Date: Sun, 02 Jul 2006 12:42:56 -0000
From: "S. Stevens" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: [transgendernews] [Obituaries] [USA] Vern Bullough, 77; Prolific Author Was Scholar of Sex History
Los Angeles Times, CA, USA
Vern Bullough, 77; Prolific Author Was Scholar of Sex History
By Elaine Woo
Times Staff Writer
July 2, 2006
When Vern Bullough was asked what launched him into the
field of sexual history 50 years ago, he quipped, "I blame it all
on my mother-in-law."
His future wife's mother had abandoned her family to live in
a committed relationship with another woman -- a scandalous event
for Salt Lake City in the mid-1940s.
Bullough, then a teenager, was "more or less goggle-eyed"
when he met them, but quickly quit gawking and began educating
himself. He plied the two women with questions about
homosexuality, soaked up what few books he could find on the
subject and got to know their lesbian and gay friends.
Bullough, 77, who died of cancer June 21 at his Westlake
Village home, eventually channeled his curiosity into a career as
one of the most prolific scholars of sex, who wrote, co-wrote or
edited nearly 50 books on topics ranging from prostitution to
"We have lost the most important historian of our field,"
said Eli Coleman, a past president of the Society for the
Scientific Study of Sexuality, who directs the human sexuality
program at the University of Minnesota medical school.
"It would be very hard to find somebody that had so
extensively studied so many areas within sexuality," Coleman
added. "Vern was all over the field -- not in a superficial way
but in a very deep way."
He literally had an encyclopedic knowledge of sexual
history. With his late wife, Bonnie, a noted nursing educator
and sociologist, he wrote "American Sexuality: An Encyclopedia"
(1994), a standard reference work in the field.
His other major books include "Sexual Variance in Society
and History" (1976), "Homosexuality: A History" (1979), and
"Cross-Dressing, Sex and Gender" (1993), which is used as a
textbook in gender-studies programs. His writings on
homosexuality have been credited with helping to launch and
sustain gay and lesbian history as a legitimate field of study.
Bullough also was a pioneering advocate of civil rights. In
the early 1960s, he persuaded the American Civil Liberties Union
of Southern California to defend gays and lesbians -- making it
the first ACLU chapter in the country to do so.
"He was the one who made the entire ACLU focus on
discrimination against gays and lesbians. He was far ahead of
everyone," Ramona Ripston, executive director of the ACLU of
Southern California, said of Bullough.
Quiet, scholarly and conservative in appearance, Bullough
served on the board of the ACLU for many years and was its
chairman when the organization was at the forefront of
high-profile battles, including the fight to desegregate Los
Angeles city schools.
A native of Salt Lake City, he grew up in the Mormon Church
but left it when he was a teenager, in large part because he and
Bonnie, his high school sweetheart who was also Mormon, thought
the church discriminated against blacks. They were married in
Meeting Bonnie's mother and her mother's partner left a deep
impression. "Both of us became fascinated by the topic of
homosexuality and lesbianism," Bullough wrote in the 1997 book
"How I Got into Sex."
At the University of Utah, where he earned a bachelor's
degree in 1951, and later at the University of Chicago, where he
earned his master's and doctoral degrees, he wanted to study
homosexuality but knew that it was a verboten topic.
Instead, he studied history and became a medievalist with a
dissertation on the development of medical education in the
Middle Ages. He was hired to teach at Youngstown University in
Ohio in 1954.
In 1959 he moved to Los Angeles to teach history at Cal
State Northridge. Feeling more confident about his credentials
after writing several articles and books on the early history of
medicine and nursing, he shifted his academic focus to
prostitution and published a book on it -- "The History of
Prostitution" -- in 1964. He was officially a sex researcher.
