john symonds

Library of the doomed (XIII): “The Great Beast: The Life and Magick of Aleister Crowley” (1952), the most famous of the four biographical works written by John Symonds; «the most hostile biographer», according to the occultist, writer, and Crowley’s personal secretary and transcriptionist Israel Regardie.

Bibliothèque Infernale:  

Modern LGBTQ Movement in the West

ok take this with a pinch of salt since it’s more notes based on wikipedia articles than anything else, but yeah

Early defenses in publications //1700s - 1800s: 

Books and pamphlets were written supporting gay rights often with references to the Ancient Greeks. The earliest recorded example of this, and indeed of any English language defense of homosexuality, is the pamphlet Ancient and Modern Pederasty Investigated and Exemplify’d by Thomas Cannon from 1749. Other examples include Eros: Die Männerliebe der Griechen (Eros: The male love of the Greeks) by Heinrich Hössli in 1838 and John Addington Symond’s A Problem in Greek Ethics from 1873.

Revoultionary France //1790s: 

A group put pressure on the Assemblée nationale and were successful in getting homosexuality decriminalised in 1791. This was kept in the Napoleonic Code.

Early Activists //1860s - 1880s: 

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was prolific in his writings on queer issues, and advocated with people in power to decriminalise homosexuality. He also came up with terminology for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals and more around 1862, which pre-date the terms “homosexual” and “heterosexual” by 6 years, when another early acvoate, Karl-Maria Kertbeny, coined those. 

Karl Heinrich Ulriches might have been the first person to be publicly out in the way we understand it, as he wrote his essays and books under his own name. Many of his works were banned, and he frequently got in trouble with the law over them. He’s sometimes referred to as the pioneer of the modern LGBT rights movement.

Order of Chaeronea //1890s - ??: 

A secret society created by George Cecil Ives in 1897 to promote “The Cause.” The organisation started in England, but spread beyond that. The highest number of members the club had at a time were likely around 200-300, most of whom were men, but there were women among them as well. Oscar Wilde and Bosie most likely counted among some of the first members. 

Free Love Movement //1880s - 1920s: 

A movement critical of marriage and the state’s involvement in anything pertaning to love and sex, wanted to decriminalise homosexuality, as well as make contraception available, etc. Many of the gay advocates in the late 19th century and early 20th century were aligned with this movement, such as Edward Carpenter who wrote The Intermediate Sex in 1908 and the anarchist feminist Emma Goldman who defended homosexuality in her essays.

The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee and the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft//1890s - 1933: 

It was a common view among advocates around the turn of the century that homosexuals were a third, “intermediate,” gender, and many of these advocates wanted to understand homosexuality through science. 

One such advocate, Magnus Hirschfeld formed the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee in 1897 to fight Pragraph 175, the law banning male homosexuality in Germany. Around 1910 the German goverment tried to expand Paragraph 175 to also outlaw lesbian sex, prompting many women-loving women, such as Anna Rüling, to become outspoken. 

Magnus Hirschfeld also created the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft, a sexological clinic that performed early transgender operations, such as those Lili Elbe received. 

Hirschfeld is credited with coining the word “transsexual” and the institute both employed and served trans people (as with Dora Richter, who worked there and was the first person to receive such surgery), as well as gay people, until it was destroyed by Nazis in the early 1933. 

Homophile Movement //1945 - 1960s: 

This movement began in the Netherlands and Denmark. Both places saw the creation of new organisations with vague names just after the end of the war, in the Netherlands the Cultuur en Ontspanningscentrum (Culture and Leisure Center) and in Denmark Forbundet af 1946 (The League of 1946) and representatives from both groups suggested “homophile” in place of “homosexual” as they both thought that “homophile” would put the emphasis on love rather than sex.

Soon enough, homophile groups started to pop up in other parts of Europe as well as in North America, and an international group, ICSE, was created, though it only lasted as long as the movement did. 

These movements tended to ascribed to respectability politics and the idea that if homophiles showed themselves to be “discreet, dignified, virtuous and respectable,” in the words of the leader of the French group, they would be treated better. Thus the homophile movement has also been called assimilationist.

Homosexual acts were already legal in parts of Europe, such as Poland were it was never illegal, Belgium, France, Turkey and the Netherlands were it had been so for over a hundred years, and Denmark and Sweden were it’d been so for a couple of decades, but it was still illegal in many places. Many countries saw decriminalisation in the 60s and 70s. 

Gay Liberation //late 1960s - 1970s or mid 1980s (depending on area): 

It was the Stonewall Riots that marked the beginning of this movement, fittingly breaking off from the more careful homophile one. There had been more protests and active resistance from the mid 60s than previously, signaling the end of the the homophile approach and the start of the gay lib one. 

Gay Liberation was a movement of protests and Pride marches, and generally having pride in face of society’s shame. The idea of the personal being political was prominent, meaning there was a pressure to come out that hadn’t really existed previously. 

Gay liberation was also a more intersectional movement than the previous one, in particular in regards to feminism, but also in regards to race and class issues. 

The first bisexual groups were created in the 70s, and bisexuals gained a bit more visibility in general. Despite this, and despite trans women playing a large role in the activism of the time, the movement was still primarily referred to as “gay” or “lesbian and gay.” The public generally kept using “homosexual” or “homophile” however. 

Assimilationist LGBT groups //mid 1970s - Current day

The primary gay liberation group, the American Gay Liberation Front, closed in 1972, and the movement after that turned back to the respectability politics of the homophile movement. 

Sylvia Rivera, who had been an instrumental activist in the days of the Gay Liberation Front, was sidelined in favour of young, white, cis, gay men. The focus came to be on marriage equality, military service and other causes that could seem respectable to the public, while trans issues were taken off the agenda, previous intersectionalism was lost and even “stereotypical” gay people were sidelined in favour of those who seemed nonthreatening to straight society. 

(note: the fight for marriage equality was largely motivated by problems with hospitals during the AIDS crisis, who would only let family see patients. while it also had/has respectability motivations, there were plenty of people unconcerned with respectability fighting for it). 

Queer Movement //mid 1980s - Curent day (?)

The Queer movement was born partly as a response and rejection of the respectability politics that had become so common in other groups. This was also the reasoning for adopting “queer” as it was explicitly non-respectable.

From a 1990 flier:

Well, yes, “gay” is great. It has its place. But when a lot of lesbians and gay men wake up in the morning we feel angry and disgusted, not gay. So we’ve chosen to call ourselves queer. Using “queer” is a way of reminding us how we are perceived by the rest of the world.

This was also the time when acronyms such as LGBT became popular in favour of just “gay” or “lesbian and gay.”

A nasty side of some of these groups, such as Queer Nation, is that they practiced outing. 

Lesbians and Gays Support The Miners were a bit early for this movement, but they were a socialist group, and have been credited with bringing socialism and radical politics to the lesbian and gay community in London, which may have paved the way for the queer movement in that city.

Though there had been political music associated with earlier movements, such as Tom Robinson’s Gay Liberation related music, this was when Queercore began as a genre of punk that aligned with the queer movements politics. 

Expansion of the movement //1990s - Current day

Transgender movements gained force in the 90s and became more recognised as part of the movement, and the terms were solidified more so than they had been in the past. Intersex movements also gained strength.

The asexual movement gained momentrum with the creation of AVEN in the early 2000s, and the genderqueer and non-binary parts of the trans community have been gaining more recognition in recent years (mostly by finding community on this very site).