Most of the stereotypical descriptions of homosexuals are true

The depiction of homosexuality in German TV entertainment programs



1 preliminary remarks
1.1 Definition of terms: homosexuality
1.2 Definition of terms: entertainment programs
1.3 State of research
1.4 Own survey

2 Historical Review: Homosexuality and the Public
2.1 Before the Christianization of Europe: The gods and their lust boys
2.2 Christian Central Europe: Witches, Heretics and Sodomites
2.3 Reformation and Enlightenment: From the stake to the madhouse
2.4 Forging the German Empire in 1871: The tender beginnings of the gay movement
2.5 Nazi Germany: Gay staff leaders and Rosa Winkel
2.6 After 1945: fight for §175

3 Theoretical Foundations

4 homosexuality and television
4.1 TV homosexuality through the ages
4.1.1 How homosexuality found its way into entertainment television
Pioneer of the gay movement: Rosa von Praunheim
Taboo breaker talk show
Progressive family series
Gay television
The "little sisters" of the gay movement: lesbians
4.1.2 TV homosexuality in the 21st century
4.2 Categorization of fictional homosexual characters in entertainment series
4.2.1 The "weird" gay man: Example of "men in motion"
4.2.2 The “realistic” gay: Carsten Flöter, for example
4.2.3 The "heroic" gay: Example "Falk von Schermbeck"
4.2.4 Conclusion

5 Further survey results

6 Conclusion





The present work deals with the representation of homosexuals and homosexuality in German television entertainment programs. The homosexual minority in our society has not long been part of the medium of television; on the contrary, homosexuality has long been an absolutely taboo topic in most of the media. A few years ago, however, a change apparently occurred: the situation of homosexuals in the state and society has long been preoccupying not only politics and the news, but apparently also the authors of entertainment programs. Various newspapers are already talking about the "gay boom"[1] and "quota gays," especially in the world of fictional television series. However, this change did not happen overnight. It took a process of several years in which various factors from politics, society, information media and the entertainment industry were involved. The result of this development so far is a television situation in which the subject of homosexuality is taken up and dealt with in very different ways and with different goals. At the same time, it leads to a changing image of "the homosexual", which is conveyed, among other things, by entertainment television and thus also has a lasting effect on the public image. To show and trace this development is the main aim of the present work. As will be seen below, it has been a rocky road for gays and lesbians[2] People and characters had to leave until their existence was shown to the average German viewer on the television screen. And as will be shown, the mere presence in the television world does not mean that this representation is always realistic and that the homosexual viewers can actually identify themselves.

Procedure and question

Many fields, from information to entertainment, are offered to the television viewer for sale on a daily basis. Since the entire spectrum cannot possibly be covered in the context of such a work, it is limited to selected “entertainment programs”; what is to be understood by this is explained in the following chapter. It is undisputed that homosexuality was not considered socially recognized for centuries. In order to clarify how it was possible that a - proven - harmless sexual tendency, which is also part of the private sphere of every individual, was so degraded and even prosecuted by the state, one has to take a look at the past. Chapter 2 deals with the historical development of the social situation of homosexuals.

The aim of this work is to show how homosexuality was and is presented in the media, especially in entertainment television programs, and how these forms of presentation have developed over the years. Behind this are the following questions to be discussed: How is it that the public perception of homosexuality has changed in such a way that television content that aroused national indignation 20 years ago can now be used specifically to catch quotas? And secondly: To what extent can the fact of whether and how a social minority like that of homosexuals be portrayed on television change public opinion - and, closely related to this, even society? Or does the already existing public image only influence the program design? Chapter 3 aims to create a theoretical basis for clarifying these questions. The following chapters illuminate the situation concretely using the example of the German television landscape, especially entertainment programs. Following on from the general historical overview and the theoretical considerations, we move on to German television program history with regard to the representation of gays and lesbians. Parallel to the social situation, homosexuality was also taboo for a long time by the mass media and was initially completely hushed up by (mainstream) television in particular. Homosexuality has only been a topic of discussion on daily television programs for almost 20 years, and the reactions to the first pictures of gay or lesbian couples show that it was a serious breach of taboo - in terms of television history and society. However, in order to be able to grasp the full meaning of these years in the social and media context, the relevance of the first appearances of homosexuals on German television must first be explained by looking back at recent television history. Finally, an overview shows what a natural presence the subject of homosexuality enjoys in today's entertainment television landscape. Chapter 4 deals with this.

In order to underpin the purely descriptive statements that the author, as an outside observer of the gay scene, is only able to make, an additional online survey was carried out[3] conducted among 126 gays and lesbians from all over Germany. The question was asked about the opinion of those affected regarding the depictions of homosexuals in specific television programs on the current offer. In addition, there were two general key questions behind the conception of the questionnaire: Are homosexuals particularly interested in the depiction of homosexuality on entertainment television, and do they themselves find this depiction to be realistic? Chapter 5 provides answers to these questions. The individual results of this survey, which is tailored to the present work, are occasionally used in the following to support the presentation of concrete examples with empirical data. The fifth chapter summarizes the results and allows conclusions to be drawn about obvious assessments and preferences of the respondents.

1. Preliminary remarks

1.1 Definition of terms: homosexuality

Among the (mostly homosexual) scholarly authors on the subject of "homosexuality" it is disputed whether this term, which was introduced as a made-up word in the 19th century, can be applied to all times when same-sex sexuality was practiced. There is no question that, for example, the “boy molesters” from ancient Greece (cf. Chapter 0) cannot be equated with the gays and lesbians of today. Nevertheless, within the scope of this work it is permissible to summarize under the term "homosexual" all tendencies that are related to a man or woman's inclination towards their own gender - without explicitly differentiating the practical form in which this inclination is lived out.

The term "homosexuality" is made up of the words homos (Gr .: "same") and sexus (Latin: "gender") together. It was introduced by 19th century scientists to avoid the common, derogatory terms “sodomy” and “fornication” and the phenomenon of same-sex love between men or women - research focused primarily on male homosexuality - from other forms differentiate from "fornication" such as incest or sexual intercourse with animals. The terms used until then vitium sodomiticum (sodomite organic defect), peccatum contra naturam (unnatural sin) or simply "heresy" leave no doubt what contemporaries thought of same-sex love. The term “gay” has also been used colloquially for homosexual men since the 19th century, initially as a disrespectful derivation of the nhd. Adjective humid for "stiflingly hot". Apparently this term, like the expression “warm brother”, alludes to effeminacy and lack of masculinity in homosexual men. Since the rise of the so-called “gay movement” in the late 1960s, however, emancipated homosexuals have been using the actual swear word itself, out of defiant protest, so to speak, “as a name of honor” (cf. Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg 1978: 15). In fact, recent surveys show that a large majority of those affected actually prefer this expression to the scientific “homosexual”[4] and therefore no longer seems to perceive him as an insult. The term “lesbian”, on the other hand, is commonly used for same-sex oriented women[5], comes from Greek mythology: The poet Sappho (born around 600 BC) once founded a school for young girls on the island of Lesbos - and is said to have done herself and her sexual inclinations a favor.[6]

How many gays and lesbians there are today is difficult to say. Such a private sociological detail as that of sexual orientation is difficult to record statistically, and a high number of unreported cases can be assumed. The extrapolated figures since the 1970s fluctuate in sync with social tolerance. Today experts estimate that around 5% of the population in Germany live gay or lesbian, with the proportion of men being higher. However, absolute numbers cannot be given.

1.2. Definition of terms: entertainment programs

The term “entertainment programs” was deliberately chosen for the title of this work in order to narrow down the subject area examined. The intention is to distance oneself from those genres of television that are used purely to inform the viewer about real, non-fictional content, i.e. news, reports, etc. However, the transitions between these genres are more fluid than ever, and boundaries are difficult to set. because in many newer television formats, informative and entertaining elements are increasingly being mixed up consciously (eg “reality TV”, “documentary soaps”). The private broadcasters in particular have increasingly taken up this concept in recent years. Makers and critics argue about where the boundaries of information, entertainment value and privacy lie. In the context of this work, however, an analysis of these areas of entertainment television has to be largely dispensed with.

