Berlin: “150 Years of Homosexual History” Exhibition opens

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SV-Bilderdienst | 15156

The German Historical Museum in Berlin has opened an exhibition tracing 150 years of gay history in the country. The exhibition includes the first uses of the term “homosexual,” the brutal Nazi-era repression of gays and gradual moves toward legal equality starting in the 1960s.

The exhibition is a joint production with Berlin’s Gay Museum and has been four years in the planning.

“Homosexuality_ies,” runs through to Dec. 1, 2015. It features photo and film material, an electric shock device used for “aversion therapy” in the 1950s, other artifacts, and an “A to Z” section exploring issues ranging from gay marriage to censorship.

One of the earliest exhibits is a handwritten 1868 letter from Vienna-born writer Karl Maria Kertbeny to a German advocate of legal reform, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, which is believed to be the oldest written record anywhere of the words “homosexual” and “heterosexual.”

It also features the work of scientists such as sex researcher Magnus Hirschfeld, whose pioneering Institute for Sexual Research was shut down and looted shortly after the Nazis took power in 1933. The Nazi regime toughened the 1872 law criminalizing sex between men; West Germany changed the so-called “paragraph 175″ to decriminalize it only in 1969.

In the words of Visit Berlin, the exhibition

puts the political contribution the homosexual liberation movements made toward the development of our democratic society in the visual range of a broader public for the first time.

http://www.startribune.com/german-museum-launches-show-on-150-years-of-gay-history/309500731/

https://www.dhm.de/en/ausstellungen/preview/homosexuality-ies.html

http://www.visitberlin.de/en/event/09-20-2015/guided-tours-with-curators-homosexualityies-guided-tour


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China’s gay past

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The Diplomat have been looking at the re-emergence of open homosexuality in China. Yuxin Zhang explains.

In ancient China, which was polygamous, same-sex sexual behaviors were well-received and tolerated. Positive descriptions of homosexual behavior, or Nan-Feng as it was called, in historical records and in Chinese literature can be dated back to the Han dynasty (206 BC–220 AD). … Traditional Chinese gay culture changed with the introduction of monogamy from the West, and the establishment of institutions and “ethical standards” that regulated sexual behavior, thus shaping contemporary Chinese attitudes and social values. This produced what we know of today as a “normal” (as it is perceived) sexual orientation, in turn contributing to the development of conservatism and homophobia.

http://thediplomat.com/2015/06/chinas-misunderstood-history-of-gay-tolerance/

Remembering Eleanor Roosevelt

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Eleanor Roosevelt | The White House Historical Association | 15152

Former American First Lady Anna Eleanor Roosevelt was born on October 11, 1884 and died on November 7, 1962; Marc Peyser and Timothy Dwyer are the authors of “Hissing Cousins: The Untold Story of Eleanor Roosevelt and Alice Longworth”. They write in Huff:

June marks the start of Gay Pride season, with parades from Boston and Los Angeles to Tel Aviv and Oslo. It’s a good bet that somewhere over those rainbows, Eleanor Roosevelt’s spirit will be marching, too. She’s appeared off and on over the decades, whether loud and proud on posters reclaiming her as an uncelebrated lesbian or more demurely as a sort of mascot for branches of the Eleanor Roosevelt Democratic Club.

The First Lady’s sexuality remains shrouded in mystery. So why was she, in the White House, and at such a dangerous time for gay men and lesbians, such a champion of their rights?

Some would argue that was because the First Lady was a closeted lesbian. The most often-cited evidence is her intense friendship with an openly lesbian reporter named Lorena Hickok. Roosevelt and Hick worked together, vacationed together and wrote each other hundreds of letters, many of them as purple as a late-summer eggplant. “Gee! What wouldn’t I give to talk to you & hear you now, oh, dear one,” said one from Eleanor. “It is all the little things, tones in your voice, the feel of your hair, gestures, these are the things I think about & long for.” The First Lady got Hick a job reporting from around the country on the progress of the New Deal. Back in Washington, she bunked in a guest room at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And the rumors began. “And so you think they gossip about us?” Eleanor wrote to Lorena in November 1933. “I am always so much more optimistic than you are. I suppose because I care so little what ‘they’ say!”

