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The gay Berliner: Attention whores

Walter Crasshole takes on the queer issues of the day. This month: does anyone else miss when being gay was offensive?

Image for The gay Berliner: Attention whores
Photo by Blondinrikard Fröberg (CC BY 2.0)

Walter Crasshole takes on the queer issues of the day. This month: does anyone else miss when being gay was offensive?

Image for The gay Berliner: Attention whores
Illustration by Agata Sasiuk

Sebastian and I were walking hand-in-hand down Reichenberger Straße to go pick up Wim Wenders’ Der amerikanische Freund at Filmkunstbar Fitzcarraldo. I don’t hold hands in public that often, but he seemed to like it and I liked him. As we moseyed past the youth centre Jugendhaus CHIP, three pubescent boys slowed down their bike race to our crushed-out stroll. “Are you gay?” they asked with a slight taunt in their voice. “Obviously,” I replied. “Let’s see you kiss.” Without blinking, Sebastian shoved his face into mine. The boys were not satisfied nor “impressed”. As their requests got more vulgar, they picked up their pace. To their last question, my German date just retorted, “There are video stores for that sort of thing.” Finally, they rode off into the sunset with a last “How disgusting can you be?”

Sebastian, a cute bi guy, had minted his gay side only a week ago, when I picked him up at a late-night feminist horror film festival. I wondered what he must be thinking. He beamed back: “Normally I never get this kind of attention. As a hetero, you’re pretty much invisible.” Despite how cute he is, it was being gay in public that brought him this little ego-orgasm. My slight shock at being called disgusting subsided, and I too felt a little glow. I forgot how fun it was to be offensive to the public.

Flashback to the night before our offending walk: Sebastian, my friend Joe and I were sitting in Feger bar on O-Straße in an effort to change up our old Möbel Olfe, Südblock, Trinkteufel routine. What used to be the queer café Bierhimmel is now filled with start-up types and rich German thrill seekers. It’s kept its friendly staff and speakeasy atmosphere, but the rubes there were incredible. Some totally unassuming German yuppie walked by our corner table and pantomimed a weird gesture before he asked: “Hey guys, do you have any deodorant?”, clearly inferring that we stunk. I asked him if he noticed that we’re in Kreuzberg. How did he even get there without passing Kotti? A taxi from Rosenthaler Platz straight to the door? Another of those guys asked Joe in the bathroom if he would like to suck his dick. An earnest come-on, this was not. But did we give a fuck? No! I personally was revelling in how much we didn’t fit in. Didn’t we come to Berlin as self-declared outcasts?

What happened to the time of criminal queers and misfits? I know we should have been offended, but where’s the fun in that? I don’t want to fit in – I’d rather make you feel uncomfortable. I’d rather be the dirty faggot than hurt by your pathetic attempts to make me feel small. In the end, they are the misfits in Kreuzberg. Maybe I’d forgotten this as time went on and the fluffy comfort zone of Berlin let me settle down a bit. And maybe the time of queers as wanton perverts is over. Maybe Berlin doesn’t really care anymore. I’m not saying I miss any of the violence that went along with it, but who says I want to be fully accepted either? Or maybe my friends and I are just attention whores.