Trygve Skogrand

A queer voice from the past

Yesterday I saw an interesting post on Instagram by the Magnus Hirschfeld Gesellschaft about the German writer Bruno Vogel, born in Leipzig 125 years ago yesterday. He worked at the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin together with Magnus Hirschfeld etc in the 1920s. Very interesting for me, was the mention of two of the books he wrote. The perhaps most well-known is “Alf”, published in 1929, and is about a young man who falls in love with one of his school friends. The love was mutual, but the pressure of the times they lived in drove them apart. I read the book yesterday (it’s available online), and found it very interesting to read a personal “eye-witness account” of living as a queer man in the early 1900s. Most of what I’ve read so far have been more analytical non-fiction, so it was very interesting to “meet” one of the persons living then through this books and read about his thoughts, love and problems. 

It was a bit stunning though, to discover how fresh his feelings felt, and how similar his problems in the early 1910s felt to my own struggles in the 1980s. Do you get mad, sick or degenerated by masturbation? So he thought, so I thought. And is it impossible to love another man? So he thought (because the law forbade it), so I thought (because I thought that God forbade it). Well. 70 years, much struggle, but not that much changed after all. But perhaps it has changed a bit now? I hope so. Anyway, meeting «Alf» and Bruno Vogel was a refreshing input for my artistic project!

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