Homosexual practices in the nineteenth-century Dutch army

Gert Hekma, Department of Sociology/Gay and lesbian studies, University of Amsterdam


My most recent research has been on discrimination of gay men and lesbian women in organized sports in the Netherlands nowadays. There is no doubt that one of the main explanations for discrimination against homosexuals is the prejudice that both gay men and lesbian women are traitors of their sex: gay men being sissies or faggots and lesbians being butches or dykes. This idea that gay men are feminine has a very long history. The effeminate "mollis" has been ascertained for classical Rome. It certainly had wide currency in the eighteenth century. Most biological theories of homosexuality that have been developed since the second half of the nineteenth century have been based on this idea of gender inversion. Ulrichs stated that the "Urning" was an "anima muliebris in corpore virile inclusa", a female soul in a male body. Even nowadays most biological theories are still based on this effeminacy of gay men. Are these theories and ideas prejudices or represent they real facts about homosexuals?

I am and always have been an avowed opponent of theories that reduce homosexuality to a simple phenomenon that does not show the variety and richness of other sexual variations, f.e. this theory that male homosexuality should be equated with effeminacy. But I have to admit that my research on contemporary sports made quite clear that the prejudice that gay men are effeminate, is in sociological terms a self-fulfilling prophecy. The theory is true because it effects and directs the life of gay men and lesbian women. The large majority of the gay men we surveyed stated they considered themselves mediocre or bad in sports, while the majority of the lesbian women considered themselves to be excellent sporters, thus confirming the idea of gender inversion. My position is that such identities and theories are constructed in a cultural and historical process. But although they may have been made up, they are most often quite fixed: there is little possibility neither for homosexuals nor for heterosexuals to escape social forms and norms.

My main work in social history has been the social formation of homosexual identities in the late nineteenth century. The theory that the identity of the feminine male homosexual was established in that period is convincing both from the perspective of scientific theories and of gay emancipation. Bio-medical theories of homosexuality were not current before 1880, and homosexual emancipation started with the work of Ulrichs in the 1860s, while a factual movement came into being in 1897 with Hirschfeld's Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre Komitee (WHK). But the theory is less convincing when it comes to the underworlds of sodomites and pederasts where the effeminate queen had already made his appearance in the early eighteenth century.

Many historians of homosexuality assume that the model of the queen, as leading historian of English homosexuality Randolph Trumbach has labelled it, was the dominant model since the eighteenth century for Northwestern Europe. I have strong reservations on his view for two reasons. In the first place there seem to have been other models of homosexual behaviour and identity after 1700; and secondly it is still a question to what extent the molly of eighteenth century London and the modern gay man of San Francisco's Castro Street are comparable. It is never a good idea, in my opinion, for historians to fix categories as Trumbach did: history is development and part of the historian's work is to find out about the slightest social changes and cultural differences.

Concerning the first point, there have been other models of homoeroticism since 1700. The most important example is the romantic friendship tradition that borders on the homoerotic and homosexual. You will be aware of the importance of this tradition in the German states about 1800. An early example is the philosopher of the Counter-Enlightenment Johann Georg Hamann who wrote in 1759 thus about Socratic love: "Man kann keine lebhafte Freundschaft ohne Sinnlichkeit fühlen, und eine metaphysische Liebe sündigt veilleicht gröber am Nervensaft, als eine thierische an Fleisch und Blut". Friendship without sensuality is no friendship, but how far goes this sensuality? According to Fritz Blanke, the editor of the Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten, this is no defense of homosexual behaviour. We could have a long discussion about what Hamann defends, but it is certainly a sensual and corporal homoeroticism. After Hamann, many other authors wrote about and experienced friendships as the heaven in earthly life. August von Platen is certainly, somewhat later, the embodiment of a friendship that has taken a homosexual turn.

This tradition of friendship was not a German privilege. It can be found also in England, France and the Netherlands. It is a tradition that is close to the Renaissance of classical art as Johann Winckelmann initiated it in the eighteenth century. In this revival, the beauty of classical, often male, statues was pivotal. The eulogies of friendship parallelled the eulogies of classical male bodies. It was a tradition that set the tone, according to George Mosse, for the masculine ideals of the nineteenth century. This homoerotic tradition played an important role in homosocial institutions, the temples of male bonding of that century. This tradition is the very opposite of the tradition of the queen: everything male friendship implied, was denied by the mollies: virility, honour, devotion. I will come back to this point later.

Another example of a figure that had some proximity to the homosexual, was the dandy. Not in its first stages in England at the beginning of the nineteenth century with Beau Brummell, but certainly later when Robert de Montesquiou in France and Oscar Wilde in England were the exemplary dandies. This example indicates the importance to pay attention to developments in styles: the dandy was not homosexual in its initial stages, but he ended thus.