Well worth reading.

http://firstladies.c-span.org/FirstLady/34/Eleanor-Roosevelt.aspx

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/marc-peyser/the-first-lady-of-gay-rights_b_7608122.html


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London: Ken Livingstone and Partnership Ceremonies

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In 2001 London Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced a partnership registration service for same sex couples. The registrations recognised the partnership of the individuals but did not confer any legal rights. The new register was called the London Partnerships Register. The register was open to heterosexual as well as gay couples.

The first couple to take advantage of the scheme, which pre-dated Civil Partnerships and demonstrated the need and desirability of giving same sex couples rights, were Ian Burford and Alexander Cannell, who had been together already for 38 years.

They had a five-minute ceremony conducted by Rob Coward, a specially-trained officer with Greater London Authority.

Couples taking part in the ceremony received a certificate but the register was not made available to the public for confidentiality reasons. The register was designed to be self-financing, charging couples £85 to register their details.

The Greater London Authority was the first public body in the United Kingdom to recognise same-sex relationships as being on a par with heterosexual partnerships.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/1525205.stm


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Long Beach, 1914: When actors entrapped cruisers and cottagers

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A scene from the play | O&M Co | 15147

A new play, “The twentieth century way” by Tom Jacobson is reviewed by The Daily Beast.

In 1914 the Long Beach Police Department recruited the services of two actors – one rugged, one more delicate – to act as bait to entrap men who had sex with men.

The actors recruited for the job were W.H. Warren and B.C. Brown.

The two would encourage their targets to show their penises through ‘glory holes’ between walls or stalls, after which they would score a cross on the men’s penises with a permanent marker. The men and their marked penises, indicative of their ‘guilt,’ would then be hauled down to the police station, and the men would be prosecuted for ‘social vagrancy.’

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/06/19/the-actors-who-trapped-gay-men-into-having-illegal-sex.html


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The Irish Same Sex Marriage Referendum

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Dublin crowds celebrate the referendum result on 24 May 2015 | EPA | 15118

The Republic of Ireland held a referendum on same-sex marriage on May 23, 2015.

The electorate voted to amend the constitution to permit same sex marriage. The final result was:

Yes – 1,201,607 (62.1%)
No – 734,300 – (37.9%)

The turnout was 60.5%.


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Dublin: Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards

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Writing in the Irish Times (print edition) on the occasion of the referendum on same-sex marriage, Miriam Lord notes that veteran Irish journalist Bruce Arnold declared on radio that life was not too bad for homosexuals in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s. Says Arnold:

“I remember particularly Micheál MacLiammóir and Hilton Edwards strutting through St Stephen’s Green, hugely admired and known as a gay couple.”

Miriam continues:

“Which brings to mind the old story of how Dublin’s hard chaws would shout at the two as they ostentatiously strolled around the green: “Hey, youse two, would yis ever effin get married.” And MacLiammóir would reply: “Love to, dear boys, but one of us is a Catholic and the other is a Protestant.””

Micheál MacLiammóir was born on October 25, 1899 and died on March 6, 1978; Hilton Edwards was born on February 2, 1903 and died on November 18, 1982.


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Indianapolis’ Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives

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Indianapolis’s Chris Gonzalez Library and Archives is the unofficial home of the city’s rich and relatively unknown LGBT history. with a collection of almost 10,000 items which have mostly been collected by Michael Bohr, pictured.

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Michael Bohr | Timothy Bella | 15070

Back in the ’60s, when I first started collecting gay books, it was very hard to find this stuff. You’d find two or three titles maybe in six months. It didn’t matter how good it was. You picked it up because that’s all there was.

The collection is named after Chris Gonzalez, whose  family threw out photos of the 1970s local LGBT scene that he had taken after he died. “His family just trashed all of it,” Bohr says.

The collection includes mementos of the Celebration on the Circle event in 1990, which was a turning point for Indianapolis’ gay community.

This is the poster from the first pride celebration on [Monument] Circle. Doing pride on the Circle was a way of stating that the gay community was here and that we had a presence in the city. Before it was done on the Circle, pride celebrations were small banquet affairs done out of the public eye.

At one time, after dark the only people on the Circle were hustlers. There was a police presence trying to drive people off the Circle. The pride celebrations were a way of taking back the Circle as a public space for everybody. You could be on the Circle and be gay without being harassed by the police. Monument Circle is the big circle of Indianapolis. Doing something on Monument Circle is saying, “Hey, pay attention to us. We’re here, and we’re a presence. We’re not going away.”

