Out In The World - A Global Gay History

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Episodes

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01Sunday Feature2011091820120731

Richard Coles on the modern construction of gay identity and links with the ancient world.

Richard Coles embarks on an excavation of same-sex desire through the ages, starting with the modern construction of gay identity and its links with the ancient world.

Across four programmes and a range of investigations which reach from the UK to India, Egypt, Greece and Native America, Richard discovers a far more complex and nuanced story than one of darkness into light.

In programme one, he confronts the challenges of uncovering such a history given that the idea of 'being gay' is a very modern phenomenon. Richard's quest takes him to Saqqara in Egypt and the contested tomb of two men, Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum. Some claim the two men were lovers - others say they were twin brothers. He explores the ideas of the 'sexologists' so crucial to the formation of modern gay identity. And he tells the story of Anne Lister, a 19th century Yorkshirewoman who had same sex relationships - but can we actually label her a lesbian?

In programme two, Richard explores the homosexuality of the ancients. He traces the transition from classical celebration to religious repression under the strictures of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Part three shifts the focus to the complex relationship between sexuality and gender as Richard surveys the so-called 'third sex' in places such as India, Indonesia, and the ladyboys of Thailand which confounded the understanding of 19th century imperialists.

Richard concludes the series by looking at the globalisation of gay identity. Some theorists argue that western states are now attempting to promote and impose ideas of gay liberation which are alien to the developing world. Richard asks whether this charge of latter-day imperialism is justified.

Producer: Laurence Grissell

First broadcast in September 2011.

02Sunday Feature2011092520120801

Richard Coles on the ancient Greek culture where homosexuality was part of a social code.

02Sunday Feature2011092520120801

In the second programme in Radio 3's landmark series telling the global story of gay identity, Richard Coles travels to Greece to re-discover the ancient culture in which homoerotic love was part of a social code.

Alongside exploring familiar and, according to modern scholarship, hopelessly over-simplified images of pederastic relationships between older and younger men Richard travels to the plain of Chaeronea where the famous Sacred Band of Thebes fought and died. The Band, a military unit made up of same-sex lovers, were wiped out in combat against the Macedonian forces of Philip and his son Alexander in 338BCE. The Lion monument that overlooks the site of the slaughter speaks of an attitude towards the Sacred Band at odds with our modern feminised view of homosexuality.

Richard then explores the impact of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions beginning with the Mosaic laws of Judaism. The fierce prohibition that 'thou shalt not sleep with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination' has echoed down the centuries. Equally the Qur'an stories of Lot and his rejection by the people of Sodom appears unequivocal. But how did the early Islamic, Judaic and Christian societies react to these texts and what are we to make of the Hebrew and Arabic homoerotic poetry of the early medieval period?

Christianity seems to have been the most enthusiastic critic of same-sex relations but even here the judgements and images are rarely as clear cut as the Biblical call for the death sentence for transgressors.

Producer: Tom Alban

First broadcast in September 2011.

03Sunday Feature2011100220120802

Turning his gaze to India, Polynesia and Native America, Richard Coles continues his excavation of same-sex desire across the centuries, focusing on the age of Empire and the relationship between gender and sexuality.

When the European nations went out into the world during the era of colonial expansion, they found a bewildering and - to them - shocking array of sexual behaviours. In many societies, gender rather than sexuality took precedence - such as India's third-gender Hijras or the Native Americans' multiple genders.

As Richard finds out, the colonial authorities set about imposing western moral mores around the world - systematically destroying indigenous traditions which had existed for centuries. He concludes by taking the pulse of those societies in the post imperial era.

Producer: Laurence Grissell

First broadcast in September 2011.

Richard Coles looks at the conflict between sexuality and gender identity.

04 LASTSunday Feature2011100920120803

Richard Coles completes his excavation of same-sex desire across the ages, focusing on the recent history which has seen western societies change dramatically in their attitudes to same-sex relationships.This self-proclaimed enlightenment is however now being used as a measure of human rights across the globe.

That creates enormous tension, given that some countries, particularly those in Sub-saharan Africa and with a predominantly Muslim culture, see this attitude as neo-colonial.

Richard talks to gay rights activists in Egypt, Greece, China, India and the United States about their interpretation of these changing attitudes. He also hears from those debating whether or not gay identity is really an effective way of moving forward in the face of the apparent impasse between human rights and religious and cultural beliefs.

Producer: Tom Alban

First broadcast in September 2011.

04 LASTSunday Feature2011100920120803

Examining the issues relating to gay rights as a measure of global human rights.

012011091820120731

Richard Coles embarks on an excavation of same sex desire through the ages, starting with the modern construction of gay identity and its links with the ancient world.

Across four programmes and a range of investigations which reach from the UK to India, Egypt, Greece and Native America, Richard discovers a far more complex and nuanced story than one of darkness into light.

In programme one, he confronts the challenges of uncovering such a history given that the idea of 'being gay' is a very modern phenomenon.

Richard's quest takes him to Saqqara in Egypt and the contested tomb of two men, Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum.

Some claim the two men were lovers - others say they were twin brothers.

He explores the ideas of the 'sexologists' so crucial to the formation of modern gay identity.

And he tells the story of Anne Lister, a 19th century Yorkshirewoman who had same sex relationships - but can we actually label her a lesbian?

In programme two, Richard explores the homosexuality of the ancients.

He traces the transition from classical celebration to religious repression under the strictures of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Part three shifts the focus to the complex relationship between sexuality and gender as Richard surveys the so-called 'third sex' in places such as India, Indonesia, and the ladyboys of Thailand which confounded the understanding of 19th century imperialists.

Richard concludes the series by looking at the globalisation of gay identity.

