Old Hat Regurgitated
While Wayne Dynes was out of communication on an oversees trip this past September (2015), an old adversary of the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality launched, or rather re-launched, an attack on this major reference work in the form of a letter to the Gay and Lesbian Review over the use of pseudonyms. I was given a brief window of opportunity to offer a response, which I submitted as follows:
Old Hat Regurgitated
by William A. Percy
So Wayne Dynes wrote some articles in the Encyclopedia of Homosexuality under a female pseudonym, “Evelyn Gettone” (translated: “token”). Peg Cruikshank still misunderstands the use of pen names. I would like clarify the record. Wayne Dynes strove mightily to attract knowledgable female scholars to contribute. Only Lillian Faderman and a few other lesbians wrote entries. However, Dynes felt that the inclusion of factual content was more important than who got credit for it. With Evelyn's help, we succeeded in covering lesbians in our Encyclopedia.
Even Cruikshank does not argue that the articles attributed to “Gettone” are misogynistic. We editors of the Encyclopedia were indeed critical of Social Constructionisn, with good reason. Surprisingly, Cruikshank still defends that passé theory. The translation of “Gettone,” like Ward Hauser (“defender of the house”), is evidence of a certain impish streak in Dynes' remarkably biting wit.
In 1990, we had to rush to complete our groundbreaking, controversial work. Dynes and I are still around, but Warren Johansson and Stephen Donaldson are long since dead. For the record, Johannson, a brilliant philologist who read more than fifty languages, was born Joseph Wallfield. Donaldson, who in 1967 founded the first ever gay and lesbian student organization at Columbia and later Stop Prisoner Rape, was born Robert Anthony Martin Jr. For centuries, there has existed a tradition, often out of necessity, of gay and lesbian writers using pseudonyms.
After Cruikshank's crusade ended distribution of the Encyclopedia in the 1990s, Garland's purported “gender-balanced” replacement was hardly in the same league. It received almost no attention. Politically correct, it absurdly granted one volume to each sex. Male homosexual sex has garnered more attention and persecution from religions and governments throughout the ages. Even in the Twenty-First Century, a much higher percentage of males than females write. Over the centuries, males have done most of the writing and preservation of it. We have also left many more archeological artifacts than females have. Lesbians evaded the same attention and outrage that male lovers have endured from the three Abrahamic religions, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, as well as from their Nazi and Communist successors.
In 1869, writing in German, the Magyar Karl-Maria Kertbeny coined “homosexual.” “Homo” is Greek for “like” and “sexual” is Latin. For the first time, this bastardized neologism equated male-male sex and lesbianism. The usage only became standard during the Twentieth Century. Neither Kertbeny nor anyone else would have imagined that the two categories of same-sex eroticism and relationships would ever command the same amount of public or scholarly attention. Nonetheless, Dynes's Encyclopedia made every reasonable attempt to give lesbian topics their due.