The New ‘Homosexual’ Subculture, 1700–30
in Same-Sex Desire in Early Modern England, 1550–1735
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The Societies for the Reformation of Manners' first victim in their systematic entrapment of 'homosexuals', Edward Rigby was earlier acquitted of sodomy by a naval court. Plain Reasons, Hell upon Earth, John Dunton's 'He-Strumpets', and Ward's London Clubs are all invested in a conservative gender and class hierarchy. Like their sixteenth-century predecessors John Bale, Thomas Beard and William Prynne, the writers engage in virulent xeno-homophobia, painting 'homosexuality' as a foreign vice bent on the destruction of the English nation. Edward (Ned) Ward's description, in fact, complicates our perception that the new 'homosexual' is characterized largely at the turn of the century by an increasingly strong link between sodomy and effeminacy. Trial transcripts and published polemics describing and condemning the new 'homosexual' subculture have proved highly controversial sources, particularly when they have been used to date the shift from Renaissance to modern models of 'homosexual' identity.

Same-Sex Desire in Early Modern England, 1550–1735

An anthology of literary texts and contexts

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