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Published by Marina Ta

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Published by: Marina Ta on Jun 19, 2012
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 A History of Homosexuality in Europe
However, “real” homosexuals understood very quickly upon their departure fromthe university that they did not have any place yet in England. In their quest for new plea-sures and freedom, they sought a place that would welcome them. Hints and echoesreported by friends returning from holidays, or something read in the scandal sheets, gavethem reason to think that happiness lay in Germany. From this point until 1933, thehistory of English homosexuality would follow the German model.
Escape to Germany
For Christopher, Berlin meant boys.
Germany is the only place for sex. England isn’t worth athing.
In homosexual mythology, foreign lands have always held a great fascination. Theyseem to offer men who are often considered pariahs in their native land the possibility of escape or rebirth. It is simply easier to enjoy a satisfactory sexual experience abroad,where the weight of social strictures seems more distant. For this reason, the coloniesbecame very fashionable at the end of the 19th century. This probably originated with themilitary: France’s Africa Army was famous for its homosexual practices, symbolized at thehighest level by Marshal Lyautey. By the same token, many of the imperial proconsuls of the English colonial army married extremely late (like Milner, Layard, and Baden-Powell), or not at all (like Rhodos, Gordon, and Kitchener). Most of them were sur-rounded by a circle of favorites. Similarly, explorers like Stanley and Edward Eyre alwayschose young men to be their companions on each expedition.This phenomenon was not limited to the army. The lure of the exotic, and therumors (strongly colored with colonialist attitudes) of willing natives, contributed tomaking the colonies seem like safe and discreet homosexual paradises. A French book,
L’Amour aux colonies (Love in the Colonies)
 (1932), by Anne de Colney, describes how easyhomosexual relations were in certain regions. First, the Asian countries: “Pederasty, anexceptional act in Europe, is accepted in Chinese morés as well as prostitution and opium, and that at all levels of the social caste.” This characteristic is explained by resortto racist theories. Thus, the Annamite “is a civilized old man, who has all the flawsinherent in a refined mind.” This kind of justification fended off any reproach with regard to Europeans practicing sexual tourism and taking advantage of their dominant position.Asia did not have a monopoly on homosexuality. “The Arab is a born pederast.”
This type of talk found an echo with certain homosexuals, who developed the myth of foreign lands that were open to homosexuality. Often, a stay in the colonies seems to havebeen a revelation. J.R. Ackerley, who was posted to Bombay in 1923, noted that the courtof the Maharajah was the scene of “homosexual orgies.” These discoveries led him toberate his own country for its sexual hypocrisy, noting that he liked to see men and boysholding hands when they walk, or standing with their arms around each other’sshoulders, [as he had also seen in Egypt and in other Mediterranean countries]. — But the
, p.443.435. Christopher Isherwood,
Christopher and his Kind
op. cit.
, p.10.436. Stephen Spender,
Le T emple
[1929], Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, 1989, 310 pages, p.24.437. Anne de Colney,
L’Amour aux colonies
, Paris, Librairie “Astra,” 1932, 214 pages, p.14, 45 and 92.
 An Inversion of Values: The Cult of Homosexuality
English would find that unmasculine in the extreme (or worse); and, he hinted, the Scotswere still more hopeless.
 Those who were caught up in a scandal in their country of origin tended to retreatto the colonies. Robert Eyton, vice-chancellor of St. Margaret’s, Westminster, exiledhimself to Queensland in 1900 after a major scandal.
In the 1930s, two-thirds of themen posted to Malaysia were homosexual. Many were indicted after a Chinese male pros-titute spilled the beans; deportations and two suicides followed.
Tangier also attractedmany visitors in the 1930s — Bohemian intellectuals and homosexuals. Stephen Tennantexplains this fascination for the city that symbolizes exoticism and expatriation. It iscurious, he says, but here — so close to Spain — just thirty miles away — the sea iswarmer, and the sun is burning. The spirit of Africa, which one breathes, which radiatesin the streets — which is exhaled by the ground and the sidewalks, is strangely pleasingto me.
 Homosexual tourism was born in the colonies. For the foreigner, everything waseasier: the fear of being recognized disappeared, and legislation could not reach him. Theexoticism of the place added to the eroticism of the situation. Gide eulogized these easyrelations. There were boys all over, blossoming in the sun, with gilded skin, marvelouslycomplaisant, always available, free of prejudices and inhibitions.
Boys were passedfrom hand to hand. In the company of Wilde and Lord Alfred Douglas, Gide discoveredthat the trade in boys was organized for the purpose of satisfying demand from foreignvisitors; one wonders whether he really was unaware that this was prostitution in dis-guise, that he believed in the spontaneity of the boys who were offered to him.
