New Exhibition Honors Magnus Hirschfeld, 
Early Defender of Sexual and Gender Diversity  
"Through Knowledge to Justice: The Sexual World of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld (1868-1935)," the new exhibition at the GLBT History Museum, takes the 85th anniversary of Hirschfeld's visit to San Francisco as a starting point for examining the pioneering sex reformer's work. Drawing on rare books, magazines, film and ephemera -- most from curator Gerard Koskovich's collection -- the story ranges from the birth of the LGBTQ movement to persecution under the Nazis and on to the survival of Hirschfeld's legacy.
Dubbed the "Einstein of Sex" by the Hearst newspaper chain during his 1930-1931 tour of the U.S., Hirschfeld was a world-renowned researcher, writer and physician. "Hirschfeld displayed an inexhaustible curiosity about human sexual behavior and gender expression," Koskovich notes. "For him, homosexual and transgender identities were natural phenomena, not moral failings or signs of mental illness as many people believed in the early 20th century."
Founding the LGBTQ Movement
As cofounder in 1897 of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, the world's first homosexual emancipation organization, Hirschfeld fought against Germany's anti-sodomy law. In 1919, he expanded his work by founding the Institute for Sexual Science. Located in Berlin, the institute offered health services and early gender confirmation surgeries, hosted talks, issued publications, sponsored a museum of sexuality, and maintained the first LGBTQ-friendly library and archives.
All this activity -- plus Hirschfeld's status as a Jew, a homosexual and a social democrat -- made him a prime target when Hitler came to power in 1933. The Nazis sacked his institute and consigned its library to the flames at the regime's first public book-burning. Hirschfeld himself went into exile in France, where he continued to advocate reform until his death two years later.
Koskovich enumerates ways Hirschfeld's work remains a powerful force: "Hirschfeld helped create the first movement to defend LGBTQ people -- and much of his writing was prescient. With its emphasis on 'intermediacy' -- the notion that sexuality and gender are not fixed in binary cate­gories -- Hirschfeld's thinking prefigures concepts of the continuum of sexual orientation, genderqueer expression and sexual fluidity.
A Forward-Looking Man of His Time
"At the same time, there's no need to romanticize Hirschfeld," Koskovich adds. "He was forward looking in many ways, but in others he looks like a man of his time. For instance, the notion of bisexual identity doesn't figure in his work. And although he collaborated with the German women's movement, we can hardly call him a feminist. Hirschfeld's story can both inspire us and occasionally make us uncomfortable. Acknowledging this tension helps us better understand both the past and the present.
"It's also important to recall that many respectable medical professionals in Hirschfeld's time regarded him as a crank, especially because of his penchant for publicity and his passionate defense of sexual and gender diversity," Koskovich says. "But that reaction ultimately makes me cherish him all the more. Respectable professionals rarely pioneer radical social change. If folks once dismissed as cranks hadn't blazed the trail for us, where would we be now as LGBTQ people?"
"Through Knowledge to Justice: The Sexual World of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld" is on display until the end of December at the GLBT History Museum.
FromEDFrom the Executive Director 
Celebrating the Past, Envisioning the Future
by Terry Beswick
We're busy putting the finishing touches on Living History, our annual gala celebrating the contributions of the GLBT Historical Society, coming up in mid-October. As we prepare for our big evening, I'm reminded again and again how much our museum and archives mean to people around the world -- and how much more we'll be able to accomplish in the future with support from members and friends of the LGBTQ community.

Not a week goes without visitors telling us about the deep emotions and the sense of pride evoked by the exhibitions and programs at our museum. Our new show offers an example: "Through Knowledge to Justice: The Sexual World of Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld" takes visitors back to the beginnings of the LGBTQ movement in early 20th-century Germany -- and tells the heartbreaking story of the first queer-friendly library, archives and museum, destroyed by the Nazi regime in 1933.
Likewise not a week goes by without researchers telling us about the thrill of recovering the LGBTQ past in the spacious quarters of our new archives. To support their work, we've been making great progress on processing existing collections, preparing selected materials for digitizing and adding new collections that reflect the diversity of our community. For an update, check out managing archivist Joanna Black's latest blog.
The 2016 Gala: You're Invited

We invite you to join us in celebrating these accomplishments and in laying the groundwork for future expansion of the museum and archives at Living History: The 2016 GLBT Historical Society Gala. Always a high point of the LGBTQ social season in San Francisco, the event will take place on the evening of Saturday, October 15, at the beautifully renovated Green Room of the War Memorial Performing Arts Center in the Civic Center.

Hosted by longtime journalist Hank Plante and celebrated performer Honey Mahogany of RuPaul's Drag Race, and featuring performance artist Dia Dear, Living History will feature delicious food and drink, entertainment and awards. What's more, a fabulous silent auction will offer unique art, photography, queer memorabilia, travel and fine-dining packages and other special finds. 
A number of generous sponsors have signed on to support the gala: at the Gold level, AT&T and Google; at the Silver level, the CSAA Insurance Group, IDEO, Group i and Elisabeth Cornu; and at the Bronze level, Badlands/Toad Hall. We're eager to welcome more sponsors and to hear from individuals and groups interested in purchasing tables; for details, contact Gregory Stock at
Living History is sure to be a festive and exciting evening. I look forward to seeing many of your there. For more information and to purchase tickets, click here.

