The Golden Age of Gay Fiction | Drewey Wayne Gunn | First Edition
Because these groups provided such a convenient setting for queer social life and political activism, they spread rapidly throughout the country. By there were around a dozen of them, each of them drawing anywhere from dozens to hundreds of attendees to their events.
The Stasi, which had thousands of informants within the church, soon caught wind of these efforts. They recruited informants within the groups, both to gather information and to sow discord. Moles accused gay men of misogyny and encouraged lesbians to form their own groups. They cultivated antagonism between the church and the activists, and even accused other activists of being Stasi agents. But to little avail. Membership continued to swell and activists began to coordinate strategy at national meetings.
They soon agreed on a set of wide-ranging policy goals, including better access to housing, abolition of the higher age of consent for homosexual sex, ability to serve in the military, and better access to sexual health services. As the groups grew, the Stasi became increasingly concerned that they posed an existential threat to the socialist regime. Under pressure to stem the tide of gay liberation, the secret police began debating new strategies.
Departments exchanged flurries of memos debating what course of action the government should pursue. But its final recommendation was entirely novel. Their rationale for doing so was actually rather simple. No complaints to be made, Stasi officials reasoned, meant nothing to organize about. Thus began a series of genuinely radical changes in East German society.
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The state-censored newspapers, which for decades had hardly ever mentioned homosexuality, suddenly started printing dozens of stories about gay men and lesbians. The government also freed periodicals to accept personal advertisements from gay men and lesbians looking for partners. The state tasked Berlin psychology professor Reiner Werner with writing a book titled Homosexuality: A Call to Knowledge and Tolerance , which appeared in Its initial run of 50, copies sold out in a matter of weeks.
It would also approve a gay film, Coming Out , that premiered on November 9, , the night the Berlin Wall fell. In addition, the state began granting official recognition to gay groups, such as the Sunday Club, a secular activist collective run by Sillge that had been meeting in East Berlin since the early s.
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All of a sudden, East German youth were required to attend meetings of gay groups such as the Sunday Club. In the East German Supreme Court struck down the law that set a higher age of consent for gay men and lesbians.
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The following year, the military allowed gay soldiers, reversing a policy the government had instituted in the s. The unexpected gay golden age in East Germany reveals a much more dynamic politics in the former Soviet bloc than we are wont to acknowledge. Some even found the subculture there more pleasing than the commercialized one in the West. At least a tenth of the members of gay activist groups passed information to the Stasi. The secret police also resorted to petty torments. One leader, for instance, was forbidden from pursuing graduate study as punishment for their activism.
But for many queer people in East Germany, life improved dramatically in those years. Gay men and lesbians in the East still lacked the kind of sprawling, commercial subculture that defined queer life in West Germany. But for all that, West German activists had not succeeded in convincing their national government to act on their concerns. By two very different visions of gay life and politics existed in the two Germanies.
It is by no means clear which of the two states was more modern or progressive on the question of homosexuality by our standards today. That very ambivalence is the point: West Germany was not de facto a better place for gay men and lesbians in the Cold War era. The unexpected gay golden age in East Germany reveals a much more dynamic politics in the former Soviet bloc than we are still wont to acknowledge. And East Germany was not alone: while homosexuality remained illegal in the Soviet Union until the early s, other communist countries, including Czechoslovakia and Hungary, pursued more progressive trajectories similar to East Germany.
Socialism is not necessarily the best form of government for queer people. Nonetheless it is also true that queer people were sometimes better off under socialism.
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Neither is capitalism necessarily good for gay rights. Policies related to sexuality are poor prognosticators of other politics. Gay liberation is not always a result of liberal democracy, nor is its absence isometric with authoritarianism. Furthermore, this history reveals that policies related to sexuality are poor prognosticators of other political metrics.
Different political systems treat queer people in different ways that are orthogonal to their other values.
LGBTQ+ Resources in Special Collections: Gay & lesbian pulp fiction
One of the speakers was a twenty-nine-year-old gay man, Ronald Schernikau, who had been born in East Germany, fled westward with his mother at the age of six, and then returned to East Germany in He began his career in as a book reviewer for The Weekly News TWN in Miami, and since then has contributed to a variety of print and online gay publications. Latest Comments. Craig Jungwirth Strikes Again Community Health Lifestyle Technology Travel.
South Florida Gay News. Remember Me. The clauses, first introduced by Universal Film Company, permitted the company to discontinue actors' salaries "if they forfeit the respect of the public. The clauses exist to this day. Soon after, they got divorced. Bowers wrote that he had been sexually involved with leading actor Cary Grant and his roommate, Randolph Scott, for more than a decade.
At the time, Grant was cycling through five marriages with women. Actors Cary Grant and Randolph Scott lived together in the s.
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Grant died in , and many of the subjects whose lives Bowers describes are also deceased. Some have questioned whether Bowers' accounts in the autobiography, and the corresponding documentary Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood , are accurate. Among the most speculated lavender marriages was between the famed actor Rock Hudson and his secretary Phyllis Gates.