How to do the History of sex – keynote speakers

Here are short abstracts for the two keynotes at our workshop, by Maria Pramaggiore and Lazlo Pearlman.

Below are short abstracts and biographies for the two keynote speakers for How to do the History of Sex, 26 May 2017 at the Edinburgh College of Art


Histories of Sex in Urban Ireland: Dublin’s Hirschfeld Centre
Professor Maria Pramaggiore (Maynooth University, Ireland)

Using as a case study the Hirschfeld Centre (1979-1988), one of the first openly queer spaces in Dublin and a site of LGBTQ+ activism arounds the AIDS epidemic, Maria’s paper will examine the political economy of urban spaces and the non-linear temporalities that inform queer community histories.

Professor Maria Pramaggiore is Professor and Head of Media Studies at Maynooth University. She has published widely on gender and sexuality in cinema and media. She is the author of three monographs, a co-authored film studies textbook, and a co-edited collection on bisexual culture.


What You See is What You Get: Visuality and Trans Performance
Lazlo Pearlman (University of Northumbria)

Since the late 1970s, autobiographical performance has been an important form in which LGBTQ and other ‘Othered’ identities can become ‘visible’, share our stories and bring awareness to issues affecting our lives. These performances have also always run the risk of essentializing identities and entrenching narratives – thereby losing potency – particularly in our 21st century neoliberal identity culture. My research asks “what can the Trans bodily identity do onstage when it does not talk about the Trans condition” and I take my jumping off point from Sandy Stone in ‘The Empire Strikes Back: A Posttranssexual Manifesto’ (1991) when she suggests constituting Trans “[…] as a genre—a set of embodied texts whose potential for productive disruption of structured sexualities and spectra of desire has yet to be explored.” To this end I posit and explore the differences between ‘visible’ identity-based performances and what I establish as my own ‘visual’ (naked) Trans identity-based performance.

I explore here the idea that narrative ‘visibility’ in performance places the emphasis on the optical and the ‘viewed’ (the subject), and examine the foreclosure of possibility that I contend this can create. I will contrast this with the way performance that works with an idea of identity ‘visuality’ could redirect the emphasis onto the viewer and the haptic, and, in refusing to allow narrative to entrench, may incite Stone’s ‘productive disruption’. I will contextualize these ideas and findings via sections of my current Practice Research performance ‘Trans-O-Graphia/Dance Me to the End of Love’.

Lazlo Pearlman is a performance maker and theorist whose areas of interest and expertise are gender, performance and cultural-studies, queer theory, transgender studies, intersectional feminism and critical race theory. He is a Lecturer at the University of Northumbria and has published and presented his work widely.

Image: Lazlo Pearlman by Jeri Poll, from


A Golden Age for Queer Sexual Politics? Lesbian and Gay Literature and Film in 1970s Germany – Programme

Thursday 20 – Saturday 22 July 2017
Humboldt University, Berlin

This conference aims to explore the queer appeal of the 1970s by both highlighting their legendary aspects and questioning the historical construction of the decade.

International Conference
Thursday 20 July – Saturday 22 July 2017

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Sprach- und Literaturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Institute for German Literature
Research Center for the Cultural History of Sexuality

Conception and Organization: Janin Afken, Andreas Kraß, Benedikt Wolf

Click here to view the complete programme


Historical accounts of the German 1970s lesbian and gay movement(s) often draw the picture of a legendary decade, a golden age for queer sexual politics and culture. This view is dependent not only on the historic facts themselves, but also – and significantly – on the way in which they are narrated in literature and film, both of the 1970s themselves and of our times. However, what exactly made the 1970s a “legendary decade”? What was its revolutionary potential and what were its path-breaking political and aesthetic strategies? Which elements, movements and memories had to be marginalized in order to facilitate the historical construction of the “legendary decade”?

This conference aims to explore the queer appeal of the 1970s by both highlighting their legendary aspects and questioning the historical construction of the legendary decade. The conference focuses on the representation and construction of the queer 1970s in literature and film and highlights the process of cultural canonization and the differences between male and female homosexual expression.


Thursday, 20 July 2017, Kino Arsenal, Potsdamer Straße 2

6.30 pm: Welcoming Speeches by Ulrike Vedder, Andreas Kraß, Glyn Davis

7 pm: Madame X – Eine absolute Herrscherin Madame X.  Film screening (German original with English subtitles) with an introduction by the director Ulrike Ottinger


Friday, 21 July 2017, Festsaal der Humboldt Graduate School, Luisenstraße 56

9:30 am: Introduction by Benedikt Wolf

9:50 am: “We were so turned on”. Reflections on Queer(ing) Past and Memory. Keynote by Susanne Hochreiter (Vienna). Chair: Tomasz Basiuk (Warsaw)

10:50 am: Coffee break

11:10 am: Session 1: The Canonized Queer 1970s, Chair: N.N.

