In 1960s West Berlin there were bars where men could be among themselves – a fact that would turn the city into a magnet for young gay men. The protagonists of this film, all still active members of the community today, recall those early years in the city. Theirs are memories of a community that fought steadily for its existence and reminescences of its change right up to the fall of the Wall.
Faced with considerable social repression in the 1970s, a collective gay identity begins to emerge and the “West Berlin Homosexual Campaign” (Homesexuelle Aktion Westberlin) calls for the abolition of paragraph 175 of the penal code and for the overthrow of patriarchy. Ruins become the venues for new ways of living together such as all-male communes or “queer houses”. Cottaging, East-West affairs, leather bars, drag performances in the subway – an anarchic joy outshines past suffering. A decade later, AIDS was to hit Berlin.
After Out in East Berlin
director Jochen Hick
explores queer lifestyles in the Western part of the city and the roots of the reputation that Berlin still holds today – that of a refuge, not just for gay men. A fascinating journey through time featuring previously unpublished archival material.
Mein wunderbares West-Berlin
Germany, 2017, 97 minutes
Directed by Jochen Hick. With Romy Haag, Maximilian Lenz, Ades Zabel
This event is part of the Goethe-Institut New York’s “Queer as German Folk” series, with which we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots in 2019 as a milestone in the fight for gender diversity and equality.