Known already in the 1850s for the friendly company of its warm brothers (German slang for men who love other men), Berlin, before the turn of the twentieth century, became a place where scholars, activists, and medical professionals could explore and begin to educate both themselves and Europe about new and emerging sexual identities. Read more...
Known already in the 1850s for the friendly company of its warm brothers (German slang for men who love other men), Berlin, before the turn of the twentieth century, became a place where scholars, activists, and medical professionals could explore and begin to educate both themselves and Europe about new and emerging sexual identities. From Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a German activist described by some as the first openly gay man, to the world of Berlin s vast homosexual subcultures, to a major sex scandal that enraptured the daily newspapers and shook the court of Emperor William II and on through some of the very first sex reassignment surgeries Robert Beachy" "uncovers the long-forgotten events and characters that continue to shape and influence the way we think of sexuality today.
Chapter by chapter Beachy s scholarship illuminates forgotten firsts, including the life and work of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, first to claim (in 1896) that same-sex desire is an immutable, biologically determined characteristic, and founder of the Institute for Sexual Science. Though raided and closed down by the Nazis in 1933, the institute served as, among other things, a veritable incubator for the science of tran-sexuality, scene of one of the world s first sex reassignment surgeries. Fascinating, surprising, and informative "Gay Berlin "is certain to be counted as a foundational cultural examination of human sexuality."
- ISBN-13: 9780307272102
- ISBN-10: 0307272109
- Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group
- Publish Date: November 2014
- Page Count: 336
- Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.6 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.55 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-09-29
- Reviewer: Staff
History professor Beachy’s purpose, “to historicize the invention of the homosexual and place this sexual identity firmly within the German milieu in which it appeared,” is achieved in this erudite work that traces the emergence of gay identity and sexual orientation to German—specifically Berlin—culture at the turn of the 20th century. Beachy relates the contributions of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, “arguably the first man in modern history to acknowledge openly his sexual attraction to other men”; Richard von Kraft-Ebbing, a leading sexologist in the late 19th century; and Karl Kertbeny, who is credited with coining the neologism Homosexualität (homosexuality) in the mid-19th century. Particular attention is paid to the work of Magnus Hirschfeld, whose “true genius” was “combining almost seamlessly his science and activism.” Beachy also covers the activities of Berlin- based organizations such as the Scientific- Humanitarian Committee, the world’s first homosexual rights organization. This lucidly written narrative includes enough spice (accounts of scandals, secret identities, and crimes) to draw in a general readership. However, Beachy’s deeply researched, carefully structured book is foremost an impressive piece of scholarship. (Nov.)