  • Janin Afken (Berlin): From Sisters’ Skin to Womb Ego. Solidarity and Corporeality in Verena Stefan’s Shedding (1975)
  • Patsy l’Amour laLove (Berlin): A Legend of Gay Emancipation: Rosa von Praunheim’s Movie “Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation, in der er lebt” (1971)
  • Benedikt Wolf (Berlin): Hubert Fichte’s Language of Desire. From “the Unchaste” to “Oymeln” in the Hamburg novels

12:40 pm: Lunch break

2 pm: Queers Give Me Pause. Keynote by Marc Siegel (Frankfurt a.M./Berlin). Chair: Juan Suárez (Murcia).

3 pm: Coffee break

3:20 pm: Session 2: Contesting the Canon, Chair: Hannes Hacke (Berlin)

  • Chris Auld (Ormskirk): Camp Subversion in the Films of R.W. Fassbinder
  • Vojin Saša Vukadinovic (Zurich): Aesthetics, Critique, Satire. Die Schwarze Botin and the Promise of Revolution
  • Peter Rehberg (Berlin): Bärtige Männer nackt auf Matratzenlager“: Post and Pre-Aids Representations of Gay Masculinity

4:50 pm: Coffee break

5:10 pm: Session 3: Retrospections, Chair: Patsy l’Amour laLove (Berlin)

  • Maria Bühner (Leipzig): How to Remember Invisibility: Documentary Projects on Lesbians in the German Democratic Republic as Archives of Feelings
  • Sebastian Zilles (Siegen): The 1970s in Retrospective. HIV/AIDS-Discourses in German Literature


Saturday, 22 July 2017, Festsaal der Humboldt Graduate School, Luisenstraße 56

9:30 am: Session 4: European Perspectives, Chair: Todd Sekuler (Berlin)

  • Alejandro Melero (Madrid): LGTB Representation and Film Censorship in German-Spanish Co-Productions During the Last Years of Franco’s Dictatorship (1970-1975)
  • Krzysztof Zablocki (Warsaw): Wolfgang Jöhling – a Builder of Bridges Between German and Polish LGBT Scenes
  • Juan A. Suárez (Murcia): The Operatic Tableau in Seventies Queer Cinema: Werner Schroeter, Adolpho Arrieta, Teo Hernández

11 am: Coffee break

11:30 am: Panel Discussion: Is There a Shared History of Lesbian Women and Gay Men in the 1970s? Antke Engel (Berlin), Michael Bochow (Berlin), Laura Guy (Edinburgh), NN., NN.; Chair: Fiona Anderson (Newcastle)


The conference is free to attend.

Contact and Registration until 7 July 2017:


Kino Arsenal, Potsdamer Straße 2, 10785 Berlin
Festsaal der Humboldt Graduate School, Luisenstraße 56, 10117 Berlin
Both of the venues are wheelchair accessible.

Conference Language is English

Image – still from Madame X.

Life Writing of Lesbian and Gay Male Authors in 1970s Germany

CRUSEV’s Janin Afken and Benedikt Wolf’s seminar ask how queer life writing is connected to significant literary tendencies in the Germans 1960s and 1970s like documentary literature and New Subjectivity.

During the summer semester of 2017, we are teaching a seminar on “Life Writing of Lesbian and Gay Male Authors in 1970s Germany” at Humboldt University of Berlin. The seminar is open for undergraduates in German Literature, European Literatures and Gender Studies. The objective of our seminar is to examine the specific constructions of queer subjectivity that are shaped by the autobiographical view in the context of gender and sexuality. The seminar asks how queer life writing is connected to significant literary tendencies in the Germans 1960s and 1970s like documentary literature and New Subjectivity. We are especially interested in problematizing the claim of authenticity as stated in many of the texts and its relationship to the binary of closet and disclosure lying at the core of the concept of coming out. In a historical perspective the question is raised, how the issue of possible confession reacts to canonical texts of autobiographical writing such as Augustinus’s Confessiones and Rousseau’s Confessions.

By reading classical theoretical texts on authorship and autobiography by Michel Foucault, Philippe Lejeune and Paul de Man, we aim to problematize the position of the author and try to grasp the specific relationship to extra-textual reality life writing often claims.

The literary texts we will read range from documentary literature like Maxie Wander’s Guten Morgen, du Schöne (1978), over confession-like personal accounts like Judith Offenbach’s (pseudonym of Luise F. Pusch) Sonja (1981) to highly stylized and canonized autofictions like Hubert Fichte’s Versuch über die Pubertät (1974). We will read seemingly anachronistic accounts like Kurt Hiller’s Leben gegen die Zeit (1978), as well as key texts of 1970s movements like Verena Stefan’s Häutungen (1975).

The examination of life writing of the 1970s allows for an illustrative and complex way of cruising the 1970s with a focus on subjectivities and their transformation in and by literature.

