Overlooked No More: Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, Pioneering Gay Activist

Overlooked is a series of obituaries about remarkable people whose deaths, beginning in 1851, went unreported in The Times.

Before the word “homosexuality” existed, he argued that same-sex attraction was innate, and that those who experienced it should be treated the same as anyone else.Overlooked

By the time the overlooked lawyer and writer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs took the podium at a meeting of the Association of German Jurists in 1867, rumors about his same-sex love affairs — and the subsequent threat of arrest and prosecution — had already cost him his legal career and forced him to flee his homeland.

Standing in Munich before more than 500 lawyers, officials and academics — many of whom jeered as he spoke — Ulrichs argued for the repeal of sodomy laws that criminalized sex between men in several of the German-speaking kingdoms and duchies that existed in the years before the creation of a unified German state.

“Gentlemen, my proposal is directed toward a revision of the current penal law,” he said, according to the historian Robert Beachy in the 2014 book “Gay Berlin: Birthplace of a Modern Identity.”

Ulrichs described a “class of persons” who faced persecution simply because “nature has planted in them a sexual nature that is opposite of that which is usual.”

Same-sex attraction was a deeply taboo topic at the time; the word “homosexuality” would not even exist for another two years, when it was coined by the Austro-Hungarian writer Karl-Maria Kertbeny. So the ideas in Ulrichs’s speech — that such attraction was innate, and that those who experienced it should be treated the same as anyone else — were revolutionary.

His remarks preceded by more than 100 years the Stonewall riots in New York in 1969, which are widely seen as the start of the modern L.G.B.T.Q. rights movement.

They helped inspire the rise of the world’s first gay rights movement, 30 years later in Berlin.

They foreshadowed the imposition of a sodomy law across the German Empire that would later be used by the Nazis to target gay men, thousands of whom were killed in concentration camps.

Although overlooked they made history: Ulrichs is believed to have been the first person to publicly “come out,” in the modern sense of the term.

“I think it is reasonable to describe him as the first gay person to publicly out himself,” Robert Beachy said in an interview. “There is nothing comparable in the historical record. There is just nothing else like this out there.”

His speech was also deeply unwelcome at the 1867 meeting, where the audience erupted in shouts of “Stop!” and “Crucify!” that ultimately forced Ulrichs off the stage.

For much of Ulrichs’s life, same-sex relations were widely seen as a pathology or as a sin to which any person could succumb if seized by wickedness. These views still exist in some parts of the world.

Ulrichs helped forge the concepts of gay people as a distinct group and of sexual identity as an innate human characteristic in a series of pamphlets he wrote from 1864 to 1879 — at first under a pseudonym, but under his own name after he gave his speech at the 1867 conference.

“By publishing these writings I have initiated a scientific discussion based on facts,” he wrote in a letter published in 1864 in Deutsche Allgemeine, a pan-German newspaper.

NYTimes.com by Liam Stack, July 1, 2020

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Korean Adoptee Wins Landmark Case in Search for Birth Parents

In the first verdict of its kind, a South Korean court has ruled that Kara Bos, an American who is a Korean adoptee, is a daughter of an 85-year-old man in Seoul.

A court in Seoul ruled Friday that a Korean adoptee, adopted by an American couple almost four decades ago must be recognized as a daughter of an 85-year-old South Korean man, providing hope for the thousands of Korean-born adoptees who want to know the identities of their birth parents.adopted kids, adoption new york, new york adoption, new york state adoption

On Nov. 18, exactly 36 years after she was found abandoned in a parking lot in a city in central South Korea, Kara Bos, now an American citizen, filed her paternity lawsuit, the first in South Korea by an overseas adoptee. After winning the lawsuit, Ms. Bos now hopes to confront her father to ask him who her mother was.

Ms. Bos was flown to the United States 10 months after she was found abandoned, becoming one of thousands of South Korean babies and toddlers shipped annually out of their birth country for overseas adoption in the 1970s and ’80s.

