The Schwules* Museum by Jordan Fields and Emma Fowkes

Jordan Fields

The Schwules* Museum, located in the Schöneberg district of Berlin, is focused on LGBTQ+ community history worldwide and is one of the first museums to dedicate their work to the queer community. Certain sections of the museum explained critiques of masculinity, activism, and scholarship. On that note, Jürgen Lemke’s “Gay and Lesbian Life in East German Society Before and After 1989” examined the relationships between activism, community-building, and the state, which impacted my comprehension of how LGBT+ communities can be tightknit but have limited access to resources and support in certain situations. In particular, I was thinking about the differences in access and support for BIPoC queers and white queers, as was the case during the COVID-19 and Money Pox vaccinations. The societal connectivity of access through higher authorities or teachings of health insurance in the U.S. were available. Moreover, Jin Haritaworn’s “Queer Injuries: The Racial Politics of Homophobic Hate Crime in Germany” takes a transnational approach along these lines that is more considerate of race and racism, especially regarding criminalization in Berlin. The racialization of hate crimes against the BIPoC LGBT+ people generated discourse on redefining crime and progressive political (policies) integration changes to protect the marginalized people within marginalized groups. These two academic works necessarily highlight ongoing discourse about how the LGBTQ+ community could improve or sustain more accessibility.

Jordan Fields is a rising second-semester senior at Colorado College pursuing an independently designed major focused on sociological Gender Studies and an Urban Studies minor. They grew up in the south and west of Chicago, Illinois. Their family was born and mostly raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and they identify as a Black Puerto Rican American. They wanted to take this course to better understand critiques and discourses on race, sexuality, history, and feminism.

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Emma Fowkes

The Schwules*Museum’s timeline of the decriminalization of queer love and life reminds us that historically, the criminal justice system has been used as a weapon of state violence. The “Love at First Fight” exhibit outlines how LGBTQ+ activism and identities were a product of state repression. Queer nightclubs were often targets of police raids, and until as recently as 1994, queer people were being imprisoned for consensual sex. Jin Haritaworn explains how hate crime politics often selectively protect the most privileged members of the LGBTQ+ community while criminalizing others and bolstering the police state. Discourse on hate crimes relies on the myth that violent homophobia is “locatable with a few rotten apples” from which the diversity-loving state can protect domesticated, non-criminal LGBTQ+ people. In Germany, those “rotten apples” are largely identified as Muslim immigrants, while the victim is often conceptualized as a white, gender-conforming man. The Schwules* Museum’s documentation of police violence against queer people demands that we not forget that we, the more privileged in the queer community, were once criminals, too. Surely, homophobic hate is a real problem that must be eradicated. But in the process, we need to be careful of who we position as the perpetrator, who we position as being in need of protection, and who we rely on for that protection. Crenshaw’s intersectionality details how identity groups “are in fact not monolithic but made up of members with different and perhaps competing identities as well.” Popular discourse around LGBTQ+ people often centers white, gender-conforming men. Increasing surveillance and incarceration for the purpose of hate crime policing puts people of color, trans people, sex workers, and other people disproportionately targeted by state violence at risk. The Schwules* Museum and Haritaworn highlight the dangers of relying on state apparatuses to integrate only the most privileged of queer people into the mainstream while subjugating others in the process.

Emma Fowkes is a rising senior at Colorado College majoring in Sociology but doing her best to take classes across as many disciplines as possible. She spends a lot of her time training in the sprints, jumps, throws, and hurdles for the college’s track and field team, as well as leading Injustice Watch, the student court-watching organization. After Berlin, she is planning on returning to her family’s home in Wilmette, Illinois to do research on the El Paso County Judicial System and work as an usher at a local music venue. Recently, she completed her first “moderate” level sudoku puzzle.

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