“Queer Budapest, 1873–1961” by Anita Kurimay— A Sexual Culture

Kurimay, Anita. “Queer Budapest, 1873–1961”, University of Chicago Press, 2020.

A Sexual Culture

Amos Lassen

By the beginning of the twentieth century, Budapest was “a burgeoning cosmopolitan metropolis.”. She was known as the “Pearl of the Danube,” and was home to some of Europe’s most innovative architectural and cultural achievements. The growing middle class was committed to advancing the city’s liberal politics and making it an intellectual and commercial city striding East and West. Budapest was also known for its boisterous public sexual culture that included a robust gay subculture. In “Queer Budapest”, Anita Kurimay gives us the story of “nonnormative sexualities in Hungary as they were understood, experienced, and policed between the birth of the capital as a unified metropolis in 1873 and the decriminalization of male homosexual acts in 1961.”

A series of illiberal Hungarian regimes came to regulate but also tolerate and protect queer life and here we learn how and why. We learn how the coexistence between the illiberal state and queer community ended at the close of World War II. Queer communities were once an integral part of Hungary and of Europe. Kurimay used

cultural, medical, and police records to give us a new look at modern queer European history. We see that political regimes of twentieth-century Hungary had a  “relationship between politics and sexuality.”

 

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