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This article is about the historian and he has provided the data. For the queer studies professor, see Jonathan D. Katz. For the actor, see Jonathan Katz. For the technology writer, see Jon Katz.

Jonathan Ned Katz (born 1938) is a historian of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and heterosexual American history, who has focused on same-sex attraction and changes in the social organization of sexuality over time. His works focus on the idea, rooted in social constructionism, that the categories with which we describe and define human sexuality are historically and culturally specific, along with the social organization of sexual activity, desire, relationships, and sexual identities.


  • Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality.University of Chicago Press, Dec. 2001. Co-winner John Boswell Prize, Committee on Lesbian and Gay History, 2003.
  • The Invention of Heterosexuality. Dutton, 1995. Foreword by Gore Vidal. Afterword by Lisa Duggan. Translated and published in Brazil, Italy, France, Spain. Reprint: University of Chicago Press, June 2007. Cited by U.S. Supreme Court in majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, June 2003. For comment on The Invention of Heterosexuality see the comment section below.
  • Gay/Lesbian Almanac: A New Documentary. Harper & Row, 1983; reprint NY: Carroll & Graf, 1994. Number 21 on list of 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Nonfiction Books, a project of the Publishing Triangle, the association of lesbians and gay men in publishing.
  • Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. T.Y. Crowell, 1976; reprints Avon, 1977; Harper & Row, 1985; New American Library 1992. Number 3 on list of 100 Best Lesbian and Gay Nonfiction Books, a project of the Publishing Triangle, the association of lesbians and gay men in publishing.
  • Coming Out! A Documentary Play About Gay Life and Lesbian Life Liberation. Arno Press-NY Times, 1975.
  • Resistance at Christiana: The Fugitive Slave Rebellion, Christiana, Pennsylvania, 1851. T.Y. Crowell, 1974.
  • Black Woman: A Fictionalized Biography of Lucy Terry Prince. [Co-author Bernard Katz] Pantheon, 1973.


  • Adjunct, Yale University, Kramer Initiative for Lesbian and Gay Studies: "Lesbian and Gay American History: Introduction to Research and Analysis," January–May 2003.
  • Convener, Princeton University, Faculty Seminar on Same-sex Sexuality in the 19th Century U.S. February–March 2002.
  • Adjunct, Eugene Lang College, NYC; "Heterosexuality: Its History and Politics," Spring 1995;
  • Adjunct, Eugene Lang College, NYC, "Theories of Sexuality: Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual History," Fall 1995;
  • Adjunct, Eugene Lang College, NYC, "Sexuality in U.S. History," Fall 1991.
  • Adjunct, New York University History Department; "Sexuality in U.S. History," Fall 1984.


  • Gay American History: The Politics and Prose of Jonathan Ned Katz," panel honoring Katz's work, Organization of American Historians, Annual Conference, New York City, March 29, 2008.
  • 2005: A photograph of Jonathan Ned Katz is included in Kings in Their Castles: Photographs of Queer Men at Home, by Tom Atwood (University of Wisconsin Press).
  • 2004: Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. is third on the list of the “100 Best Non-fiction Books” selected by the judges of The Publishing Triangle, the association of gay men and lesbians in publishing. Gay/Lesbian Almanac is 21 on the same list.
  • 2003: Love Stories: Sex Between Men Before Homosexuality, University of Chicago Press, 2001, Co-winner John Boswell Prize from Committee on Lesbian and Gay History.
  • 2003: Recipient of Yale University's Brudner Prize, annual honor celebrating lifetime accomplishment and world-class scholarly contributions in the field of lesbian and gay studies.
  • 2002, December: Annual Kessler Lecturer, Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies, NYC.
  • 1999: Chosen co-Grand Marshal, annual gay pride march, by Heritage of Pride Committee.
  • 1999: Honored by Monette/Horwitz Trust "for long term research and writing contributions to the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender communities, and for "fostering others' work.
  • 1997: The Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Sex Research, from the German Society for Social-Scientific Sexuality Research.
  • 1996: Community Service Award from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force for twenty years of research on gay and lesbian history.
  • 1995: Publishing Triangle Whitehead Award for "Lifetime Achievement in Lesbian and Gay Literature."
  • 1980s: New York Council for the Humanities Speakers Program, lecturer on "Lesbian, Gay, and Heterosexual American History," 1985-1991.
  • 1980s: Invited participant, seminar on "Sexuality, Gender, and Consumer Culture," New York Institute for the Humanities, 1982-1993; gave papers, "The Invention of Heterosexuality;" "The Political Economy of Pleasure."
  • 1979: Keynote Address, "The Abominable Sinner Meets the Alternate Lifestyle," conference on Attitudes Toward Homosexuality, Des Moines, sponsored by the Iowa Board for Programs in the Humanities and the N.E.H.
  • 1978: Keynote Address, "Researching Homosexuality, The Importance of Being Historical," conference: Constructing a History of Power and Sexuality, New York University.
  • 1975: Recipient of the annual Gay Book Award, American Library Association, Task Force on Gay Liberation, for General Editorship of Arno Press-New York Times reprint series on "Homosexuality".
  • 1951, November 16: Spoke about film-making on panel about young people people's hobbies, NY Times Fifth Annual Boys and Girls Book Fair, American Museum of Natural History. (NY Times Index)
  • 1951, June 8, 1951: Appeared on "We the People," WNBC, Ch. 4, as followup to Life magazine article (see below). (NY Times Index)
  • 1951, June 11: "Life Visits A Back-Yard Movie Set: Jonathan Katz, 13, Films 'Tom Sawyer," photos by Esther Bubley, "Life," pp. 140–143.
  • Guest Lecturer on Lesbian and Gay American History, Yale, Princeton, University of Chicago, Cornell, Bennington, Sarah Lawrence, City University of NY, etc.
  • The Papers of Jonathan Ned Katz are collected by the manuscript division of The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library.

