Karl Heinrich Ulrichs

by Maddy from San Diego

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (wikipedia)
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (wikipedia)

"Love knows no limit to its endurance, no end to its trust, no fading of its hope; it can outlast anything. Love still stands when all else has fallen" (Blaise Pascal). There is no limit to love and nothing can hold someone back from what they desire. Homosexuals suffered from being misunderstood, and there was nobody that had enough courage, confidence, and fearlessness who could stand up to the majority population of heterosexuals. The first man to demand the equality of homosexuals in the mid-1800s was Karl Heinrich. He was born on August 28, 1825, in Germany. Karl's father, Hermann Heinrich Ulrichs, was an architect in the service of the Hanoverian government. His wife Elise Heinrichs Ulrichs had three children: Louise, born in 1819; Karl; and Ulrike Henriette, born in 1828. Ulrichs knew that there was something different about him at a very young age. He preferred to have the company of his sister's friends instead of other boys. He learned that it is okay to have his own thoughts about homosexuals and his own beliefs. He created a series of twelve booklets that became widespread and very popular, which made society feel threatened. Through a tough time fighting for homosexuals' rights, Ulrichs found his own theories, and he believed that homosexuals were born to like the same sex and did not have a choice in the matter. On July 14, 1895, Ulrichs quietly passed away after suffering from acute kidney inflammation, although he left a legacy that we will all remember. Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was fearless in demanding the equality of homosexuals, confident in himself and his beliefs, and tremendously courageous in the face of hateful criticism from others... all of which shaped him into a hero for those that felt like they did not fit in.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs demonstrates how fearless he was when standing up for others, even when standing alone. In the mid-1800s it was unheard of to speak out in front of others when standing up for homosexuals, and so when he did, society did not know how to contain Ulrichs' powerful words and actions: "He traveled to Munich to deliver an address on homosexual rights at the 1867 Congress of German Jurists. His call for the repeal of certain statutes in the various German states was roundly shouted down by the entire outraged audience" (Kennedy, Hubert. The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement). Ulrichs' speech demonstrates how determined he is and how far he is willing to go in order to make his voice heard. He was determined to pursue his dreams and nothing was going to stop him. We can see how even when the audience was jeering at him, Ulrichs did not back down and kept a strong, vigorous voice. Ulrichs worked very diligently to try to make society see his point of view on homosexuals. He came up with his own theories and ideas, which he later on in his life made into pamphlets: "Through a series of letters to his family in 1862, Ulrichs 'came out' with his own scientific theories defending his sexuality. He described heterosexual and homosexual males respectively as Dionäer ("Dionians") and Uranier ("Uranians"), names which hark back to the heavenly and earthly origins of the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite, which Plato discussed in his Symposium" (Kennedy, Hubert. The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement). Ulrichs always tried his hardest to prove his point. We can know this because he came out with his own scientific theories and ideas as to why homosexuals like the same sex. He created his theories knowing that other people would probably criticize his ideas and his beliefs. Ulrichs came up with names for homosexuals, Uranians; and heterosexuals, Dionians. By creating names that are scientific and creative, it made it easier for the public to accept homosexuals as equals. Ulrichs shows his tremendous fearlessness when standing up for fellow homosexuals when they may not be brave enough to stand up for themselves and their rights.

