cover image Gay Voices from East Germany

Gay Voices from East Germany

Jurgen Lemke, Ja1/4rgen Lemke. Indiana University Press, $16.95 (208pp) ISBN 978-0-253-20630-5

Lemke's interviews with 14 gay men, mainly working class, not only encompass a range of gay lifestyles--from married men leading double lives to men proud of passing as ``straight'' in military service--but reflect almost a century of German history. The notorious paragraph 175 of the German criminal code subjected gays to concentration camp brutalities, which are vividly described by Erichy (interviewees are identified by their first name only). date? In the mid-1980s, consciousness-raising groups developed under the umbrella of the Lutheran church--too late for Peter, who had been obliged to drop out of his seminary for ``coming out.'' The universality of gay experiences, under communism or capitalism, can be seen in the efforts of Joseph's mother to ``cure'' his ``malicious sickness'' through Freudian analysis and in the need of many gays to move from small towns to bigger cities. Some men challenged the system, like Bert, the worker who asked what his youth club did for gay members, only to hear snickering. Ultimately, love and a steady partnership are upheld as the ideal. Lemke is a free-lance writer and dramatist; Borneman is the author of After the Wall: East Meets West in the New Berlin. (Apr.)