The present work is limited to "classic" entertainment television and focuses in particular on fictional programs in the form of family or crime series. The genre of the feature film, on the other hand, unfortunately has to be left out for reasons of size; in this regard, reference is made to other scientific papers that deal with this topic in detail (for the state of research see Chapter 1.3)

"Entertainment programs" are generally understood to mean those programs that are geared towards the human need to be "entertained", i.e. to help them relax and "switch off" or to drive away their boredom. At this moment, the viewer usually does not want to receive any additional information about the harsh reality, but rather allows himself to be distracted from his everyday life in his free time. How and with what this happens, it is difficult to make a generally valid statement: Ultimately, it is up to the individual viewer whether and by which program he feels “entertained”, depending on, among other things, his personal current state of mind, his social situation, and so on to his personal biography.

Various studies have shown that the entertainment value for viewers of a program - e.g. a television series - apparently depends on the extent to which it relates to their own world, opportunities to identify with the characters or events depicted, or at least tells stories so realistically that they tell them it can be easily understood (cf. e.g. Kepplinger / Tullius 1995). At the same time, for an entertaining television offering to be successful, the correct weighting of dramaturgical staging and content must be found in order to put the viewer in the ideal state between "physiological stimulation (e.g. tension) and emotional well-being" (Gleich 1997: 103).

These statements can also be found in mass communication theory. The use-and-gratifications approach differentiates between four types of gratuities which the recipient - in this case the television viewer who uses an entertainment offer - receives and which can motivate him, e.g. in the case of series, to tune in again for the next episode. The media-theoretical background is discussed in more detail in Chapter 3.

1.3. State of research

Several scientific papers have already devoted themselves to the representation of homosexuality in the various media. The feature film has been comparatively well researched, which is why it is not considered further in the context of the present work. For example, Vito Russo (1990) deals with American films. On homosexuality in German fiction films, diploma or master's theses have already been submitted at other universities, for example by Kirsten Harder (1983) on "Homosexuality in German film since 1970" and by Werner Wegmann (1991) on the "Representation of minorities on television in the FRG , illustrated using the example of male homosexuality in the small television game on ZDF “. Adrian Ortner (2002) writes about “The construction of homosexual identities in gay and lesbian and mainstream television series”. His work relates to selected series from American production as well as German special-interest programs for homosexuals in the open channel and does not anticipate the present work.

A study by the social science research center SOFOS (Vaskovics / Buba 2001) in Bamberg, which was carried out on behalf of the Federal Ministry of Justice, provides extensive statistical data on the current living situation of gays and lesbians in Germany. Here the test persons were questioned in detail about possible disadvantages that they experience in connection with their sexual orientation in Germany. Perceived discrimination by the media was only asked marginally and was not analyzed further; therefore, a separate survey on this within the scope of this diploma thesis made sense.

1.4. Own survey

In order to empirically substantiate the observations and theses presented below, a written survey was carried out among homosexuals. The questionnaire is based on the research goals of the present work and cannot claim perfection in the sense of a social science data collection. The aim of the survey is to find out the opinions of homosexual television viewers in particular regarding the portrayal of homosexuality on entertainment television. According to various theses on television reception, it is likely that gay and lesbian viewers feel particularly addressed by the representation of same-sex oriented people and may perceive them differently than is the case with heterosexual viewers. Based on the statements of Beth (1977)[7] was asked in particular whether the respondents perceive the representation of homosexuals as it is currently taking place as discriminatory.

A total of 126 gays and lesbians from all over Germany were interviewed using a questionnaire[8], which was sent to you by email on request within a period of just under 6 weeks (March 1 to April 10, 2003). The call for the survey was primarily made via the Internet and thus throughout Germany, although originally it was only published in the Nürnberger scene newspaper Nuremberg gay mail was planned monthly by the local gay club Fliederlich e.V. is issued.After an additional publication on the association's website, however, the appeal soon appeared on other websites as well - thanks to word of mouth and the “pyramid scheme”. A list of the publishers as well as a copy of the article and the original questionnaire can be found in the appendix (p. XXIff). After receiving it by e-mail, the interested parties had to fill in the form on their own computer with a word processing program, save it and send it back by e-mail. This relatively complicated procedure and the need for increased personal initiative explains why “only” 126 evaluable questionnaires were received from various Internet sites despite a nationwide appeal; Unfortunately, for technical, time and financial reasons, another method was not possible.

A survey of the socio-demographic data in the first part of the questionnaire showed that around two thirds gays and one third lesbians took part in the survey[9] ; this roughly corresponds to the estimated national German average. The evaluation did not differentiate between homosexual and bisexual participants due to the negligibly small proportion of the latter (5 respondents in total, i.e. 4%). A large majority of all candidates are under 30 years of age (Appendix, Figure 1). In addition, the respondents have an above-average level of education: Over 80% have a high school diploma, and a third even have a university degree. This circumstance is likely to be related to the fact that taking part in the survey was preceded by a certain amount of effort, which apparently predominantly gays and lesbians with scientific interests expected. The participants also had to have internet access and an e-mail address and be open to their homosexuality insofar as they visit relevant websites in their free time (disadvantage of subgroup samples, cf. Brosius / Koschel 2001: 139f). In the end, participation also made it necessary to divulge the email address, which could have deterred further interested parties, although the anonymity of the process was assured. Other disadvantages of an online survey cited by Brosius / Koschel, such as the possible double participation through multiple e-mail addresses, can be neglected as unlikely in this case, since the time-consuming filling out of the 8-page questionnaire (without immediate profit for the person filling out) can quickly become a swindler likely to cause such intentions to be dropped. Apart from that, when looking through the questionnaires received, the impression arose that the participants were serious about the topic and a meaningful result.

As already indicated, the results cannot be regarded as representative; the number of participants, the unusually high level of education of the participants and the uneven age curve cannot provide a prerequisite for this. Nevertheless, the response was very positive, and the usable results serve their purpose more than satisfactorily. They are only intended to support the statements made in this work and to obtain a subjective picture of a group of those affected, as there is hardly any information about this in the specialist literature.

2. Historical Review: Homosexuality and the Public

“The unnatural fornication which is committed between persons of the male sex or by persons with animals is to be punished with imprisonment; the loss of civil rights can also be recognized. "

(§175 StGB[10], Version from 1871 for the German Empire; wording changed several times and later defused, valid for the Weimar Republic, Third Reich, GDR and Federal Republic of Germany until 1994)

Before we consider our relatively young and short-lived television landscape, the question arises as to how the obvious aversion that homosexuals have for a long time (and in some cases still will) have come about. It has long been scientifically proven that homosexuality is neither contagious, hereditary, psychologically pathological nor physiologically spreading disease[11] is; As long as they happen by mutual agreement, homosexual acts are in no way harmful and are not (no longer) punishable in our cultural area. Nevertheless, same-sex sexuality and partnerships have long been an absolute taboo in society - and thus also in the media.

However, it is well known that homosexuality is by no means an invention of modern society. How it came to general homophobia and how difficult homosexuals of the past had it with their inclination in public life will be examined in the following historical review of the European and German area.

2.1 Before the Christianization of Europe: The gods and their lust boys

Homosexuality is probably as old as humanity. In the animal kingdom, sexual activities among males and females are observed across all species, even if science tends to keep it quiet: Researchers have observed, for example, that up to two percent of ostrich males prefer to dedicate an elaborate courtship ritual to their own mates takes many times longer than that for the ostrich ladies. It is also known that female bonobo monkeys occasionally expand their love life through intimate contact with one another. Such and similar behaviors have been observed in over 450 (of around 2000 well-researched) animal species[12]. It is assumed that same-sex love was already practiced in the times of the ice man "Ötzi", even if the gay scene never managed to scientifically prove that the ice man from the Ötztal was homosexual[13]. If one considers the evolutionary descent of humans and the close relationship to the apes, however, it seems reasonable to assume that our ancestors were also eager to try out their own sex when exercising their sexual instincts. Clay vessels found in Peru from around 500 BC. vividly prove that the various Indian cultures were absolutely not averse to same-sex passion. Homosexuality was and is part of these cultures for centuries; such finds extend to representations from the 17th century AD.[14].

