Berlin is a crazy bubble in terms of diversity. Nowhere else in Germany are there so many different spaces, places and outlets for the members of the LGBTQI Community. Of course Berlin is not perfect in terms of safety for the said community. We still have harassments of transsexuals on a monthly basis, and I would not always dare to kiss a man at Kotti at night because you never know how the surroundings might react. Despite that, I am more than happy to call Berlin my home, since I feel that no other place in Germany has the same amount of freedom, tollerance and possibilities for people of different sexual orientations or gender identities.
The biggest celebration of this diversity is definitely the annual Christopher Street Pride Parade. Since I came to Berlin at the age of 18, I have been visiting the parade regularly. Some years I remember as stressful because of the heat and too many drinks. Or I felt that the event had turned too commercial, so I decided I’d rather visit an alternative demonstration instead. Other years the weather was a bit tricky. But nonetheless every parade has had its highlights and stolen kisses to tell of afterwards.
My personal highlight of this year was to bring along my little sister to Pride. It was her first big Pride parade and as I wanted to make the experience as memorable as possible, I showed her all the typical Pride rituals.
- Meet friends for a big breakfast beforehand
The parade under the sun and heat will take a toll on your energy and body. To start the day right, I love to have a big nutritious breakfast with friends. Eating, chatting and fighting over the playlist is the best way to start the day in a good mood.
- Lose all your friends and try to find them again without cell phone reception
At the beginning of the day you all promised each other to stick together for the whole time. After one hour you basically lost everybody, just because you turned your head in the wrong direction or stopped to say hi to an acquaintance. But the magic of Pride is that you will find each other again. And when you do, you will feel like you had a crazy adventure that you have to tell each other all about.
- Cheer and kiss with strangers
Pride is not something you only share with your friends. It is also the best opportunity to meet strangers, connect, laugh, celebrate together and – if you feel like it – even share a joyful kiss. Some people might think that Pride is a giant orgy. But this is not the case. Everybody is welcome to participate and set their own boundaries, and you yourself are in charge to decide how close you want to get to your fellow celebrators.
- Find out more about the history of the LGBTQI Movement
Who was this Christopher Street guy? This question my sister asked may sound totally naive to people like me, who have been connected and working with this topic for years. “Christopher Street is not a person; it was the street where the first riot led by transgender and transvestites took place in New York against police brutality,” I explained. To speak with my sister about this topic is also an important aspect of pride celebrations. The history of the LGBTQI movement should not only be about silence and oppression, but also about victories and changes through protest – a change that is visible nowadays when you see how big the Pride celebrations have become. Still the fight is not over if you look over to Turkey where still pride demonstrations are forbidden every year.
- Celebrate with love and respect and stay safe
600,000 people came to this year’s parade. This is like a whole mid-sized German city walking through a small part of Berlin. No wonder that the organizers have to do everything they can to keep the visitors as safe as possible. Many people had complaints because this year the police ended the party at Brandenburg Gate due to bad weather. But in my opinion the safety of such an event is the most important aspect of it all. Many children, elderly and people in wheelchairs were part of the celebration. I don’t want them to be at risk at any time. I’d rather have a shorter party with the feeling that everybody is safe than to risk anybody’s safety for my entertainment. Pride is a demonstration of love and respect. It has many aspects that people rightfully discuss and critique, like the strong presence of corporations and sponsors. Surely events of this sizet can’t make everybody happy. But I feel like as long as everybody is safe to attend, we can reach common ground for discussion and explore a dialogue with different opinions.
I’m looking forward to next year’s Pride celebration with the knowledge that everyday there is a chance to speak up for the rights of a minority. Because when minorities feel safe and welcome in our society like they do here in Berlin, we have a fertile ground for positive change and dialogue.