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Homintern: How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  101 ratings  ·  30 reviews
A landmark account of gay and lesbian creative networks and the seismic changes they brought to twentieth-century culture

In a hugely ambitious study which crosses continents, languages, and almost a century, Gregory Woods identifies the ways in which homosexuality has helped shape Western culture. Extending from the trials of Oscar Wilde to the gay liberation era, this bo
Hardcover, 440 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Yale University Press
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-Engañoso en la cubierta, casi logrado a su manera en las páginas interiores.-

Género. Ensayo.

Lo que nos cuenta. El libro Homintern (publicación original: Homintern. How Gay Culture Liberated The Modern World, 2016) recorre, tras presentar el ficticio concepto (pero no por ello menos “real”) del Homintern y situarnos al respecto de las visiones predominantes en el mundo sobre la sexualidad no heterosexual entre el siglo XIX y el XX, las primeras décadas de este último de la mano de las vivencias
Andrew Smith
Sep 09, 2016 rated it liked it
I would have given Homintern two stars, but added one for the breathtakingly impressive volume of research and information. However, the problem seems to me that little of the vast content reveals what the subtitle promises: 'How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World.' Instead there's way too much of who did what and to whom — the 'who' in question seems like a litany of naming for name-dropping's sake — and not enough of exactly how they or their lifestyles, attitudes, or work influenced the m ...more
Charles Cobine
Apr 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
For anyone whose idea of gay history begins with Stonewall, this is a massive, wide-ranging tour of late 19th and 20th century gay and lesbian cultural life up through the years of political activism and the HIV/AIDS crisis. If you had ever been exposed to the myth that "there just weren't gay people" at a certain time, something I certainly heard from older adults in my youth, this dispels that notion. Just as well it fills in the gaps thoroughly, providing a glimpse at popular, literary, polit ...more
Eddie Clarke
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it
Terrific amount of research - hence the three stars. Quite difficult to read straight through, due mainly to the sheer density of facts & names on the page at any one time - but this is definitely a book to keep and use as a work of reference. The subtitle feels like a marketing hook tacked on by the publisher - the book doesn't concern itself with the 'how' so much as the very copious 'what'. Explication, not analysis. ...more
Andrew Howdle
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that balances intelligence and wit. The title combines Comintern and homosexual and refers to a belief that the Arts are run by gay conspirators. Using this as a starting point, Woods provides his view of what gay men and women have contributed to world literature. Homintern rattles through history, from well known events, such as Wilde's trial, to less known, such as minor, but comical, novelists. As an Emeritus Professor of Gay and Lesbian Studies, the theory of same sex desire ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it liked it
Free early reviewer copy. This book is very hard to classify. It’s a gossipy, tidbit-strewn account of how gay, bisexual, and lesbian people influenced culture, and each other, across Europe and Russia and with a few jaunts to the US and the Mediterranean, from roughly Oscar Wilde’s time through about the 1960s. In other words, it's a grab bag of high culture creators. Mostly the book focuses on literary works, dance, and painting/sculpture, with a bit of film. Woods argues that gays and lesbian ...more
Oct 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite ambitions in its scope, Woods' book is a vastly entertaining and quite erudite exploration of how gay men and women have shaped our western world, mostly through the tumultuous course of the last century. Novelists, painters, poets, philosophers, moviemakers, actors, musicians, composers, dancers, etc.: they all played a role, and they all have a place in the history of our culture. Woods brings a lot of energy in reminding us of who they were, of what they did, of their legacy, of their a ...more
Morgan Dhu
Feb 02, 2018 rated it liked it
Gregory Woods’ Homintern: How Gay Culture Liberated the Modern World is an interesting look at some of the queer people and communities who have undeniably influenced modern cultural development, from Oscar Wilde to Yukio Mishima, and how these artists and communities have been viewed.

Woods begins by defining his idea of the Homintern (a play on the international Communist organisation, Comintern, which advocated world communism): “The Homintern is the international presence of lesbians and gay
Sep 17, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Homintern is an incredible achievement. The sheer spread of knowledge and insight that Woods has pulled together is astounding. Moreover, his ability to weave these threads into a coherent narrative ark is admirable. My favourite moments reading this book were the little sparks of realisation or inspiration that this gives the modern queer reader (and there are many such moments!). Seeing our history collected like this is a wonderful thing. I had a number of gripes with the book, however, that ...more
R.J. Gilmour
Feb 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
The project that Woods seeks to explore is by its sheer size and scope massive. While interesting as an idea, the fact that queer culture and identity helped birth a culture of modernism, he is never quite brings it together. What he has done is to show how queer culture and identity crosses time and space using a plethora of literary sources. His understanding of these sources is extensive and laudable, but at time the narrative is more focused about who slept with whom and when. However, in th ...more
Justin Neville
On the one hand, based on the number of pages I bookmarked, I clearly found quite a few passages that contained interesting thoughts or opinions (mostly of those the author is quoting than his own analysis) or references to authors that I hadn't heard of.

However, overall, it's an overly dense and disappointing read. If nothing else for the simple reason that it doesn't do what is says on the tin.

His definition of 'culture' is very narrow. The bulk of the book is a painstaking portrait of the sex
This book was a massive, gorgeous undertaking--the kind of queer cultural history I've been searching for over *years* but hadn't found yet. If you're looking for a history of queer rights' movements, this isn't going to be it. But if you're looking for a detailed history of various cultural scenes--gay Berlin/Paris, queer exiles in Tangier, etc--then this is the volume for you.

