Friday, August 28, 2009

Today in Gay History

Happy 184th Birthday

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895)

Pioneer Homosexual Theorist/Pamphleteer

Credit glbtq for the folllowing:

Ulrichs then earned his living as a reporter for the important Allgemeine Zeitung (Augsburg) and as secretary to one of the representatives to the German Confederation in Frankfurt am Main. He also received a small inheritance from his mother on her death in 1856.

Using the pseudonym Numa Numantius he published in 1864-1865 five booklets under the collective title Forschungen über das Rathsel der mannmännlichen Liebe (Researches on the Riddle of Male-Male Love). They set forth a biological theory of homosexuality, the so-called third sex theory, which he summed up in the Latin phrase anima muliebris virili corpore inclusa (a female psyche confined in a male body).

Ulrichs coined the term Urning for the male subject of this condition; he variously called the female counterpart Urningin, Uranierin, Urnin, and Urnigin. (The term "homosexual," coined by Karl Maria Kertbeny, first appeared in 1869.)

Using his real name in his next booklet, Ulrichs described his appearance at a Congress of German Jurists in Munich, where on August 29, 1867, he urged repealing the anti-homosexual laws. He was shouted down and not allowed to finish, but this was the first time that a self-acknowledged Urning/homosexual spoke out publicly for his cause. Thus Ulrichs was not only the first theorist of homosexuality, but also the first homosexual to "come out" publicly.



  1. This is a fascinating article and I suspect Ulrichs is unknown even to most historians. He was a courageous man to "come out" during that time; he must have been quite an exceptional individual. Isn't it sad that, even in this day and age, bigotry is still alive and well? For the truth is that a large segment of society, both in the U.S. and abroad, still regards gay men and women as second-class citizens - or worse. That is the salient point of my recently released biographical novel, Broken Saint. It is based on my forty-year friendship with a gay man, and chronicles his internal and external struggles as he battles for acceptance (of himself and by others). More information on the book is available at

    Mark Zamen, author

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting, Mr. Zamen. I look forward to enjoying Broken Saint!