Date of Award
Croft Institute for International Studies
This thesis examines the Homosexuelle Interessengemeinschaft Berlin (HIB), the
first gay liberation group in the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Specifically, it analyzes the demands and tactics of the HIB alongside London Gay Liberation Front activist Peter Tatchell at the tenth World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) in 1973. This study analyzes four primary sources: 1) the HIB’s banner from the WFYS, 2) the leaflet Tatchell distributed at the WFYS, 3) Tatchell’s placard from the WFYS, and 4) a 1978 letter from the HIB to the People’s Chamber arguing for a socialist information center geared toward a homosexual patronage. I build on theory outlined by Jeremy Straughn to illustrate the “consentfully contentious” nature of the HIB’s engagement with the East German state, as the group appealed to the state’s own ideology to advocate for homosexual liberation within the socialist regime. I argue that the HIB’s pattern of consentful contention began at the WFYS but continued until the group’s dissolution in 1979. I further contend that the HIB employed methods of activism that were uniquely East German in nature, given the state’s sensitivity to behavior it perceived as threatening to its hegemony. Although the HIB ultimately failed in its goals, it set the stage for successful East German gay liberation groups in the 1980s and paved the way for reunified Germany’s abolition of Paragraph 175 in 1994.
Cassisa, Susanna, "Gay Identity in the GDR: The Homosexuelle Interessengemeinschaft Berlin between Self-Expression and State Control" (2021). Honors Theses. 1876.