Site hosted by Build your free website today!

The Urning And His Rights


Karl Heinrich Ulrichs:

A Report by Semper Augustus

Translated by Michael Lombardi-Nash, Ph.D.

For Paul J. Nash

The highly educated former Hanoverian government jurist, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895), published 12 writings [13 if you count Memnon II] advocating man-manly sexual love. The books appeared from 1864 to 1879 under the titles Vindex (The Vindicator), Inclusa (Inclusive), Vindicta (Rod of Freedom), Formatrix (She [Nature] Who Creates), Ara spei (Refuge of Hope), Gladius furens (Raging Sword), Memnon (The Lone Voice), Incubus, Argonauticus, Prometheus, Araxes (Raging River), and Kritische Pfeile (Critical Arrows).

He used the pseudonym Numa Numantius for the first five books. All of the writings of this distinguished and gifted Urning are relevant today and would have become very scarce if Magnus Hirschfeld, M.D., had not had them reprinted and published by Spohr Books in Leipzig in 1898, under the collective title Forschungen über das Räthsel der mannmännlichen Liebe ( Research on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love ). Unfortunately, there were many changes and omissions that other people believed were purely arbitrary and improper.

What is news is that Ulrichs still had plans to write more. Proof of this is in the possession of one of the subscribers of our newspaper. It is a first print of Ulrichs' Der Urning und sein Recht (The Urning and His Rights), which begins with the motto:

Not even the smallest creature
Was born without any rights.

On pages 3 and 8 of this proof sheet, apparently the only one that did not reach the press, Ulrichs announced "another special (historical) booklet," thus the fourteenth of his homoerotic writings. It is supposed that he gave up all desire to serve the community after the first part of his thirteenth writing, because he was tormented and embittered by his lack of a means of a livelihood. But one thing was certain: he would have given us the most mature and clearest work in his life with the completed writing The Urning and His Rights. Every sentence of this book breathes pure Ulrichsian intellect, and reading it gives the impression that the whole thing was completed in one gush.

The torso, which probably originates in 1879 or at the beginning of 1880, contains 19 paragraphs in Part One, "Uranism as a Natural Phenomenon." We cannot resist repeating here a few sentences from it.

From Paragraph (§) 2: Vienna and Berlin have a population of 800,000 and 1,000,000 persons respectively, and each has approximately 1,200 to 1,255 adult Urnings. My earlier count of Uranians proved to be too modest.

From § 4: Uranian love is natural. It is an original form of the natural drive, a form of it that is healthy and pure to the core. For that reason, Uranian love is no form of "degeneracy," "abomination," or "baseness of character," things about Uranian love which the writings of the professors truly are filled with. Especially in our century. In the past one it was partly otherwise. For that reason it also has nothing to do with willful deviation from nature or with rejection of its laws. Uranians are born that way and for this very reason are following a natural law, namely a natural law to which their love drive is subjected. They follow a natural law exactly as non-Uranians do. For this very reason it has nothing to do with mental disorder. Also, no one should worry -- it is not contagious!

From § 7: The Uranian male cannot make love to women; that is an immutable natural law. That is just the way nature created him. (It is truly a pity that you, dear non-Uranian reader, did not create the world, is that not so? You no doubt could have done a much better job.) Uranian males were just not born to make love to women. The effect of their love drive puts them on an equal basis as women who were born to make love to men. Uranian males can escape this effect just as little as women can.

From § 12: As you know, the love drive is one of the most powerful natural drives that is rooted in all living beings. Next to the drive for survival, it is supposed to be the most intense of all the drives. In the case of every healthy person who has reached full sexual maturity, health and welfare of the body and soul demand a periodical and repeated satisfaction of the drive. This is no more or no less than a necessity of life. Long periods of abstinence can have adverse effects; it at least leads to psychological torment. In the case of the present views of sexual love in general and of Uranian love in particular, this cannot be repeated or stressed often enough. Health and welfare do not demand uncontrolled excesses. We are not talking about that. But they do demand an enjoyment of love that truly grants some satisfaction.

From § 19: Unfortunately, up to the present day, people have rejected making anthropological observations on this point. They have decoded Egyptian hieroglyphics and Persian cuneiform, and they can classify the tiniest fossilized shell of prehistory, and they have established the spectrum of Sirius and Vindemiatrix. However, the area of the nature of human sexuality remains in the backwaters of their mind.

One natural law, whose existence about which they have no idea, goes as follows:

There is a gradual transition between the love drive of the male and female.

Of course, it was not possible for the professors in our century to discover this natural law. When they came upon the subject, they used to do what the professors of law in the Middle Ages in Bologna did when they came up against a Greek constitution in the body of law. "It is Greek; it is not legal," they said, and with that the Greek hieroglyphics were passed over.

Our professors said, "It is not worthwhile, and it is horrifying becoming acquainted with the perverted drives of human nature" (Roßhirt). Most physicians speak exactly as this jurist.

º º º º º

The Urning and His Rights would have offered us splendid weapons for the battle we now find ourselves in. But unfortunately this product of the intellect of one of the few pioneers of our Movement and of a jurist as well, is lost.

Semper Augustus (Always with Dignity)

º º º º º

Source for the translation:

Die Freundschaft: Wochenschrift für Unterhaltung u. geistige Hebung der Idealen Freundschaft (Friendship: Weekly for Entertainment and for the Intellectual Improvement of Ideal Friendship) 43, Oct. 30 - Nov. 5, 1920, p. 1.


(c) 1992 by Michael Lombardi-Nash

Special thanks to Ulrichs' biographer Hubert Kennedy and his friend in Munich (Menso Folkerts) for the transcription of the badly preserved, photocopied text of the original German version.

We Remember
September 11, 2001: Gay Victims & Heroes