Hold hands of same-sex best friends
On a Sunday in September, tradition and progressiveness collide - peacefully. And every year when thousands of gays and their friends celebrate, drink, flirt and smooch in the Bräurosl on the first Oktoberfest Sunday. The "Rosa Wiesn" is a must for gays from all over Europe and beyond.
In the afternoon, the mayor even steps on the stage and conducts the parade march; only his predecessor, who has to go on stage again, gets even more applause. And the waitress, very relaxed, says: "The first Sunday is the only day on which there is no fight."
Being gay in Munich can be fun: there is a pink party on the city council, the city administration supports homosexual advisory institutions, there is a gay party almost every weekend, and gay street festivals are well attended. And yet it is said again and again that the Munich scene has fallen asleep. Hardly anything is happening anymore, there is stagnation: 20, 25 years ago there were 50 gay bars along Müllerstrasse. Today you can count them on one hand.
The Gärtnerplatzviertel has not seen a gay bar open for a long time. And that has meanwhile had consequences for the scene, as Kai Kundrath from the Munich youth center Sub puts it in a nutshell: "20 years ago you could still walk hand in hand on Müllerstrasse, today you get stupidly turned on."
"Holding hands? Our young people dare less and less," says Leander from the gay youth club Diversity in Munich's Blumenstrasse. In the past, he says, you knew what to expect in the neighborhood, today everything is mixed up. "We now have a straight quarter, the streetscape has completely changed. You are not afraid that you will be spanked, but before you kiss, you look left and right."
Places where you are among your own kind? Disappeared
Even if there are more and more gay-friendly shops in Munich, even if it has never been so easy to come out as it is today: Gays still need their shelter, says sub-consultant Kundrath. "Especially those who are not outed are bothered by the development," says Leander. Shelters like the Rosa Wiesn, Christopher Street Day, gay parties on weekends; Rooms where men can be themselves, where they can flirt, where they can be among their own kind.
But that's no longer really possible on Müllerstrasse, this street that has meanwhile become an extension of the celebration banana on Sonnenstrasse: more and more clubs are opening up here. They attract an audience that first goes to a bar, then to the club next door and, at the end of the night, in the middle of the night at Bazi's, pulls in a roast pork to go or a kebab at the alpine bistro.
This has meanwhile also bothered the neighbors who are no longer used to the noisy restaurants. The audience is getting younger and younger - and is increasingly mixed. "Then the prolls come too," says Kundrath tough. "Do you want to party with them as a gay man?"
Tiny but popular: the Jennifer Parks
There are no longer many shops for gays (and also lesbians). And those that still exist are "almost not worth mentioning". That's what Max, a 24-year-old student, thinks, who likes to be out in the scene with his friends on weekends. For example, they often go to Jennifer Parks, a tiny gay bar on Holzstrasse. But you are actually very often there, says Max, his friends agree with him: "There are already gay bars, but it's always the same."
On weekends they go to gay parties from us, popular are the "Jennifer Parks Tanzt" in the Oberangertheater or the "Candy Club" in the Rote Sonne, where alternative music is played - one of the few places where you don't expect mainstream music can. There are still a few gay boazn and crash bars with their over-50s audience, as well as the Ochsengarten, the leather bar that was one of the last bars on Müllerstraße to have the windows taped black.
You can go to the show for a schnitzel or to the café from the Sub - not a real bar, but at least the beer is cheap there. And of course there is also the well-known Deutsche Eiche in Reichenbachstrasse, with its restaurant and sauna in the basement - not everyone's cup of tea either. Not much more is offered along Müllerstraße - there is a lull in the scene. So where in Munich with fewer and fewer gay shops?
"You still want to get to know each other in real life"
Is it all going to be a big scene soon? Do you only get to know each other on the Internet, as suggested by a survey by the Sub in April this year (see below)? "I don't think so," says Peter Fleming. The restaurateur is behind Gary Klein, the gay, Wednesday version of Harry Klein on Sonnenstrasse. "You still want to get to know each other in real life and also go out with friends," he says.
Fleming does not believe that there is a different way of going out in the scene these days than it was decades ago, the only thing missing is the right offer. "If a bar doesn't change for 25 years, it dies with the guests," he says. "If I don't offer anything new today, I can't expect anything new either."
Nothing works without a cool concept - neither gay nor straight
Fleming, who has known the Munich scene since the early nineties, already believes that a new gay shop would be worthwhile and would also work. His Garry Klein is doing quite well, he says, at least for the whole year. Fleming is more wondering where bars in the city center can still find a place at all. Discovering good locations and reasonable rents in the Isarvorstadt is like a game of chance. "As a restaurateur, you also have to think about profitability," says Fleming. And without a cool concept that appeals to people, it wouldn't work anyway - not gay and not straight.
Only 20 years ago the gay scene in Munich was famous and notorious, today there is apparently a stubbornness that hardly satisfies anyone. Leander from the youth club refers to the eternal competition: "Of course there is more going on in Berlin." Club-goer Max sees the offer in Munich pragmatically: "Better than nothing."
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