When I started to research the cultural formation of the male homosexual in medical theories and social practices in the Netherlands, I wanted to find as much information on homosexual behaviours and identities as possible. In socio-political debates of the nineteenth century, there were two places where homosexual behaviour was discussed with some insistence, both related to the developing terrain of public hygiene or medical police. With regard to the medical control of prostitution, lesbianism in bordello's was a topic of serious concern, and also the development of male homosexual prostitution. The defenders of the system of medical control of prostitutes also used the examples of masturbation and pederasty to indicate the results of a prohibition of prostitution. Male desire was according to them irrepressible, and if puritans wanted to defend prostitution, they endangered the purity of all chaste women, but an interdiction would also lead in men to other vices as masturbation and pederasty.

The second topic of concern was the prison. Halfway the nineteenth century, the Dutch government opted for solitary confinement in stead of the shared imprisonment of dormitories where the prisoners had traditionally been jailed. It decided for solitary confinement because the prisoner would worry alone in his cell and feel guilty, while the dormitories had been places where criminals learned each other their vile professions. An important point of debate was the sexual behaviour of the prisoners. The dormitories were not only a breeding ground of crimes, but also of homosexual behaviour. In the end, prison reformers considered the masturbation of solitary confinement a lesser vice than the homosexual dangers of the dormitories.

Especially because of this discussion of homosexual behaviour in prisons, I got interested in the situation in other homosocial institutions as the asylum (also because of the link with the medicalization of perversions) and the army. Boarding schools or students' clubs could have been another choice, but they were less important in the Dutch context than in the English or German. Such material might be helpful to develop my thesis and could also be relevant for a discussion on the model of the queen. Both institutions were researched, first the asylums, later the army. It appeared that in the nineteenth-century asylums in the Netherlands, few traces could be found of medical interest in homosexual case-histories, although the topic of homosexual behaviour came up regularly. Some cases I found pointed in the direction of the army, and I will discuss them later. They were additional reason to do archival work on homosexuality in the Dutch army.

The Dutch army

Let me first explain something about the Dutch army in the nineteenth century. About 11.000 soldiers, one fifth of the cohort of 18-year olds, were conscripted into the army each year by the drawing of last. They dah to serve five years, but in general they were furloughed earlier. Young men from well-to-do families could escape their military obligations by paying for a remplaçant, that is another young man who took his place. Until the end of the nineteenth century, it was certainly not considered to be an honour to be a soldier in the Dutch army. The colonial army of the Dutch Indies, for example, had to hire before 1880 most of its European servicemen from foreign states as France, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany.

When I began my research on sex crimes in the Netherlands of the nineteenth century, I was amazed about the proportion of the sex crimes in the military as compared to those recorded among the civilian population: 1 of 6 men convicted for public indecency was sentenced before a military court in the 1850s and 1860s. In later years, this proportion changed because of the higher numbers of convictions for civilians. The number of reported sex crimes in the Netherlands was, however, until the 1870s quite low. There were in the 1860s 371 cases of public indecency, the most common sex crime of the time (on a population of 3 million in 1850). Interested by the sex-crimes in the army, I started to do research in the archives of the military court of Haarlem that administered the law for soldiers of the provinces of Northern-Holland and Utrecht where about a third of the Dutch army was encamped. I was especially interested in types of sexual behaviour and identity and in the question how the officers and soldiers managed sexuality in an all-male environment.

My research covers all the cases brought before the court in the period 1830-1899. The Haarlem court dealt with a total of 104 men charged with sex crimes, most of whom were accused of public indecency. As the Netherlands kept the Napoleonic criminal code till 1886, homosexual behaviour was not specifically criminalized as was the case in Prussia or England. But in cases of public indecency it could be prosecuted. This included all indecent behaviour in public, from swimming nude or showing one's genitals to actually having sex. Indecencies which occurred in private, but could be seen from a public place (for example through a window) could also be persecuted. As military establishments, including their barracks, were in general considered public places, most sex crimes fell under this heading. There were also several cases of violent assault, rape or sexual assault on minors or dependents. These crimes could be punished much more severe than public indecency. Until 1860, most of those convicted for this crime were sentenced to a year or eighteen months of imprisonment, which was reduced after 1860 to six months when solitary confinement was introduced and equated to one year in shared confinement. After 1880, the average sentence was around three months. Sentences for assault were often more severe, certainly when children were involved. The longest sentence was 10 years for a 21-year-old trumpeter, who forced a younger soldier to give him a blow-job, and fingered a girl. But a captain who abducted a 14-year-old girl was only sentenced to three months in jail. Convictions for sex crimes invariably ended the military career of defendants.

