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Places, Faces, Spaces: Berlin

In the first instalment of our new travel documentary series PLACES, FACES, SPACES, Sophia Emmerich (she/they) shares with us some of their favourite people, projects and venues that are making a positive impact on queer culture and queer people's experience in Berlin right now. We hope these examples can highlight to you the possibilities of fostering in-person queer community, and encourage you to think about how you could contribute to building queer spaces local to you, as well as be a strong Queer Leader in your local area.

In addition, if you're thinking of visiting Berlin for the first time, we hope this round up will help get you inspired about what aspects of queer culture you could explore. If you live in Berlin or know it well, you might even learn about something, somewhere or someone that you haven't come across before - you never know!

A portrait photograph of Sophia - they're sat in a black chair against a white background. They're wearing a light ink two-piece suit over a white t-shirt. They have one leg up, with their elbow resting on their knee - their face rests gently on their hand. They have white skin and blue eyes. Their red hair is in a short cropped style in a side parting, with their fringe slightly covering their forehead.

First, here's a little about Sophia, and their connection to Berlin's queer culture...

I’m a Berlin-based photographer and videographer. I’ve lived here for almost twelve years and can’t imagine living elsewhere. The queer scene in Berlin is vibrant, diverse, and multi-cultural. The city welcomes everyone with open arms. There are a lot of queer places to visit and things to experience. I know that Berlin is some sort of a “bubble”, but I love this little queer eco-system that has become my home in the past decade.

And now on to Sophia's picks!

A film photo of a group of people outside of the gallery building at an event. The building has concrete walls, as gallery visitors chat to eachother and drink wine.

P7 Gallery is a space that hosts many queer events, including exhibitions, release parties and live nude painting classes. The owner is Joseph Wolfgang Ohlert, a well-known photographer who focuses on Personalities, Art & Queer Culture. The space is small but has what I like to call “a Berlin look”: artsy and industrial.

2. Kanaan

A person with light brown hair in a pony tail faces with their back to the camera. They're wearing a black t-shirt with the Kanaan logo printed on it - a backwards K in white text. The person is holding a blue tray with good on it.

Kanaan describes itself as an “Israeli & Palestinian coop proving every day that together is better and tastier!”. So if you like hummus, it’s the place to go. The first time I went, the owner, Oz Ben David, was wearing a shirt that said “I am hummussexual" and I’m just a sucker for a good pun.

An image of the interior of the club. The dancefloor area is empty. On the wall at the furthest end of the room, a blue neon sign shines bright. Inside the heart in pink bubble writing reads 'Cheers Queers.' There is red flourescent lighting all around, and the walls are lined with tiles.

Schwuz is the biggest queer club in Berlin. It’s been around for 45 years and hosts various parties, so there is something for everyone. This place combines dance, art, and community. And if you are looking for a good drag performance, you won’t be disappointed.

A portrait of Nora - they have white skin, brown eyes and grey hair. They are smiling into the camera. They're wearing rectangular-framed glasses and a black and white houndstooth-patterned top. In the background, their is a sunny sky and the shadows of trees.

Nora Eckert is an author and trans activist living and working in Berlin. In her recent book “Wie alle nur anders, Ein transsexuelles Leben in Berlin." [Translation: Like everyone only different, A transsexual life in Berlin] she talks about being trans in the early 80s in West-Berlin. She organizes walking tours for trans, inter, and non-binary youth in her free time and is part of the Board of Directors at TransInterQueer.

The Queer Garten event logo. On a black background, the letters Q and G are displayed in a large size. The font is made up of lines going round in circles, making the letters resemble records. Underneath in regular white text are the words 'queer' and 'garten' - separated by a small pride flag.

Queer Garten is a bi-weekly event in Berlin that started amidst the pandemic in 2020. It takes place at the outdoor area of the “Festsaal Kreuzberg”. You will get some nice tunes, food, and drinks. I highly recommend it during the summertime in Berlin.

An image of taken from the perspective of a customer sat at a table outside Marietta Bar. They're facing the street with cars in the background. In front of them is a black glass table, with two red tulips in a vase, with a couple of glasses filled with ice water on the table. There is also a small lamp with a red chair. Behind the table is the bar's chalkboard, with the bar's logo hand-drawn in red and white chalk.

Marietta is where your queer neighbourhood connects. The self-proclaimed “queer living room” is located at the heart of the formerly East-Berlin district Prenzlauer Berg. Despite its vintage interior, its only other old-fashioned element is the eponymous drink on the boozy menu. The Marietta hosts weekly events such as “The gay Wednesday”, lesbian regulars’ tables but is also proudly straight-friendly.


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