“Different from the others”



Conrad Veidt and Fritz Schulz, in a clip from “Different from the others” | Cinegraph | 14375

The German silent film Anders als die Andern (Different from the others) was issued on 30 June 1919. From 1915 German films had been tackling more and more social issues with considerable clarity and daring. “Anders” was the first film to portray homosexuality in a candid way. Financed by Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute for Sexual Science, the film was made as an attempt to change the law in Germany. Germany’s Paragraph 175 made homosexuality a criminal offence. Elements of the plot, especially the blackmailing of some of the characters portrayed, was re-used in 1961 for the basis of the British film “Victim”.

In 1919, at the Berlin première of “Different from the Others,” Magnus Hirschfield said: “Soon the day will come when science will win a victory over error, justice a victory over injustice, and human love a victory over human hatred and ignorance.”


Another clip from the film | 17036

Almost as soon as it was released the film caused considerable debate and controversy. The Chronograph website article goes into further detail.


Reinhold Schünzel and Conrad Veidt, in a clip from “Different from the others” | Cinegraph | 14376

As a result of the debate, censorship laws were enacted. Films like Anders als die Andern were restricted to doctors and medical staff. Prints of the film were among the many “decadent” works burned by the Nazis after they came to power in 1933.

By 1933, when the Nazis stormed Hirschfield’s Institute of Sexual Research, also in Berlin, every known copy of the film had been destroyed. Luckily, the good doctor had included some forty minutes of the footage in a long scientific film called “Laws of Love,” which was shown in Russia in the late twenties or early thirties and remained for decades in the Krasnogorsk archives.

This may seem excessive to some readers but your activist remembers that in the 1960s many books in his local library’s Dewey card index were marked with the letter “R” for “restricted”.

No complete copies of the film were thought to have survived but a copy was eventually released on video, although no-one is sure whether the film really is complete. The role played by Conrad Veidt was probably the first homosexual character ever written for cinema.

The U.C.L.A. Film & Television Archive recently bought a high-definition print of “Laws of Love”, and a reliable version of “Different from the Others” has now been completed, using detailed Nazi censorship records as a narrative guide, and with images substituted for the missing scenes. “Years before Alfred Kinsey, Hirschfeld was arguing that homosexuality exists on a continuum. It’s not abnormal, because there is no abnormality,” commented Jan-Christopher Horak, the director of the U.C.L.A. archive.

When Anita Loos, who wrote the novel “Gentleman Prefer Blondes,” visited Berlin in the 1920s, she observed that “any Berlin lady of the evening might turn out to be a man; the prettiest girl on the street was Conrad Veidt” – the silent-screen leading man who played none other than Paul Körner in “Different from the Others.”


This post was updated with new information and additional image on 15 February 2017.



George Cecil Ives



The only known image of George Cecil Ives, dates from around 1900 | Public domain | 14377

George Cecil Ives was born on 1 October 1867 and became a friend of Oscar Wilde in 1892. In 1895 Ives founded the Order of Chaeronea, a secret society for homosexuals in a time of persecution in England. In the same year he became friends with Edward Carpenter. In 1906 he moved home to 196 Adelaide Road, London NW3. In 1914 he founded the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology along with Edward Carpenter, Magnus Hirschfeld, Laurence Housman and others. As well as campaigning for gay rights, Ives also became a prison reformer.

Ives was somewhat eccentric in later years and after World War II ended, he refused to beleive it, and is alleged to have continued to carry his gas mask around with him until he died on 4 June 1950.


A potted history of gay Edmonton, Alberta


The Queer History Bus Tour takes a two-and-a-half hour trip through central Edmonton, Canada, to more than 110 sites linked to the development of the city’s gay community.

The bus pauses outside a pub on 101st Street which was home to Club 70, the city’s first established gay bar. “The owner didn’t realize it was a gay bar. When he found out a few weeks later, he locked the doors and wouldn’t let them in,” says guide, author and drag queen Darrin Hagen. “It was 1969, but they decided to call it Club 70 because they thought 69 sounded saucy.”

The bus cruises downtown locations where men went to meet other men, including the bathroom at the Via train station in the CN Tower basement, the stroll along the top of the river bank from 100th Street to 102nd Street, and Victoria and Government House parks. “I won’t say much about that because the media is here, but if you drove down there and turned on a red-and-blue (police) light, you would hear about 45 gay men say ‘here, kitty, kitty, kitty.’”

Old coal mines near Rossdale were used as late as the 1940s for occasional assignations, according to police records showing men arrested for “nefarious behaviour”. And the tour notes the former home of Harvey Jones, a 1970s wrestler who performed what they call “homoerotica for homophobes” in a life later immortalized in a play Hagen help put together called PileDriver! Jones, who died of AIDS-related causes in 1995, was part of an act described as a “busload of homo wrestlers driving around redneck Alberta beating the hell out of each other for straight guys.”

