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Russia: Peter the Great criminalizes sex between men in the Military. Male-male sex remains legal and, according to contemporary accounts, widespread among civilians.


Customers at a London "molly house" fight off a police raid in what is perhaps the first documented example of a gay male protest against Law enforcement.

Paris is the home of some 20,000 "sodomites," according to police Lieutenant General Lenoir. About 50 men are arrested each year for the crime. Although sodomy remains a capital crime, most of those arrested are imprisoned, often for life.


Paris: Benjamin Deschauffours is burned at the stake in the Place de Greve. Although accused of other crimes including rape and murder, many contemporaries believe he has been unjustly punished for being guilty of sodomy. One publishes an anonymous tract in protest.


The Netherlands: an unprecedented severe campaign against Sodomy begins, focusing in some cities on orphanages and in others on public cruising areas. By 1731, courts throughout the country have found some 250 men and boys guilty of the crime. Approximately one tenth are strangled and burned at the stake. Most of the rest are whipped or banished.

September 1731

Faan, a small village in northern Holland: 22 young men are strangled and burned at the stake despite protests from relatives and neighbors. Most had confessed to engaging in mutual masturbation with each other.


Ireland: William King publishes the first edition of The Toast, a vicious poetic satire on a group of women in Dublin. In one section, The Toast uses the term "lesbian loves," making it one of the earliest surviving examples in English of the word "lesbian" in a same-sex context.


China: the Qing (Ch'ing) Dynasty enacts the first Chinese law forbidding consensual sodomy between adult males. Offenders are to spend one month wearing a cangue around their neck and receive 100 blows. The statute, however, is rarely enforced.

July 1750

Two workers named Bruno Lenoir and Jean Diot are burned at the stake after being caught having sex on a Paris street. They are the last - and the first in 25 years-to be executed ill France solely for the crime of sodomy.


Besides reminding the European reading public of the dangers of masturbation, Dr. Tissot's Onanisme lends additional support to a by now widespread belief: same-sex passions among women are caused by unusually large clitorides. Tissot considers this condition, akin to "hermaphroditism," disturbingly common. Over the next few decades, the Swiss physician's work- is widely translated and republished.


Voltaire's Dictionnaire Philosophique includes an article on "l'amour, nomme socratique," complete with a listing of historical figures who were devotees of same-sex eroticism.


In Les Confessions, Jean-Jacques Rousseau describes his terror and revulsion when a "self-styled African" attempted to seduce him, but then relates a friend's defense of the seduction attempt. This is perhaps the first plea for tolerance of same-sex love in modern European literature.


Two Irish cousins, Lady Eleanor Butler and Sarah Ponsonby, elope to Wales to become the celebrated Ladies of Llangollen. Their romantic friendship, almost certainly sexual, becomes one of the most talked-about relationships of the age.

February 23, 1778

Prussian military genius Baron Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben arrives at Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, in the company of a handsome 17-year-old secretary. Fearing prosecution for alleged indiscretions with young men back in Prussia, Steuben has signed on to train George Washington's ragtag Continental Army. Most historians consider his success at this task a major factor in the American victory.

March 11, 1778

Valley Forge, Pennsylvania: Lieutenant Frederick Gotthold Enslin becomes the first American to be discharged from the military on an attempted sodomy charge.


Johann Friedel's Letters on the Gallantries of Berlin is the first book to describe male-male street cruising and prostitution in this German city.


France: Friar Pascal is the last person to be burned at the stake for Sodomy. The punishment is unusually harsh for Enlightenment France: Pascal had compounded his crime by murdering a boy he was trying to rape. All but eight of those convicted of sodomy since 1715 have been imprisoned rather than executed.

October 25, 1783

West Point, New York: Deborah Sampson is honorably discharged from the Massachusetts Regiment. Wounded in one of several battles in which she fought, Sampson had escaped discovery for almost a year and a half until falling sick with a fever. One of the earliest American examples of a passing woman, Sampson formed several attachments with women while dressed as a man. She later marries and receives a military pension.

c. 1785

Japan: popular prints by Kitagawa Utamaro and other artists depict erotic encounters between women and between men as well as heterosexual situations.


England: Mary Wollstonecraft publishes Mary: A Fiction, drawing on her own life to chronicle the devotion of one woman to another. The type of romantic friendship described in the novel will become a common theme of fiction as well as actual women's lives in the 19th century.


