Christopher Street Day: Speaking for myself

On August 26, 2017 I was in the Daimler truck on Christopher Street Day (CSD) in Bremen.

Now I’d like to tell you what I experienced there and how I came to be there in the first place. If you’re primarily interested in the parade, just skip the first two sections of this report.

Speaking for myself: Showing my true colors

If someone had said to me four years ago that I would ever participate in a CSD, I would have called that person insane. Voluntarily marching in the parade, and thus showing my true colors, was just as likely as me winning the lottery. But a few aspects of my life have changed since then. I’m not saying that to show off, but rather to emphasize that sooner or later things develop as they should — and that can mean very different things.

People’s attitudes have a key impact on the course of events in their personal and professional lives. That certainly applies in my case. Just over three years ago, I finally told my wife and my two children that I’m gay. I had made many false starts before taking this important step, because my strong feelings of fear, guilt, and shame had silenced me again and again.

If I hadn’t been surrounded by caring people who strongly supported me and gave me courage, I wouldn’t be writing this report. I had never dreamed it could happen, but my family and my close friends reacted to my truth-telling with tremendous love and concern.

That’s why I’m very grateful to many people, especially my children and their mother.

The tolerant and respectful behavior of many colleagues and my supervisor was also very helpful and supportive. If I had had any doubts about that, I would still have the feeling today that I need to hide my true self when I’m at my workplace. I would not have been able to endure the tension any longer. But now I can finally be myself, wherever I am, and I enjoy this feeling. For about a month now, I’ve been a member of the GL@D network (the Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender network at Daimler) in Bremen.

Coming out, tears, and kind gestures

My tearful coming-out to my children finally happened in the summer of 2014. After I had made my confession, my son Yannik (19) asked me, very seriously and with a touch of disappointment, whether I had really believed that he and his sister were homophobic. He could not have expressed his love and loyalty more beautifully.

Just a few weeks ago, my daughter Kyra, who is almost 17, told me that she wanted to go to CSD with her girlfriends and thus give me moral support. Yannik and Kyra are saying “yes” to me, and not only to me personally! These authentic gestures have made me very proud, touched me deeply as a father, and filled me with gratitude.

Thank you, my beloved children!

The day of the CSD Parade finally came

Wearing our conspicuous white T-shirts (printed with a CSD Daimler logo and the motto “We love diversity!”) my daughter Kyra and I drove to Bremen’s central train station. There Kyra met her girlfriends and we said goodbye, knowing that we’d meet during the parade. Here’s Kyra being a cheering and supportive spectator at Bremen City Hall, and me in the Daimler truck.

At about 12:30 p.m., approximately 45 colleagues from the Daimler locations in Sindelfingen, Stuttgart, and Bremen had arrived at the Daimler truck. They included trainees, a service center manager, members of the Works Council, and workplace representatives from the IG Metall labor union. We were ready to go. Just before 1 p.m., we took the time to pose for a group photo, got some good music going, and listened to some rousing speeches. The great weather helped to put us in a cheerful mood.

At approximately 1:15 p.m. the first vehicles and groups started moving and putting the Bremen CSD motto, “Diversity is freedom — here and everywhere!” on the road.

We soon realized that we’d be basking in good cheer all along the route, because our DJ Niklas, a trainee from Bremen, was the perfect DJ. Thanks to his expertise, the party mood spread immediately to us and to the spectators lining the streets. More than 3,500 participants marched in the parade, and the number of spectators was of course even higher.

Wherever you looked, you saw happy faces. It was rare to see a person who looked as though he was wondering why people were once again in a Carnival mood. The mood in our truck was over the top. We had a lot of fun dancing and scattering small bags of wine gums among the waiting crowds until the truck arrived at St. Martin’s church near the river.

A moving scene

The parade participants were diverse and colorful, and so were the many spectators along the parade route. I was very moved by one scene in particular: An elderly lady in a wheelchair was waving to us, smiling very benevolently, and enthusiastically keeping time to our music, which was very loud and must certainly have seemed “extremely modern” to her ears. She was celebrating (with) us. Amazing!

At the end of the parade, we thanked all the people from Bremen and “umzu” (a northern German word for “all over”). We had kicked off the CSD in Bremen, and it was about time! It had been a great success for the organizers and an outstanding vote of confidence in us from the people of Bremen.

A good day

As we emerged from the truck, we agreed that we were part of a huge and joyous celebration of respect, tolerance, and diversity — a celebration that generated incredibly strong impressions and wonderful encounters! Above all, the CSD was a peaceful demonstration on behalf of equal rights for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, and intersexual people and against discrimination, exclusion, and violence.

August 26, 2017 was a good day.

Editors’ note: A Mercedes-Benz truck sporting the motto “We love diversity!” and specially decorated for CSD was driven in six Christopher Street Day (CSD) parades in Germany. The truck tour began in Cologne on July 9 and continued on to Munich (July 15), Berlin (July 22), Stuttgart (July 29), Hamburg (August 5), ending in Bremen (August 26). This year the truck carried colleagues from the GL@D network, Daimler AG, Daimler Financial Services, Mercedes-Benz Bank, car2go, and moovel. The first CSD truck tour included more than 500 Daimler employees and over 100 car2go customers, reaching many people who are just as diverse and “different” as we are at Daimler.

He works in the Human Resources unit at Strategic Resource Management Mercedes-Benz Cars.