The criminal code did not specify homosexual crimes. But an order of the Minister of War, dated on December 31, 1845, on "unnatural fornication" promulgated that soldiers who were suspected of such behaviours or inclinations, but could not be convicted, should not be discharged, but placed in the secondary class of discipline. This meant solitary confinement in army barracks that excluded a salary and did not count as service time. Discharging these soldiers from the army would reward illicit behaviour. To my regrets, I am not aware of statistics or archival sources on this disciplinary measure.

Some 74 soldiers were tried for homosexual offenses, 14 for heterosexual, one for both, 14 for bestial sex, and one for exhibitionism. Half the cases of bestiality concerned cavalrymen who did it with horses (6), while in other cases dogs (3), goats (3) and sheep (2) were involved. Of 104 soldiers, 20 were acquitted: of these cases 15 were homosexual, 4 bestial and 1 heterosexual. We cannot conclude from these numbers that homosexuality was rampant in the barracks, but it must have been fairly general to have been tried so often in comparison with other sex crimes. In 8 of the homosexual cases, the soldiers and petty officers were not convicted for public indecency, but for violent assault or assault on dependents, and received sentences varying from 3 months to 5 years. All bestial charges were public indecencies, while 11 out of the 14 heterosexual charges were violent assault. The punishments were as severe as in the homosexual cases. It is interesting to note that 9 of the 14 heterosexual indictments concerned girls between four and fourteen years of age. Whereas most of the homosexual and bestial crimes took place inside the barracks, the heterosexual ones often happened outside the camp. And finally, all the homosexual and bestial indictments concerned the lower ranks, while the heterosexual defendants included a captain and a lieutenant, who both got off with light sentences: 3 months and 1 month respectively.

Homosexual behaviour in the army

In 1870, the marine Mijas Schaap tried first to touch the genitals of his mate in the next cot, and when this man rebuffed his advances, the accused went on to the neighbouring bed. This scene was repeated twice, and with a fourth marine Schaap had his way, joining the man in his cot. The other soldiers heard them whispering and moving, but only after the noise awakened another marine, the bunk-mates of the sodomites decided to take action. The ease with which Schaap approached his comrades, is as amazing as their slow reaction. Also, the willingness of one marine to give in to his desires is remarkable. How often Schaap had seduced his buddies before he was denounced? We will never know, but other similar cases indicate that it was not too difficult to find sex partners in the barracks or elsewhere within the garrison and to commit with them the "heinous sin". Men who were more prudent than Schaap would not often have run into troubles (6/5/1870).

Two other soldiers were even more unrestrained than Schaap. André Leroy assaulted three mates in succession (17/11/1869) and Bernard Bongenaer was condemned for having pursued other soldiers 'on several places such as the detention room, the train wagon, the guardhouse, the stockade, the yard of the barracks, and its public convenience ..' (27/3/1847). Bongenaer was rather careless, but it is also difficult not to say the same for the responsible authorities when this sodomite was able to pursue other soldiers on so many places without facing any obstacle.

The stockades of the barracks are quite often mentioned in these indictments. It suggests that soldiers addicted to the pursuit of this pleasure, were rather negligent in seducing their buddies and got only into problems in a new situation, such as in the stockades. It is also possible that bunk-mates were never very prone to denounce the soldiers with whom they had lived for some time in the barracks, unless there were aggravating circumstances. Such a balance, of course, did not exist in the stockades.

In certain ways the barracks produced homosexual behaviour. Half of the soldiers were charged with public indecencies on this setting. Sex was possible in the first place, because the dormitories were unlighted and crowded with young men who moreover might well be drunk. Drunkenness was mentioned for 25 accused, and from 72 men indicted for homosexual indecencies, 50 were between 20 and 29, in what is considered a male's sexually most active age. Even if other soldiers wanted to denounce their bunk-mates, there was often the problem to prove what actually happened. For a conviction, the courts required two witnesses to testify that they had seen the defendant commit the act, unless if he confessed his crime. In many cases, the defendants were acquitted because the witnesses could not swear to have seen the bare genitals. In some cases, when the accused had tried to seduce various bunk-mates and groped their privates parts, the serial indecencies could not be proved because there was only one witness for each assault, which fell short of the evidentiary requirements for a conviction. Also, many of the accused seeking acquittal claimed they had been drunk or seduced by their comrade. In most cases, such exculpatory or extenuating circumstances did not sway the courts, although in exceptional cases they were accepted. Because of the difficulties in arresting the sodomites, their mates tried in some cases to entrap them. So, Joseph Bendix once tried to seduce two bunk-mates to 'dishonourable acts'. On the next night the soldiers decided to feign sleeping. Bendix waited until everything was silent, then asked his neighbour if he were asleep, and when he got no answer, he started to open the man's trousers and fondle his genitals. At that moment, this soldier jumped up, punched Bendix and indicted him (8/5/1878).

