• Community Empowerment and the Medicalization of Homosexuality: Constructing Sexual Identities in the 1930s• Journal article by Henry L. Minton; Journal of the History of Sexuality, Vol. 6, 1996 Community Empowerment and the Medicalization of Homosexuality: Constructing Sexual Identities in the 1930s HENRY L. MINTON Department of Psychology University of Windsor IN 1937, IN A preliminary published report of a study about homosexuality, psychiatrist George W. Henry presented a case study of "Mary Jones," a forty-nine- year-old black actress. 1 The case, titled "Disillusioned in Marriage: Finds a Substitute in Homosexual Liaison," contained the following excerpt: "Finally at the age of 41, while dancing with a woman, something very terrific happened to me--a very electric thing. It made me know I was homosexual. . . . For the past five years ____________________ An earlier version of this article was presented at the annual meeting of the Cheiron Society, Durham, NH, June 1993. I would like to thank Christina Simmons and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, and Margaret Harter, head, Information Services, Kinsey Institute Library; Adele A. Lerner, archivist, the New York Hospital Archives; Nancy McCall, archivist, the Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives; Roxanne L. Nilan, university archivist, Stanford University; and Elin L. Wolfe, assistant curator for manuscripts and archives, the Francis A. Countway Library of Medicine, for their help in obtaining archival materials. 1 George W. Henry, "Psychogenic Factors in Overt Homosexuality," American Journal of Psychiatry 93 ( 1937 ): 889-908. A more extended version of this case study was included in George W. Henry, Sex Variants. A Study of Homosexual Patterns, vols. 1 and 2 (New York, 1941 ), 2:563-70. In the latter publication, Henry changed the pseudonym from Mary Jones to Pearl M. and identified her as a singer rather than an actress. In actuality, this woman was Edna Thomas, an Afro-American actress who was prominent in Harlem homosexual circles (personal communication from Eric Garber, May 16, 1994). Thomass lesbian partner was also included in Henry, Sex Variants, 2:672-81, as Pamela D. For a discussion of Harlems homosexual subculture, see Eric Garber, "A Spectacle in Color: The Lesbian and Gay Subculture of Jazz Age Harlem," in Hidden from History. Reclaiming the Gay and Lesbian Past, ed. Martin Duberman, Martha Vicinus, and George Chauncey, Jr. (New York, 1989 ), pp. 318-31. -435-
she has been living with a white woman. This woman is one of the finest women I haveever known. She has come to be very, very dear to me-not just for sex alone--its a verygreat love. . . . This last relationship affords a tenderness I have never known." 2 In thiscase study, there is a juxtaposition of third-person, psychiatric interpretation, asexemplified by the title, with first-person, experiential narrative. This contrast in genrewas given fuller expression in Henry 1941 two-volume monograph, Sex Variants: AStudy of Homosexual Patterns, based on a sample of eighty "socially well adjustedhomosexuals" living in New York City. 3Henrys study was sponsored by the Committee for the Study of Sex Variants, aprivately funded and incorporated body, established in 1935 by Robert LatouDickinson. Dickinson was a prominent gynecologist who was also one of the leaders ofthe American birth control movement and a pioneer in sex research. 4 The committeewas composed of medical specialists and social and biological scientists who hadexpertise in human sexuality and deviant behavior.What is especially noteworthy about the committees origins was the involvement of thehomosexual community. Dickinson had been in contact with a "Miss Jan Gay" who hadcollected three hundred case histories of lesbians over a ten-year period, using a varietyof archival sources including Magnus Hirschfelds Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin.5 By the mid-1930s, Jan Gay, who was born in 1902 and whose real name was JanGoldburg, had had a multifaceted career as a journalist, novelist, writer of childrenstravel books, and activist for the nudist movement. 6 Her 1932 novel about nudism inEurope was banned in several states. She used the pseudonym "Gay" because this wasbecoming a popular code word in the homosexual community of the 1930s. 7 Amanuscript based on her case histories was accepted by a British publisher contin-____________________ 2 Henry, "Psychogenic Factors," p. 898. 3 A one-volume edition was published in 1948. 4 See David M. Kennedy, Birth Control in America: The Career of Margaret Sanger (New Haven, CT, 1970 ); James Reed, From Private Vice to Public Virtue (New York, 1978 ). 5 Robert Latou Dickinson to Lewis M. Terman, December 13, 1934, and January 28, 1935, Lewis M. Terman Papers, box 12, folder 26, Stanford University Archives. 6 "Obituary of Jan Gay", New York Times ( September 13, 1960 ), p. 37; Thomas Painter, "Gay, Jan," in Index of Names, Thomas Painter Papers, Kinsey Institute Library, Indiana University. 7 For a discussion of the lexicon of the male homosexual community of the period, see George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World, 1890-1940 (New York, 1994 ), pp. 12-23. With respect to the use of "gay" in the lesbian community, see Lillian Faderman, Odd Girls and Twilight Lovers: A History of Lesbian Life in Twentieth-Century America (New York, 1992 ), p. 106. -436-gent on her ability to obtain medical data that would "validate" her research. 8 With thisgoal in mind, she approached Dickinson.
As an activist for homosexual rights, Gay faced a dilemma that was to haunt activistsuntil the 1960s when a national gay and lesbian movement was strong enough todirectly challenge the medicalization of homosexuality. In order to publish scholarlywork that would serve the cause of homosexual rights, community activist-researchers,like Gay, were forced to obtain sponsorship and authorial cooperation from physiciansand scientists who provided the legitimacy for such undertakings. The interests ofmedical and scientific sexologists, however, were incompatible with the objectives ofthe homosexual rights movement. Rather than empowering the homosexual community,medical and scientific specialists were eager to lay claim to the study of homosexualityas a means of furthering their expertise and legitimacy as agents of social control. AsJeffrey Weeks points out, sexologists sought to reinforce existing power relations. 9Indicative of the regulatory objectives of the sexologists, Henrys firstand third-personsplit narrative style would, in the end, undermine Gays hopes for forging a dialoguebetween the homosexual subjects and the medical/scientific researchers. Rather thanopening communication and understanding, this discursive practice, with itsmedicalized overtone, served to further the subjugation of homosexual men and womento the scrutiny of the medical gaze. Nevertheless, the active involvement of thehomosexual community anticipated subsequent attempts at changing the powerimbalance between subjects and researchers in investigations of homosexuality.The sex variants study reflected a strong commitment on the part of both thehomosexual community and the scientific investigators to carry out a study ofhomosexuality. My concern here is to analyze the objectives sought by each group andto explore the nature of the relationship between them. I will begin with a presentationof the background and results of the sex variants study and then consider the broadercontext of this investigation by discussing how it is situated within the rise of ahomosexual community and the medicalization of homosexuality. THE COMMITTEE FOR THE STUDY OF SEX VARIANTSGays selection of Dickinson as a potential medical collaborator seems to be connectedwith his apparent feminist and lesbian sympathies. Dickin-____________________ 8 Jan Gay, "An Evaluation of the Group Therapy Techniques and Dynamics of Alcoholics Anonymous," manuscript attached to correspondence of Jan Gay to Alfred C. Kinsey, October 25, 1950, Kinsey Institute Library. 9 Jeffrey Weeks, Sexuality and Its Discontents (London, 1985 ), p. 79. -437-son, who was seventy-three when Gay contacted him in 1934, was the leading medicaladvocate for birth control. In 1923, he had created the Committee on Maternal Health,which was concerned with research on various issues of fertility. Thus, within themedical community, he was a highly visible supporter of an issue that was of majorconcern to feminists. 10 Moreover, Dickinson had published a series of sex histories,based on his gynecological practice dating back to 1890. These appeared in the form of
