Gay Europe Ambassadors Find Berlin's Heart and Soul
Collaborating with LGBT-friendly destinations that include Stockholm, Copenhagen, Antwerp, and Germany, Out Traveler helped send two lucky Americans to Europe to explore the continent and report back. The winners, who made a compelling Instagram video to win their European getaway, sent their first travelogue back from Berlin. Here's what Brooklyn couple Kevin and Kenny did during their time in the German capital of cool.
While the city of Berlin has almost 800 years of history, in some ways it’s only 25 years old. And like many 25-year-olds with a complicated childhood, it's developed its own defiant identity that turns its past on its head; that’s not to say it’s forgotten any of it. No matter where you are in the city, the rich history of Berlin is tactile. Parts of the Berlin Wall are still preserved, elsewhere, it's a cobblestone path reminding you how the city and country were so recently divided.
The city is full of unique museums and art installations dedicated to both World War II and the turmoil that followed until the German Reunification. Tränenplast, or The Palace of Tears, recreates the former border-crossing checkpoint at Berlin Friedrichstraße station. Broadcast News pieces from each side of the wall highlight the fierce divide between the two governments, while personal testimonies and documents showcase the restrictions on personal liberty that were a part of daily life during the separation.
Another free museum, the Topography of Terror, is an indoor/outdoor installation along the longest remaining section of the outer wall that documents the rise to power of the Gestapo and SS, and the practices and tactics that kept them there.
Across the city, Kreuzberg is home to the East Side Gallery, a half-mile stretch of the inner wall that became a public mural exhibition. Painted by over 100 artists from around the world in 1990, it reflects hope born out of years of Soviet turmoil and encapsulates the forward-focused attitude that permeates Berlin today.
After a day focusing on the past, we wanted to make our last day in Berlin about the present. It was Christopher Street Day, after all, Berlin’s equivalent of Pride festivities named after the riots of the Stonewall Inn that sparked the modern gay rights movement.
We started our day back in Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg. Most walls of the neighborhood are covered in graffiti and streets have an alternative energy that feels like the East Village before all the bros moved in. We did some shopping at vintage and designer shops in the neighborhood like Voo, before getting lunch at Wochenmärkte, a collection of food stands and farm tables in a large warehouse space.
Given the timing of our trip, we saved our energy to take part in the Pride festivities. Unlike many cities in the U.S., the parade is fully inclusive so anyone can join, whether you’re wearing your best drag or just finished brunch with friends. Buses blast dance music while revelers follow behind, dancing with bottles of beer and wine in their hands. We took some great photos of the party-goers, but seeing so many people holding a German flag in one hand and a rainbow Israeli flag in the other was by far the best look we saw.
Pride Parade Queen Makeup
Pride Parade free booze
Kenny 2008 vs. 2014