Monday, August 3, 2015

A Treasure Trove of Research for Gay History & Literature

Every writer knows about research and what a task it can be, but it's even more frustrating when the things you want to know just don't seem to be out there. At all. Anywhere. Writing about gay relationships in the year 1808 can feel, at times, as if I'm writing fantasy set in some Middle Earth nowhere...because I'm making everything up. It stands to reason there wouldn't be much information on such a subject, seeing as how at that time gay men faced the death penalty or cruel "therapies" administered by their families and conspiring doctors. Even finding much information on that is difficult because, unsurprisingly, the families and doctors who did such things took great steps to hide it all.

Still, the best thing about research is eventually you find the mother load. You strike gold in the Klondike and thank your lucky stars you stuck with it! I recently discovered the historian and essayist Rictor Norton. His website is a veritable library of not only his own essays and papers on various gay history topics, but also primary source documents from the 18th and 19th centuries.

Gay History & Literature - Essays by Rictor Norton


Such research can be anything but fun. It won't surprise you to know that a great deal of it is court proceedings and public declarations of sodomy charges and executions. =(  Still, there is much else to be gained from Mr. Norton's website, his research, and the goldmine of primary source documents he has assembled =)