eric carl schwartz

eric carl schwartz

gay berlin

well, it's finally happened. this site is getting its first book report.

a photo of me, salonee and jennelle

a few weeks ago, my best friend came to visit me as part of a larger trip she was taking in europe. i have been plugging berlin as a lovely stop-over destination and will do so here again. if you know me well enough to be reading this blog and are passing thru, come hang with me.

as a thanks-for-letting-me-crash-on-your-couch gift, she gave me a copy of robert beachy's gay berlin. the book is an engrossing read with a lot of interesting things to say about the roles policing and surveillance have played in the formation of German (and with it Western) gay identity. reading it, i've also been humbled and struck by just how old a lot of conversations we as queers today think we're having for the first time truly are. whether it's the differences (or lack thereof) between sexuality and gender identity or the presence of what we would today call toxic masculinity in the gay community, these arguments are literally more than a century old.

it's a probably obvious comparison to anyone who studies AIDS, but reading it has reminded me of the fran lebowitz observation about the impact of the loss of a generation of connoisseurs on our culture. our discourse has certainly been similarly impoverished by the loss of so many people actively engaged in these conversations to the dual crises of fascism and AIDS. at the same time, i feel this kind of thinking neglects the way the conversations we have today are different because groups of people who would have been totally locked out of them now are somewhat less so. fran lebowitz's bit about there being too much democracy in the culture in particular has never sat well with me and i think when applied to The Discourse becomes especially uncomfortable.

since i last wrote here, i have finally found a place to live here long term. i'm living around the corner from where christopher isherwood lived when he was here in berlin and while i have truly no clue how i found this place i do feel very fortunate to be reading about queer history so close to where some parts of it happened. if you've got any more book/film recommendations for me or would like to crash on my couch passing through, let me know.