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Gay in the era of late capitalism

My Wonderful West Berlin
Regissør: Jochen Hick

Only the anarchists on the left supported them. But it was capitalism that set them free. The gay movement never became part of the labor struggle.


Schöneberg, Berlin, 1977. Ancient and strict Athenian gods admonish a young man:

"You! You told me you were in a public toilet! "

"I think you called it a 'pick-up place.' And you fucked a stranger in the ass there! And you even found it extremely satisfying! ”

"I find this to be totally objectifying and alienating."

The boy answers the gods rudely:

"Haven't you ever fantasized about getting fucked by a big dick without all the usual preaching first?"

The Greek gods do not believe their own ears, and will probably also be a little envious:

“This is totally shocking! Have you never heard of tenderness and gender equality? Isn't that what you homosexuals demand? "

The audience at the nightclub Schwuz laughs well by the god moralists. Then it's not that long ago either Summer of Love created hot things in many an abdomen in the western world – at that time the left side had not yet become the sexual pundits of our time.

It is the idealistic one the theater group Homosexual Aktion Westberlin who made the stage play is taken from. The young members of HAW meet every Sunday afternoon to discuss homosexuality and
talism, in the belief that it is possible to fight this unfair economic system with ordinary workers.

The group sets up its own gay section in the many demonstration trains left-wing events in West Berlin. Always right in front or right behind the anarchists – the only ones who really accept them. Many of the other "links" knock the flyers out of their hands.

HAW soon sees that their "allies" are just as prejudiced as right-wingers and bourgeoisie: for disputes of all kinds, being gay is not political at all, just something private and perverse – as Norwegian AKP MLs considered homosexuality as "a civil disregard" .

The 1950s youth generation got to experience what freedom is in its essence: being able to choose. 

My wonderful West Berlin is a cinematic journey into what was not Hitler's dream, Germania, but the opposite – Gaymania. It takes us from horniness and joy in the 60's, via the 80's AIDS disaster, to the well-being of our time. Director Jochen Hicks portrays well the decades where homosexuality went from being an illness and a personal problem to a quality one is proud of and is happy to tell about on television.

The economic growth of the 1950s had created a youth generation that not only received education but also the opportunity to create an experience space where they could jointly find out who they really were – and not who their parents thought they should be. They had money between their hands and got to experience what freedom is in its essence: being able to choose. A whole new world was created.

On the way in In the age of individualism, there were only three places where you could fully live out your homosexuality: Berlin, Amsterdam and Cologne. And thus, primarily young men went to the big cities to have it gay ("fun"). In Berlin, the nightclubs were often hidden in the old half-ruins of World War II. Here you could dance with other men, which was forbidden in Hamburg and Munich.

"I had 50 marks when I came to Berlin," says Rene Koch, make-up man, stylist and one of the My wonders West Berlins narrators. Soon he got a job at Kleist Casino, where the money was settled.

The women quickly formed their own groups when they discovered that the gay guys were exactly the same sexist alpha males as their heterobrothers.

The fact that women could have sex with each other without men contributing was foreign to most people. Thus, anti-gay laws, such as German section 175, did not include female homosexuality, in accordance with Norwegian law. But the women eventually came. They quickly formed their own groups when they discovered that the gay guys were exactly the same sexist alpha males as their hetero brothers. "For all men, sex is the first priority," one of them says.

Once upon a time, some of the guys at HAW had painted dicks all over the Sunday meeting room. And the comments from the lesbians in the theater group were clear: "Even more patriarchal than the ones out there!"

Hicks movie also deals with the many gay films made in the city from the 70s onwards. When I attended the Berlin Festival as a filmmaker myself, I had fun meeting several of the now-new directors who the film mentions. One of these, Wieland Speck, the mighty head of the Panorama section of the Berlin, made both films and porn as a youngster, the latter to finance the films. Now he has become a gray-haired man who answers the following to the question of what is happening to him and sex for the time being:

"There is very little of it. I was not interested in older guys when I was young – that's why I don't see myself as a sex object anymore. ”

The 50s homosexuals did not enter the film school in West Berlin – nor did celebrities such as Lothar Lambert, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Rosa von Praunheim. from Praunheim's film It is not the homosexuals who are perverse was canceled before being broadcast on German television, but premiered at the Berlin in 1971.

It was capitalism that set us free – it needed our hedonism and shopping.

Freedom to to be something else is the sum of the first decades My wonderful West Berlin deals with. Unlike today, where the gay fight seems to have matured into a desire to live as closely as possible up to the heteronorm. The old heterophile motto "one wife, two children, three rooms and four wheels" has been replaced with "one man, a common lover, two children, six rooms and eight wheels". Normality, as the petty bourgeoisie sees it, has become the very goal of existence.

The gays in Berlin, on the other hand, were founded in the 70s "gay communities" – collectives where everything was law, where everyone was with everyone and the world was a little freer place.

"I'm not doing anything political at the moment. I focus on my homosexuality, says a man signifying in the opening of the film.

Something else that has changed, even for a sacked radish like me, is a recognition that then seemed impossible. One of the creators of the HAW theater group, Wolfgang Theis, puts it this way: “It was capitalism that set us free. Capitalism needed our hedonism and shopping. That the gay movement should be part of the labor struggle was just nonsense. "

Jochen Hicks his best gripe is that he again, in the present, lets us meet the same men and women we see in the first, scruffy amateur movies from 40-50 years back – the ones who survived the AIDS, the illness that took their girlfriends and their comrades. The fear of getting old and unattractive has not changed over time. The ancient Greek gods were probably most of all sour because they did not get anything up there in the kingdom of heaven.

In one of the films we get to see clips from, Taxi To The Loo (1980), a young man driving around in a sports car, perpetually searching a Berlin that vibrates for the one with the youth's capital to offer: “I wonder what it's going to be like as I get older. Will I still be so restless? I hope the pension allows me to have a young buying boy. Because I don't want to be like one of the old pissers. "

The movie is shown on Oslo / Fusion Festival September 18-24
Krutzkoff Jacobsen has recently been employed as a short film consultant at NFI.

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