Kim Petras, Modern Pop Princess

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In her debut music video, I don’t want it at all, German trans pop star Kim Petras sings, “I want all my clothes designer, I want someone else to buy ’em.” The video also features spoiled poster girl Paris Hilton.

“It’s just a sugar-baby anthem,” Petras said. “It’s very tongue-in-cheek. … It’s a fantasy song about if my bratty side came out and had a ball.” It may sound like a tribute to rampant materialism, but the song is actually anything but superficial. Rather, it’s an ode to teenage girl fantasy — something Petras, now 25, missed out on back then.

“I wanted to kill myself as a kid,” she candidly admits. “I wasn’t popular in school, I got bullied pretty hard … but I’m talented and I’m good at music, and that’s always how I spent my time — in my room, making music.”

At 16, Petras was the youngest person in the European Union to undergo gender-affirmation surgery (she started hormone therapy at 12). “I feel like my whole teen life was taken up by fighting for that — fighting to get surgery and fighting to get hormone therapy,” she says.

Since the surgery is usually prohibited until a teen reaches 18, Petras had to convince a medical team to make an exception in her case. “My parents really educated me that not everybody’s as lucky as me, to transition early,” Petras says. She’s thrilled, “I get to help others who are not as lucky,” and is determined to remain a trans ambassador. “The great thing about my music career is that, really, people find out about me without knowing [my history] and it’s really just about the music … but at the same time, I’ll always fight for the transgender community.”

She also isn’t willing to be judged by her gender. “That somebody is female or male, it doesn’t define them … and if somebody’s transgender, it doesn’t define them,” she says.

Her life has really always been about music. Growing up, Petras remembers her mom playing Miles Davis and Billie Holiday records. As a teen, she recalls watching a Carole King documentary and becoming “really obsessed with songwriting.” Petras had a hit single, Last Forever, in her native Germany by the time she was 16. She’s been making music for over half her life and has written over 300 original songs, leading Petras to joke that her first full-length album will really be more like her “greatest hits.”

One can certainly see shades of pop princesses past in her edgy but perfectly polished, side-ponytail sporting, bubble gum-popping aesthetic.

“I grew up with Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera,” Petras explains. “And I really love everything early-Madonna.” After coming to Los Angeles at 19, Petras says her early success in Germany didn’t open doors stateside and she ended up broke and “slept on studio couches for years.” But these days, the years of blood, sweat, and tears are starting to pay off and her career is shifting into high gear. She has collaborated with artists like Charlie XCX, JoJo, Baby E, and Lil Aaron. She records on her own label, has been featured on RISE (Spotify’s artist development program), and has been streamed over 30 million times on the platform.

With her new hit single and video, Heart to Break, climbing the charts, a full-length album in the works, and a tour with Troye Sivan this fall —  Petras doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon. “I’m so, so ecstatic to be doing what I’m doing,” she says. “I’ve been working up to this my whole life, like since I was 12 years old, I was on the way here — so now I’m going to enjoy it.”

German Alt-Rights not allowed to attend Pride, cry a river

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Germany’s biggest far-right party is complaining that Berlin Pride organisers refused to let its youth group have a booth, reports Berliner Zeitung.

The Alternative for Germany party is known for outrageous nationalist rhetoric and drafting unpassable legislation that plays into its base’s sense of victimhood. The youth wing, Junge Alternative, whose leader recently said that Adolf Hitler was mere “bird shit” in over a millennium of otherwise successful German history, applied to have a presence at Berlin’s Pride festivities but was rejected.

David Eckert, the 26-year-old head of the Junge Alternative Berlin chapter, wrote a Facebook post expressing his outrage that his group was not welcome at Berlin’s Christopher Street Day celebration July 28.

Eckert posted an “email exchange” between him and the event organizers who denied the request. In it, Pride leaders told him the festivities needed a “climate of acceptance” that was welcoming to refugees. They also rejected the group because its application came in past the deadline.

“Not every gay person wears vinyl and leather, struts around with a handbag and paints their nails,” Eckert said. He then quoted a poll stating 12 percent of German LGBT voters supported the alt-right party and asked if he could apply for next year’s Pride.

