The Atlantic

Gay Life in Berlin Is Starting to Echo a Darker Era

The right-wing resurgence in Germany recalls prewar Berlin. It may signal an ominous turn for the country’s gay community.
Source: bpk-Bildagentur

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET on March 12, 2019.

BERLIN—The fetish cruising bar Bull is a place of pilgrimage in Berlin for more than one reason. To patrons, it is a 24-hour safe space that caters to every palate. To the British historian Brendan Nash, it is a symbol of “Babylon Berlin,” a golden decade of LGBT freedom in the city in the 1920s, when the bisexual Hollywood star Marlene Dietrich mixed with prostitutes and transgender dance-hall girls.

“There’s been a gay bar of some kind at this address for more than 100 years,” Nash, an energetic 54-year-old, explained to a walking tour he was leading as he gestured enthusiastically at a neon sign outside, which featured cattle with large nose rings. Chuckling, he told the group that an elderly woman nonchalantly wanders through Bull with a sandwich cart at 5 a.m. in case anyone is hungry. “There is nothing that she has not

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