XIIITH DGSS Congress on Social Scientific Sex Research

July 25 - 27, 1997

Berlin, Humboldt University (Senate Hall), Unter den Linden 6

Special Event:
Award of the Magnus-Hirschfeld-Medals
for Outstanding Service
To Sexual Science: Jonathan Net Katz, New York
To Sexual Reform: Maj-Briht Bergström-Walan, Stockholm

Medal for Sexual Science to
Jonathan Net Katz, New York


Jonathan Net Katz:
A L a u d a t i o n

by Erwin J. Haeberle
President, German Society for Social Scientific Sex Research (DGSS)

100 years ago, Magnus Hirschfeld and some friends founded the world's first gay rights organization in this city: the Scientific Humanitarian Comittee. Threatend by a criminal law that punished sexual contact between males, the members of this organization endeavored to educate Germany and, indeed, the rest of the world, about this legal injustice and to correct the prejudice on which is was based. In this struggle, they put their faith in research and reasoned arguments true to Hirschfeld's motto: "Per Scientiam ad justitiam!" Through Science to Justice!

None of the original founders lived to see the ultimate success of their long fight. Indeed, when Hirschfeld died in exile on his 67th birthday, all seemed forever lost: Not only remained the law on the books, but it was to be more rigorously and extensively applied by a new dictatorial, repressive, and antisemitic German government. Not only were all gay right organizations banned, but Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexology, indeed, his life's work as a sex researcher had been deliberately and utterly destroyed. His colleagues and even his scientific adversaries had to flee their native country, because as Jews they had lost not only their sexual, but all other human rights. Eventually, some of them, who could not escape soon enough or far enough, even lost their lives.

Nevertheless, since 1990 our sexological Society, the DGSS, has been able to revive a lost tradition and to continue in Hirschfeld's spirit by once again organizing regular international sexological congresses in Berlin, as he himself first had done in 1921. Not only that: We have taken these opportunities and awarded medals in his honor to distinguished sex researchers and sex reformers whose work shows a commitment to his legacy.

We are doing this now in a greatly changed legal, social and political context. The old criminal law against male homosexual contact has finally fallen, a new gay movement is flourishing again, a great exhibition at our Academy of Arts celebrates its history, Berlin and Germany once again have liberal, democratic institutions, Humboldt University - Hirschfeld's alma mater has, for the first time, created a chair for medical sexology, and there is even a modest attempt at reviving Hirschfeld's institute: The Archive for Sexology at the Robert Koch Institute just half a mile from our present conference site.

All of this is very gratifying to us congress organizers, but we are particulary pleased to be able to honor a scholar today whose idealism, integrity and energy have opened new vistas for countless individuals within and outside the gay movement, and whose work is respected inside and outside of academia on both sides of the Atlantic.

Jonathan Ned Katz came to his calling as an academic outsider and has had the kind of career that Hirschfeld himself would have admired:
Born in New York City in 1938, just three years after Hirschfeld's death, he developed his sexual and intellectual interests in isolation. In the 1960s, he marched for peace in Vietnam and sympathized with the black civil rights, and later the black power, movements, but remained unaware of the rebirth of the gay movement in the Stonewall riots of 1969. Indeed, he remained suspicious of this movement when he first heard about it a few years later and only gradually allowed himself to be influenced, educated and finally liberated by the various gay groups and activities in his native city.

However, no sooner had he learned a little about the new gay world, he resolved to learn much more, to go back to its roots, to uncover its history and to tell everyone about it. The perfect first vehicle for this radical double enterprise was a documentary play "Coming Out!" which he wrote for Gay Activists Alliance in 1972. Since it attracted a great deal of public attention, it lead to a book contract for a collection of historical documents. It was published 1976 under the title "Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the USA". This seminal work itself soon made history. Coincidence or not, it appeared in time for the 200th anniversary of the American Declaration of Independence, which had proclaimed everyone's right to the "pursuit of happiness", a right that was still being denied to gay and lesbian Americans. Jonathan Katz's book now educated a vast reading public about a hitherto hidden and therefore forgotten aspect of the American experience. How important that lesson has remained is proven by the fact that a revised edition of the work could appear in 1992.