The seminar is organised by CRUSEV’s Janin Afken and Benedikt Wolf.

Four Films by Jim Hubbard at the Cinema Museum, London

Shortly after World AIDS Day 2017, CRUSEV’s Fiona Anderson and EUROPACH hosted a screening and discussion with Hubbard about his life and work.

The American filmmaker Jim Hubbard has been making experimental films that explore lesbian and gay activism and community building since the mid-1970s. Today, Hubbard is perhaps best known for his work as an AIDS activist and historian of AIDS activism. In 2012, he directed and co-produced the documentary United in Anger: A History of ACT UP, a powerful account of the emergence of AIDS activism in New York in the mid-to-late 1980s from the perspective of members of the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power, with the activist and writer Sarah Schulman. Hubbard and Schulman also coordinate the ACT UP Oral History Project, a collection of interviews with surviving members of the group.

On 9th December 2016 – shortly after World AIDS Day 2017 – CRUSEV’s Fiona Anderson and members of the fellow HERA-funded project EUROPACH (Disentangling European HIV/AIDS Policies: Activism, Citizenship and Health) hosted a screening and discussion with Hubbard about his life and work at the Cinema Museum in London. For the screening, Hubbard selected four films which span the breadth of his practice, from poetic reflections on personal loss to documentary interviews, and dealt with themes of loss, memory, activism and empowerment.

In the late 1970s, Hubbard recorded protests against the filming of William Friedkin’s controversial movie Cruising in New York’s West Village on Super 8 film, using the material in a short work that he titled Stop the Movie Cruising (1980). Hubbard’s film switches between footage of street protests in the West Village, aiming to disrupt the filming of Cruising, and voyeuristic recordings of extras on the set, chatting, laughing, and dancing inside the leather bars by the waterfront like the Ramrod and the Eagle’s Nest in which Friedkin filmed. Filming the action from outside the bar, peering in, Hubbard utilised the vantage point of cruising in this work. Moving between the club and the street, between inside and outside, setting up clear parallels between the multiple queer bodies congregating, fictionally, in the bars and the crowds of queer activists rallying against the film in the streets of the Village.

Two Marches (1991), shot on 16mm film, juxtaposes scenes recorded at two national marches on Washington D.C.: the first and second National Marches on Washington for Lesbian and Gay Rights in 1979 and 1987. Hubbard’s combination of footage, presented mostly in silence, makes clear the devastating and unanticipated changes that impacted queer communities in the US between the late 1970s and the late 1980s. Hubbard’s earlier film Elegy in the Streets (1989), also shot in 16mm, takes a similar approach, bringing together intimate footage of Hubbard’s former partner, the filmmaker Roger Jacoby, who died in 1985, and documentations of public demonstrations by ACT UP and the public unfurling of the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt in 1987.

The event concluded with an excerpt from the documentary film Speak for Yourself (1990), in which the AIDS activists and ACT UP members Sarah Schulman and Maxine Wolfe shared their thoughts on the challenges facing activists as they seek to establish solidarity between the diverse communities affected by AIDS. This rarely screened footage provided a fascinating counterpoint to Hubbard and Schulman’s work with the ACT UP Oral History Project and the interviews which appear in Hubbard and Schulman’s film United in Anger: A History of ACT UP.

In a generous discussion with the audience after the screening, Hubbard shared his thoughts on new challenges facing LGBTQ activists in the present and the relationship between recent activism for marriage equality and the historic examples of AIDS activism documented in his film work. He also spoke about the distinctions between his recent work as a documentary filmmaker and his longstanding investment in experimental filmmaking and his desire to make non-narrative films which explore the emotional and visual experience of personal connection, loss, social exclusion, and activist world making in the time of AIDS and earlier. This collaborative event provided the CRUSEV and EUROPACH teams with an opportunity to cruise the queer visual cultures of the 1970s through Hubbard’s films, and trace the experience of activism, citizenship, and health from the 1970s to the present.

Photograph of attendees sat around small tables at the Cinema Museum. The tables are adorned with flowers and chequered green and white table cloth. To the left of the image is the bar, where two men with hats and beards stand, facing opposite directions.

Text and Photographs by Fiona Anderson.

À propos unmarked, brown paper packaging

Mark Clintberg and Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay presented a book-wrapping action as part of the Between the Sheets: Radical Print Before the Queer Bookstore

Artist Mark Clintberg and CRUSEV UK team member Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay presented a book-wrapping action as part of the Between the Sheets: Radical Print Before the Queer Bookstore symposium held at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Art on February 24, 2017. 

The action, created especially for the symposium, responded to the history of printed material of a sexual or queer nature being wrapped in paper that conceals its contents when purchased in shops or sent by post. Symposium guests were invited to bring books or other printed matter to the artists, who provided a wrapping service using screen-printed paper of their own design, created to increase the visibility of the wrapped material, rather than to conceal it. The artists also wrapped and displayed a selection of books from the Glasgow Women’s Library, chosen by Lesbian Archive Project Worker Alice Andrews.

