David Halperin

David Halperin teaches English at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and is an honorary professor of sociology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. His most recent book is How to Do the History of Homosexuality.

Pal o’ Me Heart: Jamie O’Neill

David Halperin, 22 May 2003

A great Irish lady, her disgraced nephew and a young priest with strong Republican sympathies are driving through Dublin on St Patrick’s Day, 1916. ‘They were speaking of patriots, Dublin associations of famous rebels, ancient and modern.’ Merrion Square evokes the memory of a distinguished Irishman whom the English put on trial. His enemies bullied and corrupted the...

More or Less Gay-Specific

David Halperin, 23 May 1996

In the spring of 1919 military staff at the United Stales Naval Training Station in Newport, Rhode Island, launched an investigation into the scope of ‘immoral conditions’ in the local community. They recruited from among the young enlisted men stationed at the base a number of sailors who volunteered to serve as decoys and to seek out and identify men they suspected of being sexual perverts. The volunteers agreed to have sex with these men, to infiltrate their social networks, and by that means to find out as much as possible about the extent and organisation of male homosexual activity in Newport. The decoys soon discovered that the Army and Navy YMCA was the most popular hangout for ‘fairies’, by which they referred to men who violated masculine norms of both gender and sexuality – in the first case by displaying ‘effeminate’ mannerisms or adopting feminine nicknames, cosmetics and dress, and in the second by manifesting a preference for a ‘passive’, or receptive, role in sexual relations with other men. The decoys also identified as ‘fairies’ a number of local clergy who ran Sailors’ Homes and otherwise ministered to the Fleet. After repeated social and sexual contact with these ‘fairies’, the decoys turned their evidence over to the authorities, and as a result of their testimony more than twenty sailors were arrested in April 1919, along with another 16 civilians in July. In 1920, the Navy opened a second inquiry into the methods employed in the first investigation. And in 1921 a United States Senate Committee issued a report of its own.’

Speak for yourself, matey: The Uses of Camp

Adam Mars-Jones, 22 November 2012

Back when the Independent was young and thriving, the paper used to sponsor lunchtime ‘theatre conferences’ at the Edinburgh Festival in association with the Traverse. The description...

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Homophobes and Homofibs

Adam Mars-Jones, 30 November 1995

These three books show some of the range of contemporary gay thinking in Britain and America, and also manifest a clear hierarchy of intellectual ambition. Here are Gay Studies Advanced,...

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