When, how and why the moral rejection of same-sex sexual practices in our culture began to fight against the gays and lesbians in our society today cannot be precisely proven. Timothy Taylor (1997: 136) speculatively relocates the origin of homophobia to the Neolithic period, when people began productive food production in the form of livestock and agriculture; this point in time is for the Central European cultural area on from 6000 BC. dated[15]. For the Neolithic cattle breeders, sexual activities between two males were obviously undesirable because they were not reproductive. Domestic animals and herd animals that "wasted" their energy in this way, so to speak, at the expense of reproduction, were punished for their behavior, perhaps even killed for fear of infection. Similar behavior could also have been exhibited towards human members with the corresponding affinities. In any case, the fact is that homophobia has survived at least since this earliest civilization in our culture.

Quite different in antiquity. Numerous finds and traditions, from the representation on plates and vases to literary texts from the classical and Hellenistic period from approx. 480 BC.[16] prove that in ancient Greek society, in philosophical circles as well as in the army, homosexuality was practically acceptable. Rich Athenians kept pleasure boys; Opinions differ as to whether the role of the young lover was socially respected or rather laughed at as "effeminate"[17]. Today's gay scene boasts of having Socrates, Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar among their own.

However, as already explained, the term “homosexuality” goes back to modern times - the Greeks spoke of “pederasty”, since it was about the act between adult men and boys. It was understood as a teacher-student relationship and was fully recognized by society. Fixed relationships between men of the same age, on the other hand, were also considered unusual in antiquity, even if there are historically proven examples. Greek mythology too[18] reports of homosexual escapades on the divine Olympus, best known probably the kidnapping of the beautiful mortal Ganymede by Zeus disguised as an eagle. The father of gods gave the youth immortality and kept him as cupbearer and lover until he had to dismiss him at the insistence of his jealous wife Hera[19]. According to the legend, the beautiful boy has been the 11th constellation in the sky since then, as Aquarius, corresponding to his activity as a water carrier[20]. Strictly speaking, however, all of these reports - by today's definition - were mostly bisexual lifestyles in which the occasional pleasure of mature men with blooming boys was seen as an enrichment of their sexual life. Incidentally, the liberal approach to same-sex love in ancient Greece was not limited to men: it is no coincidence that the term “lesbian” has an ancient Greek godmother (see Chapter 0).

In ancient Rome and the areas occupied by the Romans (around the 4th century BC) people with bisexual or homosexual inclinations had a harder time[21]. Physical love in higher circles for boys or young men was indeed the order of the day, because the abuse of (in the truest sense of the word) serfs was exempt from punishment, but was never considered morally approved. From the 2nd century AD Then a sexual morality began to develop which, although it did not refer to Christian norms, did pave the way for them. Social changes established the publicly ordered marriage between men and women as the basis of social life - and at the same time condemned sexual relationships between men and women. No later than at the beginning of the 4th century AD. Christianity was declared the state religion throughout the empire, the time ended for homosexuals in which they could pursue their inclinations in public and unpolluted. What had once been publicly advocated and practiced by the most educated men in society became, under the guise of religious regulations, a state-prosecuted felony that was prosecuted, legally tried and punished until the end of the 20th century.

In summary, it can be said about homosexuality in antiquity that although it was not considered the norm, it was tolerated, if not socially acceptable. Homosexuals did not have to hide their inclinations in public. All of this not only proves that homosexuality has been a phenomenon that has existed for thousands of years, and that despite massive efforts to combat it, it has not yet been eradicated. It also points out that there is a societal tolerance towards those who think differently and

-living people must have taken a clear step backwards over the past 3000 years.

2.2 Christian Central Europe: Witches, Heretics and Sodomites

In northern and central European cultures, too, homosexuality was a social phenomenon earlier than one might think. Gisela Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg (1978) combed the Germanic legislation for indications of homosexuality and quotes the Roman Publius Cornelius Tacitus, who in 98 AD. reports on the judicial system of Germanic tribes:

“In the people's assembly one can also bring complaints and initiate an embarrassing legal process. The punishments are differentiated according to the type of offense: traitors and defectors hang them on trees, figs, war-shy and fornicators [corpore infames, note d. Ed.] Is sunk in excrement and swamp ... "[22]

Since Tacitus apparently always uses the expression “corpore infames” as a synonym for homosexuals in other contexts, according to Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg it can be assumed that this is the punishment that men and women were subjected to who were suspected of same-sex intercourse or were convicted. With their conquests and settlements, the Romans also spread their legal and moral ideas about the country - and according to Roman law, homosexual acts among free people and pederasty were considered a criminal offense, initially with fines and later with the death penalty[23] was punished. In 391 AD Christianity was proclaimed the state religion. Christian ethics, which more and more governed moral concepts in the Roman Empire, propagated absolute chastity outside of the god-blessed marriage. Sexual intercourse motivated purely for pleasure was considered reprehensible - sexuality should be limited to the creation of new life. It is obvious that the "unnatural" sexual union between two men or two women was demonized even more. There was a conflict between Christian and Roman moral concepts: Christianity preached equality and freedom for all people, but under Roman law homosexual acts among the outdoors were forbidden. This finally put a stop to same-sex sexuality. Emperor Constantine the Great (280-337) had already sealed the tightened ban on pederasty, voluntary same-sex sexuality or rape in 326 with the following provision:

"If a man 'marries' like a woman and denies masculinity, what is he aiming for, if gender loses its meaning, if it is a crime that it would be better not to know about, if Venus is transformed into another form [...]? We order that the laws armed with the sword of vengeance be established so that those guilty now or in the future may be placed under the most exquisite punishments. "Codex Iustinianus, "Lex Julia de adulterium")[24]

In doing so, Constantine followed Christian ethics completely and heralded dark times for homosexuals that lasted beyond the end of Roman rule, beyond the Middle Ages and into modern times.

The collapse of the Western Roman Empire in 476 was followed by a time that was characterized by migrations of peoples and bitter battles between the various Germanic tribes and the attacking Huns. But the Roman occupiers and the advance into strictly Roman Catholic areas during the migration of peoples had left their mark. Many of the tribal leaders had turned away from the Germanic gods and converted to the Roman Catholic Church. The Frankish king Clovis was the first Germanic king to be baptized in 496 and thus laid the foundation for the Christianization of Europe. He founded the Frankish-Carolingian Empire, which had its peak under Charlemagne, who was crowned emperor in 800. Two generations later the empire was divided again; what remained was the religion that had linked the various peoples. The entire social life was oriented towards the strict, almost ascetic ethics of Roman Catholic teaching. As a result, the legislation was also heavily based on the Bible. Above all, the Old Testament leaves no doubt as to what is to be regarded as sin from a Christian point of view, and the medieval rulers and legal scholars did not hesitate long to translate divine decrees into strict laws and severe punishments. The first book of Moses tells of the fall of the legendary cities of Sodom and Gomorrah[25] and the salvation of the virtuous Lot, who as a “newcomer” shows a very unusual hospitality for the city of Sodom and takes two travelers in without being asked. These are two angels sent by God who were sent to destroy the two cities because of the viciousness of their inhabitants. However, the cozy dinner of the three in Lot's house does not go undisturbed for long:

“But before they lay down, the men of the city of Sodom came and surrounded the house, young and old, all the people from every corner, and called Lot and said to him, Where are the men who have come to you this night? Bring them out to us, that we may attack them. "(Genesis 19, 4f)[26]

If it is not yet clear that the sodomites want to approach the strangers with sexual and not purely violent intent, the following verses leave no doubt about this, because Lot makes them an offer:

“Oh, dear brothers, don't be so bad! Behold, I have two daughters who do not yet know of any husband; I will give them up from among you, and do with them what you please; but these men do nothing, because that is why they came under the shadow of my roof. "(Genesis 19: 7)

One can argue about Lot's virtue (from today's point of view) when he offers the molesters the innocence of his two daughters in order to spare his guests.In any case, it becomes clear that the men clearly have their sexual pleasure in mind - with same-sex people. The sinful sodomites turn down the last offer from Lot's hand that could have saved their soul and don't even thank him:

“You are the only stranger here and want to rule? Well, we want to plague you even worse than they do. And they pressed hard on the man Lot. "(Genesis 19: 9)

But the just punishment soon follows, for the two angels defend themselves and their host by beating sinners with blindness. Shortly afterwards, Sodom and Gomorrah and their inhabitants are destroyed by the Lord; But Lot and his daughters will be saved.

