We all know there is a HUGE selection of LGBT themed films out there available to watch. Many are recent while some began to come into mainstream media in the 1990’s.
But is it possible that the first film ever to showcase a gay couple was made over a 100 years ago?
The answer is yes.
A few years ago the UCLA Film and Television Archives discovered a film that was produced in 1919 Germany. During that time in Germany, a Social Democratic government came into power allowing long-standing censorship laws to be lifted. Acting quickly, filmmaker Richard Oswald joined with psychiatrist and gay-rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld to write and produce the first gay centered film.
Different From The Otherswas a 90 minute film centered around a famous violinist and his male student. This was a drama that showed a love affair between the two men. Although the film did not show any sex, it is very clear in the film that the two men were in love. Unfortunately, the film suffered many vicious attacks from the right-wing press calling Oswald a “perverted Jew”.
The complete physical copy of the film was lost except for 40 minutes that Hirschfeld edited into a 1926 documentary about tolerance.
As part of the preservation, the gay and lesbian film festival, Outfest, partnered with UCLA Film and Television Archives has reassembled those 40 minutes based on Oswald’s screenplay.
“To use the term ‘restore’ would be wrong,” says Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the archives. “There’s not enough footage for a real restoration. But what we have put together allows people to experience the remarkable culture that existed in Berlin in the 1920s, which was wiped out, of course, by the Nazis. As far as I know, this is the earliest document we have of gays and lesbians being represented on-screen.”
This is an incredible piece of LGBT history. This may be the first example of LGBT people being depicted in film. This also may be one of the first steps towards the fight for LGBT equality.
Released in released in 1919 and starring Conrad Veidt and Reinhold Schünzel. you can watch scenes from Different From Others below:
356 BC – Alexander the Great is born in Macedonia. One of the greatest conquering generals of all time.\
Alexander’s love of Hephaistion, is well accepted as factual history. Upon Hephaistion’s death in battle. Alexander was overwhelmed by his grief for Hephaestion, so much that Arrian records that Alexander “flung himself on the body of his friend and lay there nearly all day long in tears, and refused to be parted from him until he was dragged away by force by his Companions.. As historian Andrew Chugg states, “it is surely incredible that Alexander’s reaction to Hephaestion’s death could indicate anything other than the closest relationship imaginable.”
Alexander’s most controversial relationship was with a handsome young Persian eunuch named Bagoas. At a festival of athletics and arts in a town called Salmus (after Alexander returned from India) Bagoas won a prize. After Bagoas picked up his prize, he walked across a theatre and seated himself beside the king. The Macedonians in the theatre applauded loudly and shouted for Alexander to kiss the winner. At last the king put his arms around Bagoas and kissed him.
Some historians have denied that the episode even took place, but there is no good reason to question its historicity.
1897 – The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee, (Wissenschaftlich-Humanitres Komitee) was founded by Dr Magnus Hirschfeld in Berlin, Germany to campaign for social recognition of homosexual, bisexual and transgender men and women, and against their legal persecution. The committee after 36 years was dissolved in 1933 when the Nazis destroyed the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft in Berlin where the WhK was based.
Fortunately Hirschfeld had left Germany for a speaking tour that took him around the world as his Institute burned; he never returned to Germany.
In 1969, Canada’s sodomy and gross indecency laws were amended following public outrage over the conviction and sentencing of Everett George Klippert for homosexuality. The Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968–69 added an exemption to the Criminal Code that made such acts legal under certain circumstances. The individuals involved had to be consenting adults of at least 21 years of age, and the act could only be conducted in private. Sodomy and gross indecency remained illegal outside the house or if three or more individuals were involved or present.
1977 – CBS’ 60 Minutes broadcasts a segment on child pornography, concentrating on “adult homosexuals who prey on small boys.” As a result teenagers from a conservative New York Catholic high school go on a gay bashing spree, beating one victim to death. They are later sentenced to 35 and 40 years in prison.
On May 6, 1933, less than six months after Adolf Hitler and the Nazis had come to power, Nazi Youth of the Deutsche Studentenschaft made an organized attack on the Magnus Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research
The works of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Jewish doctor and sexual reformer were hardly in line with Aryan ideas about the nation’s sex life: his model of intermediate sexual stages allowed room for homosexuality as well as for hermaphrodites or transvestites. He welcomed racial mixing as an enrichment of the diversity of human life. The Nazi reaction was unequivocal: “We will not have our people demoralized, so burn, Magnus Hirschfeld!”
On the night of May 10th. Hitler Youth and right-wing students in 34 university towns across Germany marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit” and called for Nazi officials, university faculty and chaplains, and student leaders to address the participants and spectators. Then, singing songs and taking “fire oaths” as band music played, in large open-air bonfires, the students burned thousands of “un-German books,” taken in raids on public and university libraries, private collections, and bookstores. The events also received widespread media attention – not only newspaper coverage, but also “live” radio broadcasts of the songs and speeches.
The seemingly “spontaneous” demonstrations in Berlin were actually carefully orchestrated by Nazi leader Josef Goebbels, the Minister for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda, as part of the Nazi policy of Gleichschaltung (“synchronization”), which sought to align all elements of German society, polity, and culture with Nazi ideology by purging them of Jews and those considered “politically suspect” and by defining their work as “degenerate.” 40,000 people gathered in the square at the State Opera to hear Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Gläser, Erich Kästner.”
The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path…The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you. As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death – this is the task of this young generation. And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. This is a strong, great and symbolic deed – a deed which should document the following for the world to know – Here the intellectual foundation of the November Republic is sinking to the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise.— Joseph Goebbels, Speech to the students in Berlin
“It is a quarter past midnight and I have just finished packing. In eight hours I am going to leave Berlin, perhaps for ever……. I have already made the journey several times in my head, composed funny postcards to all my friends. And now the day which seemed too good, too bad to be true, the day when I should leave Germany, has arrived, and I only know about the future that, however often and however variously I have imagined it to myself, the reality will be quite different.”
By the time of the book burning, Hirschfeld had left Germany for a speaking tour that took him around the world; he never returned to Germany.
On his 67th birthday, 14 May 1935, Hirschfeld died of a heart attack in his apartment at the Gloria Mansions I building at 63 Promenade des Anglais in Nice.
76 years after the destruction of Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sex Research in 2011, the Federal Cabinet of Germany granted 10 million euros to establish the Magnus Hirschfeld National Foundation (Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld), a foundation to support research and education about the life and work of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Nazi persecution of homosexuals, German LGBT culture and community, and ways to counteract prejudice against LGBT people.
In 1919, as the Social Democratic government came to power in Germany and lifted long-standing censorship laws. Acting quickly, filmmaker Richard Oswald joined with psychiatrist and gay-rights pioneer Magnus Hirschfeld to write and produce Different From the Others, (Anders als die Andern) a 90-minute drama about the love affair between a famous male violinist and his male student.
Today only fragments of footage and film stills survive, due to the efforts of the subsequent Nazi regime, but “Anders als die Andern” was the first film ever to seriously delve into homosexuality and its position in contemporary society.
Hirschfeld in 1926 edited the surviving 40+ minutes of the film into the documentary below about tolerance.