queer:raum (2021 - ongoing)
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the lives of LGBTQIA+ people in particular ways. Safer spaces like clubs and bars have closed, events like Pride parades have been canceled – the visibility gained in recent years has been suffering greatly, while transphobia and homophobia are on the rise again. Now it is more important than ever to keep the pulse of queer communities alive. While the Covid restrictions have more or less been lifted and are almost a thing of the past, it is important to revive queer culture, which has been pushed into the background. Queerness, after all, means social connection and the possibility of creating more awareness for a self-determined and discrimination-free life.
The exhibition project “queer:raum” is a collaboration between 20 artists and creative professionals from Munich. The focus is on queer people, some with multiple marginalized identities, who want to contribute to more visibility with their work and thus improve our society. Queer artists in particular deal a lot with the search for identity because of their lives being perceived as different in heteronormative society.
Our first exhibition took place on July 2 and 3 of the first CSD weekend 2022, in the studio of the Münchner Aids-Hilfe association, which was also co-organizer and a cooperation partner. The portrait series “Queer Artists Munich” by photographer and project initiator Francesco Giordano was displayed, as well as pieces by the portrayed artists, such as surreal paintings by Ukrainian artist Kyrylo Zhornovy, queerfeminist illustrations by Sophie Boner, analogue photographs by film student Stella Deborah Straub, flamboyant fashion creations by Johannes Geitl and digital visuals by Lucas Fellner. The exhibition was accompanied by performances from Alfonso Fernández Sanchez, the drag artists Eve n’ more, Pinay Colada and Smooth Operator, a reading by Yassamin-Sophia Boussaod and musical contributions by Bi Män, Daniela La Luz and the band vanGoy, among others. The various art styles will be combined at the exhibition, thus creating new synergies and a place of encounter.
Yassamin-Sophia Boussaoud, 31 (they/them)
Mina creates art with words and connects this with intersectional feminist topics. They write poetry, political texts, and are currently working on a book. They write about whatever they’re feeling or whatever other people tell them they are feeling:
"My approach is that it should be radically gentle. Because we are socialised in such a way that we are not supposed to show much emotion and are also supposed to hold back emotionally, to be logical. This separation between emotionality and logic, which is very white or was also created to portray non-white people as less rational - That's what I'm trying to break down. And to say: there's a lot of power and quite a lot of transformational potential in such radical emotionality and softness, and also the potential to connect and organise collectively."
Mina sees themself as a part of the LGBTIQ+ community. What that means for them and their art, and how much they need to name it, is something they're still trying to figure out. Mina is trying to break away from the binary understanding of gender. Especially in feminist (TERF) spaces, where it is often about women and where especially non-binary people are not sufficiently protected, not sufficiently named. "That's something I'm trying to break down very specifically and where I want to use my own queerness to help and make visible people who have less privilege."
Their work on social media is met with resistance, especially on issues that contradict the heteronormative white norm. In their posts, Mina explores the issue of intersectionality from different perspectives: "Intersectionality is a way of looking at feminism. It Is not a feminist stream, but a theory that says that it is not possible for you to look at identities completely separately, but that they always overlap. For example: I am a brown woman, a fat woman, a queer woman. I have many different identities. I am also Arabic read. That means: it intersects, when I experience discrimination, it's just not only that I'm discriminated against as a woman, but everything else always plays a role there too."
Mina's wish is for an intersectional queer community to emerge in Munich, where it should be possible to start larger art projects with the necessary financial resources. With their book they want to give a first impulse to this. „I hope that something collective will emerge. Because queerness for me also means: moving away from the approach that small families are the most important, towards a collective understanding of connection, of care work, of looking after each other and being present for each other.
Kamill Lippa, 25 (they/them)
Kamill is a multimedia artist and an art student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich. Their definition of art is based on their own experiences of emancipation. Kamill’s art revolves around origin, gender as a spectrum and marginalisation: "Experiencing multiple marginalisation, not being included or being judged has made me sensitive on an emphatic level. Empathy to groupings that are affected by things that I may not be affected by."
The pandemic, especially the last lockdown in the last winter, was marked by loneliness and abstinence, a major seek for purpose within their 1-room flat and the confrontation with themself, artistic creation and the compilation of their application portfolio, which they ultimately used to apply to art academies. "But what I realised is that social contacts and social events are a central source of inspiration for me, because after two days the air was out. Then I knew exactly: I have to meet with someone now, because otherwise no more ideas came either. The tank was empty."
Kamill moved to Munich almost six years ago, and since then their perspective on the city has evolved into a positive one. "I definitely have things to say out loud, but at the same time I have the mouthpiece to do it. And I've realised that as well." Kamill is encouraged by projects such as a fundraiser through which they were able to generate €10,000 for the queer community together with a gallery owner.
"I stand for change, for political transformation and for my definition of progress. That would vanish in Berlin, because this narrative is already being told there. But here in Munich it's still unique. When I make a video where I hold the intersectional queer flag in front of the Bavaria, you can assume that there aren't ten people who have done that yet."
For Kamill, being queer means that they're not cis-heteronormative in their gender identity, nor in their sexual orientation, which they don’t need to define. With a mural in the gay communication centre in Munich, Kamill makes themself a part of the local LGBTIQ community, in which they encourage reflection. A queer scene that also does anti-racism work and does not only address white people. A queer scene that makes non-binary people, people from the trans spectrum and people who are not able-bodied visible.
