John Boswell

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Medieval historian and Yale University faculty member John Boswell was both gay and a Catholic convert. Among his many talents, he could read more than fifteen languages. His research focused on historical religious perspectives on homosexuality, which earned him both widespread praise and criticism from Catholic and gay communities alike; the daily comic strip Doonesbury was dropped from four newspapers after presenting its own humorous take on Boswell’s ideas. One of his more controversial theories (with an entire book dedicated to it) was the argument that same-sex unions similar to marriage were commonly sanctioned by the Roman Catholic Church. He came into further conflict with queer academics because he held to a more essentialist view of homosexuality – that is, that it had always existed in the form of individuals primarily attracted to members of the same gender – which contrasted with the popular social constructionist view.

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