Friday, May 24, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 4 : Anna ruling

 In my last before stonewall, after 1899 post I talked about the Scientific Humanitarian Committee and how it was the first gay rights organization in the world. One thing that I did not say about it was that it was started and controlled by men. The leaders must have seen the contradiction in promoting human rights without recognizing half of the human race-women! So, they invited a women named Anna Ruling to speak at their October 8, 1904 annual meeting in Berlin. Information about Ruling is scanty but it is now known that Anna Ruling was a pseudonym. Her real name was Theo Anna Sprungli and she was born on August 15, 1880 and died on May 8, 1952. She is considered to be the first Lesbian rights activist in the world because of her speech.
    The speech she gave at this annual meeting was called What Interest Does the Women's Movement have in Solving the Homosexual Problem? The title alone says that she was way ahead of her time. Both women and gays have yet to achieve full equality, but for someone over 100 years ago to give a speech about  it was pretty amazing. It is assumed that Ruling herself was a Lesbian because early in her speech she says ''In middle-class circles they believe, oddly enough, that among them homosexuality has no place, and from these circles the most annoying enemies recruit each other to oppose the movement to free Uranian people. I would like to give as an example, that my father, when by chance he came to speak about homosexuality, explained with confidence, 'nothing of the sort can happen in my family.' The facts prove the opposite. I need to add nothing to the statement.''
    Most of what Ruling says in her speech still rings true, but some of it is would be considered questionable today, like her notion that there are three sexes : men, women and homosexuals. At that time gay right activist considered homosexuals to be a ''third sex.'' She also suggested that the off-spring of a couple where one parent is heterosexual and one homosexual could end up unloved with a number of mental and emotional problems. These outdated ideas do not over shadow the overall message of the speech, which promotes social, economic and political equality for men, women and Homosexuals. If you would like to read the entire speech, which is worth checking out, it can be found online.

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