they will tell you that they were AT those riots. It is a common joke
that EVERYONE was at Stonewall.
Over the past weekend I took part in my second Berlin Fotomarathon. Basically it works like this:
a. There’s an overall theme each year. This year it was “Der Augenblick genießen” which got translated two ways according to which theme sheet you consulted. The first translation was “Enjoy the Moment”, whereas the second and third sheet had “Seize the Moment” which was actually a much nicer sentiment in my estimation. Unfortunately you don’t learn the theme until the shot of the Fotomarathon gun and the first shot themes are handed out.
b. Then all participants have 12 hours to take 24 photos.
c. Each photo must display a theme. The individual themes are given out in stages of eight, at a series of checkpoints around Berlin.
d. At the last checkpoint participants hand over their memory card with only 24 photos, taken in order and unmodified.
e. An exhibition is organized about three weeks after the marathon, and prizes are handed out on the last day of that exhibition.
One funny thing to experience at this location was that we actually ate lunch sitting adjacent to two sets of Fotomarathoners, even though we were on the opposite side of town from the starting point. As I pulled out the camera for this shot, all eyes were on me with what I assume was the “which theme” question rolling through their heads.
As the shutter clicked for this photo, I heard the unmistakeable voice of That Queer Expatriate behind me asking which theme I was shooting. How funny to run into him in this huge city, a bus ride away from our eventual destination. We three then made our way to the check in. Hotel Bogota had an interesting feel about it, with many photographs surrounding us as we made our way in and out. I will go back soon to get a better understanding for the place. Maybe to also learn more about their tango nights.
I admit defeat on this one. I kept trying to get these girls as they looked not only euphoric, but also catching them as the ADAC advertisement was not showing. Ugh. OK, on to the next shot, please.
About this time we met (by accident – seriously, how BIG IS this city?) the Honorable Husband and decided to walk together for a while to discover more of this cool event. He lives in Munich and something tells me the stuffy Münchners don’t let it all hang out quite the way the Berliners do… so as he was enjoying the scenery, we were enjoying showing him what it is like in Europe’s gay pride capital.
HH invited us back to his nearby hotel for a coffee break and since we were running ahead of schedule, we thought it sounded like a good proposition. Once again, the theme for the day was “Enjoy the Moment”, and we intended to do just that. Thanks HH!
This shot is the entrance to a company which was closed up for the day. Yeah, Feierabend.
As the time drew near to get out of there and turn in our pictures, I started to get a bit nervous. Then I saw this beautiful older woman amongst the dancers shaking her thing. When I approached she wanted me to take a photo of her man. He was sweet, and about a head shorter than her, but he wasn’t what I was looking for.
She and I chatted for some time. Crappy German was our only language in common, as she was from Ecuador and spoke Spanish and I think she said Quichua. We talked about the dance she was doing, which looked like an extended merengue to me, but she said it was something she learned in her village, and she had no name for it.
After going through all of these images I now understand why so many others (No Apathy Allowed / The Queer Expatriate) are blogging about their experience in stages. My gosh, that is a lot to consider all at one time.
My second experience with a photo marathon was even better than the last, and that is saying a lot since I enjoyed the other one sooo much. The photos aren’t anything special, and actually there are only one or two which I would even consider loading onto Flickr. But the theme of the day was “Seize the Moment”, and I think we really did just that.
I had decided to shoot the whole day in manual and to use my new 24-70 lens exclusively. Well, I had to change out the lens twice for an 18-200 my buddy was working with… otherwise I just wouldn’t have gotten the shot. Also I used the 50mm for the melting away shot… and later the strawberry shot, there was no other way to capture the subject and blur the other items the way I wanted. But I carried that HUGE piece of 24-70 glass with me everywhere and didn’t even get tennis elbow for my trouble.
Several things I promise myself for next year. I will work harder to have artful photos. Because I know that doing it alone would be hard I will have a buddy along again. Also next year I want to take non-marathon photos alongside those requested ones. It seems to make sense to download them all to the iPad or something before deleting the ones which don’t fit. I DID delete some awesome pics this year which weren’t right the theme.
A big thanks to the Berliner Fotomarathon folks who I believe are all volunteers. It must be hard to put something like this together, and they’ve done a great job and deserve a round of applause. The locations were better this year, the prizes are better, and it seemed to flow much easier as well.
Now… where is my calendar for NEXT year’s marathon?
The 20th anniversary of this event is held under the English title “Equal Rights for the Unequal“.
The party begins at 11:00, but doesn’t really heat up until after 16:00 when the streets around Nollendorfplatz in Schöneburg fill up with every variety of GLBTQ individual available. Campy drag queens seem to be in a competition to see who can be the most FABULOUS!, while bears, leather queens, and some of the toughest dykes I’ve ever seen catch the eye.
When I begin to look past the more flowery, showy participants I realize these folks are just like me, living normal lives and enjoying being out amongst “their people”. Eating, drinking and lots of merriment is the order of the day, With lots of informational booths along the way.
