Studies of Homosexuality Volume 4 Introduction

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March 14, 1992 [vol. 4: Arts & Language]

Contents

Introduction

Diverse as they are, the themes in this volume all involve creativity. The visual arts (painting, sculpture, and the minor arts) are the oldest, dating back some 300 centuries. Recoveries from archaeological digs and chance finds are continually enlarging our stock of surviving works from previous eras in these media. Theater also has a long history, but until film arrived to document performance early in this century, full study required hypothetical reconstructions from texts of plays and accounts of their performance. Much the same is true of music, including that supreme hybrid, opera. Photography, a product of nineteenth century technology, long remained allied to painting, which it partially supplanted. Photo¬graphic in technique, film has much in common with the theater— and indeed the freewheeling theater world in which gay men, bisexuals, and lesbians flourished migrated in some measure to Hollywood and its rivals throughout the world. Language (including slang) may claim status as the supremely populist art, one in which everyone participates. Scholars have long recognized the creative role of minorities, including gays, in the development of language.

The relation of these various media to homosexuality is almost equally diverse. First, there is gay/lesbian subject matter, which shows considerable stability over time. Thus the classical tradition carried themes established in ancient Greece, such as the myth of Ganymede and the life of Sappho, forward into early modern Europe. Second, and related to the first, are conventions, such as transvestism and the sissy role in films. Third is the matter of homosexually involved creators: artists and writers, performers and executants. A further area of interest is the question of audience response—in the narrow sense, gay and lesbian audience¬s; in the larger, general audiences that may become aware of the presence of homosexual themes and performers. Finally, attention is due the uncertain realm of atmosphere and "generic gayness," including camp.

In evaluating the articles reproduced in this volume, some limitations of our knowledge must be acknowledged. Perishability has reduced the stock of material in many media, so that very little, for example, of the major Greek art of mural painting has survived. Apart from the normal depredations of "the tooth of time," there have been many losses from censorship and iconoclasm (the willful destruction of artworks). Some works languish unseen in museum basements and in the "special collections" of libraries and archives open only to a few scholars, while the homoerotic content of others, obscured by generations of prudery and obfuscation, still eludes recognition.

In the broadest sense, of course, visual works belong to the realm of semiotics, the ensemble of systems of communication. Part of our very survival, the processes of communication continue, whether they leave a tangible record or not. Thus sociolinguistics, one of the newest disciplines to emerge, treats everyday interaction in language, arguably as old as the human race itself.

Visual Arts

In the Western tradition homoerotic art flowers in three major periods: Greco Roman antiquity; the Renaissance; and from the French Revolution to the present. The institution of pederasty, combined with the predominantly secular character of the ancient Greek city states, fostered a considerable body of same sex art. The imagery is most abundant in vase painting, especially the courtship scenes in which a young man expresses his sexual interest in a boy by placing one hand in entreaty against the boy's chin, while the other touches the boy's genitals.

Accompanying these scenes of daily life are mythological depic¬tions of the homoerotic loves of the gods; the theme of Zeus and Ganymede ranks as the most popular of these. Bronze and marble monumental nudes, restricted to males until about 350 B.C., project a more general homoerotic aura.

In the visual arts the Romans followed the Greeks, as the idealized images of Antinous commissioned by his lover, the emperor Hadrian, attest. The influence of Etruscan art, which was itself rich in homosexual themes, on Rome is more problematic. The adoption of Christianity brought about a stifling of all aspects of art that could be interpreted as sensual. Consequently, the few homoerotic images that are identifiable from the Middle Ages are negative.

Revering classical antiquity, the Italian Renaissance restored some homoerotic themes to favor, including Ganymede, Orpheus, Diana and Calypso, and the youthful David. The use of apprentices in the artists' studios also favored same sex love, still condemned by the powerful Church. While the great homosexual artists Donatello and Michelangelo escaped penalty, Botticelli, Leonardo, and Cellini had to cope with hostile interventions on the part of the authorities. Eventually, these pressures began to affect the self understanding of gay Renaissance artists; see the article by James Saslow, included herein. The onset of the Counterreformation in the second half of the sixteenth century made life harder for homoerotic artists, though the mercurial Caravaggio was able to execute some reveal¬ing works for a Roman patron; see Donald Posner's article, included herein. From Flanders, however, came the tragic case of the sculptor Jerôme Duquesnoy, who was caught with two boys and executed in 1654; see the two articles reprinted below.

