of witnesses who 
swore under oath that Taylor and Wilde were often seen together and in the 
company of young boys that they brought to the Savoy. The prosecution also 
produced telegrams regarding certain “arrangements" which Taylor had made 


261 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


with Wilde concerning the young men Taylor had solicited and in most cases 
already slept with. Taylor’s sentencing, however, was held over until Wilde’s 
verdict was rendered. In the end, both men received a two-year sentence 
with hard labor that included solitary confinement. Because of his age and 
poor physical condition, Taylor was excused from heavy physical work. Wilde 
spent most of his time indoors, his cell was poorly ventilated, and his diet 
was poor. Mail was limited and censored. Visitors were few with Wilde’s 
creditors at the head of the line. 

205 Foldy, 40. 

206 Ibid., 41. 

207 Ellmann, 475. 

208 See Sally Brown, “The Downfall of Oscar Wilde,” Part II from the British 
Library Collections available from http://www.bl.uk/collections/wilde2.html. 

209 Ellmann, 476. 

210 Ibid., 476. 

211 Foldy, 45. 

212 Hyde, Trials, 264-265. 

213 Douglas was not in the country at the time of the trial. He had gone abroad at 
request of Clarke. He was reported to have visited Lord Henry Somerset of 
Cleveland Street scandal fame, and to have resumed his boy hunting adven¬ 
tures in Capri and Sorrento. 

214 Ellmann, 477. 

215 Hyde, Trials, 266-267. 

216 Ellmann, 477. 

217 Immediately after Wilde’s conviction, a friend of Wilde, possibly Tyrell, 
approached Whitehall for a Royal pardon, but Home Secretary Michael 
Howard reported that it was refused. Later, in July 1896, Wilde sent his first 
petition to the Home Secretary requesting a mitigation of his sentence, but 
again was turned down. He was, however, permitted to have extra reading 
materials of his choice. 

218 Foldy, 66. 

219 Ibid., 56. 

220 Ibid. 

221 See Trevers Humphreys, A Book of Trials (London: Heinemann, 1953). 

Sir Humphreys, who died in 1956, wrote the foreword to H. Montgomery 
Hyde’s 1948 text of The Trials of Oscar Wilde. 

222 Hyde, Trials, 150. 

223 Linda Dowling, Hellenism & Homosexuality in Victorian Oxford (Ithaca, N.Y.: 
Cornell University Press, 1994). 

224 Ibid., 78 

225 Members of the English aristocracy whose approval Wilde had slavishly 
sought since he came down to Oxford from Trinity College, Dublin were 
conspicuously absent among Wilde’s defenders. This is not surprising. As 
Croft-Cooke has pointed out, Wilde was always considered an “outsider” by 
the British Establishment, or as the French would have it, was de classe. 
Before Wilde’s conviction, there were some members of the aristocracy 
and prominent political leaders who were willing to indulge Wilde’s 
idiosyncrasies—sexual and otherwise—in exchange for an evening of 
entertainment and amusement. However, Wilde was never an intimate in 


262 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Victorian England’s better society despite his attempts to live the life of an 
aristocrat vicariously through his young lover, Lord Alfred Douglas. Writer 
Terry Eagleton in the “The Doubleness of Oscar Wilde” (The Wildean, 19, 
July 2001, 2-9) made the following observations which cast an interesting 
light on Wilde’s place in English society. Eagleton wrote: “Like many an Irish 
emigre washed up on the shores of England, Wilde set about the business of 
becoming more English than the English, a project he shared with Joseph 
Conrad, Henry James, T. S. Eliot, V S. Naipaul and a good many other 
luminaries of modern English literature. ...The Irish didn’t only have to 
supply Britain with its cattle and grain; they also had to write much of its 
literature for it. ...All of these men practiced that most native of all Irish 
customs, getting out of the place. ...At once in and out of English society, 
they could master its conventions while at the same time turning a 
subversive satirical eye upon them. ...Or perhaps, as he himself would say, 
imitation is the sincerest form of mockery. ...So though the Irish wit in 
England is allowed to play the clown, from Oliver Goldsmith to Brendan 
Behan, this licensed jester must ultimately know his place. ...He mustn’t get 
his hands, however well-manicured, on sons of the aristocracy, whose destiny 
is to marry and reproduce their line, and, if he does, as Bernard Shaw knew 
very well, the English have long experience in how to take care of such 
rotters, cads and bounders. He was born into that most schizoid of social 
classes, the Anglo-Irish Protestant Ascendancy, and like Yeats, tended to feel 
English in Ireland and Irish in England. The Anglo-Irish endured a kind of 
internal exile, at once natives and aliens, rules and victims, both central and 
marginal to Irish life. If they were formidably self-assured, they could also 
feel fearfully defensive and besieged, and Wilde, the patrician who himself 
became persecuted, reflects something of this ambiguity. ...A similar duality 
haunts the career of Wilde’s great compatriot and contemporary, Charles 
Stewart Parnell, another Anglo-Irishman brought low by a combination of 
sexual misdemeanors and a spiteful British Establishment.” The full text and 
commentaries from other authors on Oscar Wilde are available from 
http://www.pgil-eirdata.Org/html/pgil_datasets/authors/w/Wilde,O/comm.htm. 

226 Foldy, 60. 

227 Croft-Cooke, 168. 

228 Ellmann, 225. Note: By the time the letter was written, Wilde’s brief idyll 
with Douglas following his release from jail nine months before had come to a 
bitter end and Wilde returned to Paris from Italy in poor health and desperate 
financial condition. Constance, who still loved her husband, was willing to for¬ 
give Oscar and aid him financially after his release if he would agree to give 
up his homosexual adventures, but Wilde had preferred Boise to his family. 

229 Croft-Cooke reported that after the Wilde trials there was a “social cleanup” 
that involved a crackdown on pornography. Even men’s fashions were 
affected and men cut their hair short. 

230 Some historians give the transfer date as November 21,1895. See 
http://home.arcor.de/oscar. wilde/about/p/prison_years.htm. 

231 De Profundis, line 792. 

232 Hyde, Trials, 296. 

233 Constance initiated divorce proceedings in 1893, but withdrew them in 
October 1895. After the trials of her husband, she took her family name of 
Holland and went to live in exile in Geneva, Switzerland in a small village of 
Glion. In a letter from prison dated April 6, 1897 to Ross, Wilde rejected the 


263 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


conditions that were attached to his continued financial dependence on his 
wife. However, he did wish to see his children from time to time. In fact, he 
never did. Legal action was taken to deny Wilde access to his sons. Quadrant 
Productions has written a one-man show based on Oscar Wilde’s son, Cyril 
Holland, who served in India as a soldier and died in Germany during World 
War I. Wilde’s younger son, Vyvyan, served in the Royal Field Artillery, 
became a writer, entered the Catholic Church as a convert, and later married, 
but met with misfortune and died penniless. His son, Merlin Holland, with 
the financial assistance of Dame Rebecca West, attended Eton and Magdalen 
College, his grandfather’s college. Merlin currently lives in London and has 
become a well-known lecturer on his grandfather’s life and trials. He is the 
co-editor of the Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde. See 
http://www.biblio-india.com/articles/nd01_ar20.asp?mp=ND01. 

234 Letter III was written from jail on April 1, 1897 to Robert Ross. See The - 
Prose of Oscar Wilde (London: C. E Putnam’s Sons, 1909), 721-722. 

235 Letter I to Robert Ross dated March 10,1896, 'The Prose, 715. 

236 Ibid. 

237 Ibid., 717. 

238 Ibid., 719. 

239 Ibid. 

240 Ibid. 

241 Letter III, 721. 

242 Ibid., 722. 

243 The quotations from Wilde’s De Profundis, unless otherwise noted, were 
taken from the complete original version of the work released from the estate 
of Oscar Wilde in 1962 and later printed in Collins Complete Works of Oscar 
Wilde, the Centenary Edition (Glasgow: Harper Collins, 1999). References to 
Wilde’s letters and background information on De Profundis along with select 
quotes from the 1905 abridged text are from The Prose of Oscar Wilde 
(London, C. E Putnam’s Sons, 1909) are indicated in the endnotes. 

244 It is somewhat ironic that Ross selected the title of De Profundis for Wilde’s 
work since that was the same name that Lord Alfred Douglas gave to one of 
his early homoerotic poems written on or about the time of his introduction 
to Oscar Wilde. With regard to Douglas’s reaction to the letter, there are a 
number of conflicting reports. In his later years, Douglas said that he never 
received (or read) Wilde’s letter. Another story is that Douglas was angry 
with Wilde’s letter and destroyed it without a full reading. Such a reaction 
would be understandable in that Wilde’s love letter to his Bosie was hardly 
a flattering one. 

245 Ellmann, 515. 

246 Murray, 101. 

247 Exceptions to Wilde’s penchant for standing Christianity on its head can be 
found in his two letters on prison life and prison reform written to the editor 
of the Daily Chronicle on May 28, 1897 and March 24, 1898 following the pub¬ 
lication of The Ballad of Reading Gaol. Copies of these are found in The 
Essays of Oscar Wilde, pp. 599-624 

248 Letter III, 724. 

249 De Profundis, “Prefatory Dedication,” from 1905 version, 709. 

250 Ibid., 712-713. 

251 Ibid., 713. 


264 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


252 De Profundis (1962), 980. 

253 Ibid. 

254 Ibid., 980, 982-983, 986, 989, 990. 

255 Ibid., 995. 

256 Ibid., 986, 993. 

257 Ibid., 994, 999. 

258 Ibid., 1001. 

259 Ibid., 995. 

260 Ibid., 1000,1016,1056. 

261 Hyde, Trials, 63-64. 

262 De Profundis (1962), 1008. 

263 Ibid., 1009. 

264 Ibid., 1010. 

265 De Profundis, 1905, 737, 740. 

266 De Profundis, 1962, 1016. 

267 Ibid., 1017. 

268 De Profundis, 1905, 741. 

269 De Profundis, 1962,1018. 

270 Ibid. 

271 Ibid. 

272 Ibid. 

273 Ibid., 1019. 

274 Ibid. 

275 Ibid. 

276 Ibid. Foldy defines an antinomian as a person “who believes that faith alone, 
and not necessarily obedience to existing moral laws, is necessary for salva¬ 
tion.” In the context used by Wilde, it is related to the belief that the true 
artist was beyond the pale of all authority—both secular and religious. 

277 Ibid., 1019. 

278 Ibid., 1020. 

279 Ibid. 

280 De Profundis, 1905, 752. 

281 De Profundis, 1962, 1022. 

282 Ibid., 1025. 

283 Ibid. 

284 Ibid., 1026. 

285 Ibid. 

286 Ibid., 1027. 

287 Ibid., 1027-1028. In his essay, “The Soul of Man Under Socialism,” Wilde 
said, “The message of Christ to man was simply ‘Be Thyself.’ ” See 
http://www.csulb.edu/~csnider/wilde.fairy.tales.html. 

288 Ibid., 1034. 

289 Ibid., 1029. 

290 Ibid., 1035. 

291 Ibid., 1036. 


265 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


292 Ibid., 1036. 

293 Ibid., 1034. 

294 Ibid., 1036. 

295 Ibid., 1037. 

296 Ibid., 1039. 

297 Ibid., 1042. 

298 Ibid., 1044-1051. Wilde’s first biographer was Robert H. Sherard. His works 
include The Life of Oscar Wilde and Oscar Wilde Twice Defended. Andre Gide 
and Frank Harris followed with their books that revealed the more seedy 
aspects of Wilde’s homosexual life which the naive Sherard could not bring 
himself to ever admit. 

299 Ibid., 1057. 

300 Ibid. 

301 De Profundis, 1905, 794. 

302 De Profundis, 1962, 1058. 

303 Ibid., 1059. 

304 Ibid. 

305 Hyde, Trials, 307. 

306 Ibid. 

307 There appears to be conflicting stories as to who met Wilde at the prison 
gate when he was first released. Some sources report that it was More Adey, 
but Ross said it was him. 

308 Ibid. 

309 In “The Ballad of Reading Gaol, ” Wilde made good his promise to convey to 
the outside world the inhumanness of prison life. The work was based on the 
incarceration and ultimate death by hanging of Trooper Thomas Woodridge 
for the murder of his wife, and the reaction of other prisoners including 
Wilde, to Woodridge’s bitter fate. The poem was published anonymously in 
February 1898, in London, by Leonard Smithers. Wilde also published a 
collection of epigrams and aphorisms extracted from his previous works. 

310 Hyde, Trials, 59, 61. 

311 The reference to Wilde’s return to “his sewer life in Paris,” is attributed to 
St. John Ervine, author of Oscar Wilde: A Present Time Appraisal (London: 
Allen & Unwin, 1951). After Wilde’s release, Carlos Blacker who was a 
trustee of Constance Wilde’s marriage settlement and one of Oscar’s oldest 
and closest friends, wrote to Otho Holland, Wilde’s brother-in-law, that he 
had ceased to communicate with Wilde. Blacker wrote, “After thus returning 
to his vomit (forgive the expression), it was obvious that he was hopeless and 
beyond redemption” 

312 Ibid., 65. 

313 Ibid., 311. 

314 Foldy, 123. 

315 See Andrew McCracken, “The Long Conversion of Oscar Wilde,” New Oxford 
Review, September 1998:13-18. Andrew McCracken is head of the Library 
Department and teaches Church history at Notre Dame Regional Secondary 
School in Vancouver, British Columbia. The full article is available from: 
http ://www. catholiceducation. org/articles/arts/alOO 10. ht ml. 


266 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


316 Absinthe is a green liquor with high alcoholic content prepared from worm¬ 
wood and other herbs. 

317 Hyde, Trials, 313. 

318 Father Dunne’s assurance to Rome that he was “absolutely sure” that Oscar 
Wilde’s conversion was valid must have been received with mixed emotions 
by Pope Leo XIII and Vatican officials—joy that Wilde had at last found his 
way home, but continuing concern over the anti-Christian influences of his 
life as a sodomite. It does not appear that any of Oscar Wilde’s works were 
put on the Vatican’s Index librorum prohibitorum (Index of Prohibited 
Books), although certain in-house publications such as the influential Jesuit 
journal La Civilta Cattolica, established by Pope Pius IX in 1850, have been 
critical of both Wilde and his works in the past. In 1959, La Civilta Cattolica 
identified the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray as a “devilishly perfumed 
show-off,” and condemned “The Ballad of Reading Gaol.” However, on 
October 10, 2000, the Agence France-Presse carried a story from Vatican 
City titled “Oscar Wilde Gets Positive Catholic Media Attention,” by Rev. 
Antonio Spadaro that highlighted La Civilta Cattolica’s recent “rehabilitation” 
of the Irish playwright. The article by Antonio Spadaro, marked the centenary 
of Wilde’s death. Spadaro contended that “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” did 
indeed contain “an implicit path of faith.” Spadaro criticized De Profundis as 
being merely “too literary.” He also stated, incorrectly, that the writing of the 
work represented Wilde’s conversion to the Faith. Until the Second Vatican 
Council, La Civilta Cattolica was considered to be one of the Holy See’s 
strongest voices against Freemasonry and Modernism, in all its forms, but 
that appears to be no longer the case. 

319 Ellmann, 583. 

320 Ellmann, 585. Oscar Wilde’s body was later reinterred in Pere Lachaise, with 
a modernist monument by Jacob Epstein, commissioned after the sale of his 
works by Ross on completion payments, in 1909. In 1918, in accordance with 
Ross’ wishes, his ashes were added to Wilde’s tomb. Wilde is also remem¬ 
bered in a beautiful stain glass plaque at Westminster Abbey bearing his 
name and the date of his birth and death. 

321 Ibid., 577. 

322 Murray, 124. The enmity between Lord Alfred Douglas and Robert Ross was 
of longstanding. Ross was always jealous of Bosie, even after he and Wilde 
had separated and Robbie had taken a new lover. The fact that De Profundis 
was addressed to Boise and not him may have rekindled the flame of jealousy 
in Ross. Ross was present at the wedding of Douglas in 1902, but according 
to Douglas Murray resented the union. Ross redeemed himself by being a 
true friend to Wilde’s two sons in their later years. 

