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Munich’s famous Oktoberfest is in full swing right about now, and will be until October 7. It has always been known for attracting massive crowds, but this year there is even more reason for this festival to be celebrated.
On the agenda this year was the push for more rights for the LBGT community, who made sure it was seen, especially during the gay pride parade that takes place on the first Sunday of the 16-day event. It is only one of the many measures that are dedicated to the LBGT community during Oktoberfest. And although this event is in no way meant to be political, the high visibility of gay and lesbian couples allows them to be seen and for other people to take notice.
Oktoberfest is not alone in its recent attention to LBGT pride. Many soccer fans have been pushing for equality, tolerance and acceptance of gay and lesbian players on the pitch as well. Part of the reason why this issue has recently been talked about is an anonymous interview by a member of a Bundesliga team last month, who talked about his struggle with being a closeted homosexual to the online youth magazine Fluter.
“I pay a high price for living my dream of playing in the Bundesliga,” the athlete admits. “I have to put on a show and deny my true identity every day.”
There are no out gay players in German’s national team or in the Bundesliga. But this can be said about Europe as a whole, as there has yet to be a player in any of the top leagues to come out as gay.
When asked, the anonymous player said that he knew several other closeted gay players.
What he says cannot really be seen as surprising. Many soccer players have, after retirement, come out as gay and explained similar anxieties about their sexuality and its effect on their career. It is the fact that an active player actually gave an interview to a member of the press that has surprised many; there are those who even claim that was probably faked. However, Adrian Bechtold, the 25-year-old journalist who conducted the interview, is said to have spent close to a year gaining the trust of the player in order to conduct the interview.
The anonymous player said that many players in his position would not say anything, even anonymously, but he hoped that by giving his interview, it would act as a stepping stone for the equality of all sexuality in the sport.
Berlin’s Hertha-Junxx is the first and most prominent German soccer fan club that promotes acceptance of LBGT people. It has encouraged more than twenty other fan clubs to be set up all around Germany in the interest of supporting gay and lesbian soccer players.
The general attitude towards homosexuality in Germany is fairly good in comparison to other countries. Germany is predominantly Christian, around 2/3 of the population identifying as such. There is arguably more openness towards for the LBGT community in Germany due to a division of church and state. Some protestant vicars are happy to allow gay or lesbian couples to celebrate their union in their churches in blessing ceremonies.
Klaus Wowereit, who has been the Mayor of Berlin since 2001, is openly gay, as is the German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle. They show that sexuality does not determine the worth of a person or undermine their place in society, and that the people of Germany are definitely in-tune with this understanding.
And in recent months the German High Courts passed a ruling which will give the gay and lesbian couples the same tax benefits as heterosexual couples.
There are, however, still many problems regarding acceptance and tolerance of LBGT in Germany. Issues regarding the application of the income tax system towards gay and lesbian couples that needs to be discussed in the high courts. And, like in so many countries, the word ‘gay’ (or ‘schwul’ in German) is used as a derogatory term. This is an issue that impacts us all on a global scale. If you want to see just how big this issue is check out this website. It shows just how often the word ‘gay’, and other words similar to it are used on social networking sites like twitter in a day.
There is a lot to do in order to improve the acceptance of gays and lesbians in society. Highlighting both the discrimination and the positive actions taken against it is one of the most vital steps that must be done in our societies in order to rid this form of hatred form our communities.