Berlin is pretty gay. No, that was not the one and only reason I decided to move here almost five years ago but, that definitely played into it. What city could be better to explore your own queerness than Europe’s gay capital, right? Well, let’s say, like any relationship: It’s complicated! Being gay, living and finding out how to define my own sexuality is one thing. Finding Prince Charming here is something else though. Men are generally not known for being more on the romantic side of things, even in straight relationships. Imagine you put two horny men who like men into one room… And now imagine you put thousands of gay men into one city famous for hedonism… And in times of attractive specimen being just one click on your phone away, we’re all just becoming lazy, horny gay sloths grinding our neighborhood from the sofa.
So, even in 2017 a young gay man in search of Mr. Right still has to go out, mingle and socialize at places where Berlin men are obliged to keep their pants on for a change. So far so heteronormative. In order to show how that can differ from other dating experiences, here’s a little script of one quirky, socially awkward, young gay man and one night of desperate flirting attempts. Which might have happened just like that…or kind of somehow similar.
Me (23) and my two partners in crime Carlo (23, cute as f***, Celine Dion Fan Boy #1 with a slight tendency to overcomplicate things) and Julian (27, annoyingly good looking but shockingly unaware of it, an adorable oversized puppy who loves his friends…and operas) meet at…
8:00pm – Möbel Olfe
It’s packed, collectivly questioning our decision to go here once again. Why do gay men in Berlin have this weird tendency of seemingly all ending up at that one bar at one time? Every time a casual bar night out evolves into some kinda male meat market. We’re scanning the display while being scanned by dozens of other male gazes. Where’s the best salami at? Is it “Viking – estimately 30 – Tight V-neck” at the window? MMMM… who then goes on to kissing some other man. Yeah well, so that one’s gone. We’re having drinks – No folks, not pink flamingo drinks with ‘lil rainbow umbrellas – But yes, we’re probably talking about penisses.
The room is serving sweaty, homosexual sauna realness. The paradox of everyone wanting to flirt but there being too many men to actually move. So, with a touch of absurdity, we open Grindr. ‘Top XXL’, ‘Fun Now’, and profiles with pig heads, egg plant and peach emojis pop up. While Julian and Carlo are still entertained by a grid of random, half naked men claiming to have an extra large genital I spot him: “Dark hair – Approx. mid 20’s – Blue eyes” at the bar. Too cute to be true, his outfit combination plus posture plus gorgeos smile makes him look super smart, definite marriage material. If science allowed us, we’d have amazing kids. Damn, this moment when you’re finally attracted to someone but realize you didn’t have the guts to talk to anyone to begin with.
It’s depressing. When “Dark hair-Blue eyes” looked over I pulled off my greatest move once again: I looked away. And when I take a leap of faith and decide to talk to him ignoring all my social insecurities I almost bump into “Turkey – 26 – Three months of dating and then things got kinda weird”. I bravely run away from that situation just to turn around and meet “Croatia – 28 – Four dates – Has he never messaged again or was that me?” Why do I constantly run into a collection of all the men I slept with in a city of 4 million people? No more luck over at Carlo’s, apart from him being squeezed against the cute guy behind him… who then turnes away. Julian, for some reason, ended up in a conversation with a mid-fourties bold guy with a mustache and a short-sleeved pineapple shirt. Julian’s eyes read: “Help! Please get me outta here!”
This sweaty, smoky sardine tin will get us nowhere tonight. “Dark hair-Blue eyes” is gone. His spot got taken over by two hairy mid-fifties daddies aggressively making out. “Sigh”… He would have liked the wedding I had planned for the two of us, pink taxedos included. The three of us conclude that for tonight Mr. Right will not show up, at least not here. One U-bahn, one Späti and one annoyingly long line later we find ourselves at…
2:00am – Club
The swirl of Berlin’s infamous queer nightlife takes hold of us. People living their fantasies all around. Flirting round 2 begins: Sporty gays, Drag Queens, fashion gays, kinky queers, you name it, rush by. I’m amazed, intimidated, and a bit confused all at once. The combination of visual distractions, sound overstimulation and a lack of lighting makes it very clear why I never manage to flirt on Berlin’s dance floors. I lose my friends due to alcohol but involuntarily meet “Brazil-31-In an open relationship” and “Mexico-39-Didn’t wanna date a younger guy”. I’m living in a gay village seemingly.
3:00am – Dancefloor
He’s here! “Dark hair-blue eyes” occurs in front of me, no shirt on: Dear Lord! I try to subtly dance into his direction. While telling myself that I’m gonna make this happen now a group of half naked men weirdly start dancing around him like he is some kinda golden calf. Are they friends? Friends with benefits? In some polyamorous relationship? Or just really high on drugs because they’re all pretty damn touchy! Get your hands off my man! Before I can come up with a sassy, flirty pick up line, the gay pack rushes out. No stop, stop! Stop taking my man away from me!
The closest I got to a sexual encounter was dancing with my hot, half naked gay doctor…who has a boyfriend, of course. My friends were last seen an hour ago tightly entwined with some tall muscle hunks in the bathroom or making friends with a fabulous Drag Queen with shockingly high heels. I forgot who did what in which order… But, the music is on fire. So, I pick a podium to dance on, take my shirt off and let them have it. I trained hard enough for that four pack!
6:00am – Sidewalk
I lost “Dark hair-Blue eyes” for good. He’s probably already naked in some darkroom. He didn’t even notice me and wouldn’t have liked me anyways. Torn between another Red Bull and my bed, I decided for the latter, just another night of desperate, unsuccessful flirting. Gay men and their fucked up expectations make me crazy. Am I not manly enough? Not sexy enough? Too slim? Too fat? Too muscular? Too queer? Too small? Too young? I’m annoyed, desperate and h0rny. I open Grindr.
I angrily stare at a couple, arm in arm, walking in front of me. I feel like throwing stones at them – when I look back at my phone. Grindr shows a new message, probably just some creep sharing dick pics… “Hey, I think you were dancing next to me. Remember me? Also saw you at Olfe.”
It’s “Dark hair-Blue Eyes”.
“I wanted to talk to you, but you seemed so distant and I’m kinda shy. You’re very handsome… by the way!” Rainbows, unicorns, and these pink tuxedos get right back in my head. That went fast! I stop and start laughing about my dating neuroses. Berlin might be complicated, but maybe I’m also just pretty damn complicated…
“Hi there”… I reply…