"Karl Heinrich Ulrichs, in the 1860's and 1870's, paved
the way for the start of the Gay movement," Paul J. Nash described Karl
Heinrich Ulrichs. That was a reason to study Ulrichs and his works. His
vampire story fascinated me, and so did the prospect of a link between
homosexuality and vampirism. I wanted to address the question of whether
the connection was positive or negative.
First, a short biography of Ulrichs, and then follows the vampirism as
it relates to homosexuality.
Karl Heinrich Ulrichs was born on August 28, 1825, in uppermost northwest
Germany. His father worked as a master builder, and his grandfather served
as a senior Protestant minister. Ulrichs took his degrees with honors
from the universities of Göttingen and Berlin. He filled an office as
a lawyer for the Kingdom of Hanover and also had his hands in freelance
In four letters, Ulrichs frankly disclosed his sexual orientation to his
kinsfolk in 1862, the same year he coined the term 'Urning' to describe
a male with a feminine soul (anima theory). This is recorded in
Der Grosse Brockhaus, Germany's equivalent
of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Between 1864 and 1879, Ulrichs presented the anima theory in twelve studies
in the fields of sociology, anthropology, and law. In the 1860's he served
two short terms in jail for his political views. On August 29, 1867, he
became the first Gay advocate known to deliver a speech in defense of
Uranism, his term for homosexuality. He spoke before the 500-member body
of the Association of German Jurists at the Odeon Theater in Munich.
The North German Confederation had formed, and Ulrichs' writings and personal
correspondence had been confiscated and banned by the Prussian military
government, which entered Hanover in June 1866. The German states had
enjoyed a liberal administration of laws concerning same-sex love under
the Code Napoléon, established in 1804, and
under Article 186 of the penal code of the Free State of Bavaria formulated
by P. J. A. Feuerbach in 1813.
The tide changed on April 1, 1851, when Prussia issued Section 143, demanding
unconditional punishment of so-called unnatural sexual practices. Because
of the subsequent political pressure, Ulrichs left Hanover in 1867 to
live in the Bavarian city of Würzburg, and later, in Stuttgart in Württemberg.
However, he again found himself at the mercy of Section 143 when Bavaria
united with the North German Confederation in the Second Empire -- spearheaded
by Bismarck's Prussia in 1871.
In 1872 the antigay Section 143 became Paragraph 173, which was changed
again into Paragraph 175. That's the law the Nazis used to send alleged
homosexuals to the concentration camps. When Austria finally accepted
Paragraph 175, Ulrichs emigrated in 1880. He finally settled in L'Aquila,
Italy, reportedly living in abject poverty. He wrote many pieces of fiction,
poetry, and translations from Greek and Latin during the 12 years he lived
in L'Aquila. He died there on June 14, 1895.
Vampirism comes into the story when in 1885 Ulrichs authored an anthology
titled Matrosengeschichten (sailor stories),
in which "Manor" appeared. The source for
my translation, discovered while massaging the bookshelves of the National
Gay Archives in Hollywood, appeared in the spring, 1977, issue of
Schwuchtel: Eine Zeitung der Schwulenbewegung
(a newspaper of the Gay Movement). Its source was a 1914 reprint published
by the Wegwald Company.
"Manor", a tale filled with pathos, moves
readers to remind themselves that love, even Uranian love (Ulrichs' word
for Gay love), conquers all. A novella -- a short short-story -- about two
youths, "Manor" tells
of undying love. Nineteen-year-old sailor Manor saves Har, four years
his junior, from drowning. A friendship develops, and Har's heart breaks
when his friend leaves on a whaling voyage.
When the ship is returning it wrecks, and Har sees his friend drown. Manor
visits Har at night to suck Har's blood, which the community objects to,
but not, it seems, to the homosexuality. However, social disapproval,
evident in the function of the stakes to drive into the vampire's body,
manifests itself in the will to destroy the vampire, and, inadvertently,
the love between the youths. In the moral, that in death anything is permissible,
death appears as the great joiner: be what you want to be in death, but
not in life.
The community's first attempt to pin down the vampire fails, and Manor
returns. The love between Manor and Har could not die even in death. Manor
returns as a vampire, not as a ghost. He appears in flesh and blood, not
as an apparition, such as an incubus.
The significance of Ulrichs' association of homosexuality with vampirism
appears as the subject of his book, written in 1869, titled Incubus:
Urningsliebe und Blutgier (Uranian love and bloodthirstiness), in
which he relates the criminal case of a homosexual man named von Zastrow
who sexually abused, castrated, and murdered a boy by driving a stake
up through his abdomen.
Ulrichs voiced the difficulty of writing about the case, but believed
that Zastrow, whose deed he called a brutal act of violence, could not
be convicted without having first proven Zastrow's sanity. Soundness of
mind was all-important to Ulrichs, because he believed that insanity,
and not sexual orientation, which he proved was inborn, led Zastrow to
Ulrichs' own view, that the practice of Uranism in excess, such as by
threat of force, by force or with children, agreed with the punishment
imposed by law. And here, Ulrichs, one hundred years ago, presents to
us a familiar problem in ethics. He proved beyond a doubt that the tendency
to Uranism is certainly congenital, and he proved it by recording confessions
of men whose orientation was directed to the male -- before they knew
what sex meant.
