Encyclopedia of Homosexuality

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Encyclopedia of Homosexuality book cover

The Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (1990) was edited by Wayne R. Dynes [1], with the assistance of associate editors William A. Percy, Warren Johansson [2], and Stephen Donaldson.[3] It was published in two volumes by Garland Press in 1990. The Encyclopedia contains 770 articles. It was reviewed positively in Reference & User Services Quarterly [4] and, at length, in the Journal of Homosexuality --- REFERENCE: Journal of Homosexuality Volume 21, Issue 4, 1991 --- . It was listed on several "best books of the year" lists. [5] [6] Originally published in 2 vols. (1484 p.) by Garland, New York, 1990, it is very positive on BoyLove. The editor Wayne Dynes was also on the board of Paidika. Although a big hit as a reference book when it first appeared, protests from lesbians led the publisher to withdraw it and cease publishing it. [7]

From an advertisement for the Encyclopedia

This definitive reference work is the first to interrelate and synthesize the outpour-

ing of controversial and often contradictory information on all aspects of male and
female homosexuality and bisexuality. Over 770 articles by 84 Noted experts
cover a broad range of topics. The Encyclopedia is cross-cultural—it covers Asia,
Latin America, and the Pacific as well as Western culture. It also stretches across
time, from pre-literate peoples to the present day. The coverage is interdisciplinary,
encompassing literature, the arts, religion, science, law, philosophy, society,
history, psychology, and more-the entire range of human activity and endeavor.
A comprehensive 65-page index of some 5,000 entries allows quick access to all
major topics.


"A superb reference tool...useful to both scholar and layman....readable at a
high school level... Highly recommended.” -- Library journal

"Brings together a wealth of data, information, and interpretations on
homosexuality....a highly recommended purchase for public and academic
libraries." -- Reference Books Bulletin

"Ground-breaking....Immeasurably useful." -- Wilson Library Bulletin

"There is nothing like it, and Garland deserves praise for publishing a work
of such high quality...essential for all libraries." -- Choice

"Impressive....Every high school, college, and public library..should order it
for its reference collection." -- RQ

"A masterful summary of current knowledge and informed scholarly
opinion....High school, college, university, and public libraries should
purchase it." -- American Reference Books Annual [8]

Why the Encyclopedia went out of print

In May of 1995 Garland Publishing, Inc. abruptly withdrew the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality from sale. Uniformly well reviewed, the set had garnered a number of prestigious awards. Since the 1990 publication, sales had been steady. Today objective observers acknowledge that the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality has not been surpassed in its field.
What happened between 1990 and 1995? Garland caved in to a pressure group of leftist and feminist activists who viewed the Encyclopedia as lacking in political correctness. After an ongoing whispering campaign, they succeeded in selling their complaints to the Chronicle of Higher Education, which published a one-sided article. The pretext for the intervention was the fact that a number of articles in the Encyclopedia were signed with the name of Evelyn Gettone. Gettone was one of a number of pseudonyms employed in the work. In fact, of the original four editors, two names were pseudonymous-Warren Johansson and Stephen Donaldson. These two distinguished scholars had long been using these names in their published work....[7]

NOTE: Unfortunately the .HTML files of the Encyclopedia available on-line (see "External links") do contain a few OCR (Optical Character Recognition) spelling errors.

About the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality

The following material is taken from the Encyclopedia:


The love that dared not speak its name is now, in spite of or because of AIDS, shouting it from the rooftops, and in many voices. Almost as much schol­arship on homosexuality has appeared since 1969 as in the previous hundred years, even in the wake of Freud and Hirschfeld, and with each passing year the volume in­creases. This encyclopedia is the first at­tempt to bring together, interrelate, sum­marize, and synthesize this outpouring of controversial and often contradictory writings and to supplant the pseudo-scholarship, negative or positive propaganda, and apologetics that are still appearing.

As recently as the 1960s, dearth of research and the widespread Western taboo on public discussion of homosexual­ity even in the world of academia would have prevented publication of such a work as this. A society that sought for many centuries to suppress the very existence of homosexuality, and to exclude all men­tion of it from literary and historical docu­ments and from public discourse, could not have welcomed the issuance of this encyclopedia. Indeed, even now some may seek to entomb it in silence because remnants of that taboo still persist.

As anyone who has sought infor­mation from them knows, general ency­clopedias and histories offer only meager information on homosexuality, usually couched in outdated clinical or judgmental terms. Biographies of gay men and les­bian women discuss their orientation only when unavoidable, as with Oscar Wilde. There have been several encyclope­dias and dictionaries of sexuality (begin­ning with a German one of 1922, the Handbuch der Sexualwissenschaft), but this work is the first to treat homosexual­ity in all its complexity and variety.

