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Jens Rydström

Jens Rydström

Professor emeritus

Jens Rydström

"I'm an ordinary faggot" – Scripts of male homosexuality in urban and rural Sweden in the 1940s


  • Jens Rydström

Summary, in English

The paper explores the flux of male homosexual identity between urban subcultures and small rural settings in Sweden. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick has claimed that we cannot interpret Foucault’s History of Sexuality as if one understanding of sexuality was substituted by another, but that many forms of sexuality coexist in any given time. Inspired by her analysis, this paper claims that a shift between two paradigms took place in Sweden in the 1920s, but that they continued to coexist and that one person could perform according to different scripts in different situations.

Urban homosexual subcultures had developed in Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö since the end of the 19th century. It was not until the spreading of the concept of homosexuality that some men desiring men in the countryside began identifying as homosexuals. The policing of sexuality changed profoundly during the first half of the 20th century and reflects the different ways men who desired other men negotiated their feelings in rural areas, small towns and big cities. Examples from Stockholm, Göteborg and Malmö will be compared to expressions of male-male desire in places like Halmstad (pop. 26,000) Sandviken (13,000), and Långsele (700).


  • Department of Gender Studies

Publishing year




Document type

Conference paper


  • Gender Studies


  • homosexuality
  • emotions
  • urban history

Conference name

Feelings in the city: Emotions and urban space

Conference date