France: Groups of militant "sodomite-citizens" demand freedom and recognition in petitions addressed to the National Assembly, the governing body of the French Revolution.


Germany: The Magazine of Experimental Psychical Studies publishes what is considered the first attempt at a scientific article on gay men.

September 25, 1791

France: The new law code, enacted as part of the French Revolution, effectively decriminalizes sodomy by including no mention of sex between consenting adults.


France: the Marquis de Sade publishes Philosophy in the Boudoir, complete with almost every variety of sex imaginable. The book is suppressed two decades later, but remains widely available as an underground classic until it is openly republished in the 1960s.


France: encyclopedist Denis Diderot's posthumously published La Religieuse includes a decadent and libidinous Mother Superior who tries to seduce the young nun of the novel's title. His characterization of a woman attracted to other women as emotionally depraved will become common in 19th-century French novels.


Mederic Louis-Elie Moreau de St. Mery, a French lawyer and politician, leaves Philadelphia, where he later writes that he was shocked to observe women enjoying "unnatural pleasures" with each other-even though, like most Americans, such women are, compared with the French, "not affectionate."

c. 1805

Halet Efendi, the Turkish ambassador to France, is shocked at the number and flagrancy of boy prostitutes working around the Palais Royal market. Europeans consider all Muslims sodomites, he writes, but no place in the Muslim world is as scandalous as Paris.


China: Scholar Shen Fu's autobiography hints at ways cloistered upper-class Chinese women may have arranged love relationships with other women. When his wife, Shen Yun, falls in love with a singing girl, she attempts to obtain the girl as Shen Fu's concubine. Thwarted by her husband's family, Shen Yun sickens and dies after the girl is forced to marry another man.


London: The police raid the White Swan pub on Vere Street. One of the first "gay bars," the White Swan is patronized by a variety of men, most of whom contemporaries describe as effeminate but also including "Fanny, an athletic bargeman,' and "Lucy, a Herculean coal-heaver."

France: The Napoleonic Code takes effect, leaving consensual sex between adults decriminalized. Many Western European countries conquered by Napoleon, as well as their colonies around the world, adopt this code.


Responding to the previous year's controversial trial-and subsequent libel suit-of two Scottish schoolmistresses, Miss Pirie and Miss Woods, for "improper and criminal conduct" with each other and one of their pupils, British legal authorities engage in a debate over whether sex between two women is possible. The consensus: it is not.


Germany: Jurist Anselm von Feuerbach helps persuade Bavarian lawmakers to follow the lead of the Napoleonic Code and decriminalize sex acts between consenting adults.


London: Four members of the crew of the Africaine are hanged. Their execution is part of an intensified English campaign to punish "buggery" in the navy.


Spain's new criminal code includes no mention of sodomy.


Russia criminalizes male-male "anal contact" among civilians for the first time. The penalty is four to five years' exile in Siberia.

August 1833

London: Captain Nicholas Nicholls, 50, is sentenced to death on a charge of Sodomy. His sentence is protested by the anonymous poet who is writing Don Leon, purportedly an autobiographical poem by Lord Byron but actually by some contemporary who is remarkably familiar with the late poet's love life. Don Leon is not only one of the earliest works of protest against the persecution of same-sex love; it is also cited as evidence of an emerging identity constructed around the "inborn passions" of men whose "predilection is for males":
Whence spring these inclinations, rank and strong?
And harming no one, wherefore call them wrong?

c. 1835

Although not technically a Berdache-she wears women's clothes and is considered attractive in a feminine way--the Crow known as Woman Chief takes a total of four wives as a sign of the elite status she has won by virtue of her bravery and skills in hunting and war.


France: Two popular novels-Honore de Balzac's The Girl with the Golden Eyes and Theophile Gautier's Mademoiselle de Maupin (whose eponymous heroine is among the first to refer to herself as a member of the "third sex")-introduce androgynously beautiful lesbian femmes fatales. These glamorously decadent heroines leave stereotypes that endure for more than one and a half centuries.


Switzerland: Heinrich Hoessli publishes the first volume of Eros: Die Mannerliebe der Griechen ("Eros: The Love Between Men of the Greeks"), a historical survey and defense of same-sex love and one of the first books to call for social tolerance of persons drawn to it.


Germany: The state of Hanover decriminalizes same-sex relations.

