Teaching gay history

California is poised to become the first state in America to make the teaching of positive contributions made by gay and lesbian people to US history and society compulsory in public schools.

OK

Supporters argued that it would give gay teenagers role models and help combat homophobic bullying.

Mebbe

During debate about the bill, supporters gave examples of historical figures they said would be featured, including Friedrich von Steuben, a military adviser to George Washington forced out of Prussia because he was gay, and the British mathematics genius Alan Turing.

Not entirely convinced personally. Teaching everyone how our forefathers persecuted gays is going to make gays less persecuted?

Is that really the way teenagers work?

24 thoughts on “Teaching gay history”

  1. It worked with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”. Maybe the answer is, “Mr Johan’s Studio Flat”.

  2. I think the point is that gay people have contributions to make to society, so ostracising them is perhaps not the smartest move. Using examples from history is a pretty good way of getting the point across in my opinion. Will it change attitudes? Between first period history and the lunch break, probably not. Over time, I would say yes.

  3. Plato, Socrates, Hadrian, Da Vinci, Raphael, Wilde, Turing, DH Lawrence, TE Lawrence, EM Forster, Beethoven, Schubert.

    Just some examples of homosexuals in history.

    Quite important figures I would say and all lied about in order to appease [email protected]@dy religion.

  4. D>North

    And your evidence for half of those – at random, the two Lawrences, daVinci, Beethoven – is what?

    And the Tourette’s shout of “[email protected]@dy religion” is based on what? Atheistic Cuba, China and the Soviet Union, being renowned for their flying of the rainbow flag.

  5. Will it be followex by a law forcing them to present while middle-class male contributions in a positive light?

  6. “And your evidence for half of those – at random, the two Lawrences, daVinci, Beethoven – is what?”

    Da Vinci.

    When he was twenty-four years old, Leonardo was arrested, along with several young companions, on the charge of sodomy.

    TE Lawrence:

    Lawrence met Dahoum, whose real name was Salim Ahmed, at an archeological dig in southern Turkey. Lawrence taught him photography, to read and write, and to be his assistant. Later they moved in together, and Lawrence made a nude carving of Dahoum and put it on top of their house.

    DH Lawrence:

    Lawrence was a twentieth-century maverick in his open and formally adventurous discussion of all sexual issues and especially homosexuality. Perhaps no other major modernist author was so continually absorbed in the subject of homosexual desire, a theme that continually informs Lawrence’s work.

    Go learn. That is the point of teaching.

  7. D. North

    – da Vinci; Acquited of said charge

    -T.E: Friendship, even intense one’s are not evidence of homosexuality. T.E was asexual.

    – D.H: was a sexual innocent, who had an adolescent’s fascination with ALL aspects of sex.

    – The others: ?

    – Religion: ?

    Tim adds: Historical footnore. Grandpa was Aircraftsman Shaw’s commanding oficer for a time…..

  8. The problem with assigning labels to historical figures is that sexuality is a social construct. What a label means to us isn’t necessarily what it would have meant to a person’s contemporaries. It’s also difficult to find evidence of people admitting to something that carried the death penalty!

    What this boils down to is educating children that no matter what some adults might say, same-sex attraction isn’t some modern perverted fad, it’s a natural part of human society that has been around for ever and should not be a reason to think less of anyone.

    Recusant: T. E. Lawrence wasn’t really into sex per se, but what jollies he did get were at the hands of muscular men who meted out harsh chastisement. Evidence is from the people who knew him and his own writings.

    Beethoven was probably gay but didn’t know it himself – his documented miserable relations with women show all the signs of a man in the closet.

    DH Lawrence was bisexual and admitted as much in his writing.

    Da Vinci never had a relationship with a woman, had hordes of young male “assistants” and kept one petulant, hot bodied little shit around for 20 years despite all the things he vandalised or destroyed in Leonards studio. If that’s not gay I don’t know what is.

  9. So Much For Subtlety

    No evidence that v0n Stueben was gay either. He was forced to leave the German Army because the war ended. Not because of any homosexual persecution. He was alleged to have been fond of boys, but there was no evidence of it. Although it is interesting to see that the SF Gay lobby is willing to embrace what looks like paedophilia if anything rather than homosexuality per se.

  10. SMFS: “boys” covers a lot of ground. If they’d been girls of the same age nobody at the time would have raised an eyebrow.

  11. “DH Lawrence was bisexual and admitted as much in his writing. ”
    So what?
    Why is the concept that someone may play both ways always conflated with homosexuality? There’s no connection whatsoever.
    Can’t say I’ve tried it myself but I don’t have any particular problem with the thought of fun & games with a man. It’s just widening the opportunities for said f & g’s. I’ve certainly had girlfriends who were enthusiastically bi-sexual. Homosexuality is the absence of desire for opposite sex relationships. It’s no more ‘enlightened’ or to be ‘celebrated’ than rigid heterosexuality. Less so because it doesn’t confer the advantage of reproductive possibilities.