In recent years, Ms. Bos has been making trips to South Korea in search of her birth mother. She wanted to meet her biological father not only to press him on her mother’s identity, but to find out why she was abandoned. But three women she believed to be her half sisters have blocked her from meeting the elderly man, claiming that she was not family. As a last resort, she filed the paternity lawsuit.

“Because of the lawsuit, I actually now have a right to register as his daughter,” Ms. Bos told reporters outside the Seoul Family Court following its ruling on Friday. The ruling followed DNA test results that showed a 99.9981 percent probability that the man and Ms. Bos were father and daughter.

Ms. Bos flew from Amsterdam to attend the court ruling on Friday. She has lived in Amsterdam since 2009 with her Dutch husband, a son and a daughter, running a drowning-prevention program for children.

If she is included in his father’s family registry, Ms. Bos by South Korean law will become entitled to split his inheritance with her other siblings. And her half sisters cannot stop her from meeting her father.

nytimes.com, June 12, 2020 by Choe Sang-Hun

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They were right: Same-sex marriage ‘changed everything.’ Well, by adding $3.7 billion to the economy.

When same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States in 2015, a lot of conservatives and religious folks predicted it would be the end of the world.  Instead, it added $3.7 billion to the economy.

Same-sex marriage = $3.7 billion.  In fact, on the day same-sex marriage was made legal, searches on the popular website Bible Gateway for “end times” reached an all-time high. Evangelical preacher Pat Robertson claimed that after the decision we’d all be having relations with animals.gay marriage $3.7 billion

“Watch what happens, love affairs between men and animals are going to be absolutely permitted. Polygamy, without question, is going to be permitted. And it will be called a right,” Robertson said.

Well, the world didn’t end and no one has married their cat … yet. But what did happen was a surge of economic activity.

A new study by the The Williams Institute found that since same-sex marriage was legalized nationwide in the United States in 2015, LGBT weddings have boosted state and local economies by an estimated $3.8 billion.

“Marriage equality has changed the lives of same-sex couples and their families,” the study’s lead author Christy Mallory, said in a statement. “It has also provided a sizable benefit to business and state and local governments.”

Since Massachusetts first legalized gay marriage in 2004, more than half a million same-sex couples have married in America.

The economic impact of same-sex marriage has created more than 45,000 jobs and generated an additional $244 million in state and local taxes. Over $500 million in revenue has been generated by friends and family members traveling to and from same-sex weddings.

upworthy.com, by Tod Perry, May 29, 2020

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How Pixar’s ‘Out’ tells a universal gay story

Pixar’s OUT – Cartoons have always been queer — if you knew where to look, says animator Steven Clay Hunter.

“Just think about the number of times Bugs Bunny was in drag,” Hunter jokes.

He has a point. As a kid, I was always looking for queer signals between the lines in cartoons. I found them in places ranging from the same-sex marriage dynamic between chipmunks Chip and Dale to the lesbian-empowerment undertones in “Josie and the Pussycats.” Most of the time I had to search very hard.

“That was all about subtext then,” Hunter says. “Now, it’s on the surface.”

The 51-year-old animator made a gay coming-out story the core of “Out,” a nine-minute Pixar Sparkshorts film that is the first by the studio to feature an openly gay main character and story line. Pixar previously included a character voiced by queer actor Lena Waithe in 2020’s “Onward” who mentions her girlfriend in a scene, and there was a blink-and-you-miss-it possible lesbian couple in 2016’s “Finding Dory.” But “Out,” released May 22 on Disney Plus, quickly became a much-discussed topic in the LGBTQ community because we had never seen anything like it intended for a mainstream audience.

“I wanted to make something my 7-year-old self could look at and say, ‘Oh, that’s me,’ and not play those guessing games,” says Hunter, “to not have to fill in the blanks in your head.”

Datebook.com, by Tony Bravo May 30, 2020

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Aimee Stephens, Transgender Plaintiff in Supreme Court Case, Dies at 59

Aimee Stephens, who was fired from her job in 2013 after she announced to her colleagues in a letter that she would begin living as a woman, won her case in the U.S. Court of Appeals.

