The Voiceless Colonizer: The Homosexual Man of Imperialism in Nineteenth Century Britain

Connor Douglas Henderson


This paper discusses the paradox of the British man in the nineteenth century as both an imperialist and a homosexual; its goal is to understand the lack of attention to the homosexual man in history in nineteenth century Britain and his inability to maintain substantial power and presence as the championed explorer or imperial officer. Through primary sources, we can analyze the language which reveals the perceived image of the explorer – and his apparently assumed heterosexuality – and, in addition, the laws condemning homosexuality, specifically those of sodomy. Other useful strategies will be to take historical lenses of the theme of homosexuality, such as settings of Greece and Rome, to analyze trends in societal norms in later Britain and, also, to compare these feelings to those felt toward women. Through these many different avenues, we may better understand the complex quandary of the homosexual man to be caused by the perceived violation of an expected gender role – in which the homosexual man is stripped of power and respect because of his lack of traditional masculinity.

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