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The word homophile is an alternative to the words homosexual or gay. The homophile movement also refers to the gay rights movement of the 1950s and '60s.
The use of homophile began to disappear with the emergence of the Gay Liberation movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s, replaced by a new set of terminology such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, and in the 1990s, queer, collectively LGBTQ, although some homophile groups survived until the 1980s, 1990s and even the present day.
The term homophile is favoured by some because it emphasizes love ("-phile" from Greek φιλία) rather than sex. Coined by the German astrologist, author and psychoanalyst Karl-Günther Heimsoth in his 1924 doctoral dissertation "Hetero- und Homophilie," the term was in common use in the 1950s and 1960s by homosexual organizations and publications; the groups of this period are now known collectively as the homophile movement.
The term homophile began to disappear with the emergence of the Gay Liberation movements of the late 1960s and early 1970s, replaced by a new set of terminology such as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender, (LGBT), although some original homophile groups survived until the 1980s, 1990s and even the present day.
In almost all languages where the words "homophile" and "homosexual" were both in use (i.e., their cognate equivalents: German Homophil and Homosexuel, Italian omofilo and omosessuale, etc.), "homosexual" won out as the modern conventional neutral term. One exception is Norwegian, where the opposite happened, and "homofil[i]" is the modern conventional neutral term for "homosexual[ity]" in Norwegian. Quoting and translating from the Norwegian (Nynorsk) Wikipedia article "Homofili":
[...] In English and American, "homophilia" was used to some extent; but by the end of the 1960s, it was replaced [in those languages] by "homosexual", "gay", and "lesbian". "Homofili" was first used in Norwegian in a 1951 brochure from the Norwegian branch of the Danish "League of 1948". Norway is one of the few countries (the only country?) where this idea [to use words based on "homophil-" instead of "homosexual-"] is still widespread.
Homophile Movement (1940-1970)
After the gains made by the homosexual rights movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the vibrant homosexual subcultures of the 20s and 30s became silent as war engulfed Europe. Germany, the traditional home of such movements (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee) and activists (Magnus Hirschfeld, Ernst Burchard, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs or Max Spohr), went from being the best place in Europe to be gay, lesbian or transgender, to the worst, under the Nazis. The Swiss journal Der Kreis (de) ("the circle") was the only homosexual publication in Europe to publish during the Nazi era. Der Kreis was edited by Anna Vock, and later Karl Meier; the group gradually shifted from being female-dominated to male-dominated through the 1930s, as the tone of the magazine simultaneously became less militant.
After the war, organizations began to re-form, such as the Dutch COC in 1946. Other, new organizations arose, including Forbundet af 1948 ("League of 1948"), founded by Axel Axgil in Denmark, with Helmer Fogedgaard publishing an associated magazine called Vennen (The Friend) from January 1949 until 1953. Fogedgaard used the pseudonym "Homophilos," introducing the concept of "homophile" in May 1950, unaware that the word had been presented as an alternative term a few months previously by Jaap van Leeuwen (nl), one of the founders of the Dutch COC. The word soon spread among members of the emerging post-war movement who were happy to emphasize the respectable romantic side of their relationships over genital sexuality.
A Swedish branch of Forbundet af 1948 was formed in 1949 and a Norwegian branch in 1950. The Swedish organization became independent under the name Riksförbundet för sexuellt likaberättigande (RFSL, "Federation for Sexual Equality") in 1950, led by Allan Hellman. The same year in the United States, the Mattachine Society was formed, and other organizations such as ONE, Inc. (1952) and the Daughters of Bilitis (1955) soon followed. By 1954, the monthly sales of ONE's magazine peaked at 16,000. Homophile organizations elsewhere include Arcadie (1954) in France and the British Homosexual Law Reform Society (founded 1958).
These groups are generally considered to have been politically cautious, in comparison to the LGBT movements that both preceded and followed them. Historian Michael Sibalis describes the belief of the French homophile group Arcadie, "that public hostility to homosexuals resulted largely from their outrageous and promiscuous behaviour; homophiles would win the good opinion of the public and the authorities by showing themselves to be discreet, dignified, virtuous and respectable." However, while few were prepared to come out, they did risk severe persecution, and some figures within the Homophile movement such as the American communist Harry Hay were more radical.
In 1951, the president and vice-president of the Dutch COC initiated an International Congress of European homophile groups, which resulted in the formation of the International Committee for Sexual Equality (ICSE). The ICSE brought together, among other groups, the Forbundet of 1948 (Scandinavia), the Riksförbundet för Sexuellt Likaberättigande (Sweden), Arcadie (France), Der Kreis (Swiss), and, later, ONE (U.S.A.). Historian Leila Rupp describes the ICSE as a classic example of transnational organizing; "It created a network across national borders, nurtured a transnational homophile identity, and engaged in activism designed to change both laws and minds." However, the ICSE failed to last beyond the early 1960s due to poor attendance at meetings, lack of active leaders, and failure of members to pay dues.
