The friendship banner

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The friendship banner
description gay magazine
language German
First edition January 1, 1932
attitude 1942
Frequency of publication Fortnightly
Sold edition unknown number of copies
Editors-in-chief Laura Thoma and August Bambula (1932) / Anna Vock (1933–1936)
Editor Laura Thoma and August Bambula (1932) / Anna Vock (1933–1937)
Article archive

The friendship banner (from 1933: Swiss friendship banner ) was the first homosexual magazine in Switzerland , published in Zurich from 1932 to 1942. It was founded by Laura Thoma and August Bambula and was based closely on contemporary German lesbian magazines such as Garçonne . In 1937 the magazine was renamed Human Rights , which in turn became the all-male magazine Der Kreis in 1942 . At the time of its publication it was the only existing homosexual magazine besides the irregular Czechoslovak Hlas .


Founded in 1932

Laura Thoma found out about Berlin's lesbian subculture through an edition of Frauenliebe in Zurich in 1930 . During her stay in Berlin in early 1931, she also got to know the lesbian magazine Garçonne (successor to Frauenliebe ). Inspired by this, she published an appeal to Swiss lesbians in the Garçonne in 1931 under the title "Switzerland's fellow sufferers unite!" Thus, in August 1931, the Amicitia women's club was created, the first organization for lesbian women in Switzerland, of which Thoma became president.

The women's club soon cooperated with the “Excentric Club Zurich” (ECZ), an association of homosexual men, under the name of the Swiss Friendship Movement, as a kind of umbrella organization for the two organisationally independent groups. Thoma and August Bambula , members of the ECZ, realized the first edition of the friendship banner together with Anna Vock and distributed it at a joint ball of both associations at the turn of the year 1931/32. On the one hand it should serve as an organ of a militant movement for the common interests, on the other hand it should also give the readers orientation, comfort and self-respect. The concept of the magazine was based on the Garçonne , in addition to literary texts in prose and poetry, there were movement-political texts, event tips and reports as well as personals.

It was completely typewritten and reproduced hectographically . The magazine appeared in this form 15 times. In terms of personnel and structure, however, there were quick changes: at the end of February 1932 only Bambula was named as the publisher, in March the postal address changed from the Thomas apartment to the ECZ, from the beginning of May there was no longer any content for lesbian women and all publishing and editorial content Information only referred to the ECZ. Within a few months, the banner of friendship had been completely adopted by the men of the movement.

Obviously, however, they did not manage to continue the magazine successfully. In October 1932 Bambula resigned, the friendship banner was reduced by the ECZ to a supplement in the German Friendship Gazette and on November 12, 1932 it was completely discontinued. At the same time, a crisis occurred internally in the “Excentric Club Zurich” that led to its dissolution.

New beginning and establishment 1933–1937

At the beginning of 1933 the situation of the homosexual movement in Switzerland was desolate: the friendship banner was suspended, the male partner organization imploded. From the remnants of the ECZ, a new small group had formed, the Friendship Association , which, however, behaved in a negative way towards the Amiticia women's club. To their surprise, Thoma and Vock were invited by the Friendship Association in February 1933 to take part in its general assembly, where they in turn witnessed the disintegration of the successor organization to the ECZ. As the president of the Amiticia women's club, Vock then, out of pity, invited the men to join the women's club, and at a meeting on April 4, 1933, the Swiss friendship association "Amiticia" was founded . At the same time it was decided to resume the issue of the friendship banner.

On April 15, 1933, the first new edition appeared under the name Swiss Friendship Banner as issue no.20. In terms of personnel, it continued from the beginnings of the magazine, Anna Vock acted as publisher and editor, Thoma was the editor, the content concept remained unchanged. Outwardly, the magazine was more professional, it was now published in letterpress on white paper and in a significantly larger format; the Swiss Friendship Banner kept this shape until it was renamed in 1937. Since its re- publication, it has been the only gay and lesbian magazine in the world, alongside the sporadic Czech Hlas and until the Dutch Levensrecht was published in 1940.

The appearance of the friendship banner was increasingly accompanied by problems. As early as 1933, it came under the spotlight for the first time in the spotlight , a Zurich tabloid magazine with strong sympathy for the politics of the German National Socialists. In April 1934 the newspaper took up this campaign again and reported repeatedly in insulting and defamatory form against homosexuals and the Swiss organizations in particular. When the spotlight accused Anna Vock of physical attacks, she successfully sued the magazine for defamation. In return, the spotlight published her name and address, this "outing" led to Vock losing her job. Such a campaign was repeated again in 1936 by Guggu magazine .

Human rights 1937–1939

From January 1, 1937, the magazine appeared under the new title Menschenrecht (subtitle "Leaves for Enlightenment and Against Outlaw and Prejudice, formerly the Swiss Friendship Banner") and switched back to the smaller octave format . In counting the year, however , Menschenrecht relied on continuity, the first number was the 1 of the 5th year. The magazine also remained unchanged for the time being in terms of personnel and organization. Due to a financial deficit that the less profitable magazine had accumulated in the meantime, Karl Meier offered himself as guarantor for the magazine in May of that year, which was accepted. With this, Meier secured increased influence on the content orientation and operated the increasing replacement of human rights from the league for human rights .

The reason for the renaming was an increasing focus of the Swiss homosexual movement on the fight against legal, social and political discrimination. The main focus of the efforts was the referendum on a reformed penal code that was supposed to decriminalize homosexuality. After the referendum (and a subsequent referendum) had been won and Switzerland was the first country in Europe from 1938 in which same-sex relationships were again exempt from punishment, the movement around human rights began to disintegrate. In 1939, the former sponsoring association, the League for Human Rights, finally dissolved, human rights ran into financial difficulties, and lesbian women and gay men began to drift apart.

Restructuring and late 1940–1942

Meier also began reshaping human rights towards a more cultural profile. At the same time, Human Rights lost almost all of its subscribers due to an inept editorial management by Anna Vock. For the Swiss lesbian movement this meant the structural end after the dissolution of all organizations shortly before. It was not until the 1960s that lesbians in Switzerland organized again. In 1942 Anna Vock handed the publishing house over to Meier, who deleted the reference to the previous magazines in the subtitle and made successive changes. The human right appeared for the last time in December 1942, from 1943 it then appeared as a magazine designed only for homosexual men under the direction of Karl Meier under the name Der Kreis . By the end of 1967 it developed into one of the most influential gay magazines worldwide and was the leading medium of the homophile movement .

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Madeleine Marti: Laura Fredy Thoma (1901–1966): writer and pioneer of the Swiss lesbian movement. In: Frau ohne Herz: feminist lesbian magazine, 34/1994, pp. 12-15.
  2. a b c Friendship Association , accessed on April 5, 2020
  3. a b "Friendship Banner" , accessed on April 5, 2020
  4. a b c d e Ilse Kokula, Ulrike Böhmer: “The world belongs to us”, 1991, ISBN 3905493179 , pp. 163–195
  5. a b Ilse Kokula, Ulrike Böhmer: “The world belongs to us”, 1991, ISBN 3905493179 , pp. 73–79
  6. Roger Portmann: "... that he just couldn't help what nature had given him." Concepts of male homosexuality in the Swiss gay magazines 1932–1967 . In: Invertito - Yearbook for the History of Homosexualities . tape 6 , 2004, p. 123-137, here p. 125 .
  7. a b c "Switzerland is becoming an island" , accessed on April 8, 2020