two monographs coauthored by Dickinson and Lura Beam: A Thousand Marriages in1931, and The Single Woman in 1934. 11 Beam had a background in psychology, andshe transposed Dickinsons case material into a finished product of analysis andinterpretation. 12The Single Woman included an analysis of homosexuality, based on the homoeroticexperiences of twenty-eight women and four men. 13 This analysis tended to besympathetic to the notion that homosexual expression was not necessarily a form ofsexual maladjustment. The authors pointed out that it was premature to establish ahomosexual "type" because the data were based on "psychopathic cases--sometimesobserved in legal suits, in institutions or after serious collapse." 14 Moreover, contrary tothe expectation of gender role reversal, the authors noted that "homosexual interestswere explained only in terms of femaleness, with no male types or behavior." 15 Beam,however, did point out that the physicians (Dickinson) advice giving was premised onthe assumption that the ideal form of sexual expression could only be achieved throughmarriage. 16____________________ 10 Dickinson, however, was often in conflict with birth control reformer Margaret Sanger. See Kennedy; Reed. 11 Robert Latou Dickinson and Lura Beam, A Thousand Marriages: A Medical Study of Sex Adjustment (Baltimore, 1931 ), and The Single Woman: A Medical Study in Sex Education (Baltimore, 1934 ). 12 Dickinson and Beam, A Thousand Marriages, p. xx, and The Single Woman, p. vi. In these books, Beam adopted a feminist perspective by focusing on the changing historical context that affected womens lives between 1895 and 1930, as well as analyzing the dominant-submissive relationship between the male physician (Dickinson) and his female patients. 13 Dickinson and Beam, The Single Woman, pp. 203-22. The twenty-eight female cases of homosexuality were out of a total number of 350 cases containing details of sexual experience. The male cases were husbands of patients, or in one case a man who proposed marriage to a patient. The female cases were characterized by an emotional relationship that did not always include sexual expression. Fifteen of the women and three of the men subsequently married. 14 Ibid., p. 204. 15 Ibid., p. 432. 16 Dickinson, unlike Beam, supported the medical model of homosexuality, as revealed in Robert Latou Dickinson, "The Gynecology of Homosexuality," in Henry, Sex Variants (n. 1 above), 2:1085-1146. -438-This tolerant perspective on homosexuality reflected Lura Beams lesbian sensibility.She was involved in a long-standing relationship with Louise Stevens Bryant, a Ph.D.biostatistician who was the executive secretary of the Maternal Health Committee. BothBeam and Bryant were secretly lesbian. 17 Thus, The Single Woman, with its relativelypositive presentation of homosexual cases, might have caught the attention of Jan Gayand signaled to her Dickinsons apparent (though not real) openness to homosexuality.Gay did not know Beam, nor would she have been aware of Beams lesbian identity. 18Gay moved in a homosexual circle connected with the arts and "bohemian" subculture
of the interwar period, while Beam and Bryant were of an older generation of lesbiancouples who achieved professional and social status within mainstream society. 19When Dickinson read Gays manuscript notes, he was very interested in supporting herwork and extending it to include the medical data she needed. 20 To help her get started,he secured a research fund of $1,000 from an anonymous donor, described as a "privatecitizen, a man of outstanding breadth of vision and filled with enthusiasm for scientificresearch." 21 The "donor," who eventually contributed a total sum of $7,500, wasundoubtedly supportive of research on homosexuality and may have been homosexualhimself. 22Gays plan to enlarge upon her lesbian case histories was further expanded to includehomosexual men. This came about through her contact with Thomas Painter, a twenty-nine-year-old gay man who had completed his studies at Union Theological Seminaryin the summer of 1934. 23 He had begun a research project on male prostitution and, likeGay, was looking for medical sponsorship. Gay introduced Painter to____________________ 17 See Reed (n. 4 above), pp. 409-10. 18 In recalling the events that led up to Dickinsons creation of the Committee for the Study of Sex Variants, Beam reports that the idea of doing research on homosexuality was probably presented to Dickinson by someone else. She does not indicate that she had any awareness that it was Jan Gay who approached Dickinson. Lura Beam to James Reed, December 21, 1970, Robert Latou Dickinson Papers, box 16, folder 6, Countway Library of Medicine, Boston. 19 For an analysis of the changing generations of lesbian relationships, see Faderman (n. 7 above). 20 Gay, "An Evaluation" (n. 8 above). Josephine H. Kenyon, a pediatrician with a special interest in womens health and a member of the Maternal Health Committee, also read Gays manuscript notes and was very supportive. 21 Eugen Kahn, "Foreword," in Henry, Sex Variants, 1:viii. 22 The total figure of $7,500 was the sum of several installments that were made available from 1934 to 1938. See Eugen Kahn and Robert W. Laidlaw to Lewis M. Terman, June 6, 1938, Lewis M. Terman Papers. 23 Thomas Painter, "Chronology," Thomas Painter Papers, and "Gay, Jan" (n. 6 above). -439-Dickinson, who was enthusiastic about Painters proposed work. With the potential ofPainter as a resource for obtaining male subjects, Dickinson encouraged Gay to expandher case histories to include males. Dickinson, who had already hired Gay to theMaternal Health Committees staff, added Painter and Painters research associate,Gershon Legman, as staff members. Neither Gay, Painter, nor Legman was publicly outas homosexual to the committee.With the funding and personnel in hand, Dickinson set out to gain the Maternal HealthCommittees sponsorship for both the case history and male prostitution projects. This,however, proved to be too much for Bryant, the committees executive secretary. Shesuffered a nervous breakdown and resigned. 24 With Bryants opposition, Dickinson wasunable to gain the committees sponsorship. 25 After failing to interest the Committee for
Research in Problems of Sex, Dickinson went about creating his own committee--theCommittee for the Study of Sex Variants. 26Toward the end of January 1935, in consultation with Gay, Dickinson began recruitingmembers. 27 Attached to each invitation was a proposal for creating the committee thatincluded a brief description of the two planned studies. Within two months, a nineteen-member committee of medical and scientific specialists was constituted. 28 Themembership included seven psychiatrists, one endocrinologist, one gynecologist, onepediatrician, two anatomists, one physical anthropologist, two sociologists, and fourpsychologists. 29 Three of the psychiatrists--Adolf Meyer,____________________ 24 Reed, pp. 183, 409-10. 25 Carney Landis to Eugen Kahn, March 25, 1935, Adolf Meyer Papers, ser. 2, unit 179, Alan Mason Chesney Medical Archives, Johns Hopkins University. 26 Carney Landis to Eugen Kahn, March 25, 1935, and Adolf Meyer to Eugen Kahn, March 25, 1935, Adolf Meyer Papers. 27 Robert Latou Dickinson to Lewis M. Terman, January 28, 1935; Jan Gay, "Qualifications for the Proposed Evaluation of the Group Therapy Techniques and Dynamics of Alcoholics Anonymous," manuscript attached to correspondence of Jay Gay to Alfred C. Kinsey, October 25, 1950, Kinsey Institute Library. 28 Robert Latou Dickinson and Carney Landis to Lewis M. Terman, February 11, 1935, Lewis M. Terman Papers. 29 The psychiatrists included Clarence O. Cheney, George W. Henry, Eugen Kahn, Marion E. Kenworthy, Robert W. Laidlaw, Adolf Meyer, and Edward A. Strecker. Rounding out the committee were endocrinologist Harold D. Palmer, gynecologist Robert L. Dickinson, pediatrician Josephine H. Kenyon, anatomists Earl T. Engle and Philip E. Smith (included to provide expertise on the reproductive systems of homosexual women), physical anthropologist Earnest A. Hooten, sociologists Maurice R. Davie and Dorothy Swaine Thomas, and psychologists Carney Landis, Karl S. Lashley, Catharine Cox Miles, and Lewis M. Terman. In 1938 Cheney, Kenworthy, and Hooten left the committee and were replaced with Karl M. Bowman, a psychiatrist, and Austin H. MacCormick, New York Citys correction commissioner. -440-George W. Henry, Eugen Kahn--played key roles on the committee. Meyer, the directorof the Phipps clinic at Johns Hopkins, was the dean of American psychiatry. 30 Throughhis collaboration with Clifford W. Beers, he was instrumental in organizing the NationalCommittee for Mental Hygiene in 1909 and was influential in the mental hygienemovements promotion of adjusting individuals to their social environment as the key tomental health. Meyers major contributions to the committee were to act as a consultantfor its organization and a liaison with various funding agencies. Henry, a former studentof Meyer, was associated with New York Hospital where he engaged in a series ofpsychiatric research studies, including a study of homosexuality. 31 On the basis of thisresearch, Henry was asked by the committee to direct Gays case history study. 32 Kahn,a professor of psychiatry at Yale, was a leading exponent of the German constitutionalschool of psychiatry. 33 While stressing the constitutional basis of homosexuality, heacknowledged the role of environmental influences and believed that through
