Otto Spengler: "People just faint," 1906

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"People just faint when the subject is broached"

In May 1906, Otto Spengler, one of the Scientific-Humanitaran Committees directors, "gave a warmly applauded lecture on sexual intermediates before the German Scientific Society in New York."

In the monthly newsletter of the Scientific Humanitarian Committee, Spengler describes the discussion following his presentation:

The debate was very lively. Representatives of all the professions were in the audience--ministers, lawyers, doctors. This was probably the first such speech given in New York, and I managed to make some headway with my limited sources. You can deduce the inflexibility of the people from this incident: after the topic had been illuminated from all sides, a lawyer stood up and maintained … that homosexuals belong in prison. This shows plainly what educational efforts are still required here, where such educated people are so stupid. I have entered into correspondence with Dr. William Lee Howard, who told me that he will soon be publishing an English-language work on the subject in question. Then, I hope, there will be more understanding here. Now, people just faint when the subject is broached.[1]


  1. [Otto Spengler,] Monatsberichte des Wissenschjtlich-humanitaren Komitees, Volume 5 (1906), p. 151. Jonathan Ned Katz thanks James Steakley for informing him of this and the following two documents, and for translating them. Reprinted from Jonathan Ned Katz, Gay American History: Lesbians and Gay Men in the U.S.A. (NY: Crowell, 1976).