The project evolved out of other collaborative projects between Clintberg and Nemerofsky involving hospitality, wrapping and exchange, including Garde Rose and For the Last Guest. More documentation of the action can be seen here.

How to do the History of Sex

Friday 26 May 2017, Edinburgh College of Art

A one-day interdisciplinary workshop on methodological approaches to the study of sex, between scholars from disciplines including sexology, medicine, law, cultural history, art and design.

One day workshop
Friday 26 May 2017
10:00 – 17:30hrs

Taking place at:
Hunter Lecture Theatre
Edinburgh College of Art
74 Lauriston Place

‘How to do the History of Sex’ is a free one-day interdisciplinary workshop open to all. The event’s main objective is to share methodological approaches to the study of sex between scholars working in varied disciplines, including sexology, medicine, law, cultural history, performance studies, art and design. This will be done through keynote presentations, short talks, and hands-on break-out sessions involving exploring archival materials. The aim of the workshop is for all participants to gain a wider understanding of the complexities of exploring the history of sexual behaviours and practices, and an enhanced interdisciplinary knowledge of ways to approach the subject area.

Whilst sexual behaviours and practices have served as a topic of academic study for a considerable amount of time, recent years have seen the publication of a number of high-profile theoretical texts on the topic. These include ‘Sex, or the Unbearable’ (Berlant and Edelman, 2013), ‘After Sex’ (edited by Halley and Parker, 2011) ‘Unlimited Intimacy’ (Dean, 2009) and ‘Celibacies’ (Kahan, 2013). While all outstanding contributions to the study of sexuality and sexual practices, these books rarely investigate historical materials in depth. The question that this workshop asks is: how is it possible to recover and theoretically scrutinise something as ephemeral as past instances of sexual behaviour?

Keynote speakers for the event are Lazlo Pearlman (University of Northumbria) and Professor Maria Pramaggiore (Maynooth University, Ireland).

Speakers for the event will include: Professor Sharon Cowan (Law, University of Edinburgh); Dr Laura Guy (School of Design, ECA, University of Edinburgh); Dr Agnieszka Koscianska (University of Warsaw); Neslihan Tepehan (PhD student, School of Design, ECA, University of Edinburgh); and Dr Ingrid Young (Health Sciences and Informatics, University of Edinburgh).

To book a ticket, please click here.

Places on the workshop will be strictly limited to 50. Participants will need to attend the whole day, in order to contribute fully to the event. Tickets are available now!

Access: The Hunter Lecture Theatre is wheelchair accessible, and has level access from College Court Yard. Please click here for detailed information regarding wheelchair access and a map to the venue. If you have any additional access requirements, or would like to contact us regarding the event, please email

Image: from À Fleurer, by Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay.


CRUSEV’s Glyn Davis attended this year’s Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in Chicago. Here’s his report.

CRUSEV’s Glyn Davis organised and contributed to a panel for this year’s Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference. Here’s his report on the event.


I put together a panel for this year’s Society for Cinema and Media Studies (SCMS) conference, which took place in Chicago from 22nd to 26th March. The panel was titled ‘Cruising the Seventies: Glancing Backwards at Queer Cinema’, and was comprised of talks by Assistant Professor Greg Youmans (Western Washington University – pictured), Professor Bill Marshall (University of Stirling) and myself, with Associate Professor Richard T. Rodriguez (University of California Riverside) as a respondent. Whereas the focus of the HERA-funded project ‘Cruising the Seventies’ is on Europe, this panel expanded the parameters of investigation to also include the United States. The panel was sponsored by SCMS’s Queer Caucus.

Greg Youmans’ paper, ‘Locating the 1970s: Sex and Cinema at Druid Heights’, focused on a particular geographical location, and its role in the history of sexual representation in the United States. Located deep in the woods of Marin County, California, the artist colony known as Druid Heights was a countercultural mecca in the 1960s and 1970s, as well as a haven for young lesbian feminists who journeyed there to visit the older poet Elsa Gidlow, who died in 1986. Since then, however, most of the structures have fallen into decay and disrepair.

Films shot at Druid Heights include James Broughton’s experimental short ‘The Bed’ (1968), sequences of the Mariposa Film Group’s ‘Word Is Out: Stories of Some of Our Lives’ (1977), and sections of the Mitchell Brothers’ pornographic feature ‘The Grafenberg Spot’ (1985). Together these films trace the history of sexual politics across the “long 1970s”, from the hippie counterculture of the late 1960s through the explosion of gay lifestyles and politics in the 1970s to the exhausted, post-liberation ethos and conservative backlash of the early 1980s. Greg’s paper explored the films’ competing cinematic visions of sexual liberation. In part, he did this through juxtaposing his own video footage with content from the original films, attempting to recreate or unearth traces of the past through his camera.

