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The Struggle for Gay Rights Before Stonewall

This lecture proposes that homoerotic magazines played a crucial role in the homosexual rights movement during the Weimar Republic (1918–1933). The gay rights activist and publisher Friedrich Radszuweit harnessed the power of print to establish Germany’s largest homosexual organization, the League for Human Rights, by balancing light entertainment and serious politics. While the quality and decency of these publications was at times questioned, this lecture shows how they nonetheless encouraged readers to come out as productive members of society. In Radszuweit's view, respectability was essential for achieving acceptance, and assimilation was a fair price to pay for equal rights. Finally, this lecture connects this early movement to the contemporary struggle for LGBTQ+ rights.

Faculty Member: Javier Samper Vendrell

Meet Professor Samper Vendrell

Javier Samper Vendrell is Assistant Professor of German Studies at Grinnell College. His research focuses on LGBTQ history in Germany. He received a PhD in Modern European History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he was also part of its distinguished Program in Gender and Women’s History. Samper Vendrell was the recipient of a George L. Mosse Graduate Fellowship in LGBT History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the only five-year fellowship of its kind in the United States. His work has been supported by grants from the Council for European Studies, Central European History Society, and Grinnell College’s Committee for the Support of Faculty Scholarship. Samper Vendrell has published articles in The Germanic ReviewGerman Studies Review, and in the Journal of the History of Sexuality on topics such as Weimar cinema; the queer history of the Holocaust; and youth psychology and adolescent sexuality in the early twentieth century. His first book, The Seduction of Youth: Print Culture and Homosexual Rights in the Weimar Republic, was published in 2020 by the University of Toronto Press. The book is part of a body of growing interdisciplinary cultural studies that address the production of non-normative sexual identities, the history of homophobia, and the relationship between mass culture and politics. In particular, it investigates the wide-spread belief at the time that homosexuals were cunning seducers of youth and how those within the homosexual emancipation movement reacted against this pervasive homophobic trope. In addition to German language courses, Samper Vendrell’s teaching interests encompass nineteenth- and twentieth-century German and European cultural history; race, gender and sexuality; and youth and popular cultures. 

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Thursday July 30
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
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The discussion for this lecture occurred on July 30, 2020. You are still able to watch the lecture by registering. After you register, you will receive an email with the link to watch the lecture at your leisure.
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The Struggle for Gay Rights Before Stonewall: