China’s gay past

Queer Comrades | 15153

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/

Play remembers Fanny and Stella

gh150510

15105

Fanny and Stella – Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton | Essex Record Office | 15105

The Guardian reviews the play “Fanny and Stella: The Shocking True Story” by Glenn Chandler. Frederick Park and Ernest Boulton were two cross dressing, possibly trans men who attempted to get the law changed in Victorian England. The press of the time called them the He-She-Ladies. Their attempts to mix and mingle in normal society got them into endless scrapes with the police force, and resulted in them being sent for trial.

Chandler sums up the result of the six day trial:

“The jury at the end of the day saw it all rather as a joke, light-hearted banter, and there was no proof of sodomy.”

Fanny and Stella’s trial – postponed for a year after their arrest – for “conspiring to incite others to commit unnatural offences” – at the Strand Theatre in 1870, when they appeared in Bow Street magistrates court the next morning still in their evening gowns, was farcical. The jury took less than an hour to return not guilty verdicts.

The police came under pressure to start looking into the sexual lives of citizens, bringing to court men who dressed as women, usually charged with soliciting or public order offences. But the line-crosser was sodomy, something the prosecution, despite sending six doctors to intimately and brutally examine the bodies of Fanny and Stella while they were in Newgate prison, failed to prove.

“People thought they were women, especially Stella, he was the most feminine of the two. Fanny was a bit more like my grandmother and definitely the underdog of the two,” said Chandler.

Fanny and Stella, alas, failed to get the law changed.

http://www.theguardian.com/stage/2015/may/09/fanny-and-stella-pioneer-transvestites-victorian-anti-gay-laws

SP

Remembering Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

gh150315

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.

15032

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.

Source Code PM


SP

Gay Marriage in the Navajo Indian Nation

gh150224

“Peggy and Buck. Peggy said to be intersex.” Photographer: Ben Wittick | 1880-1890 | Palace of the Governors Photo Archives, New Mexico History Museum | 15010

Writing in Fusion, Jorge Rivas notes:

The Navajos have a rich, documented history of accepting and even honoring people that identified with different genders and sexual preferences. … “We were recognizing same-sex unions between a man and a man and a woman and a woman long before white people came on to this land,” Alray Nelson, lead organizer at the Coalition for Navajo Equality, a local community group working to end the ban on gay marriage, told Fusion.

There are drawings, photographs, oral histories, and even language that may be evidence LGBT Navajo tribe members were once accepted. The Navajo language has at least one term for tribe members that don’t fit traditional heterosexual roles: nádleehí.

“Historically our society was more accepting of a person who was nádleehí,” said Dr. Jennifer Denetdale, a University of New Mexico associate professor and a member of the Navajo Humans Rights Commission.

Source Code F


SP

The Mary Travers libel case

gh14120701

Mary Travers | Somerville Press | 14477

It is only loosely gay history, but the Irish Times reminds us of the fascinating Mary Travers libel case that engulfed Oscar Wilde’s parents when he was a 10 year old boy.

On December 12th, 1864, the Mary Travers libel trial opened in Dublin. This case, which The Irish Times called extraordinary, soon mesmerised Irelandwith accusations of sexual assault and hints of illicit affairs. It all began when Travers, an angry young woman, sued Jane Wilde, mother of 10-year-old Oscar, for libel because of an intemperate letter that Wilde had written. On May 6th that year she had sent it to Dr Robert Travers, assistant keeper of manuscripts at Marsh’s Library in Dublin, complaining about his daughter Mary’s behaviour.

Mrs Wilde’s letter claimed that Travers was well known at Bray “where she consorts with all the low newspaper boys in the place” and Travers was now trying to blackmail Mr and Mrs Wilde.

The case at the Four Courts lasted a week. Nationalist MP Isaac Butt was counsel for Mary Travers and all of the Irish media were in rapt attendance, as Jane Wilde was a much-loved figure.

The case quickly got juicy when Butt raised an alleged assault by William Wilde, in his surgery, on Travers – William Wilde and Travers had been lovers – with Jane’s compliance! – and that the letter came in the angry aftermath of the ending of the affair.