psychotherapy homosexuals could successfully control their impulses. Reflecting hisexpertise on homosexuality, Kahn was elected committee chairman. 34 Two of the socialscientists--psychologistsLewis M. Terman and Catharine Cox Miles--were alsoinfluential in the committees activities. They had collaborated on the development of ascale that measured masculinity-femininity. 35 In attempting to validate this scale,Terman generated data demonstrating that male homosexuals scored in the direction offemininity.The diverse membership of the committee reflected its mandate to act as a coordinatingbody for "the various scientific interests" in the field of sexual variation, and "to serveas a scientific sponsoring agency for the____________________ 30 For overviews of Meyers writings and influence, see Alfred Lief, ed., The Commonsense Psychiatry of Dr. Adolf Meyer (New York, 1948 ); Gerald N. Grob, Mental Illness and American Society, 1875-1940 (Princeton, NJ, 1983 ), pp. 112-18, 149-57. 31 George W. Henry, "Psychiatric and Constitutional Factors in Homosexuality: Their Relation to Personality Disorders," Psychiatric Quarterly 8 ( 1934 ): 243-64; George W. Henry and Hugh M. Galbraith, "Constitutional Factors in Homosexuality," American Journal of Psychiatry 13 ( 1934 ): 1249-70. 32 George W. Henry to Oskar Dietheim, November 15, 1938, Medical Biography File of George W. Henry, Medical Archives, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center. 33 Eugen Kahn, Psychopathic Personality, trans. H. Flanders Dunbar (New Haven, CT, 1931 ). For Kahns views about homosexuality, see pp. 126-45. 34 Minutes of the meeting of the Committee for the Study of Sex Variants, March 29, 1935, Adolf Meyer Papers. 35 Lewis M. Terman and Catharine Cox Miles, Sex and Personality: Studies in Masculinity and Femininity (New York, 1936 ). -441-furtherance of research on sexual variation." 36 In addition to the two initial projects,plans were laid out for a hormonal study of the blood and urine of homosexuals, aninvestigation of homosexuality among delinquent boys, and a study of homosexualityamong men in the merchant marine and Coast Guard. To carry out this research,exhaustive efforts were undertaken to obtain funding. The committee, however, wasunsuccessful in gaining support from any of the existing foundations and none of theplanned projects were begun. 37 Thus, the anonymous funds from the private donorconstituted the committees only source of funding, and this was used to support Gayscase history project, which came to be known as the sex variants study.The prostitution study was carried out by Painter, who used his own funds to supportLegman as his research associate. 38 Painter completed a manuscript in 1941 that wasnever published. 39 Henry also studied a small sample of male prostitutes as part of aseries of studies on sex offenders. He worked on these studies with Alfred A. Gross, agay man who, like Painter, was not publicly out to the committee. Henry and Grosspublished two preliminary reports, but, with no financial support from the committee,their plans for a more extensive study were abandoned. 40 With the publication in 1941of the two-volume Sex Variants monograph, the committee ceased to operate.
____________________ 36 Minutes of the meeting of the Committee for the Study of Sex Variants, March 29, 1935, Adolf Meyer Papers. 37 Robert W. Laidlaw to Adolf Meyer, December 12, 1935, Eugen Kahn and Robert W. Laidlaw to Adolf Meyer, June 6, 1938, Adolf Meyer Papers. Appeals for funding were made to ten foundations. The controversial nature of homosexuality as an area of research was undoubtedly a problem. The Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation, for example, feared that it would lose support from conservative and wealthy donors. 38 Thomas Painter, "Legman, George," in Index of Names, Thomas Painter Papers (n. 6 above). Legman also contributed a glossary of homosexual slang terms to Henry Sex Variants monograph. 39 Thomas Painter, "Male Homosexuals and Their Prostitutes in Contemporary America" (unpublished manuscript, 1941). With Dickinsons encouragement, Painter sent his manuscript to Kinsey. The manuscript is in the Thomas Painter Papers at the Kinsey Institute Library. Painters manuscript served as the basis for his collaborative research relationship with Kinsey, which began in 1943. See Alfred C. Kinsey to Thomas Painter, October 27, 1943, Thomas Painter Papers. Painter used the pseudonym of "Will Finch" to identify his diaries, which are in the Painter Papers. Because of the limitations in the scope of what could be covered in this article and the more limited involvement of the Sex Variants Committee in the prostitution study, I have chosen to focus on the sex variants study. 40 George W. Henry and Alfred A. Gross, "Social Factors in the Case Histories of One Hundred Underprivileged Homosexuals," Mental Hygiene 22 ( 1938 ): 591-611; George W. Henry and Alfred A. Gross, "The Homosexual Delinquent," Mental Hygiene 25 ( 1941 ): 420-42; Eugen Kahn to Lewis M. Terman, February 1, 1940, Lewis M. Terman Papers. Gross continued to work with Henry in counseling sex offenders after World War II. See -442- THE SEX VARIANTS STUDYThe Sex Variants monograph was published by Paul B. Hoeber, the medical bookdepartment of Harper & Brothers, with the stipulation that the material was "preparedfor the use of the medical and allied professions only." 41 According to Henry,physicians were especially targeted because their professional training enabled them tobe objective and free of the common prejudice directed against sex variants. Thus, theypossessed the perspective to deal with social ills and serve in the capacity of "the mentalhygiene leaders in the community." 42 In keeping with the objectives of the mentalhygiene movement, mental health and social welfare were premised on the integrationof the individual with the norms and values of the community. 43 Sexual adjustment wasone of the components of this ideal individual-society fit.Throughout the study, Gay was employed by the committee to act as Henrys researchassistant. She was responsible for recruiting the sample of homosexual women and men.Painter also helped in the recruitment of the male sample. If prospective subjectsindicated a willingness to participate, she obtained personal and family histories as wellas demographic data. 44 After her contact with the participants, she introduced them toHenry under a pseudonym, which was a first name and the initial of a last name. Thebackground information that Gay provided enabled Henry to have some familiarity with
the subjects when he interviewed them at New York Hospitals Payne WhitneyPsychiatric Clinic. These psychiatric interviews were open-ended with some "guidance"on Henrys part so that a standard series of topics would be covered, including familybackground, childhood and adolescent experiences, social and work patterns, sexualpractices, and the participants attitudes toward____________________ George W. Henry, All the Sexes. A Study of Masculinity and Femininity (New York, 1955 ), p. xvii. 41 Henry, Sex Variants (n. 1 above), l:vi. 42 Ibid., p. ix. 43 See Fred Matthews, "In Defense of Common Sense: Mental Hygiene as Ideology and Mentality in Twentieth-Century America," Prospects 4 ( 1979 ): 459-516. 44 Henry, Sex Variants, l:xii; Gay, "Qualifications" (n. 27 above). Henry did not specify what these personal and family histories consisted of. In his proposal for the study, submitted to the Sex Variants Committee, he indicated that the field-worker (Gay) was to obtain as much information as she could from her social contacts with the subjects. George W. Henry , "Proposal for Study of Homosexuality," undated, Adolf Meyer Papers, ser. 2, unit 179, no. 2 (includes Sex Variants Committee Correspondence, May 2, 1935 , to September 18, 1935). The committee, however, was familiar with Gays experience in collecting lesbian case histories, and Henry thus seems to have relied on this experience in outlining her role in the sex variants study. -443-homosexuality. 45 A verbatim shorthand record was made of each respondents remarks,which Henry indicated had the effect of facilitating communication because it conveyedthe impression that everything that was said was of value. 46Somewhat over two hundred individuals from New Yorks homosexual communityvolunteered and were interviewed between 1935 and 1938. 47 The unusually largenumber of volunteers suggests that these self-identified lesbians and homosexual menwere eager to cooperate in a study that was organized by community insiders, that is,Gay and Painter. From the original subject pool, Henry selected forty men and fortywomen for the sample he used in the Sex Variants monograph. According to Henry, thisselection was based on those who were particularly informative in the interviews. Thisfinal sample was primarily made up of participants who were in their twenties andthirties, well educated, and in the professions, fine arts, and performing arts. There wasalso a small subsample of male prostitutes. With Gays assistance in scheduling, theparticipants also received a physical examination and X-ray examinations of the head,chest, and pelvis. The women were given a pelvic examination, and some of the mensubmitted semen for a fertility analysis. To supplement the X-ray indices ofmorphology, about a third of the sample agreed to be photographed in the nude. Finally,most of the sample completed the Terman-Miles measure of masculinity-femininity.Henrys monograph includes the first-person autobiographical narratives he obtainedfrom his psychiatric interviews. 48 He indicated that the personal accounts werecomposed "almost entirely of statements made by the subject which I have edited to
