Today was a big day despite the late start. After leaving the hostel in groups at 2 PM, Nina and I went to see a few famous icons and then to Stadtfest, the biggest Gay and Lesbian street fair in Europe! This year’s motto was, “Equal Rights for the Unequal (or Gleiche Rechte für Ungleiche in German)!”
Before any of the gayness commenced, Nina and I wanted to see some of Berlin’s permanent features including the Brandenburg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, and Checkpoint Charlie.
All located close to each other close to the Französische Straße metro terminal, they are a pleasant walk to and from each other through metropolitan Berlin.
However, it can take longer if you get stuck in a rally …
Police lined the streets while photographers jumped onto benches and boxes to get snapshots of marchers. It was organised chaos for sure.
Eventually though, we were able to leave the rally and proceeded onward to our destination. This was one of those experiences that you cannot wish upon yourself, but must accept and enjoy while you are there. Casually wandering into a humanitarian march is something everyone should do once in his or her life.
It was interesting to see Berlin in this order, walking through its rich past. It is hard to imagine what the city was like a mere sixty years ago. It can at least be assumed that there weren’t as many tourists … I enjoyed the sightseeing, but today, my eyes were on the prize. The very gay prize.
After seeing these three monuments, Nina and I took the metro to Nollendorfplatz in the Schöneberg area of the city, known for being the historical gay centre. Right out of the subway, we arrived at the party and both shared our first Pride experience together.
Stadtfest is a two day celebration (20 – 21 of June 2015), kicking off Berlin’s Pride festivities, which finish with the internationally recognised Christopher Street Day Parade (CSD) at the end of the week. Stadtfest is the warm up and begins with drag shows, food, and nighttime parties for Berliners for the following week, all leading up to the grand finale at the end of June.
Food, drink, and alcohol stands line the streets, serving crêpes, German sausage, very strong alcoholic fruit juice, and much more by some quite handsome vendors!
Watch out though. Everything is a little more expensive since it is a street festival. Additionally, the fetish shops of the surrounding neighbourhood are open, so you brave fellows can stop in for a peak if you are curious. If not, don’t worry! Skimpy clothing, dildos, and Pride accessories are still sold in the streets.
Stadtfest is visited by all walks of life from children to the elderly and is a great taste of some of Berlin’s more alternative culture. There is a large representation of the German fetish community as well as many informative stalls regarding STDs prevention, marriage equality, and queer sex education. Stadtfest is a perfect place to expand your perspective of the LGBTQ community while enjoying a little German DJing.
Do not forget to get the goods! Free stickers, condoms etc. Not surprisingly, many Stadtfest stalls also hire models to attract you to whatever they are promoting; sex sells. It is easy to get distracted with everything going on. Eye candy, music, and food! What else could you want?
I wished we could have stayed longer, but Nina and I were both tired and have other plans for this evening. Sadly, we will not be in town to finish off Berlin Pride with the CSD Parade, but Czech Republic will be fun regardless. I cannot wait to go to more of these and official parades in the future. I see the appeal of Pride. It is freeing and fun. There is no stigma, no fear, just gay ol’ times.
Tomorrow we are heading to the Czech Republic, and Friday, I am off to the farm. It will be a very different experience than this, but it won’t matter. I see Liberec as a way to reconnect with myself a bit and become stronger in the mountains. (Farm work is a great exercise).
But before, let’s enjoy Prague! Happy travels and happy Pride! Stay tuned for more!