Sometimes (well, oftentimes), there are just too many options for things to do in Berlin — especially as a young gay guy. When I first heard about Yo! Sissy,of the city’s newest queer festival, I was excited to see what Berlin could pull together. This is one of the gayest cities in the world, and certainly one of the most exciting for music, creativity, arts and new culture.
The three-day festival started at SchwuZ, an indie gay club popular with these kinds of events — queer, friendly, social and with a tinge of activism. There were fairly energetic crowds, even if the venue wasn’t crowded, but performances by The Hidden Cameras (supported by the local chorus Pet Shop Bears0 and JD Samson) kept the atmosphere up. The second day of the festival was a miss for me, but the real highlight was the final night taking place at SO36, right in the heart of Kreuzberg and the soul of Berlin’s gay punk scene.
For a Sunday night, the place was fantastically crowded: colorful decorations hanging from the ceiling, people spilling out onto the street. I entered sometime just before midnight, catching a fierce act from The Familyyy Fierce, a drag group from the UK. Co-organizers of the Yo!Sissy Festival, Pansy and Scout, shared some moments on stage talking about the crazy weekend to an overwhelmingly supportive crowd. The room was crowded and when Christeene, a punk act described as “a human pissor of raw unabashed sexuality” from Austin, Texas, took the stage things got crazier than I’d seen all weekend. Within moments, there was already plenty of ass on display and a sweaty butt plug flung into the audience. Christeene, spitting drinks over the audience at front and screaming at people to turn off their phones was weird, raw and wonderful. I couldn’t pull my eyes away.
The night ended with a fiery performance from the one and only Peaches in a special short set. Right on the heels of her newest album release, Peaches gave one of those performances you expect at a queer event. There was an intensity to it, and ending with her hit “Fuck the Pain Away” while sharing the stage with Pansy and The Familyyy Fierce — well, let’s just say the atmosphere was totally…alive. And it felt absolutely amazing to be a part of it, to be there and witness the raw energy of a queer scene that’s still finding its place. I really enjoyed so much about the festival: the music, the design, the political messages and the acts.
The clear high point of the festival was the incredible diversity, with lots of trans and lesbians and bears and all the sizes and flavors of the LGBT community. The music was diverse too, from DJ sets to pop. Berlin needs this festival. It was a huge step for Berlin’s queer community. The world needs more festivals like this — ones borne out of a passion and love for a movement, for art, for queerness.
Scroll down for a few more photos from the fest.
A longer version of this article was previously published on Travels of Adam. Read the full story and see even more photos here.
Follow Groffman on Twitter @travelsofadam.
Photos by Lisa Wassmann