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Object of the Month: Zine “BERLIN VERKEHRT” for lesbian and gay deaf and hard-of-hearing people

1. October 2021

Drag performers smile from the cover of “BERLIN VERKEHRT” on bright pink paper. Written in very direct and personal language, its content goes from political themes to the coverage of parties to community building. Educational texts about HIV/Aids and informational ads from the Deutsche AIDS-Hilfe were also often displayed. Besides that, the zine featured personal ads, where readers could look for friends or partners, and had a calendar where events of interest for the community were highlighted. Cartoons (erotic or not), sometimes lent a slightly more playful touch to its pages.

Founded by the deaf queer association „Gemeinschaft der ,verkehrten‘ Gehörlosen Berlin“ (Community of the wrong deafs) in 1991, the informative magazine was published every three months until the tenth issue in April-June 1994. The association financed the printing of the free magazine, but also received a small grant by the Senate for Youth and Family for later issues. The length of BERLIN VERKEHRT varied from 16 to 32 pages and also the circulation ranged between 300 and 1.000 copies.

The team around the deaf editor Horst Havemann was also active in demonstrations and cared for a bigger visibility of the deaf community at the pride parades. As a publication by and for a intersectional marginalized group, there were difficulties in funding the project and finding people for all tasks. Some issues were printed with a delay, the editorial team changed regularly and finding volunteer queer deaf editors posed recurring challenges for the magazine until its final issue.

The archive of the Schwules Museum received the issues number 5 (April-June 1992) to 10 (April-June 1994) from Martin Vahemäe-Zierold, employee at the Senate Department for Justice. Part of the gift is a copy of the brochure “Informationen (nicht nur) für Gehörlose Schwule” (Information (not only) for deaf gays) with Gunter Puttrich-Reignard, who is one of the founders of the association “verkehrte Gehörlose”. In collaboration with the photographer Barbara Stauss, he explains with pictures in German sign language how to use a condom correctly and which sexual acts are safe from HIV infection.

The information magazine “BERLIN VERKEHRT” is exhibited at the museum’s café as Object of the Month in October. The brochure “Information (not only) for deaf gays” can also be found in excerpts in the exhibitions “Love at First Fight!” and “arcHIV”.

Photo: Ygor Bahia