Terry Beswick is executive director of the GLBT Historical Society. 
UpcomingUpcoming Events   
Staged Reading
Rhino in the Castro: Whale Riding Weather
Tuesday, September 6     
7:00-9:00 PM 
The GLBT History Museum 
4127 18th St., San Francisco 
Free  |  $5.00 donation welcome 
Theatre RhinocerosSan Francisco's groundbreaking queer stage company, has teamed up with the GLBT History Museum to present "Rhino in the Castro," a series of readings of plays reflecting the LGBTQ community and our allies. The museum provides the space, and Rhino provides the scripts and actors.      
This month's offering, Whale Riding Weather by Bryden MacDonald, is a Pinteresque play about three men in an apartment: an older man, a young kept boy and another young man who wants to get the boy out. It's a suffocating tale of dysfunctional relationships that offers a tantalizing look at North American queer drama of late the 1980s and early 1990s. Join the Facebook conversation here.  
Film Screening
The First Gay Feature: Different From the Others 
Wednesday, September 7    
6:30-8:00 PM 
530 Bush St., San Francisco
$5.00 suggested donation 
In conjunction with our current exhibition about Dr. Magnus Hirschfeld, the Goethe-Institut of San Francisco will show what many historians regard as the first gay-themed feature ever made: Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others), a 1919 silent movie directed by Richard Oswald and written by Hirschfeld. A drama about a gay victim of blackmail, the film includes a cameo by Hirschfeld himself -- and the protagonist in his youth is played by Karl Giese, who became Hirschfeld's life partner. Different From the Others was banned at the time of its release and later was burned by the Nazis. Using rediscovered partial prints, stills and censorship documents from several archives, the Munich Film Museum resurrected this cinematic milestone in 2004. Exhibition curator Gerard Koskovich will introduce the screening. Join the Facebook conversation here
Zine Release
Vanguard Revisted: Youth Activism in the Tenderloin 
Thursday, September 8    
6:30-8:00 PM 
The Tenderloin Museum 
398 Eddy St., San Francisco
In 2011, the Rev. Megan Rohrer and historian Joey Plaster created a remarkable public history initiative: Vanguard Revisited, which introduced the 1960s radical queer-youth organization Vanguard to contemporary queer homeless youth, who created their own zine inspired by the original Vanguard newsletter.
To honor the 50th anniversary of the Compton's Cafeteria Riot, a second edition of Vanguard Revisited will be released at the Tenderloin Museum with new materials by the original authors and editors. Rohrer will describe the 2011 initiative and will discuss its legacy. The program is cosponsored by the GLBT Historical Society. 
After Hours Party
Leather & Fur: Raising Funds for a Bear Exhibition 
Friday, September 23  
7:00-9:00 PM 
The GLBT History Museum  
4127 18 St., San Francisco
Our monthly After Hours party at the GLBT History Museum celebrates the queer past with dancing, drinks, nibbles and mingling in the galleries after the museum's regular exhibition hours. This month's theme, Leather and Fur, will bring together the leather and bear communities, with funds raised at the party supporting the GLBT History Museum's upcoming exhibition on bear culture. Featuring special guest DJ Gayle Rubin, preeminent queer theorist and historian of the leather scene. Cosponsored by Bears of San Francisco. For more information and advance tickets, click here.  
Film Screening
Mighty Reels: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Friday, September 30    
7:00-8:30 PM 
The GLBT History Museum 
4127 18th St., San Francisco 
$5.00  |  Free for members 
This month's installment of the Mighty Reels series of historic LGBTQ film and video from the archives reveals the sights and sounds of the early years of the Castro Street Fair. Media preservationist John Raines presents rare videotape of the 1976 and 1978 fairs as captured by the Queer Blue Light media collective. Always held on the first Sunday in October, the fair has been a favorite with residents and visitors alike for over 40 years. A major highlight of these videos is a brief interview with Harvey Milk, who explains his rationale for establishing the event in 1974. The screening takes place just two days before this year's fair. Join the Facebook conversation here.  
Get Your Tickets 
Living History: The GLBT Historical Society Gala
FromEDGet Involved
Volunteers Needed for Folsom Street Fair
The GLBT Historical Society has been named a beneficiary of the Folsom Street Fair, San Francisco's major annual leather and kink celebration, set for Sunday, September 25. The society will use the funds to develop new exhibits for the Main Gallery at the GLBT History Museum.

To qualify for the funding, the Historical Society has committed to recruiting volunteers to help out during 30 individual shifts at the fair.
Many different tasks are available, with most involving a short advance training online.

"Volunteering is a great way to meet new friends, check out the leather scene and support the Historical Society, too," says Jeremy Prince, operations manager at the museum. "Plus you get some fantastic perks, including access to a special hospitality area with free food and drink, no-wait porta-potties, a clothes check, a shady lounge and free massages."

For full details and to sign up, visit the Folsom Street Fair volunteer page
VisitVisit Us    
The GLBT History Museum
4127 18th St.
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 621-1107
Monday - Saturday: 11:00 AM - 6:00 PM
Sunday: Noon - 5:00 PM

The GLBT Historical Society
989 Market St., Lower Level
San Francisco, CA 94103-1708
(415) 777-5455 

Please call to schedule a research appointment.

CREDITS: Exhibition photo by Lenore Chinn. Portrait of Terry Beswick by Gareth Gooch.   

Editor: Gerard Koskovich    Contributing Writer: Marke Bieschke

Copyright © 2016 GLBT Historical Society