I Can’t Wait for… Racism and the Making of Gay Rights by Laurie Marhoefer

Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted here, at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and discuss the books we’re excited about that we have yet to read. Generally they’re books that have yet to be released. It’s based on Waiting on Wednesday, hosted by the fabulous Jill at Breaking the Spine. If you’re continuing with WOW, feel free to link those up as well! Find out more here.

Racism and the Making of Gay Rights: A Sexologist, His Student, and the Empire of Queer Love

In 1931, a sexologist arrived in colonial Shanghai to give a public lecture about homosexuality. In the audience was a medical student, and after the lecture concluded, he introduced himself. The sexologist, Magnus Hirschfeld, fell in love with the medical student, Li Shiu Tong. Li became Hirschfeld’s assistant on a lecture tour around the world – the first time in history that a renowned expert defended homosexuality to so many people in so many countries.

Racism and the Making of Gay Rights shows how Hirschfeld laid the groundwork for modern gay rights, and how he did so by borrowing from a disturbing set of racist, imperial, and eugenic ideas. Yet on his journey with Li, Hirschfeld also had inspiring moments – including when he formulated gay rights as a broad, anti-colonial struggle and as a movement that could be linked to Jewish emancipation.

Following Hirschfeld and Li in their travels through the American, Dutch, and British empires, from Manila to Tel Aviv to having tea with Langston Hughes in New York City, and then into exile in Hitler’s Europe, Laurie Marhoefer provides a vivid portrait of queer lives in the 1930s and of the turbulent, often-forgotten first chapter of gay rights.

Laurie Marhoefer is the Jon Bridgman Endowed Associate Professor in History at the University of Washington.

Add this book to your TBR List.

Advertisement

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s