History Is Sexy: Queer gender expressions in the military

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Gender can be a complicated matter to deal with, both for an individual and the society they live in. In recent years historians began to unravel the complex relationships humans always had with sex, gender and social expectations.

Looking back it’s not always easy to tell the difference between diverse expressions of gender but it’s definitely an area that can be a lot of fun to explore. Emma and Janina from the History Is Sexy podcast take a closer look at the history of gender expressions in the military.

If you’re interested in the subject check out the two articles mentioned in the podcast: Monstrous Regiment on History Today and How Not To Erase Trans History on History Matters.

Boys Village

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The Boys’ Village was once a holiday home for coalminers’ sons, boasting a pool, sports yards and even a chapel of its own. Not much remains of its former glory, though. Shattered glass and debris are all over the place; graffiti on the walls. There are countless trap falls and opportunities for injury. This is a parent’s nightmare and yet it can be heaven on earth for a certain kind of child. It more or less is for Kevin. He has been eleven years old for quite some time now. Has it been years or decades?

William Beckford: A queer hedonist

milkboys History & People 19 Comments

Few men attained greater celebrity during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries than William Beckford (1760—1844), the wealthiest man in England.

With enormous wealth as his Aladdin’s lamp, he decided to make his Arabian dreams come true. By the time he died at the venerable age of 84, he had built the loftiest domestic residence in the world, had assembled a virtual harem of boys, had his own militia to protect his Fonthill estate of 6,000 acres, had written the first Oriental-Gothic horror novel in English literature, and had become the most scandalous connoisseur of hedonism in the modern world. His society bemusedly tolerated most eccentrics — even nouveau riche ones — but they chose to ostracize this remarkable personality, dubbing him “The Fool of Fonthill.”

Beckford’s father, twice Lord Mayor of London, was the richest man in England, with extensive holdings in the cloth industry, property, government bonds, and sugar plantations. As a result, Beckford received a brilliant education, and was widely learned in French, Latin, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, philosophy, law, literature and physics by the age of 17.

His private piano teacher was Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart — at least that is the legend, too romantic to be discouraged. He was being brought up as an empire builder, but his father died when Beckford was only ten, leaving him with no political ambition, and a millionaire’s taste for pleasure

Read on…

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The Wishing Game

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The Wishing Game, written by Patrick Redmond is a psychological horror story about shy 14-year-old Jonathan Palmer becoming friends with the fearless Richard Rokeby in the systematically oppressive boarding school of Kirkston Abbey, realising too late how dangerous his new friend might be. As Jonathan falls further under Richard’s possessive control, the two boys find a Ouija board and begin a game that reaps deadly results.

The framing of the story helps to set up the plot. First there is a letter directed to a newspaper deriding the insinuation that the public school system was to blame for the events at Kirkston Abbey. This leads into the prologue where a man meets with a journalist to tell him the truth about the mysterious events of December 9, 1954 and the circumstances that led up to the final tragedy.

So begins the friendship of Jonathan and Richard, and the isolated codependency that the relationship turns into. Many characters become involved as Richard identifies those who he believes pose a threat to his connection with Jonathan, and the wishing game that they have started makes all of them victims of his rage.

As the book takes place in the ’50s at a Norfolk public school for rich, young boys, there is quite a bit of casual prejudice against any exhibiting the non-hegemonic race and sexuality of the time and location, as well as certain gender roles that were expected to be fulfilled.

Redmond depicts his characters as very flawed individuals, not just in Richard’s madness, but in Jonathan’s insecurities, the relationship between the Perriman twins (strained due to familial expectations, but still extremely loving and close), the unhappy marriage of the Latin professor and his wife who loves him but blackmails him into staying with her, etc. In these flaws he makes them unhappy, but believable. None of the characters are really able to fit into a black and white setting of “good” or “evil” after their complete stories are told.

The most eerie thing about this book is that the reader is never really 100% sure that there is anything supernatural going on for the first few parts of the novel. There are heavy insinuations of it, but information to blackmail and psychologically torture people can be found in many different ways beyond summoning dark spirits. It is only at the climax of the book that there is a confirmation, and what a confirmation it is. The scares in this book are as good and subtle as its homoerotic undertones.

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Periodical Political Post *129

milkboys News & Articles 13 Comments

Queer News

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