Travers took the stand on December 14th but contradicticting herself, turned the tide of public sympathy against her, and the Wilde’s counsel alleging Travers was a laundanu addict, and revealing the letters demanding money from William Wilde.

On December 19th the jury took only 80 minutes to find in Travers’s favour – but awarded her a paltry farthing damages.

Source Code IT

Source


SP

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs and the early gay rights movement, Berlin, 1867

gh14113001

The cover of Die Insel (The Island), December 1930, advertising a serialized instalment of “Men for Sale” | German National Library, Leipzig | 14469

A new book, “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity” by Robert Beachy, documents the history of gay activism in Berlin.

Nancy D. Kates, writing in SF Gate, notes:

The earliest public demand for gay civil rights was made by lawyer and civil servant Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, who addressed the Association of German Jurists in 1867, calling for repeal of antisodomy laws. Ulrichs and his supporters did not prevail in unified Germany, and the newly formed country unfortunately codified these antisodomy laws in 1871 under “Paragraph 175” of the penal code. (The 2000 documentary film “Paragraph 175,” directed by San Francisco filmmakers Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, deals primarily with Nazi persecution of gay men under the same 1871 law, which they made more extreme. It was not repealed until the late 1960s.)

Things did not go well for Ulrichs, who lost his job, social support and credibility for being so outspoken about the rights of men-loving men. Despite numerous setbacks, Ulrichs continued his advocacy work for decades, publishing a series of pamphlets about the rights and experiences of “Urnings” (gay men) like himself, and blazing a trail for gay rights that would be taken up several decades later, primarily in Berlin.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs | Lloyd Duhaime | 14470

The application of the laws was, shall we say, somewhat versatile in Berlin.

…The late 19th century Berlin police chief, Commissioner Leopold von Meerscheidt-Hüllessem, who created the police Department of Homosexuals in 1885, to prosecute cases under Paragraph 175. Since homosexual prostitution and sexual acts were illegal, but gatherings were not, Hüllessem’s force focused on rounding up actual criminals and monitoring Tiergarten Park and other well-known cruising areas. Homosexual gatherings were allowed to flourish with police monitoring: Gay balls required police permits, gay clubs and taverns were regulated, and the police mingled openly in gay crowds, sometimes acting as tour guides for slumming heteros.

Before the Great War, the relatively tolerant city had a huge number of gay establishments, publications (some with nude photos and personal ads), and other gay businesses, as well as a fair number of male prostitutes, called “warm brothers” in the slang of the day. But not always warm: Berlin’s rent boys frequently turned the tables on their wealthier clients, usually married men, threatening to “out” them as homosexuals unless they received large payoffs, resulting in scandals, lawsuits and the suicides of several prominent citizens. Hüllessem’s division eventually changed its name to the Department of Blackmail and Homosexuals.

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

Source

SF Gate


SP

London’s gay bars

New Musical Express | 14104

Gay bars have existed in London for hundreds of years, although they weren’t originally called that.

Dr Matt Cook, Social Historian at Birkbeck College, University of London points out that the nature of gay identity has changed fundamentally.

“The idea of a singular identity is very new. In 16th Century England there was a subculture loosely relating to the theatre. Men didn’t identify as specifically gay. Things happened in the context of a sexualized, risque environment and being queer was a part of a more general underground culture.”

In the 17th and 18th Century, “Molly houses” started appearing. Sometimes they were coffee or ale houses or private rooms in otherwise straight pubs.
“A lot of the knowledge we have about early gay culture is from criminal records. Molly houses were often raided and people being prosecuted is the main source of information about what happened at that time.”…

“In the 1940s and 1950s there was the A&B club, otherwise known as the Arts and Battledress and there was also the Rockingham, both in Soho. They were for a more middle-class clientele. There were also pubs such as the Salisbury in Covent Garden which weren’t as exclusive.”

The Salisbury is no longer gay, but the current duty manager, Jon Badcock, says tourists still visit the pub and ask about its history. “We’re in the middle of theatreland … Some of our older regulars remember sitting in the snug while Kenneth Williams held court.”

