Friday, May 17, 2013

before stonewall, after 1899 part 2 : uranian

 Uranian. What a strange word, huh? Well, it was not so strange to gay activist, or what they called advocates of homosexual emancipation, in the Victorian era. The word was coined in 1864-65 by a German man named Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. He wrote a series of  five booklets called Research into the Riddle of Man-Male Love.  The word originally meant ''third sex'' or a female mind in a male bodied person with a sexual attraction to men. Later in the century it was extended to include female same-gender loving people[lesbians], too.
     The word is believed to be an English version of the German word uring. That word goes back to Plato's symposium in which Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was born to Uranus or ''the heavens.'' This was a birth in which the female is said to have had no part. The Plato connection gets complicated, so I'm not going to go into it here. But I do want to give a simplified reference to it.
     Anyhow, English speaking ''advocates of homosexual emancipation'' quickly embraced the term as a more acceptable word than the degrading ''sodomite'' which, until Uranian came along, was the only word to identify a gay person. Actually, ''nancy'' was used as a derogatory word for an effeminate male too, but it was just as negative. it is interesting to note that the word Homosexual was coined after the word Uranian in 1868-69 by Karoly Maria Kertbeny.
    These advocates argued that gay love, or Uranian love, was a ''comradely'' type of love that would ''unite the estranged ranks of society'', brake down class and gender walls and bring about true democracy. I know that this post goes back further than 1899, but The word Uranian is an obscure part of LGBT history, and it is a part of the Victorian era which goes into the 20th century.

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