Patriotic Bisexuality and the Disloyal Homosexual Subject in Weimar Germany

Friday, January 4, 2019: 11:10 AM
Williford C (Hilton Chicago)
Lauren Stokes, Northwestern University
This paper will the trace the origins of the contemporary stereotype of the “disloyal bisexual”—more allied with the patriarchal status quo than with the emancipatory project of the queer community—and suggest that it might be found in Weimar Germany.

Although sexologists such as Havelock Ellis, Karl-Heinrich Ulrich, and Magnus Hirschfeld certainly identified the existence of bisexual behavior even before the turn of the twentieth century, the “bisexual” did not cohere as an identity category. This paper re-examines the homosexual emancipation movement in the Weimar Republic in order to understand why.

According to what was called the “masculinist” homosexual movement represented by figures such as Adolf Brand, Benedict Friedländer, and Hans Blüher, bisexual behaviors enabled a kind of ultra-patriotism for homosexuals. By taking wives, men could uphold their responsibility to father children, and by taking male lovers, they could express their commitment to the national male community, a community that they understood as formed by homosocial and homoerotic relationships that strengthened national institutions including the army, police and civil service. Bisexual behavior, then, emerged as both a reasoned choice and as a form of patriotic duty in the writings of the masculinists.

Scholars have identified a variety of conflicts between the masculinists and other segments of the Weimar-era homosexual emancipation movement. The masculinists were not inclined towards the scientific discourses of legal reform favored by other homosexual emancipationists, and many of them were also virulently misogynistic and anti-Semitic. This paper will turn our focus to the bisexual behavior of many masculinists, and will ask whether it makes sense to also understand the question of bisexuality as one of the central conflicts between the various strains of the Weimar homosexual emancipation movement.

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