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Timothy Bella | 15071

Source: http://america.aljazeera.com/watch/shows/america-tonight/articles/2015/4/7/indianapolis-lgbt-rfra.html

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The Boys In The Band

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The Boys In The Band | Video cover | Amazon | 15051

Time remembers the seminal stage play and film “The Boys in The Band”, which made its film debut 45 years ago on 17 March 1970, making history because it was one of the first American films to focus on gay characters. Adapted from Mart Crowley’s 1968 off-Broadway play, and directed by William Friedkin, the movie, funded by the CBS television network, was a candid illustration of gay life in New York at the time, and its’ realism helped it succeed.

The original 1968 Off-Broadway, New York stage cast and production | Unknown photographer | San Francisco Sentinel | 15052

The film featured Kenneth Nelson, Leonard Frey, Cliff Gorman, Frederick Combs, Keith Prentice, Robert La Tourneaux, Reuben Greene, Peter White, Maud Adams and Elaine Kaufman (the last two uncredited on the movie titles).

Sascha Cohen puts the film into context:

To the generation of gay Americans who came of age amidst the positive imagery of the contemporary LGBT rights movement — pride, love, rainbows and the message that “It Gets Better” — the plight of these men can look unrecognizable. With its bitter angst and grim outlook (the film’s most famous line is “show me a happy homosexual and I’ll show you a gay corpse”) The Boys in the Band feels like something of a relic.

But in 1970, it was a milestone for gay representation in Hollywood. For decades, homosexuality did not appear onscreen at all; the 1930 Motion Picture Production Code, enforced until 1968, prohibited the portrayal of “sex perversion.” Although a handful of characters from classic films — Plato in Rebel Without a Cause, the “sissy” cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz and the murderous aesthetes in Hitchcock’s Rope — managed to slip past the censors, those who would interpret such figures as gay are stuck reading subtext. In The Boys in the Band, on the other hand, gay desire and identity are explicit; each character announces his presence as a “fairy” or a “queen.” The film helped make the gay community culturally visible during a moment in which openly discussing homosexuality was still taboo, and many Americans had yet to encounter an “out” gay man in person.

Mart Crowley’s commented, “What did I have to lose?” to explain how a fey Hollywood failure wrote the play in a week, won a five-day workshop way off-off Broadway that turned into the event absolutely Everybody Had to See, then turned down big Tinsel town money to insist the 1970 film be made with its original, very brave, cast of unknowns,

wrote Seán Martinfield of the San Francisco Sentinel, reviewing the event “The Making of The Boys” which took place at San Francisco’s 33rd Frameline Film Festival, in an undated article.

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Remembering Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

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Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, an engraving taken from “Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen, (“Yearbook of sexual intermediates”), vol. 1″, 1899 | Geschichtswerkstatt | 15031

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was a German writer and lawyer who played key roles both in defining homosexuality and establishing the movement for gay rights.

Hans Rollman, reviewing the book “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity” by Robert Beachy, explains.

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Amazon | 15032

A homosexual himself, his promising legal career was cut short when rumours began to spread about his sexual activities with other men. Shut out of the legal profession, he gradually rebuilt himself a career in journalism and writing. But as Beachy points out, he was a true product of the Protestant Reformation (his family were ardent Lutherans), with its drive to question accepted traditions in the search for truth. No matter which way he looked at it, he couldn’t find anything wrong with his sexual attraction to other men, and concluded that it was normal behaviour, and that some people are simply born homosexual.

All this was, of course, highly revolutionary for his time, as was his decision to begin campaigning for an end to the existing anti-sodomy laws and moral persecution which accompanied them. He first opened up a remarkable correspondence with his own family in what was essentially the first documented coming-out in history. He tested his own theories on them, and while they clearly disapproved and urged him to change, they didn’t reject him and even re-affirmed their love and support for him.

Thus bolstered, he began issuing a series of anonymous pamphlets, arguing that homosexuality, or ‘Urning’, as he called it, was natural behaviour. In 1867 he ratcheted things up a notch, giving an address to the Association of German Jurists where he presented his views and argued for revision of the sodomy laws. He was shouted down and unable to finish his speech, but he had opened the dialogue, and at the same time emerged as its public spokesperson. As he continued his courageous campaign, he also refined his theories of sexuality to embrace a diversity of sexual and gender identities.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born on 28 August 1825 and died on 14 July 1895.

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