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Naomi Wolf: The book that changed my life

The first gay rights manifesto in English

By Naomi Wolf  

Illustration by Bill McConkey

The Letters of John Addington Symonds

I was a student at Oxford, re-admitted 30 years after I had first begun (but not completed) my graduate studies. I had been assigned an amazing thesis advisor, Stefano-Maria Evangelista. Evangelista’s analysis of how Victorian gay men used the idea of ancient Greece to express censored thoughts about homosexuality, sparked connections in my thinking with other Victorian social movements.

One afternoon, he said, “You really need to read this.” The book was the first volume of the Letters of…

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