323 Ibid., 266. In 1927, Lord Douglas’ son, Raymond, was diagnosed with a 
severe mental illness and was taken to a religious order establishment oper¬ 
ated by the monks of the Order of St. John. Raymond remained institutional¬ 
ized until his death on October 10,1964. 

324 Ibid., 187. 

325 Ellmann, 459. See also Foldy, 5. 

326 Hyde, Trials, 19. 

327 Vanessa Thorpe and Simon de Burton, “Wilde’s sex life exposed in explicit 
court files—Under the hammer: unpublished witness statements tell of 
‘rough’ teenage boys and soiled sheets,” The Observer, 6 May 2001. The 
article was reproduced on the Guardian Unlimited, UK online newspaper in 


267 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


the Book Review Section at 

http://books.guardian.co.Uk/news/articles/0,6109,486664,00.html. 

328 Ibid. 

329 Ibid. 

330 Ibid. 

331 Ibid. 

332 See Cotter testimony at 

http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/wilde/Crimcotter.html. 

333 This is a paraphrasing of a claim made by Paul Russell in The Gay 100 A 
Ranking of the Most Influential Gay Men and Lesbians, Past and Present (New 
York: Carol Publishing Co., 1995). Russell is a Professor of English and of 
Gay and Lesbian Studies at Vassar College. Russell listed Oscar Wilde as 
number “3” behind Socrates and Sappho. It is interesting to note that Wilde’s 
biographer Richard Ellmann insisted that Wilde’s homosexuality was a vital 
and positive force in his life. According to Ellmann, “Homosexuality fired his 
mind,” “liberated his art” and was the “major stage in his discovery of 
himself.” (281-286) However, if De Profundis is any indication of Wilde’s true 
feelings regarding his own homosexual behavior or homosexuality in general, 
perhaps homosexual apologists like Russell and Ellmann had better search 
elsewhere for their idealized homosexual poster boy. 

334 De Profundis, 1905, 795. 

335 Dowling, 115. Dowling also mentioned the Victorian Oxford mentor system 
inspired by Tractarian tradition of intense undergraduate male friendship [i.e., 
John Henry Newman and Hurrell Froude] and new institutional structures as 
model for a new civil elite in Britain with Oxford as its intellectual center. In 
this new model of tutoring, “...an older man, moved to love by the visible 
beauty of the younger man, and desirous of winning immortality through that 
love, undertakes the younger man’s education in virtue and wisdom.” 
Dowling also noted that many Oxbridge homosexuals and ambiguous person¬ 
alities were drawn to Newman’s tutorial system and ascetic life. 

336 Biographical data from Peter Hebblethwaite, Paid VI The First Modern Pope 
(Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 1993). 

337 Ibid., 43-44. The author’s source of information on Montini’s reading of 
Wilde is given as: Lettere ai Familairi 1919-1943 ed. Nello Vian. Brescia, 
1986, 2 vols. Instituto Paolo VI, ppxix.xx 

338 Ibid., 45. Born in 1798 near Novogrodek, Lithuania into an impoverished 
noble family, Adam Mickiewicz transformed his poetry into a revolutionary 
clarion for Polish independence. Although he later became entangled with the 
revolutionary and messianic doctrines of Andrzej Towianski, by the time of 
his death in 1855 he had reconciled with the Church. His body is entombed at 
the Cathedral of Krakow. It is unclear which Tolstoy Montini was reading in 
his seminary days. Neither could be considered clerical role models. Alexei 
Nikolaevich Tolstoy (1883-1945), one of the founders of Soviet literature, 
was the author of a number of works on pre-revolutionary Russia that led to 
the October Revolution of 1917 and the victory of the Bolsheviks and estab¬ 
lishment of the Soviet State. Although he originally opposed the Bolsheviks 
and sided with the Whites, he later became a literary hack for the new 
regime. His epic work is the trilogy Ordeal. Between tjie years 1914 and 
1916 Tolstoy served as a war correspondent for the. newspaper Russkie 
vedomosti that sided with the Whites. He made several visits to the Front 
line, and traveled in France and England. In 1917, Tolstoy worked for General 


268 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


Denikin’s propaganda section. See http://www.kiijasto.sci.fi/atolstoi.htm. The 
Russian novelist, author of War and Peace, Count Leo Tolstoy was born into a 
life of wealth and comfort in Czarist Russia. He attended the University of 
Kazan and as a youth led a dissolute life of heavy gambling, dueling and forni¬ 
cation. Although he was baptized in the Russian Orthodox faith, he did not 
return to it until he was 50 years of age. In 1901 he was excommunicated 
after his writing Ressurection and later developed his own revolutionary reli¬ 
gious model that embraced non-resistance to evil, a morality based on private 
conscience, and justice for the working classes and peasant farmers. He 
rejected the divinity of Christ and the authority of both Church and State. 
Many of Tolstoy’s religious works can be found at the Anarchist Library at 
http://flag.blackened.net/daver/anarchism/tolstoy/index.html. 

339 Ibid. 

340 Ibid. 

341 The biographical date on Symonds has been taken from the following 
sources: John Addington Symonds, Sexual Inversion (New York: Bell 
Publishers, 1985); Van Wyck Brooks, John Addington Symonds—A 
Biographical Study (Michigan: Scholarly Press Michigan, 1970), a reprint of 
the 1917 work; Horatio E Brown, John Addington Symonds—A Biography 
Compiled from His Papers and Correspondence (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 
1908); Phyllis Grosskurih, John Addington Symonds: a Biography (London: 
Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1964); Phyllis Grosskurth, The Woeful 
Victorian: A Biography of John Addington Symonds (New York: Holt, Rinehart 
and Winston, 1964); and Phyllis Grosskurth, ed., The Memoirs of John 
Addington Symonds, (New York: Random House, 1984.) An outstanding 
online reference on Symonds is Sam Binkley’s “The Romantic Sexology of 
John Addington Symonds,” Journal of Homosexuality (Haworth Press, Vol. 40, 
No. 1.) available from 

http://www.thing.net/~sbinkley/Symonds.html. In Horatio Brown’s biogra¬ 
phy of Symonds, there are no references to Symonds’ homosexuality. 
Symonds had an apartment in Brown's house in Venice for some years so it is 
difficult to believe that his future executor did not notice his friend’s particu¬ 
lar friendship with Angelo Fustao, who Brown simply refers to as his 
“Venetian servant.” Brooks’ biographical study of Symonds written in 1917 
does not mention Symonds’ homosexuality either. Yet, of all the biographies 
of Symonds, it stands out in terms of its lively and perceptive character 
sketch of the man. Phyllis Grosskurth, is a Canadian educated at the 
University of Toronto and London, where she received her Ph.D. for her the¬ 
sis on the literary criticism of Symonds. Although Symonds’ Memoirs were 
still under embargo when she wrote The Woeful Victorian, the London 
Library did permit her to read the manuscripts and make use of the facts it 
contained without direct quotation. When the manuscript was finally released, 
she became the editor of Symonds’ Memoirs (1984). Although Grosskurth can 
hardly be accused of harboring homophobic views, her writings (along with 
those of Brooks) have been criticized by a number of gay writers as portray¬ 
ing Symonds as a victim of a painful and troubling condition, not, as they 
would prefer, an ideologue, visionary or reformist of the early homosexual 
emancipation movement. For other viewpoints see John Pemble, ed ,,John 
Addington Symonds—Culture and the Demon Desire, (New York: St. Martin’s 
Press, 2000). The text includes important essays by Jonathan Kemp, “A 
Problem in Gay Heroics: Symonds and lAmour de I’lmposstble"; Peter J. 
Holliday, “Symonds and the Model of Ancient Greece”; and Howard J. Booth, 


269 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


‘“A Certain Disarray of Faculties’: Surpassing the Modernist Reception of 
Symonds.” 

342 Phyllis Grosskurth, The Woeful Victorian: A Biography of John Addington 
Symonds (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1964), 15. 

343 Van Wyck Brooks (1917), John Addington Symonds—A Biographical Study 
(Michigan: Scholarly Press, 1970). 

344 Dowling, 86. After Balliol, Symonds attended Magdalen College. 

345 Holliday, Peter J., “Symonds and the Model of Ancient Greece,” in John 
Addington Symonds—Culture and the Demon Desire, ed. John Pemble (New 
York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 82 . 

346 Supported by his father, a physician and sympathetic, intelligent man and 

Dr. Spencer Wills, the eminent family physician, Symonds was encouraged to 
seek the “cure” for his sexual affliction in marriage. His marriage took place 
in November 1864, but it proved to be a grave mistake. His wife Catherine 
appeared to have little interest in sex aside from doing her “duty,” and 
Symonds could not combat his distaste for the marital embrace which he 
used merely as a form of sexual release. After the birth of two daughters, the 
couple agreed to take “precautions” to prevent further births. Two more 
daughters later, sexual relations between Symonds and his wife ceased 
altogether. On April 7, 1887, Symonds’ eldest daughter, Janet, age 22, died in 
Davos of tuberculosis. Janet had been diagnosed with the lung ailment at the 
age of 14. After that time, Symonds switched his serious affections to his 
more active daughter Madge. Outwardly, Symonds and Catherine continued 
to live as man and wife, but as time went on Catherine became more jealous 
and resentful of Symonds’ young paramours whom he sometimes brought to 
his home. Virtually all signs of real affection died between them. Symonds 
remained, however, an affectionate father toward his four daughters. 

347 See Horatio E Brown, John Addington Symonds—A Biography Compiled from 
His Papers and Correspondence (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1908), 356-480. 

348 Phyllis Grosskurth, John Addington Symonds: a Biography (London: 
Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1964), 247. See also Brown, 10. 

349 Ibid., Grosskurth, 247. Symonds said that after he left Magdalen College, he 
preferred the writings and philosophy of Goethe, Bruno, Spencer (Herbert), 
Darwin and Whitman (Walt). 

350 Like every writer, Symonds was not without his critics. The Cambridge 
History of English and American Literature lists Symonds as a Lesser Poet of 
the Middle and Later Nineteenth Century. For a critique of his poetry see 
http://www.bartleby.com/223/0651.html. Van Wyck Brooks was a critic of 
Symonds' writings. He said that since Symonds always kept “his real self” 
hidden, it was essentially unexpressed in his works, in other words, his work 
lacked the “personality” that marks, for example, Dicken’s writings. He 
charged that Symonds’ writings lacked any truly comprehensive vision and 
possessed no inherent sense of unity. Perhaps Symonds’ neighbor in Davos, 
Robert Louis Stevenson, said it best when he quipped that he found 
Symonds, “a far better and more interesting thing than any of his books.” 

351 See Rictor Norton “The Life of John Addington Symonds” at 
http://www.infopt.demon.co.uk/symonds.htm. 

352 Ibid. 

353 Young boys as well as young girls were readily available for sexual tourists in 
Italy during the mid-to-late 1800s. 


270 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


354 Kemp, John, “A Problem in Gay Heroics: Symonds and V.Amour de 
{’impossible, ” in John Addington Symonds—Culture and the Demon Desire, 
ed. John Pemble (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), 50. Other prominent 
Victorian homosexuals who sought sexual partners largely outside their own 
class were E. M. Forster (1879-1970) and Edward Carpenter (1844-1929). 
Forster, the British novelist, had as his lover for half a century a virile, hand¬ 
some, married, London policeman who granted his most elemental wish: “to 
love a strong young man of the lower classes and be loved by him and even 
hurt by him.” Edward Carpenter, the great English “sexual emancipator,” was 
a fellow homosexual and friend of Symonds and traveled in the same radical 
socialist groupings. Believing the effeminacy of Uranians a myth, Carpenter 
and his working-class lover, George Merrill, both took on an affected form of 
macho dress. The class discrepancy was not as large as those between 
Symonds and his sex partners. Carpenter and Merrill lived in relative 
seclusion in the Derbyshire countryside and were not troubled by local police 
officials who were aware of their “arrangement.” Carpenter joined the Fabian 
Society in 1884, and maintained an interest in the esoteric religions espe¬ 
cially Hinduism. Carpenter first met John Addington Symonds in 1892 after 
the latter had begun collaborating with Ellis on Sexual Inversion. Carpenter 
supplied Symonds and Ellis with his own history, as well as numerous other 
case studies of homosexuals. Though many of his poems were openly homo¬ 
erotic, including his most famous, the Whitmanesque “Towards Democracy,” 
Carpenter did not write specifically about homosexuality until 1894, when he 
published “Homogenic Love: and its Place in a Free Society” privately. This 
pamphlet, which defended homosexuality as both natural and normal, was the 
fourth in a series on sexual liberation. The others were collected under the 
title Love’s Coming of Age in 1896, but “Homogenic Love” could not be added 
until 1906 due to the publisher’s fear—after the Oscar Wilde trials in 1895— 
of publishing any material on homosexuality. Carpenter argued that, just as 
ordinary heterosexual love fulfills its special function in the propagation of 
the race, other types of love should have a special function in social and 
heroic work and in the generation of spiritual and intellectual children. See 
http://www.modjourn.brown.edu/mjp/Bios/Carpenter.htm. A complete tour 
of Carpenter’s works can be found at the Edward Carpenter Archive 
http://www.simondsn.dircon.co.uk/ecindex.htm. 

355 Phyllis Grosskurth, ed., The Memoirs of John Addington Symonds, (New York: 
Random House, 1984), 278. 

356 Ibid. 

357 Ibid., 277. Apparently Symonds visited both male and female brothels at 
different stages in his life for he stated: “These adventures gave me little 
pleasure, and left me with strong disgust. ...To pay a man to go to bed with 
me to get an hour’s gratification out of him at such a price, and then never 
see him again, was always abhorrent to my nature. I have tried the method, 
and have found that it yielded no satisfaction—less even than similar 
arrangements which I have made with women in brothels.” Symonds then 
observed, “The sexual relation between man and man seems to me less 
capable of being reduced to frank sensuality than the sexual relation 
between man and woman.” 

358 Grosskurth, Memoirs, 193. 

359 Grosskurth, Woeful Victorian, 128-129. 

360 Grosskurth, Memoirs, 193. 

361 Ibid., 209-210. 


271 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


362 Ibid., 212. 

363 Phyllis Grosskurth, John Addington Symonds: a Biography (London: 
Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd., 1964), 199. 

364 Grosskurth, Memoirs, 212, 296. See Appendix also. In the same letter, Moor 
told Symonds that he did not believe that the study alone of the classics 
caused paederistic instincts although they may appear to sanction those 
instincts. He also suggested that sex instruction merely increases one’s 
sexual curiosity so as not to be considered a cure. He advised a well-rounded 
program of work and play. 

365 Ibid. 

366 Ibid. 

367 Ibid., 213. 

368 Grosskurth, Biography, 176, 212. 

369 Ibid., 275. 

370 Ibid., 275. 

371 Brown, 471. 

372 Kemp, 51. 

373 Ibid. 

374 Ibid. 

375 Ibid., 59. In A Problem in Modern Ethics Symonds quotes anthropologist Paola 
Mantegazza’s theory that the desire for anal penetration (aversa) may result 
from the malformation of the nerves of pleasurable sensation being located in 
the rectum instead of the genital organs. 

376 Ibid. 

377 In 1882, the German physician Robert Koch (1843-1910) discovered the 
microorganism M. tuberculosis that was responsible for pulmonary tuberculo¬ 
sis. Although the discovery of antibiotics and the BCG vaccination to prevent 
tuberculosis was many years away, it was known that overcrowded condi¬ 
tions, unsanitary conditions and poor nutrition that were endemic in Victorian 
England’s poorer neighborhoods was a breeding ground for the fatal disease. 

