CSD 2012

Christopher Street Day in Berlin.
Welcome to Berlin...
It all started in the late 60’s when a few pissed off people finally said “no more” as the police stormed into the local gay bar, New York City’s Stonewall Inn, for their weekly shake down.

Some said that the patrons were mourning the death of Judy Garland and just started to fight back in anger when the police came in. Of course no one really knows what was so different about this night, but the gay men in that bar weren’t having any of it, not any more. 

They pushed back when the police came in, and eventually they trapped several police officers IN the bar itself as the patrons left, and locked the doors. That will show you what a few pissed off drag queens can do.
More and more people filed into the streets of Greenwich Village that night in an angry and violent mood. The police had lost all control. 

The next evening another, even bigger crowd gathered in the streets and sparred with an even larger police force, but once again, the police lost control of the situation.  A few days later, once again more people filled the streets and generally let it be known that the archaic rules placed on American gays and lesbians was no longer to be countenanced. 
After seeing this general outpouring of anger, gay community leaders began to get together and form groups to do something with their new found power.  

These events are commonly referred to as the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement in America. Just like the other groups of people in America who insisted on their civil rights, gays were ready to stand up and proclaim that the American Constitution guarantees equal rights for ALL men. Ask any gay person living in New York at that time and
they will tell you that they were AT those riots. It is a common joke
that EVERYONE was at Stonewall. 
A year later a memorial parade was planned. As the Stonewall Inn (owned by the mafia and by this time closed down) had been on Christopher street, they decided to start the parade at that location and call it the Christopher Street Liberation Day. This was the first American Gay Pride Parade, and is the namesake for the Berlin Pride Parade, as well as some others throughout Europe. 

Which brings us to today. I’m quite certain that the parade attended by hundreds of thousands of people (gay and straight) yesterday was quite a bit different than that first parade in the Village. For one thing it is all quite commercial, the next is the “let it all hang out” attitude which can be a bit shocking to first timers. 

But in general it is good, safe fun and an enjoyable time with some of the best mobile sound systems to be had. This year’s route took it past a cute little park at the corner of Dorotheenstraße and Neustädtiche Kirchstraße. What a PERFECT place for the trucks to stop and have an impromptu dance session. Wonderful!

Enjoy some pics
Squeeze
Need to rest...
Dance it UP!
WHAT is that round thingie?
There she is... Miss America
Next year I plan to check out the Transgenialer which is the alternative Gay Pride held in Kreuzberg. They say it is less commercial. Perhaps that is where I belong, even though I must admit that I LOVE dancing behind the BIG trucks with their chest thumping beats.

Some would say that in these times when gay people are getting more and more rights, do we really still need gay pride? I say yes. It is a time for us to take to the streets and show the world who we are and that we are proud of it. All of my CSD pics can be found here

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Berlin Fotomarathon 2012

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. 

01 Here and now (Hier und Jetzt)
This first image must display your start number in some creative way. My start number being 42 was rather daunting since it seems the number is the “Answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe, and everything” as stated in the book, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I had put out a general scream for help and several people stepped to the plate. 
In the end I combined the suggestions of The Queer Expatriate (who would also be participating) and the Honorable Husband. Spelling 42 phonetically was the brainchild of HH and TQE reminded me about the white mice who were central to the QUESTION in the book. The watch is there because it actually reads 11:42, and I thought that was a cool addition to the “here and now” theme. I had considered using the white mice throughout the day as sort of a theme, but decided that life was too short for that kind of craziness. 

02 Go for it! (Trau Dich!) 
My photowalk buddy stood in for this one. The idea was gathering the courage to do something a bit dangerous. There were originally two photos, one which had a better hand position, but seemed to be ready to shove the hot pepper up her nose. I personally dislike the yellow tint, and would rather have framed the shot differently, but hey, we’re under time pressure, ya know? 
03 Colourful (Farbenfroh) 
This was taken in the grocery store in the basement at Alexa. I had purchased the hot pepper there and knew I would return after that shot to capture something colorful. (I often wonder what people think when they see someone craning over a display rack holding a camera — but this is of course a big city, and no one said a thing. In fact, one man waited patiently for me to compose and shoot before reaching for his bananas.)
 
04 Free choice (freie Auswahl)
The guys at Alexanderplatz Dunkin’ Donuts were cute, and sweet, and asked for money to allow me to shoot. But in the end they relented. I actually think they were a bit disappointed that I didn’t want to get them in the picture.

05 Melting away (dahinschmeltzen)
I would have liked to get two lovers melting into each other, as this is actually the closer translation of the German original. But the ice cream idea popped into mind as we were waiting in line at Alexanderplatz Burger King. (a girl can’t live on Ibuprofen and Red Bull alone, mind you) This cone waited through our lunch and really started to get busy melting as I was finishing up. I like how there are two downward streams in each area. 

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.  

