Homosexuality and Fascism

Judith Jack Halberstam
October 19
6 –8 pm
NYU Department of Social and Cultural Analysis
20 Cooper Square, 4th Floor
In Sasha Baron Cohen’s most recent camp spoof, Brüno, the very gay and very swish Austrian fashionista compares himself several times to Hitler and jokes that he is “the second most misunderstood Austrian in history.” The intersection of Nazi and homosexual that Cohen invokes has a long and vexed history that stretches from the well-known homosexuality of Nazi storm troopers to eroticized images of Nazi soldiers by Tom of Finland. Leo Bersani notes the glorification of Nazism in the work of Jean Genet, and Dagmar Herzog notes in Sex After Fascism that “popular assumptions of Nazism as a homosexual movement have remained remarkably durable.” In this talk, I will return to a very important essay by Stuart Marshall from 1991 titled: “The Contemporary Political Use of Gay History: The Third Reich ” from How Do I Look, and try to account for both gay Nazis and the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. At stake is a complex understanding of queer history that neither whitewashes the past nor colludes in homophobic renderings of it.
Judith Jack Halberstam is Professor of English and Director of the Center for Feminist Research at USC. Halberstam teaches courses in queer studies, gender theory, art, literature and film.
Halberstam is the author of Female Masculinity, The Drag King Book, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters and a new book from NYU Press titled In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives.
For more information, visit the NYU Department of Social and Cultural Analysis.