make a connected history." 49 Before each autobiographical statement, Henry provided abrief "general impression," in which he described the outstanding physical, behavioral,____________________ 45 "Psychiatric Guide for Study of Homosexuals" (Interview Protocol), George W. Henry to Members of the Sex Variants Committee, undated, attached to letter from Robert W. Laidlaw to Lewis M. Terman, November 17, 1936 , Lewis M. Terman Papers. 46 Follow-up interviews, based on a questionnaire, were conducted after a two-year interval to check on statements previously made and to provide supplementary information. Henry was assisted by another psychiatrist, August E. Witzel of Brooklyn State Hospital. It is not clear whether Witzel conducted some of the interviews himself, acted as a co-interviewer in some cases, or was only involved in the follow-up phase. All of the procedures for the study are described in Henry, Sex Variants, l:ix-xvii. 47 Henry refers to the approximate size of the original sample in a later publication. See Henry, All the Sexes, p. xii. New York was home to the leading homosexual community in America in the early twentieth century. For a history of New Yorks gay male community during this period, see Chauncey, Gay New York (n. 7 above). 48 Each autobiography contained two sections, one on family background, the other on personal history. 49 Henry, Sex Variants (n. 1 above), l:xi. -444-and emotional characteristics of the respondent, as well as a family (genealogical) chartwith notations including the degree of aggressiveness and submissiveness of familymembers. 50 Following each autobiography, Henry reported the major findings of thephysical and X-ray examinations, as well as the results of the masculinity-femininitytest. Each case ended with a section in which Henry presented his own analysis. Themale and female cases were subdivided, respectively, into three categories-bisexual,homosexual, and narcissistic--reflecting, according to Henry, "the extent to which theydeviate from heterosexual adjustment." 51 The "bisexuals" represented those individualswho had had some incidence of heterosexual experience, while the "narcissistic"category reflected those who revealed narcissistic tendencies or other psychosexual"eccentricities," such as male prostitution. 52The participants narratives offer a rare glimpse into the shared experiences,sensibilities, and struggles of an underground subculture whose voices were typicallysilenced in medical and scientific discourse. Among the varied themes in these texts areexpressions of positive self-identity, such as Alberta I., an artist who proclaims, "I havea great confidence in the future. . . . Homosexuality hasnt interfered with my work. Ithas made it what it is." 53 Expressions of resistance are exemplified by Michael D., aninterior decorator who states: "I have never seen any literature on homosexuality withwhich I have agreed." 54 The struggle to achieve a positive homosexual identity againstthe force of social domination is reflected by Ellen T., an artist who declares, "In thebeginning I was very silly about homosexuality. Never for a moment did I think it wasanything very wrong. . . . I know now that that is stupid." 55
In contrast to these personal reflections of coping with a stigmatized identity, Henrysteadfastly held to a medical model of homosexuality. In discussing etiology, heconsidered the role of both heredity and environment. 56 With regard to hereditarydeterminants, Henry and his team of medical investigators searched for instances ofdistinct structural or physiological characteristics. The only consistent distinguishingfeature____________________ 50 The background information provided by Gay contributed to Henrys impressions. Henry acknowledged that he included observations Gay made based on her own interactions with the participants. Ibid. 51 Ibid., p. xiv. 52 The breakdowns varied for men and women. For the men, there were five bisexuals, twenty-two homosexuals, and thirteen narcissists; for the women, seventeen bisexuals, fourteen homosexuals, and nine narcissists. These differences reflected the greater incidence of heterosexual marriages among the women. 53 Henry, Sex Variants, 2:864. 54 Ibid., 1: 144. 55 Ibid., 2:795. 56 Henrys conclusions are contained in ibid., pp. 1023-28. -445-was the high incidence of athletic body type among both the male and femalehomosexuals, marked by broad shoulders and narrow hips, which Henry attributed to animmature form of skeletal development. 57 While not dismissing the contribution of ahereditary predisposition, Henry emphasized the nurturing role of the family. Familypatterns of masculinity-femininity and dominance-submission were conducive to thegeneration of homosexuality in the offspring. 58 Mothers who were masculine or fatherswho were feminine, according to Henry, would each be detrimental to the nurturing oftheir childrens heterosexual adjustment. He spelled out examples of each: "Masculinityin a female may be manifested in aggressive occupations, aggressive attitudes towardsociety, and through intolerance of the personal relationships involved in being a wifeand mother. . . . Femininity in a male may be manifested directly as such throughdependence upon a more aggressive male or female." 59 THE RISE OF A HOMOSEXUAL COMMUNITYBeginning in the 1870s, homosexual communities emerged in American cities. 60 By the1920s and 1930s, they became relatively stable and more differentiated in terms ofsocial background and style. During this period, New York was home to the largest andmost vibrant lesbian and gay community. 61 Centered in Greenwich Village and Harlem,lesbians and homosexual men established a presence in settings, such as restau-____________________ 57 Henrys conclusion was based on a similar finding in a study he conducted with a group of psychotic patients; ibid., p. 1046. Among the physical indices, the other major finding was the gynecological patterns reported by Dickinson; ibid., pp. 1085- 1146. Dickinson focused on such genital findings as a large and erectile clitoris as well as an active erotic response in the presence of the examining female
gynecologist. He suggested that the genital findings reflected homosexual experience (sex play) and hence could be used as a diagnostic measure. An extensive analysis of these results plus other aspects of the sex variants study is contained in Jennifer Terry, "Lesbians under the Medical Gaze: Scientists Search for Remarkable Differences," Journal of Sex Research 27 ( 1990 ): 317-39, and "Siting Homosexuality: A History of Surveillance and the Production of Deviant Subjects (1935-1950), Volumes I-III" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Santa Cruz, 1992 ).58 Henry based this conclusion on the family histories he obtained in his interviews, which were summarized in the family charts preceding each case presentation. He also made use of the results of the Terman-Miles masculinity-femininity test, which, as he reported, demonstrated that sex variants generally did not conform to the norms for males and females. See Henry, Sex Variants (n. 1 above), 2:1034.59 Ibid., p. 1024.60 Barry D. Adam, The Rise of a Gay and Lesbian Movement (Boston, 1987 ); John DEmilio , Sexual Politics, Sexual Communities. The Making of a Homosexual Minority in the United States, 1940-1970 (Chicago, 1983 ).61 Faderman (n. 7 above), pp. 67-79; Chauncey, Gay New York (n. 7 above); Garber (n. 1 above). -446-rants, speakeasies, and drag balls, that sustained their social networks and enhancedtheir sense of group identity. It was this particular community whose voices wererecorded in Henrys monograph.In addition to the creation of a relatively stable homosexual community, there were alsosigns of a fledgling homosexual rights movement. While a national homophilemovement did not emerge in the United States until the 1950s, there were earlier linksto the movement in Europe. 62 Jan Gay was influenced by the work of MagnusHirschfeld and Havelock Ellis. She had collected some of her lesbian case histories atHirschfelds Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin before it was closed by the Nazis in1933, and her goal of publishing these histories appears to have been in keeping withElliss objective of presenting a positive and tolerant view of homosexuality throughsuch published histories. 63 While Ellis helped to establish the tradition of presentingcase histories with the first- versus third-person split narrative, his own commentary,unlike that of Richard von Krafft-Ebing or George Henry, did not pathologize thepersonal accounts of his homosexual respondents. 64 Following Hirschfelds lead, Gaywas also interested in therapy and the role that physicians could serve as therapists forhomosexuals. Hirschfeld had advocated that physicians should engage in a form oftherapy aimed at helping homosexuals accept their sexuality and cope with it in a hostilesociety. 65Gays views about homosexuality and the role of the physician as therapeutic agentappear in a brief manuscript she submitted to Dickinson for his proposed but nevercompleted book, "The Doctor as Marriage Counselor." 66 She underscored the need forthe physician-counselor to be knowledgeable about homosexuality and to be free ofsocial condem-____________________
