The 200-year-old diary that’s rewriting gay history

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02/10/2020

A diary written by a Yorkshire farmer more than 200 years ago is being hailed as providing remarkable evidence of tolerance towards homosexuality in Britain much earlier than previously imagined. Historians from Oxford University have been taken aback to discover that Matthew Tomlinson’s diary from 1810 contains such open-minded views about same-sex attraction being a “natural” human tendency. The diary challenges preconceptions about what “ordinary people” thought about homosexuality – showing there was a debate about whether someone really should be discriminated against for their sexuality. “In this exciting new discovery, we see a Yorkshire farmer arguing that homosexuality is innate and something that shouldn’t be punished by death,” says Oxford researcher Eamonn O’Keeffe.

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