Gays and Lesbians
It comes as no surprise therefore that Cologne is the gay and lesbian capital of Germany. The residents are down to earth, a bit cheeky, chatty and open-minded, with a positive outlook on life. The upbeat attitude is summed up in the local Colonian sayings such as “Et hätt noch immer jot jejange”, “everything has turned out well”, or “Jeder Jeck is anders” which means “every carnival character is different”.
One in ten inhabitants of Cologne is attracted to members of their own sex. The huge number of gay and lesbian bars, cafes, restaurants and clubs shows how important and ingrained the scene has become to Cologne.
Cologne’s creative direction and future fashion trends become apparent when visiting the small designer boutiques like those in the ‚Belgian Quarter’. One of Germany’s most visited shopping mile, Schildergasse, and the smaller boulevards offer plenty of choice to shop until you drop. Nobody, even those with the most extravagant tastes, will come away disappointed!
Cologne Cathedral, known by locals as the Dom, is the best starting position if you would liker to discover the city’s striking gay and lesbian hot spots. Walking along the rear side of the Dom, past the Museum Ludwig, follow the stairs down to the Rheingarten. Here, in the shadow of the impressive Hohenzollern Bridge, you will find the Memorial for Gay and Lesbian Victims of Nazism. Is shape is reminiscent of the pink triangle, which was used by the Nazis to designate homosexuals. This is where, on numerous occasions throughout the year, spokespersons of the gay and lesbian scene, as well as representatives of the city of Cologne, commemorate those who were persecuted and murdered.
About 250 mete upstream, following the water front towards the Deutzer Brücke, the cobbled Markamannsgasse ist what is called “kaltes Eck” – “the cold corner”. This memorial was designed by artist tom Fecht in memory of people who have died of AIDS. Twice a year, during ColognePride in the summer and on World AIDS Day on December 1st, stones engraved with the names of the deceased are added to the field of cobbled stones as part of a memorial service. Markmannsgasse will then lead your way to Heumarkt, the largest square in Cologne and the summer home of the CSD main stage. From here you are within easy reach of many bars and clubs that have marked the Old Town as the centre of Cologne’s leather and fetish scene. On passing Heumarkt, Gürzenichstraße leads you straight onto Schildergasse. At the end of Schildergasse your walk will lead you to Neumarkt, one of the liveliest areas in Cologne due to the central traffic junction. If you prefer something more peaceful and have a thing for the unusual and extravagant, walk past the church St. Aposteln into the boutique district around Mittelstraße, Pfeilstraße and Ehrenstraße. This is where gay and lesbians are most influencing Cologne’s city life. The second Igay-lesbian centre after the Old Town is opening as you walk towards Rudolfplatz. Bars, cafes, restaurants, clubs, saunas and shops are closely located within a stone’s throw of each other. Crossing the overhead tram line and main road that runs next to the square, a passageway next to the Sparkasse building leads you onto Schaafenstraße, well-known as the centre of Cologne’s gay bar scene, the so called “Bermuda triangle”. With the bars being closed during the day, take a walk to Jean-Claude-Letist-Platz. The square is easily reached following Lindenstraße, the extension of Schaafenstraße on the other side of the inner city ring. This little square with its lovely trees was named after a Cologne activist with Belgium origin, who during his lifetime was a strong supporter of the gay movement and Aidshilfe foundation.