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Obituary: Egmont Fassbinder (1945-2023)

17. May 2023

After a long serious illness, publisher and activist Egmont Fassbinder passed away in Berlin, as we learned on Tuesday, May 16, 2023. Fassbinder was one of the most important players in the German gay movement, a founding member of HAW (Homosexuelle Aktion West), co-initiator of the SchwuZ gay center, and from 1978 to 1981 co-head and until 2005 sole head of the Rosa Winkel publishing house, the first German-language publisher of the postwar period to focus on gay literature.

Fassbinder was closely associated with the Schwules Museum, especially in its early days. He was one of the signers of the founding charter, and his book collection was part of the archive’s initial holdings. Fassbinder published the catalogs for many of the Schwules Museum’s exhibitions in his publishing house. Museum co-founder and longtime curator Wolfgang Theis calls him “an energetic supporter in the early years.” In 2000, for the 25th anniversary, Theis curated a small tribute to the Rosa Winkel publishing house, where Fassbinder published not only contemporary literature (including Ralf König’s early comics) and current research studies, but also republications of works from the first gay movement, including Hirschfeld, Ulrichs, Hössli and Kertbeny. “With Egmont’s death, a great deal of knowledge about our history is lost,” Theis said.

In 1998, Fassbinder was awarded the Osnabrück “Rosa Courage” prize for his outstanding commitment to lesbian and gay causes. He once explained his criterion for inclusion in his publishing program as follows: “What is important about a book is when it brings up things that no one has ever said before. Because only language opens up new points of view on things that surround us.”


Photo: “The publisher Egmont Fassbinder publishing or on the look for something published earlier”, Christian Müller / Photopress, Archive Schwules Museum Berlin