Czech Queer History Lecture
In his public lecture at the Czech Center, Dr. Jan Seidl will provide an overview of more than 150 years of political history of LGBT rights advocacy in what is now the Czech Republic. Efforts to improve the living conditions of non-heterosexual people in this country first developed in the context of defining a “modern homosexual identity” in the late 19th century Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.
After World War I, the liberal climate of the new Czechoslovak Republic made it possible to fight for the decriminalization of same-sex behavior publicly. While this was not achieved, a vibrant gay community, with its associations and magazines, developed in the 1930s. The regime established by the Nazis in Bohemia and Moravia during World War II, while harsher on LGBT people than in the interwar period, was significantly and sometimes surprisingly more lenient than in other parts of occupied Europe.
During the Communist period (1948-1989), the state decriminalized same-sex behavior as a byproduct of Marxist-inspired constitutional changes but maintained public silence about gay people. It was only after the Velvet Revolution in 1989, with the new civil liberties granted to citizens, that a real LGBT movement could develop, which has now been operating in an ambiguous political climate for more than 30 years.
Dr. Jan Seidl is a leading figure in LGBT historiography in the Czech Republic. In his 20 years of research, he has focused primarily on the political history of LGBT rights advocacy in what is now the Czech Republic, from the 1860s to the present. Among other works, he is the co-author of the monograph Od žaláře k oltáři: Emancipace homosexuality v českých zemích od roku 1867 do současnosti (From Prison to Altar: Homosexual Emancipation in the Bohemian Lands from 1867 to the Present), published in 2012, and of Queer Prague: A Guide to the LGBT History of the Czech Capital, published in 2014. In 2013, he co-founded the Society for Queer Memory in Prague.
Time: 7:00 pm EST