After being in Sweden for a few days it was off to Berlin, Germany for my study tour! My class’s study tours consisted of Berlins LGBTQ community areas.
During our time in Berlin, we went to some pretty memorable places. Some were more sobering such as the labor camp Sachsenhausen. But some were a little more cheerful like seeing a drag performance by Olympia Bukkakis.
Sachsenhausen was an all men labor camp during World War two and it is where many gay men were sent during the Nazi regime. Until 1994, under the paragraph 175 law, being a gay man was considered a crime.
Coming to this labor camp was surreal. I’ve learned a lot about concentration camps during history classes but to actually be there was unnerving. We had an excellent tour guide Finn Ballard who knew a lot about the history of this camp and was able to answer our many questions.
I am glad that we went to Sachsenhausen because even though it was a little rough walking through it, it’s important to understand what those men went through and to keep those stories alive.
A few days later we had a completely different experience set up for us. My class was able to go to a drag performance/chat with Olympia Bukkakis an alternative drag queen in Berlin.
We got the pleasure of seeing one of her performances and then sitting down to talk about the drag scene in Berlin. We learned all about the different types of drag that can be performed and Olympia even took us through her creative process of producing a new performance. Another exciting part was learning how to make our own drag or alter ego personas!
Overall, the Berlin trip was full of new experiences and good conversations that raised important questions about how LGBTQ communities are created and treated around the world. It was also fun exploring another city in Europe!