Kamill's wish is to strengthen the intersectional queer community in Munich, to bring people together, to create a network and a group affiliation. "I wish that people who have this dream, from the queer or multiply marginalised community in Munich, that they dare to take their place and be loud and tackle, start and initiate. I think we need many queer initiators and marginalised initiators who say: I have power. I have the drive. I want people who are willing to go against prevailing structures and question whether everything really has to be the way it is now." On an artistic level, they want to exceed their previous exhibitions. "I want to do new things, I want to surprise and I want to collaborate with other artists. Collaboration is the 'thing of now'. Because when we do something together and forget about our pride, we are unstoppable!".
Alfonso Fernandez Sanchez, 28 (he/him)
Alfonso is a dancer. He’s working for choreographers but he also creates his own pieces combining movement with audio visuals and graphic design. In his performances he addresses the topic of gender, in which masculinity and femininity merge together. „I'm always working with oppositions to find a balance, like two strings that are pulling each other. “He tries to break stereotypes, to embrace his queerness.
For Alfonso, the pandemic had something good: „Being a freelancer, I was always living in the future. I had to search for next jobs while I was working. I couldn’t enjoy the project that I was working on because I was somewhere in between, my mind was somewhere halfway while my body was working. To stop was really good because suddenly I was able to really focus on what I want to do.“ Suddenly he had time to think about what other interests he had. How he wants to develop as a dancer, how his creativity can grow, how he can explore new paths.
Alfonso moved to Munich in September 2014. He worked for four years in the ballet ensemble of the Gärtnerplatz Theatre. After that he had to take a break, think about where he wanted to go, what he wanted to do. Munich has kept him. He likes the vibe, he wants to establish himself as a dancer here, even if it's not easy compared to other cities. The alternative dance scene is small, there are few places to rehearse, his network is not yet that big. He had a dance project in the Gasteig that lasted a whole year, this gives him courage for more. Due to his many travels as a freelancer, it is not easy for Alfonso to find a connection to the queer community in Munich but he tries to incorporate his activism into his dance.
Alfonso's wish is to grow as an artist, to try new things and find stability at the same time. He feeds his interest in audiovisual media and graphic design with distance learning in Barcelona. "I want to take all these boxes and try to understand how to grow, to embrace what I do and how to use them in the language of my dance."
Nina Bachmann, 32 (she/her)
Nina paints, mostly with acrylics and mainly figurative paintings on canvas. Sometimes she also makes sculptures out of modelling clay. Her figures usually are yellow. Yellow is a good compromise for her. "No one or everyone should feel addressed. I don't have a specific subject, but I would say I often paint daily situations, abstracted or extremely exaggerated. A bit funny and you don't really know if it's meant seriously, or ironically, or openly. Depending on how you probably see yourself in it." She doesn't follow a specific concept, the ideas for her motifs emerge from her gut.
Nina was born in Munich, grew up here, studied here and moved from the Glockenbachviertel to the quieter Giesing district last year after living there for ten years. "I love Munich. Because I've been here so long, I know a lot of people and I know where to go and where not to go. But I also hate Munich because of all this 'chic', the high rents and the lack of space for anything out of line." Many people can't afford to live in the city, especially if you don't have a regular income.
The pandemic was something positive for Nina at the beginning. Society can breathe a sigh of relief, and her art has not been affected. „Because I was able to publish my art via Instagram and that actually worked quite well, it didn't really affect me at first. But when I brought my stuff home, that was annoying in the long run. The longer it lasted, the more difficult it became." At some point she missed the exchange with friends. "Because I've always been here, I have a relatively large number of friends, but none of them do art. And that's good, because they have completely different problems and topics. That's what I missed. Talking about other things than pandemics and painting. I also missed cultural exchange like theatre. At some point it was just exhausting for the mind."
Nina does not see herself as part of the queer community in Munich. She doesn't want to make a big deal about her sexuality. "I'm not the type who has to put it out there". Nevertheless, she tries to break stereotypes in her motifs, to question the classic image of a woman. Queer themes appear in her painting just like other aspects of life too. "Probably also because it concerns me or because people generally want society to change or become more open. But I feel it's a step forward in society when you don't make a difference any more.“
Nina's wish is to paint a lot. In the coming year, exhibitions in Madrid, London and Milan are awaiting for her. "It's always kind of my goal to evolve a bit, but it happens automatically from painting to painting." Her goal is to have a bigger studio to paint even bigger paintings. "Otherwise, I try to get along with myself and keep developing new images with the process in my head."
Florian Tenk, 34 (he/him)
Florian is a photographer. Queer topics always flow into his work when he is showing people. He combines these with shots of objects, shots of places to convey a mood and his thoughts. They are a mixture of staged photos and snapshots. "When I do more conceptual work, where I deal with a certain theme, they are very personal."
Florian had his last major exhibition in Kharkiv, a city in Ukraine. "The topic was about theatre and dance in times of lockdown and the pandemic. It wasn't a specifically queer exhibition, but in the end it was all gay dancers I portrayed." He felt the importance of such issues especially when he was approached by visitors to the exhibition about his work. "This exhibition made me realise once again that queer issues do have a greater importance in society. In the last few years I have lost sight of that a bit, but I was already aiming to show queerness there: Exhibiting intimate aesthetic photographs of men naturally and freely, and thus dealing openly with my sexuality."
