Friday, October 13, 2017

Born Today In 1948: Gay Historian, Activist Alan Bray

Alan Bray was born today, October 13, in 1948. He was a British historian and gay rights activist. 

He became involved with the Gay Liberation Front in the 1970s and actively campaigned for gay rights. His interest in sexual politics influenced his work on history, which
culminated in two books.

According to his obituary in The Guardian from December 18, 2001:

Alan Bray, who has died aged 53, was a rare combination; a senior civil servant, gay activist and scholar. His book, Homosexuality in Renaissance England, first published in 1982 and still in print, is a classic of meticulous research and independent thinking on the origins of the modern gay identity. It shows how sodomy was regarded in Elizabethan cosmology as a sinful desire to which all men were potentially subject, but that homosexual activity was widely tolerated and had not then come to signify the deviant psychological type it later became.
His second book, published posthumously, was titled The Friend, which The Guardian described as exploring "same sex kinship ceremonies and unions that permeated the culture of pre-modern societies. A particular focus is on joint tombs inscribed with declarations of love - the most illustrious being the grave of Cardinal Newman. It was while discovering these burial sites that Alan realised his research was also a personal act of remembrance and mourning for friends lost to Aids."

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