In 1931, a sexologist arrived in colonial Shanghai to give a public lecture about homosexuality. In the audience was a medical student. 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. 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. The story of their world journey 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, it did not have to be that way. Li wrote his own book -- largely forgotten until now -- and rejected many of his mentor's ideas.
Laurie Marhoefer writes about queer and trans histories in Germany, from the Weimar Republic through the Nazi period, and is the Jon Bridgman Endowed Professor of History at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA.
- this seminar is free
to attend, but advance registration is required