I got into a bit of a blogging slump this summer, so here’s a catch-all post of some of the highlights I’ve neglected to write about: Hamburg Pride, a Germany reunion with my dear friend Edwin, a brief weekend in Berlin, and a visit to Brighton, U.K.
Christopher Street Day, round 2
If you’ll recall, my queer English friend Edwin and I went to Hamburg Pride, known as Christopher Street Day, back in summer 2013. Though we both missed 2014, I was keen to make it again for 2015.
Although Edwin was sadly unable to make it due to being at an academic conference in the south of France that August (poor guy), I went without him. I did meet up with a couple of friends there – a guy we’d met at CSD 2013 and stayed in touch with these past two years – and a colleague from Rewe. Alex, the friend from Rewe, convinced me to march in the parade with him (“just find a float with good music and walk behind it!”) and we hung out for the day.
Some things I noticed about Christopher Street Day this year:
- While Stonewall, the first gay pride demonstration ever, was a riot, CSD Hamburg is actually just kind of a big street party and now tons of straight people attend, and I wonder if it is losing sight of its original purpose.
- There was a bothersome lack of trans pride visible, and the restrooms (which you had to pay to use, of course) were divided for “men” and “women.” I joked about saying I was trans in order to use the men’s restroom, which consistently had a shorter queue. Still, it was disturbing to see that, of all places, a Pride event wouldn’t have gender-neutral bathrooms.
- Cultural appropriation was rampant. I saw many Native American headdresses, including one perched on the head of a man wearing assless leather chaps and little else.
Nobody ever accused Germans of being too politically correct.
Edwin came to visit me
Although he didn’t make it to Pride, I was keen to see Edwin again after he returned to Europe after spending half a year doing research in Bolivia, so he came over for a long weekend in August.
We went bouldering with my roommate and one of my German friends, which was quite fun (and quite a good workout). I decided I liked this sport and resolved to do it more often. (Click on the pictures to enlarge.)
We ogled at the prostitutes and adult store at the Reeperbahn, then got sloshed and went out dancing. A Hamburg tradition, if you will.
Edwin cooked me delicious food, including a wonderful, vegetarian English breakfast to cure our hangovers.
We rented a paddle boat and paddled around the Alster and drank beer on a sunny afternoon.
We had a late-night gin-fueled discussion about politics and media and conspiracy theories with my roommate, which left me very grumpy because I’m a journalist and when drunk people talk about The Media they never have anything nice to say.
I visited Berlin
Just for two short days, spent time with a friend, and randomly ran into one of my former dormmates from the U.S. When I found out he was in Berlin, I invited him to an event I was going to which featured music, comedy, and stand-up, and we got to see the lovely Jacinta Nandi read from her latest book, which she says you should all go and buy.
I visited Edwin
No longer stuck in that God-awful town of Bangor, Wales, Edwin had recently moved to Brighton, on the south coast of England. It’s sort of the San Francisco of England, although much smaller and not as gentrified. The city started as a Victorian seaside town during the days when it was becoming popular to take holidays at the beach, and people could finally afford it. So there are lots of sort of elegant, crumbling Victorian houses around which give it a nice charm, and a pier with a Ferris wheel and a casino and lots of tourist attractions, because Victorians loved piers.
But Brighton has another side as well. It’s a city full of young people, and not just any young people, but bright, colorful, tree-hugging, organic-eating queer young people. It’s unofficially known as the gay capital of England, and is full of achingly hipster cafes, clothing shops with festival and rave gear, and all-natural overpriced organic markets. And, of course, English pubs!
We met up with Dan there, which was excellent because Dan used to study there and knew his way around the city quite well, and was actually quite nostalgic most of the time. (“Oh, the Roy Pav Tav!” he said as we approached a pub called the Royal Pavilion Tavern. “Me and my classmates used to go out drinking there every Friday, we had a table in the back we sat at every time. Man, the street looks different in daylight…”)
We walked around shops, did some window shopping, walked along the beach, and sat in the sun in a park for some time before meeting Edwin for veggie burgers later.
One night Edwin and I went to a queer party that was held in an old church. It was quite literally a church, with vaulted ceilings and stained glass and a large organ, but a small bar had been set up on one side, a DJ table and small stage up front, and multicolored lights turning the nave into a dance floor. Oddly, there was also a booth set up selling Indian food to the partygoers, which made the whole room smell of delicious spices. I was wearing uncomfortable shoes and kept thinking about my 7 a.m. flight, so while I enjoyed sitting and watching, I didn’t actually dance or drink that much, but Edwin got properly sloshed and had a nice time, and I practically had to drag him home.