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Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

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Karl Heinrich Ulrichs
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, engraving based on an undated portrait photograph
Born(1825-08-28)28 August 1825
Died14 July 1895(1895-07-14) (aged 69)
Known forCampaigning for gay rights

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (28 August 1825 – 14 July 1895) was a German lawyer, jurist, journalist, and writer. He is said to be a pioneer of sexology[1] and the modern gay rights movement.

Life[change | change source]

Ulrichs was born in the East Frisian village of Westerfeld (today in Aurich). It was in the Kingdom of Hanover at the time.[2] His father was a Lutheran pastor.[3] Ulrichs said that he felt different from other boys when he was young. He said he liked the bright colors of military uniforms and women's clothing.[4] He graduated in law and theology from Göttingen University in 1846.[2] He studied history at Berlin University from 1846 to 1848.

Ulrichs worked as a lawyer for the civil service in the Kingdom of Hannover from 1849 to 1854. He went to the court in 1853. He was an assistant judge in the court of Hildesheim. He resigned on 30 November 1854 after a blackmail attempt meant his sexuality was known by many people.

Aphrodite Urania, the goddess from whose name Ulrichs derived the term Urning for homosexuals

In 1862, Ulrichs told his family and friends that he was gay. He started writing under the pseudonym of "Numa Numantius". His first five essays, named Forschungen über das Rätsel der mannmännlichen Liebe (Studies on the Riddle of Male-Male Love), said that gay love was natural and biological. He used the Latin phrase anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa (a female psyche trapped in a male body). Ulrichs made many words for different sexual orientations in his essays. These words include Urning for a man who is attracted to men (English "Uranian"), and Dioning for a man who is attracted women. Ulrichs also made words for the female versions (Urningin and Dioningin), and for bisexuals and intersex people.[5]

The first and only issue of Uranus (January 1870), intended by Ulrichs as a regular periodical, bears its own title: Prometheus

In the 1860s, Ulrichs moved around Germany. He was always writing and publishing. He was always in trouble with the law for his words. In 1864, his books were taken and banned by police in Saxony.[2] Later the same thing happened in Berlin. His books were banned in Prussia. Some of these papers were found in the Prussian state archives. They were published in 2004. Many of Ulrichs' most important books have been published.

Ulrichs was a patriotic Hanoverian. When Prussia annexed Hanover in 1866, he was put in jail for going against Prussian rule. The next year he left Hanover and moved to Munich. There he talked to the Association of German Jurists about the need to reform German laws against homosexuality. Later he lived in Würzburg and Stuttgart.

In 1868, the Austrian writer Karl-Maria Kertbeny created the word "homosexual" in a letter to Ulrichs. From the 1870s sexual orientation began to be widely talked about.[6] [7]

In 1879, Ulrichs published the twelfth and final book of his Research on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love. He was in poor health and left Germany for Italy. For many years he traveled around the country before living in L'Aquila. There his health got better.

He kept writing and publishing his papers. In 1895, he got an honorary diploma from the University of Naples. Shortly after this he died in L'Aquila.

References[change | change source]

  1. Hans-Martin Lohmann: Geschichte der Sexualität – Vom Widerspruch her gedacht (Buchbesprechung: Volkmar Sigusch, Geschichte der Sexualwissenschaft, Campus, 2008), Frankfurter Rundschau Online.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 "Ulrichs, Karl Heinrich". Encyclopedia.com. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  3. McCleary, Rollan (28 July 2017). A Special Illumination: Authority, Inspiration and Heresy in Gay Spirituality. ISBN 9781315475677.
  4. LeVay, Simon (1996). "Queer Science: The Use and Abuse of Research into Homosexuality". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  5. Licata, Salvatore; Petersen, Robert P (27 August 2013). The Gay Past: A Collection of Historical Essays. Routledge. pp. 106–107. ISBN 9781134735938. Archived from the original on 17 March 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2016.
  6. "150 Years Ago, the Word "Homosexual" was Coined in a Secret Correspondence". GVGK Tang. May 6, 2018. Retrieved March 6, 2021.
  7. Douglas Pretsell (2020)The Correspondence of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, 1846-1894.https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-39763-0

Works[change | change source]

  • Forschungen über das Rätsel der mannmännlichen Liebe (Max Spohr, 1898; repr. Rosa Winkel, 1994)
  • The Riddle of Man-Manly Love. Trans. Michael Lombardi-Nash. 1864-1879; Prometheus Books, 1994.
  • Pretsell, Douglas Ogilvy, ed. (2020). The Correspondence of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, 1846-1894. Springer. ISBN 978-3-030-39763-0.

Further reading[change | change source]

  • Brooks, R. (2012). "Transforming Sexuality: The Medical Sources of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-95) and the Origins of the Theory of Bisexuality". Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences. 67 (2): 177–216. doi:10.1093/jhmas/jrq064. PMID 21081540.
  • Heede, Dag (2017). "Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: En sexologisk kulturpioner". Bibliotek for Laeger (in Danish). 209 (4): 334–351. ISSN 0906-5407.
  • Hertz, Gal (2020). "The Nature of Guilt: Myth, Politics and Gay Love in Karl Heinrich Ulrichs". Schuld. Velbrück Wissenschaft. pp. 178–199. ISBN 978-3-95832-233-2.
  • Janssen, Diederik F. (2017). "Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: First Theorist of Erotic Age Orientation". Journal of Homosexuality. 64 (13): 1850–1871. doi:10.1080/00918369.2016.1273715. PMID 27982739. S2CID 205471270.
  • H. Kennedy, Ulrichs The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement (1988)
  • M. Hirschler, "De Carolo Henrico Ulrichs qui magis fecit quam ut revivisceret lingua Latina", Melissa. Folia perenni Latinitati dicata, vol. 192, 2016, pp. 8–9.
  • Leck, Ralph M. (2016). Vita Sexualis: Karl Ulrichs and the Origins of Sexual Science. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-09818-5.
  • Matzner, Sebastian (2015). "Literary Criticism and/as Gender Reassignment: Reading the Classics with Karl Heinrich Ulrichs". Sex, Knowledge, and Receptions of the Past. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-966051-3.
  • Matzner, Sebastian (2015). "Of That I Know Many Examples…: On the Relationship of Greek Theory and Roman Practices in Karl Heinrich Ulrichs's Writings on the Third Sex". Ancient Rome and the Construction of Modern Homosexual Identities. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-968972-9.
  • Quinn, Carol V. A. (2015). "What Ulrichs Knew". International Journal of Applied Philosophy. 29 (1): 1–17. doi:10.5840/ijap20156437.
  • Singy, Patrick (2021). "Sexual Identity at the Limits of German Liberalism: Law and Science in the Work of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825–1895)". Journal of the History of Sexuality. 30 (3): 390–410. doi:10.7560/JHS30303. S2CID 245191814.

Other websites[change | change source]