Racism and the Making of Gay Rights

A Sexologist, His Student, and the Empire of Queer Love

Racism and the Making of Gay Rights
Laurie Marhoefer
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NZ$ 69.99
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Paperback
h229 x 152mm - 334pg
14 Jul 2022 CAN
International import eta 7-19 days
9781487523978
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A love story packed with gay history, this dual biography of a sexologist and his student sheds light on the early gay rights movement and the racist and imperial concepts that are embedded in queer politics. In 1931, a sexologist arrived in colonial Shanghai to give a public lecture about homosexuality. In the audience was a medical student, and after the lecture concluded, he introduced himself. The sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, fell in love with the medical student, Li Shiu Tong. Li became Hirschfeld' s assistant on a lecture tour around the world - the first time in history that a renowned expert defended homosexuality to so many people in so many countries. Racism and the Making of Gay Rights shows how Hirschfeld laid the groundwork for modern gay rights, and how he did so by borrowing from a disturbing set of racist, imperial, and eugenic ideas. Yet on his journey with Li, Hirschfeld also had inspiring moments - including when he formulated gay rights as a broad, anti-colonial struggle and as a movement that could be linked to Jewish emancipation. Following Hirschfeld and Li in their travels through the American, Dutch, and British empires, from Manila to Tel Aviv to having tea with Langston Hughes in New York City, and then into exile in Hitler' s Europe, Laurie Marhoefer provides a vivid portrait of queer lives in the 1930s and of the turbulent, often-forgotten first chapter of gay rights.
Racism and the Making of Gay Rights decentres Magnus Hirschfeld, long revered as a ' founding father' of gay liberation, by revealing the racist and imperialist investments behind his overfocus on white, cisgendered men, a still-too-common feature of queer representation. Crucially, Laurie Marhoefer introduces the possibility of a better, queerer liberation in the thought of Hirschfeld' s Chinese research assistant and perhaps lover, Li Shiu Tong. This is queer history for a better future. - Angela Zimmerman, Professor of History, George Washington University and author of Alabama in Africa: Booker T. Washington, the German Empire, and the Globalization of the New South Fascinating, important, pioneering! Homophobia and queer liberation, racism and anti-racism, sexism and anti-sexism, colonialism and anti-colonialism - they' re all profoundly entangled in Marhoefer' s lively, original study of Magnus Hirschfeld' s life and times. - Jonathan Ned Katz, author of The Daring Life and Dangerous Times of Eve Adams In this stunning new analysis of Magnus Hirschfeld' s writing and legacy, Laurie Marhoefer asks what might have been had the sexological giant opened himself up to the anti-racist arguments in his midst. We will be sorting these questions for years to come. A trenchant critique of the myths surrounding Magnus Hirschfeld, asking us to wrestle with the implications of a queer life built on anti-black racism and empire. - Jennifer Evans, Professor of History, Carleton University This beautifully crafted narrative weaves together the story of the relationship of Magnus Hirschfeld and Li Shui Tong with a brilliant analysis of Hirschfeld' s complex but ultimately racist thinking about homosexuality, race, and empire. It' s hard to do justice to the power of this book. Let me just say that once you open it, you' ll have trouble tearing yourself away, and not only because you' ll want to know what happened to Li' s manuscript. - Leila J. Rupp, Professor of Feminist Studies, University of California Santa Barbara This is the book that German history and queer history need right now. Racism and the Making of Gay Rights will be a hugely important intervention. - Katie Sutton, Associate Professor of German and Gender Studies, Australian National University
Laurie Marhoefer is the Jon Bridgman Endowed Associate Professor in History at the University of Washington.

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