In many ways the 1920s and 30s marked the beginning of a visible LGBTQ+ presence in the Western world. Berlin Germany had a vast culture of queer people including several gay bars, queer movies, and LGBTQ+ publications. German doctors in Berlin also worked on what were, at the time, Experimental procedures to help trans women medically transition. Among one of the first to undergo these gender affirming surgeries was a trans woman named Lily Elbe. Although there was still a lot of stigma surrounding queer Identities, there was a certain presence of the LGBTQ+ community that made this era, so interesting. This is not to say that these were the only places where queer people existed, But these were places were LGBTQ+ influence was losing some of its stigma. There was a similar era in the united states during the sexual liberation of the 20s, however Economic depression and worldwide conflict would soon bring an end to the presence of queer culture. Although homosexuality was legal for a time in places like Poland and the Soviet Union, the world was headed for a dark place. Where freedoms were being restricted by the rise of fascism and dictatorships in Europe, the United States remained isolationist, focusing on helping itself out of depression as president Roosevelt worked on his new deal policy. Queer history was still being made, but it was being silenced by the forces of society. Fascism and dictatorships took over Europe in the 30s and 40s. The Nazi Party in Germany had severe restrictions on all freedoms and especially those concerning LGBTQ+ rights. Thousands of queer people were arrested under the Nazi regime and were sent to prison or concentration camps where several met their end. This is some of the worse that came out of the dictatorships in Europe But that does not take away from the known and unknown suffering of queer people all over the world. Under Stalin’s Russia, homosexuality was Recriminalized in the 1930s, and in Spain recriminalized in the 40s. Japan, as they grew to become a player on the world stage encouraged its citizens to participate in strict roles and loyalty to the government. Although homosexuality was technically legal, it still had stigma against breaking the usual rules that were expected in society, especially in a time when they were allies with Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. The world was heading towards war and WWII would become a catalyst for queer people to know each other’s presence. The world was a muddy place, and many countries and cultures did what they could to promote unity and nationalism. However, this was often at the expense of the outliers. Pearl Harbor initiated the United States Entry into the war, officially at least. Men were expected to fight, and women expected to work. On a larger scale than what had happened in the first World War, women’s roles in society were changing. Women in the United States experienced the societal autonomy they were not used to experiencing. In the us, army undergoing homosexual acts was illegal, and blue discharges were once again being given to those who are alleged in these acts. These discharges did not allow them to receive benefits from the government for serving their country, and carried large stigma. It was not only queer men in the army, but several queer women. The women’s army Corps provided opportunity for many women to do so called men’s work, and take on traditionally masculine roles. This attracted many queer and gender non-conforming women for the chance to meet other women like them. Many queer people were sent to psychiatric wards after being outed, and experienced abuse. Although the Allies had won WWII, it had felt like a long road ahead for queer people. Lili Elbe. Lili Elbe was a famous trans woman from Denmark who went on to become one of the first trans women to undergo gender affirming surgery. She began wearing women’s clothing in her wife’s portraits, and began presenting as a female in daily life. She eventually went to seek surgery in Germany, however, she passed away when she suffered from an infection from her final surgery. Mabel Hampton. Mabel Hampton was an openly lesbian queer activist that lived during the Harlem renaissance. She danced and performed at clubs throughout Harlem and later in life would go on to become a founding member of the lesbian history archives and participate in numerous LGBT+ rights marches throughout her lifetime. Alan Turing. Alan Turing was a highly influential gay mathematician and scientist during WWII. The creation of the Turing machine was one of the biggest influences in computer science and Provided the framework for the modern computer. He helped win the war for the British by breaking German codes. Even with so many accomplishments, he was still convicted for indecency. Michael Dillon. Michael Dillon was a British trans man. He was one of the first to have phalloplasty, or gender affirming surgery. He began taking testosterone in 1939 and later had top surgery. Harold Gillies, an experimental plastic surgeon, performed phalloplasty on Dillon from 1946 to 1949. He later wrote a book on his experiences, became a doctor, and after being unwantedly outed, settled in India until his death. The war ended the economic depression in the United States and brought on an age of nationalism, conformity, and strict Gender roles. But in this post-war age came the rebels, those trying to dissect their society. In 1948 the Kinsey report was published and Society’s conformist lens began to crack. Tune in next time for another LGBTQ+ by the decades.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. there's a tv show called bomb girl and the show has a gay women and the show takes place during world war two and last I checked it's on netflix

  2. didn't they know that Baron Von Steuben, the general that had a great contribution in the american military, basically shaped the american soldiers, was actually gay??