62 As early as 1906, members of Magnus Hirschfeld Scientific Humanitarian Committee, based in Germany, were giving public lectures in the United States. In 1924, Henry Gerber, a postal worker, established the Society for Human Rights in Chicago, a shortlived homophile organization patterned after another German homophile group. See Jonathan Ned Katz , Gay American History. Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A., rev. ed. (New York, 1992 ), pp. 381-83, 385-97.63 Havelock Ellis, Sexual Inversion: Studies in the Psychology of Sex, vol. 2, 3d ed., revised and enlarged (Philadelphia, 1915 ).64 See Richard von Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia Sexualis, with Especial Reference to Contrary Sexual Instinct: A Medical-Legal Study (Philadelphia, 1893 ).65 Magnus Hirschfeld, Die Homosexualität des Mannes und des Weibes (Berlin, 1914 ). For an English translation of the section dealing with therapy, see Katz, Gay American History, pp. 151-53.66 Jan Gay, Section on Homosexuality for "The Doctor as Marriage Counselor," unpublished manuscript (five pages), undated, Robert Latou Dickinson Papers, box 11, folder 48. Dickinson book, "The Doctor as Marriage Counselor," was not published and exists only in draft form in the Dickinson Papers. -447-nation. With respect to marital counseling, she noted that "patients" with an "ingrainedhomosexual pattern" should be discouraged from considering marriage. Citing Ellis, shepointed out that for such individuals, marriage would aggravate "intra-psychic" conflictbecause the homosexual tendency was stronger than the heterosexual. 67 Gays warningabout marriage was incorporated by Dickinson in referring to instances in which an"unalterable fixation" to same-sex individuals existed. 68 In contrast to Gay, however,Dickinson in his chapter stressed the immature and substitutional nature ofhomosexuality and focused on the counselors role as an agent for promotingheterosexual adjustment wherever possible. Gays views about homosexuals with long-standing patterns of same-sex attraction also appears to have been incorporated byHenry in his conclusions in the Sex Variants monograph. Despite his general optimismabout "curing" homosexuals, he indicated the difficulties involved in cases of"prolonged" immature sexual behavior. 69Gays manuscript reveals that, beyond gaining Dickinsons initial sponsorship for herown research, she hoped to influence medical views about marriage counseling.Dickinsons planned book held the promise of a collaborative enterprise whereinphysicians would be alerted to the concerns of homosexuals. 70 In particular,gynecologists could be alerted to the social pressures lesbians experienced.Had Dickinson followed through on completing his book, Gays authorial voice mighthave been heard in his chapter on homosexuality. With respect to Henry Sex Variantsmonograph, little of her own authorship seems to have survived. She claimed that heroriginal seventythousand-word manuscript was "assimilated" into the two volumes, but,except for being included in the acknowledgments for her editorial assistance, she isgiven no credit for her original contribution. 71 Her initial hopes of gaining legitimacyfor her own work by means of medical collaboration, as well as establishing a dialoguebetween research subjects____________________
67 The citation was from Ellis Sexual Inversion.68 Dickinson, "Homosexuality," draft dated August 5, 1942 , p. 1, Robert Latou Dickinson Papers.69 Henry, Sex Variants (n. 1 above), 2:1027. With respect to preventive measures in childhood, Henry also acknowledged that a small proportion of children could not be molded into conventional sex patterns.70 Dickinsons prospective book was announced in the preface of The Single Woman. See Louise Stevens Bryant, "Preface," in Dickinson and Beam, The Single Woman (n. 11 above), p. vii.71 Gay, "An Evaluation" (n. 8 above), and "Qualifications" (n. 27 above). Gays input is evident in the opening "General Impressions" section of each case where many of Henrys comments are based on her observations and background information. Gay also indicates that Henry consulted her about the probable veracity of each participants personal account. -448-and investigators, never came to pass. Henrys third-person psychiatric discourse wasinsensitive to the empowerment struggles and concerns contained in the subjectspersonal accounts.In addition to Gays initiatives, the male homosexual community sought scientificsupport for research on homosexuality. Their motivation appears to have been closelyconnected with the changing political atmosphere of the Depression years. In the early1930s, New York city and state authorities began a campaign to exclude homosexualsfrom public gathering places. 72 In contrast to the "pansy craze" of 1930-31 in whichTimes Square nightclubs featured drag shows, there was a crackdown on bars andrestaurants that catered to a male homosexual clientele. The political shift reflected abacklash to the "moral laxity" and political corruption of the prohibition era. By the latethirties, many bars had been closed and male homosexuals became increasinglyvulnerable to police harassment and arrest. Adding to the concerns of malehomosexuals, there was an influx of male hustlers. These men tended to be youngdrifters, with little education or social opportunity, who were attracted to New Yorkbecause of its reputation as "the capital of the American homosexual world." 73 In themidst of the Depression, they were unable to find adequate employment and turned toprostitution as a means of survival. Their increasing presence constituted a threat,especially to those men who were not economically and socially established and thusdid not "have powerful friends who [were] . . . capable of dealing with blackmailers." 74In Henry and Grosss study, the prostitutes admitted to victimizing sexual partnersthrough blackmail threats, robbery, and physical assault. 75 There was also thesuggestion that some may have served as police informers. By revealing thevulnerability of homosexual men to victimization, a published and scientificallysponsored study of prostitution might have resulted in a more sympathetic reading inlegal, medical, and scientific circles. Moreover, it might have been viewed as a practicalsource of information for the homosexual community regarding the potential problemsof prostitution.The Sex Variants monograph also reveals that the research participants were committedto contribute to a scientific investigation. As Henry commented, "Most of themwelcomed an opportunity to participate in a scientific and medical study of their
development and of their problems. Through this study they hope for a betterunderstanding of____________________ 72 See Chauncey, Gay New York (n. 7 above), pp. 331-61. 73 Henry and Gross, "Social Factors" (n. 40 above), p. 602. For a characterization of male prostitution in New York during the 1930s, see Chauncey, Gay New York, pp. 191-93. 74 Henry and Gross, "Social Factors," p. 609. 75 Ibid., pp. 606-7. -449-their maladjustments and as a consequence a more tolerant attitude of society towardthem." 76 In his impressions of particular individuals, Henry also noted instances of deepcommitment. Will G."is striving to improve the lot of the underprivileged sex variant.His interest in homosexual problems is manifested by unreserved submission of himselffor investigation." 77 Henry was an astute observer here, for, unknown to him, "Will G."was Thomas Painters pseudonym, and Painter viewed himself as a spokesperson for theconcerns of male hustlers. 78 Ellen T. "is easily moved to tears . . . in speaking of whatshe feels is injustice to homosexuals. She is eager to help in this study and to know whatprogress is being made." 79 Moreover, the participants expressed their own objectives inbeing a part of scientific research. Mildred B. declared, "Im interested in havinghomosexuality better understood and in obtaining a more tolerant attitude on the part ofthe general public"; 80 and Virginia K. commented, "The homosexual should have thesame position in society as the so-called normal has. They wouldnt then all be runningaround to dives and getting persecuted." 81Contained in the Sex Variants monograph are also instances of resistance tomedicalizing discourses. George Chauncey points to such forms of resistance in histreatment of the gay male subculture during the 1920s and 1930s. 82 Consistent withChaunceys claims, several of the participants took the opportunity of using theirinterview with Henry to declare their resistance to being pathologized. Eric D., forexample, stated, "I have no regrets for my homosexuality. . . . I would have becomeneurasthenic if I hadnt adopted homosexuality because that is my normal." 83 Julius E.proclaimed, "Ive never thought much about my homosexuality. It just seemed thenatural thing to do." 84 And Gene S., an artist, commented, "I dont want to be normalbecause Im a creative person and I have a creative life." 85The motivation and commitment of the homosexual women and men associated withthe sex variants study were an effort to gain community empowerment. Carrying on theinitiatives of earlier homophiles, such as____________________ 76 Henry, Sex Variants, l:x. 77 Ibid., p. 370. 78 Painter appears to be the only activist who was also a participant in the sex variants study. Painter reveals his identity as "Will G." in Painter, Male Homosexuals (n. 39 above) 79 Henry, Sex Variants (n. 1 above), 2:787, 789.