The third book of Moses lays down clear rules as to which sexual activities are permitted and which are reprehensible; The latter definitely includes contact between two men.

“You should not lie with a man as you do with a woman; it is an abomination ”(Leviticus 18:22)

In addition, the ban is extended to include contact with animals, which expressly also applies to women (18,23). Same-sex sexuality is thus equated with incest and sodomy (according to today's definition). The Bible also lays down the consequences for these atrocities which “have made the land unclean” (18:27): “For all who do such atrocities will be cut off from among their people” (18:29). It gets more precise in Chapter 20:

“If anyone lies with a man as with a woman, they have done what is an abomination and both are to die; Blood guilt rests on them. "(Leviticus 20:13)

These words from the Old Testament probably laid the foundation for centuries of bitter persecution of homosexuals: They legitimize the respective interpreters of the Bible to pronounce the death penalty for homosexuality in the name of God. This attitude is also affirmed in the New Testament; In his letter to the Romans, the apostle Paul proclaims that the “incomprehensible Gentiles” who did not want to acknowledge the omnipotence of the Lord had become “fools” and were therefore released by God into sinful conduct in order to receive their righteous punishment later . And Paul also counts men among these sinners who "abandon natural intercourse with women and ... are inflamed with lust for one another and receive the reward of their aberration, as it had to be, in themselves" (Romans 1, 18ff). If one considers the conditions in Rome described in chapter 0, it is not surprising that the apostle addresses the sinfulness of homosexual intercourse so explicitly at this point. Similar threats against lust boys, boy molesters and fornicators in general can also be found in the letters to the Corinthians (1 Cor. 6,9f) and to Timothy (1 Tim. 1,9f). The death penalty is not specifically required in the New Testament. Nevertheless, the threat of famine and natural disasters at the relevant biblical passages was sufficient for the Christian rulers and judges, and later for the Inquisition, as legitimation. On the basis of these explanations, a legal system was built in the Middle Ages that provided for punishments (depending on the "seriousness" of the crime, i.e. mostly whether the act was completed or not) for such sinners from banishment to the death penalty through beheading or public cremation; and they were imposed and carried out with just as vehemence as heretic trials and witch burnings[27]. The Bible was thus the first mass medium of Western civilization to set norms and ensure that behavior deviating from them led to social exclusion.

From today's perspective, this undoubtedly appears to be a completely incomprehensible cruelty. One must remember, however, that most of the commandments on justice and charity from the Old Testament - despite the significantly reduced piety in modern society - still standardize our western civilization today, namely the reprehensibility of lies, fraud, bribery and murder as well as Adultery, incest, and sodomy (zoophilia). A large part is anchored in our laws and few people doubt its justification. So it is no longer so surprising that the idea of ​​the sinfulness of "unnatural" sexual intercourse between men or women could last so long that homosexuality was very reluctant to free itself from its negative image until the end of the 20th century.

2.3. Reformation and Enlightenment: From the stake to the madhouse

The extremely brutal punishment of fornication of this kind continued beyond the Middle Ages into the 16th century. At that time there was no generally applicable German criminal law; every principality, every diocese had its own laws. The "Bamberg neck court order" (Constitutio criminalis Bambergensis, short CCB), a comprehensive collection of such laws, which was written down by a conscientious jurist in 1507, is considered to pave the way for German criminal law.[28]. The CCB also contains instructions on the subject of "unnatural fornication": Article 141 decrees as a punishment for unchaste intercourse between man and animal, man and man or woman and woman, “one should judge them according to common habit with the fire from life to death” (ibid.). This section of the Bamberg neck court order is important insofar as in 1533 - the Reformation had just begun - it was literally taken over into Charles V's body of law. These Constitution criminalis Carolina again retained general validity until, after the collapse of the empire, the German territorial states did not enforce their own criminal law until the 18th century. The strict homophobia borrowed from the Middle Ages thus reigned in German courtrooms for almost another 200 years.

From the middle of the 18th century, Enlightenment tendencies penetrated Central Europe and replaced the religious and medieval worldview with a rational one. They also left traces on the court records. There were calls for a separation of state and religion, for a liberalization of criminal law to punish only those crimes that actually harmed the state. In 1813, Bavaria was the first state to abolish the death penalty for all forms of sodomy in its statutes and replaced it with comparatively mild prison sentences if the act was associated with arousing public nuisance[29]. In powerful Prussia, on the other hand, homosexuality remained a constant criminal offense until the establishment of the German Empire. Trial files show, however, that the judges were increasingly lenient here too (cf. Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg 1975: 314f) and that the maximum penalty was only imposed in the “toughest” cases. Only in New Prussian Land Law from 1794 the death penalty was imposed on "sodomitry and other such unnatural sins"[30] replaced by a prison sentence of several years (including corporal punishment) and banishment of the sinner. Of elementary importance for the further development of the situation of homosexuals in Germany was the version from the Prussian Penal Code of 1851, which was again reduced to a shorter prison sentence: It is considered a template for the notorious Paragraph 175 of the Criminal Code for the Young German Empire, dated May 15, 1871 (cf. opening quote to Chapter 2, p.8). It retained its validity well into the next century - and thus legitimized the maintenance and consolidation of a prejudice that had made life hell for people with same-sex tendencies for centuries.

The fact that relatively little or nothing has survived about trials against lesbians from this period is probably due to the fact that women generally had a low status in society and rarely had a say in the choice of a husband. It stands to reason that a possible same-sex orientation hardly ever occurred to women, because sexuality was conveyed to them as something that they themselves had no pleasure in. Presumably there were actually only a very small number of cases in which two women came to live out mutual attraction and could later be punished for it.

2.4 Forging the German Empire in 1871: The tender beginnings of the gay movement

The late 19th century and the German Empire were shaped by bourgeois ideals and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Religious worldviews were thus definitely out of date. Enlightened lawyers formulated a “natural law” derived from human reason, which should be “always recognizable and present at all times and everywhere” (Stümke 1989: 13). It had absolute validity among the great thinkers and their followers, and a reformed value system resulted from it. However, unnatural sexuality - not only, but especially between two people of the same sex - was anything but sensible from this point of view. Since it undoubtedly contradicted the natural sex drive with the ultimate goal of human reproduction, only one logical - reasonable - explanation remained: homosexuality was declared a disease. Anyone who did not fit into the bourgeois, enlightened model of nature became a case for doctors and psychiatrists. What followed is documented in numerous medical documents. Medical records of the 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly empirical and descriptive documentation, testify to a lively curiosity about a scientific explanation of this "unnatural" behavior; Above all, however, they testify that love for one's own sex was evidently a widespread "disease" and that the "lewd" with their unnatural tendencies were by no means as alone as they had previously been led to believe.

