Yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, the Schwules Museum* was informed by their partner organization LWL-Museum für Kunst und Kultur in Münster that the German railroad company Deutsche Bahn AG revised its ban of the poster for the exhibition “Homosexualit_ies”. This poster features Canadian trans* artist and activist Heather Casills. It may be displayed in train stations in Germany, after the Deutsche Bahn had originally decided against this. We, the Schwules Museum*, view this turn-around skeptical, because of the consequences of the original ban for the LWL-Museum. Also, we find the confusing and contradictory communications of Deutsche Bahn AG problematic.
In principal, we are glad that the Deutsche Bahn AG is no longer considering the poster “sexualized” or sexist”, and we are grateful for the great support – also internationally – we received in our own fight against the Deutsche Bahn during the last days. We see this incident as another argument for our museum’s mission to make LGBTIQ history more visible and fight for such visibility and public acceptance. But the incident is far from over. Because of the temporary ban, the advertisement company Ströer – which is managing the Deutsche Bahn AG ad spaces – has already rented out the original ad spaces to other clients. Regardless of Deutsche Bahn AG’s new decision to allow the display of the posters in their train stations, the “Homosexualit_ies” poster will not be seen prominently in any such station in Germany in the near future, because all the ad space is already taken. The Deutsche Bahn has not offered any form of compensation for this, yet.
The entire handling of the incident by the Deutsche Bahn AG has left us with a bitter aftertaste. While the official twitter account of Deutsche Bahn AG argued that the poster was deemed “sexist” or “revealing” just yesterday at 11:38 am, barely five hours later we were informed that all concerns were now cleared after a discussion of DB’s press department with the LWLMuseum. This, among other confusing statements, raises the suspicion that the Deutsche Bahn AG only changed its policy to avoid a public debate and damage to its image as a state-owned company. Since the posters cannot be displayed to promote at least the opening of the exhibition, the sudden turn-around of Deutsche Bahn AG is little consolation.
Because this entire incident has tackled very broad and important topics of visibility, awareness and acceptance of LGBTIQ in Germany, we at the Schwules Museum* are upholding our invitation for an open discussion with the officials of Deutsche Bahn AG, either in Münster or in Berlin.
The exhibition “Homosexualit_ies” will be shown from 13 May to 4 September, 2016 at the LWL – Museum für Kunst und Kultur in Münster, Domplatz 10, 48143 Münster.