By the mid-1960s, gays, lesbians and transpeople in the United States were forming more visible communities, and this was reflected in the political strategies of American homophile groups. From the mid-1960s, they engaged in picketing and sit-ins, identifying themselves in public space for the first time. Formed in 1964, the San Franciscan Society for Individual Rights (SIR) had a new openness and a more participatory democratic structure. SIR was focused on building community, and sponsored drag shows, dinners, bridge clubs, bowling leagues, softball games, field trips, art classes and meditation groups. In 1966, SIR opened the nation's first gay and lesbian community center, and by 1968 they had over 1000 members, making them the largest homophile organization in the country. The world's first gay bookstore had opened in New York the year before. A 1965 gay picket held in front of Independence Hall in Philadelphia, according to some historians, marked the beginning of the modern gay rights movement. Meanwhile in San Francisco in 1966, transgender street prostitutes in the poor neighborhood of Tenderloin rioted against police harassment at a popular all-night restaurant, Gene Compton's Cafeteria. These and other activities of public resistance to oppression lead to a feeling of Gay Liberation that was soon to give a name to a new movement.
In 1963, homophile organizations in New York City, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. joined together to form East Coast Homophile Organizations (ECHO) to more closely coordinate their activities. The success of ECHO inspired other homophile groups across the country to explore the idea of forming a national homophile umbrella group. This was done with the formation in 1966 of the North American Conference of Homophile Organizations (NACHO, rhymes with Waco). NACHO held annual conferences, helped start dozens of local gay groups across the country and issued position papers on a variety of LGBT-related issues. It organized national demonstrations, including a May 1966 action against military discrimination that included the country's first gay motorcade. Through its legal defense fund, NACHO challenged anti-gay laws and regulations ranging from immigration issues and military service to the legality of serving alcohol to homosexuals. NACHO disbanded after a contentious 1970 conference at which older members and younger members, radicalized in the wake of the 1969 Stonewall riots, clashed. Gay Sunshine magazine declared the convention "the battle that ended the homophile movement".
Organisations and publications
- Forbundet af 1948 (1948–?) and Pan (1954–present)
- International Homosexual World Organisation (IHWO), 1952? – first half of 1970s, political since second half of 1960s, founded by Axel and Eigil Axgil, German chapter named: Internationale Homophile Welt-Organisation)
- Arcadie (journal, published 1954–1982), and organisation with the same name. Often published with the subtitle "Mouvement homophile de France".
- COC (1946–present) is the earliest homophile organisation. Their first magazine, Vriendschap (Friendship), was published from 1949 to 1964 (available online). They also produced a number of other publications.
- RFSL, Riksförbundet för sexuellt likaberättigande — "Federation for Sexual Equality", known since 2007 as the "Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Rights" (1950–present)
- Homosexual Law Reform Society (1958–1970 when it was renamed as the Sexual Law Reform Society). The HLRS was formed as a response to the 1957 Wolfenden report. Most of the members were heterosexual.
- Campaign for Homosexual Equality (1964–present)
- Vice Versa: America's Gayest Magazine (1947–1948), the first lesbian periodical in the United States, was free. Lisa Ben (an anagram of "lesbian"), the 25-year old Los Angeles secretary who created Vice Versa, chose the name "because in those days our kind of life was considered a vice."
- Knights of the Clock (c. 1950–?); first interracial gay organization. Focused on social activities but also worked on employment and housing concerns for interracial couples.
- The Mattachine Society (1950–1987) and the Mattachine Review (1955–1966); Homosexual Citizen, (published by the Washington chapter, 1966–?)
- The Daughters of Bilitis (1955–present) and The Ladder (1956–1972); Focus (published by the Boston chapter, 1971–1983); Sisters, (National, published in San Francisco, 1971–1975).
- ONE, Inc. (1952–present) and One magazine (1953–1972); Homophile Studies (1958–1964)
- The League for Civil Education (1960 or 1961–?) and The LCE News (1961–?)
- The Janus Society (1962–1969) and DRUM magazine (1964–1969). A racy gay-male oriented magazine, DRUM reached a circulation of 10,000 by 1966.
