Elle Jay can't wait to put the 'g', 'a' and 'y' into 'Germany'.
If those pesky Mayans were wrong all along and the world hasn’t ended by January 1, 2013 we will have a lot to celebrate, and what better way to raise a glass to the continuation of the planet than to get out there and see it!
So, all being well, next year is going to be about travel for me; about discovering new gay-friendly destinations, meeting new people (and hopefully lovers), and challenging any preconceived ideas I might have about a place.
But rather than packing a giant rucksack (I refuse to carry anything heavier than my Mulberry weekender) and trekking across the globe, I’ve decided to focus on Europe, and on a wild whim, one country in particular: Germany.
'But Spain’s hotter, Italy’s tastier, France is more fashionable', I hear you cry. Well, I wouldn’t be so sure. I’m on a mission to discover the real Germany and get to know the country like a good, old friend; one I’m always bragging about and desperately trying to set up with my mates.
So, where to start? Well, like countless gay men and women before me, I’ve decided to begin my adventures in Berlin. It’s the third biggest gay city in Europe, and there are 150 gay bars and clubs plus countless dance classes, sports classes, shops and even a gay French Fries kiosk…so if I can’t find the girl of my dreams here (ideally offering to squeeze ketchup on my chips), then surely I’m doomed.
Or maybe not…what I’m beginning to realise is that the German capital is far from the only homo hotspot this country has to offer. Cologne has a Women’s Day festival as part of its Christopher Street Day Pride extravaganza in the summer, while Munich and Frankfurt host a 'Verzaubert' Queer Film Weekend. I’ll definitely be stopping by Frankfurt, if only to check out the area just north of Konstablerwache, where all the gay bars are located. It’s known as the 'Bermuda Triangle', so if you never hear from me again – assume I’ve been sucked in!
Then there’s Hamburg, which I’m desperate to visit as there’s a fabulous kind of horticultural theme park on Elbe island. Now, I’m not saying just because we’re all gay we automatically love pretty flowers, but… oh who am I kidding? Even the butchest bear will be oohing and aahing at these spectacular gardens.
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Did I mention Munich? I am not going to miss The Gay Rose Monday Ball in the Oberanger Theatre or Gay Sunday (shouldn’t every Sunday be ‘gay Sunday’?) during the famous Oktoberfest celebrations. And to prove its pink mettle once and for all, Munich also holds a big gay Christmas every year in the Glockenbachviertel district. I reckon it’s just like a regular Christmas, only with grown men fighting to sit on Santa’s lap.
There are lots of other things drawing me to Deutschland next year. It’s the 150th anniversary of The Brothers Grimm, for a start, and having just finished Phillip Pullman’s excellent re-imagining of the classic fairy tales I can’t wait to see the land that inspired them.
And it’s Mr Bauhaus’ big b-day too (another 150 year-old!). Henry van de Velde, one of the founding fathers of the design movement brought clean lines and block colour to the buildings of Thuringia and Saxony and there are a host of events across these regions to celebrate. The New Museum in Weimar is home to an exhibition about the passion, function and beauty of his work from March 24 which sounds like it would give a great introduction to Bauhaus and its influences.
So, by this time next year, I hope to have a girlfriend called Brigitt, a bolthole in Berlin and discovered Germany's nooks, crannies and craziest nightclubs. Auf Wiedersehen for now!