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lrose20
04-25-2014, 12:12 AM
I have a character named Ivan who is a gay man from the 1890s, from Russia and Romania originally. I know that homosexuality in Europe was dealt with differently than in the U.S. I wanted to know what type of job he would have. I also was wondering how secretive and discreet he would have had to be. Any thoughts and information is much appreciated.

Bolero
04-25-2014, 12:31 AM
Which country in Eastern Europe?

For the UK you could start with a book on Oscar Wilde.

I'm sure someone will be along soon with a better answer than I've managed so far.

Cath
04-25-2014, 12:36 AM
Where in Europe is going to matter since attitudes differed considerably. I'd second researching Oscar Wilde.

mirandashell
04-25-2014, 12:51 AM
Definitely need to know where the story is set.

lrose20
04-25-2014, 01:11 AM
The story isn't set where he is from. The story is set on a train in 2014.(it's a fantasy novel) I hadn't decided exactly where he is from. His two companions traveled through Europe and never really settled anywhere, so I figured the same for him. As a general guideline, let's say he spent his formative years in what is now Ukraine, Romania and Russia.

mirandashell
04-25-2014, 02:06 AM
I understand that but where is he during the story? It's the laws and attitudes of the country he is in that you need to research.

waylander
04-25-2014, 02:09 AM
Pretty much anywhere he came from he would have had to be extremely secretive and discreet.

JoeHill
04-25-2014, 02:25 AM
Coming from that region he'd have to be someone from the upper classes.

snafu1056
04-25-2014, 03:19 AM
One key term you might want to look into is "Uranian love" or "Uranians". Thats how many gay people identified themselves and homosexuality back then. I believe the term was coined by an early gay rights advocate in Germany, I forget his name.

lrose20
04-25-2014, 04:26 AM
That's definitely useful information, thank you!

mirandashell
04-25-2014, 02:58 PM
Pretty much anywhere he came from he would have had to be extremely secretive and discreet.

In theatrical circles in the UK, not so much. And even in 'regular' society the most important thing was not to flaunt it. There were lots of euphemisms for gay men and women. It was when it got dragged out into the light, as in the Oscar Wilde libel case, that public opinion was outraged and the penalties were harsh.

And before the Victorians it was even more open. People knew it went on, it just wasn't discussed.

AyJay
04-25-2014, 03:52 PM
Your question: "what type of job he would have" makes me think you may need to step back from this and your ideas about gay men. Gay men in that time period, or any time period, work many different jobs. It doesn't correlate with their sexual orientation.

arcan
04-25-2014, 07:41 PM
About the second part of your question: in France they were very secretive. There were some places for meeting, like parks, but if a policeman came, they could be put in detention. Having a wife and family to hide was quite common.
As for the first part, I'd say that you question is offensive. Gays can have any kind of job. It's just a sexual orientation difference, nothing more.

Rufus Coppertop
04-25-2014, 08:06 PM
Have you decided what country he's from?

lrose20
04-25-2014, 08:53 PM
I didn't mean to offend with my first part of the question, I'm gay myself so that absolutely wasn't the intention. I meant it more for the time period, I should have worded it better. I suppose it should have been a separate thread, but I thought that would be silly. Apologies again if I came off as offensive.

wendymarlowe
04-25-2014, 10:49 PM
In a general sense, there were definitely some social groups in which a gay man could be more open about his lifestyle than in others. He'd almost have to be upper-class to have any freedom at all, and either landed gentry (or whatever the local equivalent is) or in that same social set. That doesn't mean he couldn't be a broke woodcarver, but if he were, he'd have to be much more discreet and would have less recourse if someone decided to turn him in.

lrose20
04-25-2014, 11:25 PM
Thank you, all good things to think about.

arcan
04-25-2014, 11:57 PM
I also worded my answer poorly. I should have said "could be offensive"...
As for wendymarlowe's answer, I partly disagree with it, but it might depend on the country they lived in. In the gentry and upper-class the first born wouldn't have been able to show that he was gay. Too much expectations and obligations. Ironically, they could have freed themselves more easily from the morale, but not from their family. In lower class, the contrary would have applied...


I didn't mean to offend with my first part of the question, I'm gay myself so that absolutely wasn't the intention. I meant it more for the time period, I should have worded it better. I suppose it should have been a separate thread, but I thought that would be silly. Apologies again if I came off as offensive.

Telergic
04-26-2014, 12:08 AM
Yeah, for England, read about the Yellow Nineties, the Yellow Book, Oscar Wilde, etc. Most of the participants in this cultural period were not homosexual, but there was a connection of sorts, anyway. As I understand it, possibly not well, Wilde's trial marked the beginning of a strong anti-homosexual cultural mood in the UK that lasted well past World War II.

No help for the rest of Europe, but I'd suppose the general mood was strongly repressive in most of the continent with the usual exceptions for the rich and powerful.

Maxinquaye
04-26-2014, 01:05 AM
You're going to have to be specific. Napoleonic France was very different from Victorian England which was very different from Prussia and Berlin which was very different from Madrid, and so on.

France, for instance, decriminnalised homosexuality after the revolution in 1791. It was later recriminalised under the Vichy regime, and that went on until the 1970s.

lrose20
04-26-2014, 02:13 AM
I've now edited the question as I've decided he primarily lived in Romania and Russia. Hope that helps narrows things down, and makes it evident that indeed, he was very far from the UK.

Maxinquaye
04-26-2014, 10:46 AM
Yeah, then you're going to have a rich aristocrat from one of the most stratified feudal structures with a deeply Eastern Orthodox outlook, and then you'll have him in one place. If the story takes place in post-revolutionary Paris it might be really interesting because of the intense melting pot of rising and falling viewpoints.

It is not a mystery why most of the ideologies and our political perspectives were born there during that time. From the way we see 'left and right' in politics to everything from conservatism, to classical Liberalism to socialism.