The Neo classical movement arose largely because of the closeted homosexual archaeologist Johann Joachim Winckelmann (1717 1768), whose rhapsodic descriptions of male nudes had an impact on countless artists. During the French revolution a number of painters boldly revived Greek themes of the homoerotic loves of the gods.

Improvements in the status of women, who hitherto had been unable to obtain academic training, meant that a number of lesbian artists appeared, the most notable being the French¬woman Rosa Bonheur; see the article by Albert Boime. During Victorian times, however, most gay and lesbian artists still preferred the safety of the closet, and the orientations of a number remain shadowy. Generally minor artists were more open, including Symeon Solomon and Charles Filiger.

The new medium of photography facilitated the making of images, including those for the pornographic trade. There also developed, however, an art photography whose pioneers included the famous Wilhelm von Gloeden, a gay German who worked in Sicily around the turn of the century applying aesthetic stand¬ards derived from the academic school of painting to capture nude boys on photographic plates; Gloeden may have been the best selling photographer in the world in the first decade of the twentieth century. The Americans Fred Holland Day and George Platt Lynes followed with male nudes in more impressionist and surrealist veins. Popular trends such as physique photography and German nudism contributed to the development of a substantial body of work on the aesthetic of the male body with marked erotic undertones. At the end of the 1980s the censorship controversies triggered by the portraits of Robert Mapplethorpe brought the relationship of homoerotic photography to art into sharp public focus for the first time, with the art world rising virtually as one to defend the Mapplethorpe images as valid art. See the article by Allen Ellenzweig.

A number of leaders of the avant garde schools of painting of the first half of the twentieth century were hostile to homosexuality, especially the surrealists under the leadership of André Breton. Nonetheless several American gay modernists achieved distinction, including Romaine Brooks, Charles Demuth, and Marsden Hartley. The more open attitudes of the 1960s fostered disclosure of sexual orientation by a number of main¬stream artists, including David Hockney, Francis Bacon, and Andy Warhol. Despite continuing discrimination, woman artists became much more prominent in the later years of the century, raising the matter of feminine and lesbian aesthetic. The long established polarity of high and low art also came into question; thus one could legitimately claim that the great AIDS quilt was a work of collective art; see the article by E. G. Crichton. Works of the graphic arts, including AIDS posters and cartoons, also garnered attention. The 1980s saw the rise of openly political gay art as seen in the work of Keith Haring, Nayland Blake, and the Gran Fury group.

Apart from the European tradition, homoerotic themes have become known from the art of Islam, China, Japan, and a number of tribal peoples. One can expect the emergence of histories of homosexuality in art among those peoples as critics identify more works and address the problems of interpreting their subject matter.

Theater

As an art form Western drama traces its origins to the pederastic culture of ancient Greece. With a few exceptions boys monopolized female roles until the mid seventeen¬th century in England, leading to homoerotic undercurrents in love scenes of plays written up to that date which are not apparent to the casual reader or modern theatergoer. The subculture of the theater has also long maintained a friendlier stance toward homosexuals than the general society, and has often shared moral opprobrium and outcast status. Acting may have a particular attract¬ion for homosexuals who have spent their adolescence acting out the role of heterosexuals in their daily life. Until recently, however, censor¬ship laid a particularly heavy hand over the theater, so that presentations of overt homosexuality were either tabooed or strongly negative.

Many Greek plays depicting pederastic love are known to have existed, but the texts did not survive the Christian era. Greek comedy, which treated effeminacy with ridicule, fared better with the copyists. Male rape was an occasional theme of Roman comedy.

Asian theater long honored a tradition of using boy actors (and later female impersonators) to portray females; frequently the boys moonlighted as prostitutes without incurring additional stigma. Korean theater often featured performances by Namsadang, traveling homosexual communes. Indonesian theater and dance also maintained a strong transvestite tradition. Japanese No and Kabuki drama have kept the practice of all male acting to this day.

The Renaissance revived comedy, with Pietro Aretino's Il Marescalco (1526) portraying a pederastic hero, and both the Italian and Spanish stages featured transvestite roles, leading to the "comedy of gender confusion." This reached its peak in Elizabethan England, with a boy playing a female character dressed as and trying to pass as a male or a male character disguised as a female. Christopher Marlowe, reported¬ly a pederast himself, incorporated homosexuality in a number of his works, and his Edward II may be considered the first gay play in English.