Florian has lived in Munich for 14 years. What he likes about Munich is that the city is clear, tidy and relaxed. That you feel safe here. At the same time, he thinks Munich is too narrow-minded and not open enough. "It's a love-hate relationship compared to Berlin. I like being there, but usually after a week I realise that I've had enough. A lot of things are too stressful for me there, like the long drives or the amount of people." As a queer photographer, you stand out more in Munich, but it's still difficult as an artist because the costs are high and there are too few exhibition opportunities. "A lot of things are not so much in your own hands. Perhaps in the sense that if you do a lot, you are naturally seen more and then the chance of being invited to exhibitions is higher. Otherwise it depends a lot on chance and luck.“
For Florian, queerness means: "Basically, an openness to all sexualities and genders, that you don't even think about it or that it doesn't make any difference. For me, a queer party is good when everyone is welcome. When no one has to explain or ascribe to anyone in particular, and when people treat each other with mutual respect." For Munich, he would like to see more parties like this, more safe spaces.
Patrice Grießmeier, 25 (they/them)
Patrice is an acting student and works as a model and drag queen. Political activism plays an important role to them: "I didn't become an actor to avoid being political, likewise as a drag artist. My character usually is a very overdrawn sexist female figure with which I often quote from trash TV formats. With that, I want to show how stereotypically these images of women are portrayed, and what narratives we are inundated with every day."
In their academy, Patrice is pushing for FLINTA toilets to be set up, as well as for changing facilities and shower cubicles for diverse people. Patrice was invited to a school to talk to students about their experiences as a queer person and about their drag art. "It's always very inspiring how they admire you and I think it's a big opportunity to be able to give them something back." Patrice is all about showing that the LGBTIQ community is not just about gay men and that drag is something everyone can do and that there are no rules.
Patrice moved from Nuremberg to Munich almost two years ago for their studies. There are many things about Munich that she finds annoying. "These are things that are typical of Bavaria, such as a certain kind of stuffiness or shame. You don't have the opportunity to express yourself the way you would like to. I certainly don't, without being condemned for it." With their first engagement, Patrice wants to move away from Bavaria. What they appreciate about Munich, however, is the easy access to the drag scene. "I've met really great queer people here, who I also want to start a lot with."
For Patrice, being queer means being politically active. She adds: "That's what I am, that's what I fight for, that's what I stand up for. It's so important to also draw attention to it: where does everything come from? What is our history? How far have we come and where are still the same difficulties as back then?". Patrice's wish is to continue working in that direction and to absorb and learn as much as she can. "I want to meet people who inspire me and show me things I didn't know before. I just want become a better person."
Lucas Fellner, 23 (he/him)
Lucas has a degree in art and multimedia. His works are digital drawings, animations, 3D scenes, up to interactive art and game design, combined: Digital Art, which means the intersection between art and technology. In his bachelor's thesis, he focused on the representation of queer individuals, and the related issues, in video games. "Very often stereotypes are used or a very extreme, not multidimensional representations of queerness is shown. Characters are either portrayed with an apocalyptic backstory or they completely ignore queer identity and say: this is all normal."
Lucas explains that portraying the complex realities of queer people's lives might be too uncomfortable for many. "It is uneasy to experience rejection from friends or your own family. Other examples are the toxicity of gay dating or sexual violence. These are topics that are already painful in real life, and that's why developers want to package them even less in video games. Yet video games are the perfect medium to convey information in a light-hearted way. In video games, you try to tell a story in a light and playful way, in which you are also interactive. That also allows you to empathically engage with a queer character." In order for the representation of queerness to be credible and profound, it is important that queer people are involved in the process and development as well.
Lucas moved to Munich in 2017 for his studies. "I didn't actually want to go to Munich because the city is still relatively close to my hometown and I initially wanted to get far away and be on my own." Munich is too elitist for him and, above all, too expensive. Nevertheless, he appreciates the beautiful things about Munich, especially the many green spaces. For his Master's degree, however, he wants to move to another place. In the future, he plans to either participate in game development or stay in research. "I'm motivated by being able to enhance the criticism from my Bachelor's thesis in practice and to bring a queer perspective into game development, to create a place of representation."
"For me, being queer is a mutual understanding without knowing each other. So if I know that someone is queer, then I already immediately have a feeling for certain things, how the person has perhaps felt in life. That's such a bonding element with which you immediately have that little spark of togetherness and community." This results in a network of people from whom he can also get and give support.
Johannes Geitl, 41 (he/him)
Johannes is a tailor and with his work he dresses artists such as dancers and drag performers. He has worked in many different fields until he realised that the most important thing for him is to live out his creativity in tailoring. In 2011 he started his own business: " Working for myself was the only way I could live out my creativity. Every piece is always different and new. I am more involved in the projects and I can interact with artists by combining my art with theirs. This results in something new, where both put their heart and soul into." The LGBTIQ community is very important for his work. Johannes loves it when drag artists fill his fashion with life on stage. "The colourful, creative, changeable, that's a part for me now and I don't want that to disappear."
For Johannes, being queer means being yourself without having to think too much about how others think about you. "Always questioning what you do. What direction do you want to take? Don’t stop trying new things. Don’t stop to learn and eventually you become the best version of yourself." His queerness is very important to his work. "If I wasn't who I am, my works wouldn't look the way they do. There's a piece of me in every outfit I've made so far. They're my children, there's both my mind and the artist's mind in them."
Johannes was born in Munich. He loves his city. "I think a lot of creative things have been happening in the last few years. When I think of my youth - sure there were more clubs, but now the queer community is more visible. Munich is making a good development." With his work, Johannes also wants to create more visibility and support queer artists. He has used the pandemic for himself to try out new things, to stage himself. "My partner and I have always given ourselves a challenge to get out of the rut and stay creative. It was important for me to keep creating new content without having to be under a lot of pressure."
