Mary McIntosh, author of “The Homosexual Role,” among other things, has passed away. This piece is of course one of the foundational works of a sociology of sexuality. It always struck me as such a brave work, as it applies general sociological concepts to a topic that, at the time, was so strikingly marginalized and “owned” so completely by psychology. Of course, it wasn’t written independently of a fledgling lesbian and gay movement; Mary McIntosh was a feminist and an lesbian activist. Still, it is a piece that reminds me of how powerful sociological concepts can be in re-imagining what we think we know.
Here is an excerpt from Ken Plummer’s memorial:
Mary was a serious intellectual and a passionate activist. A strong, caring, quiet presence – she also had a very strong sense of fun and always ready for a dance and a laugh. I missed her greatly when she left Essex; the department could never be quite the same for me. And now she leaves a gaping hole in the world. But she will be loved in remembrance.
I won’t get a chance to meet her, but she certainly has left her mark on me.