Effeminate characters begin to appear in English drama around the beginning of the eighteenth century (at the same time the "molly house" appeared as the favorite London setting for the previously not widely known effeminate homosexual), though for a while other actors continued to be accused of pederastic relationships with boys. In the Georgian period, however, homosexuality seems to have disappeared from the English stage. Then, over a century and a half later, the trials of Oscar Wilde at the end of the nineteenth century exposed the ephebophilic homosexuality of this leading comedic playwright to the entire world.

French and German theater of the eighteenth and nineteenth century sported numerous homosexually involved actors, actresses, and (in Germany) dramatists such as Schiller, Kleist, and Grillparzer; see the articles by Laurence Senelick and Margarete Schäfer, included herein. With the dawning of the twentieth century, as the new homosexual movement was introducing the German public to the modern androphilic concept of homosexuality, the Wilhelmine stage began to treat it openly, though as a social or personal problem.

Prior to World War II, references to male homosexuality in the American theater were sporadic and marginal. Lesbianism fared somewhat better, with Lillian Hellman's melodrama of 1934, The Children's Hour, winning critical acclaim, and many leading actresses had lesbian attachments. In England numerous prominent figures of the stage, including playwrights W. Somerset Maugham and Noel Coward and actors John Gielgud and Charles Laughton, were homosexually involved but deeply closet¬ed.

In the mid 1960s, the British stage finally broke the grip of the censor with androphilic plays by John Osborne (A Patriot for Me, 1965) and Joe Orton (Entertaining Mr. Sloan, 1964, which also became a big hit on Broadway). An American breakthrough of note, though full of stereotypes and maudlin self pity, was the all homosexual hit play The Boys in the Band by Mart Crowley (1968).

The "liberated" seventies saw a flowering of homosexual themes in the theater and the emergence of openly gay playwrights such as Harvey Fierstein, James Kirkwood, and Charles Ludlam. By the end of the decade, gay theatrical companies and troupes were presenting productions for gay audiences in more and more cities.

The lesbian theater also began to flourish in mid seven¬ties America, tending to emphasize satiric revues, but producing such talented playwrights as Jane Chambers. See the articles by Kate Davy and Emily Sisley, included herein.

Outside the English speaking world, gay and lesbian themes were less common in the theater, with occasional examples in France, Australia, Germany, Italy, and Brazil (see Luis Canales' article).

The coming of the AIDS epidemic devastated the theatrical world, revealing how pervasive homosexuals were, not only as performers, writers, and directors but as stagehands, set designers, makeup artists, lighting technicians, and members of other backstage crafts. A number of dramas dealing with the disease did hit the boards, but failed to find lasting commercial success.

Film

Like the theater, the cinema has attracted particularly close scrutiny by censors, especially in the United States, where gay themes did not become possible in commercially distributed movies until the 1960s. The first serious homosexual film, however, appears to be Mauritz Stiller's 1916 work, The Wings, deriving from a novel by the Danish gay author Herman Bang. The German cinema benefited from the participation of homosexual movement pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld in the creation of the 1919 educational film, Anders als die Andern, presenting a broad spectrum of the problems homosexuals faced in a hostile society. Germany also contributed the first classic film with a homoerotic (in this case, lesbian) theme, Leontine Sagan's 1931 adaptation of a play by lesbian writer Christa Winsloe, Mädchen in Uniform.

The theme of transvestite performance which was prominent in the history of the theater carried over into film, starting in 1917 and engaging such luminaries as Marlene Dietrich, Julie Andrews, Greta Garbo, Jack Lemmon, and Tony Curtis; see the article by Edward Connor. Other notable traditions were the occasional portrayal of effeminate men and a long series of "buddy films" (many of them Westerns) featuring a male bonding in which many viewers found a thinly veiled homoeroticism. Until recent times, however, cinematic versions of plays and biograph¬ies almost always deleted the overt homosexual references or content of the original.

Working outside the Hollywood commercial system, underground filmmakers were able to treat homosexuality without censorship. Kenneth Anger, still in high school, led the way with 1947's Fireworks, and much later with his 1963 work, Scorpio Rising. Following in Anger's footsteps, Andy Warhol filmed Blow Job (1963) and My Hustler (1965), and many others.

