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Object of the Month November: “Du & Ich”, Issues 1, 2 and 493

1. November 2019

Treasures from the SMU archives: “Du & Ich” magazine

There have been attempts to establish a “homophile” magazine in West Germany since the 1950s. But most of them were quickly forbidden, none survived for a longer period of time – unless they were sold under the counter and remained out of the public eye. This all changed with the reformation of the infamous “anti-gay” paragraph § 175 on 1st September 1969 – suddenly it was legal to publish and sell magazines with a decidedly queer content.

Foto: SMU

The first one that entered the German market that very year was Du & Ich (“You & I”) – a “magazine for friends of today” as the subtitle rather mysteriously called it in the beginning (the slogan was later changed to “magazine for cultivated people in an educated era”). Some called it „Nachseptemberheft” (“After-September-Magazine”), referencing the date when §175 was altered.

The first issue came out 1st of October 1969, a rather tame collection of serious articles about the paragraph and what the reformation meant for “the next generation”. There were hardly any pictures and almost no nudity. Apparently, that concept didn’t go over too well, as almost none of the original staff returned for the second edition that came out later that year. New editor-in-chief Udo Erlenhardt then tried a different approach with a more amusing tone and much more explicit pictures – a combination that would remain the standard goal for the many years to come, even if it remained a constant struggle to find the right balance between serious journalism and full frontal male nudity every month.

Circulation started eroding in the early 2000s, with the internet gaining popularity and an influx of magazines distributed for free. From 2007, “Du & Ich” started coming out only every two months. The party was finally over in July 2014 when issue 493 turned out to be the last one ever, after almost 45 years. Its competitors weren’t  much luckier: titles like “Adam” and “Männer aktuell” closed shop around that time too.

Still, none  managed to survive as long as „Du & Ich“, which is why we declare it our “Object of the month” and will exhibit issues No. 1,2 and 493 in the museum’s café all through November.