Berlin Museum Sheds Light on Gay History in Germany

Christopher Street Day in Berlin, 1998. Photo: Kristina Strauß via Museumsportal Berlin

The German Historical Museum, Berlin and the Schwules Museum are jointly presenting “Homosexuality_ies,” which explores the gay history, politics, and culture in Germany.

The exhibition shows how same-sex and non-conformist gender identities were criminalized by successive governments over the last 150 years, pathologized by medicine, and how gays were driven to the fringes of society.

The show also follows Germany’s infamous paragraph 175 which outlawed “homosexual acts.” The law was passed in 1872 and was significantly harshened during Nazi reign, before finally being repealed in 1994.

In contrast to the social repression suffered by the German gay community, the exhibition also documents the liberation movement of gay men and lesbian women, which successfully changed social perceptions on same-sex relationships and gender identity.

Gay rights demonstration, Berlin 1973 Photo: Rüdiger Trautsch via Schwules Museum, Berlin

Gay rights demonstration, Berlin 1973
Photo: Rüdiger Trautsch via Schwules Museum, Berlin

The exhibition is accompanied by works by famous international artists such as Monica Bonvicini, Louise Bourgeois, Elmgreen & Dragset, Nicole Eisenman, Henrik Olesen, Andy Warhol, and many more.

“In the exhibition ‘Homosexuality_ies’, the Deutsches Historisches Museum is grappling with this important discourse for the first time in its nearly 30-year history.” Prof. Dr. Alexander Koch, President of the Deutsches Historisches Museum told AFP.

“We understand this equally demanding and challenging project as an offering directed at a broad, increasingly international public to deepen their exploration and discussion of the thematics sketched out here.”

Unknown Soldier Friends (ca. 1913)  Photo: Schwules Museum, Berlin

Unknown Soldier Friends (ca. 1913)
Photo: Schwules Museum, Berlin

Co-curator Detlef Weitz added “The exhibition consciously dispenses with chronology and creates a new kind of approach in every room.”

“Homosexuality_ies” is on view at the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin from June 26-December 1.


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