In the sixties, however, (and in the wake of Federico Fellini's 1960 blockbuster, La Dolce Vita, which depicted homosexuality in the context of Italian decadence) censorship restrictions on the mainstream American film loosened, with Otto Preminger's Advise and Consent (1962) depicting a gay bar and the blackmail of a U. S. Senator. Marlon Brando played a repressed homosexual Army officer in 1967 in John Huston's Reflections in a Golden Eye, and in 1969 Jon Voight impersonated a hustler receiving fellatio in a Times Square movie house in Midnight Cowboy, a dark urban "buddy film." In Europe, mean¬while, the gay director Luchino Visconti's 1969 epic of debauchery, The Damned, associated homosexual orgies with Ernst Röhm's Nazi stormtroopers.

In the wake of the post Stonewall gay liberation movement, Hollywood approached homosexuality gingerly, without exclusively gay leading characters. Bisexuality enjoyed a cinematic vogue in the early seventies. Michael York went both ways in Something for Everyone (1970) and Cabaret (1972), Al Pacino did it (as a macho bank robber in love with his "male wife") in the true story Dog Day Afternoon (1975), and Murray Head switched in gay director John Schlesinger's English Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971), kissing Peter Finch full on the mouth in closeup. That scene shocked audiences, but the kissing seems mild compared to the graphic depictions of male rape in 1971's Fortune and Men's Eyes, a Canadian reform school tale, and the following year's wilderness epic Deliverance, where Burt Reynolds barely escapes his buddy's fate. Oddly enough, both movies reflected the real world rather than stereo¬types in that neither the rapists nor their victims are depicted as homosexual.

Christopher Larkin's 1973 independently produced film A Very Natural Thing was probably the first movie to present a wholly positive view of exclusive homosexuality. A string of such films followed, though without widespread commercial success. Hollywood's 1982 big budget Making Love flopped, but the low budget British film of 1985, My Beautiful Laundrette, not only wowed critics but turned a tidy profit with its story of two teenage boys who happen to be lovers. An international team finally scored with 1987's Maurice, a flawless high budget adaptation of the novel by E. M. Forster. See Christopher Castiglia's article, included herein. A number of gay directors worked in Europe, including Pier Paolo Pasolini, Viscon¬ti, and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, who made a number of celebrated homoerotic films between 1972 and his death in 1982, notably Fox and His Friends (1975), Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), and Querelle (1982). Reports of open homophobia in the script of Cruising led to widespread New York street demonstrations at its filming in 1980; see Scott Tucker's article. For some reason, JFK (1991), while retaining Jim Garrison's vicious homosexual scapegoating, only belatedly drew protest on this ground. Despite much publicized support for other "progressive" causes, Hollywood still shuns films presenting a positive view of homosexuality out of fear for their commercial prospects.

With video technology facilitating the creation of low bud¬get and non commercial works, homosexual themes have found their way into so many movies that it has become difficult to keep track of them, and major cities now have their own annual gay and lesbian film festivals.

Beyond the homoerotic content of films themselves, the cinematic world, like its theatrical antecedent, has a long history of relative hospitality to gay and lesbian artists in virtually every cinematic field, including such pioneers as Sergei Eisenstein, F. W. Murnau, George Cukor, and possibly Dorothy Arzner (directors); among the actors whose homosexual tendencies are firmly established are Charles Laughton, Montgomery Clift, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, Laurence Olivier, and Dirk Bogarde. Many more remain closeted for fear of jeopardizing their careers in the age of AIDS.

Dance

As an art form dance traces its Western roots to ancient Greece and the cult of Dionysus. The world of classical ballet and contemporary "artistic" dance has long had a reputation for a very high rate of homosexuality among its performers and choreographers, combined with a lingering suspicion among the general public that dancing is unmasculine. In the eighteenth century an all male form, it became female dominated thereafter, while its status declined; see Judith Lynn Hanna's discussion. A sharp turnaround came at the beginning of the twentieth century.

The gay impresario Sergei Diaghilev introduced Russian ballet to the West in the first three decades of the twentieth century; see Simon Karlinsky's article. From the 1960s on, all male dance companies have made a comeback.