Bill Marshall’s talk, ‘Lional Soukaz: Historicity and Time’, discussed one specific film by Soukaz: his four-part documentary on queer history, ‘Race d’Ep!’ (1979). Bill focused in particular on the fourth part of the film, ‘Royal Opera’, which takes the form of a philosophical dialogue of sorts between a straight middle-class executive (played by porn star Piotr Stanislas) and a ‘folle’ or queer (played by Soukaz’s collaborator and theorist Guy Hocquenghem). ‘Royal Opera’ is particularly self-conscious about space and time: made on the cusp of the 1970s/1980s, it follows the pair through a Paris marked by the spatial history of same-sex desire. Bill’s talk connected Soukaz’s film-making practice to the 1970s context in Paris – before the opening of the first gay bar in the Marais, the AIDS crisis, and the creation of an equal age of consent – and to arguments made by Hocquenghem in his book ‘La Derive homosexuelle’ (1977) about queerness, marginality, and social acceptability.

As with the preceding papers, my own talk, ‘Hanging out in Derek Jarman’s warehouse’, also looked at the relationships between sexuality, space and the moving image. The different London warehouse spaces that the artist, filmmaker and author Derek Jarman occupied during the 1970s – at Upper Ground, Bankside, and Butler’s Wharf, all located along the south bank of the Thames – were introduced: Jarman lived and worked in these places, his studio doubling as his home. All of these spaces were inhabited legitimately – rent was paid to landlords – but the state of their upkeep was variable, at worst rudimentary. Their shabby state, I argued, served as a generative geography for Jarman: he turned the run-down locations into sanctuaries, othered spaces, in which a queer demimonde of artists and personalities gathered, socialized, and fostered each other’s work. The queer model of sociality and creativity supported by these warehouse studios, I suggested, was not only fleeting but is difficult to account for within existing understandings of both film-making and artistic practice. Attempting to capture that model allows us to think through ways in which, potentially, similar modes of creativity and interaction might be fostered in the present.

Richard T. Rodriguez’s response to the panel, ‘Looking back, thinking forward’, provided a fitting conclusion, and served as a provocative prompt for audience discussion. Richard drew attention to the historian Antoinette Burton’s insistence on “the need for archive stories – narratives about how archives are created, drawn upon, and experienced by those who use them to write history.” Lionel Soukaz, Derek Jarman, and the filmmakers associated with Druid Heights, said Richard, provide us with rich archive stories that enable us to do a queer history of 1970s cinema that teases out the overlooked elements of that era: they illuminate a rich temporal moment that does more than set the stage for future decades of queer filmmaking, but also illustrates a dynamic interplay between film culture and cultural politics.


Felix Rexhausen’s Estate

CRUSEV’s postdoctoral researcher Benedikt Wolf (Berlin) has been spending time working with Felix Rexhausen’s archive. He wrote the following report about his research.

CRUSEV’s postdoctoral researcher Benedikt Wolf (Berlin) has been spending time working with Felix Rexhausen’s archive. He wrote the following report about his research.

The life and works of German gay satirist and journalist Felix Rexhausen (1932-1992) provide a fascinating perspective on the German gay 1970s. After becoming quite well-known to the German general public through a satiric polemic against the reactionary structures in the federal state of Bavaria (‘Living with Bavarians’, 1963) and the fierce and partly hateful reactions to it, Rexhausen published political and/or satirical articles in newspapers and journals and positioned himself in the field of pre-1968 leftist and liberal critique of postwar West Germany. His first novel with homosexual content, ‘Lavender Sword’, published in 1966, imagined a future homosexual revolution. His satiric depiction and critique of both the homophobic majority and the conservative mindset of gay men on the eve of Gay Liberation, pioneered crucial conceptions of the German Gay Liberation movement, namely the twofold critique of homophobic society and male homosexuals, as conducted by Rosa von Praunheim (‘It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives’, 1971) or Martin Dannecker and Reimut Reiche (‘The Ordinary Homosexual’, 1974). His pioneering stance became manifest once more with the publication of the first male homosexual pornographic novel in post-war Germany, ‘Touches’ (1969), published under the pseudonym of Stefan David.

While basic research on Rexhausen’s published gay themed novels has been done already, his other publications have not yet been analyzed for their treatment of homosexuality. These publications include both contributions for non-gay media like newspapers and radio broadcasts and contributions to the post-1969 gay magazines ‘Du & Ich’ (‘You & Me’) and ‘him’.

Next to this published material exists a huge corpus of non-published texts that has not been visible until recently. Rexhausen’s estate is, for the most part, held by the Gay Museum* Berlin, which received most of the materials from the publishing house Männerschwarm. When I asked Wolfgang Cortjaens, the head of the archive of the Gay Museum* Berlin, if I could access Rexhausen’s estate, he told me that no one had looked into it thoroughly and that it had not been sorted and indexed yet. When I expressed my desire to do this work, he was very happy that these important materials would be researched and made accessible for public use.