Howver, the gay American historian Katz soon seized the opportunity to educate German readers as well. As the general editor of the now legendary Arno Series on Homosexuality, he presented, with the help of Jim Steakley and others, a reprint collection of pioneering gay writings in many volumes, among them important, but hard to find German texts, including the pamphlets of Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. Hirschfeld, Benedikt Friedländer, Edwin Bab and Ferdinand Karsch Haak were included as well. This publishing event, more than anything else, provided a solid basis for new research in gay history. Many of the great American libraries acquired the series, thereby offering irrefutable evidence that the modern gay movement was more than a fleeting socio-political fad. Indeed, the Arno series allowed modern readers to recognize the many different ways in which the modern concept of homosexuality came to be constructed and how it reflected much larger social movements and sexual ideologies. And, let me state this very clearly: We in Germany have a special reason to be grateful, because, at that time, nobody here cared enough to claim our own heritage.

Another milestone in gay American history research appeared in 1983: the "Gay/Lebian Almanac: A New Documentary", in which Katz presented an enormous wealth of American documents from early colonial times to the middle of our century. This kind of collecting detective work that is possible only to indefatigable scholars for me represents the most rewarding and illuminating kind of sex research, because it provides the raw material for many other researchers from many different fields. It captures the authentic voices of different epochs, the different ways of feeling and conceptualizing that help us to gain the necessary distance to our own unquestioned assumptions. Only by noticing how ideas have changed over the centuries, can we learn to question our own ideas. It is only in this way that we can make progress toward understanding ourselves.

As a former research fellow in American Studies, I am especially impressed with this rich harvest of Americana. It taught me more about the U.S. than most university courses I took. I just wish, the American Studies program at Yale had employed Jonathan Ned Katz in the years when I was there. Anyway, the large work has also been reprinted a few years ago.

Not surprisingly, indeed, very logically, he could not help but arrive at the main thesis of his latest work, "The Invention of Heterosexuality", of which he gave us a preview in his public lecture last night. By following his investigations first of the historical construction of homosexuality and then that of heterosexuality, we now begin to see that the modern concept of a "sexuality" itself is a construct. In other words, the at first seemingly narrow study of gay history, if undertaken by a serious scholar, unavoidably leads to the wider study of all the many modern ideologies connected to the idea of sex. Our sexological society, which has always maintained that sexology is, above all, a critique of ideologies, obviously welcomes this outcome.

Jonathan Ned Katz owes a great deal to the gay movement, and he has given it a great deal in return. Very gratefully and properly he has been honored for his work by various American groups, from the National Gay Task Force to the American Library Association. Still, we hope that the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal, which we are awarding him today, will find a special place in his heart.

First of all, Hirschfeld himself would appreciate the difficulties our medalist had to overcome. In spite of his enormous achievements, Hirschfeld had always remained an academic outsider. All of his work, including the establishment of his institute, had to be done outside the universities, entirely supported by private funds, mostly his own. This is even true of Hirschfeld's sexological colleagues and rivals. The German universities remained highly suspicious of the new science and, indeed, to this day have refused to create anything remotely resembling Hirschfeld's institute or, for that matter, the Kinsey Institute.

Jonathan Ned Katz also has had to work outside the traditional academic institutions. He chose his own subject, educated himself about the way of researching it and presenting the results, and then, through diligence and persistence, produced a body of work of which any professor of history could justly be proud. It is this kind of effort that our Hirschfeld medal is meant to honor most of all.

We have always emphasized that sex research must be more than surveys and statistics, more than clinical case histories, more than therapeutical innovations. Our task is much greater: We must try to understand ourselves better, our history and our own preconceptions, our abilities and inabilities. We must understand the social forces that are shaping our conscious and unconscious lives. Serious and critical sex research can make a special contribution to this great and never ending work of science.

