Here is a sneak peek of a page from the upcoming book, Butch Lesbians of the 40s, 50s, 60s, and 70s Coloring Book!
Lotte Hahm, 1890 – 1967, Germany. Drawn by Avery Cassell
Lotte Hahm was queer before queer existed. She owned and ran the Damenclub Violetta, a women’s only club in Berlin, Germany with over 400 members, that was hugely popular in the 1930s. She hosted such shindigs as “Calling-Card Ladies’ Ball” (Damenball mit Saalpost), “Dance Roulette” (Roulette-Tanz), steamboat trips, and fashion shows for butches and transvestites. Damenclub Violetta had regular butch nights, “A special feature of this club is the group of transvestites, the women who prefer to dress in men’s clothes. We organize so-called ‘transvestite evenings’ here programmatically.” The demarcation between butch and transvestite identities in Berlin in the 1930s is unclear by today’s definitions. Marti Lybeck in Desiring Emancipation: New Women and Homosexuality in Germany, 1890–1933 identifies Lotte’s playful, erotic female masculinity as a forbearer of today’s gender fluid queer identity, and details the rivalry and backstabbing between the more conventional, hegemonic lesbian movement in Germany and Lotte’s sexy, rambunctious, gender diverse activism. Lotte identified as a butch and as a transvestite, and in 1929 founded a mixed gender transvestite social group called d’Eon. Lotte was not only Damenclub Violetta’s flamboyant, accordion playing, tuxedo-clad butch owner, but she was also a prominent gay rights activist. In 1933, she was imprisoned and tortured by the Nazis after being charged for being in possession of communist propaganda material and seduction of a minor by her friend’s grandfather. The material that was forbidden by the Nazis was the lesbian magazine “Die Freundin” (The female-friend.) She was released from Moringen Concentration Camp in 1938, opened another nightclub in 1945, and continued in her efforts to promote gay rights and human rights until her death at age 81 in 1967.
Desiring Emancipation: New Women and Homosexuality in Germany, 1890–1933, Marti M. Lybeck
Queer Identities and Politics in Germany: A History, 1880 1945, Clayton J. Whisnant, and Virile (2016)
Vamps and Wild Violets. Sexuality, Desire and Eroticism in the Magazines of Homosexual Women in 1920s Berlin, Heike Schader (2004)