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Special Features Index  

 
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A Guide to Symbols Used in Nazi Concentration Camps

A Guide to Symbols Used in Nazi Concentration Camps


Triangles

Lesbians held in Nazi concentration camps were compelled to wear the black triangle (second column from the right), which signified that a prisoner was "asocial." Though lesbian sex was not criminal under Paragraph 175, lesbians were regarded as asocial for their failure to adhere to the Aryan ideal of womanhood, a wife dedicated to "Kinder, Küche, und Kirche" ("children, kitchen, and church").

Lesbians in Germany and the United States began reclaiming the black triangle as a pride symbol in the 1980s. Like the more ubiquitous pink triangle, the black triangle stands as a memorial to victims of oppression and a sign of commitment to the struggle for dignity and human rights.

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Related Entries on glbtq
 

Aestheticism
A theory of art and an approach to living that influenced many European and American gay male and lesbian writers at the turn of the twentieth century, aestheticism stressed the independence of art from all moral and social conditions and judgments.

Amazons
Historically either distrusted as agents of chaos or admired as examples of female power and intelligence, Amazons were depicted as heterosexual until the twentieth century, when lesbians adopted them as symbols of powerful women living without men.

Bear Movement
The Bear Movement has inspired a number of organizations, events, publications, and resources dedicated to affirming and eroticizing large-bodied, hirsute gay men, known as Bears.

Bisexuality
Although until recently rejected by most sexologists as a distinct sexual identity, bisexuality is gradually becoming recognized and studied as such.

Bisexual Movements
Although bisexuals have played an important part in the glbt movement for equality, they often had to hide their bisexuality; more recently, however, the bisexual movement has been accepted as part of the larger glbt movement and bisexual organizations now flourish.

Cadmus, Paul
American painter Paul Cadmus is best known for the satiric innocence of his frequently censored paintings of burly men in skin-tight clothes, but he also created works that celebrate same-sex domesticity.

Decadence
Nineteenth-century Decadent literature either describes aspects of decadent life and society or reflects the decadent literary aesthetic.

Fashion
The association between homosexuality and fashion is multifaceted, ranging from the role of clothes as signifiers of sexual orientation to the immense contributions gay men have made at all levels of the fashion industry.

George Segal's Gay Liberation
"Gay Liberation" (1980) is the first piece of public art to memorialize the glbtq struggle for equality. Pop sculptor George Segal (1925-2000), who described himself as an "unregenerate heterosexual," was commissioned to create the work in commemoration of New York City's 1969 Stonewall Rebellion.

Homomonument
Amsterdam's Homomonument is one of the world's foremost public memorials acknowledging the persecution endured by gay men and lesbians during World War II and throughout history.

Human Rights Campaign
The largest glbtq political organization in the United States, the Human Rights Campaign has emerged as the leading national organization representing glbtq concerns.

Leather Culture
"Leather" is a blanket term for a large array of sexual preferences, identities, relationship structures, and social organizations loosely tied together by the thread of what is conventionally understood as sadomasochistic sex.

Lesbian Feminism
The dominant ideology among politicized lesbians during the 1970s and 1980s, Lesbian Feminism was based on the premise that lesbianism and feminism were inextricably linked.

Nazism and the Holocaust
As part of its agenda to preserve an "Aryan master race," Nazism persecuted homosexuals as "asocial parasites"; more than 100,000 men were arrested on homosexual charges during the Nazi years, with 5,000-15,000 gay men incarcerated in concentration camps.

Paragraph 175
Paragraph 175 was the German law prohibiting sex between men; strengthened by the Nazis, it was the statue under which homosexuals were sent to concentration camps.

Pink Triangle
Originally a mark of criminalization and persecution under the Nazis, the pink triangle was later reclaimed by gays both as a memorial and as a celebration of sexual identity.

Rainbow Flag
Designed by Gilbert Baker in 1978, the rainbow flag has become a popular (and sometimes controversial), internationally recognized symbol of gay and lesbian pride.

Symbols
The various symbols of glbtq pride render marginalized communities visible and assert self-esteem in the face of discrimination and oppression.

Transgender
"Transgender" has become an umbrella term representing a political alliance between all gender variant people who do not conform to social norms for typical men and women and who suffer political oppression as a result.

Transgender Activism
Since the late nineteenth century, transgendered people have advocated legal and social reforms that would ameliorate the kinds of oppression and discrimination they suffer.

Wilde, Oscar
Oscar Wilde is important both as an accomplished writer and as a symbolic figure who exemplified a way of being homosexual at a pivotal moment in the emergence of gay consciousness.

 

 
 

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