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Vita SexualisKarl Ulrichs and the Origins of Sexual Science$
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Ralph M. Leck

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780252040009

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252040009.001.0001

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Inventing Sexual Liberalism

Inventing Sexual Liberalism

(p.33) Chapter 2 Inventing Sexual Liberalism
Vita Sexualis

Ralph M. Leck

University of Illinois Press

This chapter explores the invention of new nomenclatures for sexual minorities in the works of Ulrichs and Karl Kertbeny (1824–1882). Due to a personal tragedy—a close friend, who was a homosexual, committed suicide—Kertbeny decided to join Ulrichs' fight for homosexual rights. Kertbeny embraced Ulrichs' contention that, in order for sexual minorities to gain equal rights and social acceptance, dominant stigmatizing classificatory idioms must be replaced by new scientific terminology. Before they appeared in Kertbeny's anti-Prussian essays of 1869, the words heterosexuality and homosexuality did not exist. These words are used today in the absence of the knowledge that their invention signaled a post-Prussian liberal sexual politics of inclusion and equal rights.

Keywords:   Karl Ulrichs, Karl Kertbeny, homosexual rights, equal rights, social acceptance, classificatory idioms, heterosexuality, homosexuality, anti-Prussian

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