Heterosexual History Timeline, Part 1

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A chronology of events in heterosexual history


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Oldest references listed first:


See Trumbach, Randolph. Sex and the Gender Revolution: Heterosexuality and the Third Gender in Enlightenment London. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998, who dates the construction of the heterosexual/homosexual sex/gender system to 1700 in London.

Contrast this with Katz, 1995, who suggests that the development of the heterosexual/homosexual organization of sexuality and gender as a particular historical system was roughly coterminus with the development and distribution of the terminology and conception of heterosexuality and homosexuality.

1868, May 6

terms "heterosexual" and "homosexual" first written

In a letter, in German, to Karl Heinrich Ulrichs on this date an early sex-law reformer, the writer Karl Maria Kerbeny, is first known to have privately used four new terms he had coined: "Monosexual; Homosexual; Heterosexual; und Heterogenit" -- the debut of the homosexual and heterosexual categories, and two now forgotten terms. (See: Kertbeny: "Homosexual," "Heterosexual," May 6, 1868)


term "heterosexual" first published

The word heterosexual was used publicly for the first time, in Germany, in 1880, in a book titled Discovery of the Soul, by a zoologist, Gustav Jäger. (See: Jäger: "Heterosexual," 1880)


Krafft-Ebing: "Heterosexual," 1889

The term heterosexual appeared in the 4th German edition of R. Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis . . . (Stuttgart: Ferdinand Enke), 96-97.[1]

1892, May

term "heterosexual" first published in U.S.

The earliest-known use of the word heterosexual in the United States occurs in an article by Dr. James G. Kiernan, published in a Chicago medical journal on this date. (See: Kiernan: "Heterosexual," "Homosexual," May 1892)


"Heterosexuality" is "abnormal", "perverted"

Dorland's Medical Dictionary: "Heterosexuality", 1901

"Heterosexuality" is defined as "Abnormal or perverted appetite toward the opposite sex."

1902, February 15

Kiernan, James G. "Heredity." Medical News (New York); Vol. 80, Issue 7; pg. 291-99.

The words "heterosexual" and "homosexual" appear on page 4: "The psychic phase of instincts so fundamental as the reproductive instinct may appear even when there is congenital absence or rudimentary development of organs upon which its expression depends. [A Note 17 attributes this to Clara Barrus. American Journal of Insanity, 1894-95. Kiernan then adds a statement using the new terms:] Psycho-sexual manifestations may remain indifferent until adolescence, may be of homosexual type (the same sex), or may be of heterosexual type (opposite sex), or may be hermaphrodidic (both sexes)."


Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary.

"Homosexuality" makes its debut in this authoritative dictionary as a "Med." (medical) term meaning "morbid sexual passion for one of the same sex." "Heterosexuality" first appears in Merriam-Webster's fourteen years later. See 1923, Merriam-Webster's. Compare with 1934, Merriam-Webster's.[2]


Ellis, Havelock. Sex in Relation to Society, published in Philadelphia, says that, thanks to Christianity, we "have no simple, precise, natural word for the love of the sexes." But see Ellis, 1915.[3]


Freud, Sigmund. Three Contributions to the Sexual Theory. First publication in New York, in English translation.[4]

1914, March

Putnam, James J. "On Some of the Broader Issues of the Psychoanalytic Movement. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences. March 1914. Vol. 147, No. 3; pp. 389- (18 pp.) Word "heterosexual" appears. Template:Research on what page? Sentence? Context? Reprinted and revised in: James Jackson Putnam, Ernest Jones. Addresses on psycho-analysis. The International Psycho-Analytical Press, 1921 - Psychology - 470 pages, chapter XI, pages 194-222. (Google eBook)

1914, November 22

First use of term "homosexual" in New York Times

New York Times: "homosexual," November 22, 1914

First use of word homosexual in The Times. See 1923, June 24, for the first use of the word "heterosexual" in The TImes.