378 This clever strategy was not lost on homosexual sexologist Alfred Kinsey, 
many decades later. 

379 Kemp, 46. Karoly Marie Kertbeny (Karl Maria Benkert) (1824-1882) was 
a German-Hungarian writer who coined the terms “homosexuality” and 
“heterosexuality.” He used these terms first in correspondence with Karl 
Heinrich Ulrichs in 1868 and in subsequent anonymous pamphlets that called 
for the repeal of Prussia’s anti-sodomy laws. Although he claimed to be a 
“Normalsexualer” he said he opposed any government attempt to regulate 
sexual behavior. Both terms began appearing in U.S. medical journals in the 
1890s and came into general usage during the 1920s. See 
http://www.leatherarchives.org/sitemap_/Exhibits/Tony%20DeBlase/ 
Exhibits_DeBlase_Timeline2.html. 

380 Norton, 13. Symonds’ homoerotic series, Studies of the Greek Poets 
(1873-1876) was written at the same time he was working on his apologia for 
pederasty and manly love, A Problem in Greek Ethics. 

381 Sexual Inversion was published in 1896, three years after Symonds’ death 4n 
Leipzig under the German title Daskontrare Gestchlechtsgefuhl and bore both 
authors’ names—Havelock Ellis and John Addington Symonds. Symonds’ 
Memoirs were left in the care of his literary executor Harold Brown to be 


272 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


published after his death, but Catherine Symonds refused her consent so that 
they were not published until 1984 by Phyllis Grosskurth. 

382 Both" A Problem in Greek Ethics and A Problem in Modern Ethics are available 
in printed and online formats. Sexual Inversion (New York: Bell Publishers, 
1984) with an introduction by Richard Michaels contains a revised version of 
both studies. Mr. Rictor Norton was kind enough to grant me permission to 
quote from the original 1893 text of A Problem in Greek Ethics and the 1891 
text that is available from his website— John Addington Symonds Pages, at 
http://www.infopt.demon.co.Uk/symindex.htm#contents. The reader may 
want to compare the original “in your face” introduction to “A Problem in 
Greek Ethics” with the “revised” watered down version of the introduction 
that appears in the appendix of Sexual Inversion. 

383 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

384 Ibid. Speaking of the “nameless” passion, Symonds says that even when 
society bestows a name on the practice, he “can hardly find a name which 
will not seem to soil this paper.” This universal expression of contempt for 
homosexual acts appears to undermine the idyllic romanticized picture of 
same-sex passions that Symonds painted in his introduction. Later, he stated, 
“It is a common belief that a male who loves his own sex must be despicable, 
degraded, depraved, vicious, and incapable of humane or generous senti¬ 
ment.” Again, the use of the term, “common belief” indicates the normal 
attitude toward such behavior is one of universal revulsion. 

385 Ibid. 

386 Also mentioned are Sir Richard Burton, J. L. Casper and Carl Liman, authors 
of Handbuch der Gerichlichen Medicin, Inspector Carlier, Chief of the Police 
Department for Morals in Paris, French Professeur B. Tarnowsky, Dr. Paul 
Moreau, Dr. Julius Rosenbaum and others. 

387 The English edition of Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie (1879-80) was published in 
1904. 

388 In subsequent editions of Psychopathia Sexualis, Krafft-Ebing expanded his 
study of homosexuality (i.e., the apathic sexual instinct) to include additional 
case studies and observation notes. 

389 See “Krafft-Ebing Diagnoses Degenerates” from the Gay History website at 
http://www.gayhistory.com/rev2/events/1886.htm. 

390 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

391 Sam Binkley, “The Romantic Sexology of John Addington Symonds,” in 
Journal of Homosexuality (New York: Haworth Press, 40, no. 1), 4. 

See http://www.thing.net/~sbinkley/Symonds.html. 

392 Ibid. 

393 Dr. Henry Maudsley (1835-1918), the eminent British psychiatrist and editor 
of the Journal of Mental Science, was the 19th century’s Establishment 
spokesman on the dangers of habituated masturbation. “In the life of the 
chronic masturbator, nothing could be so reasonably desired as the end of it, 
and the sooner he sinks to his degraded rest the better for himself, and the 
better for the world, which is well rid of him,” he said. Nothing ruined a 
young man’s moral character and health quicker and paved the way to 
“madness” than self-abuse, said Maudsley. See 

http://www.catbuh.com/alamut/Biblio/OSMOND%20Humphrey/Psyche.htm. 

394 See Cesare Lombroso, Crime, Its Causes & Remedies. Translation by Henry P. 
Horton (Boston: Little, Brown, and Co., Boston, 1918). Lombroso placed 


273 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


about 40 percent of the criminal population in the “born criminal” category. 
Although he began his criminology career as a biological determinist, in his 
later years he began to talk about the “multiplicity of causes” that con¬ 
tributed to criminal behavior. 

395 Ibid., 418. 

396 Ibid. 

397 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

398 See Hubert Kennedy, Ulrichs: The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, 
Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement (Boston: Alyson Publications, Inc., 
1988). Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born on the family estate in Westerfield in 
Hanover, Germany on August 28, 1825. His father died when Karl was 10. 

In addition to losing his father, he also lost one brother and one sister. Both 
mother and son were devoted to one another. Karl was baptized and 
confirmed a Lutheran. Although, in later years, he was attracted to Roman 
Catholicism he never converted. Ulrichs completed his university studies in 
the law in 1855, but felt more attracted to an academic and writing career. In 
the end he entered the civil service administration in Hanover as a jurist 
(judge) and remained at his post for six years until his homosexual activities 
became public and he resigned his position. Ulrichs immigrated to Italy in 
1880 and died in EAquila on June 14,1895, the year of the opening of the 
Wilde trials in England. 

399 Ibid. 

400 Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, The Riddle of Man-Manly’ Love: The Pioneering Work 
on Male Homosexuality. Translated Michael A. Lombardi-Nash, Vol. I and II 
(Buffalo, N.Y: Promethus Books, 1994), 527. 

401 Ibid., Vol. I, 161-164, 306-311, 314. Although Symonds thought these “out¬ 
landish” names to be “seemingly pedantic and superfluous” he believed that 
they were necessary to a proper understanding of Ulrich’s system. The term 
“Urning” was borrowed by Ulrichs from a Viennese Doctor of Law named 
Kaserer with whom he had correspondence in the late 1860s. 

402 Kennedy, 63. 

403 Ibid., 108-109. 

404 Ulrichs, Vol. 1, 300-304. 

405 Ibid., 159. 

406 Ibid., 62-63. 

407 Ibid., 141-142. 

408 Ibid., 141. 

409 Ibid., Vol. II, 564. 

410 Ibid., Vol. 1,143. 

411 Ibid., Vol. II, 643, 

412 Ibid., Vol. 1,142. 

413 Kennedy, 163. 

414 Ibid. 

415 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

416 Ibid. 

417 Ulrichs, Vol. 1.122, Vol. II, 376. With regard to the issue of offenses against 
public decency, Ulrichs held that no penalty should be invoked if the person 
who discovered the act was a child under ten, a mentally deficient person, or 


274 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


any police official or public authority since such persons could not possibly be 
offended by any sexual act they came upon. On the question of the punish¬ 
ment by law of male prostitutes, Ulrichs equivocated since he believed that 
such men provided a valuable service to Urnings whose natures demanded 
satisfaction from other males. Ulrichs professed to be against child molesta¬ 
tion, but he seemed to have ambivalent feelings about Urning relationships 
with adolescent boys. It appears that Ulrichs was not anxious for police to 
take action against pederasts unless the incident involved the use of force or 
threat of violence. For example in The Riddle of ‘Man-Manly’ Love, he pre¬ 
sented a case involving a 14-year-old boy who is quietly and kindly seduced 
by his riding master, a handsome 30-year-old man. Ulrichs was in no way 
critical of the elder man’s actions. On the contrary, he praised the relation¬ 
ship that developed in glowing terms as a “bond based on truly reciprocal 
love between two Urnings, a Weibling and a Mannling.” Personally, Ulrichs 
preferred soldiers, particularly the hussars, as sexual partners and did not 
appear to have ever been attracted to young boys after he reached adulthood. 

418 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

419 Ulrichs, Vol. II, 369. 

420 Grosskurth , Biography, 278. 

421 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

422 Ulrichs, Vol. I, 21. 

423 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

424 Ibid. 

425 Ulrichs, Vol. II, 561. 

426 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

427 Anna Dunphy, Comtesse De Bremont, Oscar Wilde and His Mother: A Memoir 
(New York: Haskell House Ltd., 1972), 16. 

428 Ibid., 33. 

429 Symonds, Modern Ethics, Norton, ed. 

430 Brooks, 116. 

431 See David S. Reynolds, Walt Whitman’s America: A Cultural Biography (New 
York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), 36-39. Walter Whitman was born in West Hills, 
(L.I.) New York. He was the second eldest son in a family of eight children— 
Jesse, George (Washington), Thomas (Jefferson), Andrew Qackson), Edward, 
Louisa Hannah, and Mary Elizabeth. Like many homosexuals, the poet 
appeared to have little contact with his siblings once he entered adulthood 
with the exception perhaps of his sister Mary. As a young child, he had little 
religious training. His father did not attend church and his Quaker mother 
occasionally attended the local Baptist church and other area churches. His 
religious beliefs as a young man were a combination of freethinking, 
Quakerism, deism, and spiritualism. Whitman attended public school from 
1825-1830 in Brooklyn, N.Y. where he had moved at the age of 4, but left at 
the age of 11 to take a job as an office boy. 

432 Gary Schmidgall, Walt Whitman A Gay Life, (New York: Dutton Press, 
Penguin Putman Publishers, 1997), xxx. 

433 Ibid., 122. 

434 Ibid., 88, 116. 

435 Ibid., 22, 332. 

436 Ibid., 73-79. 


275 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


437 For an interesting review of anti-sodomy statues in the United States from 
colonial to modern times see Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay/Lesbian Almanac—A 
New Documentary (New York: Carroll & Graf Publications, 1983). There are a 
number of websites available on this topic including “The Sensibilities of Our 
Forefathers,” by George Painter at 

http://www.sodomylaws.org/sensibilities/commonlaw.htm. 


438 Schmidgall, 84. 

439 Reynolds, 71-73. 

440 Schmidgall, 74. 

441 Henry Havelock Ellis, Studies in the Psychology of Sex. Vol. I. and Vol. II (New 
York: Random House, 1936). Ellis had visited Symonds at the Brown 
residence in Venice on a few occasions and so had a working relationship 
with him before his death. Some of the topics covered by Ellis in his 
Psychology of Sex series included “autoeroticism” (masturbation), a term he 
coined and a subject and practice close to Ellis’ heart; “erotic symbolism,” 
the mechanics of male-female coitus; fetishism and scatology; “sexual 
education”; prostitution and venereal disease; trial marriages; and pregnancy. 
Ellis’ writings in favor of liberated sex, eugenics and birth control appeared 
frequently in Margaret Sanger’s journal, Birth Control Review. This gave him 
greater exposure in the American Press. Ellis met the married Sanger in late 
1914 and they remained close friends even after their affair had ended. His 
books include The New Spirit (1890), Man and Woman (1894) The Erotic 
Rights of Women (1918) and his autobiography, My Life, published 
posthumously in 1940. Sexual Inversion underwent a number of revisions 
over the years and in 1915 Ellis added material provided by the well-known 
German sexologist and homosexual Magnus Hirschfeld. Ellis also developed 
an interest in lesbianism as practiced and propagandized by English and 
American representatives of the sexually liberated “New Woman,” including 
Radclyffe Hall, author of The Well of Loneliness, Gertrude Stein, and Virginia 
Woolf of Bloomsbury fame. His essays covered a wide-variety of subject 
matter from reminiscences of his early experiences in Australia to “social 
hygiene” (eugenics) to the plays of Christopher Marlowe. 


442 Havelock Ellis, My Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1939), 449-450. 
Henry Havelock Ellis was born on February 2,1859 in Croydon, Surrey, 
England, the eldest and only son among five children. His father was a ship 
builder. The young Ellis, like so many famous sexual inverts of the period,, 
was a “sickly child.” He attended French and German schools in England and 
later private boarding schools. He began his medical career with a special 
interest in sexology in 1880 at St. Thomas’s Hospital in London and gradu¬ 
ated nine years later with the minimum Licentiate in Medicine, Surgery and 
Midwifery from the Society of Apothecaries. He became a member of the 
British Medical Society although he never established his own practice. 
Throughout his medical schooling, finances were a chronic problem, making 
moonlighting a necessity. His radical socialist politics and writings on literary, 
social and sexual issues drew him away from a career as a physician, and 
redirected his interest towards radical sexual politics and the “science” of 
sexology. This brief biographical sketch of Havelock Ellis was taken from 
My Life and the Ellis website at 

http://www.modjourn.brown.edu/mjp/Bios/Ellis.htm and other internet 
sources. 


443 Ibid., 351-373. Sexual Inversion was published with the assistance of Ellis’ 
fellow radicals, George E S. Von Weissenfeld (alias Dr. Roland de Villiers) 


276 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


later discovered to be a notorious forger and confidence man, and Mr. George 
Bedborough, both of “the Legitimation League,” over which the London 
police kept a watchful eye. Worried that he might be prosecuted under the 
Obscene Publications Act, Ellis secured the legal assistance of Wilde’s former 
solicitor C.O. Humphreys and Sons. Ellis however was never brought to trial. 
Von Weissenfeld committed suicide while in jail, but Bedborough was able to 
secure immunity from prosecution and escaped the clutches of the law. 

Sexual Inversion was declared obscene by the London courts and all remain¬ 
ing issues burned by the government. See 
http://people.albion.edu/mhensley/thesis.htm. 

444 Paul Robinson, The Modernization of Sex (New York: Harper Colophon, 

Harper & Row, 1977), 27. 

445 Ibid., 27. 

446 See “Philosophizing Dangerously with Friedrich Nietzsche” at 
http://www.tearsofllorona.com/nietzsch. 

447 Colin Wilson, Sexual Misfits—A Study of Sexual Outsiders (New York: Carroll 
& Graf Publishers, Inc., 1988), 181. As Wilson noted, the fact that Ellis 
received pleasure from watching his female partners urinate in front of him is 
not so amazing as the fact that he was able to convince these women that 
“golden streams” (“golden showers,” a common homosexual practice 
involves urinating on one’s partner) represented a forward step in sexual 
aesthetics, rather than “a case of arrested development.” 

448 In 1891, Ellis married Edith Lees with an “understanding” that both remain 
financially and sexually independent. Although their cohabitation as man and 
wife was short lived and each sought sexual satisfaction elsewhere, their 
relationship was strained by jealousies—both sexual and professional. Lees 
suffered from manic-depression that grew more serious with age. She died in 
September of 1916 before her divorce from Ellis was finalized. Ellis’ later 
years were happier. He fell in love with a young Frenchwoman, Francoise 
Lafitte, and the two lived in a common-in-law marriage until his death in 
1939 at the age of 80. Lafitte is said to have restored Ellis’ virility and helped 
him toward a more normal pattern of sexual relations in his last years with 
her. 

449 Ellis, Sexual Inversion, xiv, 41. Ellis did reluctantly admit there were “rare” 
cases of acquired sexual inversion. He also acknowledged that, at least in 
England, homosexuality was artificially induced by certain public school 
practices and customs. 

450 Ibid., 1. 

451 Ibid., 156. 

452 Ibid., 3, 14. 

453 Ibid., xiii. 

454 Ibid., 117-118. Ellis, like Symonds, discounted the idea that sexual inverts 
were predominantly sodomites. Based on the case studies reproduced in 
Sexual Inversion, he claimed that some homosexuals never had any physical 
contact with their partner or never went further than mutual masturbation. 
He said fellatio was rare. For those that practiced paedicatio (sodomy) most 
took the active not passive role. However, he stated in none of the case 
studies did any of the inverts declare that sodomy was their habitual or 
preferred sexual activity. 