For the future, Johannes wishes for more queer acceptance in society. He wants to make many outfits, make the world more colourful and beautiful and thus show: "We exist and we do great work. We are a big part of society, even if people don't see it that way, but without the queer community there wouldn't be so many creative things.“
Stella Deborah Traub, 25 (she/her)
Stella studies documentary film and works as a photographer. In both fields, she is interested in the hybrid of reality and staging and works with both amateurs and actresses. Breaking down and constantly questioning the Male Gaze is particularly important for her work: "You don't have to be a heterosexual cis man to reproduce the Male Gaze. You're brought up with the idea that films or visual arts in general have to please the male audience. Part of that is that as female read persons are always portrayed as beautiful, who are not actively looking, but being looked at." In a semester project, Stella is looking at what a queer gaze could look like and what happens when perspectives meet in a different way than usual.
Stella prefers to cast her sets with FLINTA persons: "Especially when you're putting together a team, it's super important to me that the set is a safe space and that nobody who is queerphobic is involved. Especially in film and in camera technics, there are a lot of guys who like to rattle off a sexist slogan or behave strangely towards protagonists or other team members." This sensitivity is also important to her for the topics she deals with her colleagues. One of her recent films was about menstrutation. "We re-enacted scenes that you know from advertising, from all pop culture, and we blow up the Male Gauze with menstrual blood."
For Stella, being queer means more than just saying how you identify and who you have sex with. "How do I see a relationship and how do I deal with jealousy? What role patterns persist and how can you restructure ways of relationships based on that?". She is interested in how to question power structures in relationships differently and how to deal with desire and being desired. "You notice how strongly you are socialised by your own parents and society. In the end, however, there is no blueprint that says how a relationship has to work."
Stella moved to Munich 7 years ago. What she likes about Munich is that you can find your community very quickly here. "I have the feeling that the left-wing queer artist bubble is very small here. Which can also be quite nice, because you quickly know who's around." In the beginning, she struggled at first because she felt excluded as a queer person who would date people of any gender and identity. "I often felt in the beginning that I couldn't get into some spaces. But that has totally changed now because I have a lot more friends for whom it doesn't matter." For the future, Stella wishes that she can continue to pursue her values and ideals and that she can do projects where she doesn't have to hide as a queer person. "I want to work with people and topics that I feel comfortable with and where I can stand behind. But that's a big privilege because reality doesn't always look like that."
Sheila Achieng, 28 (she/her)
Sheila performs as a drag king and is involved with Beyond Colour for the interests of queer persons of colour in Munich. Even as a child, she was interested in the role of men in society and constantly questioned it. In the character of Smoothoperator, Sheila wants to dismantle the patriarchy, to show that there is both feminine and masculine energy in every human being. "We are all men, just some men have wombs. And thats why they're called women. Just because some men have wombs makes them any difference. At the end we're all human beings." Smoothoperator is her alter ego: "He's really natural and very smooth, not over the top, but just fully relaxed. Many people have already called him a Casanova and I can confirm that."
The pandemic was very difficult for Sheila: "Because I work in the field of healthcare, my drag art was very important for my work-life balance. With all the bookings gone, that balance was suddenly missing. On top of that, work through Corona became more and more." Sheila has lived in Munich since 2014 and worked as an au pair at the beginning. "Munich welcomed me really well back then. I never had a problem feeling comfortable here. Everything went as planned and I really have integrated." Sheila has learned to accept herself as a queer person and to value the freedom to live as she feels is right.
Her relationship to the local LGBTIQ community is ambivalent. "When you go out in the queer scene, it's mainly to search for love and not to feel alone. In this search, I especially realised what it means to be black. It broke me at first but also forced me to accept myself as a black and queer person." The Beyond Colour working group has contributed a lot to this. "Beyond Colour is our joint project that we built when we realised: Holy shit, we are not accepted here, not properly and holistically, not represented either. Mostly we are used as tokens and that's a shame." Beyond Colour's contributors are engaged in anti-discrimination and empowerment work for LGBTQIA+ persons of colour who experience racism, discrimination and migration.
For Sheila, queerness is very important: "Being queer helps me not to be categorised by society, to show myself as I am without having to hide." Sheila's wish is to increase the visibility of drag kings and bring them closer to people. "Drag Kings are not that visible in Munich or in Germany in general. Without visibility, we also don't get necessary spaces to get booked from time to time." Sheila wants to become self-employed on the side, get more involved in the art scene again and thus maintain her work-life balance.
Alexander Goy, 36 (he/him)
Alexander's main focus as an artist is music and performance. He is lead singer and founder of two bands. One is vanGoy, an indie pop band that has been active for almost ten years, and there is Goy&Künstler, a new German-language project, which he started a year ago together with a friend. "In both projects, I see myself mainly as a storyteller, effectively through singing and creating music, but also working with a certain visibility. It's very important to us to send our artistic messages also through our looks and stage performance."
Alexander writes lyrics about small observations and stories about people around him. "The way I work, writing and composing, is very influenced by the way I am moved by the fates and stories of people who surround me. It's always about life and some kind of struggle that they have. For example, about a person who suffers an addiction where I saw myself as incredibly helpless and tried to put myself in their shoes, tried to help. At first I had the feeling that I had failed, but then I realised: No, I can't do anything else but process that in my music." Queer issues also find a place in his music: "My latest single ‚light of this world‘ tells a story of an unfulfilled desire to have children I used to feel and what that topic means for queer society in general."
