I Can Sing A Rainbow

music-theme--notes-on-white-background-with-rainbowOn Wednesday night I did something that was both scary and exciting – I joined an LGBT choir called the Regenbogen Chor (Rainbow Choir).  It is a brand-new choir that is just getting started, which to be honest took the pressure off just a little bit. The thing is, I haven’t sung in 20 years. In my younger days I was constantly singing, which happens when you grow up doing musical theatre, but then I just stopped, for reasons I can’t recall.  So flash forward 20 years and with my extremely rusty voice, I’m attempting to get back into it.

I was overjoyed to find that there were quite a few new people starting that night and that not everyone there sounds like a professional singer. Also, that regardless of whether you are singing in a choir in Australia or in Germany, the warm-up exercises are pretty much the same (although done in a different language). I can’t begin to tell you how good it felt to be singing again. To hear how awesome it sounds when you harmonize with one another. The choir also had a really friendly and welcoming vibe to it which helped immensely with my social anxiety.

From a language standpoint having everything, including the songs we are singing, in German was fantastic. I really need social outlets where I have to speak German 100% of the time. Also singing in German is probably going to be good for my pronunciation, which, let’s face it, can be pretty horrific at times.

From a personal standpoint I was really damn proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone and trying something new.  Instead of my usual thing of wanting to do something, but being too scared to so inventing a thousand excuses of why I can’t do it. Seriously, there are times when I am the queen of excuses.

Giant Papier-mâché Vaginas and Unicorn Onsies

Last Friday night saw me walking behind a giant papier-mâché vagina being pulled by women wearing unicorn onsies with 650 other ‘dykes’ for Hamburg’s first ever Dyke March. The aim of Dyke March is to increase the visibility of lesbians and queer women and to promote the aims and challenges that are unique to queer female community. So often queer women get lost behind the minimal clothing, sequins and glitter of the queer men. We are rarely photographed during Pride parades because we don’t stand out as much as our fellow queer men.  Let’s face it, we just don’t get the clicks that a photo of a 6 foot drag queen does. So, the Dyke March was our chance to steal the spotlight for the moment.

I think a giant vagina with a golden clitoris is rather spotlight stealing.

A giant vagina. What else does a Dyke Match need?

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Also, what is more awesome than unicorn onsies! I really need to find out where they brought them.

Unicorn Onsies!! 🦄

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We were given a sign, so we looked very official as we marched and danced down the streets of Hamburg.

We've been given a sign so now we look very official. #dykemarch #csdhamburg

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This was my shirt for the event. It’s dedicated to all the people who have told me over the years that I don’t look like a lesbian because I have long hair.

 

It was such a fun night. I have never seen so many queer women in one place before. Seriously, where are all you girls hiding the rest of the time??  We danced, we marched, we shouted, we flirted. It was awesome.

How Does This Thing Work Again?

It’s been a long, long time since I have blogged. My apologies. But I’m really not sure what I want to blog about these days.  I’m coming up to 6 years in Germany and life here is no longer different. Germany now feels like home.  This is great in many ways, but it does significantly reduce the blog fodder when you are not undergoing culture shock on an almost daily basis. That’s not to say that I don’t encounter things that makes me think ‘What the hell, Germany?’ but they are far and few between these days. I’m open to suggestions about what you want to read on this little blog of mine, that is if I still have readers.  Is anyone still out there? But, seriously, if you have topics you want to read about, let me know.

As way of an update, let me quickly recap my year. It’s not been a great one, truth be told. I’ve now experienced German hospitals and will now travel through life minus one fallopian tube (fuck you, endometriosis).  Depression has also regularly decided to kick my ass. But there have been good stuff as well.  I visited Norway for the first time ever in June and am now dreaming of life living in a traditional Norwegian farmhouse up in the mountains.

Old Food Storage hut. #Norway

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I’m also getting more active in the LGBT community here and took part in the Rainbow FlashMob to promote acceptance of queer folk.

Releasing our Luftballoons at #Rainbowflash #IDATHO #LGBT

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The German language still continues to be a daily battle, but one I’m struggling with slightly less. I’m still nowhere near fluent and my grammar continues to be atrocious but day-to-day communication doesn’t seem as daunting as it once did.

So, yeah, I’m still alive and kicking over here. Once again, I really want to know the topics that you want to read on this blog.

 

 

Weekly Wrap-Up

This is a new section looking at the interesting, hilarious and odd things I have discovered in the previous 7 days.

Art

I bet you have a fixed idea of what materials lamps & chandeliers should be made of.  Here are 21 Beautiful Lamps And Chandeliers Made From Everyday Junk.  I especially love number 15.

We have all imagined ourselves living different lives to the one we are currently living. We have fantasised over what this other self would wear, where they would live and the people they would love.  One photography has made her fantasies a reality, well at least on film.