The Islamic world has kept up a tradition of semi erotic boy dancing, more as popular entertainment than as art. East Asian dance troupes have in many cases maintained an all male tradition to this day. In Indonesia transvestite dancers often moonlight as prostitutes.

Music

The world of classical music has hosted many notable gay composers, including Franz Schubert (see Maynard Solomon's article), Peter Tchaikovsky (see Alexander Poznansky's article), Karol Szymanowski, Benjamin Britten, and Francis Poulenc. The prestige of modern American gay composers such as Henry Cowell, Marc Blitzstein, Gian Carlo Menotti, Samuel Barber, Aaron Copland, Virgil Thomson, Ned Rorem, and Leonard Bernstein is striking. The English Dame Ethel Smyth was preeminent as a lesbian composer of opera and other ambitious works.

Among performers, the piano and especially the organ seem to draw a disproportionate number of gay musicians. Vladimir Horowitz stands out as the preeminent openly gay pianist; others remain in the closet.

The relationship between a musician's sexuality and his or her art is a problematic one in light of music's abstract nature. It is easier to discern a connection when the music is examined in combination with lyrical content, as in opera and popular music.

From its beginnings in the seventeenth century, the opera has occasionally exhibited homosexual themes, starting with Claudio Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea (1642). Jean Baptiste Lully, who founded the French operatic tradition, was notoriously homosexual, and Pietro Metastasio, the greatest Baroque librettist, is suspected of several homosexual affairs. The opera of their day relied heavily on castrati, neutered as boys to preserve their high singing voices. These eunuchs often performed female roles, and were thought to lure men into homosexuality, while the Catholic Church prohibited them from marriage.

Opera, requiring enormous sums for its staging, has shied away from controversy, including overt homosexuality, so that few well known singers have "come out" as gay or lesbian. This paucity contrasts markedly with the high number of gay opera fans.

Choral music developed a homosexual dimension in the 1980s with the formation of gay male choruses in many American cities.

Apart from sailor songs, folk music has shown little interest in homosexuality, but the lyrics of sea chanteys from the nineteenth century show an abundance of casual homoerotic references, evidence for widespread tolerance of homosexuality among mariners of the age of sail and afterwards.

Pop music was subject to heavy if informal censorship until the 1960s. Stephen Foster was almost certainly gay, but there is no hint of it in his music. Rock and roll, one of whose founders was the flamboyant homosexual Richard Penniman ("Little Rich¬ard"), was less discrete, and many rock musicians "came out" as gay, lesbian, or (more frequently) bisexual in the 1970s. Tom Robinson's "Glad to be Gay," a British punk hit in 1978, went so far as to treat the social and political oppression of homosexuals as its theme. Both disco and punk rock displayed numerous gay influences, performers, and themes, though disco dropped its homoerotic tinge after it reached a mass audience. The electro¬pop new wave music of the eighties continued rock's openness to avowed gay performers and occasional songs until the AIDS crisis ended the trend in the middle of the decade.

Beginning in 1969 there emerged a distinct genre called "women's music" which developed close connections to the lesbian community, with Olivia Records promoting it and Holly Near, Meg Christian, and Cris Williamson the most prominent artists. Festivals dedicated to this music have become major cultural rallying points for American lesbians.

General Reflections

An often posed question is whether gay men and lesbians possess some special creativity that imbues their work with a particular aesthetic. At first sight the differences between, say, Michelangelo and Andy Warhol, two artists whose orientation was undoubtedly homoerotic, are too vast to be bridged. The enormous changes in cultural climate as well as the different paradigms of homosexuality that separate the sixteenth¬ century artist from his twentieth century counter¬part would seem to rule out any direct comparison. However, the activist Harry Hay has maintained that the fact that gay people tend to acquire a dual perception—one that combines their own values with those of the environing (heterosexual) society—makes them more attuned to ambiguity and complexity. This duality of vision would help to explain the prevalence of the type of wit called camp, as well as a certain reliance on symbolism and indirection, "telling it slant" as Emily Dickinson remarked.

Language

Only in recent times have linguists turned to the study of sexual terms. Etymologists have unearthed the historical development of words relating to homosexuality; students of slang have shed light on popular terms and the concepts they reflect, as well as their historical transformations; and sociolinguists have studied the social dimensions of communication.

