Immigrants in the Sexual Revolution: Perceptions, Participation, and Belonging, The Netherlands and Denmark, 1960s-80s

Andrew DJ Shield

Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis


This is an historical study of first-generation immigrants in Denmark and the Netherlands in the 1960s-80s and their perceptions of the 'Sexual Revolution.' Foreign workers and post-colonial immigrants arrived during the same decades when laws regarding women's equality, contraception and abortion, homosexuality, pornography, adultery and divorce were challenged and reformed, in many cases in the context of intensive social movement activism. This research explores immigrants' perceptions of the dramatic changes in sexual and gender relations transforming Europe in the 1960s-80s, and the instances of immigrant solidarity with, and participation in, networks for social justice, women's equality, and sexual liberation.
Part I of this dissertation focuses on foreign workers' early impressions of gender equality and sexual liberality from 1965-1974. Part II centers on immigrant activism from 1975-1985; during this time, left-wing immigrant groups in the Netherlands gained strategic and rhetorical inspiration not only from anti-fascism, but also from the women's movement. Immigrant women'both actively, and just by being present'challenged European feminists to consider seriously the roles of ethnicity, race, and cultural difference in the women's movement. Part III focuses on immigrants and ethnic minorities in gay and lesbian 'scenes' (e.g. bars, social circles) and formal organizations in the 1960s-80s. During these decades, contact advertisements in gay and lesbian journals facilitated new friendships, romances, housing connections, employment, and travel opportunities across both internal and external borders (e.g. inter-ethnic and international correspondence). Interviewees recount their experiences 'coming out,' moving to cities, and being 'one of the first' people of color in various gay and lesbian networks in these decades.
By bringing together two seemingly disparate research fields'immigration history and sexuality history'this research complicates current political and journalistic discussions of the supposed binary between an Enlightened Europe, always tolerant of women's independence and gay rights, and its international immigrants, 'unable' to change their views on gender and sexuality.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherCity University of New York
Publication statusPublished - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Amsterdam
  • Copenhagen
  • Morocco
  • Turkey
  • Immigration
  • Sexuality
  • Ethnicity
  • History
  • Europe

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