- Society for Individual Rights (1964–1976) and Vector (1965–1977)
- The Homosexual Law Reform Society (1965–1969)
- Phoenix Society for Individual Freedom, Kansas City MO, and The Phoenix: Midwest Homophile Voice, (1966–1972)
- Society Advocating Mutual Equality (SAME) (1966–1968), Rock Island IL, "The Challenger" newsletter
- Homophile Action League (Philadelphia) and the HAL Newsletter (1969–1970)
- Spiritual Friendship, a Christian blog for gay writers seeking development of Church teaching (2013-Present)
- International Committee for Sexual Equality (ICSE) (1951–1963); Formed by the Dutch COC and functioned as an umbrella organization that united many of the above national organizations from Europe and the United States. Published two German language periodicals, ICSE Kurier and ICSE-PRESS.
With no relationship to the dominant sense of "homophile", in an 1896 article on vivisection in Proceedings of the American Microscopical Society, Pierre A. Fish used the term "homophile" to refer to advocates of animal vivisection as an alternative to early-stage human experimentation. He used the Latin word "homo" (meaning "human") as the basis of the word— unrelated to the Greek word "homos" (ὁμός, "same") which is the basis of the established and now exclusive sense of "homophile". (See the entry "Homosexuality"’s subsection "Etymology".) To contrast with "homophiles", Fish used the word "zoophiles", to refer to antivivisectionists, with that usage being similarly independent of the established and now exclusive sense of the word— namely, "zoophile" as referring to a person exhibiting a sexual preference for one or more species of non-human animal. (Main article: "Zoophilia".) Fish's idiosyncratic senses of "homophile" and "zoophile" did not find widespread acceptance, perhaps in part because of the other, striking meanings of the terms.
As a portmanteau of homosexual and paedophile
In recent years homophile has been adopted by anti-gay groups and Christian fundamentalists, particularly in the U.S. and Poland, as a term of abuse for gay men and lesbians by implying a link between homosexuality and paedophilia, notionally treating "homophile" as a portmanteau of "homo-sexual" and "paedo-phile". The Southern Poverty Law Center, which in the U.S., is the authority on anti-gay hate groups, since 1981 has published the Intelligence Report that monitors what it views as radical right hate groups and extremists in the United States, providing information on the organizational efforts and tactics of these groups, it also denotes international, and multinational connections.
In its Winter 2010 Intelligence Report the SPLC noted that for thirty years going back to Anita Bryant's Christian fundamentalists Save Our Children campaign, the first organized opposition to the gay rights movement, "hard-line elements of the religious right have been searching for ways to demonize gay people — or, at a minimum, to find arguments that will prevent their normalization in society." These groups utilize anti-gay myths to "form the basis of its claim that homosexuality is a social evil that must be suppressed — an opinion rejected by virtually all relevant medical and scientific authorities." The SPLC notes these anti-gay myths "almost certainly contribute to hate crime violence directed at the LGBT community, which is more targeted for such attacks than any other minority group in America." Among the anti-gay myths is that gay men molest children at far higher rates, when research has shown that "the stereotypical (fixated) pedophile — cannot be considered homosexual or heterosexual," and the majority of (non-fixated pedophiles, or regressives) are heterosexual. In both cases the vast majority target children among family and friends, and not strangers waiting to snatch children as the religious right has purported.
A related anti-gay myth is that "homophiles" as gay parents are in some way harming children. Studies on LGBT parenting have failed to demonstrate that "same-sex couples are any more or any less harmful to children than heterosexual couples."
Austin Ruse, president of Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute (C-FAM), argues that "New Homophiles" are an emerging sect of Catholicism, people who identify in some way as being both LGBTQ, and Catholic, who strive to remain celibate and ascribe to the traditional beliefs about homosexuality, as well as the church's denunciation of gay marriage. In February 2014, the SPLC designated C-FAM as an anti-LGBT hate group because of their opposition to the United Nations adoption of the Yogyakarta Principles - a set of principles relating to sexual orientation and gender identity, intended to apply international human rights law standards to address the abuse of the human rights of LGBTI people - its opposition to the UN's efforts to study and prevent anti-LGBT violence, and its praise of Scott Lively, an American anti-gay activist who claims that gays caused the Holocaust, and whose efforts were behind the 2014 Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Act, which prescribed the death penalty in earlier drafts, and has been linked to attacks on gay people. C-FAM rejects the charges made by SPLC against the group and says they are false.
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- Issues in Human Sexuality: A Statement by the House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England, December 1991 (London: Church House Publishing, 1991). "Annotated text online". Archived from the original on 2012-06-30.[dead link]
- "Homofili", from Norsk (nynorsk) Wikipedia, entry retrieved 2012-06-19. Original text: “I den grad «homophile» hadde fått noko gjennomslag i engelsk og amerikansk, overtok «homosexual», «gay» og «lesbian» denne plassen frå slutten av 1960-talet. «Homofili» blei første gong nytta på norsk i ein brosjyre av den norske avdelinga av det danske «Forbundet af 1948» i 1951. Noreg er eit av dei få (det einaste?) landet der dette omgrepet framleis har stor utbreiing.”
