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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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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Indiana’s gay history being collected

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Indystar reports on a number of projects which are collecting local gay history for future availability. One of the collections documenting gay life is that of Michael Bohr, who began collecting artifacts two decades ago after the death of an acquaintance whose numerous photos of gay events from the 1970s — picnics, parties, meetings — were tossed into the trash by the dead man’s disapproving parents.

Bohr started gathering material in 1995 and now has 8,000 items, such as photos, videos of drag shows, hundreds of T-shirts from gay festivals and out-of-print gay publications, including a 1966 copy of what is believed to be Indianapolis’ earliest gay journal, “The Screamer.”

Bohr’s collection, named the Chris Gonzales Library & Archives after an activist who died of AIDS in 1994, is a labor of love and depends on free rent. Today it is housed in the basement of a building at 429 E. Vermont St. where the advocacy group Indy Pride is based. (The collection is open to the public on weekends)….

Two decades ago Bohr… told The Indianapolis Star that the gay community was responsible for preserving their own culture. “No one else is going to keep our history for us,” he said.

Now, that’s no longer true. Recently the historical society approached Bohr about acquiring parts of his archive and keeping it in its secure, state-of-the-art facility. Bohr said no. He worries the pendulum may swing.

“Things are going well for the gay rights movement,” he said, “but history has its ups and downs. The political climate could change suddenly. (The historical society) depends on fundraising and so is susceptible to outside pressure. If the (historic society) had the archive, and the gay material became politically embarrassing, they could say, ‘Let’s bury it in the basement.’ Maybe that’s me being old and cynical, but it’s happened before.”

Source

Indystar


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Reading’s gay history project

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Lorna McArdle, Andrew Stonehill Brooks, Brendan Carr, Yvette Barda and Bobby Smith at the launch of Hidden Voices | Get Reading | 14039

A new project has been launched to research the history of LGBT people in Reading, UK in time for LGBT History Month which takes place in February 2015. (October is the chosen time in the US.) The project has Heritage Lottery funding and will involve local LGBT charity Support U leading research from older members of the LGBT community who remember when it was illegal to be gay.

Lorna McArdle said: “Support U is dedicated to supporting the LGBT community and this project will assist our organisation in seeing a real picture of the cultural past and present. The older generation is still detached from the LGBT community at large and we would like to bridge that gap with this project. It is only right that we make sure the history of the LGBT community is shown, to highlight just how far we have come towards acceptance.”


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Leather Daddies and Rainbow Crossings – welcome to San Francisco’s new-look Castro

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Leather enthusiasts at the 1978 San Francisco Gay Day Parade | San Francisco Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender Historical Society | 14040

Writing in Mission Local, Daniel Hirsch is concerned that marking gay places as historic places is counter productive and diminishes or alters the history.

At a time when bars and other queer spaces are struggling to stay open, the approach some groups are taking to mark LGBT history also has the potential to forever alter, and possibly diminish, surviving spaces. The fear is that by marking a place as historic, its current inhabitants may get pushed out to make more room for all the memories.

In the Castro district, not all residents are happy with the redevelopment of their area.

The rainbow crossing designs | Castro Biscuit | 14041

In the Castro, there’s a current plan by the Department of Public Works and the Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District to paint the district’s crosswalks in rainbow colors. It might seem at first glance like a whimsical way to celebrate the neighborhood’s queer history and culture. But for some, being somewhere over these rainbows represents further gentrification and worse, “Disneyfication.”

“How many more rainbows do we need, I mean, jesus,” said Waiyde Palmer, a contributor to the Castro Biscuit and Castro-resident since 1986. “I’m fine with a little bit of fey, but the rainbow crosswalks are the equivalent of a cheap souvenir T-shirt, like, ‘I went to the Castro, and all I got was this rainbow crosswalk.’”

Rainbow crosswalks date back to 2008, when efforts of the Castro Castro/Upper Market Community Benefit District coalesced with the city’s plans to repave roads and improve sidewalks, in a large effort called the Castro Street Improvement Project. (The Castro CBD, one of many in the city, is a special business district funded by a special tax, made up of merchants organized to improve the neighborhood as they see fit.)

In conjunction with the Planning Department and Department of Public Works, the Castro CBD took on the task of “beautifying” the neighborhood. Through a process of public input and outreach, this means the improvement project will include the following decorative elements: 20 sidewalk etchings featuring highlights of Castro history, as well as decorative LED sidewalk lights, and those rainbow-colored crosswalks.


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Charlotte and the Angels of America

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Fort Worth Opera in a performance of Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America” opera version, 2008 | Ellen Appel | 14042

The Levine Museum of the New South, in Charlotte, N.C., recently unveiled a history exhibit, “LGBTQ Perspectives on Equality” to tell the history of Charlotte, N.C.’s, gay and transgender community. 18,000 same-sex couples call the state home, including 2,000 in the Charlotte area, according to the 2010 U.S. Census.

The exhibition casts fresh light on the “Angels of America” controversy.

In 1996 a brouhaha erupted when some county officials objected to gay themes presented in a local performance of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Angels in America.” The controversy led to a vote in 1997 to restrict funding to the Arts & Science Council. The move gave the city a reputation for being intolerant.