The materials provide opportunities to examine the complicated ways in which Rexhausen transformed from a closeted homosexual man and politically conscious critic of post-war West Germany to an openly gay intellectual and writer. While he had not yet come out when publishing ‘Lavender Sword’ in 1966 and he published his pornographic ‘Touches’ under a pseudonym, he went on to publish articles in the gay press both under various pseudonyms and under his real name. On the title page of an unpublished manuscript titled ‘Fences: Scenes from the Bushes’ (written in 1964), parts of which were eventually included in ‘Lavender Sword’ and ‘Touches’, he crossed out the typewritten pseudonym of Hans Rudolf Ahrengall and replaced it with his real name. This apparent gesture of pride cannot be dated exactly, but has to be located in the context of change both in the situation of homosexuals in the FRG and in Rexhausen’s private life. In Rexhausen’s literary oeuvre he continued his play with authentic vs. fake authorship throughout the 1970s, for example by presenting himself as the collector and translator of poems he had in fact written himself (‘Lavender Steps’, 1978). In his unpublished texts from the archive, this play with names and literary identities is ubiquitous. There are characters like the strange countess Eckböhnel, presenting her memoirs and poems, including a drawing of her portrait. Most erratic is the character of the mysterious Selma Ada Hotop, from whom even a nameplate has survived in the estate and to whom various texts and drawings are ascribed. The play with this kind of personae leads to Hamburg’s cabaret scene, where Rexhausen seems to have played quite a distinct role, but about which little is known until today.

From the perspective of his estate, Rexhausen’s path from a closeted homosexual to an openly gay writer and journalist can be traced by looking at his play with names, fictitious characters and the strategic use of published vs. private or performative and ephemeral materials. The fact that this did not stop with the emergence of Gay Liberation, but rather transformed from a necessity dictated by the structure of the closet to an ironic tool used to satirically reflect on gay sexuality, opens up a fresh perspective on the German gay 1970s.

Accessibility for Between the Sheets

Information on the accessibility of our symposium, taking place in Glasgow, 23-24 February 2017

Information on Accessibility for our symposium, Between the Sheets: Radical Print Cultures before the queer bookshop.

Thursday 23th and Friday 24th February 2017
Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow

The symposium will be conducted in English.

Live subtitling (speech to text transcription) will accompany both days of the symposium.

On the Thursday, pre-prepared material will be accompanied by closed caption subtitles or a transcript.


Access information regarding the venue

The CCA is wheelchair accessible, with level access throughout each of the floors in the building. The building comprises three floors and is situated on the corner of Sauchiehall Street and Scott Street. The ground floor includes a foyer with a box office, Duty Managers’ office, two shops, a cafe bar, gallery, cinema, accessible toilets and lift access to the first and second floors. The first floor has the theatre, Creative Lab, accessible toilets and Terrace Bar. The second floor has Intermedia Gallery and the Clubroom meeting space.

Thursday’s event will be held in the Creative Lab. Friday’s event will be held in the Club Room, with drinks afterwards taking place in the Terrace Bar.

Please note that there is no hearing loop in the Club Room.

Detailed access information for the CCA be found online here at the CCA’s website. A map of the CCA can viewed here. For a detailed statement that includes information regarding travelling to the venue, click here.

The CCA aim’s to make its building as accessible as possible. If you feel that you might need some additional help, please get in touch or ask a member of staff on arrival.

If you have any specific access requirements that the Cruising the 70s team can help you with, let us know. You can email us at


We will circulate accessibility information including maps of the venue and fixtures and fittings of the spaces we’ll be using and toilets, with general information about the symposium. We will not be providing BSL interpretation at the event.

Cruising the 70s welcomes any suggestions or improvements to access for our events. Feel free to speak to us at the event, or contact us via email at with any suggestions. We will be discussing provisions to improve the accessibility of our events across the duration of the project and in the run up to our conference in Edinburgh in July 2019.

Programme for Between the Sheets: Radical print cultures before the queer bookshop

Here’s the full programme for our forthcoming symposium in Glasgow, Scotland. Tickets have now sold out but those without a space can join a waiting list by calling CCA Glasgow.

Here’s the full programme for our forthcoming symposium in Glasgow, Scotland. Tickets have now sold out but those without a space can join a waiting list by calling CCA Glasgow. Accessibility information to follow shortly.