06 Perfection (Perfektion)
Now we are on our way to get the next set of themes. I was two photos behind by this time and was feeling a bit of pressure. But way back at Alex I had decided that perfection to me was a box of Karl’s strawberries. The nearest stand we could think of was at Bahnhof Zoo… so we took the opportunity to hit that location on our way to the Hotel Bogota for the next themes. 

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. 

07 Euphoric (euphorisch)
After looking over the next required themes such as “laughing out loud”, and “hot and spicy” it just seemed natural to head back to the Motzstrassenfest. Let’s face it, Berliners aren’t known for their smiling faces, and I would need some soon. 

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.

08 Absorbed (versunken)
This shot was exactly what I was looking for. My first thought was to enlist the help of my photo walk buddy and shoot over her shoulder as she was checking images on her camera. But then the phone thing occurred to me, with the added benefit of getting the faces of friends around who looked bored because of this guy’s absorption.

09 City life (Stadtleben)
This is a classic, and you might guess is taken very close to the festival. Displaying so beautifully the rough side of the city is the man below. Beer bottle in hand, I thought to capture him, then watched incredulously as he picks his nose and eats it. Lovely. Soon I notice him readjusting his “package” as though uncomfortable. As I start to walk away after the shot, he whips it out right there and proceeds to piss. The guy on the top is of course oblivious to what is happening below, and is busy taking photos of the party on the street. Yeah, city life.

10 Laughing out loud (lauthals lachen)
These two were sooo cute. I saw them and thought that I had finally caught the only smiling faces in the place. When I turned them and asked them if I could take a photo it became obvious why they were walking with their faces in a default smile setting… they were from out of town. Thanks guys. 

11 Longing (sehnsüchtig)
The guy in the vest was working on shirtless dude something incredible. Asking him questions about his life, and where he was from. In general, shirtless dude was looking past vest man towards the guy behind him wearing a hat. What an interaction, and it went on for about 10 minutes. 

12 Pause for thought (Denkpause)
Ahem. Berliner Fotomarathon images are displayed end to end on a 3 meter long strip of photos… so um, well, it is better to have them all oriented landscape, and NOT portrait. Well, sometimes that is easy to forget, especially when MOST of the photos you normally take seem to be portrait. Thus we have this lovely example of a pause for thought which actually displayed my lack of thought. Hell, I’m cool with it. I did have a lovely pause there, and I’m going to continue to display it sideways as though I had intended it all along. 

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. 

13 Flight of fancy (Höhenflüge)
Balloons, flying, colorful, the flag in the background… I’m going with it. 

14 Hot and spicy (richtig scharf)
Oh my these “ladies” were incredible. I did get a full body shot of the one wearing the black shoes, but she really was a bit too skinny for my taste. Perhaps I expect my transvestites to have more UMPH up top or something. When we saw the shoes with red… oh honey… THAT is hot and spicy. 

15 Sweet tooth (Naschkatze)
Yeah well, duh. I wish I had pulled out the 50mm for this shot for more bokeh and better focus. But it is at least a decent shot. 

16 Carefree (sorglos) 
Dude was standing just outside the area from the women’s stage. He was chugging a beer and just looked like he didn’t have a care in the world. OK, snap. 

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!

17 Call it a day (Feierabend)
After warm coffee, sparkling conversation and a rain shower pause we made our way over to the next check in location which was the Berlinische Gallerie. Another cool place that warrants further investigation. 

This shot is the entrance to a company which was closed up for the day. Yeah, Feierabend. 

18 Together (zusammen)
Benches, together… I’m going with it. 

19 Chilling (chillen)
Not long after I took this shot these folks got up and left. My photowalk buddy suggested that perhaps they were dealers and didn’t like the idea of a camera being pointed at them, no matter HOW far away. 

20 Refreshing (erfrischend)
Um, yeah. I was thinking water (ok, so that is canal water and CERTAINLY not fresh) and that cute little umbrella over there. Work with me people.

21 Natural beauty (Naturschönheit)
This was taken looking down from the overhead train bridge at Hallesches Tor. I like the lines of the tree branches and how they work with the sidewalk line. 

22 Passionate (leidenschaftlich)
This was a no brainer. What was so hard about it was getting them while embracing without seeing either face. I also wanted to get the train station sign in there to give it a sense of place. 

23 Cherry red (kirschrot)
We headed back to the Motz festival again because… well, why not? We met up with some friends, drank some adult beverages and generally “enjoyed the moment”. I spent two hours in search of an ass for this shot. I wanted two buns tightly packed into a pair of red leather… or red denim… or hell, knowing this festival, it was possible to find those buns with red paint on them. Everyone around was helping me… “Oh look, she’s got red pants”. In the end I didn’t find what I was looking for. 

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. 

