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“Would Sigmund Freud characterize our sex life asheterosexual?”My sourcessay no.“Howabout the AmericanPsychological Association?”Reply hazy, try again.Perhaps I will justalternate which box I check off on those clinic forms, a different oneeach time.Fortunately, I am not dismayed to discover that in the end, I cannot198
really lay claim to the much-vaunted label of heterosexual. It bothersme much more, in fact, that I sometimes claim it, or have it claimed forme, without intending to. To lay claim to heterosexuality, it seems tome at the end of all my explorations into its history and its nature, isnot so much to claim any upper hand as it is to pledge allegiance to aparticular configuration of sex and power in a particular historicalmoment. There isn’t much in that configuration, or its heritage ofclassism and misogyny, that I find appealing enough to want to claimas my own.Heterosexuality seems to be bigger than we are, independent, morepowerful. It is not. In reality, we are the ones whose imaginationscreated the heterosexual/homosexual scheme, and we are also the oneswhose multitudes that scheme ultimately cannot contain. Eventually asa culture we will imagine ourwayintosome different grandexplanation, some other scheme for explaining our emotions and ourdesires and our passionate entanglements. For now, we believe inheterosexual. And this, too, shall pass.199
ACKNOWLEDGMENTSMy heartfelt thanks and deep admiration go to many, including butdefinitely not limited to S. Bear Bergman, Leigh Ann Craig, AnneGwin, Lesley A. Hall, Patrick Harris, Arianna Iliff, Laura WatersJackson,LisaBuckley,KeridwenLuis,ChinaMartens,JudithMcLaughlin,KellyMorris,MoiraRussell,DanyaRuttenberg,Christopher Schelling, Jordan Stein, Mary Sykes, Elizabeth Tamny,and Rhetta Wiley. I also salute and thank those academics andresearcherswithoutwhoseworkthisbookwouldhavebeencompletely impossible, including Stephanie Coontz, Peter Gay, ChrysIngraham, Stevi Jackson, Angus McLaren, Steven Seidman, EdwardStein, Lawrence Stone, Jeffrey Weeks, Marilyn Yalom, and the late,much-missed Vern Bullough and Roy Porter. Especial intellectualthanks are due to the redoubtable Jonathan Ned Katz, to whoseTheInvention of Heterosexualitythis book owes so much. Much that isgood and right about this book is owed to these people, either directlyor indirectly. Whatever faults or errors may remain are mine alone.Thanks are also due to the Creative Baltimore Fund, and toEdenfredanditssponsoringorganization,theTerryFamilyFoundation, for a bit of world enough and time.Finally, there is not enough gratitude to convey my thanks to mybeautiful and bold partner, Malcolm Gin, for everything, very muchincluding being such a good sport about being made into a framingdevice for a history book.