Edmonton Journal


Gilbert Baker and the Gay Flag



Yasuyoshi Chiba/AFP/Getty | 14378

Gilbert Baker is the man who designed the gay flag. After being discharged from the Army during the Vietman War, Baker settled in San Francisco, where he taught himself to sew and soon began crafting banners for gay marches and events. He befriended Harvey Milk. Given Baker’s influential role in the gay community, in 1978 the San Francisco Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade commissioned him to design a new symbol that could be used year after year. Hoping to represent diversity and acceptance, Baker soon settled on the image of a rainbow. “The rainbow is a part of nature and you have to be in the right place to see it,” Baker told CBS. “It’s beautiful, all of the colors, even the colors you can’t see. That really fit us as a people because we are all of the colors. Our sexuality is all of the colors. We are all the genders, races and ages.”

The original version of the flag had eight stripes, each color with a distinct meaning: pink for sex, red for life, orange for healing, yellow for sunlight, green for nature, blue for art, indigo for harmony, and violet for the human spirit. The color pink was not widely available for commercial use at the time, so it was dropped — as, eventually, was indigo — to give the flag an even six stripes.


Gad Beck



Gad Beck | Judith Kessler/Jerusalem Post | 14379

Gay Activist is sad to learn of the passing of Gad Beck, pictured left, an anti-Nazi Zionist resistance fighter and the last known gay Jewish survivor of the Holocaust, who died on Sunday in Berlin six days before his 89th birthday. Beck was a pioneering gay activist and educator in a severely anti-homosexual, repressive Germany. He was famous for his witty, lively style of speaking. Speaking about his life as a gay Jew, Beck invoked a line frequently cited about homosexuality: “God doesn’t punish for a life of love.”

He was featured in the film The Life of Gad Beck and the documentary Paragraph 175. (The notorious Paragraph 175 of the German Penal Code outlawed homosexuality before Adolf Hitler became chancellor in 1933, and the Nazi party radically intensified the enforcement of the anti-gay law, including deportations to extermination camps.) “Only Steven Spielberg can film my life – forgive me, forgive me,” Beck quipped.

He had immigrated to Israel in 1947. After his return to Germany in 1979, the first post-Holocaust head of Berlin’s Jewish community, Heinz Galinski, appointed Beck director of the Jewish Adult Education Center in Berlin.

Gay Activist sends condolences to family and friends.


Alan Turing



Alan Turing | Public domain | 14380

Genius mathematician and scientist Alan Turing (1912-1954) was discriminated against because he was gay. Turing is regarded as one of the founding fathers of computing. He was also a codebreaker at Bletchley Park during world war two and subsequently worked for GCHQ.

Turing’s first major contribution to science was a paper written when he was 24 on an abstruse maths theory that shook the world of pure maths to its foundations.

His prosecution in 1952 for gross indecency with a young man and subsequent treatment by the authorities are widely blamed for his death at the age of 41. On the occasion of the centenary of his birth additional information has become public.

Turing was arrested on 7 February 1952 for his affair with a young Manchester man.


Science Museum | 14381

He was obliged to undertake injections of female hormones intended to render him asexual (chemical castration).

The information about Turing was first made public in the 1970s by the Gay Liberation Front.

After 1948 the Cold War, security vetting and the needs of the American alliance ended the “one-of-our-chaps” basis on which he had been recruited in 1938. After 1952, Turing had to stop the work he had continued to do for GCHQ, and what he cryptically referred to as a “crisis” in 1953 seems to have involved intense surveillance. It is for this very special and secret reason that his life in 1954 might well have seemed impossible to bear.

The Bletchley Park codebreaking story, totally secret in 1954, became public after 1974, and Alan Turing emerged a genius of cryptographic theory and with responsibility for the war against U-boats.


Turing’s work: Crown Copyright | 14382

Turing expert Prof Jack Copeland questions the evidence that was presented at the 1954 inquest and believes the evidence would not today be accepted as sufficient to establish a suicide verdict. He thinks Turing’s death may equally probably have been an accident. Prof Copeland emphasises, a coroner these days would demand evidence of pre-meditation before announcing a verdict of suicide, yet nothing in the accounts of Turing’s last days suggest he was in anything but a cheerful mood. At the inquest, the coroner, Mr JAK Ferns declared: “In a man of his type, one never knows what his mental processes are going to do next.” What he meant by “of this type” is unclear.

Turing had a number of gay friends. The authorities’ interest in Turing became apparent in 1953 when a gay Norwegian acquaintance, Kjell, announced by postcard his intention to visit him at his Wilmslow home, but mysteriously never arrived. “At one stage, the police over the north of England were out searching for him,” Turing is reported to have commented.

The oppression, the failure to appreciate his wartime contributions, his sidelining at the Manchester computer department, have led to an image of Turing being hounded during his last years, and suicide being a natural outcome. In fact, to the end of his life he had a good social life and was cheerful.

