The welfare closet: The history and politics of the male homosexual closet in the emerging Danish welfare state, c. 1900-1970.
By examining the history and politics of the male homosexual closet in the emerging Danish welfare state (ca. 1900-1970), this project hypothesizes that the closet has historically been a social power structure with both limiting and productive effects.
About the project
The closet is often regarded as one of the twentieth century’s primary axes for the suppression of homosexual men and women. The project seeks to nuance this understanding by examining the history and politics of the male homosexual closet in the emerging Danish welfare state, ca. 1900-1970. Building on Foucault’s conception of power, feminist and queer theory, the project hypothesizes that the closet historically has been a social power structure with both limiting and productive effects. For instance, the closet did not just silence and suppress sexual desire between men. It also carved out certain social spaces in the welfare state, not least in the private sphere, where that desire was socially acceptable. The project tests its hypothesis by examining the closet’s historical construction and effects within a range of social arenas, including national legislation, police regulation of male same-sex desire and ordinary lived lives.
The project contributes to existing research into the Nordic welfare states’ gender and sexuality history by studying the male homosexual closet. Second, it contributes to existing gender research by providing a historical genealogy to present-day heteronormativity and homosexual citizen inclusions.
Centre for Gender Research, University in Oslo, 2021-2025.