The fact that homosexuals were still on the brink of social abyss at this time was not only due to the enlightenment of the common sense of all things, but also to the social moral concept of the bourgeoisie. This society could also be described as comparatively modern, but its moral values ​​were dominated by classical virtues. Open sexuality beyond marriage generally did not fit into the virtuous image of prudish bourgeois society, in which the propriety of women and self-discipline of men were upheld. Accordingly, the aim in treating unnatural same-sex tendencies was to treat the "disease" and to lead the citizen back to the virtuous paths of his society, e.g. through cold baths, hard work and marriage. Pills were supposed to strengthen or weaken potency and sex drive; later castration, hypnosis and electric shocks were also used to deal with the problem (cf. Stümke 1989: 14f). If nothing helped, the patient had to be referred to a psychiatric ward.

However, there were also votes against. Doctors and enlightened lawyers in particular repeatedly called for homosexual behavior to be decriminalized, as it did no harm to the state. The homosexual lawyer Karl Heinrich Ulrichs (1825-1895) officially called on homosexuals in a paper published in 1864 to oppose and organize against state and social persecution. He led the long common terms "Urninge" and "Urninden" for gays and lesbians (based on Uranus, the father of the Greek goddess Aphrodite Urania, who, according to myth, was born without a mother). The sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld is considered to be the founder of the homosexual citizens' movement (cf. Donate 1993: 23)[31]. He researched and studied homosexuality and the situation of homosexuals in the empire. In 1897 he founded the “Scientific-Humanitarian Committee” (WhK) in Berlin, a supraregional association with over 400 members from all walks of life, regardless of their sexual orientation and party affiliation. The declared aim and program of this first German gay organization was to "finally create clarity on the basis of scientific studies and experience reports that [...] so-called homosexuality is not a vice or a crime, but rather a nature deep inside a number of people are rooted in the feeling direction ”(Stümke 1989: 35). An entry from a general encyclopedia from 1930 impressively documents the state of research in the early 20th century:

Contrary sexual sensation, (...) Direction of the sex drive towards persons of the same sex (homosexuality), connected with the feeling of being alienated from the whole inner being according to one's own gender. This (...) deviation (...) has exactly the same characteristics as love of the opposite sex, but particularly often has something conspicuously enthusiastic, exalted and is only very exceptionally directed at the same person, although he is by no means free from feelings of jealousy. While there is indifference or disgust for the opposite sex, she sometimes seeks satisfaction by simply being together or looking at her same-sex partner, much more often through all sorts of irritation to the genitals. Abnormal methods of satisfaction naturally play a much greater role than in normal sex life, mixtures with various other deviations, with fetishism, sadism, masochism (...) are not uncommon. (...) Intellect and moral feelings are just as differently developed as in normal sexes. There are many intellectually high-quality people, often with particularly pronounced aesthetic sensibilities, but also a noticeably high number of morally inferior and nervous people among the homosexuals. In men, there is often a tendency towards feminine behavior in all possible areas (...) up to complete imitation of women (...) The deviations from normal behavior often show up in early youth. (...)

(From: Jedermanns Lexikon in ten volumes, 1930. Volume 6, pp. 169f.)

The detailed description shows that the phenomenon of homosexuality had already been researched diligently before World War II and that efforts were obviously made to find medical and psychological explanations, even if these undoubtedly show certain fallacies. The fact that the phenomenon was observed from a scientific point of view and not condemned in advance was largely due to the Hirschfelds Sexology Institute and the WhK . The highest goal of the committee was the abolition of paragraph 175 of the penal code.

Homosexuality in the German Empire was subject to a social double standard: Officially, it was punishable under Section 175 of the Criminal Code, but unofficially there was a subculture with relevant meeting places and establishments that was well developed in larger cities. It was an open secret that same-sex tendencies were widespread even among high politicians and church dignitaries and were lived out despite the officially anti-gay attitude, and the threat of a public "outing" was already a means of political pressure for the WhK at the turn of the century (cf. Donate 1993: 23 ). With the proclamation of the Weimar Republic, the conditions for homosexuals became better: The constitution of 1919 brought basic democratic rights for everyone and thus for the first time real opportunities for gays and lesbians to organize themselves in public. Interest groups emerged under the banner of human rights, numerous magazines[32] and penny novels for “male friends” and “female friends” appeared on the free market: The young constitution guaranteed freedom of the press and freedom of expression, and only the homosexual act itself was punishable as before - according to Section 175 louder and louder and finally made it into the German Criminal Law Committee in 1929. After a narrow majority vote in October, impunity was recommended for homosexual acts among adults. The subsequent historical events prevented, however, that there was ever a Reichstag vote on it.

2.5 Nazi Germany: Gay staff leaders and Rosa Winkel

The gay movement of the 1920s would almost have succeeded in defusing the paragraph had it not been for the momentous political turn to National Socialism that sealed the end of the Weimar Republic. Right from the start, the NSDAP made no secret of its stance on the subject of homosexuality. The NS sheet National observer on August 2, 1930, took a clear position on the planned reform of the controversial paragraph:

"We congratulate you on this success, Mr. Kahl [meaning the chairman of the criminal committee, the DVP deputy Heinrich Kahl. Note d. Ed.] And Herr Hirschfeld! But do not believe that we Germans will allow such laws to apply even for one day, when we will have come to power. "[33]

Nevertheless, the Nazi regime, with its military facilities, uniforms and well-trained men, initially attracted many gays. It is therefore no coincidence that some high-ranking Nazi leaders felt drawn to their own gender. The most prominent example is the case of SA Chief of Staff Otto Röhm[34]whose homosexuality must have been known to the regime after the NSDAP came to power. Initially, the sexual orientation of senior Nazi staff members was tolerated or ignored. In fact, it was the SPD who first accused the National Socialists of collaborating with "175ers" and "the most shameless company of unnatural fornication": In April 1931 they denounced the in an extensive newspaper campaign Munich Post the "hypocrisy" of the Hitler party and exposed the sexual orientation of Röhm and some of his staff. Now the Nazi leadership could no longer hold the contradiction, on the one hand, to condemn homosexuality as the "work of Jews and Marxists of all shades" and on the other hand to entrust "criminals" according to § 175 with high leadership positions. However, the campaign also made clear the true attitude of the SPD on the subject of homosexuality, with which WhK chairman Hirschfeld sympathized, because they had assured him that they would be committed to the abolition of §175. But now it became clear that the social democratic party, in legitimizing homosexuality, also poses a threat to "the moral and physical health of German youth"[35] and saw the information from the WhK merely as a means of political pressure. In the end, the campaign even fueled the “natural popular sentiment” against homosexuals, thereby supporting the Nazis' arguments. Soon after they came to power in 1933, they enacted state-monitored marriages for the preservation of “racial purity” and thus sealed the fate of homosexuals. In May, the SA stormed Hirschfeld's Institute for Sexology and devastated the facility and documents. The WhK dissolved and Magnus Hirschfeld fled into exile, where he died soon afterwards.

In the years that followed, the situation worsened for homosexuals as well as for the other "public enemies" of the Nazi regime. Paragraph 175 was tightened in 1935 to punish “any fornication between men”, justified with “wasted reproductive power” (Donate 1993: 25). A “Special Department for Homosexuality”, later the secret “Reich Central Office for Combating Homosexuality and Abortion”, kept “Pink Lists”, and from 1936 there were open raids and mass arrests of homosexuals. Even the fornicators in his own ranks were no longer considered portable. Röhm was finally arrested and committed suicide in prison - with a weapon that had got into his cell in an unexplained manner. From 1940 those convicted according to §175 after serving prison sentences were transferred to the "pink corners" of the concentration camps for the purpose of "scientific knowledge", where their unnatural behaviors were to be forcibly expelled. Here, at the lowest level of the concentration camp prisoner hierarchy, they were exposed to the ridicule and torture of the SS and fellow prisoners. Many who could not escape it through forced marriage or going into hiding chose suicide. It ended with torture, medical experiments and human experiments on gays in the concentration camps - very often with fatal results for the victims. And although lesbian relationships were officially not punishable by law, “pink corners” are also known from women's concentration camps, which are said to have been particularly cruel. Exact quantitative information is not available; Lautmann (1977: 308ff) estimates the number of homosexual concentration camp prisoners "in the order of magnitude of 100,000 (it could have been 5000, but also around 12,000)".