United Kingdom: The last execution for sodomy takes place. Capital punishment, however, remains possible until the legal reform of 1861.

July 20, 1845

Paris: A mob attacks a group of about 50 men arrested by police in a sweep of the Tuileries Gardens, a popular cruising area.

July 19, 1848

Elizabeth Cady Stanton and CO-organizer Lucretia Mott invite several hundred women to Seneca Falls, New York, for the first Women's Rights Convention. About 1 00 sign a "Declaration of Sentiments" modeled on the Declaration of Independence. The document marks the beginning of organized feminism in the U. S.


Yokel's Preceptor, a guide to London's unconventional attractions, lists Fleet Street and the Strand among places where one is almost certain to find men on the prowl for other men.


Prussia: Tthe most powerful of the states that will later become Germany, the government enacts the forerunner of Paragraph 175, penalizing male-male sex acts. Although less harsh than preceding legislation, the new law runs counter to a trend in other German states of decriminalizing consensual adult sex acts .


Austria makes sex between women illegal for the first time, while reducing the penalties for male-male relations. Johann Ludwig Casper, a specialist in forensic medicine, is the first in Germany to state that the tendency to be attracted to members of one's own sex is inborn.

July 4. 1855

Walt Whitman publishes the first edition of his Leaves of Grass.


France: Dr. Anibroise Tardieu publishes a highly Influential "medico-legal study" complete with a list of "symptoms" he believes are typical of a man prone to indulge in "practices against nature." These include a funnel-shaped rectum, deformed lips, and small teeth.


Walt Whitman publishes the third edition of his Leaves of Grass. Announcing his new resolve to be "the poet of comrades," the book now includes the sex-positive "Children of Adam" and the homoerotic "Calamus" poems.


The maximum sentence for sodomy in England, Ireland, and Wales is reduced from hanging to life in prison.


Germany: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs coins the term "Urning" (Uranian) based on a passage in Plato's Symposium. In Ulrichs's usage, Uranian refers to a member of what he considers the "third sex"-a person with "a feminine soul confined in a masculine body" or vice versa. The term and concept gain currency in Europe and North America over the next few decades.


In the US, two passing women serving in the Union Army are discovered when they get drunk and nearly drown in a river in Tennessee. The two soldiers-one a teamster and the other serving as part of General Philip Sheridan's cavalry escort-had discovered each other after enlisting independently and formed, in Sheridan's words, an "Intimacy." They are discharged from the military, given women's clothing, and sent away from the front.


Germany: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs publishes the first of 12 pamphlets of social and legal studies of "Uranian" love.

c. 1865

Able to support themselves by working in the booming silk-spinning industry, women in Guangdong, China, begin a "marriage resistance movement," formalizing bonds with each other and living apart from their families. The movement, which lasts until the Japanese invasion of 1937, harbors more than 100,000 women at its peak. Many of them form long-term sexual relationships.


Horatio Alger, minister at the Unitarian Church of Brewster, Massachusetts, is fired from his post for "deeds ... too revolting to relate" with two boys. He flees Brewster for New York City and a career as a popular writer of inspirational novels for boys.


Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal includes several poems that celebrate and exoticize lesbians, one of whom is Sappho. Baudelaire is one of the leaders of a mostly French trend portraying lesbianism as divinely evil decadence.

August 19, 1867

Munich,Germany: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs is jeered when he attempts to persuade a conclave of jurists that same-sex love should be tolerated rather than persecuted. He is probably the first to come Out publicly in defense of what he calls "Uranism" (homosexuality).

May 6. 1868

In a draft of a letter to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Karoly Maria Kertbeny, a Hungarian-German doctor who is an early sympathizer of Ulrichs, uses both "homosexual" and "heterosexual," terms Kertbeny has recently coined.


In an open letter to the Prussian minister of justice advocating the decriminalization of male-male sex relations, Karoly Maria Kertbeny uses the word "homosexual" in a public forum for the first time.

German physician Dr. Karl Friedrich Otto von Westphal publishes an article in a scholarly journal that is one of the first works to look at homosexuality (which he calls "contrary sexual feeling") through the sights of the infant science of psychiatry. In terms that suggest homosexuality is a mental illness rather than a moral failing, he recommends that governments decriminalize same-sex acts so that homosexuals will be more likely to seek medical treatment.

c. 1870

Rome: A group of American women Henry James called "the white, marmorean flock" create some of the most-praised sculptures of their time. This women-identified network, which revolves around the actress Charlotte Cushman, includes Emma Stebbins, Anne Whitney, and Mary Edmonia Lewis, several of whom are in Boston Marriages.