455 Ibid., 49, Case Study VII. 


277 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


456 The Latin text of Article CXVI—Punishment of the unchastity that is 
committed against Nature—can be found at 

http://www.well.com/user/aquarius/boehmer.htm. Homosexual acts and 
bestiality were punishable by death by fire although there were provisions for 
extenuating circumstances involving age and ignorance of the law. In April 
1871, with the founding of the second Reich, Germany got a new constitution 
and penal code based largely on Prussian law. Paragraph 143 of the old 
Prussian Penal Code was now applied to all the Federated German States. It 
was later renumbered as Paragraph 175 and became as famous (or infamous) 
as England’s Labouchere Amendment. 

457 Ulrichs put the ratio of Urnings to Dionings in Berlin in 1864-1865 as 1 per 
500 adult males. However, when compared with official police records for the 
same period, his figures were grossly underestimated. See Ulrichs, 261. 

458 Ulrichs, Vol. II, 106. 

459 Ibid. 

460 The following cases involving clerics are cited by Ulrichs in The Riddle of 
'Man-Manly ’ Love: 

• A priest in Liittich who was arrested for soliciting. (1862) 

• A senior Protestant minister (Ulrichs’ cousin) at St. Albani’s Church in 
Gottingen was charged with having sexual relations with a soldier. He fled 
to America. (1863) 

• A priest who was curator of Moos in the Passeier Valley was charged with 
solicitation. (1864-65) 

• A priest who taught at the Jesuit Gymnasium in Augsburg was accused of 
having sexual relations with three students belonging to the nobility. (1868) 

• A lay brother and teacher at the Royal Orphanage in Vienna directed by the 
Jesuits was accused of sex abuse. (1869) 

• A priest who was a teacher and the cathedral curate for the bishop of 
Augsburg was accused of corrupting a 12-year-old boy in a public place. 

He appealed his eight-day sentence in prison and was given a thirty-day 
sentence in its place (1869). 

• A Catholic rector of a secondary school in Rorschach was under investiga¬ 
tion for unnatural vice (1869). 

• A Unitarian minister who was suspended for propositioning a soldier. He 
was later reinstated to his post, but then convicted and jailed for one year. 
(1869). 

• An English cleric of the Anglican faith, who identified himself to the police 
as an assistant to the Archbishop of Edinburgh was arrested in Nuremberg 
for immorally touching two young boys, ages 13 and 14 and for disturbing 
the peace. He was sentenced to 4 months in prison, but he filed an appeal 
and was acquitted. Later it was revealed that the accused was in fact the 
Archbishop of Edinburgh himself. (1869) 

461 Details of the trial of Carl Von Zastrow were taken from Ulrichs’ The Riddle of 
‘Man-Manly’ Love and from Hubert Kennedy’s superior accounting of the 
case in Karl Heinrich Ulrichs — Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement. 

462 Kennedy, 168. If Ulrichs did not know Zastrow personally, he may have 
known of him, because according to Kennedy, when the police raided Ulrichs’ 
home in Burgdorf in 1867, the year Corny was butchered, Zastrow’s name 
was on the list that Ulrichs had complied of Berlin Urnings. 

463 Ibid., 169. 


278 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


464 Ulrichs, 528. 

465 Ibid., 526. 

466 Ibid., 528. 

467 Ibid., 437. 

468 Ibid., 452. 

469 Kennedy, 168. 

470 Ibid. 

471 Ulrichs, 452. 

472 Ibid., 437. 

473 Kennedy, 169. 

474 Ulrichs, 525. 

475 Kennedy, 168. 

476 Ibid. 

477 Ulrichs, 527. 

478 Ibid. 

479 Ibid. 

480 Kennedy, 169. The German term “contrary sexual feeling” to describe the 
homosexual condition was translated into English as “inverted proclivity” 
(1871) and then into “sexual inversion” (1878). It remained the standard 
psychiatric term for homosexuality until 1915 when it was replaced with 
Freud’s term “homosexual” to define a condition that was acquired or learned 
behavior rather than congenital or inborn. See “Westphal Invents Sexual 
Inversion,” at http://www.gayhistory.com/rev2/events/1869.htm. 

481 Ibid. 171. 

482 Ulrichs, 435-472. 

483 Ibid. 455. 

484 Ibid., 368. 

485 Ibid. 457-458. 

486 Ibid., 494. 

487 Ibid., Ibid., 418, 428. 

488 Ibid., 578-584, 612. 

489 Phrase taken from William Manchester’s chapter on the Krupp Affair in The 
Arms of Krupp (Little, Brown and Co., 1968), 206. 

490 See Norbert Muhlen, The Incredible Rrupps The Rise, Fall, and Comeback of 
Germany’s Industrial Family (New York, Henry Holt and Co., 1959). 

491 For a detailed analysis of the relationship between Fritz Krupp and Kaiser 
Wilhelm II see Isabel V. Hull, The Entourage of Kaiser Wilhelm II1888-1918 
(Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 158-171. 

492 Author William Manchester (The Arms of Krupp) has pieced together some 
threads of Krupp’s pederastic and criminal activities in Berlin. According to 
Manchester, Herr Conrad Uhl, the proprietor of the Hotel Bristol in Berlin 
where Krupp retained apartments separate from his wife Marga, had gone to 
the police to inform them that the wealthy industrialist had set up what was 
essentially a male bordello at his hotel. Krupp asked Uhl to hire some of his 
Italian paramours in order that they might be sexually available to him when¬ 
ever he visited. Krupp picked up the entire tab including their wages. Uhl, 
who was fearful that he might be prosecuted for permitting his hotel to be 


279 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


used for criminal purposes, went to see the Berlin Police Commissioner who 
headed a special vice unit for homosexual deviants. Von Tresckow, who no 
doubt already had Krupp on his list of the rich and famous that included 
“three counts, all aides-de-camp of the Kaiser...and the King of 
Wurttemberg, the King of Bavaria, and Archduke Ludwig Viktor,” told 
Uhl to remain silent, he had done his duty. See 

wysiwyg://6/http://www.angelfire.com/ut/branton/krupp3.html. See also 
Scott Lively, The Poisoned Stream: Gay Influence in Human History Vol. I. 
Germany 1890-1945, Vol. I (Keizer, Ore.: Founders Publishing Corp., 1997), 
38-39. 

493 On June 28,1935, the language of Paragraph 175 (and related sex offense 
sections of the penal code) was amended. There are a number of different 
translations of these revisions. The important changes included the 
substitution of the term “criminally indecent activities” that could be more 
broadly interpreted to include fellatio, mutual masturbation as well as sodomy 
to replace the former term “sexual acts.” A jail sentence with a maximum of 
ten years was attached to serious violations of Paragraph 175 especially those 
involving the use of force or violence, undue duress, and males who engaged 
in homosexual acts for a living (prostitutes). Judges were given more 
discretion in cases involving partners under age 21. Cases of pederasty 
involving minors (boys under 14) were considered especially heinous. 
Between 1871 and 1935 the average number of arrests for a violation of 
Paragraph 175 was about 500 annually. Paragraph 175 was liberalized in 1969 
and then abolished from the penal code in 1994. 

494 Muhlen, 92. 

495 Manchester, 223. 

496 Muhlen, 93. 

497 Manchester, 224. 

498 Ibid. 

499 Ibid., 225. 

500 Ibid., 226. 

501 Hull, 170. 

502 Muhlen, 94. 

503 See Russell, 18. Also www.sbu.ac.uk/stafflag/magnushirschfeld.html. 

504 See Charlotte Wolff MD, Magnus Hirschfeld—A Portrait of a Pioneer in 
Sexology, (London: Quartet Books, 1986) 225. In her sympathetic biography of 
Hirschfeld, German psychiatrist Charlotte Wolff expressed puzzlement as to 
how Hirschfeld, who had no fortune of his own, managed to live a life entirely 
free of financial worries. She said that she had been told by a Hirschfeld rela¬ 
tive that he received “much money from rich homosexuals in Germany,” and 
stated that he charged astronomical fees from his wealthier patients, but she 
does not mention the possibility of blackmail. As to Hirschfeld’s alleged role 
in trying to blackmail Fritz Krupp, the timing and the circumstances of the 
incident tend to favor the charge against him by Russell. Wolff reports that 
after Krupp’s death, Hirschfeld publicly stated that Paragraph 175 was 
responsible for the suicide. 

505 In a letter of June 22,1869, to the German revolutionary leader Karl Marx on 
the subject of Karl Ulrichs’ theories on homosexuality, Friedrich Engels, 
Marx’s close collaborator and financier, casually observed that the pederasts 
appear to be winning the day with their new motto of “war against the frontal 


280 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


orifices, peace to those behind. Noting that pederasts have attracted support 
from important personalities and were already well organized (albeit 
secretly), Engels wrote: “...But just wait until the North German Penal Code 
recognizes the drois du cul (literally, the rights of the asshole) then he 
(Ulrichs) will operate differently. ...Then things will go badly for poor 
frontside people like us, with our childish penchant for females,” he 
concluded. The letter is quoted by Kennedy in his biography of Ulrichs. 

A cleaned up version is found in Richard Plant’s, The Pink Triangle—The 
Nazi War Against Homosexuals, (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1986), 38. 

506 Wolff, 27-29. 

507 Russell, 16. Hirschfeld wrote the small booklet with publisher Max Spohr in 
Leipzig. It concerned the suicide of a young officer on the eve of his marriage 
because of his homosexual feelings. “Dr. Ramien” declared that society 
should accept homosexuality and decriminalize its practice. 

508 See Wolff, 60-61. 

509 The speech by NAMBLA activist David Thorstad, “Pederasty and 
Homosexuality,” presented to the Semana Cultural Lesbica-Gay, Mexico City 
on June 26,1998, is available from www.namblal.de/pederasty.htm. 

Thorstad told his audience that discrimination by homosexuals against their 
brother pederasts was evident in Germany in the late 1890s and he attributed 
this discrimination to political opportunism by “gays” who were seeking 
political gains as the expense of man-boy lovers. According to Thorstad, the 
two groups disagreed on the nature and origin of same-sex attraction. He said 
that while most homosexuals adhered to belief that homosexuality was an 
inborn permanent condition, the pederasts believed in the bisexual and fluid 
nature of human sexuality and that homosexuality was a predominantly 
acquired condition. In exchange for additional political support, Thorstad said, 
Hirschfeld and the SHC agreed to raise the age of consent from 14 to 16 
years of age, a compromise that the pederasts denounced. 

510 Ibid. 

511 For a view of Berlin’s homosexual milieu see Stan Persky, Boyopolis: Sex and 
Politics in Gay Eastern Europe (Woodstock, N.Y.: The Overlook Press, 1996). 

512 Wolff, 55-56. 

513 Scott Lively, The Poisoned Stream — “Gay ” Influence in Human History. 

Vol. I. Germany 1890-1945 (Keizer, Ore.: Founders Publishing Corporation, 
1997), 15. 

514 Wolff, 55-56. 

515 Ibid., 42. 

516 Ibid., 449. 

517 Ibid., 449-450. 

518 See Rictor Norton, “One Day They Were Simply Gone”—The Nazi 
Persecution of Homosexuals at http://www.infopt.demon.co.uk/nazi.htm. 

519 Wolff, 251-252. 

520 See Engel , Sex Education—The Final Plague, 9-12. 

521 Wolff, 252. The text of the 1897 Petition was translated by Wolff and is found 
in the appendix of her biography on Hirschfeld. 

522 Ibid., 43. In a 1901 article in the SHC journal Jahrbuch, Krafft-Ebing is said to 
have retracted his theory that sexual inversion is morbid and degenerate. 
Rather he said it was an inherited variation. Krafft-Ebing had always been 
against the criminalization of homosexual acts. He argued that even though 


281 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


the perverse deserve to be punished, perverts do not. See “Krafft-Ebing 
Diagnoses Degenerates” at 

http://www.gayhistory.com/rev2/events/1886.htm. 

523 Ibid. 

524 Ibid., 448-451. 

525 Ibid., 447. 

526 Ibid., 121. 

527 Ibid., 58-59. 

528 Bid., 182. 

529 Ibid., 54. 

530 Ibid., 281. 

531 Ibid., 144. 

532 Ibid., 141. 

533 Ibid. 

534 Ibid., 101-102. According to Wolff, when Hirschfeld left the Berlin 
Psychoanalytical Society that he helped found in 1911, Freud, who had once 
hailed Hirschfeld as a revolutionary figure in sexology, bitterly attacked him. 
Freud said that “Magnus Hirschfeld, who has left the ranks, was no great 
loss.” Freud described him as “a flabby, unappetizing fellow, incapable of 
learning anything.” Hirschfeld had a thicker skin, said Wolff, and he was 
usually more open to his critics than Freud. 

535 Wolff, 126. 

536 Ibid., 176. 

537 Ibid., 57. 

538 Ibid., 218. Tante (Auntie) Magnesia was the nickname given to Hirschfeld by 
his detractors. 

539 Ibid., 185. 

540 Ibid., 221. 

541 Ibid., 416. 

542 Ibid., 414. 

543 Ibid., 333-334. 

544 Ibid., 94. 

545 Ibid., 259. 

546 Ibid., 282. 

547 Ibid., 47. 

548 Ibid. 

549 Ibid., 233-242. 

550 Karl Marx, real name Mordecai, was born into a well-to-do bourgeois Jewish 
family in Trier, Prussia on May 5, 1818. His grandfather was a Cologne rabbi 
and his freethinking Jewish father, a lawyer. Educated at the local gymnasium 
and the Universities of Bonn and Berlin, the young Marx was originally 
drawn to Hegelism, but later adopted the materialistic and atheistic doctrine 
of Ludwig Feuerback. He was also a Freemason and a Satanist. He married in 
1843. Marx met the wealthy Engels in 1844 and together expanded on the 
already well established revolutionary theories and practices of proletarian 
Socialism or Communism. Much of their work and organization, including the 
writing of The Communist Manifesto (1848) and the formation of the First 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


International (1864) was carried out in London. Marxist-Engels doctrine 
called for violent world revolution to create a new socialist order based on 
scientific materialism and class warfare, culminating in the victory of the 
proletariat or working class over their bourgeois exploiters to form a class¬ 
less socialist state. Marx’s opus work was Das Kapital. Marx died in London 
in 1883. For a look at Marx’s interest in American affairs, especially the Civil 
War and the U.S. labor movement, see Solange Hertz, The Star-Spangled 
Heresy: Americanism (Santa Monica, Calif.: Veritas Press, 1992). Friedrich 
Engels was born in Barmen Germany on November 28,1820. His father was 
a wealthy industrialist with a cotton-factory in Manchester, England where 
Friedrich was sent to supervise the workers. After their initial meeting in 
Paris in 1844, the two men formed a close ideological and political as well as 
personal partnership with Engels supporting Marx and his family for their 
entire lives. Engels was active in the formation of the Communist 
Correspondence Committee (1846) and the Communist League as well as the 
first drafting of The Communist Manifesto. Like Marx, Engels was arrested 
and exiled on a number of occasions from a number of different European 
countries for his revolutionary theories and practices. After Marx’s death, he 
edited, translated and promoted all of Marx’s works. He died in London on 
August 5,1895. See http://www.marx2mao.org/Lenin/KM14.html and 
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/TUengels.htm. Vladimir Ilyich 
Ulyanov, who later took the name of Lenin, was born in Simbirsk on April 22, 
1870. His father died when he was only 16 and his brother was executed one 
year later for revolutionary activities against the Czar. Drawn initially to a 
career in law, Vladimir Ilyich later embraced the tenets of Marxism and aided 
in the formation of the Russian Socialist Democratic Labor Party (RSDLP) in 
1898. When the party split, Lenin became the head of the Bolshevik faction. 
After the October 1917 Revolution in which the Bolsheviks came into power, 
he became the Chairman of the new Soviet government. Lenin founded the 
Third Communist International (Comintern) in March 1919 and the Union of 
Soviet Socialist Republics in 1922, two years before his fatal stroke at which 
time Stalin overcame his rivals including Trotsky and assumed power over 
the USSR. From: The Lenin Internet Archive: Biography: Timeline at 
http://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/bio/timeline.htm. 