One passage, from Memnon, Ulrichs' most
praised book, goes, "As an eight-year-old schoolboy I [Ulrichs] sat near
a comrade rather older than myself, and how happy I was when he touched me."
Ulrichs repeats his theory in "Manor", speaking
of a boy during a time preceding puberty, "And the boy was never more
pleased than when Manor embraced him so." Ulrichs rejected the belief that
Urnings were child molesters, a myth most people at that time totally embraced.
Ulrichs tried to dispel not only this myth but many of the myths which
stigmatized Urnings, even the myths promoted by Holy Roman Emperor Justinian,
who, in the sixth century, claimed that "floods and earthquakes were caused
by ... sodomites." Ulrichs' contemporaries believed in these myths, and
Ulrichs broke the bonds of convention and conformity -- social, religious,
and legal -- which still held most Germans.
Ulrichs holds to many of the vampire traditions in
"Manor". For example,
Manor is a corpse that becomes reanimated and leaves its grave at night
to suck the blood of a sleeping person. He looks cadaverous: pale with
the pallor of death and icy cold to the touch. He appears to be well fed,
and he is exceptionally strong. He is active only at night and rests in
his own grave.
The community practices the traditional driving of the stake through his
heart after the community becomes aware that vampire activity has broken
out in its region, and the locals repair to the cemetery to examine the
graves and look for a corpse that has not decomposed.
On the other hand, the story departs from the vampire tradition because
the story tells of two youths who know and love each other in life and
not of a male who attacks a female. Since
"Manor" is taken from an
Old Norse tale, Manor is also reanimated by Urda.
"The Norse peoples expressed the concept of fate as 'urthr,' which meant
'fate.' In the poem Heliand, 'wurd,' a
cognate of 'urthr,' means the spirit of death. The Norse people believed
in the embodiment of fate in the Norns, the chief of whom was herself
called Urd (Urthr). The name still occurs in Faeroese lore as Norna,"
according to John A. MacCullock, editor of The
Mythology of All Races. The failure of the first
attempt to pin down the vampire because the stake has no head, such as
the head of a nail, is also a departure from the tradition. That Manor
sucks the boy's teat and not his neck, is also not traditional.
According to Douglas Hill, a contributor to Man, Myth and Magic
edited by Richard Cavendish, "Anyone who is 'different' in some way has
always been a convenient victim when the conforming majority is looking
for enemies of the status quo." The love between Manor and Har, seen through
the eyes of Ulrichs' contemporaries, would have been considered an abomination,
no matter how deeply the protagonists might have loved each other. And
this attitude, to Ulrichs, was symptomatic of an uninformed society in
which the administration of the laws concerning same-sex love was abusive.
Hill writes that "to some extent people's mistrust of their own sexuality
has caused them to depict it as a demonic figure. The belief, that no
innocence could escape tainting and the cruelties perpetrated in its name,
reveals the scale of sexual repression that has existed."
It was Ulrichs' belief that scientists and legislators, some of whom he
termed hydras and vipers at certain times, needed only to consult people
of his nature and to look inside themselves to solve the riddle of the
"man-manly" love. Through science they could see the illegality of all
police investigations, which, Ulrichs reported, were leading to legalized
extortion and to suicide and murder.
Ulrichs compared the treatment of Urnings by his contemporaries to the
treatment of heretics, Jews, and witches in the preceding centuries because
it was his vision to celebrate the nineteenth century as the one in which
persecution of Uranism ceased to exist. If Ulrichs were alive today, he
would have no trouble believing in the current war on homosexuality. Subsequently,
he probably would have delighted in the fact that his works and his name
have survived because, as true bastions of courage, they continue to inspire
the brave to speak out in defense of Gay love. In the final analysis,
I never could figure out whether the link between homosexuality and vampirism
in "Manor" was positive or negative. Perhaps
that's what's fascinating.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: The most grateful appreciation to Paul J. Nash, whose
constant support makes all things possible. Also, to Dorothy Brett for
lending me her brilliant mind, and to Warren Seid for his invaluable time.
BIOGRAPHY: Michael A. Lombardi was born in Hawick, Scotland in 1947. He
was raised in Dublin in an Italian colony, and he immigrated in 1959.
He was advanced to candidacy for the Masters in German at UCLA in 1978.
He has been living in Los Angeles since 1972 with Paul Nash, his lover
of ten years. Both are studying for their doctorates at One Institute
Graduate School of Homophile Studies. Lombardi has been translating Gay
and Holocaust literature since 1977.
AUTHOR'S Update. I became acquainted with Dave Doyle through
the Internet in 1999. On his own behalf, he was looking for a translation
of Ulrichs' "Manor". In this way, my
interest in vampirism was rekindled.
While sorting through old papers, this essay popped up and surprised even
me! Since I wrote this piece (in 1982) I have become a U.S. citizen, and
I have legally changed my last name to Lombardi-Nash, as a way to say
"let's get married" to Paul.
To Manor by K. H. Ulrichs