In presenting the encyclopedia to the world, the editors urge the educated public to reflect upon the hidden threads that this work has followed through many areas of human endeavor, a pattern that traces the covert sexuality of figures in public life and in the arts and sciences as the clue to otherwise incomprehensible acts and events. So much effort has gone into censoring and suppressing this sub­ject that extensive investigation has been required to bring it back to the light of day. Even so, vast areas of inquiry - historical eras, whole countries, entire disciplines of scholarly thought - remain to this day blank pages awaiting the patient detective work of future generations of scholars. That so much has already been uncovered, as this work demonstrates, is a monumen­tal tribute to the courage, fortitude, re­search skills, and the sheer dedication to the difficult search for truth shown by the scholars whose findings form the heart of the encyclopedia.[9]

How and for whom the work can be useful

This encyclopedia is not just for academic readers. While a variety of styles and vocabulary levels coexist in the work, the editors have generally sought to make the articles accessible to all likely users, while germane to highly educated schol­ars. Thus a high-school student should be able to gain valuable information from the article COMING OUT even as the social psychologist finds a rigorous critique of various theoretical concepts of the "com­ing out" process. No advanced degree is needed to interpret BEACHES, SLANG WORDS FOR HOMOSEXUALS, PI­RATES, and CATHER, WILL A; on the other hand, SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION and CANON LAW may prove a challenge for those with no previous acquaintance with related materials.

The encyclopedia should be of great practical use to a wide variety of professionals, from social workers to cler­gymen, from lawyers to wardens, from pediatricians to drug counselors, and from travel agents to novelists.

In addition, these volumes will aid heterosexual readers in understanding friends, co-workers, and family members who are involved in or afraid of homosex­ual experiences or relationships or who are simply trying to clarify and commu­nicate their own outlook to others whom the subject baffles. The editors hope that the ency­clopedia will furnish enlightenment for the debates now unfolding in books, ar­ticles, the audio-visual media, religious bodies, courts, and legislatures about gay and lesbian rights. We trust that the data assembled will refute misconceptions and falsehoods and contribute to more accu­rate polemics and to a just resolution of these complex issues.

To the individual struggling to come to terms with his or her own homo­sexuality, the encyclopedia furnishes a wealth of points of comparison, of histori­cal figures with whom to feel kinship, and the knowledge that all the efforts of church and state over the centuries to obliterate homosexual behavior and its expression in literature, tradition, and subculture have come to naught, if only because the capac­ity for homoerotic response and homosex­ual activity is embedded in human nature, and cannot be eradicated by any amount of suffering inflicted upon hapless individ­uals. [9]

What the work is about

The unifying subject of this ency­clopedia is ostensibly "homosexuality." But this matter is not so simple as it appears. First of all, it includes both male and female homosexuality (lesbianism), though there is a good deal more informa­tion about the former because the latter has been even more thoroughly censored from the historical record along with other aspects of the history of women. Indeed, some have suggested that the two gender aspects of same-sex behavior should be completely segregated and that the pres­ent work should restrict itself to males. The editors, however, are persuaded that the phenomenology of lesbianism and that of male homosexuality have much in com­mon, especially when viewed in the cul­tural and social context, where massive homophobia has provided a shared setting, if not necessarily an equal duress.

Second, a discussion of homo­sexuality is incomplete without taking into account those who, for whatever rea­sons, have combined erotic behavior with their own sex and with the other, to what­ever degree. Hence, though the term "homosexual" is often perceived as a dualistic one, standing in stark contrast to its opposite term, "heterosexual," this encyclopedia encompasses bisexuality as well. Moreover, not every person who has received a biography is gay, lesbian, or bisexual; heterosexuals have made impor­tant contributions to the subject and to this work. Third, homosexuality cannot properly be understood if it is restricted to genital sexuality. The terminology here is difficult, but the passionate love of one male for another or of one female for an­other has not always found physical ex­pression, or the evidence of genital expres­sion has not been preserved, while the passionate feelings are perpetuated in lit­erature and history. Fourth, homosexuality has had great significance for all of humanity through the role that both it - and opposi­tion to it - have played in the evolution of world culture. In this aspect, the encyclo­pedia must reach far beyond questions of physical sexuality to examine the effects of homophilia and of homophobia on lit­erature, the arts, religion, science, law, philosophy, society, history, and psychol­ogy - indeed, on virtually every field of human endeavor. It is perhaps here that the reader new to this field will discover the greatest surprises, for general litera­ture has obscured most of these effects.

The encyclopedia is concerned not simply with homosexual behavior as such, but with the hopes and aspirations, the longing and dread, with which the subject has been invested. Homophobia itself cannot be omitted, because it has played - at least in Western society - and still does play a large role in shaping pop­ular attitudes. By way of compensation, the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality pres­ents a rich banquet of novels and poems, paintings and sculptures, plays and films which have permanently recorded homo­sexual feelings and aspirations.

