This owl lamp belongs to the archives of IHLIA LGBT Heritage, (photo by Roos Harms)

The owl in the lamp: warning signals in Dutch gay nightlife 1930s-60s

The owl was a symbol in Dutch gay nightlife in a large part of the 20th century. The word ‘owl’ was also a codeword for heterosexuals or police, and was used throughout the country. Due to this double meaning, the owl became a common piece of decoration in meeting places for homosexuals, mainly in gay […]

Read More

Joos van Cleve, 'The Infants Christ and Saint John the Baptist Embracing and Kissing' (c. 1530). Mauritshuis, The Hague in long-term loan to museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht.

Kissing babies: Saintly or sexual?

Mauritshuis, The Hague in long-term loan to museum Catharijneconvent, Utrecht. ‘The Infants Christ and Saint John the Baptist Embracing and Kissing’ (c. 1530) Joos van Cleve (c. 1485 – 1540-41) Oil on oak, 39 × 58 cm In the sixteenth century the Antwerp painter Joos van Cleve and his workshop pupils made ten versions of […]

Read More

Aimé Wijffels (1913-1991), shown here standing next to his surgical table at the psychiatric institution St. Willibrordusstichting at Heiloo, called himself ‘the great castrator of the Netherlands’. Photo courtesy of Jan Carel Warffemius from the exhibition 'Goed Verkeerd' (1989) at the Amsterdam Historisch Museum.

The controversial afterlife of therapeutic castration in The Netherlands, 1938-1968

Between 1938 and 1968 around 400 sex offenders underwent therapeutic castration as part of their treatment after being put at the discretion of government. Even though this procedure was only performed on a voluntary basis, statistics show that mostly people with a weak social position, mentally handicapped people and homosexual men, were castrated. This raises […]

Read More

Newspaper correction. (Algemeen Handelsblad 20 April 1962, VU Archive)

Mies and Gesina: A Public Secret

by Robin Hendriks and Marlinde Venema A newspaper correction might seem like one of the most mundane things imaginable, but this correction provides insight into one particular relationship: that between Gesina van der Molen and Mies Nolte. Lives and careers Gesina (1892-1978) and Mies (1899-1986) met in the late 1920s, started living together in 1930, […]

Read More

Wooden Torso. Location: Club Church. Donated by Jan from Zwolle, visiting the club every other Tuesday night for the FF party. Picture courtesy: Kevin Schram.

Raise your Fist!

Wooden Torso. Location: Club Church. Photo courtesy: Kevin Schram. Just a wooden torso you would think. Just carved wood, like any other sculpture bought in Bali in Indonesia, while riding on a scooter across the island, made of local wood. Yes, just that. But the object’s journey makes it just a little more than that. Jan, a […]

Read More

The belongings Omar took with him on his journey from Syria to the Netherlands (photo by Machiel Spruijt)

“My Phone Helped Me With Everything”

By Circe de Bruin, Lucia Hoenselaars and Machiel Spruijt   This phone played a crucial part in the journeys of Omar Abdulghani (20), a Syrian gay refugee. Omar fled Syria in April 2015, and came to the Netherlands through Turkey and Greece. The internet allowed Omar to discover his own sexuality in a society where […]

Read More