When an accusation could not be proven, the military authorities had the possibility to handle the case with the above mentioned 'secondary class of discipline', the most severe penalty beyond criminal law. Jan Willem Assie was accused of public indecency with a drunken mate, but he was acquitted because he had laid only his hand on his companion's thigh. Two years later, his superiors again suspected him of buggery that could not be proven. He nontheless was consigned to the second disciplinary class, upgraded to the first class after 3 months, and finally released as a common soldier after another 4 months. A year later, Assie was caught in the act with a cavalryman and sentenced to 12 months in prison. Through this condemnation we know about Assie's former career in the class of discipline. With this rule the officers could mete out sentences as severe as the solitary confinement of the courts, even if the accusations could not be proven (19/10/1865 and 10/12/1869). Another soldier, Vitus de Birk, spent seven months in both disciplinary classes because his officers were convinced he practiced unnatural crimes (3/11/1865). From this supplementary source, we also have information about a sergeant who was convicted for mutual masturbation with a fellow corporal, and who had been in the disciplinary class for a sexual assault on a girl (4/6/1886). His desires certainly were not exclusively homosexual, and we may surmise the same is true for many other indicted soldiers. One soldier, convicted for bestiality, was asked by the court why he did not go to prostitutes, to which he replied that he did not have the money to do so (23/11/1875). Bestiality and homosexuality were a cheap and easy way to have pleasure.

Most of the accused did not succeed in consummating their sexual deeds as they were caught in the act. The precise acts that were perpetrated often cannot be ascertained, both because in many cases the men only started touching each other and because the terms used in court were very vague, such as 'ontucht' (lewdness) or 'loathsome posture'. The specific sexual acts mentioned most frequently are anal penetration and mutual masturbation, while fellatio was rare. The type of act had apparently no influence on the harshness of the sentence.

Nearly half of the cases (29 men) involved consensual sex. Most of these relations were consummated in the sleeping quarters, but pairs of soldiers were also arrested on other places. These men were the most ingenuous in presenting excuses, such as being drunk. In the case of a sergeant and a corporal who were arrested on a cruising place in an Amsterdam park, the sergeant testified he had been drunk, while the corporal stated he had been forced by his partner. They did not succeed in convincing the court of their innocence (20/6/1875). But two young marines who were found in indecent postures in another Amsterdam park, were acquitted, because they claimed they had only been relieving themselves. This was confirmed by a police-officer who had been dispatched to the park following their arrest, for he indeed found the stools on the spot. According to the testimony, the marines also made remarks after their arrest that suggested culpability. The younger one confirmed to the arresting officer, that he had been the 'wife'. It is amazing that he admitted having the female position. Both marines apparently even tried to bribe the night watchmen not to arrest them (30/3/1874).

Precise investigative work was key in another case. A sergeant and a corporal were arrested on the ramparts of Naarden. There was only one witness, but the responsible under-officer immediately set off to the scene of arrest and thus was able to testify that the grass was down-trodden on the spot and he had even found a substance which looked most like 'the raw white of an egg'. The court held this to be the definite proof of public indecency (4/6/1886).

Regrettably, information on the sexual discourses of the soldiers is documented only in a few cases. In one, the trumpeter Torrer complained that another soldier wanted to 'queer' him ('flikkeren', which as a verb is nonexistent in Dutch, 13/8/1895). Queer (flikker) was also used as a noun (11/2/1887). One soldier remarked to bystanders that another soldier wanted to sodomize him (sodomieteren, also unknown in Dutch as a verb, 18/9/1861). Two 21-year old infantrymen mutually masturbated each other on a cot, and witnesses heard them say: 'you have to strip naked', 'aren't you ready', and 'yes, I am ready, feel it' (24/2/1891). The drunken corporal Andreas Enders tried to seduce a trumpeter and he said to him 'What a lovely little trumpeter you are', 'let me feel your little sweet one' whereupon he tried to touch the trumpeter's genitals. The object of his desire then turned around, which the corporal understood not as a refusal, but as an indication the trumpeter was embarrassed in this situation, so he continued his advances and proposed the trumpeter 'come on to the street, then we can do a little thing, I am so horny' (15/4/1877). Several years earlier, the following utterance was reported of two soldiers who enjoyed each other's company in a berth: 'you are my best cock'. The men lay naked against each other and embraced each other 'as a man a woman' (30/8/1861). This gender-metaphor appears also in other indictments. In the same year a soldier testified that the accused had touched his genitals 'as if he were a girl' (19/4/1861).