2.5 After 1945: fight for §175

The establishment of the FRG ended the reign of terror of the Nazi dictatorship, but not the legal discrimination of homosexuality. In the constitution of 1949, §175 was adopted in its tightened version from 1935. In 1957, the Federal Constitutional Court argued that this was not a typical Nazi law and excluded former homosexual concentration camp prisoners from material compensation for Nazi victims. In the prudery of the 50s and early 60s there was no place for openly lived sexuality, especially not between people of the same sex. Under constitutional law, they had the right to unite and publish their own publications; In practice, however, such magazines with photos of adult men in swimming trunks were quickly banned from the market again for other reasons, for example because of the violation of “feelings of shame” or “immorality” in connection with the tendency of the magazine (cf. Stümke 1989: 137). The homosexuals were therefore still forced to lead a double life, lived out their inclinations underground and in night parks and, if they were unlucky, were arrested during the next raid. Donate (1993: 27) compares the number of convictions according to §175 in the 14 years of the Weimar Republic with the corresponding period from 1953 and comes to 100,000 legally binding cases in the Federal Republic - more than ten times the number between 1918 and 1932. While the GDR defused the paragraph for cases of “low social danger” in 1957 (cf. Kowalski 1987: 18ff.), The persecution of homosexuals in the FRG reached a sad post-war climax in 1959 with over 3,500 convictions. It was not until ten years later that the SPD / CDU government saw a reform of sexual rights. Paragraph 175 was defused and the prohibition was limited to adult (over 18 years of age) stimulated homosexual intercourse with people under the age of 21: Young citizens between 18 and 21 years of age were granted criminal responsibility, but no free will about their intimate life. In 1973 the SPD / FDP coalition finally eliminated this contradiction and extended the law to general impunity for people aged 18 and over. It was not until May 31, 1994 that the much contested §175 was finally deleted from the federal German criminal law: The penalties for homosexual contact with young people were equated with heterosexual youth abuse and anchored together with this as §182 in the penal code. From now on, homosexuality was no longer a criminal offense, but gays and lesbians continued to fight for social recognition and equality.

The most recent, and probably the most significant step in this direction since paragraph 175 was abolished, was taken by the homosexual movement and its supporters in Germany in 2000: on November 10, the German Bundestag passed the law on Registered civil partnership. It enables same-sex couples in Germany to enter into an independent legal institution of a lifelong partnership before official authorities (usually the registry office). This gives you rights and obligations that are very similar to those of a civil marriage: You can have a common surname, mutual maintenance obligations and rights apply, and a "minor custody" regulates the partner's right to have a say in caring for a child who one of the partners brings into the relationship. Immigration and naturalization rights apply for foreign partners and joint health and long-term care insurance as for married couples. Only one could not agree on a right of adoption. The law came into force on August 1, 2001, despite violent protests by the conservatives and several urgent petitions from the federal states of Bavaria and Saxony to the Federal Constitutional Court to stop the introduction. According to estimates by the Lesbian and Gay Association in Germany (LSVD) 6,000-7,000 same-sex registered partnerships were entered into nationwide by mid-2003.[36]

The modern gay movement

The driving force behind the reforms from 1969 onwards was pressure from homosexual emancipation groups, which began to organize around the world in the wake of the generally rebellious mood at the end of the 1960s. In June 1968, operators and visitors to the gay bars on New York's Christopher Street violently resisted the brutal treatment by the police. The pictures went around the world, and the event triggered a homosexual emancipation movement in the whole of Western culture. The Christopher Street Day has since been celebrated annually internationally as a holiday of the gay and lesbian movement. In 1971 the gay director Rosa von Praunheim shot the documentary It is not the homosexual who is perverse, but the situation in which he lives about the life path of a (fictional) young gay man who moves to the big city in search of happiness, in the hope of being able to live out his sexuality there without blame (for more on this see Chapter 4 of this work). With the detailed depiction of the intimate life of a gay young man, Praunheim broke a taboo and was the first to publicly denounce the social situation. The film became an icon of the gay movement. As a result, associations and interest groups were founded in the larger cities of West Germany that fought for equal rights for homosexuals. Increasingly, the relatively new mass medium of television could also be used to spread its demands nationwide. In the 1980s, the topic of homosexuality, initially largely hushed up, hesitantly but increasingly, found its way into the television world - parallel to and depending on the social development and the situation in which "the homosexual" lived. Chapter 4 shows what the various stages of this path looked like.

3. Theoretical foundations

"How can the average ... television viewer realize

be that he is given a distorted picture of homosexuality? "

(Beth 1977, p. 224)

The aim of this work is to trace how the topic of homosexuality has been and is taken up by German entertainment programs, how the representation of gays and lesbians on television has changed and how it is still developing. In order to explain this development, a theoretical basis must first be created. In particular, it should be clarified - if possible - whether the portrayal of gays or lesbians on German television actually reflects the social situation or, on the other hand, possibly influences society itself. To this end, various theoretical approaches are considered under this aspect.

Hanno Beth was one of the first scientists to deal with this topic at the end of the 1970s. Beth analyzes the representation of homosexuality in the media (1977: 217f) and accuses the "field of discrimination in the mass media" of not only worsening this situation, which at the time was very difficult for homosexuals, by using stereotypical figures and thus by spreading clichés, but to blame. He is referring to the portrayal of homosexuality in "countless films, television games, trivial novels and newspaper reports," that is, both the information and the entertainment media that were common at the time. Beth assigns the mass media an important role in shaping the “ruling ideology”, which he understands as “the supporting normative knowledge system of a society”: “By publishing and commenting on moral norms and role templates”, images would be created that of a personality trait such as "Homosexual" would be transferred to a social role model and presented to the audience. Compared to the widespread image of the “good citizen, hardworking worker, good husband”, “the homosexual” and “the lesbian”, according to Beth, get off very badly.

"For some years now, homosexuality has also been in the media of mass entertainment, but ... almost always with a connotation of social and psychological problems. Indeed, homosexuality now occurs in connection with the following messages:

- It is a 'suspicion' from which someone has to purge himself as from the suspicion of being a murderer or a thief.
- Suppressed homosexuality makes the characters cramped and unsympathetic.
- Homosexuals are sick and unhappy.
- As monstrosities, they violate the natural order (...).
- They are dangerous and come to a bad end. "

(Beth 1977: 219)

This statement is particularly significant as a contemporary not only precisely describes the forms of representation of homosexuality on television from 1977, but also dates the beginning of the issue of homosexuality in the mass media specifically to the mid-1970s. In summary, Beth complains that these representations provide “knowledge and opinions about homosexuals distorted into the negative”. "Although this process of role constitution does not take the form of a planned campaign, the content of the entertainment media is aimed together in the same direction, so that something of the effect of stimulus accumulation can come about." (Ibid.) However, this is carried over ( negative distorted) image actually directly affect society? Beth comes to the conclusion that “prejudices against minorities in mass communication are not generated, at least not from the ground up, but are maintained and generated”. "If ... the message agrees with the audience's prejudices, then it will be perceived particularly effectively" (p. 221). Without actually naming it, he's obviously referring to that here Involvement concept. This media impact theory from the 1960s was originally geared towards research into advertising effectiveness. It traces the influence that media statements have on the viewer back to the sum of the attitudes that they already have. Applied to the example of homosexuality, this would mean that the mass media representation can positively influence the attitudes of the viewer - and thus society - as long as antihomosexual prejudices are not too pronounced and the representation conveyed is not too far from the viewer's existing worldview deviates. The stereotypical, very negative portrayal that Beth denounced in 1977, on the contrary, had to lead to the fact that the (television) society could create initial or additional prejudices. He sees a special opportunity for the mass media to have a positive influence on the public image when it comes to the subject of “homosexuality”, because for this type of deviant behavior he states a social “knowledge vacuum” (p. 222) that needs to be filled before it can being blocked by negative opinions.

