UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Enchanted desires, sacred embodiments : sex and gender variant spiritualities in Weimar Germany Fassnacht, Max


Germany's Weimar republic has been understood as a time in which gays and lesbians asserted their demands for social tolerance and protection under the law. Many historians of this period have so far treated the complicated relationship between sex and gender variance and the scientific community. Yet the creation of the "homosexual" in the late nineteenth century as a kind of person also opened up the possibility for the discussion of a specifically sex variant soul. At the same time, the relative freedom of expression that occurred during Germany's Weimar period allowed for sex and gender variants to engage with existing ideas to articulate their own formulations. One journal, Die Freundschaft was a mouthpiece for a particularly vast array of opinions regarding same-sex love. Influenced by the works of Plato, as well as German romanticism, Die Freundschaft's authors saw their desires as being guided by Eros, a non-human and sacred force. Moreover, they fused Magnus Hirschfeld's notion of a "third sex" with the theosophical principle of reincarnation, arguing that part of the karmic path was the eventual incarnation of a soul into a body of opposing gender. Finally, the sentiment commonly espoused during Weimar Germany, that one could discover one's soul in nature, made nature a place in which sex and gender variants could discover their unique souls, and come to terms with their desires. Examining the ways in which sex and gender variants chose to describe themselves and their experiences in the language of the sacred reveals the extent to which they were able put forward an articulation of same-sex love that subverted scientific prescription, describing a constellation of desires and embodiments that were hallowed as well as natural.

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