Marked & Massacred: The Rise of Gay Culture & Symbolism
Pre-Nazi Germany of the 1920's saw the modern world's first gay rights movement and the mergence of a visible lesbian and gay culture.
Unbeknown to many are the thousands of homosexual males marked and massacred under the Hitler regime.
The modern world's first gay rights movement emerged in the early 1920's; an era known as pre-Nazi Germany. Weeks after Hitler's party came to power in January 1933, a law was passed forbidding all pro-gay organizations. In May of that same year, Gay rights activist Magnus Hirschfeld's Institute of Sexual Science was destroyed by Hitler youth. The Institute housed over 12,00 books and 35,000 pictures.
Concentration Camps not only warehoused Jewish men, women, and children for eventual massacre, but homosexual men convicted under a German Law known as Paragraph 175, which made illegal homosexual relations between men (not women).
Known as the 175'ers, these men were marked with the Pink Triangle, one of the most widely recognized symbols of the Gay community today, and one that originated in Nazi camps to identify homosexual men who were then experimented upon and massacred by the thousands under Hitler's regime. (A documentary film, Paragraph 175, released in 2000, reveals a gap in the historical record and shows the lasting consequences of the Hitler regime upon the remaining few homosexual men and women who share their personal stories.)
Other triangles originating in Nazi camps are the Black Triangle (forced to be worn by lesbians, prostitutes, and women who refused to bear children), and the Yellow Triangle beneath the Pink Triangle (forced to be worn by Jewish Gay men), Interestingly, from this combination, the six-pointed Star of David emerged.
Many more symbols specific to the Gay community emerged after World War II, including the Rainbow Flag (1978), the Greek letter, Lambda (1970), the Labrys (double-bladed ax), the Transgender, Bi-sexual and Gender symbols, and the Freedom Rings. Lesser known symbols are the Leather Pride, Bear Pride, and Bi-Sexual Flags. And last, but not least, the Red Ribbon emerged as a symbol of "our concerns for our brothers and sisters afflicted with AIDS and HIV related diseases."