Five stages placed throughout the 20,000 square meters of party keep the energy high in the festival attendees.
There is a stage to suit every taste: disco/retro, techno, local talent, a main stage that hosts a little bit of everything including political talks, and a stage dedicated to the womyn (haven’t used THAT spelling since the 80’s – I’m happy to trot it out there for ya!).
If you’re in the area, come to what I find to be Berlin’s best street festival.
Everyone is welcome. A fun time to be had by all.
Just don’t miss out on the pretzels shaped like penises… BIG penises of course!
|President Obama hands Frank Kameny
the pen which he used to sign a
extending benefits to same-sex partners
of federal employees.
One of the first strategists in the gay rights movement in America, Frank Kameney (86), died yesterday.
I first learned of Mr. Kameny while watching “Before Stonewall“, a documentary about the pioneers of the Gay Movement before the 1969 Stonewall Inn Riots on Christopher Street in New York City. Since then I have seen his name pop up again and again in the fight for basic civil rights in America.
He worked tirelessly to increase the acceptance of gay men and lesbians in mainstream American society and to gain homosexual equality through the legal system.
Mr. Kameny, a Harvard PhD lost his federal government job as an astronomer with the U.S. Army Map Service in 1957 because of his homosexuality.
After being let go he led a tireless fight for gay and lesbian rights. He and a friend began the Mattachine Society of Washington, and in 1965 Kameny and his group were the first ever to picket the White House and the Pentagon in the name of gay rights.
This was of course years before a true gay rights movement existed in any recognizable form. It was also a time in which being an open homosexual could be seen as an invitation for getting the shit beat out of you. He instructed his picketers to wear appropriate business attire including suits and ties in order to not draw attention to themselves in a negative way.
It was his assertion that gays and lesbians should not accept the stigma of being sick because of their homosexuality and subsequently organized a drive which eventually caused the American Psychiatric Association to declassify homosexuality as a mental illness.
He lived to see not only benefits extended to same-sex partners of federal employees, but also the end to Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, allowing gays and lesbians to openly serve in the military.
There is a street in Washington D.C. which has been named for this hero of the gay movement, documents and papers of his were part of an exhibition on civil rights at the Library of Congress, and his picket signs from 1965 are now in the Smithsonian Institution.
I call on Congress to come up with a Frank Kameny bill which would finally offer basic civil rights protection for America’s LGBT citizens. What a fitting tribute to the work of a man who coined the phrase, Gay is Good.
“Not only are the government’s present policies on homosexuality irrational in themselves, but they are unreasonable in that they are grossly inconsistent with the fundamental precepts upon which this government is based…we may commence with the Declaration of Independence, and its affirmation , as an “inalienable right” that of the “pursuit of happiness”. Surely a most fundamental, unobjectionable, and unexceptionable element in human happiness is the right to bestow affection upon and to receive affection from whom one wishes. Yet, upon pain of severe penalty, the government itself would abridge this right for the homosexual”
-From Kameny’s Petition for a Writ of Certiorari to the United States Supreme Court, January, 1961
Today I received an email from Democrats Abroad (the overseas branch of the US Democratic Party). In it was a warning that discussed how the consulate services would change for people wanting to bring foreign family with them when they move back to the U.S.
In that letter was a simple text which caught my eye, “We have a long-standing commitment as Democrats Abroad to simplifying the path to citizenship and legal permanent residency for non-American spouses and close family members”.
Uh huh… and gay and lesbian spouses?
I did a little Googling and found not so much as a
news piece on how DA is supporting legislation in the House and Senate right now… the Uniting American Families Act of 2011.
OK, so I don’t regularly pump money into the DA, but I do support them occasionally. Upon reading this email, I am struck by the notion of “What have you done for me lately, DA?”
I’ll give DA a break because actually there are relatively few people/organizations who care about my plight. But before I delve deeper into my special situation, perhaps you should know more about it. Let’s go to bullets, shall we?
In the end I had to face lots of the same problems as other “love exiles”. I had to give up my career and move far away from my family. This is being felt even more now that my Mother is dealing with declining health and I would like to be there for her. But as it is, if I need to be in the U.S. for a longer period of time, I have to choose between being with my wife or being with my American family. It’s really rather unfair, and it makes me into a second-class citizen… one who STILL needs to pay American taxes even though I don’t live in the country.
So where are you going with this, Snooker?
I really don’t know. It is just that something has been awakening in me lately.
Those who came before helped to blaze the trail for me and others like me to be openly gay, often at great
|Political cartoon by Darrin Bell|
personal sacrifice to themselves. Those pissed off queens turning the tables on police during a scam raid on the Stonewall Inn in the late ’60’s and starting the “Gay Revolution” are a fine example. Barbara Gittings and her friends stood up and said that they wouldn’t take being considered second class citizens – and worse yet, mentally unstable – during the ’60’s (which lead The American Psychiatric Association to officially declassify homosexuality as a mental illness in 1974 – but it wasn’t until 1992 that the World Health Organisation followed suit). The good people of GLAAD and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have done so much to further the cause. And who could forget Harvey Milk and the work he did for the community before being gunned down himself.
