CSD TIMES THREE
What’s up with CSD this year? The schism has caused a communal facepalm. Here’s an attempt at making sense of the three parades
If this is not your first June in Berlin, then you already know about CSD. That’s short for Christopher Street Day, the LGBT celebration and demonstration named after the street where the Stonewall Riots took place in June of 1969. Strangely, “CSD“is a term adopted by European cities but not used back in the US where that momentous event took place. There, it’s usually called a “pride parade.“The first CSD in Berlin took place in 1979 and has been continuing annually, organised since the late 90s by a group called CSD e. V. (“eingetragener Verein,“meaning they’re an officially registered association). Around that time is also when many politically-minded queers got sick of the commercialisation and depoliticisation of the event, leading to the alternative tCSD (the “t“stands for “trans-genial,“a made-up German word meaning “trans genius”), marching through Kreuzberg, rather than from Schöneberg to Mitte. You’d think two events for the same city would be enough. Nope. This year, there are three. Why? It’s complicated. And unbelievably, it’s more than just a third event popping up. All three CSDs are either newly founded or revamped, and all either the source of, or the response to the conflict that’s arisen in Berlin’s LGBT community. In January, the main CSD e. V. announced that this year’s festival would be called the Stonewall Parade, declaring that the event would become more politically militant while simultaneously unveiling their plan for marketing and branding the new name. This top-down decision, made without the involvement of the public, ticked off queer Berliners for a variety of reasons. How are increased politicisation and increased commercialisation reconcilable? Anyway, how is Stonewall, the name of the historical New York gay bar, inherently more political than the street it was located on? (While we’re at it, doesn’t the word “wall” already have enough connotations in this city?) Aside from all these questions, there's been an overall lack of transparency in the e.V.'s internal structuring and motivations. Despite the uproar from all directions, the CSD e.V. refused to back down from their planned makeover. As a response, several individuals formed an alliance, Aktionsbündnis CSD Berlin, declaring that the original e.V. is incapable of reform, stepping in to create a new alternative (but of course not too alternative like the leftist, radical tCSD): CSD Berlin 2014, with the official motto, “Respect for diversity!
Prevent rollback! Guarantee human rights in Germany, Europe and around the world!” Intended as a direct opposition to the Stonewall Parade, it also proceeds through the city centre and the West on the same day, June 21, Meanwhile, the original e.V. continues to display its identity crisis, first changing its name to Stonewall CSD Parade and now (finally?) to CSD Parade 2014. Their motto is “LGBTI* Rights = Human Rights.” How to tell these two parades apart if you amble through the city centre? Don’t ask me. And what about tCSD? It’s not happening this year. That’s sad, because it seems like it’s more important than ever to have a demonstration with an uncompromising political agenda. But the team of organisers imploded after last year’s edition. They messed up by allowing a performer at a benefit party to sing an old tune with a word that definitely doesn’t belong at an event meant to celebrate inclusion and intersectionality. A huge mistake, for sure, but one that got blown out of proportion, and after volatile attacks and in-fighting from within the queer scene, the team is not back this year. However! Stepping up to fill the void are the crews behind queerfriendly clubs SchwuZ, SO36 and Südblock, forming a street parade of their own, called Ein CSD in Kreuzberg, with the motto, “Oranienstraße is not a one-way street, and neither is solidarity!” Facing no competition whatsoever is the Dyke* March 2014, taking place the evening before, June 20. This international tradition is happening for the second year in Berlin, with no corporate sponsorship or political parties, just a simple but important aim: “more lesbian visibility and quality of life.” Of course, all supportive non-dykes are encouraged to march along in solidarity. A little metaphor to sum up the whole thing: If you visit the e.V.'s site, the first thing you will notice is a massive logo of an airline. Sure, it’s impossible to ignore that CSD attracts many foreign visitors, but how about making local residents feel like they have a place at the festival too? Or is this a subconscious suggestion for Berliners to take a vacation and avoid the drama? Well, if you do decide to take part, you can check www.siegessaeule.de for the start times and routes.