  3. yo alex these vids are super interesting and great but it'd be awesome if you stopped using queer as an umbrella term as it's a slur that not everyone in the community is comfortable with and has reclaimed

  4. Thank you! These are great vids! Seeing photos of LGBT people from past generations gives me the feels. T_T

  5. i love these videos so much, it's really interesting learning about the advances is lgbtq+ rights and acceptance in all the different countries and time periods

  6. Thank you so much for making this.Queer history is often over looked or downplayed. This questioning gal thanks you for your hard work

  7. Not so fun fact: before the Nazi's showed up, there were literally hundreds of lesbian bars in Berlin. Try finding even two in most major cities today…

  8. SUCH A BEAUTIFUL VIDEO I LOVE AND WATCHED ALL YOUR VIDEOS YOU ARE THE BEST LGBTQ YOUTUBER EVER

  9. can i just say how much i love your videos?

    like holy hell, the pacing is good, the information interesting, and its well written. it's not that often you find that level of quality on a video.

  10. "Gender non-conforming women" 3:35
    ??? How does that work, you can't be non conforming but also a woman?
    -a very confused nonbinary

  11. Alan Turing's life story is terribly heart-breaking. I watched "Imitation Game" and absolutely loved Cumberbatch's vibrant performance, but from what I've been told, reality was even darker…

  12. I can't wait for the 60 70 and 80s that's when we start Winning and Cleve jones Harvey milk and stonewall come into play 😊😊!!!!!!! Oh and also I'm LOVING the series

  13. I love these videos so much! I would have never knew about all of this so thank you for making these videos

  14. THANK YOU for including the representation of POC in your video. SO MUCH of history, especially queer history, is white washed and people of color are swept under the rug. But your video included poc very well through pictures and through mentions, so thank you.

  15. "HOMOSEXUALITY CAN BE CURED" lmao I didn't know it was disease. Anyway, thank you for your hard work! I learned a lot! (by the way can you approve my subtitles in french? I really want my friends to understand all your videos!).

  16. This is such a great video, I love learning about these things, there's a great movie called The Danish Girl about Lili and it's so emotional and fantastic

  17. Stop saying "queer" whatever. I find it absolutely insulting. I'm gay, not queer. Are you going to start saying "faggot culture" or "faggot history"? Also, don't start saying that the word "queer" is "reclaimed". No, by far, it is not. Ask the NAACP about the n-word sometime. The people pushing the use of "queer" are homophobic trans activists. They aren't part of the gay community.

  18. I'm loving this series!! So interesting, and I like that you included queer pioneers from around the western world, not just America 😀

    One thing that I'd like to request if you're covering Kinsey next – can you do a mention of Kinsey's X category, which was for asexuals? We often get missed out of queer history things even though we've been here all along 😛

  19. These are really excellent videos that honestly need to be made. Queer history, like black history (although this has improved somewhat in the case of black history) has been largely erased, and it is sad. More people should know about these people.

  20. I watched 'The Imitation Game' about a week ago. The movie is about Alan Turing (the mathematician) It's an amazing movie, I highly recommend it.

  21. Thank you soooooo much, we learned about these times but never about the queer history in my classes at school, as a fellow bi/queer person I'm glad to see someone sharing our culture and teaching everyone about the struggle, I am now tempted to go back and confront past teachers to include this in their lessons to let some students know they aren't alone, I sincerely look up to you Alex and am inspired by your vision – love from me and my girlfriend

  22. I screamed when I saw Alan Turing. He is so amazing, the war ended early because of him. Okay, he shortened the war by 2 years, saving 1,000,000+(I'm pretty sure) lives. And then he had to go through hormonal therapy. There is a movie about it on Netflix (The imitation game) and it's so good, Alan Turing is played by Benedict Cumberbatch and uGH IT'S JUST SO FUCKING GOOD.