Organizational Activities

  • Founding Member, Gay Academic Union, 1973.
  • Founding Member, National Writers Union, 1980.

Art Work

  • Ten Katz art works in group show, Molloy/Wright Gallery, Liberty, NY, August 19–20, 2006


  • Music and Art High School (art major), 1952-1956. Antioch College, 1956-1957; College City of New York, 1957-1959; New School, 1961-1962; Hunter College, 1972. Katz's published books and articles, teaching, and curatorial achievements demonstrate the equivalent of a Ph.D. and he is a Senior Scholar in the field of sexual history.

Comment: The Invention of Heterosexuality

The Invention of Heterosexuality was first published as an essay in 1990 and then expanded into a larger book. In it, Katz traces the development of the term 'heterosexual' (and its correlate 'homosexual') and all the ideology, social and economic relations, gender expectations, and so on that were packed into it. He notes the radical change, in the late nineteenth century, from a sexual ethic of procreation to one based on erotic pleasure and sexual object choice. The distinction is important to note - a procreation-based ethic condemns all non-procreative sex, categorizing sexual relations based primarily on this point. A gender-based sexual ethic, on the other hand, is concerned with procreative sex on a secondary level, if at all.

Katz follows the development of the term 'heterosexual' as going through several stages. Coined in 1868 (in German, Heterosexualität) by Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the term, used to pathologize certain behaviors, initially referred to a person with an overwhelming drive toward the opposite sex and was associated with a number of pathologized behaviors. In 1889, Richard Freiherr von Krafft-Ebing used the term in something like its modern-day sense. The first known use in America was in 1892, by James G. Kiernan. Here, it referred to some combination of bisexuality and a tendency to thwart the then-existing procreation ethic.

Krafft-Ebing's Psychopathia Sexualis, published in 1889, and then in English in 1892, marked the clear turning point from a procreation-based sexuality to a pleasure-based ethic which focused on gender to define the normal and the abnormal. Krafft-Ebing did not, however, make a clean break from the old procreative standards. In much of the discourse of the time, the heterosexual was still a deviant figure, since it signified a person unconcerned with the old sexual norms.

For a variety of economic and social reasons, Katz argues, during the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries, this new norm became more firmly established and naturalized, marking out new gender and sexual norms, new social and family arrangements, and new deviants and perverts. One of the important consequences of this line of thought which Katz notes in "Homosexual" and "Heterosexual": Questioning the Terms, is that we can only generalize sexual identities onto the past with a limited degree of accuracy: "So profound is the historically specific character of sexual behavior that only with the loosest accuracy can we speak of sodomy in the early colonies and 'sodomy' in present-day New York as 'the same thing.' In another example, to speak of 'heterosexual behavior' as occurring universally is to apply one term to a great variety of activities produced within a great variety of sexual and gender systems."


  • The Invention of Heterosexuality, published in Socialist Review 20, 1990. Expanded as book.
  • "Homosexual" and "Heterosexual": Questioning the Terms, published in A Queer World, 1997

See also

fr:Jonathan Ned Katz

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