Is Published as First Journal on Homosexuality

Der Eigene, the first journal to focus on the gay experience, began publication in Berlin, Germany. A companion organization, Gemeinschaft der Eigenen, formed around the journal and celebrated ancient Greek male and masculine culture.

Summary of Event

Edited by founder Adolf Brand, Der Eigene began as an anarchist journal in the direction of Max Stirner, Stirner, Max the nineteenth century German philosopher of egoism. The journal’s title and the leading article of the first issue (1896) reflect Stirner’s philosophy of egoism and the absolute autonomy of the individual. Stirner had given the term eigen a particular meaning (“self-owner”) in his magnum opus Der Einzige und sein Eigentum (1845; The Ego and His Own, Ego and His Own, The (Stirner) 1907), insisting not on individualism as self-interest but as “ownness” (Eigenheit), as self-mastery. Many of the journal’s authors shared this perspective on egoism and individuality, especially John Henry Mackay, who was Stirner’s biographer. [kw]Der Eigene Is Published as First Journal on Homosexuality (1896)
[kw]Eigene Is Published as First Journal on Homosexuality, Der (1896)
[kw]Journal on Homosexuality, Der Eigene Is Published as First (1896)
[kw]Homosexuality, Der Eigene Is Published as First Journal on (1896)
[kw]Published as First Journal on Homosexuality, Der Eigene Is (1896)
Eigene, Der (journal)
Publications;Der Eigene
Homosexuality;early works on
[c]Publications;1896: Der Eigene Is Published as First Journal on Homosexuality[0110]
[c]Organizations and institutions;1896: Der Eigene Is Published as First Journal on Homosexuality[0110]
[c]Laws, acts, and legal history;1896: Der Eigene Is Published as First Journal on Homosexuality[0110]
[c]Literature;1896: Der Eigene Is Published as First Journal on Homosexuality[0110]
Brand, Adolf
Friedlaender, Benedict
Mackay, John Henry
Meier, Karl

Der Eigene’s content was not focused explicitly on homosexuality until 1898, but before that date, much of the work could be interpreted as focusing on the gay experience. Der Eigene came into existence prior to the Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen
Jahrbuch für sexuelle Zwischenstufen (journal) (yearbook of intermediate sexual stages), the second journal to focus on homosexuality. It began publishing in 1899, also in Berlin, and was edited by the noted German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld.

Der Eigene opposed the larger movement for gay liberation represented by Hirschfeld’s Wissenschaftlich-humanitäre Komitee (Scientific-Humanitarian Committee) Scientific-Humanitarian Committee[Scientific Humanitarian Committee] (formed in 1897). Supporters of Der Eigene formed their own organization, the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen Gemeinschaft der Eigenen (community of self-owners) in May of 1903. The Gemeinschaft der Eigenen, whose members were men and were often married, wanted to revive the male culture of ancient Greece—and for some this also included sexual relationships with boys. The group had about one dozen cofounders, including the scholar Benedict Friedlaender, whose book was written around the time of the group’s founding.

Friedlaender’s Renaissance des Eros Uranos: Die physiologische Freundschaft, ein normaler Grundtrieb des Menschen und eine Frage der männlichen Gesellungsfreiheit
Renaissance des Eros Uranos (Friedlaender) (1904; renaissance of the Uranian eros: the physiological friendship, a normal, fundamental drive of man, and a question of the freedom of males to join together) celebrates the Greek “culture of the male.” Greece, ancient;and masculinity[masculinity]
Masculinity;and gay culture[gay culture] The work includes beautiful illustrations of nudes by Hugo Höppener (known as Fidus), drawings that had appeared in Der Eigene. He is best known for his illustrations in the journal Die Jugend, however, which gave its name to the art movement called Jugendstil (or Art Nouveau).

Hirschfeld’s committee, in contrast to the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen, believed gay men to be distinguished by feminine Femininity;gay men and traits, had worked with the women’s movement, and had been willing to accept a relatively high age of consent if necessary to gain revision of Germany’s Paragraph 175, which outlawed sex between males (enacted 1871). The Gemeinschaft der Eigenen celebrated masculinity, believed women should be subordinate to men, and wanted an age of consent that would be low enough to accommodate their interest in boys. Legal revision, however, was a secondary consideration for them, whereas it was primary for Hirschfeld’s committee.