  23. i'm from poland and i SCREAMD when he said that homosexuality was legal here. and now this country is at the point that I'm scared of even admiting that i might not be straight. and don't even get me started on legalization of lgbtq+ marriage bc I'll probably be long dead when it'll happen IF it'll happen. that's not even funny it's tragic. and to hear that the country was quite open-minded back then? huge surprise. and quite a dissapointing one taking into account today's picture of poland.

  24. When I saw Billy Tipton in the intro I was overjoyed. He's a criminally under-recognized figure, and any attention he does get is deeply muddled by transphobia and ignorance. So thanks for not ignoring him or trans people in general, as too often happens.

  25. Man, I can never get over the injustice Alan Turing suffered. He did so much for his country to be treated like a mental patient. It's so saddening.

  26. Something I love about Spain is that, as you said, being queer was illegal from the 30s to the 70s, yet, we were one of the first countries to legalise gay marriage and queer celebrities started to pop up as soon as the dictatorship ended. I personally think it's because we really embrace a lot of values of queer culture (specially gay) like being loud, gossiping, talking a lot, showing affection, creating drama… I mean, all of those are stereotypes but I think people here really enjoy the vibe that queer people emit.

  27. I was so freaking happy when Alan was brought up ☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️☺️🤗

  28. You should put a discliamer on these videos: Only the USA counts as a source of good for LGBT. Because that is how you act. Also interesting how you downplay American stigmatization.

  29. I love GLBTQ history its so important that we all know are history so when we can educate other communities. Thank you for shareing.

  30. Alan Turing was given medication to chemically castrate him. He was a genius but was treated awfully due to his sexuality. A film was made about him I believe.

  31. Thank you for these videos, they have helped restore my pride for our queer ancestors and pride in my own identity in a time of stifle. Much love 💓

  32. My grandma says that gay people didn't exist in the past and it's just something happening now because people are dirty and have no shame nowadays. I should show her these videos.

  33. Wasn't Alex Turing also given medicine to "cure" him of his gayness that destroyed his mind? If I remember correctly I think it happened and is one of the scariest things I've ever heard.

  34. 1:00
    looks at Poland now Weeeell, I mean… now it's legal too but people still hate LGBT+ people. But it's getting better, hah 😀

  35. *friend comes in*
    me:you saw nothing…
    friend:SMASH ME HARD DADY!
    me:FUCK NO!
    friend:Yes
    me:NEIN!
    friend:what the fuck does that mean?
    me:NEIN MEANS NO IN GERMAN DUMBASS!
    friend:*already near me*
    me:Fuck!-
    god:Well lets not put him in hell or heaven but put him on earth for 200 years and put him to stay 19.
    100 years later
    me:REEEEEEEEEE!!!! IM YOUNG BITCHES *hit the L dance*

  36. I would love it if you published a textbook based on this. One of the few textbooks I would read for fun.

  37. Everyone should know the name Alan Turing. I never learned about him in school. The war would most likely have lasted several years longer and we may not have even won the war were it not for him. I'm so glad a film's been made now and he hasn't been forgotten and ignored but people like him need to show up more in today's teachings. As much as Florence Nightingale. He saved hundreds of thousands of lives and should never be forgotten.
    He was a hero and a genius and deserved better than he got in the end.

  38. I know this an older video and its really good, but I'm rather shocked that we didn't even get a name drop for Magnus Hirschfield in one of these two early videos. He did a lot for the early community and also had relationships with other men, so he wasn't just an ally. To be fair a lot of his ideas are no longer considered valid but he was one of the first people to stand up and say "Maybe we shouldn't treat these people like freaks." Hell, a good portion of the piles of books the Nazis burned were either written by him of published by his institute. Like I said its a great video but not even mentioning Hirschfield seems like quite an omission.

Related Post