Last update:
May 25th
2000

livingroom Ulrichs

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San Francisco gay pride parade 1979San Francisco gay pride parade 1979
A Short Biography


1825 - August 28, born in Westerfeld near Aurich in uppermost northwestern Germany.

1835 - His father (a surveyor) dies from injuries sustained after falling into a pit. Karl cancels his birthday party and a date with his own first boyfriend (Ulrichs later reports about his disappointment and about his Gay sexual awakenings beginning at this time -- thereby becoming the first known person to report about [his own] childhood Gay sexuality)

1836 - Graduates from elementary school in Aurich and in 1839 from junior high school in Celle

1840 - Since his 15th birthday he is fully aware he is gay and then tries to find scientific arguments to explain and justify his natural feelings

1844 - Graduates from high school in Detmold

1844/1846 - Göttingen University, studies theology and law; writes dissertation (in Latin) "On Open Forums" (Cross Litigation) -- wins a prize for it

1846/1848 - Berlin University, studies theology and law; writes dissertation (in Latin) "On the Peace of Westphalia"

1848 - In Hannover he became graduate civil servant, political activist and public speaker.

1849/1857 - In Achim, passes the bar and becomes an official legal adviser for the district court of Hildesheim, Kingdom of Hanover

In 1854, before a suit of disciplinary proceedings could be filed against him, he left state service and moved to Frankfurt am Main to study poetry, German mythology and public law. Here he became a free-lance journalist and private secretary of a representative to the German Confederation

1856 - His mother dies

1857/1861 - Having been hounded out of the civil service for being "Gay", makes a circular journey: Cologne, Holland, Belgium, Mainz, Stuttgart, Switzerland, Monaco, Graz (Austria), Vienna, Prague, Leipzig. Joins a literary society but is expelled because of his writings

1861/1862 - Frankfurt amMain, Reuterweg 10, works as a secretary; authors non-Gay legal writings. but also on his coming-out

1862 - Arranges his coming out when he let his sister forward a letter of revelation to their relatives. His action is not well-received by his family. He coins the word Uranismus, his word for homosexuality; writes a defense for a friend arrested for a sex offense -- the first of many defenses; is rejected

1863 - Würzburg, Achim, works as a journalist; writes, then, at his own expense, publishes Vindex [Vindicator], and Inclusa [Inclusive], two of the first books in modern history to deal with "same-sex" love in a positive way

Venus Urania
Venus Urania1864 - To protect his family, he uses the pseudonym Numa Numantius, he uses on the "secrets of man-to-man love". Starting from older theories of hermaphroditismus he utilizes a theory of magnetism before to develops a germination theory. Taking contradicting direction of development of physical germination and mental germination into account he draws the conclusion by constituting a separate class (a "third sex") of human beings which he denoted "Urninge" [Memnon 1868], with reference to Venus Urania, the ninth muse and mythical Greek god of "Gay" people. Ulrichs coines the term Uranismus (Uranism), his word for homosexuality, which included Lesbians ("Urninds"), Gay men, ("Urnings"), Bisexuals ("Uranodionings"), and Transpersons (Zwitter)

1864 - Aurich, Hanover, writes and later publishes Vindicta [Rod of Freedom], Formatrix [She (Nature) Who Creates]. His books are confiscated and banned by Saxony police; ban is lifted six days later by a court order, an event which Ulrichs marks as the beginning of a modern-day movement (May 26). His books are banned and confiscated by Berlin police -- banned in all of Prussia

1864/1865 - In Frankfurt he uses embryology to develop a theory of homosexuality that he presents in a series of five booklets titled Forschungen über das Rätsel der mannmännlichen Liebe (Researches Into the Riddle of Love Between Men). This he later extends to twelve booklets with the last appearing in 1879

Ulrichs regards homosexuals as neither criminal nor sick and tries to organize them for their own welfare. In 1864 he is planning to publish a homosexual periodical and in 1870 he starts it but it only lasts for one issue through lack of support

Hirschfeld1865 - Is dispelled from the scientific community "Freies Deutsches Hochstift" (free German seminary). At that time he outlines a constitution of "Urningsbund", which would have been the first gay rights movement in the world. However he dies one year before "Wissenschaftliches-humanitäre Kommitee", the real the first gay rights movement in the world, is founded in Berlin by Dr Magnus Hirschfeld

1865 - Bremen and Burgdorf, covers local events for a newspaper; writes and publishes (always at his own expense) Ara Spei [Refuge of Hope]

1866 - Celle, October, supports the King of Hanover and for political reasons is incarcerated for four months by the Prussian army in Minden prison; books, letters, and writings confiscated; returns to Burgdorf
1867 - Burgdorf, April 24, sent to Minden prison again, for six months; more of his books confiscated In August 27-29, Würzburg; goes to Munich, speaks at the convention of the the Association of German Jurists (500 members) and he openly addresses the secrets of man-to-man love and demands for equal rights. In Winter, writes and publishes Gladius Furens [Raging Sword], Memnon [Memnon, the statue and the lone voice in the desert]. Then he leaves Hanover never to return. Having come-out publicly, he drops his pseudonym Numa Numantius and starts to sign his writings with his real name

1868/1870 - Würzburg, Martini Street 374; writes and publishes Incubus, Argonauticus, Prometheus, Araxes [The River in Armenia and natural force]

1871/1879 - Stuttgart, Silberburg Street 102; travels, writes, and publishes poetry

1873/1874 - Stuttgart, writes and publishes poetry, Auf Bienchens Flügeln [On the Wings of the Little Bee], Apicula Latina [Little Latin Bee]

1879 - Writes the 12th and final book of his Research on the Riddle of Man-Manly Love: Critische Pfeile [Critical Arrows]; goes into self-exile to Italy

1880/1883 - Travels to Florence, Ravenna, suburbs of Rome, settles in Naples (moves from via Carlo Poerio 4, Naples, in 1883 for health reasons), visits Pesto, Benevento, Sannio, Frigento, Basilicata

1883 - After June, settles in L'Aquila, Italy, where his health improves. Lives as language teacher.

Palazzo FranchiPalazzo Franchi1884 - October, Palazzo Franchi, via Sassa 56, as always, at his own expense writes and publishes Matrosengeschichten [Sailor Stories: Manor, The Monk of Sumb*, Sulitelma, Atlantis], and Cypress Twigs: Songs to Ludwig II, King of Bavaria.

1889/1895 - Writes and publishes Alaudae [Latin: Larks]

Persichetti1893 - April 27, apartment burns, more writings lost in the fire, moves to Palazzo Persichetti, Piazza S. Maria di Roio, 1

1895 - Receives diploma from the University of Naples. On July 14, dies on pyelitis and is buried besides his promoter the Marquis Niccolò Persichetti. His grave stone is marked (in Latin), "Exile and Pauper". At Ulrichs' burial, the Marquis Niccolò Persichetti gives the eulogy.
At the end of his eulogy, he says:

"But with your loss, oh Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, the fame of your works and your virtue will not likewise disappear...but rather, as long as intelligence, virtue, learning, insight, poetry and science are cultivated on this earth and survive the weakness of our bodies, as long as the noble prominence of genius and knowledge are rewarded, we and those who come after us will shed tears and scatter flowers on your venerated grave."
Also read the following pages:
  • Celebration
  • A personal Story by Paul J. Nash
  • The Riddle of Man-Manly Love and Bibliography
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