Uranian is a comprehensive term for LGBT+ people used in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. It is an English translation of the German word Urning and its derivatives. The term stems from the idea common in early sexology that a gay man has a partly female soul, and a lesbian has a partially male soul. While most people using the term Uranian were cis gay men, the term spread to other identities all over Europe.

History[edit | edit source]

Urning was coined by theorist Karl Ulrich in a pamphlet describing his attraction to men in the 1860s, arguably the first modern "coming out." Other German psychologists picked up the term, which was often used as a pro-LGBT version of the clinical term "sexual invert." John Addington Symonds translated Urning into English as "Uranian" and it was picked up in the UK and often used to describe poetry with explicitly gay themes. Notable examples include the works of Edward Carpenter, a prominent socialist and women's rights activist, and the poetry of Wilfred Owen. It fell out of fashion when German sexual research changed the public perception of LGBT+ people by splitting gay and transgender people into separate groups shortly before the first World War.

Etymology[edit | edit source]

The word is derived from a story in Plato's Symposium, a work popular with gay intellectuals at the time. Two types of love, and two types of attraction are described, with attraction to males represented by the greek goddess Aphrodite born of a man (Uranos) and Aphrodite born of a woman (Dione). Straight men in Ulrich's framework are called Dionings.

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