Some theorists argue that western states are now attempting to promote and impose ideas of gay liberation which are alien to the developing world.

Richard asks whether this charge of latter-day imperialism is justified.

Producer: Laurence Grissell.

Richard Coles on the modern construction of gay identity and links with the ancient world.

In programme one, he confronts the challenges of uncovering such a history given that the idea of 'being gay' is a very modern phenomenon. Richard's quest takes him to Saqqara in Egypt and the contested tomb of two men, Khnumhotep and Niankhkhnum. Some claim the two men were lovers - others say they were twin brothers. He explores the ideas of the 'sexologists' so crucial to the formation of modern gay identity. And he tells the story of Anne Lister, a 19th century Yorkshirewoman who had same sex relationships - but can we actually label her a lesbian?

In programme two, Richard explores the homosexuality of the ancients. He traces the transition from classical celebration to religious repression under the strictures of Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

Richard concludes the series by looking at the globalisation of gay identity. Some theorists argue that western states are now attempting to promote and impose ideas of gay liberation which are alien to the developing world. Richard asks whether this charge of latter-day imperialism is justified.

First broadcast in September 2011.

022011092520120801

In the second programme in Radio 3's landmark series telling the global story of gay identity, Richard Coles travels to Greece to re-discover the ancient culture in which homo-erotic love was part of a social code.

Alongside exploring familiar and, according to modern scholarship, hopelessly over-simplified images of pederastic relationships between older and younger men Richard travels to the plane of Chaeronea where the famous Sacred Band of Thebes fought and died.

The Band, a military unit made up of same sex lovers, were wiped out in combat against the Macedonian forces of Philip and his son Alexander in 338BCE.

The Lion monument that overlooks the site of the slaughter speaks of an attitude towards the Sacred Band at odds with our modern feminised view of homosexuality.

Richard then explores the impact of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions beginning with the Mosaic laws of Judaism.

The fierce prohibition that 'though shalt not sleep with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination' has echoed down the centuries.

Equally the Qur'an stories of Lot and his rejection by the people of Sodom appears unequivocal.

But how did the early Islamic, Judaic and Christian societies react to these texts and what are we to make of the Hebrew and Arabic homoerotic poetry of the early medieval period?

Christianity seems to have been the most enthusiastic critic of same sex relations but even here the judgements and images are rarely as clear cut as the Biblical call for the death sentence for transgressors.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Richard Coles on the ancient Greek culture where homosexuality was part of a social code.

Alongside exploring familiar and, according to modern scholarship, hopelessly over-simplified images of pederastic relationships between older and younger men Richard travels to the plain of Chaeronea where the famous Sacred Band of Thebes fought and died. The Band, a military unit made up of same-sex lovers, were wiped out in combat against the Macedonian forces of Philip and his son Alexander in 338BCE. The Lion monument that overlooks the site of the slaughter speaks of an attitude towards the Sacred Band at odds with our modern feminised view of homosexuality.

Richard then explores the impact of the Abrahamic monotheistic religions beginning with the Mosaic laws of Judaism. The fierce prohibition that 'thou shalt not sleep with a man as with a woman; it is an abomination' has echoed down the centuries. Equally the Qur'an stories of Lot and his rejection by the people of Sodom appears unequivocal. But how did the early Islamic, Judaic and Christian societies react to these texts and what are we to make of the Hebrew and Arabic homoerotic poetry of the early medieval period?

First broadcast in September 2011.

032011100220120802

Richard Coles continues his excavation of same sex desire across this ages, focusing on those societies where gender identity rather than sexuality is key.

Thailand's Ladyboys or Kathoeys are perhaps the most well-known examples of people who identify themselves according to gender variance rather than sexual preference.

But, as Richard discovers, there are many other similar societies - such as India's transgendered Hijras and the Native Americans' 'Two Spirit' tradition.

As a western model of gay identity spreads across the world, Richard explores the future for these ancient identities.

Producer: Laurence Grissell.

Richard Coles looks at the conflict between sexuality and gender identity.

Turning his gaze to India, Polynesia and Native America, Richard Coles continues his excavation of same-sex desire across the centuries, focusing on the age of Empire and the relationship between gender and sexuality.

When the European nations went out into the world during the era of colonial expansion, they found a bewildering and - to them - shocking array of sexual behaviours. In many societies, gender rather than sexuality took precedence - such as India's third-gender Hijras or the Native Americans' multiple genders.

As Richard finds out, the colonial authorities set about imposing western moral mores around the world - systematically destroying indigenous traditions which had existed for centuries. He concludes by taking the pulse of those societies in the post imperial era.

First broadcast in September 2011.

04 LAST2011100920120803

Richard Coles completes his excavation of same sex desire across the ages, focusing on the recent history which has seen western societies change dramatically in their attitudes to same sex relationships.This self-proclaimed enlightenment is however now being used as a measure of human rights across the globe.

That creates enormous tension, given that some countries, particularly those in Sub-saharan Africa and with a predominantly Muslim culture, see this attitude as neo-colonial.

Richard talks to gay rights activists in Egypt, Greece, China, India and the United States about their interpretation of these changing attitudes.

He also hears from those debating whether or not gay identity is really an effective way of moving forward in the face of the apparent impasse between human rights and religious and cultural beliefs.

Producer: Tom Alban.

Examining the issues relating to gay rights as a measure of global human rights.

Richard talks to gay rights activists in Egypt, Greece, China, India and the United States about their interpretation of these changing attitudes. He also hears from those debating whether or not gay identity is really an effective way of moving forward in the face of the apparent impasse between human rights and religious and cultural beliefs.

First broadcast in September 2011.