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Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

A Lovely Gathering on the Occasion of the 175th Birthday of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

Happy Birthday To You!

by Hans-Peter Weingand

Translated by Michael Lombardi-Nash for Paul Nash
More than 25 Gays from Florida, Berlin, Göttingen, Munich, Graz, and naturally from Italy answered the call from the Internet to meet on August 28 at noon in the little southern Italian city of L'Aquila. For, on this day exactly 175 years ago Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born.

A small, diverse, gay group gathered there, which was, however, united by one thing: all of its members were activists who were aware of their history -- people whose work was motivated by the memory of the brave pioneer. And they wanted to make a contribution to his memory.

The representatives from Göttingen already achieved having a memorial plaque placed in their city, where Ulrichs studied. It memorializes the "first Gay person in the world."

Thanks to Wolfram Setz of the Munich Ulrichs Committee, a square in the Bavarian capital city memorializes the fact that in 1867, before the Association of Jurists, a brave Gay jurist made a plea to decriminalize homosexuality -- and was shouted down.

Or Mike Lombardi-Nash, who translated the classics of the early Gay Movement into the American language.

And last but not least Massimo Consoli, one of the "founders" of the Italian Gay Movement.

It goes without saying that there was also shoptalk. Even more exciting was the exchange of information about current problems. From the Romans, we found out about the problems concerning the mayor, a member of the Green party, who withdrew his support one week before Europride. Or that it took three years to prepare for Europride 2000. (It makes you shudder to think about Vienna 2001 -- and hope...) Or the discussion of the draft of the law by the Red and Green parties in Germany concerning same-sex partnerships. And the story of the mayor of the nearby city of Chieti, who said there were no Gays in his city, and he did not want any either...

Now and then it is good to think about the brave "pioneer" and to look into his texts, which were written more than 100 years ago. Such as, for example, into the writings in which Ulrichs wrote the following 130 years ago -- but which is still relevant -- about Urnings (= Gays) and Dionings (= heteros): "Unfortunately, most Urnings...exhibit little interest in the efforts that promote freedom, justice, and a place in human society for Urningdom [= homosexuality]...They think it is more important to be taken as a lady at masquerade balls and be courted by deceived Dionings."

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