Professor William Spurlin, from Brunel University, London, gave a presentation at Myers Hall, WJCC on the treatment of lesbians and gay men during the Holocaust, a little-publicised aspect of the genocide. He was an engaging speaker, relating the persecution of GLBT persons to the rigid gender roles proscribed by Nazi ideology, and locating sexuality at its intersections with race, gender, and eugenics within the National Socialist belief system.
His talk covered life for lesbians and gay men before the Holocaust in the Weimar period and discussed the law against homosexuality. Lesbians were impacted somewhat less, in that they could still bear children, and so be seen as contributing to the Nazi ideal of womanhood, but this did not mean that they were not as systematically persecuted by the Nazis.
The hyper-masculinity of the Nazi male ideal made anything outside of that a threat, and therefore even homosexual behaviour within the SS was deemed disgusting – some SS officers who were gay were murdered. For gay prisoners in the camps, their discrimination continued, and they were discriminated against by other prisoners as well as by those in authority.
Professor Spurlin has written extensively on the politics of gender and sexual dissidence and is widely known for his work on queer theory.
- Erica Rothschild