Jonathan Ned Katz has already made a lasting contribution and will undoubtedly make more. It is for us a great privilege today, to award him the Magnus Hirschfeld Medal for Outstanding Contributions to Sex Research. May it be a source of satisfaction to him, whose innovative and truly enlightening work has long been an inspiration to us. May his kind of science ultimately produce justice not only for Lesbians and Gays, but for everyone!


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Medal for Sexual Reform to
Maj-Briht Bergström-Walan, Stockholm


Maj-Briht Bergström-Walan:
A L a u d a t i o n

by Rolf Gindorf
Founding President (1971), German Society for Social Scientific Sex Research (DGSS)

Dear Dr. Dr. Bergström-Walan, dear Maj-Briht,
Dear Colleagues,

It is a great honour for me, and a great pleasure at the same time, to give today a laudation speach for someone looking so deceivingly like a retired charming lady best off at her sunday afternoon tea. Well, charming you are indeed, Maj-Briht, but at 73 the calm and rest of retirement seem to be still a long way off ...

You were born, in 1924, in Stockholm, Sweden, and you have lived there practically all your life. From all I know, you are in excellent physical and psychological health, and you are still actively working in the field of clinical psychology and sexology, both with patients and with research, writing and lecturing

You have a remarkable, and yet quite normal small family, consisting of Helle, the woman you have been living with for 22 years now (and who was married for 22 years), one son of yours (a teacher), two granddaughters, aged 15 and 13 (you were also married for 22 years), and Helle's two sons and two grandsons. A lot of 22's, it seems ... As it happens, Helle is also a doctor in psychology (from Copenhagen university), working as a clinical psychologist in Stockholm.

You started your career 50 years ago, in 1947, as a midwife, and you received missionary training in England and Sweden. You intended to go to China as a missionary in the field of medicine, planning to found a midwife school. In preparation, you studied Chinese and tropical medicine at Selly Oaks College in Birmingham, England. But, after the communist revolution in China, the country was closed to missionaries. This had two immediate consequences:

One, you and your husband could not go.
Two, you had to look for something else to do.

Which, luckily, you did. You went back to school and, in 1957, acquired a Master's degree in Nordic languages, and in 1961 another Master's in Education (Pedagogics) from Stockholm University. By 1963, you had your Ph. D. in Psychology from the same school.

Even before that you began working in the field of psychosomatic medicine, and for several years studied various methods of releasing pain and anxiety in women during childbirth. For your Ph. D. thesis on "Efficacy of Education for Childbirth" you could draw on this professional experience, and a year before that you had presented your research at the first International Congress in Psychosomatic Medicine and Childbirth in Paris, 1962.

From education for childbirth your interests were soon to broaden to education for sexuality. As early as 1957, you had started being a lecturer in sexology and psychology for medical and health care personnel. Let's remember: Sex education for both sexes in Swedish schools became compulsory in 1956, and already a year later you were asked by the Swedish Board of Education to work as an expert this field. As in Germany later, teachers simply were not trained for this job. So, you travelled all over the country and gave lessons to students, parents, and teachers - and this is what you have been doing ever since, for more than 30 years, not only in Sweden but later in all the five continents of the whole world!

Now let's pause for a moment. I don't want to be ungallant by always repeating how long ago all this was, and for how long it has been going on --- but it should be obvious to all of us that Maj-Briht is a true pioneer in her field!

Since 1961 you have been a lecturer and consultant for governmental sex education programs in the four Scandinavian countries, in Germany, Poland, Australia, and the U.S.A. When, as early as 1964, the UNESCO Institute for Education in Hamburg gathered a group of experts for one week's meeting in "Health Education, Sex Education, and Education for Home and Family Life", you were there to share your expertise.

The aim with sex education, according to you, is to give basic knowledge in the medical, physiological, social, and psychological aspects of human sexuality, including ethical points of view. In addition, you always stressed the importance of avoiding teenage pregnancies, emphasizing the equality between boys and girls, men and women, and the right for the child to be welcome. - And if you'll allow me again an aside: by freeing sexology from the narrowing borders of procreation and medicine, you were ahead of the DGSS by some years!