551 For an excellent discussion of homosexuality and the political “Left” as seen 
through the eyes of contemporary “gay” activists and writers see by Gert 
Hekma, Harry Oosterhuis, James Steakley, eds., Gay Men and the Sexual 
History of the Political Left (New York: Harrington Park Press, 1995.) 

552 Ibid., 7. 

553 See Laura Engelstein, “Soviet Policy Toward Male Homosexuality: Its 
Origins and Historical Roots” in Gay Men and the Sexual History of the 
Political Left , eds. Gert Hekma, Harry Oosterhuis, James Steakley (New 
York: Harrington Park Press,1995). 

554 Wolff, 233-234. 

555 Engelstein, 172. 

556 Ibid., 169. 

557 In 1913, under Czar Nicholas II, Colonel Alfred Redl, a senior intelligence 
officer in the Austro-Hungarian army was blackmailed by the Russians who 
held evidence of his homosexual activities against him. Redl continued to 
supply the Russians with valuable military secrets until a chance incident led 
to his discovery. He killed himself with a pistol in a Vienna Hotel. 


283 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


558 Wolff, 423. 

559 Ibid., 221. In addition to “donations” Hirschfeld received from wealthy homo¬ 
sexual patients, whom he charged an exorbitant rate, Hirschfeld obtained 
some monies from experimental treatments that he created. For example, he 
developed a hormonal treatment for impotence and frigidity called “Titus 
Perlen” that he promoted at his lectures and in his professional publications 
and from which he received considerable profits. According to Wolff, the 
preparation was hazardous and she attacked Hirschfeld as being both profes¬ 
sionally and ethically reckless in promoting a dangerous treatment, especially 
one in which he had financial interests. On February 1, 1924, in an elaborate 
ceremony, Hirschfeld turned the ISS over to the new Weimar Republic in 
order to secure certain tax advantages and to give the Institute more 
respectability. He accepted the title (and kept control) of the new foundation. 
In the meantime, the secretariat of the old SHC was taken over by 24-year- 
old Richard Linsert, a member of the Communist Party with whom 
Hirschfeld collaborated on a number of later works. The policies of National 
Socialism under Adolf Hitler toward homosexuals, contained much of the 
ambiguity that marked Soviet anti-sodomy legislation. Nazi propaganda 
described homosexuality as a form of “sexual bolshevism.” Yet, Hitler 
tolerated Ernst Rohm, a known-homosexual as leader of the paramilitary SA 
until political opportunism dictated that Rohm and his kind be eliminated in 
the “Night of the Longknives” in 1934. Hitler also used the pedophile 
hammer against certain religious orders, particularly Franciscans, in his 
attack on the Roman Catholic Church. 

560 With the rise of National Socialism and the Nazi Party in the 1930s, 
Hirschfeld’s personal safety and the safety of the Institute came under 
increasing attack. Hitler, like Stalin was particularly interested in getting hold 
of all of the Institute’s secret files as well as the card list of the World League 
for Sexual Reform. However, by March 1933 when the Nazis raided the 
Institute, Giese had already escaped with most of the important documents 
and records and brought them to Hirschfeld who had resettled in France. 

561 The best overall reference on the Eulenburg Affair is Isabel V Hull, The 
Entourage of Kaiser Wilhelm II1888-1918 (Cambridge, England: Cambridge 
University Press, 1982). An excellent historical portrait of the entire Von 
Moltke family is found in Otto Friedrich, Blood and Iron—From Von 
Bismarck to Hitler—the Von Moltke Family’s Impact on German History (New 
York: Harper Perennial, Harper-Collins Publishers, 1995). Other sources 
include John C. G. Rohl and Nicolaus Sombart, Kaiser Wilhelm II New 
Interpretaions—The Corfu Papers, translated by Terence E Cole (Cambridge, 
England: Cambridge University Press, 1982); John C. G. Rohl, The Kaiser 
and his Court Wilhelm II and the Government of Germany, translated by 
Terence E Cole (Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1994); 
James D. Steakley, “Iconography of a Scandal: Political Cartoons and the Von 
Eulenburg Affair in Wilhelmin Germany,” in Hidden from History — 
Reclaiming the Gay & Lesbian Past, eds. Martin Baum Doberman, Martha 
Vicinus, George Chauncey, Jr., (New York: New American Library, Penguin 
Books, 1989); and Scott Lively The Poisoned Stream “Gay” Influence in 
Human History Vol. I Germany 1890-1945, (Keizer, Ore.: Founders 
Publishing Corporation, 1997). The excepts from Lively’s The Poisoned 
Stream used in this book were taken from the electronic version available at 
http://www.abidingtruth.com/poisonedstream/chapterl.html. See also, “The 
Von Eulenburg Affair—‘Outing’ as delayed Revenge?” Die Andere Welt, 


284 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


February 1997, 8-9 at 

http://mitglied.lycos.de/eratonet/eiVVon Eulenburg_affair.htm. 

562 Rohl, The Kaiser and his Court, 3-4. As Rohl points out, Kaiser Wilhelm II’s 
desire for “personal rule” never embraced a “full scale-autocracy.” 

563 Hull, 17. 

564 Ibid. 

565 Ibid. 

566 Rohl, 12-16. 

567 Hull, 9, 48. The author provides a detailed examination of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s 
Umgebung (entourage). 

568 Ibid., 146. 

569 Rohl, 31. 

570 Hull, 49. 

571 Ibid., 70. 

572 Rohl, 64-67. 

573 Hull, 49-50. Also Rohl, 97. 

574 Ibid., 47, 51-53. 

575 Ibid., 109. Also Rohl, 55-57. 

576 Rohl, 101. 

577 Ibid., 101-102. 

578 Hull, 130. 

579 Rohl, 42-50. 

580 General Kuno Graf von Moltke should not be confused with General Helmuth 
von Moltke who became Kaiser Wilhelm II’s Army Chief of Staff in 1906. 
Although von Helmuth occasionally hunted with members of the Liebenberg 
Circle, he was never an intimate member of von Eulenburg’s intimate circle. 
See Lexikon der Deutschen Generale—von Moltke, Helmuth 1848-1916 and 
von Moltke, Kuno Graf 1847-1923—at 
www.lexikon-deutschegenerale ,de/m_pr2 .html. 

581 Hull, 53. It may be that Eulenburg and Moltke shared a brief sexual intimacy 
early in their relationship, but like Oscar Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, they 
later found it more sexually satisfying to seek out (and share) other sexual 
outlets in the form of “recreational” sex with renters, prostitutes and lower 
class workmen. 

582 Rohl, 61. The author states that according to Axel Varnbiiler, Eulenburg con¬ 
ducted a number of extra-marital affairs with women. 

583 Eulenburg entered diplomatic service in 1877 and served as Secretary to the 
Prussian Mission in Munich (1881-88) before his appointment to the ambas¬ 
sadorship in Vienna. 

584 Fritz Stern, Gold and Iron — Bismarck, Bleichroder, and the Building of the 
German Empire (New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1977), 306. 

585 Lively, 29. 

586 Hull, 55-56. 

587 Stern, 273. Former Chancellor von Bismarck was well aware that the Fourth 
Estate in Germany was dominated by Jews, so it was logical that he would 
seek out the assistance of Harden in exposing the Eulenburg homosexual 
clique that surrounded the Kaiser. 

588 Ibid., 254. 


285 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


589 Rohl, 101-102. 

590 Hull, 123-126. 

591 Rohl, 84. 

592 Hull, 87, 89. 

593 Lively, 59. 

594 Ibid. 

595 Stern, 247. 

596 Hull, 127. 

597 Ibid., 133. 

598 Ibid., 137. 

599 Stern, 240. 

600 Ibid. 

601 Ibid. 242. 

602 Ibid. 

603 Wolff, 70. 

604 Simon LeVay, “Queer Science—The Use and Abuse of Research into 
Homosexuality,” Washington Post, February 13, 2003, at 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/style/longterm/books/chapl/ 
queerscience.htm. 

605 Wolff, 71. 

606 Ibid. 

607 Adolf Brand was member of a special unit of the SHC called the 
“Aktionsausschuss” (Action Board) that organized and conducted a campaign 
against Paragraph 175. 

608 Lively, 26. See also Steakley, 528. 

609 Wolff, 70. 

610 Stern, 244. 

611 Ibid., 255. Also Wolff, 72. 

612 Stern, 244. 

613 Ibid. 

614 Ibid. 

615 Ibid., 245. Also Rohl, 63. Rohl notes that before Wilhelm became Kaiser, he 
had ridden with Count von Eulenburg on the Starnbergersee with Jakob. 

616 Hull, 144. 

617 Ibid., 139. 

618 Ibid., 140. 

619 Ibid. 

620 Steakley, 531. 

621 Ulrichs, 356. In The Riddle of ‘Man-Manly’ Love, Ulrichs reported on an 1868 
case in which a First Lieutenant in the 9th Infantry Regiment in Wurzburg 
made sexual demands on a subordinate who reported the incident to the 
company commander. The regiment commander ordered the offending officer 
to immediately leave the service. Ulrichs thought this grossly unfair. Ulrichs 
also noted that enlisted men arrested for homosexual activities off post were 
punished by small fines or a short term in the brig. 

622 Lively, 20. 


286 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


623 Ibid., 19. Also Steakley, 239. 

624 Steakley, 239. 

625 Ibid. 

626 The musical Cabaret was based on the 1933 book Berlin Stories by British 
writer and self-avowed homosexual Christopher Isherwood. He was a fre¬ 
quent guest of Magnus Hirschfeld when he was in Berlin, and was especially 
fond of Karl Giese, Hirschfeld’s young lover. Hirschfeld considered 
Isherwood to be suffering from “infantilism.” Christopher kept a detailed 
diary of his many homosexual affairs with working-class and foreign youth. 
His experiences at the Institute and in Berlin were written up in Christopher 
and His Kind 1929-1939 (New York: Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 1976). For a full 
biography of Isherwood see John Lehmann, Christopher Isherwood — 

A Personal Memoir (New York: Henry Holt and Co., 1987). 

627 Quip by Brent McKee in “The Replacement Player—Germany in the Real 
World” at 

http://www.diplomacy-archive.com/resources/strategy/articles/ 

replacement_player.htm. 

628 There continues to be much speculation today about the role of the 
Eulenburg Affair in the fermenting of World War I and World War II. 

There are some homosexual proponents that suggest the elimination of the 
Liebenberg circle from the Kaiser’s entourage removed the voice of 
moderation from the court of Wilhelm II and increased the influence of those 
advocating a more aggressive nationalism and militarism. But one also must 
consider that von Eulenburg was against any legitimate constitutional 
advances in government and favored a pro-agrarian rather than a pro¬ 
industrial Germany. He sought to stick his head in the sand with regard to 
the new social forces that were sweeping across Germany. In the end, per¬ 
haps the pivotal factor in Germany’s march to war began with the dismissal 
of Chancellor von Bismarck. Wilhelm II surrounded himself with men who 
would rubber-stamp his vision of a New Germany. Eulenburg and his homo¬ 
sexual coterie served in this capacity. The minute they stepped out of their 
given role, they would have—as the common expression “been toast”— 
homosexuals or not. For a lengthy academic discussion of these issues see 
Professor Rohl’s assessment in The Kaiser and his Court, 150-189. 

629 Laurence L. Bongie, Sade A Biographical Essay, Chicago: University of 
Chicago Press, 1998), 81. 

630 See Merrick, Jeffrey and Ragan, Jr., Bryant T., eds., Homosexuality in Modern 
France (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). 

631 The Declaration was drafted by Gilbert du Montier known to history as the 
Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834). He sent a copy of the draft to Thomas 
Jefferson before giving it to the French Estates General for consideration by 
the National Assembly. The Declaration had a much greater effect on Europe 
than did the American Declaration of Independence. Author used the new 
translation based on French language available from 
http://www.magnacartaplus.org/french-rights/1789.htm. 

632 Michael David Sibalis, “The Regulation of Male Homosexuality in 
Revolutionary and Napoleonic France 1789-1815,” in Homosexuality in 
Modem France, eds. Jeffrey Merrick, and Bryant T., Ragan, Jr. (New York: 
Oxford University Press, 1996), 83. 


287 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


633 Bryant T. Ragan, Jr., “The Enlightenment Confronts Homosexuality,” in 
Homosexuality in Modern France, eds. Jeffrey Merrick, and Bryant T., Ragan, 
Jr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996) 22-23. 

634 Sibalis, 82-83. See Articles 8 and 9 of the Law of July 19-22, 1791. 

635 Ibid., 86. 

636 Vernon A. Rosario II, “Pointy Penises, Fashion Crimes, and Hysterical 
Mollies: The Pederasts’ Inversions,” in Homosexuality in Modern France, eds. 
Jeffrey Merrick, and Bryant T., Ragan, Jr. (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1996), 148. 

637 Sibalis, 83. 

638 Rosario, 148. 

639 An 1814 cartoon that lampooned Cambaceres for his effeminacy and 
pederasty shows him dressed as the Piped Piper of Hamlin being followed 
by a long line of young boys can be seen at 
www.gayhistory.com/rev2/factfiles/ffl810.htm. 

640 Sibalis, 92. 

641 Ibid., 89. 

642 Ibid., 91. 

643 Ibid., 92. 

644 Ibid., 95. 

645 Ibid. 

646 Ibid. 

647 Ibid., 92. 

648 Ibid., 93. 

649 Ibid. 

650 Ibid. 

651 Ibid., 86. 

652 Ibid., 95. 

653 Gilbert Lely, The Marquis de Sade: A Biography, translated by Alec Brown 
(New York: Grove Press, Inc., 1961), 122. 

654 Bongie, 19. 

655 Ibid., 21. 

656 Ibid., 66. 

657 Ibid., 67. 

658 Ibid. 

659 Ibid. 

660 Ibid., 260. 

661 Ibid., 81. 

662 Ibid., 93. Bongie records, that the Comte de Sade, at the time of his death, 
had repented of his sins and was reconciled with the Church. 

663 Ibid., 133. 

664 Ibid. 

665 Donald Thomas, The Marquis De Sade A New Biography (New York: Citadel 
Press, Carol Publishing Co., 1992), 250-251. 

666 Thomas, 250. The terms “prison” and “asylum” should be taken with a 
modicum of caution. Since Sade was of noble birth—revolution or no 


288 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


revolution—he was, with few exceptions, treated accordingly—he almost 
always had a supply of wine and good food on hand; he had visitors, pen and 
paper; his own library of books; and a supply of anal dildos, supplied by his 
wife, whereby he was able to sodomize himself. Sade kept an asylum diary in 
which he continued to make entries almost to the day of his death. It was not 
published until 1970. In addition to the attention of Mme. Quesnet, who Sade 
passed off to the authorities as his daughter, in 1808, Sade, now 60, seduced 
the 12-year-old daughter of an asylum employee Madame Leclerc. Madeleine 
Leclerc remained Sade’s mistress until his death. She, along with Sade’s son, 
Donatien-Claude-Armand, his physician, Dr. L. J. Ramon, and the Abbe 
Geoffrey were the last persons to visit the Marquis before his death. 

667 Bongie, xi. 

668 Ibid., 244, 256. 

669 Ibid., 32, 123, 125. 

670 Although it is clear that Sade was more than capable of sodomizing any mod¬ 
ern homosexual male under the table, few gay websites or gay writers appear 
anxious to claim the Marquis as one of their own. For example, Paul Russell’s 
The Gay 100 does not include Sade. Neither does the popular gay website the 
American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgendered 
Round Table. 

671 Over the next 100 years, the age of consent rose from 11 to 13 (April 1863) 
to 16 and finally to 21 under the Vichy regime of Petain in 1942. It was not 
until 1982 that the age of consent was fixed at 15 with special restrictive 
exceptions for individuals deemed to have an inordinate influence on the child 
such as relatives, teachers, and clergy. 

