LGBT Film History: The Early Years (1910s – 1920s)

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In this video essay, I take a look at early cinematic depictions of homosexuality, especially during the Weimar era (1919 – 1933) in Germany. 28 May 2019 marked the 100th anniversary of the release of "Anders als die Andern" (1919) which was the first LGBT-themed film in history.

Films that I talk about include "A Florida Enchantment" (1914), "Salomé" (1923), "Michael" (1924), "Die Büchse der Pandora" (1929), "Mädchen in Uniform" (1931) and "The Sign of the Cross" (1932).

Most sources are listed at the end of the video. I will list some of them here again and detail image sources after that:


Richard Barrios, Screened Out: Playing Gay in Hollywood from Edison to Stonewall, London: Routledge, 2003.

Harry M. Benshoff & Sean Griffin, Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in America, Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005.

Laura Horak, Girls Will Be Boys: Cross-Dressed Women, Lesbians, and American Cinema, 1908-1934, New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 2016.

Christian Rogowski (Ed.), The Many Faces of Weimar Cinema: Rediscovering Germany's Filmic Legacy, Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2010.

Hermann Treuner (Ed.), Filmkünstler: Wir über uns selbst, Berlin: Sibyllen-Verlag, 1928.

Kay Weniger, "Es wird im Leben dir mehr genommen als gegeben..." – Lexikon der aus Deutschland und Österreich emigrierten Filmschaffenden 1933 bis 1945, Hamburg: Acabus, 2011.

MUSIC SOURCES (in order of appearance)

The 126ers: Missing My Girl
Vibe Mountain: Clover 3
Dan Lebowitz: Last Train to Mars
Oskar Joost & Tanzorchester: Blinde Kuh
Endless Love: Natural
Dan Lebowitz: Lone Wolf
Dan Lebowitz: Mysteries
Marek Weber & Orchester: Skadatin-Dee
Jeremy Blake: We'll Meet Again
Felix Mendelssohn Bartholdy / Kurt Masur & Gewandhausorchester Leipzig: Die Hebriden (Op. 26)
Dan Lebowitz: Tiptoe Out the Back
Pete Wendling: For Me and My Gal
Chris Zabriskie: Prelude No. 21


Pictures taken from Simplicissimus magazine:
"Berliner Wahlkämpfe" by Eduard Thöny, 2 June 1920, vol. 25 issue 10, page 148.
"Hirschfeldiana" by Eduard Thöny, 1 April 1921, vol. 26 issue 1, page 11.
"Marksturz" cover by Thomas Theodor Heine, 7 May 1923, vol. 28 issue 6.
"Reklame" cover by Thomas Theodor Heine, 21 March 1927, vol. 31 issue 51.
"Zehn Jahre Republik" cover by Thomas Theodor Heine, 12 November 1928, vol. 33 issue 33.
"Immer noch nicht genug Parteien" by Eduard Thöny, 15 September 1930, vol. 35 issue 25, page 297.
"Training" by Olaf Gulbransson, 5 March 1933, vol. 37 issue 49, page 588.

Pictures taken from Photoplay magazine:
Letter to the editor, September 1934, vol. XLVI no. 4, page 14.
"Mangling the Movies", illustration by Ralph Barton, March 1922, vol. XXI no. 4, page 77.
"Life in the Films", illustration by Ralph Barton, October 1921, vol. XX no. 4, page 41.

Pictures taken from the Bundesarchiv:
Bundesarchiv, B 285 Bild-04413 / Stanislaw Mucha / CC-BY-SA 3.0.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-1983-1014-501 / Unknown / CC-BY-SA 3.0.

Uncensored illustration from a portfolio of Aubrey Beardsley's drawings illustrating "Salomé" by Oscar Wilde, used for the 1907 edition, British Library, shelfmark K.T.C.120.b.12.
Coverage of Oscar Wilde's trial in Illustrated Police News, 20 April and 4 May 1895, British Library, shelfmark MFM.M40884.
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