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The Gay Berliner on shameless solidarity

As the new year takes hold, The Gay Berliner has a few resolutions for the queer community.

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Illustration by Agata Sasiuk

Happy 2020, honeys! Or will this be Cunty20? This year does see another US election, Brexit, speculation over the next Merkel – all rather troubling prospects whether you’re gay or straight, expat or Deutscher. Egal. But for now… New Year’s Resolutions! What do queers have to resolve? Do we have shame? Anything to feel guilty about? Most say that resolutions are about self-improvement, but let’s get real, it’s about guilt.

“But queer Berliners are the most shameless of all people,” my friend Adéle enviously told me at a cocktail party. And it’s easy to see why someone would think that: Pride is the biggest export worldwide that queers (from all over, really) have. P-R-I-D-E. Not guilt. And we’ve got a long­standing utopia here to match. An article in December’s Siegessäule described the glorious queer rev­elries of 1990s post-Wall Berlin, where parties spilled into the street and punk strongholds like SO36 became queer havens. Even in the early 1980s, queers were having a ball in West Berlin, as seen in Frank Ripploh’s 1981 Taxi zum Klo. In 1979, Berlin organised Germany’s first CSD, meaning the Hauptstadt was a hotbed of joyous queer political activity for some years already. We are revelers and take joy in almost every moment!

Of course there are still things we do (or should) feel guilty about. We actually aren’t as there for each other as we should be (cis, white gay men, I’m looking at you). I was recently reminded of this when my friend and trans activist Max Appenroth wrote an op-ed about the discrimination he faces as a trans* man in the gay community. Most recently, he was openly and loudly laughed at in a gay sauna when he revealed he was trans. Suffice to say, his piece says much more, but WTF Berlin? How are we today excluding people (who are gay men, btw) from spaces for our community? It’s shameful, to say the least.

And solidarity shouldn’t just be applied to this isolated case. We need to be standing up for each other to this day, even in the streets of Berlin. In 2019, attacks on gays, lesbians and transgender people have in­creased by almost 42 percent just up until September 2019 compared to all of 2018 (241 to 184) according to Berlin police sta­tistics. Is it our fault? No. Maybe guilt isn’t exactly the feeling needed here, but how did this happen in 2019? Were we not paying enough attention?

Where was I? Oh yeah, New Year’s Resolutions. Let’s be real: it is actually driven by guilt and shame: aging bodies, commitment issues, drug and alcohol consump­tion issues, self-esteem issues. How about resolutions regarding community? How about resolving for more solidarity with our trans brothers, sisters and others? How about making sure we’re visible and watching out for each other? How about we take this year’s guilt and throw it out the window? And be shameless about it!