Ulrichs proved his confidence when he let others know how sure of himself he was and his ideas of homosexuals. As a child, Ulrichs stood out from the other children his age and was not worried about what others thought of him: "Ulrichs was already aware of his special nature at a young age. He detested snowball fights with other boys and preferred the company of his sister's playmates. At age nine, he even fell in love with "Eduard," a fellow pupil at school. His acknowledged effeminacy and attraction to males at such a young age convinced him that his sexuality was inborn, and therefore not sinful" (Kennedy, Hubert. The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement). In this passage we see how at even a young age Ulrichs knew that he was different from the other kids. He knew that how he acted was out of the ordinary, yet he continued his actions without at fear of hateful criticism. He knew who he was and he was proud of it, no matter what anyone thought of him. When he was young he fell in love with another boy and that did not intimidate him or force him to believe that his relationship was "sinful." This shows his confidence in himself led to Ulrichs wanting to investigate and learn more about homosexuals. Ulrichs tried to convince others that Urnings (homosexuals) should be treated as equals and are no different from heterosexuals: "In Vindex, Ulrichs addressed the persecutors of Urnings. He argued that inborn Urning existence was a riddle of nature which should be investigated scientifically, and not solved by the lashing out of blind justice," as had been the case with those with unpopular beliefs. (Kennedy, Hubert. The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement). By comparing homosexuals to those with different beliefs, he is exemplifying how obscene and ridiculous it is to accuse a homosexual of a wrongdoing just because they are different from the rest of society. Ulrichs felt that homosexuals were very similarly being accused falsely and he wanted to make a change. He was so sure of himself that he wanted to have inborn Urnings to be scientifically investigated. That shows that even when people were trying to make him feel poorly about himself, he had confidence and never let it get to him. As a child, he knew he was different from the other kids but that did not stop him from pursuing his beliefs. He always stuck with his ideas, which got him farther along than it would the ordinary person.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was extremely courageous when fighting for homosexuals and their rights. Ulrichs made a series of booklets which became widespread and were made to escalate the importance that homosexuals are equal to heterosexuals: "These first two booklets were widely distributed and created quite a stir. In May of 1864 the Saxon police confiscated 1,128 copies of Inclusa from the Mathes Press in Leipzig. Authorities forbade the booklets in Prussia and confiscated all available copies in Berlin. Ulrichs, however, was so encouraged by warm letters from Urnings expressing thanks for fighting for their rights and opening their eyes to the truth about themselves, that he made plans for three more booklets which were published in 1865" (Kennedy, Hubert. The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement). When Saxon Police confiscated two of Ulrichs' booklets he did not give up, but instead he was encouraged to continue to write and inspire others to follow his lead. We can see that Ulrichs gained some respect from people who believed in his ideas and his desires. He has become a growing figure of hope and now has people who believe in him. Others were threatened by Ulrichs and his ways of thinking, so confiscated his writings and tried to cover up all of his work. However, this did not work. He was already such a beacon of hope that many people were looking up to him and believing in him. Ulrichs thought that with scientific approval, he may be able to have some more support from others: "Ulrichs always sought to enlist scientific approval for his cause, and encouraged one of the most prominent medical experts of his time, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, to read his five booklets. Krafft-Ebing agreed with Ulrichs wholeheartedly that the Urning condition was inborn, but twisted this concept in his studies of sexual psychopathology to claim that Urnings were products of biological degeneracy" (Kennedy, Hubert. The Life and Works of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs: Pioneer of the Modern Gay Movement). With one of the most prominent scientists of his time, Ulrichs thought he finally could convince the public that homosexuals were no different from everyone else. Karl Heinrich Ulrichs never second guessed himself and was always courageous when standing up for what he believed in. He showed others that it is not unusual to like the same sex, and by doing that and never giving up, he gained support and other people wanted to continue his work even after he had passed on.

Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was fearless, confident, and courageous throughout his life and his fight for the equalization of homosexuals. All of which shaped him into a hero for others: showing others that everyone is equal no mater who they love. Karl Heinrich Ulrich greatly influenced people and for those who took a stand and wanted to help homosexuals earn their freedom. He was the start to the fight for gay rights. Although he died without hope that his work would be carried on, others carried on his work and tried their hardest to allow others to see as he did. Even though the public criticized him and his beliefs, that never got him down and he always continued to do what he wanted to pursue. This is why I consider him a hero. he stood up in front of society even when they were criticizing him and trying to force him to give up on his idea of homosexuals being seen as equals. But nothing would stop him. He continued to pursue his dreams and led others to do the same.

Page created on 4/16/2014 12:00:00 AM

Last edited 9/3/2019 11:12:36 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Project Gutenberg - Read Karl Heinrich Ulrichs' book Manor for free
International Lesbian and Gay Law Association - The Karl Heinrich Ulrichs award
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs - Further information on Ulrichs' life and his work