80 Ibid., p. 745.81 Ibid., p. 772.82 Chauncey, Gay New York (n. 7 above), pp. 5-6.83 Henry, Sex Variants, 1:156.84 Ibid., p. 531.85 Ibid., p. 254. -450-Hirschfeld and Ellis, collaboration with medical and scientific specialists held thepotential for obtaining social acceptance. Moreover, informed scientific research basedon the life experiences of homosexuals could be used as a basis for supporting the causeof homosexual rights. In fact, this strategy was used by the sex variants activists. Aprepublication summary of the Sex Variants monograph was presented as legal evidenceby the owners of Glorias, a New York bar threatened with closure because it attracted agay following, especially men who behaved in a feminine manner. The bar ownersargued that the research results did not support a necessary relationship betweeneffeminacy and homosexuality, and thus it was not possible to legally claim that the barwas catering to an identifiable group. 86 The State Liquor Authority, nevertheless, wonits case and the bar was closed.The empowerment goals of the homosexual activists and research participants, however,were not to be realized because of the contrasting objectives of the medical andscientific community. THE MEDICALIZATION OF HOMOSEXUALITYBy the 1930s, it was a well-established assumption in medical and scientific circles thathomosexuality was pathological. 87 As a result of the new openness about sexuality inthe post-World War I era, as well as the increasing visibility of homosexualcommunities, there was increasing interest about homosexuality in the popular andmedicoscientific literature. 88 The opportunity of collecting data on a large sample ofself-identified homosexuals provided Dickinson and his committee colleagues with anunusual chance to investigate a phenomenon that attracted much social and scientificinterest. In contrast to previous research that was limited to clinical cases or surveys inthe general popu-____________________ 86 See Chauncey, Gay New York, p. 339. As Chauncey points out, the bar made selective use of Henrys findings. While Henry indicated that not all male homosexuals were effeminate, he nevertheless argued that there was a strong association between homosexuality and effeminacy in men. No mention of this legal case is included in any of the existing Sex Variants Committee papers. Thus, it is not clear whether any of the committee members were aware of the use made of the research findings. 87 For histories of the medicalization of homosexuality, see Peter Conrad and Joseph W. Schneider , Deviance and Medicalization: From Badness to Sickness (St. Louis, 1980 ), pp. 172-214; David E Greenberg, The Construction of Homosexuality (Chicago, 1988 ), pp. 397-433. 88 For a discussion of the changing sexual norms during the interwar period of the
1920s and 1930s and their impact on medicoscientific investigation, see John DEmilio and Estelle B. Freedman , Intimate Matters. A History of Sexuality in America (New York, 1988 ), pp. 171-235. With respect to the new focus on homosexuality in the popular literature, see Faderman (n. 7 above), pp. 62-92. -451-lation, it was now possible to undertake a more definitive investigation ofhomosexuality based on a sample with a relatively long-standing history of homosexualexperience.Committee chairman Eugen Kahn drew attention to the social significance of thecommittees research, declaring, "The Committee has the impression that the interest inresearch in the field of sex has broadened in the last few years and that the publicwelfare will be served by publication of the results of this research. Medical,psychological and sociological studies of sex are receiving some mention in the dailypress. The public begins to realize that punitive measures alone in dealing with cases ofsex crime are inadequate and that the sex offender must be studied if progress in theprevention as well as in the treatment of sexual maladjustment is to be achieved." 89Kahn was referring to more than the new openness about sexuality. His comments about"sex crimes" reflected the growing concern, which began in the mid-1930s, about howto deal with the rise of such crimes. 90The primary objective of the Sex Variants Committee was to further the cause ofestablishing homosexuality as a medical and social problem, thereby expanding theinfluence of medical and scientific authorities. General medical practitioners were theaudience especially targeted for the Sex Variants monograph because, once they wereeducated about sexual pathology, they would be able to detect signs of suchmaladjustment in their patients. 91 Committee members argued that it was especiallyimportant for the physician to be cognizant of homosexuality since recent surveysrevealed a higher incidence of homosexual experience than previously thought.Dickinson, for example, in referring to Katherine Bemont Daviss survey of twelvehundred unmarried women, stated that "Half of them had experienced intense emotionalrelations with other women, and over 300, a quarter of the total number, reportedphysical activities recognized as sexual." 92 Henry was even more inclusive, declaringthat "Few persons escape an overt homosexual experience at some pe-____________________ 89 Kahn (n. 21 above), p. vii. 90 The sex crime panic focused on male homosexuals who were depicted as sexual predators who committed violent sex attacks and recruited innocent victims to their lifestyle. As a consequence, several states passed "sexual psychopath laws." See Estelle B. Freedman, "Uncontrolled Desires: The Response to the Sexual Psychopath, 1920-1960," Journal of American History 74 ( 1987 ): 83-106. 91 Henry, Sex Variants (n. 1 above), l:ix-x. 92 Dickinson, "The Gynecology of Homosexuality" (n. 16 above), p. 1085; italics in original. For the Davis survey see Katherine Bemont Davis, Factors in the Sex Life of TwentyTwo Hundred Women (New York, 1929 ). -452-
riod in life and desires are universal. . . . Homosexuality is widespread and involves allclasses of society." 93Henry and Dickinson thus pointed to the strategic role the physician could play inmonitoring any suspicious signs of homosexuality. All patients were potentiallyvulnerable to sexual deviation. Homosexuality was not a distinct disease but, rather, aproblem of social adjustment or, as Henry phrased it, a failure of "adaptability to sociallaws and customs." 94 In particular, homosexuals were a threat to the maintenance of"heterosexual adjustment" because of their inability to assume the familialresponsibilities of child rearing and their generalized "hostility to the family situation."95While the general practitioner might contribute to initial surveillance, specialists had theexpertise to classify, treat, and prevent sexual pathology. Dickinson, for example,pointed to the role of the gynecologist in diagnosing homosexuality in women, bylooking for signs, such as clitoris erectility and the large size of the prepuce and labiaminora. 96 Henrys role as primary investigator and author provided a particular boost forpsychiatry as the most central specialty concerned with sexual deviation. He asserted,"Society must protect itself by classifying sex variants," stressing that such a task couldbe carried out most effectively by psychiatrists who specialized in sexual pathology. 97It was in the area of prevention that medical and scientific specialists could have thegreatest impact. Henry had concluded that early environmental influences set the patternfor sexual development. The most significant of these influences was the gender rolebehavior of parents. Henry pointed to the need for parents to adopt and maintainconventional standards of gender behavior. As he declared, "Under ideal circumstancesthe father should be an understanding, tolerant but virile and decisive male. The mothershould have the gentleness, patience and passivity usually associated with womanhood.Any mixture such as an effeminate father and an aggressive, masculine mother is likelyto be disconcerting to the child and accentuate homosexual tendencies." 98 He also notedthe need for preventive measures beyond the confines of the____________________ 93 Henry, "Psychogenic Factors" (n. 1 above), pp. 904-5. 94 Henry, Sex Variants, 2:1025. 95 Ibid., p. 1023; Henry, "Psychogenic Factors," p. 906. 96 Dickinson, "The Gynecology of Homosexuality," pp. 1096-97. Dickinson argued that such genital characteristics were indicative of the sexual experience of lesbians. See Terry, "Lesbians" (n. 57 above), for an extended discussion of Dickinsons conclusions. 97 Henry, Sex Variants, 2:1025. 98 Henry, "Psychogenic Factors," p. 903. -453-family unit. 99 Educational institutions had to assume the mandate for training childrenfor "adult heterosexual life." This translated into girls gaining proficiency in "domesticactivities," and boys being socialized to assume the role of family responsibility. Henryalso warned about the dangers of sexually segregated educational environments becauseof their tendency to "favor a homosexual development." 100
