Not the
only gay
in the City

A good project is one that grows slowly and is close to your heart as a person and photographer. That’s why I spent a long time choosing the subject of my first major photo project.

As a gay and queer committed man it was obvious that it would be a queer topic. It is important to me that the topic of acceptance of and tolerance for queer ways of life is and remains present in the public; especially in view of the increasing homophobia and discrimination in (especially Eastern) Europe and worldwide. The heated discussion about the group coming-out of artists in the magazine of the “Süddeutsche Zeitung” (02/21) and the article about homosexuality in soccer (“Elf Freunde” 02/21), homophobic lawmakers in Poland and Hungary and many others show that the topic of visibility of members of the LGBTIQ+ community is timeless and relevant.

The question of a “gay place” came up for me. Does it even exist? What constitutes it? Is it still relevant today? Is it different for young and old? Is it necessarily a so-called “safe space”, a safe place? Is it just a place where the LGBTIQ+ community meets?

Or a visible symbol for the slogan “We’re here, we’re queer!”? Or does every gay man have his own individual gay place, depending on his own socialization and biography, on his own search for identity?

I asked 50 gay men:


Men of different ages and origins, most of them now living in Hamburg, told me their stories. Stories of their coming out, their self-discovery as gay men, stories of fear and courage, of denial in a hetero-normative world, of oppression, repression and liberation. For them, participation in my photo project is also an expression of their self-expression as a gay man, is, as it were, a visual expression of Pride. And of their knowledge and firm conviction: We are not alone, we are quite safe:


Rothenburgsort, Hamburg
Six years ago my life as a husband and a dad turned upside down because of my coming-out. The new start of my personal life brought me from a small town near Lüneburg (in Lower Saxony) to Hamburg. Luckily, I soon found a nice flat in Rothenburgsort (a district south of the river Bille). It wasn’t at all easy at first but I managed to build a new home here. I love being close to the city centre, Hamburg’s nightlife, the river Elbe and nature in general. After all, one might say I found myself here in Rothenburgsort due to my new beginning. My daughter often comes to visit me, she feels comfortable here and we are still very close.


Schwanenwik, Hamburg
I had thought long and hard whether to move from Oldenburg (in Lower Saxony) to Hamburg. Then last year, the time had come. St Georg (Hamburg’s probably queerest district) became my new home, or rather Lange Reihe (the gay hotspot of the city). However, I grew especially fond of the Alster Lake and Schwanenwik in its midst. Here you can find everyone, young or old, rich or poor, gay or straight. Nothing matters but the magic and the glitter of the water. I had my first dates here (something for which this location is suited perfectly as you are never alone as a gay person), I meet friends for a sundowner or simply have time to hang out on my own. What I like most, however, is the wonderful view of the city’s skyline.

Jens P.

Pagenfelder Straße, Hamburg

1984, New Year’s Eve party at Marianne’s, my best friend at school at that time, at Pagenfelder Straße in Hamburg. I was 18 years old and had my first sexual encounter with another man. That was my start into a new year and right into a new life.

1985 then turned into a year with lots of changes: first boyfriend, my coming-out amongst my family, the gay scene, sex (always connected with the fear of AIDS), first activities with the gay movement, final exams, my time in the army and leaving home – the beginning of becoming a grown-up.


Deichstraße, Hamburg
To go to Hamburg in the early 90s as a Dane was not my own voluntary choice. Hamburg rather happened to me. My first flat, offered to me by my employer, gave me the freedom to gain new experience and to discover my own self. And, after all, Hamburg gave me my husband.


AIDS-Hilfe, Hamburg
I have had strong ties with St Georg (Hamburg’s famous diverse district) since my early childhood because I grew up there. So it was a given that I had my first own flat there. Hence, it was only a matter of time until I came to voluntarily work for the AIDS-Hilfe (the German AIDS-organization) in Lange Reihe (the popular queer area in St Georg). I have been working for the good cause since 2005. he voluntary workers take over a variety of tasks which would otherwise not be done due to a lack of resources: they host events for sex education and prevention, distribute condoms at parties and bars, accompany HIV-infected people in their daily lives, work at helplines on the phone and operate in publicity work. All this is part of my gay life.


Hansaplatz, Hamburg
Hansaplatz is an important place to me because here I moved into a shared flat, in which I feel as comfortable as with my own family. I had moved to Hamburg with my then girlfriend but soon I realized that I fancied men. We still lived together for a couple of more years but really, fate would have it that one day I met three other gay men who were looking for a fourth flat mate at Hansaplatz. What a coincidence! Here – despite the sometimes uncomfortable atmosphere of the square – I feel at home, I feel comfortably happy.


Planten un Blomen, Hamburg
Almost 19 years ago I made up my mind here to leave my first boyfriend. I wandered through Hamburg’s recreational park “Planten un Blomen” only to end up here, amidst the reed. The bleakness and wintry neglect of the place were the perfect reflection of my mood. Just half a year ago I had had my coming-out and had openly presented my boyfriend. The gay world was absolutely new to me then. So, after having found an anchor in this emotional turmoil that seemingly provided firm hold, I had to let go of it again.


Mein Bett, Hamburg
My bed as a place of finding my gay identity – isn’t that a bit trite? No! Generally, the bed stands for sexuality and sex – both belong to gay life, don’t they. I have met so many cool men, had wonderful encounters. And sure, I also developed and explored my gay identity in bed. Today, a huge part of gay life takes place in virtual worlds, sitting in bed with the laptop … Strange new world!


Ottensen, Hamburg
Ottensen (one of Hamburg’s most popular districts) and the river Elbe were my first favorite stops when I moved to Hamburg in 2012. In this district I learned to live and love in a way that I was not used to back in my small hometown. In Ottensen life is colorful, noisy and free. It is marked by the different languages people speak, the different nationalities as well as the number of rainbow flags hanging from the balconies. As a young gay man living here is wonderful. I stayed in other parts of the city, too, but I always knew I would return to my Ottensen or “the small Paris at the river Elbe“ as some people call it. When I enjoy the sunset with a beer in my hand at the Altonaer Balkon (a viewpoint from where you have a lovely view down at the river and the port) or when I hear the horns of the ships from afar I know for sure: This is my home.


Neustadt, Hamburg
Hamburg and especially the district called Neustadt meant a clean cut with my old life. Everything turned upside down, including love. I was refocussing and left old ways. However, I have never regretted it in the least. Even after seven years Hamburg still feels new and a little like holiday to me. Here I found my great love and have built a nest for the two of us. My gay life has – to me – become a constant, beautiful and absolutely natural one. Just like it should be. As a gay man I have always felt safe here and indeed at home.


Lombardsbrücke, Hamburg

In spring 1992, the year of my coming-out, I moved to Hamburg and the summer that year I experienced my first Pride Day there. However, you need to know that Pride in 1992 meant something quite different from today. No convoys, loud music and celebrating masses, but a more political and less glamorous event. At the Gerhart-Hauptmann Square in the city centre we had put up some pasting tables and offered info-material for passers-by and interested visitors to take away.

In the evening of that exciting day I left the city centre with a friend and we walked across the Lombards Bridge which crosses the Alster lake. Suddenly my friend stopped and pointed towards the direction of the townhall and the panorama to be marvelled at and said: “That’s why I love Hamburg.“ And up to this day I feel the very same way still. Often when I come past that spot on the bridge I think back to this wonderful ending of my first Pride.