- Sibalis, Michael, 2005. Gay Liberation Comes to France: The Front Homosexuel d’Action Révolutionnaire (FHAR), French History and Civilization. Papers from the George Rudé Seminar. Volume 1 PDF link
- Rupp, Leila (2011). "The Persistence of Transnational Organizing: The Case of the Homophile Movement." The American Historical Review 116:4 (Oct. 2011): 1014-1039.
- Bianco, p. 174
- Fletcher, p. 42
- Bianco, p. 175
- Armstrong, p. 79
- Quoted in Armstrong, p. 79
- [dead link]
- "Sexuality Studies at UC Davis, Sexuality Studies Resources Held in the UC Davis Shields Library's Special Collections Department". Retrieved April 8, 2006.
- "spiritualfriendship.org". spiritualfriendship.org. 2014-02-13. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- "Musings on God, friendship, relationships". Spiritual Friendship. 2014-02-13. Retrieved 2014-02-18.
- [dead link]
- The New Homophiles: Some Reasons for Concern
- The New Homophiles and Their Critics
- The Homophile Agenda and the Attack on Free Speech, This article was adapted from its original version in the Spring 2012 issue of FrontLines, the official magazine of Human Life International.
- TACTICS OF THE HOMOPHILE AGENDA, ENDEAVOUR FORUM NEWSLETTER No. 147 August, 2012. Member Organisation, World Council for Life and Family, NGO in Special Consultative Status with ECOSOC of the UN
- The New Homophiles: A Closer Look
- SPLC is listed under the Resources section of the Federal Bureau of Investigation's web page on hate crimes, FBI webpage on hate crimes, under Resources Accessed January 23, 2013,
- and provides the FBI with information on hate groups Michael, George (2012). Lone Wolf Terror and the Rise of Leaderless Resistance. Vanderbilt University Press. p. 32. ISBN 0826518559.
- Intelligence Report Get Informed web page Retrieved December 18, 2010,
- "Intelligence Report". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved September 18, 2007.
- SPLC has been cited by scholars as a reliable source on right-wing extremism and hate groups.Rory McVeigh. Structured Ignorance and Organized Racism in the United States. Social Forces, Vol. 82, No. 3, (Mar. 2004), p. 913 JSTOR
- Backfire: How the Ku Klux Klan Helped the Civil Rights Movement By David Mark Chalmers Page 188
- Untangling the web of hate: are online "hate sites" deserving of First Amendment Protection? By Brett A. Barnett. Google Books. December 31, 2007. Retrieved January 24, 2012.
- "Illinois Association for Cultural Diversity reading list". Western Illinois University. Retrieved January 26, 2009.
- Evelyn Schlatter; Robert Steinback (Winter 2010, Issue Number: 140). "10 Anti-Gay Myths Debunked". Intelligence Report. Retrieved September 16, 2012.
- Cohen, Richard (December 23, 2010). "SPLC's Anti-Gay Hate List Compiled With Diligence and Clear Standards". SPLC Newsletter. Retrieved September 23, 2012. "We do, however, feel it is important to point out when claims being made are demonstrably false, and when disparaging, emotion-provoking stereotypes are used in place of facts and logic. When we designate an organization as a hate group, it isn’t to suppress debate; it is to sound a warning alarm: “This debater isn’t being honest about the facts – and we can prove it.”"
- Facts About Homosexuality and Child Molestation. Psychology.ucdavis.edu. Retrieved on 2010-12-25.
- The New Homophiles
- Human Rights Watch World Report 2008
- About the Yogyakarta Principles
- Reuters report: "UN: Support Global Gay Rights Charter", 5th Nov 2007
- Piero A. Tozzi J.D., Six Problems with the Yogyakarta Principles, PDF, Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute: International Organizations Research Group Briefing Paper (2007)
- "Active Anti-LGBT Groups". Southern Poverty Law Center. Retrieved 14 March 2014.
- Beirich, Heidi (Fall 2013). "Dangerous Liasons". Intelligence Report (Southern Poverty Law Center) (151).
- "C-FAM Response to Southern Poverty Law Center Regarding Classification as a Hate Group". Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
- Armstrong, Elizabeth A. (2002). Forging Gay Identities: Organizing Sexuality in San Francisco, 1950–1994. Chicago, University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0-226-02694-9.
- Bianco, David (1999). Gay Essentials: Facts For Your Queer Brain. Los Angeles, Alyson Books. ISBN 1-55583-508-2.
- Fletcher, Lynne Yamaguchi (1992). The First Gay Pope and Other Records. Boston, Alyson Publications. ISBN 1-55583-206-7.