Since the 1920s, Berlin became, albeit with interruptions, the gay capital. In spite of the financial struggles at that time, especially in the districts of Schönebergand Kreuzberg, a vibrant scene of bars, clubs, groups and cabarets sprung up and their number is still unrivalled today. It is said that there were more than 100 venues for homosexuals at that time, ranging from the famous Eldorado to the ladies dance hall Zur Manuela through to the large balls organised by various homosexual associations.
As early as 1897, Magnus Hirschfeldfounded the Wissenschaftlich-Humanitäre Komitee (The Scientific-Humanitarian Committee) in Berlin, as the first ever gay and lesbian human rights organisation. From 1919, he ran the legendary Institut für Sexualwissenschaft (Institute for Sexual Science), which made an important contribution to the emancipation of gays and lesbians all over the world.
After the suppression of the entire gay and lesbian community and subculture by the Nazis, it wasn’t until 1971 that the homosexual scene recovered again – which is when the gay movement Homosexuelle Aktion Westberlin (Homosexual Action West Berlin) was founded.
The first Christopher Street Day (gay pride parade) took place in Berlin in 1979. The community got a whole new lease of life with the founding of the Berliner Lesbenwoche (Berlin Lesbian Week) and the oldest and largest gay and lesbian city magazine Siegessäule in 1984. Since 1993, the gay/lesbian city festival has been celebrated every year – it is the largest of its kind worldwide and ensures to this day that Berlin is home to the most diverse, vibrant and popular gay/lesbian scenes in Europe.
These days, up to 750,000 people celebrate the CSD in Berlin in the streets of the city – no matter whether you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, heterosexual, transgender or another sexual orientation. More than 50 floats make their way through the city and towards the Brandenburg Gate. The Berlin nightlife is famous for its gay clubs – the most famous of all is the Berghain at Ostbahnhof and the KitKatClub in Mitte. Berlin has rainbow neighbourhoods in Kreuzberg, Mitte, Schöneberg and Prenzlauer Berg.
And Berlin even had a gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit. He was the first leading German politician to be open about being gay. His outing with the words “I am gay – and that is also a good thing.” resonated around the world and became a well-known saying.
Come to Berlin and experience the typical Berlin tolerance for yourself. We have a wealth of tips and recommendations so that you can get to know its rainbow-coloured side.