Dr. Newsome’s forthcoming book Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust (Cornell University Press, 2022) will be the first book-length study to demonstrate how concentration camp survivors, gay rights activists, professional historians, as well as courts and state authorities on both sides of the Atlantic have debated the legacy of the Nazis’ violent campaign against what we today call the LGBTQ community. It dispels the myth that gay Germans were “forgotten victims” of the Nazi regime. Since the end of the war, a handful of gay concentration camp survivors had spoken out about their experiences and petitioned to be included among those groups officially recognized as Nazi victims. Court and parliament records demonstrate that the West German state consistently ruled that gay men were criminals, and not – as the Federal High Court put it – victims of “typical Nazi injustice.” This competition over the correct way to interpret the past had material consequences for gay men in West Germany. They were not only excluded from historical scholarship and public commemorations; gay concentration camp survivors were also denied the financial reparations and judicial rehabilitation that accompanied official victim status.
Pink Triangle Legacies traces how gay rights activists in West Germany and the United States transformed the pink triangle – the badge forced upon gay concentration inmates – from an emblem of discrimination into the most widespread and recognizable symbol of the transatlantic gay rights movement. By forcing modern democracies in the West to distance themselves from the homophobic practices of the Nazi regime, history became a tool to push for gay liberation and to help assure LGBTQ rights in the present. Therefore, Pink Triangle Legacies also speaks to the role of history in the establishment and protection of human rights and civil liberties.
Activists in North America not only copied the use of a political symbol from their German counterparts; they also adopted a chapter of German history as their own. By charting the transference of these histories back and forth across the Atlantic, Dr. Newsome’s research shows that the pink triangle – as a political symbol and collection of memories – was not only reflective of, but also contributed to the internationalization of the Holocaust. These transnational Holocaust memories contributed to the transformation of gays and lesbians into an international political minority that could refer to a common historical experience of discrimination. This sense of shared historical roots helped lay the foundations for a modern, international gay identity.
Pink Triangle Legacies also charts the decades-long struggle to build memorials for the Nazis’ gay victims. The book rightfully showcases the hard-won success stories in which gay communities forced mainstream society to acknowledge and memorialize gay suffering in the past and present. However, it also demonstrates how these successes were not equally enjoyed by all in the LGBTQ community. The politics of memory ultimately led to a focus on remembering gay men and the continued marginalization of lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people from the historical memory. By utilizing rare archival material and original interviews, Pink Triangle Legacies seeks to bring those marginalized voices back into the narrative.
See a list of Dr. Newsome’s publications.
ACADEMIC CONFERENCE PRESENTATIONS
(For a list of invited talks for the public, see here.)
“Gender and Sexuality in our Understanding of the Holocaust,” on the pedagogy roundtable “Teaching Queer Themes and Experiences in World History.” Sponsored by the Committee on LGBT History. American Historical Association Annual Meeting. Washington, D.C. January 2018.
“Migrating Memories: Transatlantic Commemoration of the Nazis’ Homosexual Victims in West Germany and the United States,” Sponsored by the Committee on LGBT History. American Historical Association Annual Meeting. Atlanta, Georgia. January 2016.
Panel Organizer, “Traversing Boundaries: Sexual Citizenship, Trans/National Identities, and Political Movements,” Sponsored by the Committee on LGBT History. American Historical Association Annual Meeting. Atlanta, Georgia. January 2016.
“From Adolf Hitler to Anita Bryant: The Role of German History in the American Gay Rights Movement,” German Studies Association Annual Meeting. Washington, D.C., October 2015.
“’For Gays, the Third Reich Hasn’t Ended Yet’: Competing Remembrances of the Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals in the FRG, 1969-2008,” German Studies Association Annual Meeting: Kansas City, Missouri. September 2014.
Panel Chair, “Consumption and Modernity in 20th Century Germany,” German Studies Association conference. Kansas City, Missouri. September 2014.
“Homosexuals after the Holocaust: Heritage Building, Identity Politics, & Social Activism in the United States & West Germany,” American Canadian Conference in German History. Rochester, New York. April, 2012.
“The Damndest of the Damned? Pink Triangle Victims, a Hierarchy of Suffering, and the Idea of a ‘Homocaust,’” Loyola University Chicago Graduate Student History Conference. Chicago, Illinois. November 2011.
“Discovering a ‘Homocaust’? Autobiography as a Perspective on the Idea of a Nazi ‘Gay Genocide,’” New York State Association of European Historians Conference. Buffalo, New York. October, 2011.
“Eliminating the Unfit: America’s Crusade to Forge a Master Race,”Georgia Collegiate Honors Council Conference. Milledgeville, Georgia. February, 2010.
“Living the Good Life: Serious Games and their Impact on Mayan Identity,” Georgia Consortium on International Studies. Atlanta, Georgia. April, 2008.
FELLOWSHIPS, GRANTS, & SCHOLARSHIPS:
- German Historical Institute (Washington, D.C.) Doctoral Research Fellowship, 2014.
- State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo College of Arts & Sciences Dean’s Innovation Fund, 2014.
- John Naylor Dissertation Research Fellowship, SUNY Buffalo College of Arts & Sciences: 2013 – 2014.
- Mark Diamond Research Fund Dissertation Grant, 2013-2014.
- Graduate Student Employee’s Union Professional Development Grant, 2013.
- Anne Reilly Tirone Research Fellowship: 2011 – 2016.
- SUNY Buffalo Department of History Tuition Grant and Teaching Assistant Funding Package: 2010 – 2013.
- Milton Plesur Fellowship, merit-based: 2010 – 2013.
- Valdosta State University (VSU) History Department William M. Gabard Scholarship: 2009.
- State of Georgia Regents Scholarship to attend VSU’s Anthropological Field School in Blue Creek Village, Belize: 2007
- VSU Honors Program Hugh C. Bailey Family Scholarship: 2007.
- State of Georgia HOPE Tuition Scholarship: 2005-2009.
- German Historical Institute Archival Summer Seminar: Paleography & Archival Training. Germany, 2013.
- Philipps-Universität in Marburg, Germany; 2008-2009.
- Valdosta State University Anthropological Field School in Blue Creek Village, Belize; Summer 2007.
- European Council Summer Study Program in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany; Summer 2006.