Nicht der Homosexuelle ist pervers, sondern die Situation in der er lebt [It Is Not the Homosexual Who Is Perverse, But the Society in Which He Lives]
Friday, February 10, 2017 7:00 PM
(Rosa von Praunheim, 1971, W. Germany, 16mm, 67 min.)
In this classic of queer cinema Rosa von Praunheim dissects the landscape of gay West Germany. A Brechtian Bildungsroman, the film tells the story of a young gay man who, dissatisfied with his bourgeois monogamous relationship, begins to explore different social scenes and subcultures. He makes his way from effete salons to bohemian cafés to nighttime trysts with leather daddies until finally reaching political consciousness among a group of polyamorous radicals. The film’s call to action—“out of the toilets and into the streets!”—was remarkably effective. It was after a screening of this film in 1971 that the first gay rights organization formed in West Berlin, heralding a new era of public visibility and political agitation among gays and lesbians.
Max (Monika Treut, 1992, USA, digital, 29 min.)
German lesbian filmmaker Monika Treut’s short documentary is a candid and intimate portrait of a transman. Much like Rosa von Praunheim’s film, Max explores the performance of gender and sexuality, but it also provides a corrective to the earlier film’s restricted perspective on gay cismale sociality. Treut was a pivotal figure in the so-called “sex wars”: debates among feminists about pornography, sex work, BDSM, and transgenderism. While many conservative feminists railed against what they understood to be the inherent patriarchal foundation of these issues, Treut was among those who argued for sex positivity and fought for the rights of sex workers and trans people.
About the Series : “The Gay Left”: Homosexuality in the Era of Late Socialism
In an East Berlin gay bar in 1989, an old man explains his commitment to the communist party’s project of equality after World War II: “We stopped mankind’s exploitation by mankind. Now it does not matter if the person you work with is a Jew or whatever. Except gays. They were forgotten somehow.”The only official film from the German Democratic Republic dealing with homosexuality, “Coming Out”, by Heiner Carow, ends with these lines.Similarly, this film series asks how the ideologies of communism, socialism, and capitalism address sexual minorities.
Including work from both sides of the Iron Curtain, “The Gay Left” brings multiple perspectives and historical moments into conversation in order to fight against forgetting.