Date of Award
The visibility of Berlin’s gay population began following 1871, when Paragraph 175 of
the German penal code outlawed sex between males. The implementation of this statute triggered fervent activism from German homosexuals and scientists fighting for its repeal. By the 1920s, Berlin was viewed as an international “gay capital,” a hotspot for homosexual tourists and other figures seeking to engage with the thriving queer culture that existed there. According to Robert Beachy, Berlin was uniquely suited to become a global epicenter of homosexual culture after the Great War, due to the intersection of advocacy efforts by scientists and self-identified homosexuals, lax police enforcement of anti-sodomy laws, and the relatively free press which facilitated public debate of homosexual acceptance1. Though advocacy played a major role in the community’s visibility, other important factors contributed to the establishment of a thriving gay scene in Berlin. David Prickett argues that Berlin’s gay community also gained notoriety from scandalous news accounts of male prostitution and exciting stories of gay venues2. Queer spaces grew in notoriety not only among Berlin citizens, but also with sex tourists capitalizing on hyperinflation and cheap travel to see the nightclubs, bars, and other venues mentioned in salacious accounts by non-German writers such as Christopher Isherwood and the French novelist Willy.
Nistendirk, Jordan, "Insiders and Outsiders on the Gay Community in Weimar Berlin" (2020). Munn Scholars Awards. 5.