Homosexuality Before Homosexuality, Masochism Before Masochism?

What did they call homosexuality and masochism before there was a word for each?

I know the word homosexuality came into being in the 19th century. I don’t know exactly when. And I assume masochism is an equally more recent word.

I know for centuries they had the somewhat inaccurate term pederasty, which was sometimes applied to homosexuals as well. But I recall reading once in a gay magazine, that the Netherlands legalized homosexual acts between adults in the early 19th century, I want to say around 1811 or so. And I am sure they were by no means the first. The French Declaration of the Rights of Man specifically said

So it is a rather old concept, the consenting adults mantra.

And masochism. I rather think the idea of cruelty in general is a rather old one. But what did they call self-cruelty, in, say, the 18th century? Think about it.

My cell phone is in the shop, and may not be ready until Saturday. My cell phone is the main way I check up on this message board. So if I don’t reply right away to your responses, just kindly give me a while. It is not my fault:).

Thank you all in advance for you kind replies:)

I’m sure there are many and varied histories of sexuality/sexualities, but as far as I recall, it is generally held that the concept was of behaviours rather than a social identity or way of life, a concept which came about much later in the 19th century and into the 20th. In classical times, homosexual acts of various kinds might be tolerated or celebrated, in various circumstances, but not understood as a defining identity distinct from heterosexual marriage, say. But for most of the Christian era in the west, they were treated as individual criminal acts - sodomy/buggery or the peccatum illud horribile, inter Christianos non nominandum, rather than a social identity or way of life - either you were caught and punished for the act, known or presumed, or no-one else knew about you. No idea if there was a specific label for masochism, or even an acknowledgement of its existence before (say) the Marquis de Sade (though of course there is a long tradition of self-mortification of the flesh as a religious practice, rather than getting oneself into sado-masochistic relationship with someone else).

Sodomy/Sodomite. All terribly biblical.

In the language of the King James Bible, 1611.

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.
NB- this to answer the question, what it was called. Not saying I agree with it. Just wanted to make that clear.

For the derivation of the word “masochism,” you want https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopold_von_Sacher-Masoch.

There’s no masochism involved in Sade’s writings. People on the receiving end are victims (preferably young and innocent), not masochists.

What we now call “homosexuality” didn’t have a word in the past because there wasn’t a need for one. It was something a person did rather than something a person is and so there wasn’t really any need for a word for the modern idea that it’s something a person is.

There were some indirect references at various times and places in the past. For example, here in England a couple of centuries ago there were men who were “artistic” and women who “played cards”. (*) But it was still someone a person did rather than something a person was.

  • The phrase was actually “played the game of flats”, but in modern English that would be “played cards”.

“The love that dare not speak its name” stems from the late 19th century. Much later, Robertson Davies wrote “The love that dare not speak its name has become the love that won’t shut up.” As if that was a bad thing.

I’m currently reading a biography of Sarah Churchill, 1st Duchess of Marlborough and favorite of Queen Anne, and only just came across that phrase last night. In her spiteful letters around 1710, when she was falling out of favor, Sarah also refers to the Queen’s “inclinations” for other ladies at court, which struck me as a surprisingly modern euphemism.

Specifically from a poem by Lord Alfred Douglas, Oscar Wildse’s lover.

I don’t think that’s correct.
From what I recall of reading some of it, the villains often would have themselves whipped, or would whip each other, as a way of exciting themselves, either as a warm-up, or during the time that they were victimizing others. I’d think that would count as a mild form of masochism.

For the basic OP question, the historical attitude seems to be a bit confused.

Like PatrickLondon says, they identified specific sexual acts, but they did not imply a recognized personal identity. Anal intercourse (‘sodomy’) was a specific sexual act, but could be done by any person, even a married heterosexual. (And not specifically homosexual; it could be with their wife.)

On the other hand, people have recognized for a long time that certain individuals were only interested in certain sexual acts. As far back as the ancient Greek plays, there were references to specific individuals that we would recognize today as ‘homosexual’ (though we would probably classify all the other individuals in the play as ‘bisexual’). Bt they didn’t recognize this as an immutable, probably genetic, part of personal identity.

Uranian used to be a term for homosexuals. But the term originated in the 1860’s so it’s not as old as what the OP is looking for.

Sodomite (the person doing the buggering) and catamite (the person being buggered) were the medieval terms.

The term “bugger” is thought to date from the 13th Century and the Albigensian Crusade.

I also don’t think that in earlier eras people would think a blanket term was necessary for adult males who had sex with one another, adult males who had sex with boys, and women who had sex with one another.

I seem to remember reading somewhere that it had something to do with Bulgaria, but the OED says it comes from an old English word meaning “heresy.” Then I see that they are both right, that a Bulgarian was considered to be a heretic as a member of the Eastern Orthodox church. A bugger, as a person, in

I know I’ve read before about what we now call gender-fluidity among Native Americans–it even shows up in “Little Big Man,” which of course is a novel though I believe it was a well researched one.

You can read all about it on Wikipedia, but I wanted to add a different cite if possible, so here’s a newspaper column by a professor who studies the subject. Some of it is speculative but it seems to be grounded in fact.

In the 10th Century, there was a sect in Bulgaria called the Bogomils.

Three centuries later, the Cathars arose in southern France. Their theology resembled the Bogomils, so they were often referred to as “Bulgarians”.

The Cathars believed that the spirit was good, and the material world was evil. A good Cathar tried to renounce all worldly things, like money, private property, allegiance to church and state, marriage and procreation

People are often willing to renounce marriage, but rarely willing to renounce sex. The Cathars’ enemies accused them of encouraging sodomy, in order to avoid procreation.

So, doing it “Bulgarian style” became a euphemism for sodomy. Latin “Bulgarus” became Old French “bougre”, which became English “bugger”.

On further reading, I find that “bugger” originally entered English as a synonym for “heretic”. It was only in the 16th Century that the sexual meaning eclipsed the theological meaning.

It seems nowadays that someone who’s attracted to a person of the same sex has to ‘come out of the closet’ and get labeled gay. And accept all the implied stereotypes. Feminin women attracted to other feminine women, and masculine men attracted to macho guys doesn’t seem to fit in