ZBetween eleven-story apartment blocks, a supermarket and a parking lot, the “Colorful World” is located in a blue industrial building. The queer cultural center in Cottbus has existed for eight years. A brightly lit hall full of rainbow flags, with red plush sofas and a bar – a shelter in the middle of the prefabricated building area. For three years the men from CSD Cottbus eV renovated the room, at their own expense, as they emphasize. “Politics has disappointed us for years,” says Christian Müller. He is a social worker and head of the association. Every last Friday of the month, the region’s gay get-together, five to ten men from Forst, Spremberg and Cottbus, meet here. Today Uwe, Stefan and Michael came, all around 50 years old.
Christian opens the round. It’s about planning for the upcoming Christopher Street Day (CSD). Financing the march is a new challenge every year. “In the Bundestag election campaign we are asked again and again. Politicians from Berlin or Potsdam come here, make promises and leave after an hour, ”says Christian. “Everyone promises to do something for us, for civil society in the city, but when we ask questions, there is no answer.” There has not been more money for queer institutions for a long time. One is tired.
But all four want to vote in the autumn, if only to prevent the rise of the AfD, which is particularly successful in the Lusatia region. However, they do not feel represented by any party. “Both conservative and left-wing, social democratic or green – nothing has brought us forward,” says Christian. The success of the CSD, which has risen to one of the most important queer events in East Germany in just a few years, is based on the commitment of many non-profit organizations. People who were there when it became difficult or threatening.
In 2008 the parade passed through Cottbus for the first time, with 25 participants. There were more police officers than demonstrators. The low point followed three years later. The group was attacked with bottles by NPD supporters. That made the club members more rebellious, say the men in the “Bunter Welt”. Much has changed for the better in recent years. The approval in the city is growing. The demonstration that takes place in August now attracts more than 500 people, many of them from neighboring Polish regions, from Berlin, Dresden and all over Lusatia. But the city of Cottbus is struggling to take over the patronage for the CSD.
In addition to the CSD, the support of gay and lesbian youth is important to the men. You actually need three to six social workers in the region who only deal with queer issues, give school workshops and support people in difficult situations, says Michael, who works at the youth welfare office and moved to Cottbus in the 1990s. Stefan, a dental technician from Forst, says that schools are getting more and more requests for support with educational projects. Once a month there is also a trans-regulars table with more than 20 participants – the need for “Safe Spaces” is obviously great, especially in a rural region like Lusatia.
But even with this topic, the men complain of a lack of support. “Politicians still do not see diversity as a cross-cutting task. We are not a minority with whom one can decorate oneself for photo ops. ”This“ pinkwashing ”has to stop, says Christian and demands an honest engagement of politics for queer issues,“ especially in East Germany ”.
Christian and the others see politics particularly in the cockpit when it comes to stopping the young people from moving away. One problem is that there is a lack of places for them. A left, queer disco, like in the nineties, no longer exists in the city. The move is “not just a cultural and social issue, but also an economic challenge,” says Christian. The other three agree and add that the federal government must do more for rural areas and the regions that are undergoing structural change.
You already have an idea of what you can contribute yourself in the “Bunter Welt”. Soon there will also be round tables and support offers in the smaller communities around Cottbus. Nobody should be left alone, not even in the country.