When Publishing Triangle ranked the 100 Best LGBT Nonfiction Books of all time, they included works by Plato, Freud, Foucault, Faderman, Duberman, et al., and their undisputed choice at #1 was Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality by John Boswell, a history professor at Yale. He was 33 when it was published in 1980. Newsweek said it was, "an astonishing work of scholarship that ranges with ease over fourteen centuries...What makes the work so exciting is not simply its content -- fascinating though that is -- but its revolutionary challenge to some of Western culture's most familiar moral assumptions." Specifically, he proved that the Roman Catholic Church hadn't always been antigay, had either been indifferent to or had actually celebrated male - male love until the twelfth century. No surprise, Boswell was attacked by some conservative academics who thought he was promoting a gay agenda and by some gay people who said he was a Church apologist. Ultimately the complaints only added to the book's popularity because it was impeccably researched; it won the 1981 American Book Award for history.
After writing the first book about the widespread practice of child abandonment in medieval times, Boswell returned to gay topics and the early Church in another groundbreaking work, Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe. This time he argued the Church actually condoned certain male - male relationships with ceremonies that could be seen as precursors to gay marriage. Again, the book was brilliantly researched; again, the uproar; but the public debate was cut short: Boswell died of aids in December 1994 when he was 47. At Yale, he helped start the Lesbian and Gay Studies Center, and his pre-modern history courses were immensely popular, among the top ten in enrollments.