Claude Cahun Part II

Another question appears: how should they be identified? While their discussion of disconnect from their assigned gender is without a doubt a potential indication that they were somewhere outside of the binary, it also could be something influenced by the narrative around queerness at the time.

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Claude Cahun Part I

The first decision to be made when writing about Claude Cahun is which pronouns to use. There are convincing arguments to be made for both she/her/hers and they/them/theirs; she/her/hers because that is what was used for Cahun when they were alive and used themself; they/them/theirs because of their oft-discussed detachment from being a woman or a man. The decision of they/them/theirs was made because that is the appropriate choice when one is unsure of what pronouns to use. This was the first question that was asked in the course of writing this article, but not nearly the last.

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Salim Halali

— Tom Cohen

The life story of Salim Halali is one with countless branches. His experiences as a gay Jewish man in Paris in the 1930’s are as eventful as one would imagine, and his music career is not only well known but well remembered, what with being crowned the “King of Shaabi” at the height of his popularity. He lived just as extravagantly behind closed doors, often throwing lavish parties with his two pet tigers. There's much to be said of his storied life.

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Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir, A.K.A Agent Bronx

Queer people played a significant role in the winning of the second world war, from the famous story of Alan Turing to the hundreds of names behind the scenes. One of those names is Elvira de la Fuente Chaudoir. In any remembrance of this woman’s work, it must be noted that while her work was done below the radar, her life most certainly was not. The daughter of a Peruvian diplomat, she was a woman who loved parties and “favour[ed] the companionship of women who may not be careful of their virginity” according to Deputy Chief Constable Josef Goulder. She was not well-respected, but she was well-known. Considered to be a beautiful “good-time girl” who loved the spotlight and was dismissed because of this, her identity was only revealed years after the war had ended: Agent Bronx.

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Coccinelle

“Dr. Burou rectified the mistake nature had made and I became a real woman, on the inside as well as the outside. After the operation, the doctor just said, 'Bonjour, Mademoiselle', and I knew it had been a success.” — Jacqueline Charlotte Dufresnoy

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Catherine Bernard: A question in studying asexual history

When studying queer history, especially asexual and aromantic history, silence is an immediate problem. The only way to know whether or not someone is asexual or aromantic is through their own identifying as such. The newness of asexual and aromantic communities and silence around sexual orientation has robbed us of this. Finding asexuality historically as an identity, instead of a choice or behavior, is often impossible. Instead of hoping for a definite answer, we must look at behavior, despite every claim that asexuality and aromanticism are identities, not behaviors, read between the lines, and accept that we may never know.

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Bricktop, and the Happy Ending

In the first week of women’s history month, we go to the second half of a two-part article about the incredible Ada Smith, or more simply known as, Bricktop. As we reviewed last time, she was an incredible woman who was successful and loved throughout the nightlife in 20’s Paris. We left off on that light note, but just like most of the world, Bricktop’s life changed when World War 2 began, and that is what we will be exploring next.

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Bricktop, the Fabulous

To wrap up Black History Month, we are going to do another two-part article looking at a woman who was the center of the night scene in Paris during the 20’s. We will look at a woman who was not only talented in her own right, but also fostered the talent of the people around her, and made connections with some of the most incredible rising stars of her day. We will discuss the impact of a woman who was loved by almost everyone she interacted with. 

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Wilfred Owen: Dating Your Heroes (And Writing Through Hard Times)

Hello, again! With Laura still on hiatus, I’m still hanging around, writing articles in between podcast episodes and crossing names off of my list of interesting, historical, and queer figures. This week keeps us in London (sort of) with a reader-requested and Grace-approved poet, Wilfred Owen. There will be some discussion of shell-shock and post-traumatic stress disorder in this article, in case that bothers you. Wilfred Owen was a war poet who served in the First World War; his experiences on the field led not only to the aforementioned mental illness, but also to some truly evocative, anti-war poetry, and to a romance with fellow poet, Siegfried Sassoon.

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Josephine Baker: A Woman with Eclectic Talents

This week we move to Josephine Baker, a renowned dancer, singer, mother, spy, and bisexual woman of colour. It is rare for us to identify a historical figure so clearly, but with some help from her son, historian Jean-Claude Baker, we can. Born on June 3, 1906, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA, Baker’s life was never without its share of obstacles. Josephine Baker, however, wasn’t familiar with the word “stop”; she worked as an entertainer, an activist, a military woman, and a mother, and did not rest. Summarizing her life in a brief, concise, and full manner is next to impossible, but we will do our best.

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Magnus Hirschfeld: The Founder

Content warning for Nazis, Holocaust, eugenics

It only makes sense to follow the story of the Institut für Sexualwissenschaft with the story of one of its founders: Magnus Hirschfeld. Hirschfeld was a gay Jewish man born in Germany in 1868. He lived, worked, and fought through the rise of Adolf Hitler, and his life brings a unique perspective to our World War II series.

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