The discourse in the Sex Variants monograph reflected the broad historical changes thataffected American society in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Inparticular, this discourse was responsive to three historical developments: changes in thefunction of the family, the emergence of a sexual identity, and medical and scientificprofessionalization. With respect to the family, Henry articulated his concerns about thebreakdown of the family as a socializing agent by stating, "As our western civilizationgrows older homosexuality appears to be increasing. A century ago in this countrychildren afforded the greatest security to the parents. With . . . [our] present mode ofliving children are among the greatest liabilities to the parents. As a result young peopleare driven more and more to find substitutes for adult heterosexual relationships." 101What Henry was voicing was consonant with the theme, expressed by many socialscientists in the 1920s and 1930s, that as a result of urbanization and industrializationthe family no longer performed an economic function. 102 Medical and scientific expertswere thus needed to provide advice for the family that was no longer able to look afteritself. These experts stressed the need for the family to develop bonds of affection andto provide a harmonious set of interacting roles. Medicoscientific discourse onmarriage, sex, and child rearing expanded during this interwar period. 103 Sex, in theform of heterosexual adjustment, took on new significance because it was viewed as ananchor of family stability. Dickinson and Henry each pointed to homosexuality as asymptom of marital discord. According to Dickinson, "the psychoanalytical literature isreplete with examples of cases, in which frustration in marriage resulted in the adoptionof homosexual relationship[s] to attain security____________________100 Henry, "Psychogenic Factors," p. 902.101 Ibid., p. 905.102 On the discourse on family during the interwar period, see Christopher Lasch, Haven in a Heartless World: The Family Besieged (New York, 1977 ), pp. 22-43; Paula Fass, The Damned and the Beautiful. American Youth in the 1920s (New York, 1979 ).103 Several members of the Sex Variants Committee were interested in marital counseling and marital adjustment, namely, Dickinson, Kenyon, Laidlaw, and Terman. Terman published extensively in the area, including Lewis M. Terman, Psychological Factors in Marital Happiness (New York, 1938 ). 99 Henry, Sex Variants, 2:1026-27, and "Psychogenic Factors," p. 902. -454-and avoid anxiety." 104 Henry, in addition to his association of homosexuality withinadequate parental role models, noted that homosexuality could be a consequence ofmarital breakdown. In the case of Mary Jones, he stated, "Having the desires of amature, healthy woman and with the fading chances of being satisfied by a jealous,unfaithful husband it is not surprising that she experienced a thrill from the embraces ofa passionate woman." 105Complementing the medicoscientific discourse on marriage and family, sexuality asexpressed through heterosexual relationships was extolled as a sign of mental health. AsHenry commented, "The most harmonious unions result from affectionate relationsbetween two persons whose inclinations are primarily heterosexual." 106 Henry,
however, did acknowledge that the quality of heterosexual relations could be improvedupon by studying the success with which homosexuals maintain romantic feelings intheir relationships, as well as their ability to make "full use of erogenous areas," oftenneglected by heterosexuals. 107 In these comments, Henry was reflecting the binarydistinction of sexual identity based on the direction of ones sexual interest. By the1930s, the medical and scientific literature had shifted from viewing homosexuality asgender inversion to viewing it as sexual object choice. 108 This change was in responseto the cultural shift that began to emerge in middle-class society around the turn of thetwentieth century, that is, the development of a heterosexual identity. 109 In response tothe rising challenges from the womens movement of the time, cultural ideals ofmasculinity incorporated a cult of physicality and a need to adopt a distinctive identityin which men contrasted themselves with effeminate men or "fairies" who engaged insame-sex relations. Exclusive heterosexuality served this purpose. Within the gaysubculture, a parallel change took place so that same-sex attraction came to beinternalized as object choice rather than as an expression of cross-gender identity.For the members of the Sex Variants Committee, homosexuality was therefore viewedin terms of sexual object choice and in opposition to____________________104 Dickinson, "The Gynecology of Homosexuality" (n. 16 above), p. 1088.105 Henry, "Psychogenic Factors" (n. 1 above), p. 901.106 Henry, Sex Variants (n. 1 above), 2:1027.107 Ibid.108 See George Chauncey, Jr., "From Sexual Inversion to Homosexuality: Medicine and the Changing Conceptualization of Female Deviance," in Passion and Power. Sexuality in History, ed. Kathy Piess and Christina Simmons (Philadelphia, 1989 ), pp. 87-117.109 See Chauncey, Gay New York (n. 7 above), pp. 111-27; Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality (New York, 1995 ), pp. 83-112. For a discussion of changing gender roles, see Peter G. Filene, Him/Her/Self: Sex Roles in Modern America, 2d ed. (Baltimore, 1986 ); E. Anthony Rotundo, American Manhood: Transformations in Masculinity from the Revolution to the Modern Era (New York, 1993 ). -455-heterosexuality. Gender identity was appropriated as a sign of sexual identity because asHenry had concluded, cross-gendered identification among family members "is mostlikely to result in sex variants among the succeeding generations. . . . [These children]grow up with a distorted conception of and impaired emotional adaptability tomasculinity and femininity." 110 Reflective of the persistent cultural anxiety aboutmasculinity, Henry declared, "The male child appears to be more vulnerable todistortion in psychosexual development than the female." 111 He noted, however, that itwas sexual object rather than sexual role that was associated with homosexualitybecause homosexuals could not be consistently classified as active (the male role) orpassive (the female role). 112The expansion of medicine and the social sciences into the realm of sexuality reflectedthe intrinsic professional changes taking place in these disciplines. Psychiatry, in
particular, was beginning to move beyond its identity as an institution-based specialtyconcerned with mental illness as a somatic disease. 113 Infused by the influence of themental hygiene movement and psychoanalysis, psychodynamic psychiatry was gaininginfluence. In the psychodynamic school, it was assumed that there was a continuum ofnormal/abnormal behavior. This implied the need for outpatient psychiatric interventionand early treatment. While most psychiatrists continued to work in mental hospitals,there were increasing numbers involved with child guidance clinics, private practice,and the criminal justice system. Those in the vanguard of psychiatric reform, such asMeyer and others associated with the mental hygiene movement, advocated a shift frominstitution to community in order to enhance the legitimacy and prestige of psychiatry.Psychiatrys claim to the study and treatment of homosexuality, along with alliedmedical and scientific specialties, was consistent with the new community orientation ofthe field. 114The expansion of psychiatry into the realm of sexual pathology meant that it wasnecessary to challenge the view that homosexuality was a criminal offense. Thus, Henrystressed the need to rescue homosexuality from the control of the legal system, arguingthat "the treatment of the sex variant should be a medical and social problem . . .[whereas] the segregation of the sex variant in a penal institution is futile andundesirable." 