Sunday, July 15, 2012

Out Spotlight


Today's Out Spotlight was an esteemed historian who argued that homosexuality has always existed, that it has at times enjoyed wide social acceptance, and that the Church historically allowed same-sex unions. Today's Out Spotlight is John Boswell.
John Eastburn Boswell was born March 20, 1947 in Boston, Massachusetts, into a military family, going on to  earn his undergraduate degree from the College of William and Mary, where he converted to Roman Catholicism. He was a gifted medieval philologist who read more than fifteen ancient and modern languages. 
He received his doctorate from Harvard University in 1975 and joined the Yale University history faculty, making full professor in 1982.

An authority on the history of Jews, Muslims, and Christians in medieval Spain.  In 1987, Boswell helped organize and found the Lesbian and Gay Studies Center at Yale, which is now the Research Fund for Lesbian and Gay Studies. He was named the A. Whitney Griswold Professor of History in 1990, when he was also appointed to a two-year term as chair of the Yale history department. Boswell was a gifted and devoted teacher. His undergraduate lectures in medieval history were renowned for their organization, erudition, and wit, with the course often making the "top 10" for highest enrollment. To enhance the novelty and high interest in his classes, the multi-talented Boswell would often pen his comments on student papers in perfectly executed italic script.
In 1980 Boswell published the book for which he is best known: "Christianity, Social Tolerance, and Homosexuality: Gay People in Western Europe from the Beginning of the Christian Era to the Fourteenth Century." In this groundbreaking study, Boswell argued against "the common idea that religious belief-Christian or other-has been the cause of intolerance in regard to gay people.  It "offered a revolutionary interpretation of the Western tradition, arguing that the Roman Catholic Church had not condemned gay people throughout its history, but rather, at least until the twelfth century, had alternately evinced no special concern about homosexuality or actually celebrated love between men." Scholarly reactions varied. More importantly, the book brought forward a fresh emphasis on the crime of rape being the actual sin of Sodom, rather than the homosexual acts themselves. This idea calls into question any connection between gay people today and the Biblical Sodomites. 

The book was named one of the New York Times ten best books of 1980 and received both the American Book Award and the Stonewall Book Award in 1981.
Boswell's second book on homosexuality in history was "The Marriage of Likeness: Same-Sex Unions in Premodern Europe," published in 1994. In it he argues that the Christian ritual of adelphopoiia ("brother-making") is evidence that prior to the Middle Ages, the Church recognized same-sex relationships. Boswell's thesis has been embraced by proponents of same-sex unions, although it remains controversial among scholars.

 Boswell converted to Roman Catholicism as an undergraduate at the College of William and Mary, and remained a devout Catholic for the rest of his life. He was an effective teacher and popular lecturer on several topics, including his life journey as an openly gay Christian man.
After his conversion to Catholicism from the Episcopal Church during he remained a daily-mass Catholic up until his death, despite his differences with the church over sexual issues. Although he was orthodox in most of his beliefs, he strongly disagreed with his church's stated opposition to homosexual behavior and relationships. To a certain degree much of the work and research Boswell did regarding the Christian church's historical relationship with homosexuality can be seen as an attempt to reconcile his sexual orientation with his faith.

 John Boswell died of complications from AIDS in the Yale infirmary in New Haven, Connecticut, on December 24, 1994, at age 47.

 "It is possible to change ecclesiastical attitudes toward gay people and their sexuality because the objections to homosexuality are not biblical, they are not consistent, they are not part of Jesus' teaching; and they are not even fundamentally Christian."

6 comments:

prairiegirl said...

One of my favorite times of the year. Philly Qfest. Ushered yesterday and today.

You didn't show anyone to the wrong seat, did ya, Tom? lol

Safely used a flashlight for dimly lit areas, I'm sure?

And hopefully you didn't have to tap anyone on the shoulder for talking too loudly during the show!

Usher Tom!

destiny said...

So sad to read about Boswell and then learn he died so young. I remember when his first book came out, but I couldn't have told you a thing about his life.

Jersey Tom said...

PG said:

You didn't show anyone to the wrong seat, did ya, Tom? lol

Safely used a flashlight for dimly lit areas, I'm sure?

And hopefully you didn't have to tap anyone on the shoulder for talking too loudly during the show!

Usher Tom!


An usher duties today are a piece of cake. Once we get them into the theater they are on their own. The best part of being an usher is that you get to see all the movies free and meet some of the actors, producers and directors. Plus all the free coke and popcorn you want:-)

prairiegirl said...

They're on their own. LOLLLLLL !!! Now, Tom!! That's chaos, isn't it? I think I would try to sneak down towards the front, then.

Sounds fun, especially the free popcorn part.

Fascinating Spotlight, especially about him converting to Catholicism. Sad to read that he died from complications from AIDS.

He was a very striking looking man.

prairiegirl said...

You know, it's amazing to see how differently Katie Holmes dresses now. She just looks so different, lots younger again.

sass said...

TY again for this article...I really enjoyed reading it just now. He was Gorgeous....My boy has been telling me all the information I read in this article...from his research.


Katie's face does look more relaxed. I wonder why Tom didn't see how tense she looked with her last visit. Oh well...good for her, protecting her daughter...had to do that... yet I'm still afraid for both of them...
Listening to "Thinking about You." Frank Ocean is taking it better than I am that Target will not sell his album. It's full of real love stuff.
I had no clue about Target's discriminatory positions, except what I read here and on other news sites...they will get no more of my money.

This fight against homophobia will never stop...until who knows...

Ocean's recorded a Beautiful album...and the young brothers are coming out for him...and it's # 2 on itunes...FYTRGT!


I do love looking at the video clip on my puter of my fav actor rocking his sexy walk in front of the tall Texan...no one can make me believe...that is not real...anymore. Otherwise...anyway...praying for happiness...for him and A.

JMG posted some hateful homophobic black pastor stuff...unbelievable....had to take a minute...How dare they...

I had hoped EOW would be good...saw the trailer in April/May and @ Magic J theaters...and the audience response was great...I trust them sometimes:)

love and peace...
s