Marc, in his own words:“Whilst being gay certainly had an influence on my personality during my formative years, at this stage, being gay simply means that I am attracted to men, full stop ! (I could not possibly tell who I would have become, if I had been straight)
(With regards to challenges and successes) Ask me at my deathbed; life is fraught with challenges, failures and successes and I like it that way. Which ones really stand out in the end, it is too early to tell, hopefully.
(My coming out story) Lots of panic, anxiety & self-questioning. In the end, it all went well with those people who matter in my life.
(The gay community in Berlin) is rather lively… with lots of subcultures within the gay scene itself. Admittedly, I am not much into any of them.
(Advice to my younger self) Do the same all over again.”
Ronny, in his own words:“I refer to myself as a queer guy. It’s a much more happy word to me than ‘gay.ʼ Most of my friends can identify with it, may they be lesbian, gay, trans*, bi, – whatever. To me, ‘queerʼ is a large and beautiful family; solidary, loving, and supportive.
I come from an East German working class family. Nobody of my family ever studied or even had a high-school diploma. So finishing high-school and having had studied was definitely a success but a challenge as well. It’s frequently forgotten that your class background has so much influence on the way you talk, the way you behave yourself, what friends you have, what you eat, which circles you’re in. It’s mostly been in university that I became aware of my background, visiting courses with all these middle-class and upper-class people who couldn’t understand many problems I had. They asked: “Why don’t you just buy the course book?” when I copied my texts for university. “Is that really your lunch?” when I could only afford the very basics in the canteen. “Are you coming to this party tonight?” when I couldn’t pay the entrance fee. The feeling to not fit in was very peculiar in the beginning but made me grow stronger after a while.
I was forced to come out at the age of 14. I had a penpal, Sascha from St. Petersburg. In one of our letters I came out to him; he was very supportive and it really helped me a lot. My dad opened one of these letters and read it. He was very angry and told me he was disappointed in me; that I can’t reproduce; that I’m a threat to the family line. Since then, we don’t talk to each other anymore. My other relatives were much more open, not to mention my friends. And today, I live a happy queer life with the family I chose and without my father.
You can probably rather talk about gay communities. Every district (in Berlin) has their own scene: Kreuzberg is rough and queer; Schöneberg is the ‘gay ghettoʼ; Friedrichshain in the East is still very different from the communities in the West of the city; in some districts ‘the gay communityʼ is still a very delicate little plant, like in Wedding, where I live. In one word, I’d say the community here is rather segregated. That’s the reason why we have had three different Christopher Street Days for the last years.
(Advice to my younger self) Spend more time with your loved ones. They could be gone faster than you think.”