February is LGBT History Month. LGBT history is oftenÂ hidden but thereÂ are a wideÂ variety of books on the history ofÂ these communitiesÂ in The National Archives’ Library. Male homosexuality was illegal until the 1960s and there are plenty of criminal records to use in researching this subjectÂ and a significant amount of books.Â This is not the case for female homosexuality which was not officially criminalized. Despite this, however, there is a range of sources available to support research on homosexuality amongst women, bisexuality and individuals that identify as transgender.
Until 1861 homosexuality was a crime punishable by death in England, and especially in the early modern period it was more oftenÂ called ‘sodomy’ in reference to the corrupt inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah who were punished by God in the Bible. The book Homosexuality in Renaissance EnglandÂ explains how homosexuality was seen as against the natural order of things and God’s law, andÂ was often analogous to the witch or papist hateÂ figures in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. In times of social change prosecutions for homosexuality increased, and it is often argued it was not until the eighteenth century that a recognisable gay subculture emerged. Continue reading »