“This is the queer epicenter.”

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He fights for his community and for his neighbourhood: On the way in the Regenbogenkiez with Johannes Kram, between past and present.

Johannes Kram stands in the middle of Maaßenstraße in the so-called meeting zone. Maaßenstraße has calmed the traffic, but allegedly angered the retailers: fewer parking spaces, less car traffic, fewer customers. The street that connects the Nollendorfplatz with the Winterfeldtmarkt is there in summer serenity.

A few people sit on the stainless steel benches, a few drivers sneak across the narrow lanes. Johannes Kram makes a typical Johannes Kram remark: The Maaßenstraße was “previously a real war zone” – racing cars on the road, racing cyclists on the footpath. “I also find the meeting zone ugly, but I think it’s great that it exists. That you can now stroll on the market. You can also acknowledge that something has improved.”

The remark behind the “Nollendorfblog” and pioneer of the queer movement is typical of the militant mind behind the “Nollendorfblog”, because it combines the tight thesis with a pointed judgement. Kram, inhabitant of the Nollendorf district for 13 years, likes to point. The neighbourhood, which once again attracts thousands of visitors to the lesbian-gay street festival this weekend, is for him “the queer epicentre”. His gaze falls on Café Berio with its banner on the façade, which recalls the riots around the gay bar Stonewall Inn in New York’s Christopher Street 50 years ago. The fact that gays, lives and transsexuals resisted eviction by the police at the time is regarded as the starting point of the modern homosexual movement.

Johannes Kram turns his back on Berio, where he likes to write, and points to the opposite side of the street. Ten years ago there was an ice cream shop whose owner in May 2009 had a lesbian couple with the words “I won’t serve you”. When the incident became known, other homosexuals also reported that the ice cream shop owner had insulted and belittled them.

Recently he took on kramp cart builders

A few days later the community demonstrated against homophobia in front of the ice cream shop with a big “Kiss-in”, a public kiss action. The man depicted the conflict differently, his ice cream parlour no longer exists. And Kram began to argue with his blog for the queer movement, in 2016 he was nominated for the prestigious Grimme Online Award. Recently, he took on Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer for an attack on intersexual people in a carnival speech.

Kram couldn’t find anything funny about it. He accused the CDU politician of “despising” and “kicking minorities”. And he explains what he accuses her of: “If it had been important for Kramp-Karrenbauer not to hurt minorities, she would have been able to make it clear immediately if it had been a misunderstanding.

But she obviously deliberately didn’t want that. She kept silent for days, wanted the outrage to be as great as possible, in order to then be able to outrage herself over it. She staged herself according to all the rules of populism as a victim of the fire that she herself laid.”

100 years of attraction for homosexuals

The mood, he says, has changed over the past ten years. Germany is becoming less liberal. And there are, he says, now again on the Maaßenstraße, “only a few square meters in all of Germany, where queer people can really be themselves in public in everyday life”.

Johannes Kram is a quarrelsome and entertaining neighbourhood walker. He knows a lot about his area, likes to pass it on – and also likes to say what he thinks is right or wrong or simply important. Now he turns into one of his favourite streets in the neighbourhood, tells of a friend who is a film scout and who has pointed out to him how you can tell whether a film was shot in Berlin, London or Madrid: “The trees make the difference, you can find them in almost every street in Berlin.

He stops in front of a house in Nollendorfstraße, where the British author Christopher Isherwood lived until early 1933. The neighborhood has not only been an attraction for homosexuals for fifty years, but for a hundred. After the First World War, more and more gays and lesbians settled here. Dance halls and bars opened. Not far away, in the Tiergarten, Magnus Hirschfeld, doctor and pioneer of homosexual equality, founded his Institute for Sexual Science.

[More news from the queer world can be found in the monthly Queerspiegel newsletter of the Tagesspiegel – click here to register.]

Cabaret” was based on Isherwood’s stories and became famous as a musical and feature film. Johannes Kram points to an organic market a few meters away. There, he says, was the “Eldorado,” the nightclub model for “Cabaret.

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Mette Frederiksen is a The Washington Newsday correspondent. With her coverage of general science, NASA and the interface between technology and society, Frederiksen has been in the Science Desk's Technology Beat since joining Washington Newsday in 2018.

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