|Homophile Tourism, Liberal Internationalism and Cosmopolitan Citizenship|
|This paper grows out of a larger project on homophile internationalism that linked Europe and North America during the post-war decades. As such homophile ideology needs to be understood as an international movement that sought to situate same-sex subjects within Cold War human rights discourse, liberal law reform, normative human development and bourgeois cultural reform. The rich scholarship on same-sex sexuality has traditionally focused on local and community histories, the energy of activist social movements, as well as shifts in the legal and civil standing of same-sex and trans-gender sexual subjects in specific urban and national contexts. Less well explored are the networks of association, desire, ideology and political economy that linked lesbian, bi, gay, and transgender (LBGT) peoples across nations and continents.
During the 1950s and 1960s international contacts, information on same-sex culture and history in Europe, not to mention so-called “exotic” locales, was an important part of the connections made by homophiles in North America and Europe. This paper will examine the physical exchanges, tours and travels made by homophiles and other LBGT peoples during the 1950s and 1960s. Following in the tradition of historians such as Christopher Endy, I seek not only to situate “homophile tourism” within the tradition of liberal internationalism and “cold war holidays” but also as an articulation and practice of sexual modernity itself. How for example did holidays/travels to Paris, London, Rome etc., constitute ways of being a cultural citizen and “modern homosexual”? How did homophile tourism play what literary scholar Edward Said termed an “epistemological function” producing knowledge of same-sex sexuality that neatly conforms to the teleological narrative of Western Civilization?
Through a study of homophile travel literature published in periodicals such as Drum, The Ladder, Mattachine Review, One, Gay International, as well as individual travel accounts, I will explore the relationship between leisure, sexual rights and bourgeois cultural reform. In these accounts and articles LGBT tourists articulated notions of culture worth, belonging, and importance in their attempt to shape a modern sexual esthetic and identity, that was nonetheless framed by particular class, gendered and racialized conceptualizations.