Thank you! What a swell party that was!
A lively crowd of appreciative men, women, and children, Gay and non-Gay, of all shapes and sizes dressed in their summer finery, were drawn to Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Platz to celebrate the 175th birthday anniversary of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.
The sprightly and happy occasion was orchestrated and presented under the auspices of Wolfram Setz of the Munich Ulrichs Committee. His low-key but clever approach to the celebration made it evident to all in attendance the important role Munich had to play in the great Ulrichs' life.
Under a perfect summer sky people strolled or rode bikes into the platz from several streets leading into it and surrounded a stage that held a lone chair covered in red. At precisely two o'clock Wolfram approached the microphone.
Suddenly trumpets rang out from the distance and out of the pub next to the platz strode Karl Heinrich Ulrichs himself! (Harald Hasel played the role of Ulrichs). Wolfram presented Ulrichs to those in attendance as the crowd broke out in cheers, applause, and laughter of delight.
Again trumpets were blasted, and out of the pub two tall, handsome soldiers seemingly right out an 1860's German army marched to the stage and flanked Ulrichs -- this time the hussars came not to arrest him but to protect him.
German actor Thomas Kylau read a few poems in which Karl expressed his love for soldiers. Karl, who had a "thing" for soldiers, was now in his element. Karl stepped to the microphone and the crowd fell silent. His voice electrified the air with the same forceful words he had written in Raging Sword about his speech at the Odeon Theater:Until my dying day I will look back with pride when I found the courage to come face to face in battle against the specter of an age-old, wrathful hydra which from time immemorial has been injecting poison into me and into men of my nature. Many have been driven to suicide because all their happiness in life was tainted. Indeed, I am proud that I found the courage to deal the initial blow to the hydra of public contempt.
The applause at the end of Ulrichs' speech meant the party was in full swing. After more trumpet blasts Wolfram presented to Ulrichs special guests from Germany.
Hanover Representative Hans Hengelein asked Ulrichs for forgiveness for the inhospitality he was exposed to when he worked there as a civil servant. Ulrichs was banned from the Kingdom of Hanover because he was Gay. A street is scheduled to be named after Ulrichs in 2002. Hengelein, who had arrived in a wheelchair, was assisted by a devilishly handsome man in a U.S. Navy uniform.
Several well-wishers from other cities gave brief birthday greetings, including author and lawyer Bernd Aretz of Marburg. Aretz, who had given a reading in Ulrichs' honor the night before, filled "Ulrichs" in about "Gay lawyers." (Ulrichs himself had passed the bar).
Commissioner Jörg Hutter of Bremen, a city in which Ulrichs had worked as a journalist, informed Ulrichs that he had proposed that a street in Bremen be named Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Strasse. [In 2002, Ulrichsplatz became a reality in Bremen]
A sudden blast on the trumpet again surprised the crowd. Wolfram announced that special greetings were to be presented from Austria and the United States.
Helmut Graupner, a lawyer and activist representing Austria, told Ulrichs about the problems with the age of consent laws of that country. Groans greeted his statement that perhaps by Ulrichs' 200th birthday Gays in Austria might enjoy the equality they deserve.
Mike, in his Ulrichs' Celebration 2000 t-shirt, wished happy birthday from all Americans, North or South, with special greetings from Jacksonville, Florida. He also noted that the people of Munich were twice blessed to have Ulrichs in their wonderful city on Ulrichs' 42nd and 175th birthdays.
Wolfram brought the celebration to a close with a few remarks. The trumpets played once more -- this time with a rousing round of happy birthday, which of course everyone sang in joyful chorus.
Waiters appreared with champagne, a final toast was given, and people mingled. After a quick visit to the annual Gay streetfair on Hans-Sachs Street (photos left and right from gaymunich.de), for many it was off to L'Aquila for the big day on the 28th.
Yes, Mr. Setz. You can be proud. What a swell party that was!
Harald Hasel, who played Karl Heinrich Ulrichs at the Munich 175th birthday anniversary party, is an up and coming actor currently residing in Berlin. He is known for playing the role of Ulrichs in Schwuler Mut (Gay Courage) in 1997 German film by Rosa von Praunheim.
Harald performed with the Berliner Männer Ensemble and played the role of "Mattheus" in Terrence McNally's "Corpus Christi."
Wolfram's bathroom served as the star's dressing room. Harald was kind enough to allow himself to be photographed in the process of getting into character. Harald was a great sport and a lot of fun to be with. He had a wonderful sense of humor.
After Harald completed his makeup and wardrobe, it was time to head for his hotel (Hotel Eiche), the Oak Hotel. While Harald put on the final touches and got into his role, Paul and Mike had coffee in the lounge. "Karl," Paul, and Mike then made it by foot to a waiting area near the stage: a bar on Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Platz. But before going there, pictures were taken in the Square. Bernd Aretz, who had given a reading of Ulrichs' works at the Max & Milian Bookstore the day before, was one early arrival.
In his top hat and tails, Harald withstood the heat like a true professional. He earned a cool Bavarian beer! When he finally got a chance to relax, Harald said he was truly happy he had landed the role of Ulrichs in the film and for the birthday party.
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