Despite protests, the new legal code for a unified Germany includes Paragraph 175, which makes sex acts between men punishable by a prison sentence of three to ten years.

May 1873

Japan: As part of a campaign of "modernization" and national revitalization, the Meiji government makes consensual sex between men illegal for the first time in Japanese history. The penalty is ninety days' imprisonment.

June 1, 1880

The United States Census finds 63 men in 22 states incarcerated for "crimes against nature."


The government of Japan reverses itself and decriminalizes consensual sex between men 16 or older.


England: The Labouchere Amendment is passed, reducing the maximum prison sentence for sodomy from life to two years but also broadening the scope of the LAW to include any "gross indecency" between two men.


Germany: Richard Von Krafft-Ebing publishes his enormously influential Psychopathia Sexualis. The book promotes a medical/psychiatric theory of homosexuality, which is described as a form of degeneracy.


Paris: The Guide des Plaisirs directs readers to a Montmartre restaurant frequented by lesbians.

The maximum sentence for sodomy in Scotland is reduced from hanging to a prison sentence.

Italy decriminalizes consensual same-sex acts between adults.


London: Newspapers accuse the government of a cover-up in a scandal that broke out the previous year involving a male brothel on Cleveland Street, telegraph messenger boys, and prominent aristocrats. Reaction to the scandal reflects growing awareness of London's gay male subculture as well as an increase in social intolerance of homosexuality.

January 26, 1892

Newspapers across the US report on the murder of 17-year-old Freda Ward by her lover, 19-year-old Alice Mitchell. Both members of upper-class Memphis society, the two women had vowed never to separate. When Ward's family refused to allow Mitchell to have contact with her, Mitchell waylaid Ward on a train and slashed her throat. Besides being one of the first times lesbianism is discussed in the nation's media, the Mitchell-Ward case becomes a frequently cited example of the dangerous 11 pathology" of same-sex love. Mitchell is later found insane and committed to an asylum.


France: Pierre Louys publishes Les Chansons de Bilitis (The Songs of Bilitis), including lesbian love poetry written in the voice of Bilitis, a fictitious character described as living on Lesbos at the time of Sappho.


Brazil: Adolfo Caminha publishes Bom-Crioulo, a naturalistic novel about the sexual and romantic obsession of a virile black sailor for a 15-year-old cabin boy.

January 1895

England: Edward Carpenter quietly publishes a pamphlet entitled "Homogenic Love and Its Place in a Free Society," one of the first documents to assert that same-sex love and the men and women who practice it make a positive contribution to society.

May 25, 1895

England: Oscar Wilde is found guilty of gross indecency and is sentenced to two years' hard labor. The international publicity given his trial brings awareness of the existence of homosexuality to a new high.


Germany: the first successful gay periodical, Adolf Brand's Der Eigene ("One's Own" or "The Special"), makes its debut on Staten Island, New York, Alice Austen begins to create a photographic record of the lives of her small group of women friends and her lover, Gertrude Tate.

May 14, 1897

Germany: Magnus Hirschfeld organizes the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, considered by many historians to be the first formal group to advocate civil rights for lesbians and gay men. The group launches a petition drive urging the repeal of Paragraph 175.

May 19, 1897

Oscar Wilde is released from prison. A short time later, he leaves England to spend the remaining three years of his life in self-imposed exile in France and Italy.

January 13, 1898

Germany: The Reichstag debates a petition urging the revocation of Paragraph 175. Promoted by Magnus Hirschfeld and signed by dozens of prominent German opinion leaders, the motion is supported by only one political party in the Reichstag, the Social Democratic Party led by August Bebel. The Reichstag votes against reform.


Germany: Magnus Hirschfeld publishes the first of 23 volumes of the Jahrbuch fur Sexuelle Zwischenstufen ("Yearbook for Sexual Intermediate Types"), a compendium of scholarly articles and an annual comprehensive bibliography relating to the study of male and female homosexuality.

Arthur J. Cohen publishes A Marriage Below Zero, the first American novel to discuss sex between two men openly.