Gay Berlin

As befits its status as a cosmopolitan metropolis, Berlin has a large gay community - an estimated one in ten of its inhabitants are gay or bisexual, making the German capital one of Europe's top three gay cities, along with Amsterdam and London.

Berlin's gay scene is as diverse as its 3.5 million residents, and in most areas of the city same-sex couples are an established part of every-day life: gay life is just one element of Berlin's multi-faceted and very tolerant character, and the gay scene is not just limited to "typical" gay venues.

Gay Districts

Berlin's gay and lesbian scene here is strong and lively with something for every taste. In the former West Berlin the "established", mainly male, gay scene is centred around the Nollendorfplatz in Schöneberg. In Kreuzberg, a traditionally liberal, open-minded and multi-ethnic district, there's a less centralized scene which is intertwined with the vibrancy of the district's diverse residents. Over in the former East Berlin, there's a newer scene which has its roots in the partially political gay and lesbian movement which gained ground towards the end of the GDR. Prenzlauer Berg is the traditional heart of this scene, but with the district's gentrification gay life has become more yuppiefied. The same thing is happening to the currently somewhat more downmarket Friedrichshain.

(A note of warning however: further away from the city centre tolerance levels become more "provincial", and particularly in parts of former eastern Berlin - as a rule of thumb east of Ostkreuz - right-wing elements mean that same sex couples should approache these areas with caution).

Gay personalities

David Bowie
David Bowie's former Berlin residence at Hauptstrasse 155 Bowie lived in Berlin between October 1976 and February 1978 on the Hauptstrasse in the Schöneberg district, at that time one of the former West Berlin's trendier locations and also not all that far from the gay scene around Nollendorfplatz. Bowie's flat was at Hauptstrasse 155 (just up the road from the Neues Ufer cafe) - an otherwise unremarkable building which now bears no indication that the pop star ever lived there.
Chistopher Isherwood
Plaque on the former lodgings of Christopher Isherwood, Nollendorfstraße 17

The British author lived in a guesthouse at Nollendorfstrasse 17 between 1929 and 1933, becoming a regular fixture of Berlin's prewar gay subculture, leaving when the Nazis came to power. A plaque on the building (pictured right) commemorates his time in Berlin. It reads:

Hier wohnte von März 1929 bis Jan./Feb. 1933
der englische Schriftsteller
* 26.8.1904 + 5.1.1986
Seine Romane "Lebwohl Berlin" und
"Mister Norris steigt um" basieren auf
seine Erlebnissen aus dieser Zeit.
Nach Motiven beider Romane entstand
später das Musical "Cabaret".


Here, between March 1929 and Jan./Feb. 1933,
lived the English (sic) author
* 26.8.1904 + 5.1.1986
His novels "Farewell to Berlin" and
"Mr. Norris Changes Trains" are based on
his experiences during this period.
Inspired by both these novels,
the musical "Cabaret" was created.