“The mass media offer a substitute for face-to-face situations - even a deceptively similar substitute on television - for situations in which you otherwise gain or check your opinion of other people. The media provide representative experiences about inaccessible situations .... The more interesting the object for the recipient, the less his experience with it and the more vague his attitude, the more persuasive the media must be. "

(Beth 1977: 223)

The trick is to derive a benefit for the communicator from the “gap between sympathy and level of information” by conveying messages that help to bring about a change in attitudes in the audience or an attitude in the first place - and a positive one at that - on the subject To form homosexuality.

In relation to the subject of our investigation, this means that social groups - such as homosexuals, the disabled and other minorities - were given the chance to publicly represent their concerns to society - or to have them trampled on through increased attention-grabbing presence in the media.

Socialization through mass media

The socializing function of the mass media was recognized as early as the 1960s. The sociologist Franz Ronneberger (1971: 48) states: “In the interaction and interaction of all media as the system, mass communication becomes permanent socialization produced, effected, fulfilled as a function. ”In this context, according to sociological definition, socialization means the acceptance of the organization and order applicable in his society by a member of society; for this it must recognize and internalize the norms and values ​​valid in its "system". If these rules according to the classic definition are primarily communicated to him by the other members of society, his fellow human beings, according to Ronneberger this act is now also indirectly taken over by the "system of mass communication". He attests that the mass media have an enormous responsibility. It is the “public task” of the mass communication system to socialize “by taking up social needs of individuals and groups, making them aware, articulating them, ... transmitting them to competent bodies in society” (Ronneberger 1971: 45).If it can also be assumed that the author is primarily referring to the socializing function of the information media at this point in time, this definition can also be applied to entertainment television and - over the years - to the present day.

Socialization through mass communication not only means the “confirmation of existing structures, attitudes and roles”, but also serves in particular to “transform them with regard to changed environmental conditions and demands” (p. 54). About the concept of Social change or about how social change comes about, there are various theoretical approaches that can only be hinted at at this point. G.H. Mead (1968) speaks to the individual integrated into his society[37] (namely, according to his own definition, the unique, role-independent half of the individual, the "I"), the ability to influence in the opposite direction despite his dependence on society and, in turn, to further develop society, i.e. social change to be able to contribute. This is done by conveying symbols, a process that he describes as “symbolically mediated interaction”: The communicator sends out symbols that provoke a reaction or at least a willingness to act in the recipient. The special thing here is that

- firstly, “the beginnings of the action ... trigger the same attitude towards themselves in the individual who carries them out as in the other individuals, and that

- secondly, this assumption of the attitude of the other enables the individual to adapt his further behavior to yours in the light of this attitude ”. (Preglau 1997: 56, after Mead 1968.)

So it is not a process of one-sided influencing, but a reciprocal effect on both sides of the communication process. If one were to transfer this image of the communicating individual to television as a mass communicative mouthpiece for a group of individuals, this would explain the constant interrelationship between the public image of a fringe group and the image conveyed by the medium. Ronneberger's argument can therefore be understood in such a way that the media that use such symbols for communication also slip into the comparable position of an individual in this case. This line of thought seems quite understandable if one realizes that “the mass media” are also made and controlled by individuals who, for their part, perceive social roles in the social system. However, this “socialization through mass communication” also has its limits: In addition to the discrepancy between the fictional and real world, the television viewer, as a passive observer, does not have to react directly to the confrontation with unusual social tendencies, as long as this only takes place on the screen. But that changes when he gets to do with “real” homosexuals: The television world can only provide a behavior for the specific circumstances of this real confrontation in the rarest of cases, because gays and lesbians are just as different from one another as heterosexuals are. Even the most enlightened representation cannot completely overcome the gap between represented and real reality.

Hanno Beth at least admits to his contemporary society not to completely adopt the stereotypical representations of the mass media as social reality. He considers her quite ready to allow herself to be moved to a more humane attitude "if she only had the chance of relaxed interaction and a stereotypical image of an alleged average opinion was not constantly being fooled into her via the mass media" (1977: 224). The distorted image that is conveyed to the viewer leaves the viewer (for lack of better knowledge through personal experience) no other option than to assess it as realistic; According to Beth, this is the starting point to dispel the widespread prejudices.

Ultimately, from today's perspective, it is difficult to judge to what extent Beth was actually right in assessing his contemporary television landscape. However, it seems understandable that a predominantly negatively distorted representation of homosexuality in the mass media - as it apparently took place at this point in time - is partly to blame for the common prejudices that gays and lesbians have to face to this day. In addition, from today's perspective, his assessment that a less distorted representation in the mass media would lead to a change in attitudes among the public and thus in society can be regarded as proven. Obviously, a changing, broader representation of homosexuality, especially on television, as it evolved in the years after Beth's essay was published, has actually led the audience (which is also constantly changing) to adopt a more tolerant attitude . Nevertheless, one should avoid inferring a one-sided, causal process from this: It is more likely that television (oriented towards social reality) and society (influenced by the media) are subject to a change in constant interaction with one another, which is in reflects both.

This would provide a theoretical approach to explain the relationship between media representation and social reality. Conclusions can be drawn from this as to how the development from an absolute taboo in the early 1970s to the negative stereotypical portrayal of homosexuality, which Beth lamented, to the everyday sight of homosexuals on television today; what this development looked like is dealt with in Chapter 4 of this thesis. However, it has not yet been explained why a predominantly heterosexual audience apparently likes the depiction of homosexuality in entertainment programs (e.g. appearances by gay characters in family series). As will be shown later, the proportion of lesbians and gays on entertainment television has risen considerably over the years; It is doubtful that behind this concept on the part of the television producers there is only the purely humane motive of giving a social minority the chance to articulate their problem with mass media impact. But why do heterosexuals tune in to watch gay and lesbian characters on television and forcibly grapple with their problems that hardly affect them personally?

Viewer bonuses

The Utility approach assumes that viewers do not passively consume the television offer, but rather act actively and derive the satisfaction of various needs from their television behavior. The obvious ratings success of portrayed homosexuality on entertainment television would therefore lead to the conclusion that the needs of non-homosexual viewers are apparently also being satisfied. These “bonuses” can generally be different for each viewer and do not necessarily have to be drawn from the content of the programs. They are differentiated as follows[38]:

- 1. Distraction and pastime. The viewer watches TV to escape from everyday life and to be distracted by their own problems. This can work particularly well when the world shown on television has as little to do with its own as possible; this explains, for example, the success of soap operas such as “Verbotene Liebe” (ARD), which is played predominantly in the upper classes of society, to which at least the numerous viewers can count themselves. A homosexual and the everyday problems associated with his inclination could therefore be an excellent way of providing a heterosexual viewer with the necessary distance from his own problems.

- 2. Personal relationship. Entertainment programs often offer television viewers the opportunity to enter into a "parasocial relationship" with the acting characters, i.e. to feel personally connected to a fictional figure. For example, a fictional gay man from television can become a real acquaintance for every viewer, provided that he allows it. Fictional series characters in particular exert this attraction on real fans: By observing a character in all sorts of situations day after day or week after week, they get the impression of actually participating in their “life”. In addition, TV series in particular often provide topics of conversation that can in turn promote “real” social relationships between viewers.