Terms in use by the general population are best documented. Sometimes it is the absence of words which is striking; thus the ancients had no general term for same sex relationships, and the use of such words has only become common in English in the twentieth century; American slang has many terms for homosexual oral sex, but other branches of English lack them. Learned speech has developed a wide constellation of expressions, though with a notable lack of precision or consensus as to their meanings, and popular slang, which seldom respects linguistic taboos, is rich in terms, but standard English has been notice¬ably poor as a result of inhibitions on discussion of homosexual¬ity in print and among middle class persons until very recently.

Learned discourse on homosexuality has drawn on a wide variety of sources ranging from botany ("bisexuality") to ecclesiastical architecture ("orientation"). Other common sources are Greek and Latin (including neologisms such as "homosexuality" itself, a blend of Greek and Latin devised by Károly Mária Kertbeny in 1868); theology; medicine; literary and poetic euphemism; and gay slang itself.

The history of slang terms circulating among the general population shows that the currency of these terms lags far behind changes in the conceptualization of homosexuality, or "paradigm shifts." The pederastic or age differentiated model of homosexuality, the dominant form of same sex relationships in England until the eighteenth century, has left a legacy in current slang usage of such terms (misapplied to adults) as "Greek sex" and "punk," and many uses of the word "boy" to apply to homosexuals in general. Most of the slang terms used by the general population stem from the gender differ¬enti¬ated model of male homosexuality which became noticeable in England after the decline of the age differentiated model, featuring a stark dichotomy of roles between the insertor, who is undifferentiated and unstigmatized, and the recipient, regarded as quasi female. Thus the active partner is termed "backdoor man," "cornholer," or "ass fucker" (terms which can also be applied to heterosexual practices), while the passive partner is called "queen," "sissy," "Molly," "fairy," and so forth.

Mutual androphilia, the type of homosexuality currently dominant in English speaking countries, which is not character¬ized by strong gender role differentiation, has relatively few role free slang terms: "homo," "queer," "lezzie," and "gay," and of these, all but "queer" are of only very recent general use.

American English has a number of general slang terms for male fellators, among them what may be the most tabooed epithet in the language, "cocksucker," but British and Australian English show no such concern, presumably reflecting some differences in sexual practices, though of late such Americanisms have begun to penetrate the other streams of English.

Fewer vernacular terms refer to lesbian¬ism, and hardly any terms now current showed up earlier than the 1920s; see Leonard Ashley's article, below.

Homosexuals and lesbians themselves have produced a plethora of slang terms. Such linguistic innovation flourishes among marginal groups who need to communicate within the group without disclosing incriminating information to members of the majority; they develop coded references to do so. In fact, much of the repertory of gay slang stems from criminal argot.

In recent decades a number of gay slang terms have migrated or seeped out to the general colloquial vocabulary, filling the vacuum in colloquial terms noted above, thus leading to a common vocabulary. Among those terms are "gay" itself, "camp," and "closet," which has expanded as a handy metaphor into such realms as politics and religion.

Another interesting phenomenon is the detoxification of previously derogatory terms by self appropriation on the part of a stigmatized group. Thus the counterculture adopted the term "freak;" similarly lesbians have appropriated "dyke" and male homosexuals have occasionally attempted to appropriate "fag," "queen," and most recently, "queer."

Sociolinguistics

The emerging discipline of sociolinguistics has begun to study the actual usage of the oral language, as in cruising situations, and differences in the patterns shown by various groups, such as lesbians and gay men. Informal observations (though as yet few studies) indicate that the patterns of pitch and inflection of gay men display more range or animation than those of straight males, closer to that of women, and that there exists a form of intonation, labeled "bitchy"/aggressive, that has no real counterpart among heterosexuals of either gender.

Closely akin is the field of semiotics, or the interpretation of signs. Semiotics may be used to study attributes of nonverbal communication in use by homosexuals to convey coded information about themselves or their desires to others privy to the codes. Recent examples include the lambda and labrys symbols, the pink triangle, and various colored handkerchiefs protruding from left or right rear pockets.

Vast numbers of jokes turn upon homosexuality, some of them originating among gays; many more express perspectives found in the general population. The latest wave of such jokes has taken AIDS as its theme. Deemed "politically incorrect" or at least in bad taste by polite society, such humor has gone underground, where sexually oriented jokes have long been at home. See Venetia Newell's article, included herein.

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