German sexologist Magnus Hirschfeld was lucky enough to begin his work shortly before the Weimar Republic years, but unlucky enough to see much of it destroyed in a Nazi conflagration. His motto, “Per Scientiam ad Justitiam” (“through science to justice”), drove him to approach queer activism from a researcher’s perspective, with the hope that education – including a film he co-wrote and acted in – would help end homophobia. He postulated that there were numerous varieties of sexual intermediacy, categorized by what would now be called sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity; for a time, he classified homosexuals as a “third sex”. Hirschfeld himself was a private person, but later biographies suggest he was gay or bisexual, and certainly had at least two male lovers.
Hirschfeld was a pop culture figure in life who inspired everything from caricatures, to Ireland’s first LGBT center, to a decades-long hunt for his personal belongings. Germany issued funding in the early 2000s to establish the Bundesstiftung Magnus Hirschfeld (Magnus Hirschfeld National Foundation)