Berlin is not only the capital of the country, but also Germany’s center for gay and lesbian life. Berlin’s openly gay mayor Klaus Wowereit coined the now famous words “Ich bin schwul, und das ist auch gut so“ ("I am gay, and that’s a good thing"), and the city ranks as the third largest gay metropolis in all of Europe, only topped by London and Amsterdam.
1. Gay-Friendly Areas in BerlinSame sex couples will find a thriving and diverse scene in Berlin, including 150 gay bars and cafes (as well as a gay bar owners' union); the gay scene gravitates mainly around the districts of Schoeneberg, which has been Berlin's heart of gay life since the Golden Twenties and the home of Christopher Isherwood, who lived on Nollendorfstraße. You will see many rainbow flags on Nollendorfplatz, in Motzstrasse, Kalckreuthstrasse, Fuggerstrasse, and Martin-Luther-Strasse, where you will find some of Berlin’s most famous gay bars and businesses. Other gay-friendly and hip areas include Mitte, Prenzlauer Berg, and Kreuzberg. For a gay guide to Kreuzberg and some of its best bars and restaurants, check out this photo guide to Kreuzberg on gaytravel.about.com.
Schwules Museum, the world's first Gay Museum, which opened in 1985. The museum’s permanent exhibition "Self-Awareness and Endurance: 200 Years of Gay History" explores the history of gay Berlin, from its wild times during the Golden 20s, to the persecution of the Nazi regime, to the present day. The library of the museum holds around 10,0000 books on homosexuality, and the archive is filled with a collection of films, photographs, costumes, art works, and periodicals dating back to 1896. For more fantastic museums and galleries in the German capital, check out my article The Best Museums in Berlin, from historical exhibitions, to modern art collections.
3. Gay Events and PartiesBerlin hosts countless events and parties that celebrate gay and lesbian life; there is the Teddy Queer Festival, which is part of the Berlin International Film Festival in February. The city’s largest gay event is held every June, when Berliners raise their rainbow flags to celebrate Gay Pride, known in Germany as Christopher Street Day with a colorful Gay Pride Parade. The starting point of the Gay Pride Parade is Schoeneberg, and the revelers dance all the way to the impressive Victory Column in the Berlin park Tiergarten. The parade is followed by the largest gay lesbian street festival in Europe. For more events and parties throughout the year, make sure to pick up the free gay city magazines "Siegessaule" or "Sergej", which you will find in many cafes and shops throughout Berlin.
Holocaust Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe on the other side of the park. Visitors can peek through a window set in the pillar to watch a short sequence of a homosexuality-themed film.
Brandenburg Gate, Reichstag, Tiergarten – been there, done that? If you are a seasoned Berlin traveler, check out these sights and attractions off the beaten path and discover some local gems, from a bustling Turkish market, and an authentic Tajik tearoom, to a floating swimming pool in the midst of a river, and an island roamed by peacocks.