Such gender metaphors are also documented in other sources. There are at least two ways of interpreting them. On the one hand, it may refer to the traditional sex/gender system of the sodomite: men who were approached felt themselves put in the passive, female sex role and were afraid to be penetrated and loose their masculinity. In my opinion, this was the case in both the military and civilian court cases where this gender metaphor was used. The second possibility is that anxiety about being put in the female role actually referred to being considered a queen and having a homosexual identity, if we assume that homosexual behaviour and effeminacy were conflated. This seems less likely in these cases. According to an Amsterdam court proceeding of 1830, a man was approached by someone described as a 'sodomite' and as 'being known to commit unnatural fornication'. Here, the metaphor of effeminacy was applied not to the sodomite, but to the solicited man who had been put in a passive, unmanly role. The gender of the sodomite was not questioned. The use of the gender metaphor can indicate both sex/gender systems, and it is not always possible to disentangle its references.

Not only cases of public indecency were persecuted, but also violent assaults, assaults on minors and sex with dependents. A 15-year old trumpeter was caught in the act of rubbing his penis against the behind of a 3-year old boy. Probably because of his age, he was given a light sentence: 3 months in prison (19/9/1884). Another soldier convicted of touching two boys, age 15 and 12, was sentenced to 5 years (7/10/1873). The severest sentence in this series was handed down to the 21-year old trumpeter Petrus Wittebol who had touched the bare behind of a girl (no age indicated) and violently assaulted another soldier (no age indicated, but probably in his late teens): Wittebol was condemned to 10 years (4/9/1867). Four out of seven assault cases were tried after the introduction of the new criminal law in 1886, which extended the definition of sex-crimes. The sentences were less severe than earlier, but more regular. The hardest condemnation after 1886, 3 years, was handed down to a hospital-soldier who had masturbated two soldiers 'until a seminal discharge took place'. The boys were asleep in the barracks where the accused was on guard duty. How he succeeded to get them to a climax without awakening them was not explained (12/6/1895).

Not only sex-crimes were brought for the military courts, but also sexual calumnies. A soldier was charged with slander after tellig his fellow soldiers that a captain 'obliged him to come to his home and that the captain forced him to do things and committed acts against him of very obscene and vicious nature'. Although these slurs were contrary to military discipline and were of a sort that would 'expose [the captain], if true, to the contempt and hatred of the citizenry', the court ruled that the barracks did not constitute a public place, and thus the soldier had not committed a crime. This is a remarkable decision, because the court never hesitated to consider indecencies in the barracks to be public deeds. And it is also remarkable that they did not shield the captain, surely a fellow, from this slur. Or was it their wise advise to him to look for another job, where he should not be exposed to, and also slandered by young men? (23/9/1872)

One soldier, arrested for an unrelated crime, resisted the arresting sergeant, shouting at him: 'Keep off my body, you dirty hound, I'll grab your sodomite [not a standard Dutch noun, he probably meant cock]. This is really a sodomitical thieves' gang here..'. He was convicted to be drummed out of the military (30/4/1847). But how true was his description of the barracks, and how routine was the homosexual behaviour in the sleeping quarters? However, many more convictions before the courts resulted from theft in the barracks.

From the court judgments we can imply that the authorities did not bother too much about sexual discipline in the barracks. Sex-crimes were not often brought up, although condemned rather harshly. Homosexuality was neither something extremely repressed or persecuted. The authorities and the soldiers did not seem to bother too much about homosexual behaviour if it were not too flagrant. This is confirmed by an autobiography we have from a navy-officer. After he was discharged from the navy at the end of the century, he sent his life story to the first Dutch professor of psychiatry, C.Winkler. One of Winkler's students published it as a case-study in a psychiatric journal. It is a valuable document, because the officer affirms how many sexual encounters he enjoyed in the navy, with 'uranians' ('born' homosexuals) as well as with straights, or so the officer claims. During two and a half year in Indonesia, he had sex with 41 Indonesians, and when he later served for 20 months on a vessel of the navy, he had sex with 30 European sailors, many of whom he saw several times. In three following months he stayed in the naval base of Hellevoetsluis, near Rotterdam, and he had sexual relations with six other sailors. On his next rour of duty abroad, he found a steady lover, but he was forced to resign from the navy when other sailors indicted him of being a pederast. A similar account of sex life in the navy was written by a professor of public hygiene, a former naval doctor who when discussing the regulation of prostitution, warned against the dangers of homosexuality. If we forbid prostitution, he claimed, many men will seek sexual fulfilment by themselves or with other men, as happened on board the naval vessels on which he had served. He stated: 'Thousands of men and women do not want to restrain their sexual urge looking for natural satisfaction outside of marriage, contrary to the thousands who secretly satisfy themselves in solitude or with someone of the same sex'. His statement was immediately denied by a captain of the merchant marine who opposed the medical regulation of prostitution and said these unnatural vices did not exist aboard the Dutch ships he knew.