In 1968, you served for three years as Secretary General to the Swedish State Commission for Sex Education. Two years later, you founded your own "Swedish Institute for Sexual Research" where you have been working till today, as therapist dealing with sexual dysfunctions, marital problems, and psychological disturbances. The list of your professional careers would not be complete without mentioning the Human Sexuality Program you conducted, on post-graduate and doctoral level, as lecturer in sexology at New York University for 20 years, from 1972 to 1992.

Your talents are to be found in education, clinical and research fields, and your publishing record is truly impressive. You have done so far

  • 7 sexological studies and research jobs (e. g., of sexual attitudes and behaviour in Sweden, of knowledge and attitudes of handicapped youth, of Swedish women, of 60-80 years old men and women in Stockholm, of transvestites and transsexuals, of women's sexual fantasies),
  • 14 books translated into 22 languages (among them your first book on sex education for children aged 10 - 12, "Sexualkunskap för Mellanstadiet" from 1965),
  • 20 films made between 1960 and 1972 (some of them still in use today at several colleges and universities in the U.S.A., Japan, and other countries),
  • 1 theatre play for the Swedish School Theatre,
  • a weekly column in a youth magazine answering questions from teenagers and young adults about sex and interpersonal relationships, running for 26 years,
  • diverse college and university teaching jobs,
  • numerous professional functions and honours
- -- all this testifies to your admirable talent and dedication. In other words: if you did not exist already, my dear Maj-Briht, you would have to be invented!

Not surprisingly, you have been made "Honorary Member" of the

  • Swedish Association of Sexology,
  • American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT),
  • British Association of Sex and Marital Therapy,
  • Swedish Association of Transvestism.
M oreover, you are a member of the
  • Swedish Association of Psychology,
  • Nordic Association of Sexology,
  • World Association of Sexology,
  • Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (where you also serve as International Representative),
  • European Federation of Sexology (where you serve in the Scientific Committee and as Vice President).

And you are a Diplomate of the American Boad of Sexology.

Let me briefly mention some of your other engagements. You once told me that your "burning enthusiasm for family planning is like a humanitarian mission". Helping young people to better cope with their sexuality, and avoid unwanted pregnancy, is one of your great aims. Supporting young gays and lesbians in their struggle to come to terms with their emotions and their sexuality is another. With this in mind, you have been regularly participating throughout the years as an acknowledged expert in sexuality and human relations in TV and all the other mass media.

Another important subject in human sexuality is the question of female circumcision. The World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) has been deeply committed to preventing this hazardous practice since 1983, when it went on record with a strong resolution against genital incision in juvenile females, presented to UNESCO, UNICEF and WHO. You yourself were the promotor of this resolution, and you are still engaged for it.

As an acknowledgement to your life-long dedication to the teaching of sexology and family planning throughout Sweden, and especially for your many years of lecturing to students of medicine and psychology, the University of Uppsala - the oldest in all Scandinavia, founded in 1477 - last year awarded you an Honorary Doctor's Degree in Medicine (M. D. h. c.). And in acknowledgement of your international work in the field of sexology, you received last month a Gold Medal Award from the XIIIth World Congress of the World Association for Sexology at Valencia, Spain.

With this, let me come to the end and attempt a summary. Throughout your professional life as a sexologist and sex educater, you, Dr. Dr. Maj-Briht Bergström-Walan, have wanted to improve your own and our understanding of human sexuality - with curiosity, genius, insight, imagination, compassion, diligence, humor, and love. While the first of these qualities are importent, the latter two - humour and love - are indispensible for your work. Now let me assure you that you were highly successful in these efforts. With all this, and above all with sheer hard work, you have been, and continue to be, a genuine pioneer in our field.

Dr. Dr. Bergstöm-Walan, my dearest Maj Briht, today the German Society for Social Scientic Sex Research takes pride in awarding you the Magnus-Hirschfeld-Medal for outstanding service to sexual reform. May you keep up the inspiration and strength you have been showing over the past years!


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