"The Third Sex" and Hypersexualization
Hypersexualization of the LGBTQ+ Community
One of the factors which served to reinforce stereotypes and essentialist characterizations of the Romanian LGBTQ+ community in the nineties was how newspapers and tabloids hypersexualized queer individuals. There was an overall lack of positive and objective information about homosexuality. As a legacy of their invisibility during Communism and the general taboo around the subject, homosexuals during the nineties and into the twenty-first century had little knowledge of types of sexualities other than the heterosexual model.
While the topic of homosexuality became increasingly present in the media, the general absence of an accurate discussion on homosexuality led to widespread misinformation and consequently to a perpetuation of stereotypes and to the marginalization of non-heterosexual individuals. Adrian Newell Paun wrote back from San Francisco to a Romanian magazine in 1993 purposely to denounce that: “the advice that gay men receive from your specialists are often wrong. The latter’s level of understanding of gay sexuality rather provokes and accentuates the confusion of those seeking answers [and comfort].” Paun warns against continuing pathologizing homosexuality, “So I suggest to your specialists that when a gay man asks for advice, you give him all the necessary information instead of recommending seeking psychiatric help. What homosexuals need are human rights.”
In a context of quasi-total lack of information and entertainment addressed specifically to the LGBTQ+ community, magazines such as The Third Sex: Magazine for Erotical Culture and Social Reintegration ('Al treilea sex: Revista de Cultura Erotica si reintegrate sociala') seemed to compensate for the absence by including entries on gay men and lesbians. Among the largely frivolous and pseudo-pornographic content, there were some attempts at sexual education, i.e., definition of 'cunnilingus', 'tribadism', and 'lesbianism'. However, 'lesbianism', not considered as an identity and included in sexual trait points, remained pathologized as explanations given by psychoanalysts or medical doctors described it as an “identification with the father... with the desire of a father’s penis and with the denial of the fantasy to castrate the father.” The Third Sex’s publisher was a mainstream media company that put on the market a hypersexualized content which worked against the LGBTQ+ community by reinforcing the stereotype that homosexuality was solely a matter of sexual preference. The Third Sex, unfortunately, disappeared after only two issues.