In 1871, it became illegal for men to engage in sexual acts with other men in Germany. Under Nazi rule, gay men faced even stricter rules and could incur extreme penalties if they were discovered to be gay, including being sent to concentration camps. It was still considered a crime to be gay when Germany divided into East and West after World War Two, though the harsher aspects of rules introduced by the Nazis were repealed in East Germany whilst in the West they were not. It wasn’t until 1968 in East Germany and 1969 in West Germany that same-sex sexual activity became legal, and 1987 and 1988 before the age of consent was equalised.

Germany has obviously undergone a profound transformation over the past few decades and this is reflected in societal attitudes towards members of the gay, lesbian and transgender community. Now unified, modern-day Germany has laws throughout the land that are designed to discourage discrimination against gay individuals. Plus, it is possible to enter into civil partnerships and to adopt your partner’s children if you’re gay. Gay culture has had an opportunity to thrive and so if you’re interested in what Germany has to offer gay men, you won’t be disappointed.

It definitely makes sense to start with the capital, because there are a wide range of events that cater for people of different sexual orientations and a friendly, cosmopolitan atmosphere that makes everyone feel welcome in Berlin. Probably the biggest event on the calendar is Christopher Street Day, which is the German equivalent of Gay Pride marches that are held elsewhere. There is an opportunity to attend lectures, theatre and comedy performances, exhibitions, films and concerts. Christopher Street Day is not confined to Berlin, as a number of other German and European cities use the event held in June to commemorate the Stonewall Riots that took place in Christopher Street, New York in 1969.

There are numerous other events that might be worth checking out, including Easter in Berlin, which is a celebration of fetish culture within the gay community. There is Gay Night at the Zoo, where you can listen to some music and socialise in a zoo setting; Bearversions Berlin where you have an opportunity to meet some "bears"; the Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, where you can watch the latest contributions to gay cinema; the Lesbian and Gay street fair, where there are plenty of stalls for you to explore. With so many different events and activities, Berlin is definitely the place to be to get a taste of German gay culture.

If you’re looking to sample some more gay culture, it might be worth visiting Cologne, as there are a number of different events that have a gay flavour to them. There is Cologne Leather Pride; Cologne Pride; Fantasy Pride, which is held in June and includes cabaret and theatre performances, a party, make-up competition and wet t-shirt competition; International German Bear Pride; and The Night of Lights, which is an opportunity to remember those who have been lost to AIDS.

Other German cities have their own events. Christopher Street Day is celebrated in Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and Stuttgart, as well as in Berlin. Frankfurt holds a charity run, which enables participants to raise money for AIDS-related charities based in the city. You can celebrate Gay Oktoberfest in Munich, giving you a chance to drink a lot of beer! There is the Freiberg International Gay Film Festival, whilst the Verzaubert Queer Film Festival is held in Berlin, Munich, Bavaria, Frankfurt and Cologne. Overall, then, there is a wide selection of activities for you to participate in and events to attend whilst you’re in Germany, as well as many cities worth exploring to sample the gay culture of this large European nation.

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