Turing often performed experiments in his room at home. Prof Copeland notes that Turing’s room had a “strong smell” of cyanide after his death; that inhalation leads to a slower death than ingestion; and that the distribution of the poison in Turing’s organs was more consistent with inhalation than with ingestion. Perhaps he had accidentally put his apple into a puddle of cyanide. Or perhaps, more likely, he had accidentally inhaled cyanide vapours from the bubbling liquid.

Others claim that the experiment was set up to mislead people into thinking it was not suicide.

We may never know the exact truth of what happened to Mr Turing.

On 9 September 2009, Gordon Brown, then British Prime Minister, issued a posthumous apology to Alan Turing for the ‘appalling’ way he was punished for being gay, and that he was ‘deeply sorry’ for the inhumane treatment of the Cambridge mathematician.

Thirty thousand people had signed a petition seeking the apology.

The Alan Turing Statutory Pardon Bill was introduced in the House of Lords on 25 July 2012 for its first reading by Liberal Democrat Lord John Sharkey. It is a private members’ bill.

“Alan Turing helped save this country,” said Lord Sharkey. “His work on cracking the Enigma Code at Bletchley Park during World War 2 undoubtedly changed the course of the war and saved many thousands of lives. Instead of being rewarded by his country, he was cruelly punished and convicted simply for being gay. If my Bill becomes law, as I hope it will, then this will finally go some way towards acknowledging the debt we all owe to Alan Turing and grant him the pardon he so clearly deserves.”

A petition to have Turing pardoned gathered 37,402 signatures in favour of granting him an official pardon.


Alan Turing, age 16, in 1928, from his school photograph | 14128

Computer pioneer and second world war code breaker Alan Turing has been given a posthumous royal pardon which addresses his 1952 conviction for gross indencency, an offence at the time, for which he was punished by being chemically castrated. The pardon was granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy after a request by Justice Minister Chris Grayling, and follows a year long campaign to clear his name, and a petition which was signed by more than 37,000 people.

A genius, Turing’s work had a huge impact on Allied efforts to read German Naval messages enciphered with the Enigma machine. He also contributed some more fundamental work on code breaking that was only released to public scrutiny in April 2012.

“Turing deserves to be remembered and recognised for his fantastic contribution to the war effort and his legacy to science. A pardon from the Queen is a fitting tribute to an exceptional man,” said Justice Minister Chris Grayling.

The pardon took effect on Christmas Eve 2013.

A pardon is only normally granted under the Royal Prerogative of Mercy when the person is innocent of the offence and where a request has been made by someone with a vested interest such as a family member. Dr. Turing’s pardon is historic because neither of those conditions has been met.




Tucson’s vanishing and surviving gay bars



Candi Trowbridge holding the Tucson Desert Leathermen logo, an inverted triangle with a lambda symbol | Joie Horwitz | 14383

Tucson Weekly has been looking at the disappearance of gay bars and businesses.

“At the height of Tucson’s gay-bar era—the late-1970s into the mid-’80s—there were about a dozen bars, and Novakowski recalls most of their names: the Graduate, the Venture, Sir James, Hair Tiz, the Joshua Tree/Backdoor, the Stonewall Eagle, Michael’s, the Fineline, Rita’s, Colette’s, Venture, Lucky Pierre’s and IBT’s. Today’s gay-bar scene includes about a half-dozen places: IBT’s, as well as Woody’s, New Moon, Brodie’s Tavern, Venture-N, and Colors.

In 2007, Entrepreneur Magazine put gay bars on its list of businesses facing extinction, along with record stores and pay phones. And it’s not just that gays are hanging out in straight bars; some are eschewing bars altogether and finding partners online or via location-based smart-phone apps like Grindr, Qrushr and Scruff,”

Thomas wrote. “Between 2005 and 2011, the number of gay and lesbian bars and clubs in gay-travel-guide publisher Damron’s database decreased by 12.5 percent, from 1,605 to 1,405. Could the double whammy of mainstreaming and technology mean that gay bars are doomed?”

It seems not.

“As long as enough people keep feeling the need for queer communion, America’s gay bars will endure. There may be fewer of them, and we may see more folks we think of as ‘straight’ in the crowd, but I believe gay people will always gather to drink and dance under their rainbow flags.”

There was the Graduate, a bar that stood at 23 W. University Blvd.
Novakowski tended bar there for 10 years, from 1979 to 1989, and returned in 1999 when the owners decided to get out of the business and wanted someone familiar to help run the bar during its last months. “It really was a neighborhood bar, and by that, I mean you couldn’t even tell it was there,” Novakowski says. Of all the bars he’s worked at or patronized, Novakowski says the Graduate was his favorite, because of the varied clientele. Inside the bar was what Novakowski calls the Million Dollar Corner. “The first eight to nine bar stools were filled with the same people every day, who worked as attorneys and stockbrokers,” Novakowski says. “On the other side is where a group of Mexicans hung out. They drank together and talked together. It’s the gay version of the Buffet.”