24 The last dance (Der letzte Tanz)
These are actually the feet of one of the friends we met up with at the Motz Festival. I had taken about 8 shots, but either other feet got in the way, or they were more blurred than I would have liked, or actually not blurred enough. In the end I settled for this shot because you can more easily see her shoes… which I liked. 

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?

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Motzstraßenfest is this weekend!

This upcoming weekend (June 16 & 17), Berlin will again host Europe’s largest gay and lesbian street festival, known in my circles as Motzstraßenfest (Motzstraße is one of the “gayest” streets in Berlin). 

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. 

What isn’t so obvious are the simply normal gays and lesbians who are just out to have a nice time without all of the show. I always feel like a piss poor lesbian as I pull up on my powder blue scooter looking rather average as a more traditional dyke rumbles up on a hot Harley. 

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.

The biggest surprise to this American dyke was to see the political parties strongly represented, as well as gay police and teachers with booths. There are booths for sport clubs, travel information, even a gay couchsurfing group. Ah yes, THIS is the European Gay Central I’ve dreamed about!!

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!

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LGBT Rights Pioneer Frank Kameny Died on National Coming Out Day 2011

President Obama hands Frank Kameny
the pen which he used to sign a
presidential memorandum
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

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What Kind of Fresh Gay Hell is This? (OR Why are you in Germany, Snooker?)

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?
Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot?

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?

  • Fell in love with a German girl in 2000
  • She came to visit me in the States often in 2001 and 2002, I also visited her in Berlin during these years
  • Tried to legally have her move to America starting in 2003 with a student visa (no other legal methods available – university is free or cheap in Germany, but we are willing to pay for the education if it means we can be together).
  • Based on the fact that she had entered the country six times in the past two years she was considered a “risk of overstay” and denied a student visa which also cancels her out of the visa waiver program forever… she can’t come to America for at least year because of this denial. 
  • Shortly after the denial she pays more money for the privilege to go to the Consulate – armed with proof that she intends to return to Germany – to appeal the denial of both the student visa and the visa waiver program.
  • She met with the same woman who had denied the original request… you guessed it, denied once again. (K**** ******, if Sweet No ever sees you on the street, she won’t be such a Sweet No anymore.)
  • On the other side of the Atlantic, I tried Lambda Legal Defense who told me that if either she or I had a penis, this would all be really easy… but gays can’t petition to bring their future spouses to America… Sorry Snooker.
  • Found out that the states which have recently been allowing gay marriage have nothing to do with our situation. Immigration is at the federal level, and thanks to the Defence of Marriage Act, (DOMA) the feds (and the other states) don’t have to recognize any homosexual marriage performed in those states, not to mention other countries. Sorry again, Snooker.
  • Tried a shyster immigration lawyer who was happy to take my money and petition “da gubermint” for us, but to no avail.
  • Sweet No goes back to the American Consulate in Berlin after her year banishment from travel to America and meets up with a nice guy who seems to sense her desperation and takes pity on her, issuing her a 10 year “B1/B2 visa”, allowing her to travel to the States again, and with much more lenient travel restrictions (maximum length of stay 6 months instead of the normal 3 months). 
  • Happy Dance… but still, it doesn’t REALLY keep us together.
  • Sweet No wants to work and be a contributing member of society, just coming in for VISITS is simply frustrating. Of course entering and overstaying illegally are not even up for consideration. 
  • In 2004 I got sick and tired of watching my girl walking to airport security through the tears in my eyes and decided to move to Germany to be with her. FuckYouWashington
  • Sold everything, gave up my career, said goodbye to friends and family in preparation to leave.
  • 2005 the cat and I leave the “Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave” to be in Germany which accepts my love of a woman. Germany also allows me to have a “separate, but equal” civil partnership with Sweet No. Immigration is pretty much the only benefit of the Lebenspartnerschaft, but it was a good thing in our case. (Thankfully the Greens keep making another go of equalizing this situation in Germany, maybe some day they will get lucky.)
  • January of 2005 we signed our civil partnership and had our – yes, we share a birthday – birthday on that same day. Great birthday present, no?
  • Because of her special visa we are rather lucky, she isn’t under suspicion as are many others in our situation. If foreign same-sex spouses come to the United States accompanying a U.S. citizen, (even for a short visit of the U.S. citizen’s family), U.S. Immigration might deny visa privileges to the spouse out of fear that they will be tempted to overstay their visa dates to remain in the country with their spouse (perhaps even challenging the anti-gay marriage laws as we are LEGALLY partnered in another country). Thus, gays and lesbians (especially politically active ones) have been known to be turned away at the gates.
  • Wish us luck, that visa expires in just a few years. 

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.

Let’s not forget the organizations working tirelessly on this very topic:
Immigration Equality Action Fund
Out4Immigration
Love Exiles Foundation

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?
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Gay Pride Berlin – 2010

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!

Have I said it here? I don’t think so… I love Gay Pride Month.

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.

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