Photo by Christian Vagt
Much like teenagers in a John Hughes' film, the CSD is going through an identity-crisis. It's just not as charming.
It’s too bad that “Brat Pack” is a term reserved for a group of disparate, yet relatable, young and charismatic people who captured our hearts and gave voice to a generation. Because this June I know exactly where to stick that term – and it's nowhere near a charismatic person.
Ah, CSD. The Berlin Gay Pride day that’s become emblematic of LGBT backbiting and implosive navel gazing. I’ve highlighted the problems of Berlin’s self-glitterbombing before, but seeing as how this Saturday, June 21, we'll see all of three CSDs, it’s time for an update.
Only three short months ago, the CSD organisers rocked a boat that no one was sure was sailing by renaming their street party the “Stonewall Parade” in order to “politicise” the event. The fact that the names refer to the same political symbol in the first place aside, the move upset those who felt it was made without consulting the community, meanwhile taking the name, and branding and copyrighting it away. Part of the “community” huffed off and created their own CSD – now also planned for a long march through central Berlin. With tensions bubbling under the surface, the brave, brave queer soldiers of the original CSD e.V. quickly changed the name back to CSD. Brats all around indeed.
It's not as if we didn't already have an alternative CSD – the tCSD (transgenialer). In 1997, a Rat Pack made up of a swarm of lesbian and gay punks and Tunten broke away from the Brat Pack with a ginormous paper-mache rat float complete with a bathtub full of mud (photo). Yeah, the mudslinging began that far back – but it was that kind of anarchic outburst that made Berlin’s alternative scene special. A real sense of fun and satirical edge was put into the protest. That anarchy translated into the tCSD, which has been held on Kreuzberg’s Oranienstraße every year since, in the end becoming like a very gay May 1 complete with edgy acts and a street party.
But times change, organisations change hands, and it was only a matter of time before the anarchy was sucked out of the event to be infiltrated by people that seem to me had an axe to grind. Those more interested in exercises of power and staying angry without reason. Their target? The tCSD itself. Following an unfortunate, yet single racist incident involving a tasteless use of the n-word in a performance during a Soli-party at SO36, the following tCSD party was shut down. Should the incident have happened? Absolutely not. Is it something we should have grown from and moved on? Absolutely. But the rats, baby, are gone, and the wrong kinds of brats took over. I will miss the street spirit that tCSD had in years past. “Ein Kreuzberg CSD” has stepped in to fill the void this year, with an incredibly short march down Oranienstraße (from Oranienplatz to Heinrichplatz!) and parties organised by the southwest gay trifecta of SO36, Südblock and Schwuz (I know, in Neukölln), which I'll part take in but nonetheless know its not the same.
And so in fact, the alternative CSD did seem stop its brat act. The mainstream CSDs, not so much. And if these demonstrations are indeed supposed to be political (and that’s questionable), maybe next year we can stop these brat attacks and make these things about something real. Or at least let's get back in the mud and start being rats again.