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April 04, 2011



The word "homosexual" was coined by an Austria-Hungarian Karl-Maria Kertbeny in the 1860s. It was already in current usage in the medical sexological literature well before The Picture of Dorian Gray, and known to the Victorian educated classes through their imperative to categorize and control deviance.


Love that the painting on the new book's cover is by Caravaggio, who knew a bit about "gross indecency" no matter what it was called or how it was shushed-up by the local gentry.


Todd, Thank you for your comment. Merriam-Webster says "First Known Use of HOMOSEXUAL 1892." No doubt they make mistakes. What is your source for the 1860s?



I'm not Todd, but I checked Graham Robb's "Strangers," and it appears that Kertbeny used "Homosexualisten" in a private letter to Ulrichs in 1968, and then in two pamphlets the following year.

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