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Object of the month: Poster and letter from the 1st Pride Parade in Berlin

24. June 2021

“Create one, two, three, many Stonewalls,” announced the call to Berlin’s first Pride Parade on June 30, 1979. Ten years after the legendary Stonewall Riots, Andreas Pareik brought the idea of a Pride Parade in Germany from New York to Berlin. The organizers from West Berlin, centered around Bernd Gaiser, met at SchwuZ. There, they built their network, designed posters, and composed a call for action as well as the registration of the demonstration.

Berlin’s first CSD was a colourful, carnivalesque march from Savignyplatz to Halensee. More importantly, it was a call for self-empowerment in times of paragraph 175, which penalized sexual intercourse between men in the FRG. Instead of withdrawing from a society that makes it difficult for young homosexuals to come out, and continues to reproduce stigmatization, the participants decided to be a striking sign of visibility. Like they formulated in the call for action, they were taking to“the streets as what we are and what we would like to be.” The organizers formulated a basic principle that still guides the Pride Parade today. The initiators did not only address their call to gays and lesbians, but to everyone who experiences discrimination for their sexuality and gender identity, and their political standpoints. At the same time, they acknowledged the lack of alliances within queer communities at the end of their leaflet: “We hope that many lesbians will come as well, even though our lives rarely touch, which is why you have to write your own call to action.”

In 1979, nobody could imagine that the CSD would become as well-known for its motives and participants as it is today. Co-founder Bernd Gaiser wrote in the German newspaper Tagesspiegel on July 28, 2018: “We were extremely nervous before the first Christopher Street Day in Berlin. Not because we were worried to be harassed by the police. […] We were nervous because we didn’t know if anyone would show up.” The coordinators generously estimated 500 attendants when registering the demonstration. In the end, 450 participants showed up and paved the way for many generations of queer people and, today, almost a million of Pride Parade attendants in Berlin.

Even though the organizers, walk routes, and demands of the Pride Parade changed over the course of time: The motif remains the same. We wish all our visitors a colourful, resistant, joyful pride month!