Our History Heroes: An interview with our Features Editor, Callum McKelvie

To celebrate our 10th anniversary, our team chooses the historical figure whose story inspires them

This month, All About History celebrates its 10th anniversary. For ten years we’ve been bringing you thrilling tales of kings and queens, ancient armies, world wars and so much more! To celebrate, the team at All About History have each chosen a historical hero whose story inspires them. For our latest Q&A with a member of the team, we hear from our Features Editor, Callum McKelvie.

Callum McKelvie, All About History’s Features Editor

Please introduce yourself

My name is Callum McKelvie. I am the Features Editor of All About History. I started working on AAH in 2020. I’ve always loved history, studying it at Aberystwyth University in 2013. I previously worked for a company that digitised historical documents on a wide range of topics.

Can you tell us a little bit about your role on the magazine?

My job is to work alongside the editor and other team members to plan, commission and create the features for the magazine. I develop feature ideas, find appropriate experts and commission them to write the features. I also contribute features and other pages myself. 

Who is your historical hero?

My historical hero is Karl Heinrich Ulrichs. A German lawyer and journalist born in 1825 and a really important figure in the history of LGBTQ+ rights.  

Why are they historically important?

Ulrichs has been called the first gay man to ‘publicly come out’. He wrote a number of theories and treatises when homosexuality was illegal. In these he was one of the first to suggest that persons were born gay, rather than it being a ‘learnt corruption’. Initially these works were published under a pseudonym but he made the incredibly brave decision to publish later works under his own name. He hoped to use the publicity in an attempt to campaign for greater freedoms for gay men. He addressed the German Congress of Jurists about repealing the country’s anti-homosexuality laws and tirelessly pursued greater rights for homosexuals. 

Ulrichs faced constant persecution. His books were banned and he himself was arrested on multiple occasions and even imprisoned. Towards the end of his life he left Germany and went to live in Naples in a form of self imposed exile. He believed he had done everything he could, though unfortunately it would be sometime after his death before same sex activity was decriminalised in Germany. This would occur in 1968 and 1969 in East and West Germany. 

What is it about their life that inspires you?

Ulrichs life is a powerful reminder to be true to who you are, no matter what the adversity. The bravery he showed in spite of the bigotry he faced is truly awe inspiring and its upsetting he never lived to see the laws changed. I wish he could see how far LGBTQ+ rights have come, I hope he would be happy but I’m sure he would agree that there’s still much more to be done.

Image Credit: Wiki/ James Steakley

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