Additional information on homosexuality in the barracks comes from a quite different source, the archives of the asylums dating from the end of the nineteenth century. It is not uncommon to find stories of men who suffered from delusions related to 'pederasty' or 'sodomy'. These delusions take two different forms: some patients are afraid of being sodomized and others are afraid of being regarded as pederasts. In the psychopaths' asylum of Medemblik, founded in 1884, 24 case-histories refer to homosexual practices or delusions for the period 1884-1895. Six of these concerned former soldiers, five of whom suffered from such delusions. In all cases they were afraid being considered pederasts, and in one case the man also feared to be sodomized. These delusions indicate that homosexual conduct was becoming increasingly incompatible with the male gender role, probably most so for feminine men who might have had some reason to fear being regarded as pederasts. Nothing is known about their actual conduct. Such delusions among soldiers suggest that these fears were aroused mainly in the military dormitories. Judging by the cases from the courts, these fears were very real as far as the possibility of homosexuality in the barracks is concerned: some soldiers lost no opportunity to get sex with their buddies and others will have developed strategies against unrequested intimacies.


At the age soldiers join the army, they are in their most active sexual period according to Western sexual beliefs. So, it can be no surprise that they also commit the sexual crimes described above, and because they are living in an all-male world, it can neither surprise most of their sex-crimes are homosexual. Because of the negative attitudes towards such behaviour (the death-penalty for sodomy only abolished in 1811 in the Netherlands), it is also understandable that acting out homosexual pleasures implied many difficulties and fears. Some soldiers tried to entrap their mates who indulged in such desires, and others got insane from delusions and fears connected with homosexuality. The manliness of the soldiers was threatened by homosexual behaviour, especially when they were forced in a 'female' position, as the gender metaphors used before the courts indicate. But when soldiers took the male part in sodomy, there did not have to exist great problems for their masculinity, on the contrary. There was indeed a group of soldiers who did not seem to bother neither about homosexual conduct nor about their masculinity: they could take both roles and enjoy them.

What is remarkable in this material is the complete absence of sexual aggressions. In modern literature on homosexuality in the army, group aggressions and sexual abasements are considered to be quite general. The nineteenth-century situation, where soldiers lived for longer times in crowded barracks, was more conducive to such aggressions and humiliations, but there is nothing to find about it in the court archives. Neither among the sex-crimes nor among the crimes of violence the military court of Haarlem judged such cases for the considered period. Did the authorities permit such behaviour even more than they do nowadays? Or were the soldiers more disciplined? Or were they less inclined to male boasting? Or was such violence handled by the responsible officers as the unproven cases of homosexuality with the classes of discipline? It is a puzzling question that needs further research.

Also remarkable is the lack of interest the authorities showed to combat homosexual behaviour. The soldiers who were found guilty, got nearly without exception the harshest punishment the court could confer. But prosecution of these sex crimes was not systematic: the officers never entrapped soldiers and never they uncovered networks of pederasts. The order of the minister was the only indication unnatural fornication worried the responsible authorities and it was reprinted repeatedly in the Recueil militaire. But that was all the official authorities did to combat homosexuality in the army. Their response was very circumscribed compared to what the prison authorities enforced to combat homosexuality in their institutions.

I have tried to understand why the Dutch army was so restrained in its policies regarding homosexuality. I have tried to find material concerning the gender politics in the military. But as far as my limited efforts could go, there was little to find. The nineteenth-century Dutch army does not seem to have enforced a clear sexual and gender policy for its soldiers. If this indeed is the case, I can point to the following reasons. A first possibility is that the manliness of the soldiers was still self-evident and that there was no major difference between military and societal concepts of masculinity. A similar argument would be that masculinity had to be learned in the concrete situation of a war. Indeed, there were at the end of the nineteenth century some suggestions that soldiers had to learn their handwork, because no one of them ever experienced a real war.

For the lack of interest in teaching the military profession, also the specific Dutch situation can be indicated. The Dutch army did not arouse strong feelings of compassion in the general population. As said, the colonial army had to rely for a large part on citizens of other countries. Also, the leading political party of the liberals had little interest in military politics. They saw probably the national army as a playground for the successive kings. Also, the feeling existed in the Netherlands that the country had lost its international position it occupied in the seventeenth century. The unification of Belgium and the Netherlands after Napoleon's defeat revived hopes of national glory that quickly collapsed after the country split up in 1830, certainly for the northern parts.

Nationalist feelings were weak and more connected to a glorious past than to a promising future. Perhaps it is better to say that nationalist feelings could better remain hidden for political reasons. The Netherlands did their best to find a balance between their neighbours. The German states were the most threatening, both in 1848 and again in 1868 and 1871 after Prussia's victories. It was only after victories of the Boers on Great Britain around 1880 and 1900 that nationalist feelings came to the fore in Holland. But after the defeat of the Boers, the Dutch were confronted with their utter lack of power: they could not afford to give the Boers any support and the Dutch nationalism had no good grounds to rest upon. Already in that time, Dutch foreign policy was based on ethics, and not on power. Thus, more on a female ideal of peace than of a male ideal of war.