Ellis, Havelock. Sexual Inversion. Philadelphia: Davis and Co., 1915.

Uses term "heterosexual" in the modern mode as a simple, precise, natural word for the sex-love of the sexes. Compare with Ellis, 1910.[5]


"Heterosexuality" is "morbid"

"Heterosexuality" makes its debut in Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary as as a "Med." [medical] term meaning "morbid sexual passion for one of the opposite sex." According to the old reproductive standard, and as not-necessarily-procreative, heterosex was still considered abnormal or perverted. Compare with 1909 Merriam-Webster's and 1934.

1923, June 24

first use of "heterosexual", second use of "homosexual" in New York Times

See New York Times: "homosexual," "heterosexual," June 24, 1923 for the first use of the word "heterosexual" and the second use of the word "homosexual" in that newspaper. This is also the first time the two new terms had appared together in The Times. The hetero/homo binary was making it's way into the 20th Century mind.

1924, September 2

Mary Keyt Isham: Freud's "Group Psychology", September 7, 1924 talks of "repressed hetero-sexuality" and "hetero-sexual love".

1928, April 23

Josephine A. Jackson, M.D.: "heterosexual", April 23, 1928

From: <research ??? > Canada.[6]


Mead, Margaret. Coming of Age in Samoa: A Psychological Study of Primitive Youth for Western Civilization. Place of publication, publisher?

"for the first time, she presented to the public the idea that the individual experience of developmental stages could be shaped by cultural demands and expectations. Adolescence, she wrote, might be more or less stormy, and sexual development more or less problematic in different cultures. The 'civilized' world, she taught us had much to learn from the 'primitive.'"[7]

1930, April 20

from "heterosexual" to "homosexual" in New York Times

Louis Kronenberger: Gide's "The Immoralist", April 20, 1930, a review of the novel in The New York Times, describes the main character as moving "from a heterosexual liaison to a homosexual one".

1930, September 14

Henry James Forman: Dell's "Love in the Machine Age", September 14, 1930, a review in The New York Times, urges parents to let their children "develop normally to heterosexual adulthood". Otherwise, "infantilism, prostitution, and homosexuality" will result.


"Heterosexuality" is "normal sexuality"

Merriam-Webster's New International Dictionary.

Heterosexuality is defined as "sexual passion for one of the opposite sex; normal sexuality". Homosexuality is defined as " eroticism for one of the same sex."Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality (NY: Dutton, March 1995), page 92, note 28 on page ???</ref>

1939, April 21

George W. Crane: “Case Records of a Psychologist”, April 21, 1939

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1948, January 5

major study of male heterosexual acts and other acts by males published

Official publication date of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male by Alfred Charles Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin. Philadelphia: Saunders. (R. J. Suresha, 'Properly Placed Before the Public': Publication and Translation of the . . . ." 2008.)

1949, Summer

Baldwin, James. "Preservation of Innocence." Zero (Tangier, Morocco) 1:2 (Summer 1949); reprinted Outlook 2:2 (Fall 1989): 40-45.

Early, pioneering critique of heterosexual masculinity by a homosexual.

See: Heterosexual History Timeline, Part 2

See: Heterosexual History Bibliography

See: Heterosexual History Search Terms


  1. Jonathan Ned Katz, "Invention of Heterosexuality," Socialist Review, January-March, 1990, Note 1, page 30.
  2. Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality (NY: Dutton, March 1995), page 92, note
  3. Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality (NY: Dutton, March 1995), page 88, note 15 on page ???.
  4. Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality (NY: Dutton, March 1995), page 87, note 13 on page ???
  5. Jonathan Ned Katz, The Invention of Heterosexuality (NY: Dutton, March 1995), page 88, note 16 on page ???
  6. Accessed November 22, 2010 from:
  7. Accessed April 30, 2010 from: http://www.interculturalstudies.org/Mead/bibliography.html#byMead