In a dazzling show of cognitive dissonance the party while committed to its anti-immigrant and anti-queer-rights platform, has sought to attract more queer voters. Its current leader, Alice Weidel, is a lesbian. However, during her candidacy, the party threatened to sue the German Parliament for legalising same-sex marriage last year.

Prora

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Prora, on the Baltic Sea. Mysterious, endless. In this deserted former Nazi holiday camp, German and French teenagers Jan and Matthieu embark on an adventure that confronts their identities and puts their friendship at risk.

A journey of self-exploration, an odyssey of male adolescence, Prora is a tender story about love and friendship.

Submitted by Adam

Nudity in Germany

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When I was a kid, my father always used to sunbathe nude in our garden at weekends. In public pools, children of all ages were allowed to run around naked all the time. Even now I’m comfortable with getting naked in the sauna or gym changing room. Maybe it’s because I’m German.

Nudism is traditionally popular in Germany, a country considered buttoned up and conservative compared with, let’s say, Italy. In Germany, nudism is known as Freikoerperkultur (FKK), Free Body Culture. When you travel there, you’ll see that baring all is normal in saunas, swimming pools, the park and on the beach.

Summer in the parks of Berlin and Munich brings the chance of encountering a middle-aged, bronzed German wearing only a hat and the BILD-Zeitung, Germany’s favorite tabloid.

Forget sausages and beer, the sign of true German-ness is publicly disrobing with absolutely zero self-consciousness. For me, it’s often just quicker and easier to do a clean strip at the pool or sauna than frantically trying to hide the bits that everyone else is already displaying without batting an eyelid.

Divided by the Iron Curtain, united by nudity

Germany’s passion for clotheslessness finds its origins in late-19th-century health drives when stripping off was seen as part of a route to fitness and sunbathing a possible cure for TB and rheumatism.

In 1920, while the rest of Europe was still getting feverish over the sight an exposed ankle, Germany established its first nude beach on the island of Sylt. Barely a decade later, the Berlin School of Nudism, founded to encourage mixed sex open-air exercises, hosted the first international nudity congress.

The Nazi era brought mixed fortunes for nudism, its ongoing popularity tempered by a moral clampdown. Laws passed in 1933 limited mixed-sex nudism as “a reaction to the increased immorality of the Weimar state.” More restrictions followed amid claims the scene was a “breeding ground for Marxists and homosexuals.” Nevertheless, it remained popular, enjoying support among members of the paramilitary SS.

Rules were softened in 1942 but still subject to Nazi prejudices that predictably focused on Jews and other “undesirables.” But war didn’t dampen Germany’s enthusiasm for stripping off, even when the country was divided by the Iron Curtain.

After the war, nudism was equally popular in both German states. Even as the country was being split asunder in 1949, some in the West were busy founding the Association for Free Body Culture — an organization that today is part of the German Olympic Sport Federation and the largest member of the International Naturist Federation.

Naked proletariat

Nudism was particularly popular in East Germany, or German Democratic Republic as it was known. It was secretly considered a form of escape from the uniforms, marches and conformity of the communist state. East Germans were free to practice nudism and did so wherever possible: at lakes, sea beaches and large FKK camping grounds. There was also, of course, an official socialist institution with a long, uninspiring name.

The “Proletarische Freikoerperkulturbewegung” or Proletarian Free Body Movement had 60,000 members. Nude scenes in GDR movies appeared long before the first naked people appeared in Hollywood films. The fondness for getting naked on both sides of the Iron Curtain also led to some curious incidents. GDR border guards were tasked with training their binoculars on the FKK beach just over the border to observe the behavior of naked capitalists.

Even German Chancellor Angela Merkel was said to have practiced nudism during her youth in the GDR — although it’s not been confirmed whether recently unearthed photos purporting to show her swimming and walking naked with friends are the real deal.

When West Germans started to holiday all over Europe, they brought their penchant for letting it all hang out with them. Nude resorts began opening in France in the 1950s, followed by increasingly popular FKK ventures in Yugoslavia and on the Baltic Sea.

In the beginning beach culture was mostly intermixed and nudity was widely tolerated — perhaps the reason why topless sunbathing is still acceptable on most beaches around the Mediterranean. Vacationing at the large nudist resort of Cap d’Agde in France became popular for Germans when it opened in the 1960s.

