"Through knowledge to justice!"
October 30, 2018 2:05 PM   Subscribe

The GLBT Historical Society in SF had a Magnus Hirschfeld exhibit a couple years ago. Here's a video of the curator, Gerard Koskovich.
posted by larrybob at 3:13 PM on October 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

That story of Li Shiu Tong is just awful.
posted by Nelson at 4:16 PM on October 30, 2018

I really enjoyed this podcast—thanks for the heads up on the new episode!
posted by bookmammal at 4:20 PM on October 30, 2018

Earlier this year, I read the book Homintern, which is an extensive and very detailed history of gay intellectuals in the 20th century—basically Oscar Wilde to Stonewall. I highly recommend it. I learned about his institute and its destruction from the book, though I think I had heard of it without really knowing the full story before.

This is a good podcast and I am glad to have discovered it.
posted by Orlop at 7:08 PM on October 30, 2018 [2 favorites]

This is fascinating, thank you!

To folks interested in this podcast, I'd also recommend One from the Vaults, Morgan M. Page's trans history podcast.
posted by ITheCosmos at 5:37 AM on October 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

We have to preserve our memories.
posted by nikaspark at 6:10 AM on October 31, 2018 [1 favorite]

I noted Heike Bauer's 2017 book on Hirshfeld, The Hirschfeld Archives: Violence, Death, and Modern Queer Culture recently. I haven't finished it—it's tough going given that its focus is precisely violence—but it's filled with amazing detail.

I actually first learned about Hirshfeld and the Institute from Isherwood's Christopher And His Kind (1976). Isherwood's good for the perspective of an early twentieth century upper-class Anglo gay man, tho somewhat less than "intersectional."

On being given a tour of the Institute's collections
"Christopher giggled because he was embarassed. He was embarassed because, at last, he was being brought face to face with his tribe. Up to now he had behaved as though the tribe didn't exist and homosexuality were a private way of life discovered by himself and a few friends. He had always known, of course, that this wasn't true. But now he was forced to admit kinship with these freakish fellow tribesmen and their distasteful customs. And he didn't like it. His first reaction was to blame the Institute. He said to himself: How can they take this stuff so seriously?

Then, one afternoon, André Gide paid them a visit. He was taken on a tour of the premises personally conducted by Hirshfeld ... Gide looked on, making a minimum of polite comment, judiciously fingering his chin ... No doubt he thought Hirshfeld's performance hopelessly crude and un-French. Christopher's Gallophobia flared up ... Suddenly he loved Hirshfeld—at whom he himself had been sneering moments before— ... Nevertheless, they were all three of them on the same side, whether Christopher liked it or not. And later he would learn to honor them both, as heroic leaders of his tribe."
posted by octobersurprise at 7:39 AM on October 31, 2018 [3 favorites]

I don't see in the transcript a reference to Hirschfeld's nickname, Auntie Magnesia. It was apparently used sometimes as a slur by other members of the German gay community of that time, which included a faction that celebrated masculinity above all others values. (Think Ernst Rohm.)

If I am remembering correctly, there's a character in one of John Henry Mackay's novels, written during Hirschfeld's lifetime, who expresses distaste for the doctor's lack of masculinity. When the character is outed as a homosexual, Hirschfeld is the only one who provides sympathy and support. (I think the novel was Fenny Skaller--I'll have to dig it out and check.)

It's good to remember there have always been those is the gay community who could use a little consciousness raising themselves.
posted by layceepee at 12:54 PM on October 31, 2018 [2 favorites]

Auntie Magnesia.

Putting that next to "Patty Bourgeois" in the "Favorite possible future drag names" file.

(Having quoted Isherwood on Hirshfeld, I neglected to note his encounter with the trans guests of the Institute: partly because that was tangential to my point, partly because Isherwood shared the attitude of his age and spoke of them as "transvestites"—Hirshfeld's understanding of gender non-conforming persons in the 1920's appears to be more sophisticated than Isherwood's in the 1970s. But afterwards I felt like I was replicating my own kind of erasure, so consider it noted.)
posted by octobersurprise at 6:42 AM on November 1, 2018

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