Szexuális másság és kirekesztés
Judit Takács: Homosexual Lists in Twentieth-Century Hungary
Takács’s large-scale research project mapping the social history of homosexuality in the twentieth century reveals the existence of several lists of homosexual individuals compiled for official government use. Some are known from as early as the beginning of the 1900s, and there is evidence for the existence of such records in archival materials about the operation of the Budapest Municipal Police Headquarters as late as the end of the 1980s. The subject of the present study, a unique example for this type of material, is the document entitled “Conscripting Homosexual Individuals for Forced Labour,” listing the personal details of nearly a thousand gay men. The list, compiled in November and December 1942, was part of the Ministry of Defence correspondence with the State Security Centre, which was established by a joint ordinance issued by the minister of internal affairs and the minister of defence in September 1942. The documents are notable because of the scarcity of sources that provide an insight into the fate of people listed as homosexual during the Second World War. Takács’s study uses further archival sources and other documents to reconstruct the history and parctice of official Hungarian government records about homosexual individuals between the 1920s and 1980s.
Gábor Szegedi: The Figure of the Onanist in Twentieth-Century Hungary
The study traces general tendencies in the changing discourse on masturbation in twentieth-century Hungary. It analyses texts by various “experts of sexuality”, such as educators, psychologists, and sexologists, and juxtaposes them with Thomas Laqueur’s and Michel Foucault’s theories about the history of modern masturbation. In Hungary in the course of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, just like in the rest of Europe, masturbation became (falsely) known as a potentially deadly illness, a source of all illnesses, in addition to being a vice. As a result, the figure of the “onanist” appeared and was constructed as the “sexual other” in various ways. In the early twentieth century, though many pathologies regarding solitary sex had been refuted by that time, it was still seen by Hungarian doctors as greatly harmful and a threat to society. The interwar years brought about the slow spread of Freud’s ideas on childhood and sexuality in Hungary, whereby masturbation was normalized, at least for children. However, the rejection of Freud, coupled with sexual anti-Semitism, proved to be a stronger force and sex education texts of the time often linked the exteriorized sexual danger of the Jew with masturbation. In postwar socialist Hungary pleasuring oneself became “neither a sin nor an illness”, but the discourse itself still warned of the danger of excess. The liberalization and pluralization of the discourse on sexuality in the Kádár regime brought about the new paradigm of acceptance and, in the work of some sexologists, even encouragement to masturbate for therapeutic reasons.
Zsuzsa Bokor: Female Patients: The History of the Women’s Hospital in Cluj between the World Wars
The paper explores the structure and modes of operation of a venereal hospital known as the Women’s Hospital in interwar Cluj. The study goes beyond the approach traditionally employed by the history of institutions, and analyzes the extent to which these mechanisms were linked to a series of medical measures and contemporary policies of institutionalizing healthcare in Romania at the time. Local history reveals other correlations too, both on national and on local level, raising issues ranging from the professionalization of prostitution in the 1930s, to how venereal diseases became part of the nation state’s biopolitical program and, in turn, that of nationalist discourse.
Anna Borgos: “She Got Used to, at Least Tolerates, and Sometimes Even Enjoys Wedlock”: Images of Lesbians in the Psychiatric Literature of the Kádár Era
The paper presents and analyzes the representations of women’s same-sex desires, sexualities and relationships in state socialist psychiatric and sexology literature. These texts constitute a significant corpus of images of gays and lesbians, both reflecting on and contributing to the discourse on homosexuality. Within the psychological discourses on homosexuality, the case of women shows special characteristics. Women usually appear along a continuum, in which their sexual choices are linked to emotional factors and a general need for intimacy in the first place. There is no “need” for therapeutic conversion for women since the socially prescribed scripts for getting married are strong enough and the lack of sexual pleasure with men is not considered to be a problem. Psycho-medical accounts seem to lack the recognition of lesbian identity or life perspective altogether; lesbianism is interpreted as an early attachment disorder or a substitute for unsatisfying relationships with men. The fundamental therapeutic aim is to achieve good social adaptation and adjustment. In this process, psychology experts are influential representatives of the heteronormative society, reinforcing gender norms and straight family ideals. Scholarly and popular psy- and sexology literature suggests that even though transgressing sexuality was a stronger taboo for men, women’s transgression of marriage was considered a more serious social threat.
Petra Bálint: Multisexuality and/or Cross-Dressing: A Fake Hermaphrodite in the Eighteenth Century
Sexual identity and orientation is heavily dependent on time and place and so is the meaning of femininity and masculinity, social gender and sexual gender. Besides biological determinants, gender and sexuality have always had a social aspect throughout history, therefore it can only be interpreted in the context of social relations. Bálint demonstrates this approach through the case of a young girl presented to the court of Eger in 1760 who claimed that she was a hermaphrodite and lived as a man. Various questions emerge about the girl, Ancsa Bodnár. Why did she claim she was a hermaphrodite keeping her real gender a secret? What were the consequences of being “intersexual”, to use a modern term? How did society and the jury approach dissenting sexual appearances? And why did Bodnár choose to live as a man if she was not really androgynous? In addition to the discussion of the cultural-historical aspects of hermaphroditism and women living as men, Bálint also studies cross-dressing and the phenomenon of changing gender. What were women’s motives to wear men’s clothes and to assume men’s roles? The study presents eighteenth-century court materials and the confessions of offenders to examine cross-dressing as a survival strategy in everyday life.
Roland Perényi: “Sick Love”: Queer Subculture in Budapest in Early Twentieth-Century Press and Police Discourses
The paper examines the main features of the image of queer subculture in the first half of the twentieth century based on police and press discourses. Queer subculture in the modern metropolis was a very diverse and complex phenomenon at the time, with a number of various sub-types. This complexity is not only observed by historians of queer culture but was also evident for contemporary analysts like police officers and journalists. As indicated in the title, the discourse about male homosexuality in this period is characterized by a gradual medicalisation. After the 1900s homosexuality began to be interpreted as a disease and a perversion that can be cured and healed. The primary sources of the study are police documents, books published by police officers and articles in Budapest newspapers. In addition to the daily press Perényi examines books of urban reportage first appearing in Budapest in the 1900s, which are closely linked to the discourse in the press. The joint works of reporter Kornél Tábori and head of the police press office Vladimir Székely give an especially sharp insight into urban queer culture of Budapest. The analysis of police and press discourses of same-sex sexuality supports the thesis that from the 1900s until the end of the Horthy era, regardless of the political system, attitudes toward queer culture were generally tolerant, which can be largely attributed to the fact that non-normative forms of sexual behavior were interpreted in a medicalised way.
Péter Hanzli: “You Had to Live a Lie in the Previous Regime”: Life Interviews with Gay Men about the 1960s–1980s
The book entitled Hot Men, Cold Dictatorships was published along the documentary of the same title in 2015. This is the first collection of interviews that presents the lives of older gay men who were socialised in the Kádár era. Thirteen participants, their photos and names supplied, relate their lives and experiences living as gay men in the Kádár regime. The paper shows that although their lives are very different, they also show similarities. It gives an insight into the process of self-acceptance of homosexual men in the 1960s and 1970s, the type of information at their disposal, as well as the terms they used to describe themselves. In addition, the study also sheds light on the typical life strategies of closet homosexuals and men who came out at least in certain circles, as well as their most popular ways and places to meet and socialise. The paper also examines the establishment’s attitudes towards homosexuals and vice versa, police monitoring and the beginnings of the LMBT movement in Hungary.