Alexander has lived in Munich for 15 years. "I love Munich and I never expected it because back then I just wanted to get away from the small town I grew up." The relocation was manageable for him because he couldn't afford anything else at that time, and he still appreciates the short distance to his hometown friends and family. vanGoy has already performed twice at Gay Prides in Munich, that is how Alexander wants to give something back to the LGBTIQ community and to show: "Yes, I am also a part of us. And I have four other people in my band who are not necessarily queer at first, but that doesn't matter."
For Alexander, being queer means standing up for yourself. „When I was in my mid 20s I've had experiences, that influenced me and made me think about how I want to present myself. For example when someone from the audience who didn't know us personally talked to me after the show and said: Dude, how you sing, your voice and your performance is super cool, but then you open your mouth to talk…“ Today, Alexander jokes about it. "I don't want to be a person who has a scripted show, I want to interact with the audience and I wanna do that the way I am." With both of his bands he is working on new songs and he hopes that after a longer break due to the pandemic, more live concerts with an audience will be possible again.
Lorand Lajos, 40 (he/him)
Lorand is a visual artist, fashion designer and co-founder of LOVERS, an artist collective that organises various queer parties and events in Munich, serving as a platform and safe space for the LGBTIQ community. The „Ball“ or the sex-positive „Cream“ are some of the parties the LOVERS have created. "I love working with illustrious, determined and courageous people from the community, because they have an open mindset, are extremely passionate and creative. I like to push the limits of social perception, and I do that in art, events and fashion.“ Together with his best friend Franz Schmidt he established his brand Atelier Lorand Lajos, which stands for sexy clubwear and flamboyant couture pieces.
Lorand has lived in Munich for 15 years. "I appreciate Munich for its advantages. And if I want something different, I can always travel to Berlin, Paris, Vienna, wherever. Munich lays in the heart of Europe and all destinations are easy to reach." Most of all, however, Lorand appreciates the locals. "There are some amazing people here and it's important to bring them together. That's what our parties and events with the LOVERS have always shown, that with the right platform and the right music the cool kids, underdogs, local stars and foreigners all celebrate together like never before. It’s the melting of underground and mainstream. This is where you feel the magic happen, and witness that Munich nightlife is much less rigid than its reputation. We are working on that“.
For Lorand, being queer means being free to live your own way of life. It is very important to him that queerness is not used as a tool to put oneself above other people and exclude them. "The queer movement should lead as a positive example of how much you like yourself and how much you respect other people for who they are. I want to be involved in win-win situations. I want to be involved in a movement that brings more attention to individual freedom, acknowledged diversity, inclusion and an open society. This confidence will inspire other non-community members and new generations“.
Lorand currently works on his new fashion collection. "We create unforgettable experiences. Our clothing and accessories are tools to turn out the goddess in you. Wether you play in bed with your partner or are ready for a blast at the club - in my designs you will be the center of attention. I enjoy people who make a strong statement just by who they are, how they act, how they dress, how they think, how they celebrate life. It is confidence and individuality - I find these fascinating, indeed very enriching.“ During the pandemic he worked with his team on a large TV show, and had time to contemplate the relaunch of his brand. And with the LOVERS he is already planning the upcoming revival of the CREAM partys at Kunstblock Balve.
Daniela La Luz aka VANiLLLA, 41 (they/them)
Daniela is a producer and writes music. In their life, Daniela has already worked as a promoter, has organised large parties and exhibitions, has supervised various labels and made radio program. As a communication designer, Daniela contributed many artistic works for agencies and their own releases. Daniela has toured the world with their music. Their most famous track, "Did you ever", is about queer love. "I'm doing singing lessons with myself. I want to sing more again and I'm working on countless electronic productions of my own to release and bring to the stage."
From 2017 until 2019, Daniela had to struggle with health issues. This also caused them to move back from Berlin to Munich after a 10-year stay. In February 2020, Daniela had live acts at the Berlinale for Taiwan and at Harry Klein. The start of the pandemic was then a hard cut in their professional life. "I used the time to reposition myself and to learn new coping strategies. I went to therapy and took the time to question everything in an absolute awareness of what I really still want to do and what my energy is actually still there for." Together with the techno artist Nastasia, the data analyst Tatjana and many other international musicians Daniela organised a fundraiser for the victims of the Russian war in Ukraine.
Daniela was born and raised in Munich. As a child, they had to fight discrimination and exclusion because of their Polish migration background. "In the 80s, Poland was just somehow more foreign. People said ‚Polonien‘ and ‚Polynesien‘, although it is actually a neighbouring country." Through the pandemic and their recovery, Daniela has built up a new relationship with the city. "I'm slowly daring to say that I feel comfortable here." Daniela quickly found contact with the queer community. "When I moved here, we organised a party right away too, the 'queer Amore', which I would have liked to continue." Their wish is to bring the queer colourfulness more into the public.
For Daniela, being queer is also a political statement, which for them personally also means abstaining from meat. "For me, being queer is a worldview that is against all exploitation and oppression. If I don't want to classify and value any gender or race, then I shouldn't do the same with other species." Environmentalism and conservation are important parts of queerness for them. "The whole debate around gender is the way forward to a world that just really cares more about fellow beings." Danielas queerness, their views and their personality are also reflected in their work. The exchange with people from all over the world and the common consensus, regardless of sexual orientation and identity, is an inspiration for them.
Jay Miniano, 35 (he/him)
Jay works as a makeup artist and as a teacher for makeup and hair styling at a makeup school in Munich. In his spare time he dresses up and performs as a drag performer on stage and in clubs. More and more often he also performs for some money. His drag persona is called Pinay Colada. Jay describes her as a fun and iconic queen whose message is to put fun out into the world. "Pinay is an upgrade version of myself. The things Pinay says and does, I might not have done as Jay in the past, but now I do, but would definitely need more time to give myself a push. Pinay is just more unapologetically there." Being helpful is very important to her. "Pinay likes to call herself the Miss Congeniality from Munich. She always has time for other queens to give them tips and tricks about makeup and to support them."