If ItDie
 AMYNTAS: North African Journals,
money is never mentioned. However, tipping or“baksheesh” was commonplace and pederasty is directly associated with those who havemoney. The colonizer, in his financial superiority, is sure to obtain satisfaction one way oranother; consequently, he goes out of his way to show that money plays no part in hisrelations. The reader himself loses his faculty of judgment and Gide is an accomplice inthat, for he makes a show of his weaknesses, his shortcomings, his hesitations. But, whilehe may question his sexuality, he never doubts his choice of partners.Like Gide, Montherlant evokes life in Algiers as a continuous source of sexualadventure. He tours the Jardin d’Essai, and Bab-el-Oued, and goes to the cinema lookingfor yaouleds, Arab adolescents, whom he renames with his liking: The “Thorny Rose of Blida,” “Jasmine of Belcourt,” “Genêt of Médéa,” “He who opens the doors of the sky.”According to Montherlant, the North African colonials came to fulfill their fantasies inAlgiers for all sorts of reasons: there was “the French dream”: to conquer, control, exploit;the “artistic dream”: dancers, jasmine, young men; and the “human dream”: assimilation, justice, fraternity.
438. Cited by Peter Parker,
 A Life of J.R. Ackerley
, London, Constable, 1989, 465 pages, p.74.439. Ronald Hyam,
Empire and Sexuality: The British Experience
, Manchester, Manchester UniversityPress, 1990, 234 pages.440.
, p.109.441. Cited by Philip Hoare,
Serious Pleasures
op. cit.
, p.295.442. André Gide,
Si le grain ne meurt
[1926], reedited., Paris, Gallimard, coll. “Folio,” 1986,372 pages.443. See on this subject Hédi Khelil, Sens, jouissance, tourisme, érotisme, argent dans deuxfictions coloniales d’André Gide, Tunis, Éditions de la Nef, 1988, 172 pages.444. Cited by Pierre Sipriot,
Montherlant sans masque
, t.II,
Écris avec ton sang, 1932-1972
, Paris, RobertLaffont, 1990, 505 pages, p.30.
 A History of Homosexuality in Europe
Beyond the colonial experience, the Mediterranean countries were attractive ingeneral. There again, the place is idealized, made legendary. Italy was particularly cele-brated, by E.M. Forster and others; his novels, like
 A Room with a View
, contrast an Italybathed in sunlight, open to love, to an England that is Puritanical, sad, and dark. But thecontext remains strictly heterosexual. It was in his novellas, many of which were pub-lished only posthumously, that Forster expands on the idea of Italy as a homosexual par-adise.
 Like the colonies, Italy was often selected as an adoptive homeland after variousscandals drove one out of his country of origin. Douglas Norman, a friend of J.R. Ackerley,had been convicted of committing a moral offense on a sixteen-year-old minor; he exiled himself to Florence, where he could satisfy all his inclinations freely. J.R. Ackerley, whohad barely disembarked from England, was flabbergasted to hear Norman’s description of the young waiter standing before them, with the invitation, “When can you join us?”
 Ackerley visited Florence, accompanied by an Italian guide who was a friend of Douglas Norman, Giuseppe “Pino” Orioli, J.R. Orioli claimed that the Florentines woregabardine trousers with the aim of displaying their attributes, and one of his favoritegames was to stare at a young man, raising his gaze from the trousers to the face, with theaim of obtaining an erection. However, while the lads were often obliging, they did notwish to embark on a serious relationship: after a night with his lover (who swore eternalfidelity), Orioli followed him and discovered that he went into a brothel.Colonial and Mediterranean loves relate more directly to the first homosexual gen-eration, that of Wilde, Gide, and Forster.
They preserve strong elements of Victori-anism, especially with regard to their sexual choices: the object of desire is a youngadolescent, even a child. Moreover, the relations are always venal, and the social and eco-nomic superiority of the visitors is constantly asserted. In Germany, the second homo-sexual generation began to go with their own peers, with males of the same age, withoutthe contrast of exoticism or any other clear differentiation. The young lover was no longer“inferior,” even if money continued to play a part — since the lovers were often male pros-titutes or working boys who tacitly agreed to be being “kept.” Even more important,young Germans represented the former enemy. Therefore, sexual liberation was mingled with social provocation. In this sense, escaping to Germany played a major role in theprocess of homosexual assertion.So Germany, too, seemed like paradise to the English homosexual. Artistic innova-tions could be enjoyed along with the pleasures of the sun, flirtation, and sex. At leastuntil 1933, Berlin was hot and became a very fashionable place. Charlotte Wolff, a doctorand lesbian, noted: “Berlin, with its reputation as the ‘most permissive’ city in Europe, had become a paradise for homosexuals. They came from all over the world, but particularlyfrom England, to enjoy a freedom which their own country denied them.”
By the end of the 1920s, a number of homosexual intellectuals, writers and artists were staying there,
inter alia
Christopher Isherwood, Brian Howard, W.H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Michaeland Humphrey Spender, T.C. Worsley, Francis Bacon, Wyndham Lewis and John
445. See for example
Un instant d’éternité et autres nouvelles
, Paris, Christian Bourgois éditeur, 1988,305 pages.446. Peter Parker, A Life of J.R. Ackerley,
op. cit.
, p.55.447.
Si le grain ne meurt
, written in 1919, partially published in 1921 and in its entirety in 1926,relates events that happened as early as 1893.448. Charlotte Wolff,
, London, Quartet Books, 1980, 312 pages, p.72.

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