Berlin’s new street Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Straße

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

* 28. August 1825 – † 14. July 1895 (Wiki)

“Die heterosexuelle Majorität der Männer hat kein Recht, die menschliche Gesellschaft ausschließlich heterosexuell zu determinieren.” (Karl Heinrich Ulrichs)

“The heterosexual majority of men has no right to determine human society as exclusively heterosexual.” (Karl Heinrich Ulrichs)

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs * 28. August 1825 - † 14. Juli 1895

The above Karl Heinrich Ulrichs quotation (English translation by author of this blog), written before the turn of the Nineteenth Century, is one of the earliest testimonials to an emerging non-heterosexual identity.

I will spare us a discussion of the medicalization of morality and human behavior, the motivation behind bourgeois concern with sexual science and hygiene, the role of phenomena like misogyny, dualism, essencialism, Liberalism, and so on that are deeply ingrained in the identity Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was a pioneer in formulating. Ulrichs, and a courageous few expressed ideas that eventually led to “us” (though attitudes may vary on how “us” is best defined) forming our own new identities, and pushing for recognition, and impunity. Though i quarrel with many aspects of what we have come to refer to as GLBTI, Queer, or any number of other fashionable terms and acronyms, i am none the less grateful for Ulrichs’ bravery, and conviction, that has played a large role in making my life, and that of many others what it is.

Thank you, Karl Heinrich Ulrichs.

The street formerly named for Karl von Einem, a general instrumental in the murderous Boxer Rebellion, an admirer of Hitler, and declared opponent of impunity for non-heterosexuals, has been renamed Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Straße in honor of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, a lawyer, journalist and sexual scientist, who was instrumental in formulating what we would now call the gay identity, long before anyone dreamed such a thing was possible.

The newly renamed street, Karl-Heinrich-Ulrichs-Straße opens on to Nollendorfplatz, the heart of what has been Berlin’s gay quarter for more than 100 years in Berlin’s borough of Schöneberg, a borough that has nurtured Christopher Isherwood, Marlene Dietrich, David Bowie, Claire Waldoff, Romy Haag, Klaus Kinski, Hildegard Kneef, Helmut Newton, and many many more queer, and not so queer idols.