Category: queer history

The Story of the Ladies of Llangollen

The Story of the Ladies of Llangollen:

We begin our story with an adventure because no interesting story is without one. It begins with Eleanor Butler, the daughter of an earl born on May 11, 1739, meeting Sarah Ponsonby who was sixteen years younger in 1768, and the two quickly become friends. Where Eleanor Butler was a member of a wealthy family and was allowed to remain in a relatively quiet life enjoying reading and satire as her siblings were married off, Sarah was an orphan under the care of a guardian and close friends with his wife. So the two came from very different places, but both were women, so one thing was expected of them both, marriage.

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The Future of Queer Media

The Future of Queer Media:

With this final article in our series on queer representation in media, we will look at where we want to see queer media go in the next decade, wrapping up our queer media series. Researching this final leg of the series was difficult, as it’s hard to research the future, but we did our best. We interviewed the main team of a project in production, and the Executive Director of Represent, all of whom gave us insight into the present state of queer media, and using our research into the patterns of our past we can get a glimpse of what the future holds.

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Queen Christina, Queer Codes and Queer Coding …

Queen Christina, Queer Codes and Queer Coding (Part 2):

In this film, there are many hints to King Christina’s sexuality and gender identity. Outside of the obvious ones we discussed in the previous article, there are many more subtle clues, such as the way King Christina walks. Since Greta Garbo was such a well known and well loved Hollywood starlet, she walked like one, except for when she was in character. It is often noted that in this film, Garbo takes on a more traditionally masculine gait and mannerisms.

Queen Christina, Queer Codes and Queer Coding(Part 1)

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Queen Christina, Queer Codes and Queer Coding(…

Queen Christina, Queer Codes and Queer Coding(Part 1):

Queen Christina was released in 1933, during a time called pre-code. To explain the significance of that, we must first explain what the Hays Code is. The Hays Code was a set of guidelines written for Hollywood by a group of religious leaders, most notably William Hays, that dictated what could and could not be shown on screen. It was put into place just after the invention of “talkies,” and banned numerous “immoral acts” from being shown on film. Among those “immoral acts” was any reference to or implication of homosexuality.

Queen Christina, Queer Codes and Queer Coding (Part 2)

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Different from the Others, the Beginning

Different from the Others, the Beginning:

In this film we see Paul Körner, a violinist, fall in love with his student, Kurt Sivers. We see how a man blackmailing him destroys his entire existence. The film begins with Paul looking through a newspaper, seeing an article about suicide, and realizing that the person he was reading about was someone who had fallen victim to paragraph 175. In that discovery, we get one of the two most powerful moments in the film; we are shown a line of men, historical figures such as Oscar Wilde, Leonardo Da Vinci, and King Ludwig the second of Bavaria, and it says:

Paul Körner senses a common thread: the sword of Damocles that is § 175 made life impossible for these unfortunate individuals. In his mind’s eye, he sees an endless procession of them, from all times and countries, passing in review.” 

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The Trials of Oscar Wilde

The Trials of Oscar Wilde:

Oscar Wilde was a very popular man for the majority of his life; he had some famous works. Some of the most famous among them is the play The Importance of Being Earnest and the novel The Picture of Dorian Grey. He was a large figure in the aestheticism movement, which had a philosophy of “art for art’s sake,” and enjoying things for the beauty of them, not believing that art had to have a deeper meaning to be considered good. Wilde embraced this philosophy in his entire life. His style was extravagant, and his home was much too luxurious for his budget, but with his wife’s wealth and the money from his writing, they managed. True to this philosophy, he tended to say things because they sounded clever and not because they were true. This led to an extensive list of incredible quotes, but also led to problems in more official matters, such as the trials he was subjected to later in life.

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The End of the World War 2 Series

The End of the World War 2 Series:

The experiences of people during the Holocaust differ in extremes, of course, and there is no way to properly compare pain like that, Saying that any group had it worse than another is a gross and irresponsible simplification of a complex situation. So when we look at two different experiences of the Holocaust – that of the queer community versus that of everyone else– it is not intended to diminish either. Both are important stories to be told, and both deserve equal weight, but one of them does not get the attention it deserves.

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Sir Ewan Forbes, the Doctor

Sir Ewan Forbes, the Doctor:

After finishing his education at home to avoid a girl’s boarding school, he was accepted to the University of Aberdeen as a medical student. In his time there, he continued wearing clothes that matched his gender without incident. In addition to a lack of resistance toward Ewan’s gender expression, there was a level of acceptance that is surprising to find in the 1930s. Ewan was not without friends, or without successes. He founded a dance company called “The Dancers of Don” with Isabella Mitchell – who would later become his wife – and was accomplished in many avenues, including the harp and public recitations. The latter of which, he won contests in. Though his father had not supported his pursuit of a degree in medicine, after his death, Ewan was left with 1,300 acres of land and more than enough to cover his expenses.

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San Domino, Gay Island

San Domino, Gay Island:

We begin in Italy, 1938. Hitler is coming into power as is another man of great infamy: Benito Mussolini. Among many other things, one of Mussolini’s visions for Italy’s future was to present the country as being filled with ‘perfect’ men. The Mussolini of 1938 had built a clear image of the ‘perfect’ man: husband, father, soldier, and as traditionally masculine as possible. In his mind, gay men did not fit this ideal. He believed being gay was the same as being feminine, and most likely mislabeled other queer identities as gay, thus harming more of the queer community than he originally anticipated (though, if he had been aware of what he was doing, we’re certain he would’ve been pleased). So, among many other atrocities, he planned to eradicate gay men from Italy. What made this slightly complicated was that he wanted to do so without admitting their existence.  

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Bjornstjerne Bjornson, the Advocate

Bjornstjerne Bjornson, the Advocate:

Bjørnstjerne Martinius Bjørnson is among the most well known and well regarded Norwegian writers of all times. Through the 77 years of his life, from his birth in 1832 to his death in 1910, he created numerous works of art, from novels and poetry to plays and speeches; he also wrote what became the national anthem of Norway, and was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1903. He was an emotive man, a strong-willed debater, engaged in politics, and believed in any cause that worked to lead the world towards a brighter future for all. Among the things he is remembered for today is his constant fight for those who could not always fight for themselves; this includes his participation in the fight for women’s rights and, as is to be discussed here, his hand in defending the rights of queer people.

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