Der Eigene was often highly literary. John Henry Mackay’s “boy-love” poetry, “Boy-love” poetry[boy love poetry] for example, was first published in Der Eigene under the pseudonym Sagitta, the name that Mackay used for all of his boy-love writings. As Sagitta, Mackay is perhaps best known for his 1926 novel Der Puppenjunge (The Hustler, Hustler, The (Mackay) 1985). British-born American writer Christopher Isherwood Isherwood, Christopher had said about the book that it “gives a picture of the Berlin sexual underworld early in this century which I know, from my own experience, to be authentic.”

Even if the impact of Der Eigene on the gay movement of the early twentieth century was limited, it did comfort or inspire many individuals. Swiss actor Karl Meier, who was engaged in provincial tours in Germany from 1924 to 1932, wrote an essay for Der Eigene in 1929, using the pseudonym Rolf, the name he used during the many years (1943-1967) he was editor of the Swiss journal Der Kreis
Kreis, Der (journal) (the circle or ring). Der Kreis had been the only trilingual gay journal, featuring regular contributions in German, French, and English. During the Nazi years, it was the only surviving gay-focused journal.

The historical significance of the Gemeinschaft der Eigenen is its ideological aversion to contemporary medical theories on male homosexuality, especially the view that homosexuality is a biological phenomenon, that is, that gay men differ from heterosexual men. Despite differences, sporadic cooperation did exist among members of Brand’s Gemeinschaft der Eigenen and Hirschfeld’s committee; but so did conflict, between Brand and Hirschfeld. Friedlaender also was a member of Hirschfeld’s committee, but he, too, fell out with Hirschfeld, in 1906, and formed a rival group called the Secession of the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee. Friedlaender’s death in 1908 also meant the end of much financial support for the Secession.

With the rise of the Nazis, all efforts for legal reform came to an end. Paragraph 175 was not to be repealed until 1994, nearly one hundred years after Der Eigene was first published. Mackay’s writings under pseudonym were placed on the Nazi’s list of forbidden books. Although Der Eigene had to cease publication, Brand himself was not subjected to persecution. He survived in Berlin until 1945 when, ironically, he was killed by bombs dropped by the Allies during World War II. Eigene, Der (journal)
Publications;Der Eigene
Homosexuality;early works on

Further Reading

  • Hohmann, Joachim S., ed. Der Eigene: Ein Blatt für männliche Kultur: Das Beste aus der ersten Homosexuellenzeitschrift der Welt. Frankfurt, West Germany: Foerster Verlag, 1981.
  • Keilson-Lauritz, Marita. Die Geschichte der eigenen Geschichte: Literatur und Literaturkritik in den Anfängen der Schwulenbewegung am Beispiel des Jahrbuchs für sexuelle Zwischenstufen und der Zeitschrift Der Eigene. Berlin, Germany: Verlag rosa Winkel, 1997.
  • Kennedy, Hubert. Anarchist of Love: The Secret Life of John Henry Mackay. Rev. ed. New York: North American Man/Boy Love Association, 1996.
  • Mackay, John Henry. The Hustler: The Story of a Nameless Love from Friedrich Street. Translated by Hubert Kennedy. Boston: Alyson, 1985.
  • Oosterhuis, Harry, ed. Homosexuality and Male Bonding in Pre-Nazi Germany: The Youth Movement, the Gay Movement, and Male Bonding Before Hitler’s Rise, Original Transcripts from “Der Eigene,” the First Gay Journal in the World. Translated by Hubert Kennedy. New York: Harrington Park Press, 1991.
  • Porter, Jack Nusan. Sexual Politics in Nazi Germany, the Persecution of the Homosexuals During the Holocaust: Essays, Biographical Sketches, Biographies, Bibliographies, Photos, and Charts on Sexology, Homosexuality, Nazism, and Magnus Hirschfeld. 3d ed. Newton, Mass.: Spencer Press, 2003.

August 29, 1867: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Speaks Publicly for Gay and Lesbian Rights

May 6, 1868: Kertbeny Coins the Terms “Homosexual” and “Heterosexual”

1869: Westphal Advocates Medical Treatment for Sexual Inversion

1896: Raffalovich Publishes Uranisme et Unisexualité

1897: Ellis Publishes Sexual Inversion

May 14, 1897: Hirschfeld Founds the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee

1906: Friedlaender Breaks with the Scientific-Humanitarian Committee

1908: Carpenter Publishes The Intermediate Sex

December 10, 1924: Gerber Founds the Society for Human Rights

1933-1945: Nazis Persecute Homosexuals

1950: Mattachine Society Is Founded