Brussels/Berlin 2023

Saturday 22nd July 2023 – Christopher Street Day

I had a lovely breakfast at an establishment called “Capuchino”. I had some trouble figuring out exactly what I had ordered but it turned out to be a bread basket with a selection of cold meats and cheeses, tomato, avocado, and some apricot marmalade. There was nothing not to like and it felt quite authentically German (although, it might not have been given the presence of the avocado). From there I headed to the advertised starting point of the “Christopher Street Parade”.

This was essentially Berlin’s “Pride” parade. I liked the fact that it was named for the location which essentially inspired Prides to occur. In fact, this eponymous location was one I knew quite well having visited in 2010, 2019, and most recently in 2022. I had not been keeping too close an eye on the time as I knew the parade was likely to last for many hours. Right enough, as I approached Leipziger Straße, I could see the parade in front of me having already started. It did not matter as I knew it was going to pass through Nollendorfplatz later in the day. A jump on to the S2 line took me to that location.

The head of the parade reached me at about 1.45pm and was a mix of very loud party-trucks alongside walking parties and individuals, very much like Edinburgh Pride. It was the usual pride mix of colourful characters but there was definitely more of a “no holds barred” feeling. This was particularly noticeable when a group of male nudists went past with a sign saying “War is obscene, nudity isn’t”. I have to be honest in saying that I completely agree with this sentiment but I did manage to resist the temptation to strip off and join them.

Eventually, it became obvious that most of the parade had past so I joined, waving my “Bi” flag as I walked through Tiergarten towards Siegessäule, and then the Brandenberg Gate. The atmosphere was very jovial. There were many stalls selling food and drinks along the route so it seemed rude not to follow the example of my fellow marchers and have a “Limoncello Spritz”.

At the Brandenberg Gate was a huge stage with entertainment laid on. It was like “Fife Pride” but on a much grander scale. The revellers were clearly enjoying the music and the messages being shared. In particular, an artist from Iran was performing and talking about the issues that still exist for LGBT+ people in that country. It was quite the party but also with many serious points being made.

If I’m very honest, the loud party is not really my “thing” so I opted to take the S2 and U2 lines back to Schöneberg to see what the “scene” was there and perhaps have a quiet meal and a drink. In this I was successful in that I very much enjoyed a pizza and a glass of red wine. I was in the company of many who had clearly been in the parade. Some were clearly dressed in equipment that was unlikely to be useful in the pizza establishment. Perhaps, I thought, they’d find more of an application later in the evening.

I finished another book: “Outrageous! The Story of Section 28 and Britain’s Battle for LGBT Education” by Paul Baker. This splendid read filled in a lot of gaps in the story about how the bizarre piece of legislation known as “Section 2A” in Scotland was introduced and then repealed. It seemed an utterly appropriate day and location to turn the final page on what I hoped would be a story that would not occur again.

I finished the day on my balcony in peace, considering what a wonderful occasion Christopher Street Day had been.

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