672 Rosario, 170. 

673 Drs. Jean-Martin Charcot and Valentin Magnan collaborated on the term 
“perversions sexuelles” which they coined 1882. The term encompassed 
sexual inverts and pedophiles. The theories of Dr. Benedict A. Morel were 
heavily influenced by English and German theories of degeneration and 
hereditary “taints.” John A. Symonds was one of Morel’s severest critics. 

For an excellent summary of Tardieu’s career see 
http://www.whonamedit.com/doctor.cfm/99.html. 

674 Victoria Thompson, “Creating Boundaries: Homosexuality and the Changing 
Social Order in France, 1830-1870,” in Homosexuality in Modern France, eds. 
Jeffrey Merrick, and Bryant T., Ragan, Jr. (New York: Oxford University 
Press, 1996), 114. 

675 Thompson, 114. 

676 Ibid., 115. 

677 See William A. Peniston, “Love and Death in Gay Paris: Homosexuality and 
Criminality in the 1870s,” in Homosexuality in Modern France, eds. Jeffrey 
Merrick, and Bryant T., Ragan, Jr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 

1996). Other comments on the violent homosexual underworld in late 19th 
century France can be found in a letter to Dr. Paul Serieux, on May 15,1893, 
from J. K. Huysmans who sent him materials and studies on sexual anomalies 
and sexual inversion (homosexuality]: Huysmans wrote: “I was able to get an 
introduction into the frightful world of sodomy. Frightful! Frightful is the 
word, and if demonic action were to exist, that is where it would be found. I 
believe that they are all candidates for the madhouse, but stab wounds ensure 
that they die in hospitals rather than in mental asylums. This is what is 


289 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


disconcerting; one could almost establish a law: that is, that true sodomites 
(I don’t mean that young lads who do it for money, but those who live only for 
this fixation) are physical giants. It seems that muscular strength develops 
this taste in men. Thus this army finds its recruits amongst the porters of the 
central markets, butchers’ boys, fairground strongmen. Those are the ones 
who are really enamoured of this vice and are, above all, the passive partners. 
All the bars around Les Halles are full of them. And what is frightening is 
that a man who has this vice cuts himself off voluntarily from the rest of the 
world. He lives apart. He eats, has his hair done, drinks in special establish¬ 
ments run by sodomites; his brain becomes even more given up to this 
imbecility as his voice changes; imagine a Hercules with enormous arms, a 
bestial mouth, cackling like an old maid, putting on airs and graces in a loud 
voice that is shrill and husky! ...If you get any patients at Villejuif (the asylum 
where his mistress died) who are members of these confraternities, try to 
get to know their past, if possible! You will find material for some curious 
studies of the human soul.” j. K. Huysmans, The Road from Decadence— 
From Brothel to Cloister—Selected letters off K. Huysmans, edited and 
translated by Barbara Beaumont (Ohio: Ohio State University Press, 1989), 
131-132. 

678 See Ulrichs, Vol. I, 329. 

679 Peniston, 142. 

680 Pius IX (Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti) (1792-1878). His famous Encyclical 
Quanta Cura issued on December 8,1864, and his firebrand declaration 
Syllabus errorum became the scourge of the Modernists for the next 39 
years. Pope Pius IX the longest reigning pontiff in papal history convened the 
First Vatican Council on December 8,1869. The Council’s most significant 
pronouncement was the doctrine of papal infallibility, that is the pope was 
infallible when speaking ex cathedra (from the throne) on matters of faith and 
morals. The Italian revolution in which France played a major role inter¬ 
rupted the process of the Council, which was never concluded. From “The 
First Vatican Council,” by K. Kirch, Transcribed by Douglas J. Potter at 
http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15303a.htm. 

681 Delay, 65. 

682 Ibid., 36-39. 

683 Ibid., 41. 

684 Ibid., 135. 

685 Ibid., 432. 

686 Ibid., 104,133. 

687 Ibid., 125. 

688 Ibid., 135. 

689 Gide, 52. 

690 Delay, 117. 

691 Ibid., 433. 

692 Ibid., 120. 

693 Ibid., 118. 

694 Ibid., 119. 

695 Ibid., 323. 

696 Ibid., 230. 


290 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


697 Among the most legendary of pederastic diarists was the famous Irish 
patriot, Sir Roger Casement who kept a detailed journal of the boys he 
sexually abused. His diary was seized when he was arrested for high treason 
in 1916, and certain citations used from it by British intelligence to under¬ 
mine popular support for him and his cause. There were later claims that the 
diary was a forgery. However, H. Montgomery Hyde said that Casement 
admitted his pedophile actions to a member of his defense council, Sergeant 
Sullivan, and that he “gloried” in his homosexuality. Casement was received 
into the Catholic Church on the eve of his execution. In 1965, his remains 
were returned for a hero’s funeral to the Irish Government. See, Hyde, The 
Love That Dared Not Speak Its Name, 162-163. 

698 Delay, 426. 

699 Ibid., 230. 

700 Ibid., 226. 

701 Robinson, 199. 

702 Martha Hanna, “Natalism, Homosexuality, and the Controversy over 
Corydon,” in Homosexuality in Modern France, eds. Jeffrey Merrick, and 
Bryant T., Ragan, Jr. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996), 202-224. 

703 Ibid., 213. 

704 See Andre Gide, The Journals of Andre Gide, translated and edited by Justin 
O’Brien, Vol. I 1889-1924, Vol. II 1924-1949 (Evanston, Ill.: Northwestern 
University Press, 1987). Among Gide’s other popular works are Prometheus 
Misbound (1899), The Immoralist (1902), Strait Is the Gate (1909), Lafcadio’s 
Adventures (1914) and The Counterfeiters (1926). In 1909, he helped found the 
Nouvelle Revue Francaise. In 1947, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 
Literature. 

705 In Gay Lives—Homosexual Autobiography from John Addington Symonds to 
Paul Monette (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999), homosexual 
writer Paul Robinson raised an intriguing question as to whether or not a 
homosexual’s nationality played any role in determining his personal charac¬ 
teristics and the manner in which he lived out his life. He answers in the 
affirmative—with qualifications. He proffered, that while the British autobi¬ 
ographers in his book, demonstrated a “sexual fascination with the lower 
classes,” the French autobiographers tended to attach more erotic signifi¬ 
cance to “national and ethnic differences” in their selection of sex partners. 
He also noted that the French writers, displayed a distinct proclivity to 
philosophize their condition away, that is, they manifested a peculiar and 
irremediable penchant for “abstraction” and “introspection.” “Unlike the 
British and the Americans, they (the French) are not satisfied simply to be 
homosexual; they have to rationalize their preference in terms of some grand 
metaphysical scheme,” Robinson said. Two other characteristics, Robinson 
stated that set the French autobiographers apart from their English and 
American counterparts are “a curious absence of embarrassment (though not 
necessarily of guilt)” and a “perceived literary superiority.” 

706 Delay, 426. 

707 Ibid., 442, 

708 Ibid., 451. 

709 Ibid., 448. 

710 Ibid., 305. 

711 Ibid., 195. 


291 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 

712 Ibid., 303. 

713 Some sources state that Gide “adopted” Marc Allegret, one of Pastor Elie 
Allegret five children. Other sources indicate that Gide was Marc’s “uncle.” If 
there was any connection, however, it was probably as Delay indicated—an 
informal guardianship—which Gide took full advantage of. 

714 Delay, 303. 

715 Ibid., 437. 

716 Ibid. 

717 Ibid., 435. 

718 Ibid., 441-442. 

719 Hanna, 221. 

720 Igor S. Kon, “Moonlight Love—Historical Prelude,” available from the 
Gay.Ru project of the Russian GLJ3T Center in Moscow at 
http://www.gay.ru/english/history/moscow/16001861.htm. See also 

Dan Healey, Homosexual'Desire in Revolutionary Russia (Chicago: University 
of Chicago Press, 2001).- 

721 Ibid. 

722 Engelstein, 157. 

723 Ibid. 

724 Ibid., 157-158. 

725 Ibid. 

726 Dan Healey, “1861-1917: The Appearance of a Homosexual Subculture,” 
available from http://www.gay.ru/english/history/moscow/18611917.htm. 

For an updated notion of “blues” see Kevin O’Flynn, “Deputies Want To 
Outlaw Homosexuality,” St. Petersburg Times, April 26, 2002 available from 
http://www.sptimes.ru/archive/times/765/top/t_6333.htm. 

727 Ibid. 

728 Ibid. 

729 Early biographical data on Tchaikovsky’s parents was taken from Gretchen 
Lamb’s website on Tchaikovsky—The Man, The Composer, Miscellaneous 
available fromhttp://www.geocities.com/Vienna/5648/Tchaikovsky.htm. 

730 Ibid. 

731 Anthony Holden, Tchaikovsky a Biography (Random House NY, 1995), 7-10. 

732 Ibid., 12. 

733 Ibid., 21-29. 

734 Ibid., 66-69. 

735 Ibid., 68. 

736 Ibid., 125-150. In 1896 Antonia was certified insane and institutionalized in 
an asylum in St. Petersburg. She died during the Russian Revolution of 1917. 

737 Ibid., 42. 

738 Ibid., 82. 

739 Ibid., 80. 

740 Ibid., 401. 

741 Ibid., 72. 

742 Ibid., 135-150. 

743 Ibid., 245. 


292 



HOMOSEXUALITY AND THE RISE OF THE MODERN SECULAR STATE 


744 Ibid., 110. 

745 Ibid., 202. 

746 Ibid., 234-236. 

747 Ibid., 313. 

748 Ibid., 319. 

749 Ibid., 263. 

750 Ibid., 310, 391. 

751 Ibid., 403. 

752 Ibid., 225. 

753 Ibid., 255. 

754 Ibid., 256. 

755 Ibid., 347. 

756 Ibid., 268. 

757 Ibid., 234. 

758 Ibid. 

759 See also Alexander Poznansky, Tchaikovsky—The Quest for the Inner Man 
(New York: Schirmer Books, 1991). 

760 Ibid., 379-380. 

761 Ibid., 380. 

762 Ibid. 

763 Ibid., 368. 

764 Tyerman, 278. 

765 Rohl, 24. 


293 




Chapter 5 


The Homintem and the Cambridge Spies 


Introduction 

Claire Sterling, author of the superb expose Octopus: The Long Reach 
of the Sicilian Mafia, has observed that “a network is impossible to resist 
where imperfectly understood.” 1 Part of this understanding of networks, 
be it the Mafia, the Cambridge spy ring, or the 21st century Homintern in 
the Roman Catholic Church includes an acknowledgement that such sub¬ 
versive organizations do not grow “spontaneously,” but must be “directed 
and managed.” 2 To discuss such things as infiltration, subversion, spies, 
treason, and betrayal in the context of any subversive organization is, in the 
words of Father Enrique Rueda, neither “unseemly” nor “paranoid.” 3 

This historical overview of the'Cambridge spies demonstrates how 
quickly Crown, State, or Church can be brought down when subversion and 
treason from within combines with attack from without. 4. It not only pro¬ 
vides an example of the development, organization, and ramifications of a 
subversive network, but also many concrete insights into the development 
and inner workings of the Homosexual International from the 1930s on. 
Most importantly, it provides a detailed examination of a large-scale Estab¬ 
lishment crisis and cover-up in which homosexuality played a pivotal role 
in a nation’s history 

The Anatomy of Treason 

A nation can survive its fools, and even the ambitious. But it cannot survive 
treason from within. An enemy at the gate is less formidable, for he is 
known and he carries his banner openly. But the traitor moves among those 
within the gate freely, his sly whispers rustling through all the alleys, heard 
in the very hall of government itself. For the traitor appears not a traitor— 
he speaks in accents familiar to his victims, and he wears their face and their 
garments, and he appeals to the baseness that lies deep in the hearts of all 
men. He rots the soul of a nation—he works secretly and unknown in the 
night to undermine the pillars of a city—he infects the body politic so that 
it can no longer resist. A murderer is less to be feared. 5 

Cicero 42 BC 

In the realm of the profane, a traitor is defined as one who betrays his 
country to which he owes his allegiance by overt actions. In the realm of 
the sacred, the traitor is one who by deliberate acts, betrays his faith. 

The motivation for treason—both secular and sacred—is generally 
mixed and difficult to decipher. It may include a desire for personal gain or 


295 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


monetary reward, or be a consequence of an illicit entanglement or former 
criminal action, or simply the desire to deceive and betray those for whom 
a violent and long-standing grudge or resentment is borne. 

Although blackmail is popularly believed to be an effective means of 
recruiting potential traitors by enemy operatives in the secular sphere, this 
is usually not the case. As Alexander Orlov, a former chief of Soviet Intel¬ 
ligence has observed, it is a poor and dangerous strategy “to make an enemy 
of a man and thereafter rely on him in such a delicate and hazardous mat¬ 
ter as an intelligence operation .” 6 The claim of blackmail, on the other 
hand, is often used as an after-the-fact ploy. Convicted traitors will often 
attempt to “extenuate their guilt in the eyes of the jury and win as much 
leniency as they can from the court” by testifying that they had been forced 
into espionage by the threat of blackmail,” said Orlov . 7 

Since human motivation is so critical to the espionage business, the suc¬ 
cessful recruiter and network builder tends to eschew blackmail in favor of 
more positive means of inspiring and directing the members of his spy net¬ 
work. These include appeals to idealism, the lure of money, or to personal 
and exploitable character traits including excessive egotism, the desire for 
revenge or retribution . 8 The ability to correctly assess character and moti¬ 
vation and to mold the members of his spy team into an effective cohesive 
espionage team is the mark of intelligence competence . 9 

Victor Ostrovsky, a former Mossad (Israeli Intelligence Service) agent 
compared the recruitment process to that of rolling a rock down a hill. “We 
used the word ‘ledarder’ meaning to stand on top of a hill and push a boul¬ 
der down. That’s how you recruit,” he explained . 10 “You take somebody 
and get him gradually to do something illegal or immoral. You push him 
down the hill. But if he’s on a pedestal, he’s not going to help you. You can’t 
use him. The whole purpose is to use people. But in order to use them, you 
have to mold them. If you have a guy who doesn’t drink, doesn’t want sex, 
doesn’t need money, has no political problems, and is happy with life, you 
can’t recruit him,” Ostrovsky said . 11 

The Traitor as a Grievance Collector 

Bradford Westerfield, an expert on espionage has claimed that, in terms 
of personality traits, the man who would be traitor can be defined by three 
primary characteristics—his “immaturity, sociopathy and narcissism .” 12 

“His self-absorption is like a dark star or a black hole—everything goes 
in but no light, no love, no warmth, no understanding ever comes out,” 
Westerfield said . 13 

In his need to preserve his “emotional virginity” and to deflect “his own 
guilt, blame, and responsibility,” Westerfield noted, “the traitor attributes 
his adverse conditions to persons or circumstances outside of himself .” 14 
Whatever the “actual source of his difficulties,” the traitor does not see 


296 



THE HOMINTERN AND THE CAMBRIDGE SPIES 


them arising from his own actions. In this way he is able to preserve his 
“grandiose view of his immediate self,” Westerfield said. 15 

The habitual mindset of a traitor has been described as one of “con¬ 
trolled schizophrenia.” 16 Not unlike the pederast priest who says Mass and 
immediately retires to the sacristy to sodomize an altar boy, the successful 
traitor needs to strictly compartmentalize his life in order to retain a sense 
of sanity and control and to escape detection. He must perfect the art of 
duplicity and concealment. He must learn to play out different roles—to 
constantly remake his persona. He also must have great strength of will in 
order to contend with the inevitable tensions that living a double or triple 
life brings. Failure to acquire these skills is a virtual guarantee of a mental 
or emotional breakdown. 17 

For the traitor, Westerfield said, “hatred is a powerful motivator.” The 
traitor is a “collector” of injustices and resentments, real and imagined. 18 
When it is combined with an ideology like Communism that feeds on hate, 
the combination can be lethal. Quoting a British historian, Westerfield said 
that “a man is never so dangerous as when he can identify a private griev¬ 
ance with a matter of principle.” 19 

This singular factor—hate—explains in part why two minority groups, 
notably, Jews and homosexuals, played such a significant role in a number 
of major United States and English spy cases during the post-1917 Bol¬ 
shevik Revolution era. Both Lenin and later Stalin were able to exploit the 
vulnerabilities of Jews and homosexuals in advancing their dictatorships. 