Between the Sheets: Radical print cultures before the queer bookshop, 23-24 February 2017 CCA Glasgow


Thursday 23 February, 18.00-20.00, Creative Lab
Bob Orr and Sigrid Nielsen in conversation with James Ley


Friday 24 February 2017, 11am-17.30, Club Room

11.00 Introduction: Fiona Anderson and Laura Guy
11.30-13.00 Roz Kaveney in conversation with Nat Raha
13.00-14.00 Lunch (not provided)
14.00-15.30 Evan Ifekoya in conversation with Nazmia Jamal
15.30-16.30 Break and ‘À Propos Unmarked, Brown Paper Packaging:
A book-wrapping action’ by Mark Clintberg & Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay (with refreshments provided)
16.45-17.30 Discussion

Symposium participants are then invited to join us in the upstairs bar

(Image: Lavender Menace bookshop courtesy of Bob Orr)

Between the Sheets: Radical print cultures before the queer bookshop

Centre for Contemporary Art, Glasgow, Scotland
23-24 February 2017

Between the Sheets is framed around three conversations with a range of speakers who will share their experiences with print cultures in the 1970s,

CCA, Glasgow 23.-24.2.2017

Book online

The 1970s was a crucial time for feminist and LGBTQ activism and community-building. Between the Sheets explores how and why reading and writing acquired such prominence and power in queer communities in Britain in this important decade, engaging with the pleasure and politics of print before the establishment of important queer bookshops like Lavender Menace and Gay’s the Word in the late 1970s and early 1980s. With contributions from artists, activists, writers, and academics, it will stop to consider tactile encounters with the printed word, reflect on collective interactions with print in reading groups and consciousness-raising sessions, and think about the development of spaces for sharing and selling books, magazines, and pamphlets in the 1970s, from women’s centres to nightclubs.

Between the Sheets is framed around three conversations with a range of speakers who will share their experiences with print cultures in the 1970s, focusing on the politics of print, on spaces of distribution and connection, and on how these often ephemeral queer print cultures have been archived and are remembered in the present. These discussions will be punctuated by performances and screenings. Looking at reading and sharing the written word as a call to action, Between the Sheets asks what the role of print was for queer communities in the 1970s and what the significance of these radical queer print cultures is for LGBTQ activists today.

 (Image: Lavender Menace bookshop courtesy of Bob Orr)

A Golden Age for Queer Sexual Politics? Lesbian and Gay Literature and Film in 1970s Germany

Friday 21 – Saturday 22 July 2017
Humboldt University, Berlin

Call for Papers

Friday 21 – Saturday 22 July 2017
Humboldt University, Berlin

Call for Papers

The German Gay Liberation Movement began with a work of art. Rosa von Praunheim’s film It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives (1971) was the trigger for the formation of homosexual emancipation groups all over West Germany. With its fierce critique of the approaches to assimilation of the 1960s homophile movement and with its revolutionary impetus, the film marked itself as a threshold towards a new time of liberation.

From the very start of the movement, women took part in the various emancipation groups. Nonetheless, gay men were dominating these groups. Since the early 1970s, homosexual women also formed up all-female lesbian groups, inspired by the women’s movement’s critique of the patriarchy. Verena Stefan’s book Häutungen (Shedding, 1975) played a substantial role in the process of shaping a political lesbian identity and eventually turned into a cult text of both the feminist and the lesbian movement.

Historical accounts of gay liberation movements have often been presented in the form of a saga, as Scott Bravmann has pointed out in his 1997 book Queer Fictions of the Past. This certainly applies for the 1970s in Germany: the period between 1971 (Praunheim’s film) and 1982 (when the term AIDS was coined) has regularly been constructed as a Golden Age of German queer history. This view is dependent not only on the historic facts themselves, but also – and significantly – on the way in which they are narrated in works of art, both of the 1970s themselves and of our times. Individual memory and historical construction are fundamentally structured by narration – and literature and film do not only participate in this process of shaping an intelligible past, but are also spaces of reflection on this process.

In the last few years interest in the more recent past of LGBTI movements has increased in the humanities. In particular, the period that is characterized deeply by the HIV/AIDS epidemic and the politics of activist groups such as ACT UP! and Queer Nation in the US context has been reread in the frame of concepts of trauma, loss and temporality. The German context did not see mass movements against the social, political and ideological consequences of HIV/AIDS like in the USA. The media reactions to AIDS nonetheless brought about a homophobic climate of repression and hatred, and German queers found effective strategies for self-aid. It seems that LGBTI activists as well as academics have only started the work of mourning the deaths of the AIDS epidemic in the past few years.

Against the backdrop of this rather dark and negative decade, its predecessor, the 1970s, begins to appear as a heyday of Gay Liberation, radical politics and sexual freedom. In Germany, the 1970s are often seen as a “legendary decade”, as the editors of  a collection of essays about the so-called Rosa Radikale (‘Pink Radicals’) write – being aware of the historical construction this understanding is based on [1]. The years after the students’ revolt of 1968 were a departure for queers both in the FRG and in the GDR. Sodomy laws were liberalized in both German states in 1968 (GDR) and 1969 (FRG). Important homosexual emancipation groups such as Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin (Homosexual Action West Berlin, FRG) and Homosexuelle Initiative Berlin (Homosexual Initiative Berlin, GDR) were founded in 1971 and 1973 respectively. When the catastrophe of the epidemic hit the movement in the early 1980s, it was desperately estranged and almost incapable of united action.

