Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust

Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust

by William Jake Newsome
Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust

Pink Triangle Legacies: Coming Out in the Shadow of the Holocaust

by William Jake Newsome


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Pink Triangle Legacies traces the transformation of the pink triangle from a Nazi concentration camp badge and emblem of discrimination into a widespread, recognizable symbol of queer activism, pride, and community. W. Jake Newsome provides an overview of the Nazis' targeted violence against LGBTQ+ people and details queer survivors' fraught and ongoing fight for the acknowledgement, compensation, and memorialization of LGBTQ+ victims. Within this context, a new generation of queer activists has used the pink triangle—a reminder of Germany's fascist past—as the visual marker of gay liberation, seeking to end queer people's status as second-class citizens by asserting their right to express their identity openly.

The reclamation of the pink triangle occurred first in West Germany, but soon activists in the United States adopted this chapter from German history as their own. As gay activists on opposite sides of the Atlantic grafted pink triangle memories onto new contexts, they connected two national communities and helped form the basis of a shared gay history, indeed a new gay identity, that transcended national borders.

Pink Triangle Legacies illustrates the dangerous consequences of historical silencing and how the incorporation of hidden histories into the mainstream understanding of the past can contribute to a more inclusive experience of belonging in the present. There can be no justice without acknowledging and remembering injustice. As Newsome demonstrates, if a marginalized community seeks a history that liberates them from the confines of silence, they must often write it themselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501765155
Publisher: Cornell University Press
Publication date: 09/15/2022
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 1,099,273
Product dimensions: 6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.10(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

W. Jake Newsome is a scholar of American and German LGBTQ+ history whose work as a public historian reaches global audiences. He currently works as a museum professional in Washington, DC. You can find him online at and @wjnewsome.

Table of Contents

Introduction: "Beaten to Death, Silenced to Death"
1. "They are Enemies of the State!": The Fate of LGBTQ+ People in Nazi Germany
2. "For Homosexuals, the Third Reich Hasn't Ended Yet": Paragraph 175 and the Nazi Past in West Germany
3. "The Only Acceptable Gay Liberation Logo": The Reclamation of the Pink Triangle in West Germany
4. "It's a Scar, but In Your Heart": The Pink Triangle in American Gay Activism
5. "Remembrances of Things Once Hidden": Piecing Together the Pink Triangle Past on Stage and on Page
6. "We Died There, Too": Commemoration and the Construction of a Transatlantic Gay Identity
Epilogue: "Remembering Must Also Have Consequences"

What People are Saying About This

Geoffrey Giles

In Pink Triangle Legacies, Newsome skillfully describes the interdependence of gay movements in Germany and other countries as they developed after World War II. By expertly evaluating untapped archives and eyewitnesses, Newsome details the important historical trope of the pink triangle as the symbol of bloody persecution and discrimination.

Jennifer V. Evans

Pink Triangle Legacies is a compellingly written addition to LGBTQ history. Jake Newsome draws upon as-yet unexplored German archival sources to reveal the story of transnational activism around the persecution of gay men under the Nazis. It makes an important contribution to the historiography, with lessons for the present day.

Jonathan Ned Katz

In Pink Triangle Legacies, W. Jake Newsome illuminates how a transnational group of LGBTQ+ people recovered the history of the Nazi persecution of homosexuals and stood it on its head, transforming the fascists' symbol of shame into a liberation banner. A fascinating, important study.

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