Also the soldiers themselves could not have been very inspired by the recent past or by the present. The Dutch could not boast victories in the Napoleonic wars. Their memories were connected more with the hated system of conscription introduced by the French and the defeats of their soldiers in Russia, than with the victory of Waterloo. With the separation of Belgium, the Dutch army made a poor figure. In between three neighbours of growing power, the Dutch had no chance to play a part in world politics. The best they did in this respect was to consolidate their position in the East Indies with an army foremost consisting of Indonesians. Lack of nationalist feelings, lack of clearly definable enemies, aversion to an army that had little to offer to conscripted lower-class soldiers made that military virtues or male honour were bleak ideals for young men. The cry of hatred by a soldier that the army consisted of a bunch of thieves and sodomites -- and he could have added drunkards -- summarizes the negative opinions about the Dutch army quite well. Only with the Boer-wars and the demise of the liberal party, nationalist feeling began to develop and to be developed in the Netherlands. It does not seem to have effected the Dutch army till 1898, when the obligatory military service was introduced and the army became a composite of the population.

Homosexual behaviour became only a topic of official concern after the Second World War, when Holland as many other countries started to discharge homosexual men and women because they were considered insane and a security risk. The model of the queen only got some circulation at that time. Before this, from the 1840s till the beginning of this century, sodomites were considered a danger because they seduced other soldiers to homosexual acts. In the army, a quite different model of homosexuality was employed as the one developed in psychiatry that stressed the effeminacy of gay men.

The models of the queen and of friendship have been brought forward as two incompatible social formations of homosexuality. This is not a view I share. My interpretation would be that a variety of models was employed both on a social and an individual level during the nineteenth century, dependent on the situation. The model of the queen was employed in psychiatry and ideals of friendship were more specific for literary circles. The policy to combat homosexuality in prisons was based again on a different view that sees homosexual behaviour as a form of contagious sexual promiscuity to which most males will surrender if seduced to it. The regulation on "unnatural fornication" in the army is based on the same perspective and certainly not on the model of the queen. These models have been proposed as opposite views, but one can also assume that they reflect different cultural and individual realities. This becomes even clearer when we take a closer look at the army material. In my sources, there is no trace neither of queens nor of dear friends, but there is homosexual behaviour that affects both the soldiers and the responsible officers. The most general pattern I presume in this behaviour is the expression of male desire that does not take into account the gender of the sexual object. It is an expression of adult male privileges that only regard the wishes of the object as far as compliance is needed because of the circumstances in the barracks. It is linked not to a homosexual identity, but to an masculine identity. Homosexual behaviour is only a side-effect of a male identity. The queen model, at the other hand, is more specific for an urban environment and a well developed subculture.

Modern history of homosexuality can also be discussed in terms of a double bind than in terms of a queen model. At one hand, we have the masculine ideals of friendship and male bonding, and at the other hand the despised figure of the queen. All men had to face this double bind and to define their sexual desires and gender identities facing this dichotomy. Some men chose the road of asexual friendship, others will have indulged in the eroticism of male bonding. Some will have taken their sexual chances with men by keeping to the male role, pushing in the female role their partners who might have ended with the delusions I described earlier. And another group took the role of the queen and created so the chance to indulge in all homosexual possibilities. It might be an interesting hypothesis that the model of the queen got more emphasis since the eighteenth century as it proved to be the most effective way to impose both gender and sexual conformity. But it has also proven to be a model that has not resisted social developments as many gay men and lesbian women refuse to define themselves in terms of gender inversion.

    1. Gert Hekma, "Als ze maar niet provoceren". Discriminatie van homoseksuele mannen en lesbische vrouwen in de georganiseerde sport, Amsterdam 1994.

    2. Amy Richlin, "Not Before Homosexuality: The Materiality of the Cinaedus and the Roman Law Against Love beteen Men", in: Journal of the History of Sexuality 3:4 (April 1993), pp. 523-573.

    3. See on Ulrichs: Hubert Kennedy, Ulrichs: The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement, Boston 1988.

    4. Cf. Simon Levay, The Sexual Brain, Cambridge/London, The MIT Press, 1993.

    5. Gert Hekma, Homoseksualiteit, een medische reputatie. De uitdoktering van de homoseksueel in negentiende-eeuws Nederland, Amsterdam 1987. This thesis is of course inspired by Michel Foucault, Histoire de la sexualité 1: Le volonté de savoir, Paris 1976.