Gender

As a woman working in a male-dominated industry, I am exposed to quite a lot of sexist behaviour on an almost daily basis.  However, it doesn’t take being in my position for sexism against women to have a huge impact on your daily life.  Now, transgender people are giving us a unique insight to how things change when you move from one side of the gender divide to the other.

Germany

Did you know that a large number of wild boar in Germany, particularly Eastern Germany are radioactive thanks to Chernobyl?  Apparently it is going to take 50 years for the levels of radiation in these animals to return to normal.

LGBT

Coming out is a difficult thing and every queer person has their own ‘coming out’ story. However, what the non-queer community sometimes fail to realise is that queer people don’t need to come out just the once, we have to come out hundreds of times and each coming out is still a nerve racking experience.

Why Your Next Vacation Shouldn’t Be To Russia

Photo credit: Reporters Without Borders

In case you have missed a couple of news cycle or you are not up on your LGBT news, let me give you a quick update on what is happening in Russia at the moment.  Russia has never been a country where it was a good place to be gay, but since June 2013, things have gotten a lot worse and the rate at which things are getting worse is accelerating at a frightening pace.  If you want a quick and dirty update, I highly recommend reading this piece in policymic about Putin’s War on Gays.

On June 30th this year, Putin signed into law a bill against “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations”. What this effectively means is not only are gay pride parades banned for the next 100 years, but it is illegal to provide information to minors about the LGBT community, speak in favour of LGBT rights and in any way state that homosexual relationships are equal to heterosexual ones.  This bill not only applies to Russians but to foreigners and media outlets as well.  This started to get worldwide attention outside of LGBT circles when people woke up to the fact that Russia is hosting the Winter Olympics in 2014 and this is where stuff starts to get troulbing.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) instead of upholding its own laws about equality started to side with the Russian goverment and have told athletes not to be openly gay. The IOC also claims that the Russian law is not anti-gay as it also jalis straight people as well and it will punish any athlete who openly supports LGBT rights whilst at the Olympics.

The situation inside Russia have also been detirating rapidly for its LGBT citizens.  Gay familes have started to flee Russia in fear of their children being taken away from them and authorities have started to raid the homes of known gay people and are encouraging the population to report suspected gay people to the authorities. This is truly frightening stuff.

So, what can the outside world do about it?  Dan Savage, the beloved or hated (depending whether you like him or loathe him) gay sex advice columnist has been openly encouraging people to stop drinking vodka. Despite reports to the contrary, this boycott is actually working. It isn’t going to hurt Russia financially, but it has got people talking about the issue to their friends and family – and public awareness is very important.  I encourage you to also join in on this boycott if you are known to enjoy vodka and let your friends know why you are no longer drinking it.

However, I propose another kind of boycott that will hurt Russia financially and that is to stop the important tourism dollar.  Don’t go to Russia during your next vacation. Don’t spend your important tourism dollars there.  Tell your family and friends not to go to Russia either and why.  Look, I know this is hard.  I really want to go to Russia too.  It has been on my destination wish list as well for quite some time.  It has a culture and history that is truly unique and one well-worth exploring.  But now is not the time to do that.  To those who say, it is the section of population that can least afford to lose money that will suffer, I know this.  But as it now stands, 74% of the Russian population supports the anti-gay bill and believes that gays should not be accepted by society.  So excuse me, but fuck them, they don’t deserve my hard earned euros nor do they deserve yours.

So, pick somewhere else to take your annual vacation or that long weekend away.  There are a lot of other places with a struggling economy – Greece for instance or Spain that would love your tourism dollars.  Spread the word, tell people to boycott Russia as a vacation destination and why.  It might not do a great deal, but who knows, maybe it might.

Beginning To Find My Community?

Last night I sat in a gay bar in Lange Reihe and chatted and laughed with two other lesbians. This was the first time in my almost 3 years in Hamburg that I’ve hang out with more than one other lesbian. I have really missed this.

This all came to pass through my love-to-hate expat forum Toytown and the reinstatement of Queer Beer in Hamburg.  Knowing that Queer Beer is, to put it bluntly, a sausage fest, I contacted every lesbian in Hamburg active on Toytown that had ever mentioned they would like to go to a Queer event and asked them to come along.  Two of them said yes – and I’m extremely grateful to those two awesome girls (Hi, if you are reading this!).

I adore and treasure my straight friends, as well as my gay male friends, but there is a type of conversation that you can only have with another lesbian and achieve a real level of understanding, and that happened last night.  It was a rare thing in my German life and I wonder whether this will be something that will only happen a couple of times before it all fizzles out or whether it is something we can build upon and create an active English speaking Queer Girl Stammtisch. Food for thought, indeed.

But whatever comes to pass, last night was good and much needed – and I’m extremely grateful that it happened.

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The EU Parliament says It Gets Better

I found this amazing video on That Queer Expatriate and I really wanted to share it here.

It is a multilingual video by various members of the European Parliament that ‘It Gets Better’

I much prefer seeing things like this than reading multiple times per day about how people like me should be killed.

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