Where did Gay pride begin? Was it with Oscar Wilde and his trial in London? The Stonewall riots in New York?
Although same sex love is as old as love itself, public talk of it actually started in Munich, in 1867, when an 42 year old lawyer, Karl Ulrich found himself debating whether or not to march into a room filled with German Jurists. After rousing enough courage to step inside, he spoke. The assembly heard of the persecution of people with a “sexual nature opposed to common custom”.
Forced to stop his speech, all hell broke loose. But the message rang true for many of his colleagues that day. One of them, Karl Kertberg, an Austrian writer who opposed absurd sodomy laws and coined the word “homosexuality”, took up the charge. Then Berlin became the epicenter of the movement when Der Eigene, the very first gay journal in the world, was published from 1896 to 1932 by Adolf Brand in Berlin.
The heart of German Idealism and Romanticism: heroes who steal their freedom and make their own laws – living in their own moral universe – the spirit that fueled the first gay rights movement. The Berlin police commissioner, for his part, sort of endorsed it by permitting the bars and clubs and theaters to stay open. By thoroughly documenting every gay or lesbian he could find – he obviously had a nefarious agenda: The Department of Homosexuality (1885) carefully catalogued everyone involved (at least the uptown types).
Through the 1920’s, Berlin still held the gay movement in a close embrace. The films and songs that emerged from that period led to the Reichstag government’s decriminalization of homosexuality in 1929. But before the final vote could even take place, the stock market crash’s chaos put the law on ice.
Even in the sciences, the famous German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld, who was the first openly gay doctor and gay rights advocate. Unlike Freud’s flawed ideas that sexuality can be mutated and therefore be curable through therapy, Hirschfeld advocated that gayness was biological. He was also the first one who wrote about transsexuals. Clearly a pioneer, he founded the Institute for Sexual Science (1919-1933) which was – you guessed it again – shut down by the Nazi’s.