  12. Incidentally, it occurs that I chose to discus the subject from a personal point of view rather than in the abstract. It doesn’t seem there is an abstract point of view in this discussion because it’s always a personal matter.
    Matthew says that “T. E. Lawrence wasn’t really into sex per se, but what jollies he did get were at the hands of muscular men who meted out harsh chastisement” yet it wouldn’t be a surprise to find most men having a profound aversion to that route to pleasure. Similarly, if exclusive homosexuality is perfectly natural then why shouldn’t aversion to homosexual behaviour be equally natural? Trying to suggest that there’s some sort of preferred state of abstract impartiality may be impossible because folks is folks & we’re not built that way.
    Essentially, if you’re saying that it’s possible to educate people to accept homosexuality unreservedly then by the same token you’d have to accept that it’s possible to educate homosexuals to reject their sexuality.

  13. This is utterly pointless as anyone who’s ever been through a school could tell you.

    School kids don’t bully because they think someone has less intrinsic worth. They bully because there is a pecking order and they want to get as many people as possible below them. Short, tall, big nose, small eyes, red hair, no hair – I once had a kid try to tease me because he said my teeth were too white.

    Gays will always be bullied as long as there is bullying – not because they are considered less, because there are less of them so they’re easier to separate from the herd.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    Matthew – ““boys” covers a lot of ground. If they’d been girls of the same age nobody at the time would have raised an eyebrow.”

    No one much raised an eyebrow at the time about von Steuben either. He was so well thought of in France, where he had been touring with his Father, that they sent him to the US to advise the Rebels.

    In the pre-1960s it seems to me that people cared much less about paedophilia than they do now. God knows enough people cruised the Third World for boys without anyone caring much. As Arthur C. Clark seems to have discovered when he made a few remarks that belonged to an earlier age (and which, I want to be careful to stress, did not mean he was in Sri Lanka for the young boys but did give that impression to some people).

    12 bloke in spain – “Why is the concept that someone may play both ways always conflated with homosexuality? There’s no connection whatsoever.”

    The One Drop of Semen Rule? Of course there is a connection. Either you like sex with men or you don’t. If you don’t, you tend not to have sex with men. Society puts enormous pressure on men to have sex with women and not to have sex with men. Many Gay people have been in relationships with women at one point or another in their lives. Mainly due to social pressure. Very few heterosexual men have been in relationships with other men.

    “It’s just widening the opportunities for said f & g’s.”

    I wonder if that is true.

    14 Dave North – “Recusant: Scared of the gays are we. Coming to steal your children”

    Sure, Dave. It isn’t you, it is every one else. That is why it is always sensible to sneer at someone else’s motives rather than deal with their arguments.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    Mr Potarto “Gays will always be bullied as long as there is bullying – not because they are considered less, because there are less of them so they’re easier to separate from the herd.”

    Gayness is just one feature of anyone’s personality. A fairly large feature. But being left handed is a feature of someone’s person too. Or having blue eyes. Yet some features tend to attract more bullying than others.

    Perhaps, as we don’t know the cause of homosexuality, we have got the causation the wrong way around and being bullied causes someone to become gay? I am not sure that there is any better theory. And it seems a little pointless to speculate.

  16. “The One Drop of Semen Rule? Of course there is a connection.”

    Don’t be bloody daft. That’s like saying that just because someone occasionally eats tofu they must be vegetarian.

    “Many Gay people have been in relationships with women at one point or another in their lives. Mainly due to social pressure.”

    & the mainly implies that some were because they found pleasure in it.

    You are certainly doing your best to prove the contention that at the core of homosexuality lies an aversion to the opposite sex. Which is no different or more acceptable than a heterosexual man having an aversion to homosexual men.

  17. Surreptitious Evil

    Brian,

    But we’re talking California. Germany and Russia are on the other side of the world for them.

  18. So Much For Subtlety

    bloke in spain – “Don’t be bloody daft. That’s like saying that just because someone occasionally eats tofu they must be vegetarian.”

    Except, again, eating vegetables is normal. Everyone does it. It is more like saying that if someone breaks into your house, they are a criminal. There may be days when they do not break into anyone’s home. They may have given it up a long time ago. But if they do it from time to time, they tend to be criminal.

    “& the mainly implies that some were because they found pleasure in it.”

    I am sure they did. Sex is usually enjoyable.

    “You are certainly doing your best to prove the contention that at the core of homosexuality lies an aversion to the opposite sex. Which is no different or more acceptable than a heterosexual man having an aversion to homosexual men.”

    I should hope I am doing no such thing. Even if there is something going on, I am not sure we know what it is. Nor is this an argument that I want to be involved in – although there is a difference between hating an entire gender and hating people who prefer to have sex with just one gender.

  19. if a homosexual made a contribution to history thast would make him respected??
    If he was world heavyweight champion – that might do it.

  20. Surreptitious Evil

    Does being “world heavyweight champion” (boxing, judo, weightlifting?) actually count as a “contribution to history”, in anything other than the most technical sense?

    Not arguing that it would generally make you respected among aficionados of whichever sport you are referring to but I’m not sure that it is, of itself, sufficient.

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