Racism and the Making of Gay Rights

By Laurie Marhoefer,

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

Book description

In 1931, a sexologist arrived in colonial Shanghai to give a public lecture about homosexuality. In the audience was a medical student. 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.

Racism and the…

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Why read it?

1 author picked Racism and the Making of Gay Rights as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Interest in the German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld and his Institute for Sexual Science (active 1919–1933 in Berlin) has grown since the television program Transparent included him in its second season in 2015.

Laurie Marhoefer’s new book challenges his status as a queer history hero, highlighting how his views on sexual emancipation, cross-dressing (as drag was then known), and transgenderism were embedded in racism and colonialism. Marhoefer also tells the lesser-known history of Hirschfeld’s companion in later life, Li Shiu Tong, who after Hirschfeld’s death in May 1935 continued his own research on human sexuality. 

Li’s previously unknown manuscript and notes—rescued…

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