Today Germans are typically the most commonly seen nationality at European nude beaches. Back home, there are many nudist camping areas to be found along Germany’s coast and along the lake shores of the former GDR. That said, it’s not permitted to strip everywhere. Walking around naked in public areas where most other people are dressed counts as a minor breach of the law. Prosecutions can follow if another citizen is offended, but few ever are.

Where to bare it all

Today, there are about 600,000 Germans registered in more than 300 private nudist/FKK clubs and a further 14 affiliated clubs in Austria. Members visit these clubs to sunbathe nude or indulge in a spot of nacktjoggen or nacktwandern — naked jogging or rambling through the countryside wearing only backpacks, boots or running shoes.

A list of FKK clubs is available on the German-language homepage of the German Federation of Naturist Clubs. The heartland of public nakedness also still has a plethora of designated FKK beaches and nudist zones in public parks and on beaches.

The English Garden in Munich has two large FKK areas on the banks of the Eisbach creek. Berlin public parks have FKK areas: the famous Mauerpark in Prenzlauer Berg, the Volkspark Friedrichshain and the Tiergarten, and it’s permitted to get naked on all Berlin’s public bathing beaches, such as at Wannsee or the Mueggelsee.
Along the German coastline, the nudity ground zero of Sylt Island is still going strong. Sylt’s Kampen beach might now be a popular destination for the rich and famous — but in Germany, they too love getting their clothes off.

For those who like to put some distance between themselves and the next naked bather, Germany’s largest Baltic island, Ruegen, has no fewer than five FKK beaches. A full list of public nude bathing areas is available in German at nacktbaden.de.

How to get naked in Germany

The easiest way to bare it all in Deutschland is to visit one of the aforementioned public FKK areas. As these are mostly located in areas with a mixed dressed/undressed crowd, there’s no problem with partially disrobing until you feel comfortable. There are no changing rooms, so undressing takes place in public — but again, not one German is going to be offended by this.

Most FKK beaches on the coast will also have signs indicating textile-free zones. After passing these signs, visitors will need to disrobe immediately to avoid being reprimanded by the lifeguards who also enforce the rules.

Private FKK clubs welcome new members and offer trial memberships for beginners. The days of bare-it-all Germany, however, seem to be in decline. Most young people are fine with sunbathing topless in parks and pools, and like me have no qualms whatsoever with undressing for the sauna. But the ideals of the German nudist movement are slowly dying away.

FKK clubs have complained about shedding members, in east Germany especially, since the Berlin Wall came down. Maybe in today’s Germany there’s no longer a need for demonstrating liberty and freedom by shedding our clothes.

via CNN Travel

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Different from the Others

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In 1919 the first known film that was sympathetic to gay people was produced. A year later, it was banned. Different from the Others (Anders als die Andern) is a German movie about a relationship between a master violinist and his student.

Paul Körner, the violinist, is approached by a young man named Kurt who begs Paul to be his teacher. He accepts and their relationship develops.

Their families don’t understand their relationship, and Paul comes out to his parents by sending them to a doctor who explains that Paul is gay and it’s nothing to worry about. Homosexuality isn’t an illness, the doctor says, it’s just a normal variation of human sexuality.

This was 50 years before Stonewall. These ideas were revolutionary even during the brief social liberalization Germany experienced in the decade before the Great Depression, which is why public screenings of the film were banned a year after it was released.

The film goes on to discuss suicide among gay men, the pressure to be straight, and blackmail used against Paul.

Magnus Hirschfeld, a Jewish doctor and sexologist who rose to fame at the beginning of the 20th century and is remembered most as one of the first major gay rights activists and for founding one of the first gay organizations in the world, helped make the film. He devoted his life to trying to get the law the banned homosexuality in Germany repealed, and he believed that more education and scientific understanding could help society accept gay people.

The film was produced with the help of Hirschfeld’s Institute of Sexual Research and 40 copies were produced, according to John Baxter’s book Carnal Knowledge. The Institute of Sexual Research was raided and closed when the Nazis came to power in 1933, and Hirschfeld spent the last few years of his life in France trying to continue his work before he died of a heart attack in 1935.

You can watch the film on YouTube.