Henry Gerber

Photo added by AlongSide

Henry Gerber

  • Birth 29 Jun 1892 Bavaria (Bayern), Germany
  • Death 31 Dec 1972 District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
  • Burial Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA
  • Plot Section Q, Plot 833
  • Memorial ID 14229703

Henry Gerber was born in Bavaria as Joseph Henry Dittmar and arrived at Ellis Island in October of 1913. His family moved to Chicago because of its large German population. He served in the U.S. Army, 1920 to 1923, during the occupation of Germany. During this time he witnessed the German gay emancipation movement and was in contact with Magnus Hirschfeld's Scientific Humanitarian Community in Berlin. In 1924 he arrived back to Chicago and began working at the post office.

What Gerber witnessed in Germany, he thought it a need to have such an organization here to protect the rights of gays and lesbians. On December 10, 1924, he with the help of Rev. John Graves and several friends formed and incorporated the first ever gay organization, The Society for Human Rights, a nonprofit group in Illinois. They were the first in the country to publish and distribute, to a hand full of folks the publication, Friendship and Freedom, the first gay publication.

The society came to an abrupt end on July 1925, due to a cofounder's wife reporting him to a social worker. The social worker contacted the police and the police raided the group arresting Gerber, Rev. John Graves and several others for their deviancy. After he lost his life savings defending himself in court and losing his postal job he moved to New York City where he reenlisted in the Army and served seventeen years.

During the 1930's he formed a correspondence club that became a national communications network for gay men. Wrote articles for gay publications (One Magazine) under a pseudonym. In 1932 he wrote an article in Modern Thinker magazine attacking the view that Homosexuality is a neurosis. In the 40's he corresponded and inspired Manuel Boyfrank of California with organizing to combat gay oppression. Gerber could not afford to risk his job so he offered assistance and advice through correspondence and articles.

He died, at the age of eighty, in the Soldier's Home in Washington, D.C.. He lived to see the Stonewall Rebellion and the start of a new era of activist gay and lesbian liberation organizations.

Enlisted Jan 26, 1914, retired 1945 as a Staff Sergeant US Army. Buried Jan 3, 1973. (Thanks to GaryNelson for the military and burial information.)


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  • Created by: AlongSide
  • Added: 8 May 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 14229703
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Henry Gerber (29 Jun 1892–31 Dec 1972), Find A Grave Memorial no. 14229703, citing US Soldiers' and Airmen's Home National Cemetery, Washington, District of Columbia, District Of Columbia, USA ; Maintained by AlongSide (contributor 46839029) .