Is Christopher Street Day more than just a party? Hasn’t everything that queer people fought for already been achieved?
The organizers expect half a million people to attend the parade this Saturday in Berlin. It runs right through the city, ending at the Brandenburg Gate. Ministries and party headquarters hoist the rainbow flag, as did the Bundestag and Bundesrat for the first time this year.
Queer people can marry, Minister of Justice Marco Buschmann wants to enshrine homophobia in the law as an aggravating factor, and a self-determination law is to replace the discriminatory transsexual law of 1980. One might think that queer people have arrived in the mainstream of society.
But these advances have not yet permeated society. There were 645 cases in Berlin last year alone for homophobic and transphobic crimes. Being lesbian, gay, bi, non-binary or inter is still dangerous in many places.
And insults start at school: “Fag”, “fag”, “fighting lesbian” – according to a study published in 2020, 96 percent of Berlin teachers have heard such insults in the classroom. At the same time, 61 percent stated that they never use teaching material in which people of different sexual orientations appear.
School days are still traumatic and lost years for many queer young people. They usually only come out shortly before graduation. According to a survey by the German Youth Institute in North Rhine-Westphalia, the average age is 17. According to the EU fundamental rights agency FRA, 48 percent of queer young people report bullying during their school days. The risk that they will commit suicide is four to six times higher than that of their peers.
And the experiences during their school days shape most people for life. And this sting remains and continues to have an effect: It remains a burden to be considered not “normal” – and the longing to be exactly that remains. That’s why the stereotypes of mainstream society have it easy, even within the queer scene. This is expressed, for example, in internalized homophobia.
The pressure on those who don’t fit the straight norm has become more subtle, but it’s still there. He is currently showing himself to trans people because their struggle is currently the most visible. He speaks out when opponents of the Self-Determination Act speak of a “trend” towards trans or that it is “hip” to come out as trans. Calling trans people by their discarded names and speculating about their genitals. When they question the identity of trans people.
The CSD makes visible that identities are fragile constructs in diverse societies. One is always many things, many things at once. And that’s a good thing – to paraphrase a former governing mayor. Normality or dominant culture are fictions that fail in reality or can only be imposed on it with a good portion of ignorance.
So the CSD is not just a party, it will remain a demonstration for the time being. A valuable political symbolism emanates from it. The fight for queer causes is not over.