C.M-S: Can you say something
about yourself for our readers?
Tom: My name is Tom Reeves, and I'm from
"The Guide", the gay magazine in Boston. I'm also active
with ACT-UP, which is the AIDS action group in Boston. I'm a professor
at Roxburgh College in Boston.
C.M-S: Why are you here in the GDR?
Tom: I'm combining having a nice time on
vacation with meeting people, but mainly I'm here to represent "The
Guide", and to try to find out what's happening in the GDR,
especially since all of the changes.
C.M-S: And what are your "Findings"?
Tom: I've been concentrating on the gay
movement in east Berlin, but I'm also going on to Leipzig, Dresden,
and Prague, to have a look around there. I guess I'm surprised.
I had a theory that gay people might have been much more involved
in the movements which led to the changes.
C.M-S: A few
Tom: What I'm finding is that in a direct
way in the immediate time before the changes, gay people were not
involved, but in a deeper and longer way, perhaps gay people were
partly responsible for the changes. They almost seem to have made
the changes before they occurred in the whole society. I find that
there has been going for several years a real development in sexual
politics in the GDR. It seems to me that this started going in very
unlikely places - the Church, but also in the military, and in other
quarters where there were constant discussions going on. people
finding out (about themselves), coming out, and that the coming
out process was so fruitful and exciting that most of the gay community
was caught up init at the moment that these other changes occurred.
For that reason I think the gay movement
has been catching its breath now, to find out how to proceed ahead.
I'm finding that there is a unity in the gay groups here. That they
don't want to be eaten up by the west groups. They don't want to
be suddenly overwhelmed by the west economy and west politics. They
want to remain true to what their coming out process was - and that
was a genuinely humanistic movement for sexual freedom in a kind
of integrated way. That’s another thing I've found. Even more than
in the U.S. the gay movement seems to be very integrated with other
kinds of sexual politics. There seems to be a conscious attempt
in groups like Courage to say we're for sexual freedom, for a coming
out of society. That gay liberation really means the liberation
of the whole of society. I heard this idea also in the Sonntags-Club.
I think that's a really good development. I have the feeling that
you've had a momentous upheaval of your own on top of what I think
is an annexation rather than a re-union. This is going on so brutally
now, that it's knocked everyone off their feet. I have some real
optimism, however, because I've met some of the finest gay activists
that I've seen anywhere in the world, in several of the groups here.
I think there'll be a coming together, a growth. That makes it very
C.M-S: And your views on general developments
here in the GDR?
Tom: As we’ve talked to people generally,
I’ve found no-one who is satisfied with the present direction of
things. There seems to be almost no-one from ordinary workers to
professional people, people in all ranks of society, seem to be
just generally dismayed. At the same time they feel powerless to
stop this onslaught that's going on, especially the overwhelming
of GDR economy with west consumer goods, - the free market economy.
There is a nervousness in the population. People have told me that
they are so afraid; they don't know about the future of their work,
their housing, their health care. They're quite afraid. From different
sources I've gathered that there may be a coming storm, and unfortunately,
it may include a strong right-wing reaction as well. There seems
to be a strong left-wing movement generally in Berlin among the
working class. People seem to have withstood the problems and excesses
of Stalinism in the last years. It probably has its roots way back
in German history. So you have a combination of leftwing movement
and the rightwing nationalism, plus this incredible idiocy that's
going on with the economy - the dismissal of hundreds of thousands
of people from their jobs. It seems as though there might be a terrific
upheaval here the next year, although, of course, that is only a
went swimming at the Sport and Recreation Centre today?
Tom: Yes. It's a fine place, equal of anything
I know in the States. It was interesting I cause when we came out
went towards the park. We walking along the street with traffic
all around, and I looked to my right, and there was a stark naked
woman. in Boston Massachusetts, or most other parts of the US, that
would be utterly unthinkable. It is quite refreshing. I think it
is wonderful. It was in the area where the nudist bathing is allowed.
We have in the US taken the most puritanical direction in the last
ten years. Nudity is totally forbidden - even the nudity of young
children and infants. Allowing a child to be nude in public, or
naked baby is punishable in Massachusetts by up to ten years in
prison ! This relaxed atmosphere here with regard to the body and
sexuality is one of the healthiest things that Germany has.
C. M-S: Thank you for the interview.
Colin de la Motte-Sherman