In the first few years, Jay was working in retail. At the beginning he was stationed in Munich for three months to train new colleagues. During this time, he also realised to what extent a city and its environment can have an influence on you. "In 2015, some things had happened that didn't go so well for me. That's when I broke up with my boyfriend and the circle of friends changed into the negative. I didn't feel comfortable in Hamburg anymore. Fortunately in the first three months in Munich I met my current husband." Jay then got an offer to stay in Munich. "So I thought, this is a good chance for a fresh start." In 2019, he did an apprenticeship at the Makeup School alongside his permanent job. Shortly after his graduation, he started his training to work as a permanent teacher.
Jay's relationship with Munich is very good, he has made many friends in the meantime and had no trouble settling in. "I think every city has its advantages and disadvantages and it just depends on the general situation you are in. How you take these cities as either anchors for yourself or as ballast that you want to shed." The initial shame towards the local LGBTIQ community was quickly overcome. Today Jay can go to the scene bars and always meets someone to have a great night out with. Performing as Pinay Colada has certainly played its part and the community is also very important to her: "If I hadn't been at Pride in 2017 and seen the amazing drag queens, in their colourful ball gowns, Pinay wouldn't have been born."
For Jay, being queer is a big part of who he is. "It's taken me a long time to like and love who I am and be comfortable with most of myself. I think that's something that we all kind of have in us as queer people. The need to accept ourselves first and love ourselves as we are." As Pinay, Jay likes to break gender identities and he wants to show that masculine read people and makeup are not contradictory. In the context of queer project, it is important to Jay that queer culture is not only appropriated by brands but also appreciated. In the future, he hopes to grow as a drag performer and start collaborative projects. In private, he and his husband are preparing for the long-term care of a child.
Theresa Bittermann aka Bi Män, 32 (she/they)
Theresa describes herself as an audio-visual intervention artist who creates post-female crossover. They work as a DJ, organiser, author and moderator and tries to carry queerfeminist interests into society through various artistic forms of intervention. Theresa is also co-responsible for the queerfeminist DJ collective WUT, which organizes awareness structures in the club culture. "I would also add that I do feminist politics in Munich, which gets short shrift in the administration or in city organs. Together with many others, I try to knock on the doors of the city hall from the street and say: Hello, yes, we need a bit more spaces for queer forms of life."
For Theresa, the pandemic initially meant a collapse of all financial resources: "My events and my bookings fell apart. I really went to no income at all.“ With the support of the city, she was able to stay afloat and adapt to the new situation. "I started bringing queer feminist culture into the digital space. I've been live-streaming as a DJ, organising cultural shows on specific topics, for example a discussion on the women's quota." Theresa was also involved as a moderator for the livestream of the CSD in Munich. "The pandemic taught me to just wait and see. Not to pursue a concrete plan, but to go with the moment.“
Theresa was born in Munich. In 2010, they emigrated to Spain at the age of 19 and they were particularly inspired by the protest culture in Madrid. Their relationship to Munich is ambivalent and Theresa always catches herself underestimating the city. "I always come back here and then think after trips or stays abroad, excursions etc. that Munich actually has an incredible number of corners that I still haven't discovered and things that I experience anew, where I think: wow, that's super innovative and that's in Munich." On the other hand, Theresa is annoyed by the bureaucratic effort and the fact that public spaces can be occupied by large automobile companies, but not by the independent scene that is developing a feminist theatre piece.
Theresa sees their queerness as a kind of creative space, a laboratory where they can try things out and utopias can be created, which may or may not be realised. "In this space, everything is possible and even more probably impossible – I like this ambiguity." To the local LGBTIQ+ Community she feels strongly involved. What she values most is getting to know the community across all generations and learning from the experiences of older queer people and their actions and interventions. For them and their work, the community is a safe space where they can express themself without having to experience any form of disrespectful comments, exclusion or discrimination. "The community is also a role model to show me how you can process awareness, also for society as a whole.“
Sophie Boner, 33 (they/them)
Sophie creates digital artworks, mainly classic illustrations but also animations with a political reference to current topics. Since last year, Sophie has been a part of the feminist action group Slutwalk Munich, which campaigns against sexualised violence and for sexual self-determination. "We mainly campaign through the big demo that we organise once a year. It's a mixture of a demonstration march and a dance party, which is meant to draw attention to the issue, but also to offer participants a safe space to dress the way they want without having to experience assaults." In addition, the group co-organises various events, participates in many demos such as Fridays for Future, and provides information about queerfeminist issues on site but also on their podcast and through their social channels. In addition to organisational tasks, Sophie is also responsible for the Instagram posts and often uses their illustrations for these.
Sophie was born in Munich. "Munich is my great love and is the closest thing I would call home, even though I don't really like the term. But it is my city. I have a very strong identification with it and I'm also very typically Bavarian arrogant about it." Sophie is very rooted in Munich and loves to spend their time on the Isar. They feel part of the LGBTIQ community mainly because of their involvement in Slutwalk Munich and because of their queer friends, but Sophie still misses the spaces where they would also feel comfortable as a non-binary person. "I am a very empathetic person and I make a lot of art out of emotion. I always want to translate my feelings into art and to express it to the outside world. The community is an important source of inspiration for me in that."
