German Gay Movement and Bookstores
Introduction for German Gay Movement and Bookstores
Late in the autumn of 1970, after nearly eight months of hitchhiking around Western and Eastern Europe, as well as Turkey, I settled in Berlin intending to make it my home. However, shortly after getting my papers, finding a job and an apartment, I received a telegram informing me of my father’s sudden death at age 46. My response was to leave Germany for his funeral. I then found myself with insufficient funds to return.
Two or three years later, I did return for a visit, carrying with me copies of The Body Politic to share with German activists. It was during this trip that I met Gerhard Hoffmann and Reinhart von der Marwitz, who had just founded the first radical German gay newspaper ‘Schwuchtel’ in Berlin. (A short time later they also founded the first openly gay coffeehouse in postwar Berlin, the Anderes Ufer Cafe).
It was during this trip that I began searching antiquarian bookshops for literature from the first gay movement that had flourished during the late 19th Century up until the Nazi regime eliminated it in the 1930s. (It was James Steakley’s research about this period – printed as a series in early issues of The Body Politic – that inspired my interest in collecting this literature). There were many visits to Germany over the next 2 to 3 decades. I got to know many gay activists, booksellers, and publishers in several German cities.