Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

The Cardinal celebrates LGBTQ+ History Month!


Amina Naleye, Staff Writer

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born on August 28,1825 and died on July 14, 1895.  He was a German lawyer, jurist, journalist, and writer who is regarded today as a pioneer of the the modern gay rights movement.

In 1862, Ulrichs took the momentous step of telling his family and friends that he was, in his own words, an Urning, and began writing under the pseudonym of “Numa Numantius”.  Ulrichs coined various terms to describe different sexual orientations, including Urning for a man who desires men, and Dioning for one who desires women.  He soon began publishing under his real name (possibly the first public “coming out” in modern society) and wrote a statement of legal and moral support for a man arrested for homosexual offences. On 29 August 1867 Ulrichs became the first homosexual to speak out publicly in defence of homosexuality when he pleaded at the Congress of German Jurists in Munich for a resolution urging the repeal of anti-homosexual laws.

In Ulrichs’ memory, the International Lesbian and Gay Law Association presents a Karl Heinrich Ulrichs Award for distinguished contributions to the advancement of sexual equality.  In an interview, Robert Beachy, a professor who specializes in the intellectual and cultural history of Germany and Europe, said “I think it is reasonable to describe Ulrichs as the first gay person to publicly out himself.”