An American Obsession: Science, Medicine and the Place of Homosexuality in Modern Society

Drawing on research from medical texts, psychiatric case histories, pioneering statistical surveys, first-person accounts, legal cases, sensationalist journalism and legislative debates, this text is a history of how the century-old obsession with homosexuality is deeply tied to changing American anxieties about social and sexual order in the modern age. The overarching argument is that homosexuality served as a marker of the abnormal against which malleable, tenuous and often contradictory concepts of the normal were defined. The book takes into consideration homosexuality in both women and men and refuses to erase the agency of people classified as abnormal. It documents the ways that gays, lesbians and other sexual minorities have co-authored, resisted and transformed the most powerful and authoritative modern truths about sex.