The early part of the 20th Century saw women becoming visible on the gay scene, with the Gateways Club opening on the King’s Road in Chelsea in 1931. Because women hadn’t featured in criminal trials, there were no public records of lesbian culture.

Outing early America

gh14022202

Newsworks | 14118

The Library Company of Philadelphia has launched its’ exhibition “That’s So Gay: Outing Early America” revealing that early 19th century America contained a spectrum of same-sex relationships and gender identifications. The exhibition draws on a hundred books, pamphlets, photos, and illustrations from the Library’s 500,000-piece collection, including a first printing of Walt Whitman’s “Calamus” poems, in which he describes men’s relationships as “adhesive.”

Then there are Charlotte Cushman, an actress who became famous for playing men’s roles, and sculptor Harriet Hosman who made statues of heroic, historic women, who lived among other women in Rome in the mid-19th century, and were known as the “Jolly Bachelors.”

Living in the nineteenth century required considerable nerve and care. Curator Cornelia King remarks:

Take the case of two men named Fitz-Green Halleck and Joseph Rodman Drake. The two were the toast of New York for writing a series of witty, satirical poems for newspapers in 1819, under the pseudonym “Croker and Company.” They were known to have an unusually close relationship, but that’s it. “We do know they were members of a club in New York called The Ugly Club. The members were supposed to be beautiful — that was the twist on the name,” said King. “It sounds to me like there was a culture, a fabric in society that I characterize as homo-social.”

There will be a much larger exhibition next year to mark the 50th anniversary of the landmark gay-rights demonstration that took place at Independence Mall in 1965.

SP

Friedrich Alfred Krupp

gh140222

Out | 14119

We are reminded of the story of Friedrich Alfred Krupp, pictured, of the famous arms manufacturing dynasty. Born February 17, 1854, Friedrich Alfred Krupp was the heir. Although he was married, he was homosexual.

He spent the rest of his leisure time organizing sex orgies with olive-skinned young men. He was notorious around Europe, particularly in the Italian city of Capri, where Krupp began spending most of his time in 1898. For three years, Krupp lived the sexual life he had always desired, but the bacchanal was often at the price of his company’s fortunes. He cared not, for he was having the time of his life, but the Italian authorities were quite glum about his gay ways, so in 1901, Krupp was banned from Capri. The heir wasn’t fazed, however, he just moved the action to The Bristol Hotel in Berlin….Marxist enemies in Italy began leaking well-known rumors about Krupp’s orgies to the press. Though rich Krupp stood for everything they hated, he wasn’t really the target. It was the Kaiser. Soon, Germany’s then-emerging Social Democratic Party, today a ruling party, picked up the gossip and plastered it all over their newspaper, Vorwarts, on November 15, 1902. Though Krupp and his friends in the mainstream press tried to tamp down the story — Krupp even locked his wife away in a sanitarium, lest she spill the beans — it was too fast and furious, and the arms heir, convinced he would be ruined like Oscar Wilde had been a few years prior, committed suicide on November 22, 1902.

SP

Gays and fashion – it started in London!

gh13112302

14135

The Museum at FIT, New York/Pacific Standard | 14135

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City is curently exhbiting a review of the influence gay, bisexual, and transgender men and women have had on the history of how we dress.

Director and chief curator of The Museum at FIT, Valerie Steele, remarks:

…Students of sexuality believe there was a significant change in the early 18th century in Northern Europe that marked the beginning of what we would think of modern heterosexuality and homosexuality. Prior to that, it was a very different sexual regime.

Although there were … subcultures during the Renaissance in Florence, for example, there were no separate gay communities. So a person who slept with other males, like Leonardo da Vinci, would have worn exactly the same clothes as any other man of his age and class. In 18th-century London, however, you start to find gays using clothing as a way of identifying themselves.

In London:

… it was part of a bigger sex and gender revolution, where prior to that, elite men could have sex with both younger men and women and it didn’t make any difference. Afterward, a split began to occur where for most people you were either homosexual or heterosexual. And so, what you see in the 18th century is some gay men who were interested in cross-dressing. Some developed a fashion for themselves, which was like an exaggeration of aristocratic male dress. Some gay men become the precursor of gay fashion designers who make clothes for women.

SP