Bob Barret, a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, took a high-profile stand for the gay community during the “Angels in America” affair, helping to create an organization called Citizens for Equality, which staged a defiant news conference on the steps of City Hall.

“I don’t know that it changed anything, but we were visible and saying, ‘We don’t like what’s going on,'” says Barret, who had challenged the Observer’s coverage of the gay community as far back as 1992, when he met with editors at the newspaper. “The media didn’t have a clue who gay people are, because people weren’t willing to stand up. Once we started to do that, attitudes changed fairly quickly. Still, there were death threats, and awful stuff was sent in the mail to me. And stuff was left on my car. People in charge at the university told me, ‘You need to be very careful. People are watching you, waiting for you to make a mistake.'”

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University of North Charlotte Multicultural Resource Center | 14043

Book shop proprietor Sue Henry was perhaps the city’s most high-profile LGBT representative of the ’90s, and was the first openly gay candidate for mayor of Charlotte, in 1995.

Her store, Rising Moon Books & Beyond, became a meeting place for gays and lesbians during the “Angels in America” controversy, with groups gathering among the books to make placards for their demonstrations. She likens it to the city’s first LGBT community center. It closed in 1997. Henry was also involved in bringing the annual North.Carolina gay and lesbian pride event to Charlotte in 1994, which she says made local gays and lesbians aware of “what we can do when we came together.” “I don’t feel especially brave. Maybe I’m stubborn,” says Henry, who currently lives in Greenville, N.C. “For the first couple of years I had the bookstore, I would go in expecting the windows to be broken out by a brick, but it never happened. It’s that worry, that fear, that often stops the LGBT community.”

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Filming Hungary’s gay history

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Making the film | SoSoGay | 14085

SoSoGay highlights an appeal for funding for a gay history film project, “Hot Men Cold Dictatorships”.

How did gay men live during the communist era in the heart of Central Europe? Did the subculture flourish from the ’60s? What was the extent of government harassment? Was homosexuality considered a crime, an illness or neither? How did gay men hook up or have relationships during this time of oppression? Did legal changes have any effect on everyday life? Hot Men Cold Dictatorships attempts to answer these questions. Four young Hungarian gay men decided to make a movie about their ’forefathers’ during the dictatorship period.

Hot Men Cold Dictatorships concentrates on telling the stories of the older gay generation in Hungary, who were the pioneers of the gay movement, entrepreneurs and ordinary people who all happened to be gay in the communist era.

After 1962, homosexuality was no longer considered a crime in Hungary, but gay people were under surveillance and blackmailed into spying on their peers by the authorities. During the Kádár era (named after János Kádár, General Secretary of the Hungarian Socialist Workers’ Party and de facto leader of Hungary) they lived underground. Not until the late 1980s and early 1990s did the first visible communities begin to form and initiate a movement.

The film brings to life important scenes and key venues of the communist past: for example, the Egyetem Bár, the best-known gay bar in Budapest at that time; the Duna-korzó, a popular cruising area; or the Island of Rab in Croatia, which was the embodiment of freedom for many Hungarians.

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Toronto’s treasure trove

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Uncredited photographer | Copyright control | 14077

Torontoist has been to the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives, which were begun 40 years ago, when it was started by the gay magazine The Body Politic.

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Get Out Canada | 14133

Originally in a filing cabinet in the magazine’s office, most of the archive is stored in a mid-19th-century home at 34 Isabella Street (pictured). The archive relies on around seventy volunteers.

The photo collection, originally built from the files of The Body Politic, includes rare pictures of lesbians during the Second World War enjoying each other’s company.

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China tiptoes out of the closet, gently

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Shanghai in 2009 | Nir Elias/Reuters | 14153

Despite ten years of Chinese citizen petitions for same-sex marriage, the Chinese government has never responded with a public statement. Recent developments suggest that the Chinese government policy on homosexuality is being relaxed, but in reality no official policy exists. Harassment might be on the decline, but LGBT rights are still ignored on a political level.

China’s landmarks are the 1997 decriminalization of ‘hooliganism’, which was widely assumed to include homosexuality, although the law was never explicit, and the 2001 decision to remove homosexuality from the list of mental diseases.

Since 1993 Renowned sociologist and activist Li Yinhe has repeatedly tried to have homosexuality legalised but his attempts have never been met by sufficient support of parliamentary representatives to pass the threshold of 30 votes for becoming a proposal.

Attitudes remain deeply conservative and traditional. There is a big gap between those who participate in the activities of LGBT organizations, who are often aware of and sympathetic towards international debates on gay rights, and other gays and lesbians, simply living in other parts of Chinese society. Wei Wei, a scholar who does in-depth fieldwork, talked to ‘non-active’ gay men and found that, even when they have same-sex partners, many consider marriage as something that could and should only be between men and women.

Many gays prefer not to initiate a confrontation with their families. Their parents might actually know or suspect they are in a same-sex relationship, but as long as it remains unsaid, no social taboos are violated. So they bring home their partner to celebrate Chinese New Year, as “their best friend.”

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