Berlin's Schwules Museum, Exploring The Past And Present : NPR FM Berlin Blog As a part of the series, "Berlin Stories," writer and attorney Geoffrey Upton recently spoke about the Schwules Museum in Berlin, the only museum in the world dedicated to gay history and culture.
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Berlin's Schwules Museum, Exploring The Past And Present

Writer and attorney Geoffrey Upton in Moscow's Red Square. Upton lived in Berlin last year while working towards his Ph.D. His essay on Berlin's Schwules Museum is airing today on NPR's Berlin Stories. (Boris Rapaport) hide caption

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(Boris Rapaport)

Writer and attorney Geoffrey Upton in Moscow's Red Square. Upton lived in Berlin last year while working towards his Ph.D. His essay on Berlin's Schwules Museum is airing today on NPR's Berlin Stories.

(Boris Rapaport)

As a part of the series, "Berlin Stories," writer and attorney Geoffrey Upton recently spoke about the Schwules Museum in Berlin. A Ph.D. student in political theory, Upton lived in Berlin during the 2008-2009 academic year on a Robert Bosch Fellowship.

During his year in Berlin, Upton volunteered at the Schwules Museum one day a week.

The Schwules Museum, or the "Gay Museum" in English, is the world's only museum focused on LGBT history and culture.

As Upton says, Berlin seems like a logical location for such a museum. The city of Love Parade has certainly gained a reputation for being socially progressive and accepting of different lifestyles. Lest you forget the now famous line by Berlin's mayor, Klaus Wowereit: "Ich bin schwul, und das ist auch gut so." I'm gay and that's a good thing, he says.

But after spending some time leafing through the museum's historical documents, Upton began to wonder if being gay in Berlin was so good. True, Germany has more advanced gay rights and anti-discrimination laws than most EU countries, Upton says. But, gay couples don't have the right to marry or adopt children.

In his Berlin Story, Upton asks some tough, and to my ear, thought provoking questions. With the Schwules Museum located on top of a gay nightclub, how many of its patrons have visited the museum? Does "SchwuZ" exist because of the history played out in the museum upstairs? What does progress really look like and how do you measure it? I'm not sure if there are any right answers, but in a city where art and the need for expression are so omnipresent, it seems important to ask.

If you've ever visited the Schwules Museum, or have anything to add, please join in the discussion.

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