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Featuring contributions by: 

  • Jennifer V. Evans (Carleton University)
  • Craig Griffiths (Manchester Metropolitan University)
  • Anna Hájková (University of Warwick)
  • Samuel C. Huneke (George Mason University) 
  • Sébastien Tremblay (Freie Universität Berlin)

The Ambivalence of Gay Liberation: Male Homosexual Politics in 1970s West Germany (Oxford University Press, 2021) explores ways of thinking, feeling, and talking about homosexuality in the 1970s, an influential decade sandwiched between the partial decriminalisation of sex between men in 1969, and the arrival of the HIV/AIDS crisis in the early 1980s. Moving beyond divided Cold War Berlin, it also focuses on lesser-known cities, such as Aachen, Cologne, Frankfurt, Münster, and Stuttgart, to name just a few of the 53 localities that were home to a gay group by the end of the 1970s. These groups were important, and this book tells their story. 

However, in 1970s West Germany gay liberation did not take place only in activist meetings, universities, and on street demonstrations, but also on television, in magazine editorial offices, ordinary homes, bedrooms, and beyond. In considering all these spaces and individuals, this book provides a more complex account than previous histories, which have tended to focus only on a social movement and only on the idea of 'gay pride'. By drawing attention to ambivalence, this book shows that gay liberation was never only about pride, but also about shame; characterized not only by hope, but also by fear; and driven forward not just by the pushes of confrontation, but also by the pulls of conformism. Ranging from the painstaking emergence of the gay press to the first representation of homosexuality on television, from debates over the sexual legacy of 1968 and the student movement to the memory of Nazi persecution, The Ambivalence of Gay Liberation is the first English-language book to tell the story of male homosexual politics in 1970s West Germany. In doing so, it aims to change the way we think about modern queer history.

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend, but advance registration is required.