Film Screening Out in East Berlin: Lesbians and Gays in the GDR

Out in East Berlin: Lesbians and Gays in the GDR © Galeria Alaska Productions


Goethe-Institut New York

30 Irving Place
New York, NY 10003

Unlike the Federal Republic, by 1968 the German Democratic Republic’s penal code had de-criminalized homosexuality. But the “workers’ and farmers’ state” did not exactly welcome its gay and lesbian citizens with open arms; their sexuality was taboo and they were often marginalized from public life. The generation of gay men and women who had seen the war and were now trying to live lives of inconspicuous normality felt threatened by younger homosexuals who came out and demanded spaces in which to express themselves.

In this documentary by Jochen Hick and Andreas Strohfeld, thirteen moving biographies depict the private and political developments which led to opposition against the GDR’s state apparatus. The founders of East Berlin’s LGBT movement, the “terror lesbians” from Prenzlauer Berg, gay communists and church groups – they all wanted to change the system and hoped for a society in which they could be more open about their sexuality. When they began applying to leave the GDR, they became a problem and “Stasi Romeos” started schmoozing young gay men. Archive news footage and excerpts from old GDR newsreels illustrate the historical dimension of these individual biographies.

Out in Ost-Berlin - Lesben und Schwule in der DDR
Germany, 2013, 98 minutes
Directed by Jochen Hick/Andreas Strohfeld

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.