Claude Hartland (born 1871) published an account of his sexual experiences subtitling his Story of a Life ‘for the consideration of the medical fraternity’ (St Louis, 1901).
The man who wrote under the name "Claude Hartland" was born in a southern railroad town to a strong, pragmatic mother and a dreamy father who taught music and English at the local school and wrote verses and music. Hartland inherited his father's romantic spirit, which is one reason his anguish over being homosexual takes both a literary and spiritual tone. Written for "the consideration of the Medical Fraternity", The Story of a Life, the first homosexual autobiography published in the United States, was designed to help doctors understand and cure an "affliction" that seemed in Hartland's mind to be ever growing. The sincerity and candor of his memoir are striking. He views his desire for men as a "dark secret," and yet he thanks "God for this sweet pure love" when he finds another man who shares his feeling. Although he tries at the advice of his doctor to have intercourse with a woman, he achieves orgasm only by blocking her out of his imagination. Hartland is torn between the way he wants to feel about his sexuality and the ways he has been taught he ought to feel. His pen name suggests his "clawed heart." We have no knowledge of what happened to "Claude Hartland" after the writing of his autobiography.
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