In this opening chapter I want to take an extended look at the theoretical perspectives that underpin this study as a whole. But since these ideas are inextricably bound up with historical developments, history is also part of the framework examined here. Moreover, the chapter is interspersed with references to the fi ction I shall be exploring in later chapters, so as to make clear the link between text and context, and not lose sight of my main focus. My discussion of theoretical and historical perspectives, in other words, is offered as context for the fi ction. My starting point, given that focus, is of course Stonewall and the gay liberation theory that inspired and fl owed from it. But gay liberation theory, as history shows, did not arrive from nowhere, and so I shall sometimes glance back at earlier ideas. This accords with my general thesis that the confl icts of gay male fi ction since Stonewall have an ancestry stretching back to that period in the late nineteenth century when homosexuality fi rst became conceptualized.