So what are you doing, Snooker? is a question I often ask myself. Yeah, I’m living pretty well, but only because I ran. I am part of a US binational same-sex couple who had the money and ability to simply move away from the situation and now the whole anti-gay thing doesn’t have so much of a grip on me.
This has reminded me of a book I have recently seen advertised, “Torn Apart – United by Love, Divided by Law” by Judy Rickard. Perhaps I should just order it now, proceeds go to organizations working to overcome U.S. immigration denial for same-sex binational couples. (tick, tock… time passes… cue shot to a clock with moving pendulum) OK, the Internet has worked its magic. The book is probably whizzing my way right now. It was even available at Amazon.de.
But what about the others? What about those folks left behind who would like to have the same rights as the supposed “normal” people in our society? What about those kids right now who are counting on my generation to do our part to further gay civil rights to benefit their generation? UGH, that is a terrible weight to bear. But I say here and now that I will do more towards this goal. I DO still have a vote in American politics (my wallet feels it, even if I sometimes don’t), I DO still have a voice in what happens. Perhaps I just need to raise that voice a bit more often.
Any suggestions how I can do that?
I ran across this post in my editor and realized that it had never been “published”. Here you go… Snooker’s take on Gay Pride in Berlin!
In Berlin that means a month long celebration culminating in a street festival and then the CSD which is short for Christopher Street Day. The center of the city closes down for one of the world’s largest Gay Pride Parades and I simply love it!
I love the goofy rainbow crap all over everything. I completely dig (gawd, can we still use words like that?) the bomp-bomp-bomp music, even better if I can feel it in my bones. Really, I just love the gays! Every single year is a wild and crazy adventure in who can be the wildest, craziest, raunchiest, maddest hatter around. Someone (dammned if I can remember who) said that it is a “ridiculous sweaty carnival of queertasticness”. WOW! What a statement, and it is Sooo Frakking True!!
For me it is an affirmation of “my people”. I wouldn’t say “chosen family” since I didn’t choose these people to be my family any more than I chose my blood relatives. What I guess I would like to say is that for better or for worse, these people have probably all had many of the same feelings I’ve had. That desire to question ?What is the definition of “normal sexuality”? has linked us in some strange way.
Sometimes it’s good just to get together with “your people” and feel FAB-U-LOUS about yourselves. It’s a wonderful feeling to know that we’re all out there with a “We’re here, We’re Queer, Get Used to It” mentality.
Besides, I guess in the end I just like dancing my ass off!
And dance it off I did. Blogging Buddy Adam of “That Queer Expatriate” fame came up for the weekend to enjoy the non-stop party with me, and I hope I gave him some great pointers and as well as a good time.
He’s covered the event very well in his blog post, including the part about camera envy even if he didn’t get a good taste of vagina-envy. 🙂
Did you take copious amounts of pictures Snooker? OF COURSE I DID! Heck, I haven’t even had TIME to look at the last half of the 500 or so… let alone edit them down. The way things are going, I won’t get that done, either.
In the middle of the festivities I needed to go be a responsible adult and help Sweet No as she trained another set of scuba students. (I’m the official paparazzi. We give them a cool “this is what your training looked like DVD” when it is all over.) While that’s all cool and good, what it meant was no alcohol for me during the parade. Hmmmm… this was certainly a different experience for me, let’s just say.
After the diving I peeled off the neoprene (although something tells me I would have been OK showing up in it anyway) and took off to a ladies night CSD event.
How cool was that? Four dance floors, completely different music at each, probably 2,000 ladies there all for the purpose of havin’ a great time, me and my buddies dancing into the wee hours of the mornin’. AHHHH PRICELESS!
All of this is overshadowed by one little, niggling thought in the back of my head, “Is this really something to be proud of?”. My moment of indecision was helped along by a comment on one of my more “adult” images (at least of the ones I considered putting on Flickr). The commenter asks if I am proud of what is written on the Tshirt. Hmm… interesting query.
He’s right, I’m not really PROUD of what is written on the Tshirt. Let’s be frank… rarely are the antics of the wildest group seen at a Pride Parade something to be proud of. They are “in your face” with their sexuality, because that is what it is all about. Of course the cameras – mine included – are all pointing at the wildest examples of debauchery, it is our most basic instinct to be voyeurs. But for every wild and crazy person IN the parade, there were another 50 of the more “normal” variety along the sidelines.
Yeah, I’ve always been a big proponent of “Normal is a setting on my washing machine” thought process. But let’s face it, if you have a full body tattoo, a HUGE nose ring and ear expanders I can get my thumb through, I bet that you’re not working in an office 9 to 5. Which leads me to wonder what these people might be doing to help increase the GDP.
We’re here, we’re queer, and no one on the planet throws a better party than we do.