Institut für deutsche Literatur

“Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures”

“Cruising the 1970s: Unearthing Pre-HIV/AIDS Queer Sexual Cultures”


The European research project was carried out together with the UK (Edinburgh), Spain and Poland. It was funded for three years as part of the HERA Programme “Uses of the Past” (2016–2019).

At the center of the research project “Cruising the Seventies” (CRUSEV) lied the question, how lesbian, gay, bi, trans and queer social and sexual cultures in the decade between the emergence of an international gay movement and the first documented cases of HIV/AIDS should be reconstructed. How can these be understood and what contribution can this knowledge provide in view of queer politics and identities in Europe’s present and future?

The German sub-project investigated the time between 1971, the year in which Rosa von Praunheim’s film It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives led to the founding of the first gay groups in the Federal Republic of Germany, and 1982, the year in which the term AIDS was scientifically defined. The sub-project questioned the dominant narrative of the lesbian and gay movement of the 1970s as a golden age of queer history, by taking into account historical witnesses, literature and films from the time and about from LGBTQ and relating them to current texts, exhibitions and interviews.

Literary examinations of lesbian and gay identities and movement practices were explored in the two Berlin sub-projects. In the project about lesbian fiction, virulent narratives of the 1970s were being examined and associated with contemporary identity constructs within the movement. The project on gay literature explored the relationship of the journalist and satirist, Felix Rexhausen (1932–1992), and his texts on the gay movement. Rexhausen followed the gay politics of West Germany from a critical and satirical point of view, starting in the mid-1960s and some way into the AIDS crisis. His work represents a unique commentary on the 1970s as a decade.

Cooperations: Daniel Baranowski, research consultant (Federal Foundation Magnus Hirschfeld); Maria Borowski (Technische Universität Berlin); Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe Berlin; Dr. Benno Gammerl (Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin); Professor Dr Elahe Haschemi Yekani (Europa-Universität Flensburg); Dr Dirck Linck (Berlin); Patsy l'Amour laLove (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin); Schwules Museum* Berlin; Assistant Professor Dr Marc Siegel (Goethe-University Frankfurt/Main); Spinnboden Lesbenarchiv und Bibliothek, Berlin

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