IN A RECENT book devoted to the commendable task of promoting and defending what, in its title, are called Gay Ideas, the philosopher Richard Mohr singles out for extended criticism one idea in particular that, despite its sometime popularity among lesbian and gay historians and cultural theorists, evidently does not qualify, in his eyes, as properly "gay": namely, the idea that sexuality is socially constructed. Mohr blames the queer vogue for this un-gay idea on the baneful influence of the late French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault--a gay man whose life and work have come to represent, especially since his death from AIDS in 1984, important sources of intellectual and political inspiration to many lesbians and gay men, as well as to numbers of variously identified cultural radicals.
"Within the emerging academic discipline of lesbian and gay studies," Mohr contends,
there is nearly universal agreement among scholars that social factors are in some sense determinant in homosexuality, that homosexuality is culturally constituted or produced. Indeed, especially as espoused by Michel Foucault, this variant of cultural determinism--the social construction of homosexuality--has achieved hagiographical status within lesbian and gay studies, where it is almost always an object for witness rather than of analysis. 1
Before proceeding to give the idea that sexuality is socially constructed the lengthy drubbing he believes it deserves, Mohr refers his readers to my 1990 book One Hundred Years of Homosexuality, which, I confess, used a social-constructionist model to analyze the erotics of male culture in ancient Greece,