For Sophie, being queer means anything that rejects heteronormativity and steps out of the binary gender system, both in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity. "For me it is very much a feeling. I don't feel I belong to the classical society and I reject a lot of things. So for me it is clear that I am queer." In their work, Sophie deals a lot with representation and inclusion. "I think quite a lot about how I represent people and what they do. I always ask myself, how is someone portrayed and how do I reproduce stereotypes or clichés that I don't really want to?" Sophie gives the example of instructions for anatomy, which are mostly binary and where everything in between has no place. "That's something I can break down very easily and very beautifully with my art. You just have to be aware of it, though." For the Slutwalk stickers, they draw various people who are trans, who are POC and people who live with disabilities.
Sophie wishes that feminism would become more intersectional because it considers all people. "A lot of the rights that we have as queer people today also come from intersectional feminism. Without black trans women, there would be no Christopher Street Days today." Within the Slutwalk group, they want to be an ally and use their privilege to make a positive difference. Sophie is currently in the process of becoming more professional in their business as a freelance illustrator. Despite their early lack of motivation, the pandemic has given them a boost and allowed them to spend a lot of time working on their art. "The pandemic definitely showed me that I can't live without art. And I think that's a positive thing."
Kyrill Zhornovyi, 25 (he/him)
Kyrill works as a visual artist and paints surrealistic motives with oil colours on canvas. "I deal with emotions, current political issues and transform ideas that arise in my subconscious." For a recent exhibition, his current work deals with the war in Ukraine, which is his home country. In one painting you can see the figure of the Russian president Putin, inspired by the work "the son of man" by Rene Magritte. Instead of an apple, however, a palm grenade is covering the face. Kyrill originally studied architecture, and you can recognise this background in his work. "Perspective drawing and three-dimensionality is something I was able to absorb from my studies. After graduating, I worked in an architecture office for a year, but that wasn't something for me. I've had an interest in visual art since I was young." Quite subtly, queer themes also emerge in his work.
The pandemic made its contribution to Kyrill's return to painting. Work and studies were inevitably paused, Kyrill was stuck with friends in Dresden for over a month and there he picked up a paintbrush again for the first time. "My first work, which I painted during this time, was also sold. That encouraged me to work on more pieces and to apply for the professional association for artists." Kyrill moved to Hohenschäftlarn in 2016 for his studies, and in 2020 he and his partner moved into a flat in Munich. Kyrill describes himself as an introvert and, due to the pandemic and time-consuming studies, has not yet found a connection to the local LGBTIQ community. "Many people from the queer community dare to work as self-employed people. People who stand by their identity and dare to do this inspire me a lot." He is also only getting to know Munich better step by step, but he is sure that he will stay here for the next few years.
For Kyrill, being queer means being able to express himself publicly without having to hide it. His queerness was also the reason why he had to leave Ukraine after school. The desire for security initially brought him to northern Germany. "But I have to say that in recent years, the situation in Ukraine has changed for the better. Especially in Kiev, the acceptance of queer people has increased." Kyrill tells about queer friends who, because of the war, have joined the military. The rights they fought for years are threatened and the queer organisations and members are trying everything to keep them alive. For Kyrill, it is important to show that queer people are not only extravagant and colourful, but a cross-section of our society and that there are very diverse family constellations.
Kyrill's desire is to keep establishing himself as a visual artist and to try new things. "I have a good gut feeling about it. Although I had no higher education in art, the Professional Association of Visual Artists accepted me as a member. This also gave me a scholarship to implement new artistic projects." He is currently taking care of his mother and her two cats, who had to flee Ukraine and are now staying in his flat. "I've still found it very difficult so far, but slowly the motivation is returning and I'm trying to process my impressions and emotions with my art and would also like to exhibit these works soon."
Maria/Mai Strathmann, 26 (they/them)
Mai is a make-up artist by profession. Since graduating from the Theatre Academy in September last year, Mai has been working on freelance projects that are queer feminist, at least in approach. "I describe my craft as art because in my creations I am in control of how I stage, how I represent something and I can break binary images, in order to make queerness visible." On the side, Mai also works at a theatre, where they try to claim an existing traditional space and have their art flow into it. "I think it's important to take back existing spaces and to turn society into a safer space a bit more." Mai's aim is to break the norms in order to accustom the eye to different and new perspectives.
The pandemic is responsible for film and theatre projects coming to a stop, or even being cancelled completely. "Every day there is this uncertainty, which also means financial losses and fears for the future. In one case, we couldn't even document the project for our own portfolio anymore." But the pandemic also had a good side, Mai was able to occupy themself with directions that were new to them: "In the first Lockdown I discovered body painting for myself. I felt like working with a brush and didn't want to lose sight of form and colour. Unfortunately, we couldn't allow a lot of touching between people, so I started with my own body instead." In spring, Mai is giving a workshop at their old school back home and wants to combine this with topics such as feeling one's own body and self-protection.
Mai moved to Munich almost 4 years ago for their studies. It was the Theatre Academy and its interdisciplinary concept that brought Mai here. "At the academy, there are different courses of study that work together on stage.“ At first, Mai didn’t like Munich much. "Now in the meantime, I have found my people who give me support and security." Mai feels unrepresented in the local LGBTIQ community, they lack protective spaces that include them as a gender non-conforming person. "I would like to see spaces where all people in the community can come together and share ideas. Not spaces where people look for sexual experiences, but spaces where different realities of life can be exchanged."
