“I am gay, ant that is a good thing”, declared the governing mayor of Berlin, Klaus Wowereit, in 2001. But not only since then the German capital is seen as a center of the LGBT* scene. LGBT* means “Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, and Queer”, while Queer is used as a collective term for all those, whose sexual orientation or gender identification does not fit the conservative or traditional norms. Wowereit might not be the mayor anymore, but Berlin is a town of vivid diversity and is still one of the most LGBT*-friendliest cities in Europe. Let’s take a look at Queer Berlin:
In the “Roaring Twenties”, when Berlin became an international icon for urban lifestyle, vibrant nightlife, and a world of boundless opportunities, the city already had a keen gay scene with bars, theaters, and even ballrooms for men only. Under the Nazis, Homo- and Transsexuals were specifically oppressed, mortified, and persecuted. Many went to prison, were brought to concentration camps, and finally murdered. A memorial to Homosexuals persecuted under Nazism has reminded us since 2008 of the cruelties right opposite to the famous Holocaust Memorial.
After World War II gay subcultures emerged quickly in both east and west. West Berlin regained its reputation as Europe’s Gay Metropolis in the 70s, and in the east, a partly tolerated scene of lesbians and gays came to life, too. After the turnabout, during the vibrant years of the early 90s, the LGBT* movement finally manifested itself in the city.
Today, Berlin is often referred to as a center of the international scene. There are countless bars, clubs, and festivals. One hotspot, of the gay scene in particular, is the area around Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg (Only 15 minutes from Industriepalast Hostel by subway U1). Especially Motzstraße has a very vivid subculture with pubs, bars, clubs, and shops. A few blocks to the north there is also the Gay Museum, which portraits in a copious permanent exhibition and exciting special exhibitions Queer life in the capital.
The trendy boroughs Kreuzberg, Friedrichshain, and Prenzlauer Berg have a pretty diverse LGBT* subculture, too; Bars like Roses or Bierhimmel, both in Oranienstraße, are dynamic hubs. Also the techno scene has had its gay influence, famous clubs like Berghain are proud of their Queer tradition. Other haunts of the scene are the legendary club SO36, Neukölln-based club SchwuZ, the Bar zum schmutzigen Hobby on RAW, or the swinging club KitKat.
Still, even a liberal city like Berlin often lacks the necessary acceptance. Lesbians, Gays and Transsexuals are still very often discriminated against or must fear violence. There are many NGOs fighting for more rights and a further acceptance in all parts of society, and festivals like the Gay-Lesbian Street Festival in Motzstraße or the annual Christopher Street Day (both in June) celebrates the struggle against oppression and discrimination. Even the Berlin International Film Festival has a Queer award named “Teddy”. If you are interested to find out more about the scene, upcoming events, and other insights, you can check out the website Patroc.
Love from Industriepalast Hostel,
Blogger at Industriepalast Hostel
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.