Aimee Stephens, whose potentially groundbreaking case before the Supreme Court could have major implications for the fight for civil rights for transgender people, died on Tuesday at her home in Michigan. She was 59.Aimee Stephens

She died from complications related to kidney failure, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented Ms. Stephens.

Ms. Stephens had been on dialysis for some time and entered hospice care in late April, according to the A.C.L.U.

Donna Stephens, Aimee Stephens’s wife, thanked supporters in a statement for their “kindness, generosity, and keeping my best friend and soul mate in your thoughts and prayers.”

Aimee Stephens, a former funeral director, was fired from her job in 2013 after she announced to her colleagues in a letter that she would begin living as a woman.

“What I must tell you is very difficult for me and is taking all the courage I can muster,” she wrote. “I have felt imprisoned in a body that does not match my mind, and this has caused me great despair and loneliness.”

“I will return to work as my true self, Aimee Australia Stephens, in appropriate business attire,” the letter continued. “I hope we can continue my work at R.G. and G.R. Harris Funeral Homes doing what I always have, which is my best!”

Two weeks after receiving the letter, though, the funeral home’s owner, Thomas Rost, fired Ms. Stephens. Asked for the “specific reason that you terminated Stephens,” Mr. Rost said: “Well, because he was no longer going to represent himself as a man. He wanted to dress as a woman.”

The case went to court, and Ms. Stephens won in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati. The case, which is currently pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, is one of three that are expected to provide the first indications of how the court’s new conservative majority will approach L.G.B.T. rights.

The National Center for Transgender Equality said it expected a decision from the court “perhaps as soon as Thursday.”

An A.C.L.U. spokesperson said Ms. Stephens’s estate would move forward with the case.

In October, when Ms. Stephens traveled to Washington for the Supreme Court hearing of her case, she said she was overwhelmed by the number of people demonstrating on her behalf.NYTimes.com, by Aimee Ortiz, May 12, 2020

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Anderson Cooper Welcomes Baby Boy Via Surrogate: ‘I Am Beyond Happy’

Anderson Cooper is a dad — surprise!

Anderson Cooper, the longtime news anchor, 52, revealed the happy news on Instagram Thursday alongside a slideshow of photos of his son, Wyatt Morgan Cooper.Anderson Cooper

Anderson Cooper welcomed Wyatt — who is named after the journalist’s father — on Monday via surrogate, he said. The host also revealed his big news on his show Anderson Cooper 360°.

Wyatt weighed 7.2 lbs. at birth, “and he is sweet, and soft, and healthy and I am beyond happy,” the proud new dad said in his emotional announcement on CNN

“He is named after my father, who died when I was ten,” Cooper explained. “I hope I can be as good a dad as he was. My son’s middle name is Morgan. It’s a family name on my mom’s side. I know my mom and dad liked the name morgan because I recently found a list they made 52 years ago when they were trying to think of names for me. Wyatt Morgan Cooper. My son.”

“As a gay kid, I never thought it would be possible to have a child, and I’m grateful for all those who have paved the way, and for the doctors and nurses and everyone involved in my son’s birth,” he wrote. “Most of all, I am grateful to a remarkable surrogate who carried Wyatt, and watched over him lovingly, and tenderly, and gave birth to him.”

Cooper shared that he never thought fatherhood would be a possibility for him while he was growing up.

People.com, by Ashley Boucher, April 30, 2020

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Phyllis Lyon, on Right, Lesbian Activist and Gay Marriage Trailblazer, Dies at 95

When Phyllis Lyon married her partner of 55 years in 2008, they formed the first legal gay union in California.

Phyllis Lyon, who when she married her partner, Del Martin, in 2008 became part of the first legal gay union in California, died on Thursday at her home in San Francisco. She was 95.

Her sister, Patricia Lyon, confirmed the death.

