May 6th, 2013
TODAY IN HISTORY:
145 YEARS AGO: The Word “Homosexuality” Coined: 1868. On this date, an Austrian-born Hungarian by the name of Karl-Maria Kertbeny (or KÃ¡roly MÃ¡ria Kertbeny, see Feb 28) wrote a letter in which he used, for the first time in recorded history, a new word of his creation: HomosexualitÃ¤t.
The letter was to German gay-rights advocate Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (see Aug 28). Ulrichs was, more precisely speaking, an urning-rights advocate. Ulrichs defined urning as a “male-bodied person with a female psyche,” who is sexually attracted to men and not women. In fact, he had complex taxonomy to describe the many combinations and permutations of gender, gender role, attractions, and degrees of affection. In addition to urning, there was dioning (a heterosexual masculine man), uranodioning (a male bisexual), mannlinge (very masculine man with an attraction toward effeminate men), manuring (effeminate man who was attracted towards women), and virilisiert mannlinger (a “straight-acting” gay man) — and that was just for men. There was also a list of counterpart words for women. It was all very complicated to try to keep track of.
In English, the terminology was very simple — in fact, too simple. The word invert described gay men and women as embodying an inversion of sex-role behavior. But that term depended on a description of sex role behavior rather than sexual attraction, which meant that masculine men and feminine women who were attracted to the same sex fell outside of the definition.
And this is what set Kertbeny’s homosexualitÃ¤t apart. Hor the first time, here was a simple word that went straight to the heart of the matter: the object of sexual or romantic desire was separated from the gender role — but not the gender itself — of the subject as part of the definition. This eventually allowed for the discussion of everyone who was attracted to the same gender, men and women, masculine and feminine.
HomosexualitÃ¤t made its first known public appearance the following year, when Kertbeny anonymously published a pamphlet calling for the repeal of Prussia’s sodomy laws. Other German advocates picked up the word, and it eventually made its English appearance as “homosexuality” at around 1894, which Richard von Krafft-Ebing’s 1886 Psychopathia Sexualis was translated into English. Adoption in English was slow however. The famous English sexologist Havelock Ellis (see Feb 2) hated it on linguistic grounds: its mixture of Greek-based (“homo”) and Latin-based (“sexual”) roots were anathema to him. In his groundbreaking first volume of Studies in the Psychology of Sex published in 1897, Ellis clung to his favored term inversion, writing in a footnote on the first page of the text, “‘Homosexual’ is a barbarously hybrid word, and I claim no responsibility for it. It is, however, convenient, and now widely used.” But even as he saw the writing on the wall he resisted and suggested an alternative: ” ‘Homogenic’ has been suggested as a substitute,” he added.
His suggestion of homogenic never caught on, and even he declined to adopt it. Invert remained a common term, but its usage continued to diminish until it finally met its demise in the 1920’s. That’s when when the psychoanalytic theories of Sigmund Freud, who preferred the word “homosexuality” and its counterparts “heterosexuality” and “bisexuality” became popular in the English-speaking world. We’ve been homos (or bi’s, as the case may be) ever since.
80 YEARS AGO: Nazis Storm the Institute of Sex Research: 1933. The great German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld (see May 14) established the Institute of Sex Research in 1919. Located in Berlin’s Tiergarten it became a major center for gay rights advocacy and research, with a massive research library archive. The Institute included medical, psychological, and ethnological divisions, provided marriage and sex counseling.
But when the Nazis came to power in January of 1933, the Institute quickly became a target of official ire. On May 6 of that year while Hirchfeld was on a lecture tour of the U.S., students of the Deutsche Studentenschaft began parading in front of the Institute. That night, Nazis attacked it and looted the archives. Four days later, those archives served as the fuel for the famous book-burning rally, where some 20,000 books and journals, and 5,000 images, were destroyed. The Institute’s groundbreaking work came to an abrupt end. Hirschfeld remained in exile, first in Paris and later in Nice, where he died of a heart attack in 1935.