When asked what queerness means to them, Mai does not want to come to a clear conclusion: Mai sees queerness as an umbrella term for many things, not only for sexuality, but also for attitudes of a political nature. "I find it hard to break it down. I'm usually looking for definitions everywhere and every time I realise: I don't want that. I want to free myself from categories. Queer is what I can identify myself under the most or where I feel comfortable because it's more than just an orientation for me." For the future, Mai wishes that queer productions and projects and their teams would be better supported financially and not have to be realised with a low budget as is usually the case. "I would like to be allowed to address issues in traditional spaces and to be met with openness, so that I feel comfortable and can be taken seriously.“
Federico Brens, 27 (he/him)
Federico paints with oil on canvas and writes poetry. In his creations, he processes his emotional worlds, but also conflicts and experiences with his fellow human beings. Federico likes to use bright and vivid colours, thus creating contrasts to subjects that are otherwise serious and painful. In one of his latest works, you can recognise a human heart, abstracted and embellished with textures, patterns and many small details. "In my poetry I always write about Maria. Maria for me is synonymous with various people, subjects and objects." Federico loves to provoke when he combines religiosity with sexuality, thus coming out with his queer identity. "I do enjoy showing that I'm gay. But in the end it shouldn't matter who or what you are."
The pandemic has changed Federico for the better. "By suddenly having so much time I also started to deal with myself more." Before the pandemic, Federico was stuck in his routine and was at a different party every weekend. "I finally had time to finish projects and expand concepts. I've also become a bit more mature now, a bit more responsible and I'm also much clearer now about what I want to do in the future." Federico knows the Munich rave scene well, he appreciates its family atmosphere and the fact that you always meet someone you already know. "People are becoming more open and daring. Also when it comes to fashion. I always feel comfortable when I go to a rave in Munich. Even when I wear a dress, no one makes fun of me."
Federico was born and raised in the Dominican Republic. He moved to Allgäu when he was nine years old and has now lived in Munich for seven years. "Before I moved to Munich, I already knew some people and they also helped me to settle in well here." Federico is a big fan of Munich. "There is nothing lacking here. Many people complain that Munich is boring, stuffy and conservative. I think it's important that people like me stay here anyway, showing that Munich people are open and friendly to what's different." Federico likes to dress more flamboyantly and colourfully, engaging in his own personal activism. "I rarely hang out in gay clubs and bars, it's important to me to move in other spaces where everyone is accepted for who they are."
For Federico, being queer means having a joyful life, respectful interaction and being accepted. "I love being queer. For me, being queer is also a life lesson. If I wasn't queer, I wouldn't be as far along in my head as I am now. I would never want to change my life." For this year, Federico is taking it upon himself to host an exhibition or two. "Besides the art, painting and poetry that I do, I am also a passionate cook. In my future I see myself with my own shop where I can show my own art but also present my recipes."
Mirca Lotz, 41 (she/they)
Mirca works as a curator, activist, speaker and project manager. "I organise events and also produce them. This includes regular music festivals, but also events with overlapping elements, where music, art and film meet and take place as an intervention in public space." In the last year, they have formed the agency "Safe the Dance" together with other activists, with whom they run many workshops and talks on awareness, dversity, safer spaces and gender equality. "Of course, my projects cost me a lot of time. But on the other hand, they always result in synergies and new tasks quickly arise. You need a passion for it and you just have to see what you can get out of it and realise that it's not just work, but also gives you a lot back."
For Mirca, the pandemic was bad at the beginning because they suddenly had nothing to do. "I'm usually on the road a lot, internationally, also at conferences and festivals. I speak a lot and give workshops, and all that was not possible any more." With the founding of Safe the Dance, there was a great demand for online meetings on the topic of awareness work and diversity. "For us, the foundation was incredibly worthwhile. We then also started writing funding applications. That also really helped a lot. I learned that you also have to pay yourself off in projects." Mirca has networked with people from all over the world through online meetings and has participated in talks and workshops that have taken place in New York, for example. "Last year in April I also created an event called Network the Networks, which was exactly about bringing people together who are all working on the same problem at the same time, in parallel and always starting from scratch. In these areas, it's always the same problems that have the same solutions."
Mirca moved to Munich as a child. They describe the city as a village of millions. "I think it's totally comfortable here. That's why I'm fully rooted here. You meet people you know all the time. On the other hand, it's also annoying that things don't change that quickly, that everything is still a bit conservative and that funds are distributed unfairly." Through their work Mirca interfaces with the LGBTIQ community, for example a cooperation with the Lesbentelefon and the Habibi Kiosk of the Münchner Kammerspiele. "There are always intersections where BIPoc's experiences of exclusion and discrimination play a role, where the intersectional flows in. I think it's very important that we don't just look at one thing, but that we try to include as many aspects as possible. You can't just stand up for your own sensitivities. If I want to change something, I have to think bigger. That's why it's so important that we all talk to each other and see what kind of exclusion experiences who has."
For Mirca, being queer means not having to define herself in any category, that they can just be herself and be free. "It doesn't matter how I define myself or who I want to be with or who I want to marry someday. Being free is what I value and not being constricted and not being stuck in categories. Because why should I? What's the point of people committing themselves, which then in turn restricts them?". Mirca themself values exchange, they like projects in which there is interaction. "I think it's great if there is the possibility to meet other people and connect." My projects are based on these experiences. "It can also be totally exciting when people from different corners come together who otherwise haven't met." with Safe the Dance, Mirca is planning a kind of manual on how best to implement an awareness policy, what the Ten Steps are to make my venue and festival more accessible, or how to deal with victims of sexualised violence. "We want to summarise all these topics in order to give a quick overview combined with online links so that you can refer to further resources."