Over the next four decades he wrote voluminously on a wide
range of topics, including birth control, pornography and women's
In 1976 he collaborated with Dorr Legg and others on "An
Annotated Bibliography of Homosexuality," which listed 13,000
works on the subject from around the world. "It was widely
recognized as the first massive compilation of information about
homosexuality," said Richard Docter, a gender researcher and
retired professor of psychology at Cal State Northridge. The
landmark compendium helped to encourage serious scholarship on
gay and lesbian issues, Docter said.
That same year, Bullough published "Sexual Variance in
Society and History," which he considered his most important
work. It examined "nonconforming sexuality" from prehistoric
times through the 10th century and included material on sexual
practices in China, India and the Islamic world.
In "Science in the Bedroom" (1994), which included material
on marriage manuals, sex therapy, child sexuality, the impact of
birth control on sexual attitudes and free-love theorists,
Bullough surveyed the history of sex research.
The book particularly highlights the contributions of women
and gays who conducted groundbreaking research, such as Karl
Heinrich Ulrichs, the 19th century German researcher who
investigated same-sex attraction and is considered the first gay
activist, and Clelia Mosher of Stanford University, who
interviewed women in the early 1900s about their sexual desires
He collaborated on two dozen books with Bonnie, his wife of
49 years, who died in 1996. Among them was "The Subordinate Sex"
(1973), a history of attitudes toward women.
At the Cal State campus, Bullough was founding director of
the Center for Sex Research, where he helped organize
international conferences on prostitution and gender issues. He
also established the Vern and Bonnie Bullough Collection on Sex
and Gender, housed at the campus' Oviatt Library, which contains
hundreds of rare or unusual materials, including a nearly
complete series of a pioneering magazine for cross-dressers
"It's an invaluable collection," said Stuart Timmons, a Los
Angeles gay historian.
Bullough left the college in 1980 and moved to the State
University of New York at Buffalo, where he served several years
as dean of natural and social sciences. He retired in 1993, and
the following year joined USC as an adjunct professor. He taught
at USC until 2003.
Through his advocacy for gay civil rights at the ACLU, he
came to know many of the pioneers of the gay rights movement,
including Harry Hay, Jim Kepner and Don Slater. He had a long
friendship with Virginia Prince, a pioneer of the transvestite
He rode in an early gay parade in Hollywood in the mid-1960s
that Slater organized to demand that gays be drafted to serve in
the Vietnam War. Bullough opposed the war but supported gays'
rights to serve in the military.
In 1966, when Bullough was in the Middle East on a Fulbright
scholarship, one of his two children, David, was killed in a
hit-and-run accident in Jerusalem. The Bulloughs subsequently
adopted three children of different races, two of whom are gay.
He is survived by his second wife, Gwen Brewer, a retired
English professor; three sons, Jim Bullough-Latsch, Steve
Bullough and Michel Hayworth; a daughter, Sue Bullough; brothers
Darwin and Duane; a sister, Karen Hyde; and a grandchild, Jamie
An interviewer for the online magazine Gay Today recently
asked Bullough to comment on rumors that he must be a
cross-dresser because of his strong interests in the transgender
Others assumed that he was gay and were disappointed to
learn that he was an avowed heterosexual.
"If I was everything I wrote books about, I would probably
be a very screwed-up person," he said, mentioning his works on
sadomasochism, pedophilia, masturbation and other forms of sexual
"I consider myself a sex researcher, and I will admit to
having a strong interest in the way people sexually express
Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2006 00:51:57 -0000
From: "Donna" <email@example.com>
Subject: [transgendernews] [Corrections] [USA] Corrections: Bullough obituary
Los Angeles Times, CA, USA
July 4, 2006
Bullough obituary: The obituary of sex historian Vern Bullough in
Sunday's California section incorrectly stated that an interviewer for
the online magazine Gay Today asked Bullough to comment on rumors that
he must be a cross-dresser because of his strong interests in the
transgender community. The interview, and Bullough's quoted response,
should have been credited to Helen Boyd on her blog (en)Gender. The
story also said Bullough moved to Los Angeles in 1959 to teach history
at Cal State Northridge. The school was then known as San Fernando
Valley State College.