Rudolph Valentino: 1895. Known as the original Latin Lover, Italina-born Rodolpho Guglielmi di Valentina D’Antonguolla’s appearances in films like The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, The Sheik, Blood and Sand, The Eagle and Son of the Sheik established him as one of moviedom’s earliest male sex symbols. When he died suddenly at the age of 31, his public viewing prompted near-rioting among his female fans. Valentino had married twice — once to a reputed lesbian actress (according to their divorce papers, they never consummated the marriage), and then to Natacha Rambova, the artistic director for an early film they both worked on. That marriage also ended in divorce.
Neither marriage did much to quell rumors of Valentino’s “effeminacy,” which critics believed they detected in his sensitive and stylish portrayals on the silver screen. One Chicago Tribune editorial blasted his androgynous image as the “Pink Powder Puff.” Wrote the writer, “When will we be rid of all these effeminate youths, pomaded, powdered, bejeweled and bedizened, in the image of Rudy–that painted pansy?” The evidence behind those rumors remains both skimpy and controversial. Oh well, his birthday is noteworthy regardless of whether he was gay or not. I mean, just look at him!
If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).
And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?
In this original BTB Investigation, we unveil the tragic story of Kirk Murphy, a four-year-old boy who was treated for “cross-gender disturbance” in 1970 by a young grad student by the name of George Rekers. This story is a stark reminder that there are severe and damaging consequences when therapists try to ensure that boys will be boys.
When we first reported on three American anti-gay activists traveling to Kampala for a three-day conference, we had no idea that it would be the first report of a long string of events leading to a proposal to institute the death penalty for LGBT people. But that is exactly what happened. In this report, we review our collection of more than 500 posts to tell the story of one nation’s embrace of hatred toward gay people. This report will be updated continuously as events continue to unfold. Check here for the latest updates.
In 2005, the Southern Poverty Law Center wrote that “[Paul] Cameron’s ‘science’ echoes Nazi Germany.” What the SPLC didn”t know was Cameron doesn’t just “echo” Nazi Germany. He quoted extensively from one of the Final Solution’s architects. This puts his fascination with quarantines, mandatory tattoos, and extermination being a “plausible idea” in a whole new and deeply disturbing light.
On February 10, I attended an all-day “Love Won Out” ex-gay conference in Phoenix, put on by Focus on the Family and Exodus International. In this series of reports, I talk about what I learned there: the people who go to these conferences, the things that they hear, and what this all means for them, their families and for the rest of us.
Prologue: Why I Went To “Love Won Out”
Part 1: What’s Love Got To Do With It?
Part 2: Parents Struggle With “No Exceptions”
Part 3: A Whole New Dialect
Part 4: It Depends On How The Meaning of the Word "Change" Changes
Part 5: A Candid Explanation For "Change"
Using the same research methods employed by most anti-gay political pressure groups, we examine the statistics and the case studies that dispel many of the myths about heterosexuality. Download your copy today!
And don‘t miss our companion report, How To Write An Anti-Gay Tract In Fifteen Easy Steps.
Anti-gay activists often charge that gay men and women pose a threat to children. In this report, we explore the supposed connection between homosexuality and child sexual abuse, the conclusions reached by the most knowledgeable professionals in the field, and how anti-gay activists continue to ignore their findings. This has tremendous consequences, not just for gay men and women, but more importantly for the safety of all our children.
Anti-gay activists often cite the “Dutch Study” to claim that gay unions last only about 1½ years and that the these men have an average of eight additional partners per year outside of their steady relationship. In this report, we will take you step by step into the study to see whether the claims are true.
Tony Perkins’ Family Research Council submitted an Amicus Brief to the Maryland Court of Appeals as that court prepared to consider the issue of gay marriage. We examine just one small section of that brief to reveal the junk science and fraudulent claims of the Family “Research” Council.
The FBI’s annual Hate Crime Statistics aren’t as complete as they ought to be, and their report for 2004 was no exception. In fact, their most recent report has quite a few glaring holes. Holes big enough for Daniel Fetty to fall through.