The Bolshevik Jews, alienated from both their own religious heritage 
and from Czarist Orthodox society, played a prominent role in the Bol¬ 
shevik Revolution, the Communist Party, the Red Army High Command 
and the Soviet Cheka, the Bolshevik’s secret police and primary arm of 
terror. 

According to Zvi Y. Gitelmen, author of Jewish Nationality and Soviet 
Politics—the Jewish Section of the CPSU, 1917-1930, “Since most Jews 
were not obviously devoted to the Czar, they could be expected not to sup¬ 
port the Whites.” 20 Also there was the matter of power. “From the Jewish 
point of view it was no doubt the lure of immediate physical power which 
attracted many Jewish youths, desirous of avenging crimes perpetrated 
against their people by anti-Soviet forces of all sorts,” wrote Gitelmen. 21 

“Whatever the reasons, Jews were heavily represented in the secret 
police,” he said. “If you fell into their hands you would probably be shot,” 
he continued. 22 “Since the Cheka was the most hated and feared organ of 
the Bolshevik government, anti-Jewish feelings increased in direct pro¬ 
portion to the Cheka terror,” said Gitelmen. 23 He also reported that Lenin 
appreciated Jewish participation in Soviet Administration as well as the 
role of Jews in revolutionary activities not only in Russia, but also in other 
lands. 24 


297 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


In the United States, during the decades immediately following the 
1917 Revolution, investigative writers Ronald Radosh and Joyce Milton, 
authors of The Rosenberg File—A Search for the Truth, wrote that many 
Jewish intellectuals and scientists, were drawn into the spy game by their 
admiration for the Soviet social experiment that had made “anti-Seminism” 
a crime against the state. 25 Radosh and Milton cited convicted Soviet spies 
Julius and Ethel Rosenberg as “thoroughgoing ideologues,’’ and Ethel 
Rosenberg, in particular, as a “practical hater” filled with “vengeance.” 26 

Like the Bolshevik Jews, leaders of the emerging Homintern in Europe 
and in the United States were filled with the same revolutioflary zeal for a 
utopian New Order that would no longer discriminate against homosexuals. 
Both groups used the clenched fist as a symbol of “liberation” except that 
whereas the Communist raised his fist in the air, the members of the 
Homintern drove it into the rectum as a symbol of their rebellion. 27 The 
Comintern and the Homintern also shared a common hatred for God, for 
Christianity, indeed all legitimate power. Like their Jewish counterparts, 
Communist homosexuals were willing to take a risk because they believe 
that they had nothing to loose. 

Treason is a deviant act. 28 So is sodomy. Historically speaking, there has 
always been a traditional association between sexual deviancy and heresy 
and treason. 29 And while it is true that not all homosexuals are traitors or 
radical Socialists, nevertheless the traitor and the homosexual do share 
common traits. 

The personality profile of a homosexual closely fits Westerfields’ per¬ 
sonality profile of a traitor—he is immature, neurotic, and narcissistic. The 
active homosexual is an artful seducer, a natural recruiter and a proselytizer 
for “the cause.” He is a predator skilled in evaluating the vulnerability of 
his prey. He is conditioned to acts of duplicity and split loyalties. He lives a 
compartmentalized life with contacts to the criminal underworld via illicit 
drugs, pornography, prostitution, and possible blackmail and violence. The 
homosexual is a gatherer of “injustices” and Marxism offers him “the 
attraction of a secret shrine of individual rebellion.” 30 It is this desire to 
strike back against a society that has rejected him, rather than the threat of 
blackmail that lures the homosexual into the enemy’s espionage net. 31 The 
homosexual believes himself to be an “outsider,” who like the spy, wants to 
come in from the cold, but feels he cannot. 

The Dutch psychologist, Gerard J. M. van den Aardweg, Ph.D., summa¬ 
rized the homosexual’s propensity for subversion thusly: “Subversiveness 
is not rare in homosexuals, as it is the hostility coming from the complex of 
not belonging. For that reason, avowed homosexuals may be unreliable 
elements in any group or organization.” 32 They desire an unreal utopian 
world, said van den Aardweg. One that is “superior,” snobbish, more “chic,” 
full of “thrill and adventure” in comparison to “the ordinary world,” he 
reported. 33 


298 



THE HOMINTERN AND THE CAMBRIDGE SPIES 


The Espionage Business 

Gathering intelligence on foreign governments including their secret 
offensive and defensive powers and plans, and keeping the actual or poten¬ 
tial enemy state from discovering its national secrets has been the common 
goal of all national secret services since time immemorial. Traditionally, 
European powers relied on selected princes of the Roman Catholic Church 
to organize their secret services since no single nation was able to compete 
with the most widespread and efficient espionage system in the world. 34 

For example, in 17th century France, acting under a request to the Holy 
See by King Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu aided by a Capuchin priest, 
Francois le Clerc du Tremblay, created a vast internal and external intelli¬ 
gence service that rivaled that of France’s arch rival, England, and cata¬ 
pulted France into a first-class world power. 35 

Although the objectives of modern day national secret services has 
changed little from the days of Richelieu, the means by which these objec¬ 
tives are secured and information processed has changed dramatically and 
vary widely from country to country. During the first half of the 20th cen¬ 
tury, the United States, and the West in general, based their doctrine of 
intelligence primarily on research and information gathered from “open 
sources,” whereas the Soviets and Eastern Bloc depended more on a “cloak 
and dagger” approach in which intelligence is gathered from secret sources 
using a vast network of spies, informers, and undercover agents to ferret 
out highly classified documents and raw data and to lure potential traitors 
into their service. 

By the early 1920s, the intelligence services of key Western European 
powers including England and France, were alerted to the fact that the 
Bolsheviks, in addition to building up the Cheka, their internal secret police 
used to combat “counter-revolutionary” activities and sabotage at home, 
were also planning a new and vast international espionage network. 

In early 1918, Communist chief Vladimir Lenin, put the Cheka, into the 
hands of Felix Edmundovich Dzerzhinsky, considered to be the father of 
modern Soviet espionage. Although the name of Soviet intelligence serv¬ 
ices has changed over the years from the Cheka to the GPU (State Political 
Administration, 1922-1923), to the OGPU (Unified State Political Direc¬ 
torate, 1923-1934) to the NKVD (People’s Commissariat for Internal 
Affairs, 1934-1946) to the MD (Ministry of Internal Affairs 1946-1954), 
and finally to the KGB (Committee for State Security) that was supple¬ 
mented by the GRU (Chief Intelligence Directorate of the General Staff) 
in 1954, Soviet espionage agents are still known to Soviet citizens as 
Chekists. 36 Following the death of Dzerzhinsky in 1926, Lenin’s heir to ter¬ 
ror, Josef Stalin, made the newly expanded Soviet secret police the instru¬ 
ment of his absolute power over the Russian people. 

In terms of foreign espionage, during the early 1920’s, Soviet intelli¬ 
gence operations designed to ferment World Revolution were routinely 


299 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


centered in Soviet embassies. Gradually, however, Stalin began to replace 
this highly vulnerable system with a more sophisticated network of Soviet 
agents headed by resident directors who had no connections to the Soviet 
Union’s formal diplomatic staff abroad and who operated under orders 
directly from Moscow. Labour unions, universities, industrial centers and 
liberal political and cultural institutions in the United States and in Europe 
were the primary targets of Communist infiltration and control. For exam¬ 
ple, in England, the Trotskyists and Communists posed as Socialists and 
heavily infiltrated the Labour Party. Even the Tories were not immune from 
infiltration. The NKVD was also able to use the Comintern intelligence 
apparatus in Britain to recruit civil servants from the governmental bureau¬ 
cracy at Whitehall, including members of the “permanent secretaries” club 
of heads of the Department of State.” 37 

During the late 1920s and early 1930s, as Stalin was methodically plan¬ 
ning his Great Terror at home in the form of massive political, military, eco¬ 
nomic and agricultural purges that cost an estimated 20 million Russian 
lives, he also embarked upon a vastly expanded espionage program de¬ 
signed to secure diplomatic, military, industrial and scientific intelligence 
from the West. 38 

Stalin ordered that Soviet-controlled long-term “sleepers” and “moles” 
be placed in secret service agencies, high government posts and key uni¬ 
versity and scientific centers throughout the West. His strategy proved 
deadly successful especially against British Intelligence Services and the 
United States’ Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and later the Central 
Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the National Security Agency (NSA). 39 

As espionage writers Phillip Knightley, Bruce Page, and David Leitch, 
have pointed out, “A penetrated secret service is not just a bad one; it is 
an appalling liability.” 40 “For at least ten years, a charitable estimate, the 
British Secret Service in areas of diplomacy, economics and strategic de¬ 
fense were the blind leading the blind; operations were forfeited; officers 
compromised; agents shot, imprisoned or forced to become channels of 
misleading information, i.e., disinformation,” they charged. 41 

The fact, that by 1932, Stalin had already set a course of covert warfare 
against the West, well in advance of the onset of World War II, supports 
the theory put forth by historians such as Professor Ernst Topitsch of the 
University of Graz in Austria, that the Soviet dictator used the war as a part 
of the Soviet long-term strategy for the subjugation and destruction on the 
non-Communist world, that is to say, the Second World War was essentially 
Stalin’s war not Hitler’s. 42 

A Soviet Hook for Everyone 

Stalin honed Soviet espionage into an exacting science with a “hook” 
tailor-made for an exact fit of every potential target of recruitment. 


300 



THE HOMINTERN AND THE CAMBRIDGE SPIES 


In terms of diplomatic intelligence, the principle sources of State 
secrets were foreign diplomats, ambassadors, staff members of foreign min¬ 
istries including code clerks and secretaries, members of parliaments and 
ambitious politicians who in their quest for power sought financial aid and 
support from the liberal establishment. 43 

Foreign Office departmental heads were of particular value because 
they were able to supply the Soviets with confidential documents of the 
secret policies and strategies of multiple foreign governments. The great¬ 
est Soviet prize, however, was the hooking of a high level diplomat or 
ambassador who, in addition to being privy to important foreign policy deci¬ 
sions, could be used by the Soviets as a Judas-goat to attract other recruits, 
or as an “agent of influence” as well as a vehicle for disinformation. 44 

Soviet intelligence offices kept detailed life histories of potential re¬ 
cruits in the diplomatic field that included background information on their 
character traits and temperament, family life, schooling, religion, finances, 
associations, ideology, politics, and sexual habits and vices. 45 Since diplo¬ 
matic posts including those of the United States and Europe as well as the 
Vatican, have traditionally attracted an inordinate number of male perverts, 
the Soviets found that in the case of homosexual diplomats, blackmail was 
worth the extra risk and expense. 46 

Interestingly, even when a Soviet agent failed to hook homosexual 
diplomats with a threat of blackmail or exposure, his illegal overtures were 
rarely reported to the authorities by the compromised diplomat or ambas¬ 
sador, since the latter was unwilling to expose his own illicit sexual habits. 47 

Significantly, in sharp contrast to the Soviets who were quick to ap¬ 
preciate and exploit the traditional blackmail potential of homosexuality, 
British intelligence services were not. Active homosexuality, as we shall 
see, was not an automatic disqualification for either intelligence work or 
high civil service positions in England between 1939 and 1945. Even in 
1948, when the exclusion policy of positive vetting of known homosexuals 
was put into effect by England’s national security agencies, it was never 
fully enforced. No middle class intelligence employee was likely to jeop¬ 
ardize his job by questioning the moral qualifications of upper-class civil 
service and intelligence applicants who, by reason of birth or wealth, were 
automatically granted the choicest of governmental appointments as well 
as rapid upward career mobility. Even if a whistle-blower was willing to risk 
his job by blackballing an upper-class bugger as a security risk, his recom¬ 
mendation could be over-ridden by his superior or by Whitehall. This was 
one reason why once the Soviets had established their “rich-boys” spy- 
mole network at Oxbridge, the numerous Marxist cells were able to wreak 
so much havoc on Britain’s (and America’s) intelligence services. 48 

When it came to gathering intelligence of a scientific nature, the Soviets 
found that flattery and the promise of greater power and influence was a 


301 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


more powerful hook than sex. As English writer Rebecca West has pointed 
out in her many excellent works on the subject of treason, prominent for¬ 
eign scientists were lavishly wined and dined and treated with a feigned 
deference by Stalin. 49 

In connection with the cases of convicted atomic scientists and Soviet 
agents Alan Nunn May and Klaus Fuchs, West noted, that “Little can be 
said in defense of this policy of trying the criminal in a manner which con¬ 
cealed the nature of the crime from the public which had suffered from it. 
It helped the Communists, enabling them to present the scientist Com¬ 
munist spies as starry-eyed altruists who imparted secrets to other powers 
just because they were scientists and wanted their fellow scientists to have 
the benefit of their own discoveries, and were so unworldly that they did 
not know that they were doing any harm, and hardly knew what ideologies 
were about. This was the picture the world got and it was as untrue.” 50 

May was a well-known Marxist and a radical member of the Cambridge 
branch of the Union of Scientific Workers and Klaus Fuchs who betrayed 
atomic secrets directly to the Soviets was a long-time Marxist ideologue 
who was deep into the Communist network, said West. 51 These men had 
an exaggerated sense of their own importance and power, she said, because 
their knowledge was tied to weapons of mass destruction and therefore 
people could be blackmailed into submission. 52 Their uniform defense, that 
“science is reason, therefore it cannot know treason,” and that “scientists 
can do no harm because they are scientists and science is right,” she con¬ 
cluded, was patently false and subversive to truth and to the nation. 53 

“Sexpionage”—The Soviet Honey and Drone Trap 

The linking of sex with spying goes back to biblical times, but Stalin 
honed sexual entrapment into an art form. The Soviet sex hook proved par¬ 
ticularly valuable in connection with securing military, national defense and 
political intelligence, and as a weapon to bring down political opponents of 
the Soviet Union. 

In his 1976 expose, Sexpionage—The Exploitation of Sex by Soviet 
Intelligence, David Lewis described the complex, costly and utterly dehu¬ 
manizing training of Soviet “swallows” (female agents) and “ravens” (male 
agents) who were generally recruited by the KGB from respectable, middle 
class families and had professional backgrounds. 54 

In addition to basic ideological, political and technical training, the sex 
agents were subject to a thorough process of sexual densensitation prior to 
their formal instruction in all forms of sex acts including homosexuality and 
sadomasochism. 

Lewis reported that the Soviets kept a large stable of homosexuals 
as full-time agents whose varied targets included foreign diplomats and 


302 



THE HOMINTERN AND THE CAMBRIDGE SPIES 


tourists. 55 These men were usually young male prostitutes who were given 
a “choice” of working for the KGB or being imprisoned. 56 According to a 
“graduate” Lewis interviewed from the Verkhonoye sex center near Kazan 
who used the name “Dimitri,” these homosexual prostitutes were exceed¬ 
ingly handsome and some were “very young.” 57 They were kept separate 
from the other KGB recruits, he said. “They seemed to suffer a great deal 
from the dehumanizing training methods, and two of them committed sui¬ 
cide during my stay there,” Dimitri told Lewis. 58 

In 2001, Jamie Glazov, FrontPage Magazine’s managing editor, revealed 
one of the Soviet’s most innovative homosexual sting operations. 

