Men reading men : homophile magazines in 1950s West Germany
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This study focuses on how homophile magazines functioned to bring homosexual men together as readers and members of unique reading publics in the wake of National Socialist persecution of homosexuals, and in the context of postwar reconstruction, cultural normalization, and the Cold War. Through a combination of close and contextualized analysis, I argue that the magazines Die Freundschaft, Die Insel, Der Weg, PAN, Hellas, and Der Ring, created a space in which contributors and readers could articulate and come to understand their experience as homosexual West Germans. Through homophile magazines, they engaged in discourses that had bearing on their lives as homosexual men, yet the magazines also spoke to their concerns and interests as men living in the early Federal Republic. Thus on the one hand, homophile magazines provided forums for debate and discussion of homosexuality and other issues of interest to readers such as the nature and genesis of same-sex desire, the “role” of the homosexual man in society, campaigns for reform of Paragraph 175, or portrayals of same-sex desire in world literature. On the other hand, I argue that homophile magazines also reflected contributors’ and readers’ engagement with other, seemingly unrelated West German publics beyond the ones engendered by the magazines themselves. As my examination of the magazines reveals, numerous points of intersection emerged between homophile publics and the larger West German public sphere under conditions of reconstruction. As such, this study contributes to scholarship on homophile cultural production and expands our understanding of sexual publics by asking both how West German homophile magazines were unique and how they were uniquely West German.