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social sciences

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Haider, Jörg (1950-2008)  
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Haider was survived by his wife and two daughters. Despite his marriage, however, his homosexuality (or bisexuality) was an open secret.

Some rumors of his homosexuality were based on stereotypes: his good looks, his fashion sense, his perennially tanned skin, his sporty cars, and his youthful all-male entourage (nicknamed Haider's Buberlpartie or "boy party"). He frequently posed nude from the waist up. He sometimes wore a tiny bikini bathing suit and gave interviews in skin-tight spandex shorts patterned in hot purple, red, and orange.

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Haider himself denied being gay. Since Austrians, like citizens of many European countries, find prying into the private lives of celebrities distasteful, his denial was taken at face value by many of his followers.

Some, no doubt, preferred to be in denial about homosexuality. "Haider could be having sex in front of the cameras with a man, and Austrians would pretend not to see it," observed a spokesperson for Homosexuelle Initiative Wien (HOSI, Austria's premier gay and lesbian association).

To his credit, as Rechtskomitee LAMBDA (Austria's glbtq rights organization) noted in an obituary, Haider never publicly railed against gay people (perhaps because he was so vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy).

Still, as a member of parliament he voted against relaxing anti-gay legislation. He also refused to recognize persecution for sexual orientation as sufficient for granting political asylum, and he did not stop other party representatives from making remarks.

As early as 1991, however, a number of intellectuals began to expose Haider's hypocrisy, most notably Nobel laureate in literature Elfriede Jelinek, German gay activist Rosa von Praunheim, and Viennese artist Jochen Herdieckerhoff.

A subliminal outing occured in 1999, when the ÖVP in Carinthia published a flyer that showed Haider with a long Pinocchio nose, but the "P" was replaced with an "F" (alluding to the logo of Haider's party). In Carinthia's southern neighbor, Italy, a finocchio refers not to the proverbial liar but translates as "faggot." The move was widely denounced by gay organizations, although several ÖVP officials denied that the ad had any homophobic intent.

In response to a 2000 article in the Berlin newspaper tageszeitung, in which Herdieckerhoff more explicitly outed Haider to a large audience, HOSI only reluctantly supported the outing. Haider was not a role model for other gay people in his lack of solidarity with glbtq culture; therefore, HOSI "expelled" him from the gay community.


On the night he died, Haider had visited the gay bar Zum Stadtkrämer in Klagenfurt, where someone took pictures of Haider consorting in beautiful company.

Haider apparently preferred young men, including minors. A number of newspapers suggestively reported that he frequently travelled to nearby Slovakia, where the age of consent is fifteen rather than eighteen.

After Haider's death, the 27-year-old Stefan Petzner, a cosmetics specialist and Haider's successor as leader of the BZÖ, cryptically stated that Haider was his lover. In countless tearful confessions, all captured on prime-time television, he lamented the loss of the love of his life (with whom he apparently quarreled before Haider, alone, went to Stadtkrämer).

"Er war mein Lebensmensch," Petzner said, which translates as either "he was the man of my life" or "he was my role model." He added that Haider's wife "did not object" to their relationship.


Haider's political ascendancy is but one of a number of controversies that have recently tarnished Austria's international reputation.

After World War II, Hitler's country of birth saw itself as his "first victim," conveniently forgetting that a large majority of the country had supported the Anschluß in 1938. Austria fairly recently elected a president with a dark Nazi past; and anti-democratic parties consistently receive a high percentage of votes.

In 1995, the Cardinal of Vienna Hans Hermann Groër resigned in disgrace after allegations of child abuse. In 2004, child pornography was discovered in the Catholic seminary of St. Pölten. In 2008, the news of incest monster Josef Fritzl went around the world.

It is probably too early to tell what long-term impact Haider and his political views will have. Despite their attempt to canonize him, his party followers are greatly disoriented. A one-man show deprived of its charismatic president, the BZÖ may very well sink into oblivion.

Haider's sexuality will continue to be debated. The Austrian glbtq community is now focusing on many of the issues Haider's sexuality raised, including questions of outing and hypocrisy. Haider not only lied about his true relationships with his male entourage but also presented himself as a homophobic law and order politician. As a HOSI spokesman perceptively pointed out, Haider thrived in a climate where people are afraid to out gay hypocrites because doing so would reflect (negatively) on their own sexuality.

Nikolai Endres

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social sciences >> Overview:  Austria

A small German-speaking country in middle Europe, Austria is now home to a thriving glbtq subculture.

social sciences >> Overview:  Elected Officials

In the United States, glbtq candidates have achieved some significant successes at the ballot box in the last three decades, running for and winning local, state, and national elections.

social sciences >> Overview:  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.

social sciences >> Overview:  Outing

First used by homophobes and then by glbtq activists, outing is the public revelation of a person's sexuality without the consent of that person.

social sciences >> Fortuyn, Pim

Openly gay Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn, who was assassinated in 2003, was in the political spotlight for only a few months, yet he managed to change the modern Netherlands.

arts >> Praunheim, Rosa von

One of Germany's leading gay activists and chroniclers of queer life, filmmaker Rosa von Praunheim makes films intended to foster self-examination by gay people and to advance gay rights.

social sciences >> Redl, Alfred

The fascinating story of Colonel Alfred Redl, an Austro-Hungarian Army Chief of Counterintelligence who was blackmailed into spying for Russia in the years before World War I, has had a significant legacy for homosexuals.


Bilefsky, Dan. "Austria Confronts a Leader's Sexuality." New York Times (October 24, 2008): A9.

Fiddler, Allyson. "Staging Jörg Haider: Protest and Resignation in Elfriede Jelinek's Das Lebewohl and Other Recent Texts for the Theatre." Modern Language Review 97 (2002): 353-64.

Haider, Jörg. Zu Gast bei Saddam: Im "Reich des Bösen". Vienna: Ibera, 2003.

Höbelt, Lothar. Defiant Populist: Jörg Haider and the Politics of Austria. West Lafayette, In.: Purdue University Press, 2003.

Homosexuelle Initiative Wien. "Ist Jörg Haider schwul?" (2000):

Ottomeyer, Klaus. Die Haider-Show: Zur Psychopolitik der FPÖ. Klagenfurt: Drava, 2000.

Ötsch, Walter. Haider Light: Handbuch für Demagogie. Vienna: Czernin, 2000.

Rechtskomitee LAMBDA. "Jörg Haider tot." Jus Amandi 3 (2008):

Sully, Melanie A. The Haider Phenomenon. New York: East European Monographs, Distributed by Columbia University Press, 1997.

Wodak, Ruth, and Anton Pelinka, eds. The Haider Phenomenon in Austria. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2002.

Zöchling, Christa. Haider: Licht und Schatten einer Karriere. Vienna: Molden, 1999.


    Citation Information
    Author: Endres, Nikolai  
    Entry Title: Haider, Jörg  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2009  
    Date Last Updated July 29, 2010  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2009 glbtq, Inc.  


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