Perhaps the most difficult ob­stacle to a simple focus on "homosexual­ity" is the growing realization that what has been lumped together under that term since its coinage in 1869 is not a simple, unitary phenomenon. The more one works with data from times and cultures other than contemporary middle-class Ameri­can and northern European ones, the more one tends to see a multiplicity of homo­sexualities. A current conception, which focuses on a sense of homosexual identity or personality, interacting with a "gay" subculture set apart from the general soci­ety, is only one of a number of paradigms or models of homosexuality, and there is far from a consensus that it is necessarily "better" or more accurate or more univer­sal than others. A male who has sex with another male can be seen by one society as feminine, by another as all the more mas­culine; his act can be accounted custom­ary for all males or a rare monstrosity; his behavior, if limited to the insertor role, is not even considered homosexual by many cultures. He may be considered especially evil or especially sacred for his conduct, or it may not even be thought worth men­tioning. In some cultures his act will be ap­proved only if he does it with a boy, in others boy love will draw the fiercest wrath upon him. It is this variety of patterns and conceptions, on all of which the tag "homosexuality" is applied by one writer or another, that makes the study of same-sex eroticism both so difficult and so fasci­nating. Most of all, it adds to the great diversity the reader will find in this work.[9]

The Editors' approach

In the over 770 articles included herein, the editors have ventured to survey the entire field of homosexuality sine ira et studio, without anger and partisanship. In selecting contributors to the encyclope­dia, they have sought competence and availability rather than adherence to any particular doctrine. They have endeavored to alert the reader to such controversies as divide even well-informed scholars. With the growth of knowledge some topics boast four or five experts, often with con­flicting theoretical perspectives and some­times with different conclusions. In some areas where topics overlap, such as FREU­DIAN CONCEPTS and PSYCHOANALY­SIS, the contributors - in this case, two of the editors - present clearly varying posi­tions. In most instances only one of the several experts could be chosen for repre­sentation here. In addition to this factor, space limitations and other commitments have made it impossible to include every deserving scholar - indeed their ranks swell almost daily. Nonetheless, some fields, notably non-Western disciplines, remain neglected and coverage is consequently less rich than we would wish. No conclu­sion should be drawn regarding the sexual orientation of any author from his or her appearance in this work.

The encyclopedia is extraordinar­ily interdisciplinary in nature, transhistorical, and insofar as could be done at this time, cross-cultural. Discarding limited visions which might confine attention to the recent past and to the Western world, the present work traces countless connec­tions across space and time. The Greeks who institutionalized pederasty and used it for educational ends take a prominent role, as does the Judeo-Christian tradition of sexual restriction and homophobia that prevailed under the church Fathers, Scho­lasticism, and the Reformers, and - in al­tered form - during the twentieth century under Hitler and Mussolini, Stalin and Castro. Avoiding the Eurocentrism of many earlier attempts at synthesis, the encyclo­pedia provides full treatment - as far as present knowledge allows - of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific, and of pre-literate as well as literate peoples. It is rare to encounter among these non-Western peoples anything approaching the intense homophobia found in the West.

One reason why this work is so multidiseiplinary is that the phenomena of homosexuality represent an outstand­ing theoretical problem for all those con­ceptual frameworks which seek to pro­mote a comprehensive and cohesive ac­counting for human behavior. Whether evolutionary biologist, Marxist, theolo­gian, anthropologist, psychoanalyst, an­cient historian, literary critic, demogra­pher, legal scholar, folklorist, feminist, or futurologist, one must either attempt to account for these phenomena and their influence on human life, or admit to an embarrassing gap in one's theory. Here homosexuality enters a sort of "theory prism," to take a term from Stephen Donaldson: the general phenomenon is passed through the refracting lens of grand theory like a beam of light, and either it emerges in coherent fashion, if in a spec­trum of variegated facets, after such pas­sage, or the prism is revealed to be opaque and in need of recasting. The way in which grand theories are serving as this theory prism, with mixed and often unex­pected results, is one of the intriguing results of the emergence of homosexua­lity into the light of academic scrutiny. [9]

Concise version

Shortly after the publication of the Encyclopedia, work began on an abridgement, which included newly-commissioned articles. It has never been published, and the project was abandoned after the withdrawal of the Encyclopedia. It may be read online (link below).


  1. Wayne R. Dynes (Wikipedia)
  2. Warren Johansson (Wikipedia)
  3. Stephen Donaldson (activist)(Wikipedia)
  4. Cal Gough (reviewer), Vol. 30, No. 1 (fall 1990), pp. 116-118, http://www.jstor.org/discover/10.2307/25828704?uid=3739600&uid=2&uid=4&uid=3739256&sid=21104631156563
  5. According to P. Nation in Publisher's Weekly, January 1992, the American Library Association's Award for one of 1990's Outstanding Reference Sources; `Library Journal's' and `Booklist's' Best Reference Books of the Year; Publishing Triangle's Editor's Choice Lambda Literary Award http://connection.ebscohost.com/c/articles/9202100561/scaled-down
  6. Encyclopedia of Homosexuality (Wikipedia)
  7. 7.0 7.1 EOH:WHYOutOfPrint Wayne R. Dynes, April 2006
  8. http://homoencyclopedia.com/wap/pdf/EOH-advertisement-2.pdf

External links

  • Wayne R. Dynes (Wikipedia)
  • Of specific interest are the articles on Pederasty and Pedophilia (the following links will take you directly to the sections of the on-line Encyclopedia where the articles are located -- you will then need to scroll down the page to read the specific articles)

Read the Encyclopedia on-line

  • An authorized on-line reproduction of the entire Encyclopedia is available for reading at the following link:

Never-published "concise" version