Exploring Berlin’s Queer Legacy: 6 Stories Unveiling the Heart of Pride Month

As Pride Month unfolds, it brings with it a rich tapestry of stories that highlight the courage, struggle, and vibrancy of the LGBTQ+ community. Berlin, celebrated for its prominent queer culture, serves as a perfect backdrop for exploring these narratives. From historical retrospectives that chart the early days of LGBTQ+ activism to personal accounts of contemporary challenges, our selection of six articles from The Game Magazine by IMAGO offers a deep dive into the life and times of Berlin’s queer community. Each piece presents a unique perspective, weaving together the threads of past events and present realities to portray the ongoing quest for acceptance and equality.


1. Christopher Street Day and the Berlin Wall

In an inspiring interview with IMAGO, Michael Hughes shared his experiences photographing Berlin's Christopher Street Day in the summer following the fall of the Berlin Wall. Originally established in New York to commemorate the Stonewall Riots in 1969, Christopher Street Day has become a central celebration in Berlin, first appearing in the city as Freedom Day in 1979. Hughes' photograph of the 1990 event provides a vivid snapshot of the time, showing Berlin's resilient queer community combining activism with celebration. This article invites readers to explore Hughes' archives, offering a window into the spirit that characterizes Berlin's LGBTQ+ community.

IMAGO / Michael Hughes | Christopher Stree Day - Berlin 1989

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2. Berlin Queer Voices. Interview with The Darvish

In a captivating feature for Pride Month, Esin Karakaş interviews The Darvish, a pioneer of Berlin's queer performance scene, who has masterfully combined traditional belly dance with the uniqueness of drag elements. This article traces the evolution of belly dance from their controversial beginnings in mid-19th century Egypt to its current status as a symbol of feminist empowerment and expression. The Darvish, drawing on their Syrian heritage, has innovatively transformed this dance form, fusing it with the dynamic world of drag. Since moving to Berlin, The Darvish has not only gained popularity but has become an integral part of the city's diverse queer art scene. This article is a vibrant exploration of cultural fusion and personal expression, perfect for those seeking to understand the depth and diversity of Pride celebrations.

Photo by celestecall, Suit by melisaminca, Location 15 minutes of Femme Event

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3. A Visual Timeline of LGBTQ+ Progress in Germany

In a visually compelling article for Pride Month, Fatemeh Rosha in The Game Magazine presents a timeline that chronicles the rich and turbulent history of Germany's LGBTQ+ community, from groundbreaking early advocacy to current struggles for rights. The timeline, drawn from the IMAGO archives, illustrates Germany's complex journey towards equality and acceptance. It showcases a variety of pivotal moments: the establishment of the first organization advocating for homosexual rights, the pioneering Institute for Sexual Science, the publication of the world’s first gay periodicals, the vibrant LGBTQ+ scene of the 1920s, and the devastating setbacks during the Nazi era. Each era is vividly brought to life through historical imagery, highlighting both the highs and the significant challenges faced by the community. This visual documentation serves as a powerful reminder of the persistent efforts and resilience of the LGBTQ+ movement in Germany, offering readers a profound insight into the ongoing quest for recognition and equal rights.

IMAGO / Everett Collection | The documentary film Eldorado: Everything the Nazis Hate (German: “Eldorado – Alles, was die Nazis hassen”), released in 2023 on Netflix. A glittery nightclub in 1920s Berlin becomes a haven for LGBTQ+ communities. Courtesy of Everett Collection.

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4. 90’s Tuntenball – Berlin’s Legendary Drag-Ball. Photos by Dieter Matthes 

In one of the intriguing articles highlighting Pride Month, IMAGO delves into the work of Dieter Matthes, a West Berlin photographer, who ventured beyond his usual subjects to capture between 1990 and 1993 the vibrant essence of Berlin's Tuntenball. Matthes' series offers a glimpse into the last editions of this iconic queer celebration before it halted in the mid-90s due to financial reasons. His portraits not only document the explosive display of color, glitter, and liberation at these events but also explore themes of identity. Held in the grandiose setting of the International Congress Center, the Tuntenball was a cultural highlight, tracing its roots back to Berlin's roaring 20s and resurging post-war in the 70s. Matthes' work captures a pivotal moment in the city’s queer history, making this a must-read for those interested in the intersection of art, history, and LGBTQ+ culture during Pride Month.

IMAGO / Dieter Matthes. 

Visit 90’s Tuntenball – Berlin’s Legendary Drag-Ball. Photos by Dieter Matthes article


5. What does it mean to be a Queer Capital? Voices from Berlin

In an evocative feature for Pride Month, we explore Berlin's profound queer cultural heritage, as highlighted through the voices of key community figures and iconic venues that underscore the city's status as Europe's queer capital. The Schwules Museum, founded in 1984, has been a cornerstone in promoting queer art, history, and education, providing a sanctuary for queer individuals to connect with their heritage.

Meanwhile, Ficken 3000, an underground bar established in the late 1990s, epitomizes the edgy, hidden gems of Berlin's queer nightlife, located between the districts of Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Gallery P6 represents the new wave of queer cultural expression in Schöneberg, Berlin’s traditional 'rainbow district', with owner Ian Jones celebrating the area's transformative potential for queer art since 2019.

Additionally, the article covers the impact of SADO OPERA, a queer band from Russia that blends electro-pop, punk, and cabaret, using their performances to challenge societal norms and political issues, including homophobia and repression in their homeland. Settling in Berlin, they found a new home that mirrors their ideals of freedom and acceptance, further enriching Berlin's queer landscape. This article serves as a gateway to understanding the layers of history and expression that make Berlin a vibrant hub for the LGBTQI+ community.

IMAGO / Steinach | Ficken 3000 in Kreuzberg, Berlin

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6. Homophobia in a Queer-Capital. Interview with Sina Tanha

In a compelling article part of our Pride Month series, IMAGO explores the complexities of Berlin as a queer capital through the lens of Sina Tanha, a Berlin-based photographer who has faced significant homophobia and racism in the city. Despite Berlin's reputation as a haven for the LGBTQI+ community, Tanha's distressing experiences, including a recent assault by a taxi driver and regular street harassment, highlight the persistent challenges within ostensibly safe spaces. His Instagram post detailing these incidents has sparked considerable online support, encouraging him to pursue legal action using Germany’s anti-discrimination laws.

Beyond his personal struggles, Tanha uses his photography as a form of activism, focusing on issues important to him, particularly women's rights. His story, capturing both his vulnerability and resilience, serves as a poignant reminder of the ongoing fight for truly safe spaces in Berlin, even within its renowned queer community. This article not only sheds light on Tanha's adversities but also his profound commitment to using art to advocate for change and support within the queer community.

queer communitySina Tanha

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Through these compelling articles featured, we've journeyed across different eras and facets of Berlin's LGBTQ+ landscape, uncovering the resilience and diversity that make it Europe's queer capital. From the vibrant scenes of the past to today’s dynamic culture, these stories remind us of the progress achieved and the continuous fight for true equality.

As Pride Month encourages reflection and celebration, let these stories inspire to support ongoing advocacy efforts and foster a deeper understanding of the rich history and vibrant culture that define the LGBTQ+ experience in Berlin and beyond. Stay connected with us by keeping up to date with the articles we publish every week in The Game Magazine by IMAGO, where culture meets the courage of expression.


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