115 Not only was it inappropriate to treat the homosexual as a crim-____________________110 Henry, Sex Variants, 2:1024.111 Ibid., p. 1026.112 Ibid., p. 1034.113 Walter Bromberg, Psychiatry between the Wars, 1918-1945 (Westport, CT, 1982 ); and Grob (n. 30 above).114 In the 1930s, American psychoanalysts were also becoming increasingly interested in the treatment of homosexuality. See Kenneth Lewes, The Psychoanalytic Theory of Male Homosexuality (New York, 1988 ), pp. 95-121.115 Henry, Sex Variants, l:xii-xiii. -456-inal but, according to Henry, viewing homosexuality as a medical problem wouldprotect the parents, wives, and children of sex variants from the stigma of publicscandal. 116 The medical profession had not only the expertise to deal withhomosexuality but also the humane approach. CONCLUSIONThe sex variants study represents a significant milestone in the appropriation ofhomosexuality as an object of medical and scientific inquiry. Following initiatives fromthe homophile movement in Germany and England, it is the first American investigationin which homophile activists and research participants attempted to engage in acollaborative relationship with medical/scientific investigators.For the most part, however, this collaborative relationship was doomed from the startbecause the homosexual and scientific communities were working at cross purposes.While both groups shared in the cause for decriminalizing homosexuality, their overall
objectives conflicted. The homophile activists/participants hoped for an opportunity tohave their voices heard by entering into a dialogue with medical/scientific investigators.Such an authorial relationship would provide a rare opportunity to break through thecensorship that restricted any expression of the lived experiences of homosexual menand women. If the lives of homosexuals could be made familiar, social tolerance wouldhopefully follow.On the other hand, the medical/scientific investigators were eager to gain full authorityover the study and management of homosexuality as a means of expanding theirprofessional interests, which were intricately tied to their role as experts of personaladjustment and social efficiency. This professional status in turn legitimized medicaland scientific specialists to function as agents of social control, and the control of sexualdeviance was an integral component of the mental hygiene ideology that pervaded themedical and social scientific establishment during the Progressive and interwar eras.The ideal society was equated with the adjustment of individuals to the establishedsocial order. Moreover, defining sexual deviance as a medical and social problemattested to the belief that such deviancy could be controlled through therapeutic andpreventive practices.In the Sex Variants monograph, the original text of Jan Gay disappeared and the textualcontributions of the homosexual participants were marginalized by the overridingmedical discourse of Henry and his investigative team. In a treatment of the dialectics ofpower contained in____________________116 Ibid., p. xv. -457-discursive practices, Jill Morawski and Robert Steele contrast texts of power andempowerment. 117 The medical discourse of the Sex Variants volumes is an example of atext of power in that it privileges the position of experts by diminishing the power oftheir subjects. Henrys thirdperson narrative valorizes his authorial authority bydenigrating and pathologizing the first-person narratives of the research participants. Incontrast, the participants personal accounts exemplify texts of empowerment. Byspeaking in their own voices, these authors sought to decrease the distance betweenexpert and subject and hoped to establish a collaborative authorial relationship. In theend, the power imbalance in favor of the investigators privileged their texts of power.When the Sex Variants monograph was published, the homosexual activists andparticipants were bitterly disappointed. 118 They objected to the pathologizing of theirlife stories and realized that their objectives of empowerment were not to be realizedthrough the books publication. These activists operated at a local level. A nationalhomophile movement in the United States would not emerge until the post-World WarII period. As a result of the wartime military experiences of gay men and lesbians, aswell as the increasing interest in homosexuality by psychiatry and allied specialties inthe postwar era, the fledgling homophile movement tended to become more suspiciousof mental health professionals. 119 Within a decade of the published results of the sexvariants study, however, the seeds would be sown for a collaborative effort between thehomosexual and scientific communities to depathologize homosexuality. Alfred
Kinseys volumes on sexual behavior and Evelyn Hookers psychological study of malehomosexuality served as catalysts for the homophile movements struggle todepathologize homosexuality. 120____________________117 Jill G. Morawski and Robert S. Steele, "The One or the Other? Textual Analysis of Masculine and Feminist Empowerment," Theory and Psychology 1 ( 1991 ): 107-31.118 Painter, Male Homosexuals (n. 39 above); Gershon Legman to Alfred C. Kinsey, November 3, 1942, and Alfred C. Kinsey to Jan Gay, January 22, 1943, Kinsey Institute Library.119 Allan Bérubé, Coming Out under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two (New York, 1990 ), pp. 149-74; Ronald Bayer, Homosexuality and American Psychiatry (Princeton, NJ, 1981 ), pp. 67-100.120 Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia, 1948 ); Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin , and Paul H. Gebhard, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (Philadelphia, 1953 ); Evelyn Hooker, "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual," Journal of Projective Techniques 21 ( 1957 ): 18-31. -458-discursive practices, Jill Morawski and Robert Steele contrast texts of power andempowerment. 117 The medical discourse of the Sex Variants volumes is an example of atext of power in that it privileges the position of experts by diminishing the power oftheir subjects. Henrys thirdperson narrative valorizes his authorial authority bydenigrating and pathologizing the first-person narratives of the research participants. Incontrast, the participants personal accounts exemplify texts of empowerment. Byspeaking in their own voices, these authors sought to decrease the distance betweenexpert and subject and hoped to establish a collaborative authorial relationship. In theend, the power imbalance in favor of the investigators privileged their texts of power.When the Sex Variants monograph was published, the homosexual activists andparticipants were bitterly disappointed. 118 They objected to the pathologizing of theirlife stories and realized that their objectives of empowerment were not to be realizedthrough the books publication. These activists operated at a local level. A nationalhomophile movement in the United States would not emerge until the post-World WarII period. As a result of the wartime military experiences of gay men and lesbians, aswell as the increasing interest in homosexuality by psychiatry and allied specialties inthe postwar era, the fledgling homophile movement tended to become more suspiciousof mental health professionals. 119 Within a decade of the published results of the sexvariants study, however, the seeds would be sown for a collaborative effort between thehomosexual and scientific communities to depathologize homosexuality. AlfredKinseys volumes on sexual behavior and Evelyn Hookers psychological study of malehomosexuality served as catalysts for the homophile movements struggle todepathologize homosexuality. 120____________________117 Jill G. Morawski and Robert S. Steele, "The One or the Other? Textual Analysis of Masculine and Feminist Empowerment," Theory and Psychology 1 ( 1991 ): 107-31.118 Painter, Male Homosexuals (n. 39 above); Gershon Legman to Alfred C. Kinsey,
November 3, 1942, and Alfred C. Kinsey to Jan Gay, January 22, 1943, Kinsey Institute Library.119 Allan Bérubé, Coming Out under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War Two (New York, 1990 ), pp. 149-74; Ronald Bayer, Homosexuality and American Psychiatry (Princeton, NJ, 1981 ), pp. 67-100.120 Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, and Clyde E. Martin, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (Philadelphia, 1948 ); Alfred C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin , and Paul H. Gebhard, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (Philadelphia, 1953 ); Evelyn Hooker, "The Adjustment of the Male Overt Homosexual," Journal of Projective Techniques 21 ( 1957 ): 18-31. -458-