Rosa von Praunheim

From NewgonWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Holger Bernhard Bruno Mischwitzky (born Holger Radtke; 25 November 1942), known professionally as Rosa von Praunheim, is a German film director, author, painter and one of the most famous gay rights activists in the German-speaking world.[1] In over 50 years, von Praunheim has made more than 150 films (short and feature-length), and is considered a pioneer of Queer Cinema. His works influenced the development of LGBTQ+ rights movements worldwide. His 1971 film It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives, led to many gay rights groups being founded, beginning the modern lesbian and gay liberation movement in Germany and Switzerland.

He took the artistic female name Rosa von Praunheim to remind people of the pink triangle[2] that homosexuals had to wear in Nazi concentration camps, as well as the Frankfurt neighborhood of Praunheim where he was raised. His films have featured MAP / AAM allies such as ACT-UP's Larry Kramer,[3] writers William S. Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, and founding member of NAMBLA prof. Tom Reeves.

In the 1979 film Army of Lovers or Revolt of the Perverts, Praunheim interviewed Tom Reeves. A 1980 book chapter introduced by Praunheim, reproduced their entire conversation in writing.[4] In his introduction, he wrote:

[C]onfronted with radical paedophiles, [...] I was glad for the first time to get to understand their problems and needs. [...] Tom is a fantastic man. His warmth and humanity make him an honest and convincing fighter. He is in no way a dirty old man who has to get boys into bed by some kind of trick, as the fairy-tales say and the press repeats in a million copies. Children and adolescents have a right to their sexuality. In most cases it is children who try to seduce older people, and not the other way round. Boys have a natural need to express themselves sexually. And it is heterosexuals, not gays, who torment, beat and kill children, including their own. [...]

Tom and the Boston/Boise Committee were campaigning for the rights of 24 men who were arrested near Boston in a so-called sex ring. They were accused of having raped children. The press alleged that children of nine years old were involved, which was a complete lie. The children were 14 and 15, and in some cases loved the men involved. For the first time in the history of the gay movement it became possible for the men accused not to confess to their alleged crime in a shamefaced way, but to plead innocent, defend themselves against the charges and struggle for a change in the law. It is not just the gay men's groups in Boston who support the struggle of the paedophiles; so do lesbians and some heterosexual groups. This is quite amazing, for generally paedophiles are a minority in the gay movement who are even discriminated against by other gays. The idea is that it is necessary to be particularly diplomatic and behave nicely. Tom Reeves has a different view. He says we must struggle quite radically for all the rights that gay people need to guarantee us a more human and freer life in future.


  1. "Germany's most famous gay rights activist: Rosa von Praunheim". Deutsche Welle.
  2. (Pink Triangle translates as "Rosa Winkel" in German).
  3. As quoted in our page on MAP-LGBT unity: "In those cases where children do have sex with their homosexual elders... I submit that often, very often, the child desires the activity, and perhaps even solicits it, either because of a natural curiosity... or because he or she is homosexual and innately knows it. ... And unlike girls or women forced into rape or traumatized, most gay men have warm memories of their earliest and early sexual encounters; when we share these stories with each other, they are invariably positive ones.". - Larry Kramer (ACT-UP) in Reports from the Holocaust, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1991.
  4. Rosa von Praunheim, Army of Lovers (London: Gay Men's Press, 1980). Published originally by Trikont Verlag in 1979.