However, what exactly made the 1970s a “legendary decade”? What was its revolutionary potential and its path-breaking political and aesthetic strategies? Which elements, movements and memories had to be marginalized in order to facilitate the historical construction of the “legendary decade”? Have the 1970s been narrated differently by the heterogeneous groups involved in LGBTI movements – especially by lesbian women in contrast to gay men? Why has the lesbian movement often been made invisible in academic discussions about both the Women’s movement and the homosexual movement [2]? Can the movement of the 1970s Pink Radicals not only be seen as an unreachable and irretrievable past, lost forever because of the AIDS crisis, but also as a foundation and inspiration for the AIDS movement of the 1980s?

In recent years some artists, film makers and writers have created works of art reflecting the queer 1970s in complex ways. In her 2014 novel Sisterhood, Claudia Koppert turns toward the early years of feminist and lesbian activism by staging the generational conflict between the protagonist and her adolescent daughter. By focusing both on the mother’s and the daughter’s perspectives, the novel creates a highly intricate reading of the ‘legendary’ feminist and lesbian past. Yoni Leyser’s film Desire Will Set You Free (2015), tells the story of a migrant to Berlin who discovers her trans identity. Both the plot of the film and some of its scenes are reminiscent of Praunheim’s 1971 film, and Praunheim finally appears in the film along with other ‘heroes’ of the 1970s such as Blixa Bargeld and Nina Hagen. The queer 1970s seem to exercise quite a strong appeal for contemporary reflections of queer culture.

The conference aims to explore the queer appeal of the 1970s by both highlighting the legendary aspects of the 1970s and questioning the historical construction. It also seeks to unearth marginalized, erased or ephemeral cultural expressions of the time and to investigate to what degree women, marginalized masculinities (proletarian and migrant) and the reality of the GDR have been excluded from historical narratives. The conference will focus on the representation and construction of the queer 1970s in literature and film and highlight the process of cultural canonization, the differences between male and female homosexual expression, the characteristics of trans* and racialized experiences, and the queer culture of East Germany.

We invite papers that focus on literature and films of the 1970s as well as papers that investigate contemporary cultural expressions that reflect the 1970s. Papers may scrutinize either individual authors and film-makers or thematic aspects in various works of art. We invite papers on ‘serious’ as well as experimental, avant-garde, underground, trivial and pornographic texts or films. Papers that analyze German culture in a broader European context are especially welcome.

Possible contexts and topics include:

  • lesbian and gay literature
  • lesbian and gay film
  • heteronormative works referring to LGBTI issues
  • works referring to trans issues
  • works referring to issues of race
  • Punk and Glam Rock
  • Drag Culture (Tunten)
  • Pornography

The conference will take place from July 21-22 2017 at Humboldt University of Berlin.

The conference language is English.

For individual proposals, please submit a one-page, double-spaced abstract in English with a short biographical note before 31 December 2016 via

The accepted papers will be published as a collection of essays after the conference.

Unfortunately, we are not able to fund travel or accommodation costs.

The Conference is organized as part of the HERA-funded research project “Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS queer sexual cultures” by the Research Center “Cultural History of Sexuality” (Institute for German Literature, Humboldt University of Berlin).

Janin Afken, Andreas Krass, Benedikt Wolf
Forschungsstelle Kulturgeschichte der Sexualität
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für deutsche Literatur
Unter den Linden 6
10099 Berlin

[1] Andreas Pretzel/ Volker Weiß: Die westdeutsche Schwulenbewegung der 1970er Jahre. Annäherungen an ein legendäres Jahrzehnt, in: Pretzel/ Weiß (eds.): Rosa Radikale. Die Schwulenbewegung der 1970er Jahre, Geschichte der Homosexuellen in Deutschland nach 1945, Vol 2, Hamburg 2012, p. 9–26.

[2] Gabriele Dennert/ Christiane Leidinger/ Franziska Rauchut: Lesben in Wut. Lesbenbewegung in der BRD der 70er Jahre, in: Dennert/ Leidinger/ Rauchut (eds.): In Bewegung bleiben. 100 Jahre Politik, Kultur und Geschichte von Lesben, Berlin 2007, p. 31–61.

Cruising the 70s is funded by HERA.

The project Cruising the 70s is financially supported by the HERA Joint Research Programme 3 Uses of the Past which is co-funded by AHRC, AKA, BMBF via DLR-PT, CAS, CNR, DASTI, ETAg, FWF, F.R.S. – FNRS, FWO, FCT, FNR, HAZU, IRC, LMT, MIZS, MINECO, NWO, NCN, RANN?S, RCN, SNF, VIAA and VR and the European Commission through Horizon 2020.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and  innovation programme under grant agreement No 649307