The Soviet target was John Watkins, Canadian ambassador to the 
Soviet Union from 1954 to 1956. 59 Glazov reported that during his assign¬ 
ment in Moscow, Watkins, a homosexual with known Marxist sympathies, 
routinely sought out anonymous sex partners. One of his Russian acquain¬ 
tances named Alyosha, an employee of the Soviet Foreign Ministry with 
whom Watkins formed a close friendship was none other than the famed 
KBG spy recruiter Oleg Gribanov, whose legendary success at homosexual 
entrapments had secured virtually all of NATO’s classified documents for 
the Soviet Union. 60 

According to Glazov, while posing as Watkin’s friend, Gribanov set up 
the hapless ambassador with a KGB plant in a Moscow hotel. The two men 
were captured on film in flagrante delicto. Gribanov promised to run inter¬ 
ference for Watkins if the ambassador could bring himself to “warm up” to 
the Soviet ambassador to Canada, Dimitri Chuvakhin, when he returned to 
Ottawa that spring. When Watkins completed his posting and returned to 
Canada, he made no effort to inform the authorities that he was being black¬ 
mailed. He was offered the job of Assistant Under-Secretary of State for 
External Affairs and there he remained until his retirement, said Glazov. 

In the meantime, in the United States, between 1961 and 1964, no less 
than three high-ranking Soviet defectors informed the CIA that a homo¬ 
sexual Canadian ambassador to Moscow was being blackmailed by the 
Soviets. In August 1964, after an investigation of suspected candidates, 
Canadian officials ordered the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to hoof over 
to the Watkins’ residence and pick him up for questioning. During the 
RCMP interrogation Watkins was reported to have suffered a fatal heart 
attack which brought a quick and tidy end to the distasteful affair. It remains 
unclear, whether Watkins did or did not act as an “agent of influence” for 
the Soviets before his untimely death. For the record, as reported by 
Glazov, the new Canadian Ambassador to Moscow, David Johnson, who 
replaced Watkins, was also reported to be a homosexual. 61 

It was the Soviet’s experience, however, that many of their most suc¬ 
cessful homosexual traitors recruited from the West needed no elaborate 
sexpionage scheme to induce them to treachery. 


303 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


British and American Intelligence Services 

As we have already observed from England’s attempts at penetration of 
Catholic seminaries in France during the Elizabethan period, the English 
were not slouches when it came to spying and intelligence gathering. 

By the late 1700s, the beginning of a formal structure for Britain’s 
secret service was set into motion with the creation of a Home Office and 
Foreign Office within the Department of State. In the decades that fol¬ 
lowed, Britain’s vast complex of foreign embassies provided the cover for 
an expanded secret service abroad and a domestic service that specialized 
in code breaking and infiltration of enemy intelligence services especially 
those of Russia and Bismarck’s Prussia. 

Britain’s modern Secret Intelligence Service (SIS) known as MI6, was 
founded in 1909. It was attached to the Foreign Office and directed British 
espionage work abroad. During the First World War, it concentrated on the 
infiltration of Germany’s espionage units. After the war, the SIS was instru¬ 
mental in assisting the United States in developing its own intelligence 
network. The British and the United States also entered into a secret 
agreement for sharing counterintelligence information which later gave 
Stalin another major avenue of intelligence gathering especially in relation¬ 
ship to the development of the atom bomb. 

One of the SIS’ most valuable anti-Soviet operations was the 1927 raid 
on the London offices of the All Russia Cooperative Society Ltd., (ARCOS), 
the Russian trade delegation, from which the British secured thousands of 
secret documents on Communist activities and agents in England. 

The raid was staged by MI5, the British Security Service attached to the 
Home Office and dealt primarily with homeland security including the cap¬ 
ture of foreign spies, terrorists and insurgents on English soil. Its nuts and 
bolts activities included the maintenance of a Central Registry for tracking 
suspected enemy agents and a specialized intelligence Black List. Other 
specialized subsidiary intelligence units existed both within and without 
the framework of MI5 and MI6 including the famous Government Code & 
Cypher School, that broke the German code (ULTRA) during the Second 
World War. 

In 1941, the British created an ultra-secret security division that oper¬ 
ated in the Western hemisphere, British Security Coordination (BSC), as a 
legal cover for all of its other intelligence units including MI5 and MI6, 
Special Operations Executive (SOE) and the Political Warfare Executive. 62 

The structure of United States domestic and foreign intelligence serv¬ 
ices closely mirrored that of the British system. Up until the end of the 
First World War, the responsibilities for gathering and interpreting enemy 
diplomatic, military and political secrets were divided between the State 
Department with its systems of foreign attaches and embassies, and the 
military intelligence services of the Armed Forces that included the Office 
of Naval Intelligence (ONI) and G-2, the War Department’s Military 


304 



THE HOMINTERN AND THE CAMBRIDGE SPIES 


Intelligence Division. During World War I, both the Army and the Navy had 
established separate offices to decipher and read foreign and enemy com¬ 
munications. In 1920, the American military intelligence secret cryptologic 
section known as the “Black Chamber,” broke the Japanese diplomatic 
cipher, a major espionage achievement. However, Secretary of State, Henry 
L. Stimson, shut the code-crackers down in 1929 with the admonition that 
“gentlemen do not read each other’s mail.” 63 

On July 11,1941, in an effort to reduce the growing friction and compe¬ 
tition between the various United States intelligence sectors, President 
Franklin D. Roosevelt appointed William “Wild Bill” Donovan as the coor¬ 
dinator to a new centralized, civilian wartime agency, the Office of Infor¬ 
mation modeled after the British SIS and based at the White House. 
Donovan was a Columbia Law School graduate, a World War 1 hero and a 
member of the liberal Eastern Establishment from which he drew much of 
the OSS leadership. The Office of the Coordinator of Information (COI) was 
charged with intelligence gathering and assimilation of matters touching 
upon national security. COI opened its London office in November 1941. 

In June, 1942, Donovan’s COI underwent a major reorganization. Its 
staff and budget was divided into two sectors—an Office of Strategic 
Services (OSS) directed by Donovan, but placed under the office of the Joint 
Chiefs of Staff (JCS) with its own overseas counterintelligence secret 
service (X-2), and the Foreign Information Service (FIS) that was placed 
under Roosevelt’s direct supervision at the newly created Office of War 
Information. 

The overall purpose of the OSS was to support military operations 
in the field by providing research, propaganda, and commando support. 
Donovan filled the OSS’ Research and Analysis Branch (R&A) with well- 
known elite members of the Eastern Establishment, while the Special 
Operations Branch (SO) that ran paramilitary and psychological warfare 
operations in Europe and Asia represented a more multi-talented, multi¬ 
national force that assisted Allied and partisan forces during World War II. 
The OSS also established a Secret Intelligence Branch (SI) under Prince- 
ton-educated SI station chief, Allen W. Dulles, who operated out of the 
American Embassy in Bern, Switzerland. 

Professional military intelligence officers convinced Roosevelt that 
General Donovan and his OSS should be denied access to top secret Allied 
deciphered communications from Japan using the decoder system nick¬ 
named MAGIC as well as decoded messages from Germany using ULTRA. 
However the OSS’ counterintelligence branch, X-2 which shared its intelli¬ 
gence with British SIS, did have access to German ULTRA intelligence. 
This proved to be a fatal error. 

By the end of World War II, the OSS dubbed “Oh So Social” by its crit¬ 
ics, had been infiltrated by at least 15 Soviet spies as well as other criminal 
elements from the Sicilian Mafia which meant that not only was the OSS 


305 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


an expensive, internally-corrupted and ineffectual “secret service,” it also 
became a dangerous source of Soviet disinformation and of post-war infil¬ 
tration by Soviet agents. In short, the OSS was the most deeply penetrated 
of the United States intelligence services. None had so many Soviet moles 
as the OSS. 64 

On October 1, 1945, under the Truman Administration, the OSS was 
officially dissolved. Its R&A sector was transferred to the State Depart¬ 
ment and all other OSS branches including Secret Intelligence and X-2 
were absorbed by the War Department. Two years later, Truman, with the 
approval of Congress, authorized the creation of the Central Intelligence 
Group (CIG), later renamed the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), under 
the National Security Act of 1947. Like the OSS, the key posts of the CIA 
were filled by academics and politicians with all the proper Eastern Estab¬ 
lishment credentials—a veritable Old Boys Club not unlike that which 
spawned the Cambridge spies. 65 

Domestic counterintelligence, however, remained the task of the Federal 
Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headed by J. Edgar Hoover, the ONI and G-2. 

The Genesis of the Cambridge Spy Ring 

It has been reported by various Soviet defectors to the United States 
and England, that when Ivan Maisky, the Soviet Ambassador to Great 
Britain initially proposed the novel concept of recruiting young English rad¬ 
ical upper-class highfliers as Soviet intelligence agents before they entered 
the corridors of power, both Stalin and Lavrenti Beria, head of the NKVD, 
were skeptical that such a plan could work. 66 

When they learned that many of these potential recruits were con¬ 
firmed pederasts and homosexuals they were even more incredulous. 
However, since the GRU was already well established in London and legal 
and illegal residents were in place to serve as controllers, Stalin gave the 
go ahead to Soviet Foreign Ministry officials to set the plan in motion. The 
year was 1932. Soviet intelligence under Comintern cover began the pro¬ 
cess of identifying, cultivating, evaluating and ultimately recruiting liberal- 
minded, anti-Fascist candidates from Oxbridge. 

Much to the Soviets’ amazement, the scheme worked like magic. It ap¬ 
peared that Cambridge and to a lesser extent Oxford, Britain’s two senior 
university centers were already well primed to become the epicenters of 
the greatest Soviet espionage success of the 20th century. 67 

For more than a century, the religious beliefs of faculty and students at 
England’s premier educational institutions had been undermined by 
Oxbridge’s literary and intellectual elite. Christian morals had succumbed 
to the aggressive assault of neo-pagan Hellenism. The few remaining loyal 
servants of the King’s religion found they could no longer even defend what 
little was left of the emasculated religious beliefs they had settled for 
against the rising tide of Modernism in its own clerical and secular ranks. 


306 



THE HOMINTERN AND THE CAMBRIDGE SPIES 


The British satirist, George Orwell (Eric Blair) once observed: 

Culturally ...the English intelligentsia are Europeanized. They take their 
cookery from Paris and their opinions from Moscow. In the general patriot¬ 
ism of the country they form a sort of island of dissident thought. England 
is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their 
nationality. In Marxist circles it is always felt that there is something slightly 
disgraceful in being an Englishman and that it is a duty to snigger at every 
English institution, from horse racing to suet puddings. It is a strange fact, 
but it is unquestionably true that almost any English intellectual would feel 
more shamed of standing to attention during “God save the King” than of 
stealing from a poor box .” 68 

The 1930s recruitment of liberal-minded intellectuals and scientists at 
Oxbridge as “sleeper” agents represented the final phase of subversion 
by the Soviets that had begun decades earlier with attacks on England’s 
class system and the penetration of Britain’s trade unions and Labour 
Movement. Communists “sold the sizzle” to Oxbridge’s young idealists, 
that is, the idea of making the world safe from the menace of Fascism. 
However, Marxism found it difficult to compete with the popular Fabian 
Socialists, the more genteel of the collectivist movements. 

On campus, avowed Communists including economics dons like Maurice 
Dobb who helped found the Cambridge Communist Cell, Piero Sraffa, an 
associate of the Italian Communist leader Antonio Gramsci, and Roy Pascal, 
Professor of German at Cambridge, brought a generation of Oxbridge radi¬ 
cal undergraduates into the Soviet’s orbit of influence. 

The Marxists were also aided and abetted by a vast network of quasi- 
Masonic secret societies that pervaded upper class Britain as a whole and 
Oxbridge in particular. The most famous and exclusive of these secret cam¬ 
pus societies was Cambridge’s “Conversazione Society” known simply as 
“the Society,” and its members as “Apostles.” 

The Apostles, Homosexuality, and Marxism 

The Conversation Society based at King’s College began in 1820 as a small, 
private club of Cambridge undergraduates founded by George Tomlinson 
from St. John’s College. Tomlinson later became Bishop of Gibraltar. 69 The 
all male, 12-member society gathered every Saturday night to discuss the 
philosophical issues of the day within the anti-authoritarian context of the 
liberal Broad Church Movement that had found an uneasy home in the 
Anglican Church. 70 

Among the earliest “Apostles” were the young Victorian poet Alfred 
(later Lord) Tennyson (1809-1892) and his dearest friend Arthur Henry 
Hallam (1811-1833). Conspicuous by their absence were undergraduates 
who excelled in the scientific field, since by the 19th century the “two cul¬ 
tures” of the sciences and the arts had decided to go their separate ways. 71 


307 



THE RITE OF SODOMY 


By mid-century, the Apostles had developed into an elite secret society 
with heavy homoerotic undertones, a distinctively aggressive agnostic flavor, 
and politics that were decidedly liberal and pacifistic. According to Richard 
Deacon, author of The Cambridge Apostles, their agenda embraced “the 
laicisation of the University and the abolition of religious tests for under¬ 
graduates and graduates.” 72 Spiritual rot was afoot. Deacon also reported 
that members like William Johnson (Cory), Lord Rosebery’s tutor, had 
already taken to recruiting other active homosexuals into the New Order. 73 

Understandably, since homosexuality as well as agnosticism and athe¬ 
ism and anti-imperialistic sentiments were generally unwelcome in Vic¬ 
torian life and an obstacle to career advancement, the growing emphasis on 
secretiveness was both logical and necessary. 

According to Andrew Sinclair, another expert on the Apostles, the 
Society was a kind of “Cambridge Mafia...all members when accepted into 
the Society, had to swear a fearful oath that their souls would writhe in 
unendurable pain for all eternity if they were to betray the society to any¬ 
one not a member.” 74 

For many of its socially alienated members, the Society functioned more 
as a family than an organization—a place where these perpetually adoles¬ 
cent “misfits,” in love with their own sense of superiority and importance, 
didn’t have to worry about competing in the real world for either women or 
commercial jobs or social position. 75 

By the turn of the century, members with decidedly pederastic desires 
such as the congenital bachelor Goldsworthy Lowes Dickinson, a well- 
known disciple of “Socratic love,” were recruiting qualified “embryos” based 
less on their intellectual qualifications than on their good looks and physi¬ 
cal attributes. 76 The new “High Church” of the Apostles now aggressively 
warred against Christianity. It boasted its own line of “Apostolic succession” 
and mystical hierarchy as well as its own dogma, religious services, and 
blessings, all of which served to mock Christian doctrine and the Sacra¬ 
ments. 77 It replaced Sacred Scripture with a new “bible” that touted the 
virtues of the “Higher Sodomy.” 78 The fact that a significant number of 
Apostles engaged in sexually criminal behavior buttressed their sense of 
mutual dependency and loyalty toward one another not merely during their 
university years, but for a lifetime. 

The Bloomsbury Connection 

It would be impossible to understand the inner workings of the Apostles 
and the Society’s connection to the Cambridge spy organization without at 
least a brief reference to the Bloomsbury Group to which many of its most 
influential members were intimately tied. This exclusive and influential 
cultural coterie developed out of a series of friendships between the well- 
to-do literary and artistic Stephen children—Vanessa, Virginia, Julian 
Thoby and Adrian—and their Cambridge friends that included such promi- 


308 



THE HOMINTERN AND THE CAMBRIDGE SPIES 


nent Apostles as John Maynard Keynes, Lytton Strachey, Duncan Grant, 
and E. M. Forster. 79 Novelist D. H. Lawrence’s pointed description of 
“Bloomsberries” as “little swarming selves” reflected the self-absorbed, 
queer character of the group that held court on Thursday evenings at the 
Stephen residence at 46, Gordon Square in the bohemian Bloomsbury 
section of London. 80 

Bloomsberries were agnostic, politically liberal, pacifist and sexually lib¬ 
erated. Sexual partnerings were of primary importance within the closed 
Bloomsbury collective. All affairs, homosexual, b