    6. See among his many articles, Randolph Trumbach, "Gender and the Homosexual Role in Modern Western Culture: the 18th and 19th Centuries Compared", in: Dennis Altman a.o. (eds.), Homosexuality, Which Homosexuality, London/Amsterdam 1989, pp. 149-169.

    7. Johann Georg Hamann, Sokratische Denkwürdigkeiten, erklärt von Fritz Blanke, Gütersloh, 1959 (Bd. 2, Johann Georg Hamanns Hauptschriften erklärt, Hrsg. von Fritz Blanke und Karlfried Gründer), pp. 114-115.

    8. See for example Hans Dietrich Hellbach, Die Freundesliebe in der deutschen Literatur, Leipzig 1931; Paul Derks, Die Schande der heiligen Päderastie. Homosexualität und Oeffentlichkeit in der deutschen Literatur, Berlin 1990; and my "Sodomites, Platonic Lovers, Contrary Lovers: The Backgrounds of the Modern Homosexual", in: Kent Gerard & Gert Hekma (eds), The Pursuit of Sodomy. Male Homosexuality in Renaissance and Enlightenment Europe, New York 1989, pp. 433-455.

    9. George Mosse, Nationalism and Sexuality. Respectability and Abnormal Sexuality in Modern Europe, New York 1985.

    10. Ellen Moers, The Dandy. Brummell to Beerbohm, New York 1960.

    11. Hekma, Homoseksualiteit, pp. 112-120. See for the contemporary situation in the USA prison-dormitories, Wayne S. Wooden & Jay Parker, Men behind Bars. Sexual Exploitation in Prison, New York/London 1982. In this study, 65% of the prison-inmates report homosexual behavior whereas 21.5% define themselves as homosexual or bisexual.

    12. See f.e. John Chandos, Boys together. English Public Schools 1800-1864, London 1984.

    13. On the Dutch army, see Bepalingen en voorschriften omtrent organisatie, garnizoensindeeling en mobilisatie van het leger, The Hague 1883. For the Dutch Indies Army, Martin Bossenbroek, Volk voor Indië. De werving van Europese militairen voor de Nederlandse koloniale dienst 1814-1909, Amsterdam 1992. See also Henk te Velde, Gemeenschapszin en plichtsbesef. Liberalisme en nationalisme in Nederland, 1870-1918, The Hague 1992.

    14. Other historical studies are Arther N. Gilbert, "The Africaine Courts-Martial: A Study of Buggery in the Royal Navy", in: Journal of Homosexuality, 1:1 (1974), pp. 111-122; Jan Oosterhoff, "Sodomy at Sea and at the Cape of Good Hope during the Eighteenth Century", in: Gerard & Hekma, eds., pp. 229-236 and Frank Arnal, "Le vice marin", in Patrick Cardon (ed), Actes du Colloque International 2, Sorbonne décembre 1989, Lille 1990, pp. 10-16. The major studies on the comtemporary situation are: Evert Ketting en Klaas Soesbeek (ed), Homoseksualiteit en krijgsmacht, Delft 1992 and Randy Shilts, Conduct Unbecoming. Lesbians and Gays in the US Military, New York 1993.

    15. See my article on the definition of sex crimes, 'Bewaar mij voor den waanzin van het recht': de jurisprudentie met betrekking tot homoseksueel gedrag in Nederland, 1811-1911, in: Hollandse Studieën, Hilversum 1989, pp. 115-124.

    16. The material stems from the Rijksarchief in Haarlem, Archief Auditeur-Militair Haarlem, maps 86-155. I cite the cases with the date on which the Higher Military Court in The Hague judged in appeal or confirmed the judgement of the military court in Haarlem. This refers to the cases of 4/9/1867 and 9/2/1883.

    17. Two men were acquitted together for public indecency in 1836, so we can presume they were suspected of a homosexual relation, but the archives do not give sufficient information in this respect (28/10/1836).

    18. See my Homoseksualiteit for the history of the introduction of the word and idea of homosexuality in the Netherlands since the 1880's. When I use the terms homosexual and homosexuality here, they refer to homosexual behavior and not to inclinations or psychological states.

    19. See Homoseksualiteit, p. 106.

    20. P.F.Spaink, Bijdrage tot de casuïstiek der urningen, in: Psychiatrische Bladen 11 (1893), pp. 143-165.

    21. G.van Overbeek de Meijer, "Review", in: Nederlandsch Tijdschrift voor Geneeskunde, Vol. 36:II (1892), pp. 421-422 and the same, "Geneeskundig toezicht op de prostitutie", in the same journal, Vol. 33:I (1889), pp. 60-63, esp. p. 63.

    22. Ibid. pp.230-231 and 254-257.

    23. M.Bullinga, Het leger maakt een man van je. Homoseksualiteit, disciplinering en seksueel geweld, Amsterdam 1984.