Tuesday, August 28, 2012


ON AUGUST 28th, the Religion of Antinous honors Saint Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the world's first gay activist, who lobbied governments 100 years before Stonewall for repeal of anti-gay laws, and who was also Chief Priest of Antinous worldwide in the latter half of the 19th Century.

Even before the term "homosexuality" had been coined, Ulrichs came out to his friends and families and proclaimed in 1864 that he was a "Uranian" — or "Urning" in his native German — and thenceforth waged a one-man campaign for gay rights in Germany.

Sanctus Carolus Henricus Ulrichs, Chief Priest of Antinous in the 2nd half of the 19th Century (worldwide!) wrote incredibly long poems — nearly in epic form — about Hadrian and Antinous.

He wrote a manuscript for a mammoth scientific work on Antinous in history, art, coins and his influence on ancient and modern culture. The manuscript was confiscated and destroyed in a police raid.

As part of his gay-rights lobbying effort, he wrote dozens of pamphlets with titles such as "Researches on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love" aimed at dispelling homophobic myths about same-sex love.

Late in life Ulrichs wrote: "Until my dying day I will look back with pride that I found the courage to come face to face in battle against the spectre which for 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."

Forgotten for many years, Ulrichs is now becoming something of a cult figure in Europe. There are streets named for him in the German cities of Munich, Bremen and Hanover. His birthday (August 28th, 1825) is marked each year by a lively street party and poetry reading at Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Square in Munich.

The International Lesbian and Gay Law Association presents an annual Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Award in his memory. He died on July 14th, 1895, in L'Aquila, Italy.

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