The first portion of the book was quite overwhelmingly western and white, which was rectified towards the end of the b
May 06, 2016 rated it liked it
This was a disappointing read. The subtitle would lead the reader into thinking that this would be an analysis of what constituted gay culture and how this culture spread from the gay ghetto into the mainstream of world, or western at least, culture. Instead, what we get is a snapshot of the activities of, mostly, gay men and some lesbians who were active in the narrow worlds of Literature, "The Arts" and a few related fields. There is no attempt to analyse their impact on the modern world beyon ...more
Sara Petizzi
Mar 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
On my version of the book, there's a review saying " It's one of those books that make other books possible" and I couldn't agree more. This book is like the ABC of LGBT+ history and it's so thorough I couldn't help but wonder how much time it took to place all the facts, names and quotes together. The reader is confronted with hard, solid truths and it's clear how some things changed throughout the decade, but unfortunately, it's also clear that so many other things haven't.
I was disappointed o
Sarah Schulman
A very well written, fascinating and enjoyable read about how Homosexuality affected High Culture in Europe in the first third of the 20th century, focusing especially on European Modernism before the great movement of refugee Artists and intellectuals to America in the 1930's and 40's. Some great gossip, and interesting ideas- for example about how the Russian Ballet homosexualized ballet itself and created a public space for male homosexuality. I do think that the claims of the title are not f ...more
Julian Chan-Diaz
Jul 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I was looking for a book to educate myself on the history of the LGBT+ community. Instead, what I got was a near endless listing of supposedly influential people without the context. While a lot of care and research has gone into the book (hence the 3 stars), I would have been more engrossed had there been a greater focus on what these figures did and how they paved the way for equality, rather than a who's who of quirky characters. While I still recommend this book to those interested in gay cu ...more
Sophie (RedheadReading)
Very torn between a 3 or 4 star rating for this! This was a very well-researched look at groups of influential queer people from history. I enjoyed how much this encompassed, we travel from London to Paris to Berlin to Russia to Tangier and more. At times, this was rather dense and some parts seemed like they could be edited down a bit. A lot of potted biographies of people and descriptions of their books etc. On the whole though, a really interesting read which has expanded my knowledge.
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer-studies
Though a bit lacking in terms of insight and incisive commentary, Woods offers an entertaining collection of anecdotes and cultural surveys concerning homosexual artists/writers/poets in the late 19th and 20th centuries. A good jumping off point for further exploration.
Traci Tay
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
When I stumbled upon this book, I was really looking forward to reading it despite other reviews.

It was indeed very text heavy, and quite wordy- which was disappointing. Overall, there were some insightful tidbits of queer history that made up for the wordiness.
Flungoutofspace (CMJW)
Aug 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Incredibly informative and detailed. At times it jumps around a lot and Woods seems determined to put all of the info in there which made me feel like reading a gay dictionary. Invaluable for gay literary and cultural history though.
Jun 19, 2016 rated it liked it
There are some excellent sections in the book but also some that are dull; an uneven book. It doesn't really live up to its sub heading but it is an enjoyable, and also frustrating read. ...more
Jul 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
fantastic, vast, eye-opening.
May 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
very good, although more could be said in multiple Volumes~~
Mike Clarke
Let’s make a deal: Homintern is Gregory Woods’s cunning little pun for the supposed international conspiracy of queers to bring you art, culture, fashion, literature, home decorating, pop, gossip, drag and bitchy asides. Proving its existence proves more difficult than talking about fight club, whatever that means, although he has a darn good try.

This is a weighty piece heavy with name-dropping (I’m one of those queens who thinks when someone mentions Mrs Ottoline Morrell that I should have some
Trevor Seigler
Feb 26, 2021 rated it really liked it
From the trial of Oscar Wilde to the Stonewall Rebellion of 1969, the history of gay men and women in the world has often been one conducted in the shadows, where the straight world would prefer they reside (unless, of course, said absence from view means that the gays are plotting against the straights). But despite such persecution, many creative voices have emerged over the last century and a half to give voice to the wide diversity of LGBTQ culture, and Gregory Woods shows in this book how i ...more
Paul Scott
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
THE SUBTITLE IS misleading, I would say, insofar as it suggests the book has a central argument along the lines of "Gay culture liberated the modern world by...," along with definitions of "gay," "modern," and "liberated." This is not that book (though Woods could write that book, I expect). This is something more like a survey of LGBTQ presence in and contribution to a variety of artistic and cultural milieus in (mainly, but not exclusively) Europe during (mainly, but not exclusively) the years ...more
Edwin Pietersma
Sep 03, 2021 rated it liked it
I really enjoyed the major aspects of this book, talking about the different aspects that one needs to keep in mind when considering development of the LGBT (but almost solely the gay and lesbian world) from the 19th century onwards. It shows some impressive understanding of the different factors, extensive list of people and authors who marked their presence in this world, and interaction with literature and academic sources. I really enjoyed reading about it, also questioning things.
Geoff Regan
An odd book, that doesn't seem to stick to a central narrative matching the title. Rather than explain to the reader how the gay and lesbian creative have helped to liberate the world the majority of the book is more of a majestic tour through the remarkable interconnectedness of the non-hetero artistic community through the late ninteenth and twentieth century. While their works are discussed the impact of their work on the wider world is less covered, maybe left deliberately for the reader to ...more
Oct 11, 2019 rated it it was ok
I have very mixed feeling about this book. First of all, it is academic in nature rather than a popular culture survey. The author writes in an erudite style more suited to a college course in Gay Studies. Any points that he wants to make is obscured by the language and hundreds of literary references that he makes. I did learn a lot but I truly can't say this was a pleasurable read. The book was tabled at the NYC's Metropolitan Museum of Art's exhibit on Camp and has a bright pink color. It is ...more
Grant Ninnes
rated it really liked it
Jun 11, 2020
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