I made an attempt at reading Fanny Hill
recently, and found it fairly unreadable but, in its way, remarkably queer. It's porn written by a man from a woman's POV, featuring lots of lovingly detailed descriptions of handsome young men with enormous cocks. (The cocks are generally referred to as "machines," which I suspect is a transliteration of the French "machin," which means "thing," but which creates interesting cyborg-ish images in the mind.) Fanny Hill
also famously includes a gay sex scene, conveniently observed by the narrator, which I think is described more erotically than all the straight sex scenes, and more realistically--in the straight scenes, women always come just from penetration without even any foreplay, whereas in the m/m scene there's foreplay and the receptive partner gets a reacharound. After the scene ends there are a couple of incongruous and over-the-top paragraphs of condemnation of wicked sodomites which read as authorial deflection.
So, anyway, today I finally remembered to look up John Cleland
on Wikipedia and was not surprised to learn that in his lifetime he was "supposed a sodomite"--though clearly either heavily closeted or heavily in denial.
Anyway, the actual point of this post is that Cleland was for a while friends with Thomas Cannon
, author in 1749 of the pamphlet Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplifiy'd
. All copies of the pamphlet are lost because Cleland, who had fallen out with Cannon in a complicated history of debts, debtors' prison, threatening letters, etc., denounced it to the authorities and got Cannon arrested.
The text, as distinct from copies of the actual pamphlet, was also presumed lost, until in 2003 the indictment against the pamphlet's printer was found in the records of the King's Bench. It happened to contain long quotations from the pamphlet as evidence, and the indictment was published in 2007 in the journal Eighteenth-Century Life
. There are excerpts on Wikipedia which you can get to by clicking the link to the pamphlet.
This is an awesome bit of historical awesomeness. (Actually a lot of texts survive only as quotations in other texts, but it's usually Greek and Roman stuff. And I think it's amazing that such an important text--one of the first works in English directly dealing with male/male sex in a positive way--reappeared after so long. Note that I say "positive way" because that's the overall impression. The pamphlet has a veneer of condemnatory language that doesn't seem to have fooled anyone, considering Thomas Cannon had to flee to the continent for some years to avoid prosecution.)