Phyllis Lyon

Phyllis Lyon on the left with life long partner Del Martin

It was not their first wedding. In 2004, despite state and federal bans on same-sex marriage, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Ms. Lyon and Ms. Martin were the first to receive one, but that union would be short-lived. The California Supreme Court invalidated their marriage a month later, arguing that the mayor had exceeded his legal authority.

Four years later, the same court declared same-sex marriages legal and Mr. Newsom invited the couple back as the first to be married under the new ruling. Ms. Martin died shortly after.

“I am devastated,” Ms. Lyon said following her wife’s death. “But I take some solace in knowing we were able to enjoy the ultimate rite of love and commitment before she passed.”

The mauve and turquoise-blue suits that the couple wore to their weddings are in the permanent collection of the GLBT Historical Society in San Francisco.

Mr. Newsom, who is now the governor of California, said on Twitter: “Phyllis — it was the honor of a lifetime to marry you & Del. Your courage changed the course of history.”

Phyllis Ann Lyon was born on Nov. 10, 1924, in Tulsa, Okla. to William Ranft Lyon, who was a salesman, and Lorena Belle (Ferguson) Lyon, who was a homemaker. The family moved to Sacramento, Calif., in the early 1940s.

After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1946 with a degree in journalism, Ms. Lyon worked as a reporter for the Chico Enterprise-Record in Chico, Calif. She moved to Seattle in 1949 to work at a construction trade journal, where Ms. Martin was also employed. They began dating and, on Valentine’s Day in 1953, moved in together in San Francisco.

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New York State Legalizes Gestational Surrogacy

 

New York State Legalizes Gestational Surrogacy

A protracted battle over the future of compensated gestational surrogacy in New York was resolved on April 2 when state lawmakers approved a budget that included legislation proposed by out gay Manhattan State Senator Brad Hoylman and Westchester Assemblymember Amy Paulin that legalizes gestational surrogacy once and for all.legal surrogacy in New York

Although New York was one of just a small handful of states that had yet to legalize the practice, which entails a surrogate carrying a baby who has no biological relation to her, the campaign to pass such legislation in the state was stymied last year by concerns that the surrogates who carry babies — as well as those women donating eggs — were not afforded sufficient protection and rights. The bill put forth by Paulin and Hoylman, who had his two daughters via surrogacy, cleared the upper chamber last year but never reached the Assembly floor following resistance from some women in the lower chamber, including out lesbian Assemblymember Deborah Glick, who told The New York Times that gestational surrogacy was “pregnancy for a fee, and I find that commodification of women troubling.”

Among other issues with last year’s bill, Glick and others expressed uneasinessabout the reality that most working people could not afford to spend tens of thousands of dollars to have children through gestational surrogacy. The bill primarily benefits wealthier individuals in addition to those who are looking for financial compensation by donating eggs or carrying babies.

Hoylman, however, told Gay City News in February that he hopes the push towards universal healthcare means that such reforms could eventually alleviate some of the healthcare costs of surrogacy.

The dispute over the future of surrogacy in the state continued into this year when Manhattan State Senator Liz Krueger and Assemblymember Didi Barrett of Dutchess and Columbia Counties introduced a separate surrogacy bill that would have included, among other provisions, a controversial eight-day window during which the surrogate and intended parents would share legal responsibility for the child — raising questions about whether the surrogate might refuse to turn the child over or seek some ongoing legal relationship with them — something Hoylman described in a February interview with Gay City News as a “non-starter.”

The eight-day window was not included in the final version of Hoylman and Paulin’s bill, but some elements of Krueger’s legislation appear to have been incorporated, such as additional protections for the surrogate and the egg donor. Hoylman and Paulin had long defended their own bill as boasting the “strongest protections in the nation for surrogates” by placing significant responsibility on the intended parents to pay for her healthcare, legal representation, and other costs tied to the pregnancy. Additional protections for egg donors were also included in this year’s bill.

By Matt Tracy, Gay City News, April 2, 2020

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The UK Supreme Court awards damages for commercial surrogacy

A landmark ruling by The UK Supreme Court awards damages to a woman for Californian commercial surrogacy following a delay in detecting cancer in smear tests and biopsies.

