Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The First Angry Gay Activist and the First Gay Rag.

In 1896, the year before Magnus Hirschfeld launched WhK, a gay Berlin publisher named Adolph Brand started the magazine Der Eigene (Goran Koch-Swahne informs me that this should be translated as "Queer"), the first gay magazine. It lasted until 1931, and in the beginning was available for purchase only through private subscription. It was primarily devoted to literature. Some of what are now considered major works of gay poetry were first published in Der Eigene.
Brand was probably history's first recorded angry gay hothead. He was fearless and had a very short fuse. He spent a lot of time in jail; on one occasion, for attacking a member of the Reichstag with a cane. He was the first advocate of "outing," and ended up in jail again when he said, in print, that Chancellor Von Buelow (Bismarck's successor) was having an affair with the Privy Secretary, Max Scheefer.
Brand joined Hirschfeld's WhK, but by 1903 had split with him (the first of many such angry splits in gay politics). Hirschfeld argued that homosexuality was the result of a third "intermediate" gender. Brand rejected this idea, and was among the first gay activists to advocate a more "manly man" vision of liberated homosexuality. Der Eigene became the center of a whole movement deeply influenced by anarchism and the egoist philosophy of Max Stimer. Brand tried to revive the military traditions of ancient Greek homosexuality with writings about the Spartans and the Sacred Band of Thebes. Brand's followers practiced vigorous physical exercise, athletics, and were enthusiastic hikers and campers.
Brand closed the magazine and the movement down for the duration of World War I. He joined the army, and (remarkably) emerged at the end of the War married to a military nurse, Elise Behrendt (yes, a woman).
Elise must have been a very understanding wife, because Brand quickly picked up where he had left off during the Weimar Republic. In 1925, Brand and Hirschfeld managed to patch things up and join forces again when it looked like there was a real chance that Paragraph 175 would be repealed. But, the repeal never left committee, and by 1929 was a dead issue.


Göran Koch-Swahne said...

Der Eigene is Ídios in Greek, so it means the Queer, the odd one out...

Counterlight said...

Thanks Goran. I was wondering. That's even better.