- 3. Personal identity. The media can help viewers to get to know themselves better: entertainment programs such as soap operas and family series in particular offer practically every viewer the opportunity to recognize their own experiences and situations they have experienced themselves. Because it is precisely these genres that thrive on addressing, presenting and illuminating as many and as realistic topics as possible. It is not surprising that with the increasing appearance of this type of entertainment series, the topic of homosexuality was also addressed relatively soon; In particular, the explosive nature of the long taboo, the political discussion about Paragraph 175 and the divided opinions among the population offered the opportunity not only to present new content, but also to arouse the audience's attention. On this topic, opportunities to identify with their own life are primarily offered to the homosexuals among the audience, but also to family, colleagues and acquaintances who may have been confronted with the topic in real life and can exemplify possible constellations and alternative courses of action on the screen .

- 4. Control of the environment. Even if the viewer cannot see a direct connection between the presented event and his own life, the unknown can also exert a stimulus on him. So even if the series viewer has never (knowingly) met a homosexual personally, he may still be interested in collecting information about his environment that might one day be of use to him. Curiosity certainly plays a major role here: a topic as intimate as sexuality arouses an often morbid interest in the unknown - especially when, as has been the case over the past 30 years, a topic is increasingly discussed in public which very few really have direct experience.

This made it possible to find explanations in the utility approach as to why the topic of homosexuality was able to persist in entertainment programs for so long and why it will probably be for quite a while. The last two points are certainly the most decisive. Here, too, there is a chain reaction of reciprocal effects: When the first series took up and processed the burgeoning discussion topic of homosexuality in the 80s, this was often perceived as a moral breach and led to violent reactions from the audience, including personal threats to the actors. Such reactions have (luckily) long since declined; Over time, more and more entertainment programs have dealt with the topic and benefited from it (in the form of good ratings and rich material for their scripts). The audience got used to such representations, and the more “real” members of society - often celebrities, very well known in the media - admitted to their homosexuality, the less waves it made. Today there is hardly an entertainment program on German television, be it a talk show or a fictional series, that has not addressed homosexuality in some form - and it has long been hardly a challenge to viewer mail when a kiss between two men or two women is shown on the screen . Television has thus also taken on and fulfilled a very important function of social education.

Ultimately, the following can be stated: The mass medium of television fulfills an important socializing function in our society. The viewer's attitude towards reality is based on the television reality conveyed - but also vice versa (symbolic interactionism). The representation of reality on television changes in parallel with social change, the changing attitudes of the population. This has to happen because the television behavior of the individual is also based on his own social attitude; If the presented tendency deviates too much from his own ideas, he is more likely to switch before he changes his social attitude (involvement concept). In addition, it is increasingly in the interests of the makers of entertainment programs to address current social issues as sensitively as possible, because this obviously increases the rate for various reasons (benefit approach).


[1] Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 30, 2000.

[2] As our own survey of homosexual men and women, explained later, has shown that the majority of them describe themselves as “gay” or “lesbian”. Therefore, the same terms are used in the following without any derogatory intent.

[3] In the following referred to as "own survey". For details see chapter 1.4.

[4] Cf. for example the study by SOFOS Bamberg 2000: Here 86% of the men surveyed described themselves as “gay” (Vaskovics / Buba 2001: 35). Our own survey within the scope of this work achieved similar results.

[5] In Vaskovics / Buba (2001: 35) 80% of the women surveyed chose the designation themselves.

[6] See Meyers Taschenlexikon (Weiß 1999). Vol. 8, p. 2989.

[7] Hanno Beth addresses the “mass media field of discrimination” and describes the image conveyed by the media of homosexuals as “knowledge and opinion distorted into negative” (Beth 1977: 219). In view of the long time that has passed since the creation of this article, the task at hand is to review and update these statements in relation to today's media landscape. For more information, see Chapter 4.

[8] Reprint of the original sheet in the appendix, pp. XXIIIff.

[9] See Appendix, graphic 2.

[10] In: Robert v. Hippel: Deutsches Strafrecht, Berlin 1925, p. 345. Quoted in Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg 1975: 340.

[11] At the beginning of its spread, in the early 1980s, the immune deficiency AIDS was actually considered an epidemic among homosexual men. It is now clear, however, that these and other sexually transmitted diseases are not limited to homosexual intercourse. In 2002, according to the UN, half of the 42 million adults infected with HIV worldwide were female. See "Women equals men", Fränkischer Tag, November 27, 2002.

[12] See “caught in flagranti”, Spiegel 14/1999.

[13] In 1991 the 5000 year old mummy of a person from the Neolithic Age was discovered in the Austrian Alps. One of the numerous theories that have since grown up about the man's identity is that certain traces of semen point to homosexual contacts before his death. However, it could never be confirmed.

[14] See Taylor (1997), pp. 16f.

[15] The following historical dates are based on the dtv world atlas on history (Kinder / Hilgemann 1991).

[16] Historical information on Greece is based on the internet source <27.7.2003>. For literary evidence of homosexual practice in ancient Greece, see for example “The Banquet” by Plato (born 427 BC).

[17] Reports from the gay and lesbian camp tend to say that it was an honor for sons from a good family to be able to share their camp with Socrates (cf. homepage of More objective perspectives, on the other hand, report that the respective “passive” partner in these relationships was “publicly disparaged as feminine” (cf., “History”).

[18] Homosexuality in Greek mythology can be found at <7/27/2003>.

[19] The term “Ganymed” entered the German language as a synonym for “young waiter, servant”. See Duden 5 (2001), p. 272.

[20] See Duden 7 (2001), p. 916.

[21] See the information on the topic on the homepage and <27.7.2003>.

[22] Tacitus (98 AD): “De origine et moribus Germanorem.” (Origin and character of the Germanic peoples.) Quoted from Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg (1978), p. 17.

[23] The date of origin of the "Lex Julia de Adulteris", which stipulates the tightening of penalties for death by beheading, is around 17 BC. estimated. See Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg (1978), pp. 187f.

[24] Quoted from Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg (1978), p. 188.

[25] The term "sodomy", which has survived in German usage, denotes "sexual intercourse between humans and animals" based on this biblical passage, according to the definition commonly used today. Originally the term was also applied to "pederasty". See Duden 7, p. 774.

[26] The text passages refer to the 1984 revised translation of the Luther Bible, ed. from the Evangelical Church in Germany. Instead of page numbers, the usual way of quoting from the Bible was chosen from the books of the Old and New Testaments.

[27] On the parallels between heretic trials, witchcraft madness and the persecution of homosexuals in the Middle Ages, cf. in detail Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg 1975: 253ff. For detailed examples of individual processes in the Middle Ages, see Brüster (1997), Chap. 3.1.

[28] See in detail Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg (1975), p. 297ff.

[29] See Stümke (1989), p. 11f.

[30] General Land Law for the Prussian States of 1794, Part 2, Title 7, §1069. Quoted from Bleibtreu-Ehrenberg (1975), p. 310.

[31] See Praunheim, Rosa von (1997): Schwuler Mut. 100 years of the gay movement. TV documentary, Cologne / Berlin 1997.

[32] The gay magazine “Die Insel”, for example, achieved a record monthly circulation in 1930
150,000 copies. See Stümke (1989), p. 53ff.

[33] Quoted from Stümke (1989), p. 78.

[34] The following quotations on the Röhm affair refer to Stümke (1989), pp. 83ff. For further details see there in detail.

[35]Munich Post of June 22, 1931, quoted from Stümke (1989), p. 88.

[36] Information by email from LSVD lawyer Manfred Bruns on July 19, 2003. Exact statistical information is not available due to the different responsibilities in the federal states.

[37] The American sociologist George Herbert Mead (1863-1931) coined the term “symbolic interactionism”. Among other things, he defined the term “identity” of the individual: This is accordingly divided into two phases of self-determination, “Me” and “I”. While the individual identifies himself as “Me” through society and taking on his or her own various roles in it, “I” refers to the “individual” in the individual, that part of the society member that does not result from taking on a certain role, but rather from him differentiates and delimits the other individuals. “Identity” therefore consists of a permanent interplay between these two elements. See in detail Preglau (1997) and Mead (1968).

[38] The media-theoretical foundations for the utility approach are based on the summary of the statements by Denis McQuail after Burkart (1998), p. 218ff.

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