Louisa Ghevaert provided expert evidence on surrogacy to the UK Supreme Court, donor conception and fertility law in this case and comments:UK Supreme Court

“This legal ruling from the UK Supreme Court is an important watershed in the development of medical negligence, fertility and surrogacy law in the UK. It enables a ‘surrogacy’ head of claim in cases where a person’s fertility and ability to conceive a child has been lost or impaired through medical negligence, including claims for overseas commercial surrogacy in appropriate cases. It marks a real step forward in recognising the value and importance of individual fertility and surrogacy. However, there is still more that needs to be done to preserve and protect people’s fertility and their ability to have children”.

Background

The Defendant admitted failing to detect signs of cancer from smear tests in 2008 and 2012 and biopsies in 2012 and 2013. As a result, the  Claimant developed invasive cancer of the cervix which required chemo-radiotherapy treatment that rendered her infertile and caused severe radiation damage to her bladder, bowel and vagina.

Due to the late cancer diagnosis and the increased size of the tumour, the Claimant was unable to have fertility sparing surgery and suffered a complete loss of fertility. This was a devastating blow as she had always wanted a large family of her own.  She was so devastated by the diagnosis that she postponed her cancer treatment twice to obtain further medical opinions about the viability of fertility sparing surgery. On learning this was not available to her, she underwent a cycle of ovarian stimulation in June 2013 and harvested and froze 8 mature eggs.  A few days later, she underwent surgery followed by chemo-radiotherapy. This caused irreparable damage to her uterus and ovaries so she could not conceive or carry a pregnancy and it caused her to enter premature menopause.

The Claimant therefore sought damages to enable her to enter into a commercial surrogacy arrangement in California to have a much wanted family of her own. In contrast to the informal and legally restricted nature of surrogacy in the UK, commercial surrogacy in California operates through a well established system which offers legally binding surrogacy arrangements and pre-birth orders in the Californian court.

Legal Ruling

The case was first heard in the English High Court in June 2017, where a limited damages award for two altruistic UK surrogacies was made in the sum of £74,000.  

Louisa Ghevaeart Blog, April 1, 2020

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Shielding the Fetus From the Coronavirus

New studies suggest the Coronavirus can cross the placenta to the fetus, but newborns have been mildly affected if at all.

Newborns and babies have so far seemed to be largely unaffected by the coronavirus, but three new studies suggest that the virus may reach the fetus in utero.coronavirus fetus

Even in these studies, the newborns seemed only mildly affected, if at all — which is reassuring, experts said. And the studies are small and inconclusive on whether the virus does truly breach the placenta.

“I don’t look at this and think coronaviruses must cross across the placenta,” said Dr. Carolyn Coyne of the University of Pittsburgh, who studies the placenta as a barrier to viruses. She was not involved in the new work.

Still, the studies merit concern, she said, because if the virus does get through the placental barrier, it may pose a risk to the fetus earlier in gestation, when the fetal brain is most vulnerable.

Pregnant women are often more susceptible to respiratory infections such as influenza and to having more complications for themselves and their babies as a result. It’s still unclear whether pregnant women are more likely to contract the new coronavirus, said Dr. Christina Chambers, a perinatal epidemiologist at the University of California in San Diego.

“We don’t have any knowledge of that at all — that is a complete open question at this point,” she said. It’s also unclear what effect the virus has on the fetus, she added.

The placenta usually blocks harmful viruses and bacteria from reaching the fetus. And it allows in helpful antibodies from the mother that can keep the fetus safe from any germs, before and after birth.

Still, a few viruses do get through to the fetus and can wreak havoc. The most recent example is Zika, which can cause microcephaly and profound neurological damage, especially if contracted in the first and second trimesters.

Neither the new coronavirus, nor its more familiar cousins, has seemed to belong to this more dangerous category. If so, “we would be seeing higher levels of miscarriage and preterm delivery,” Dr. Coyne said.

NYTimes.com by Apoorva MAndavilli, March 27, 2020
 
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