“Batting for the other side” – queer life in Ludwigshafen and beyond
“I reckon he’s batting for the other side.” – “Are you queer or what?” – “That is such a gay cellphone.” Schoolyards up and down the country resonate with phrases like these, even nowadays. And they’re uttered by kids barely old enough to grasp what they’re saying. For Regina Heilmann, mother-of-two and head of Ludwigshafen’s city museum, these mindless, infantile slurs were a call to action. What if she delved into the city’s queer history to tell the forgotten stories of its LGBTQI* citizens? An exhibition showcasing queer life in the mid-size German industrial town would not only research, document and process an overlooked aspect of its history – it could also be educational, introducing school kids to the biographies of real people living in a bygone age: people who also happened to be queer.
After convincing City Hall that the lives of people once deemed deviant were a fitting subject for the venue, Regina went about assembling a multi-disciplinary team. This consisted of curator and cultural studies expert Wolfgang Knapp, historian Dana-Livia Cohen, designer Matthias Scheib as well as a variety of other researchers, groups and organizations. One year later, the exhibition opened its doors, entitled “Vom anderen Ufer? Queer life in Ludwigshafen”. (Translator’s note: “Vom anderen Ufer” literally translates as “From the opposite river bank”, a slang term used pejoratively to denote LGBTQI* people. It is similar in tone to the English phrase“He’s batting for the other side.”). Running from November 2015 to May 2016, the exhibition was further enriched by a program of events, drawing crowds from within and beyond Germany’s borders. It put Ludwigshafen on the map as the first German city where a municipal museum tackled the subject of social diversity with such scope and ambition.
After the final curtain went down, the team was determined to make sure the show lived on in another form. And so they set about creating a website that would preserve and present all the information and documents featured in the exhibition, as well as all additional materials that had come to light in the meantime. The resulting content hub is a virtual exhibition and information platform for the local area and beyond, giving even more scope to sound recordings and moving images, as well as written texts and photographs. Going digital also increased the project’s reach, acting as educational and informational resource which – we hope – will contribute to the acceptance of LGBTQI* people. But, as nothing ever stays the same, this digital documentation project can only ever be a snapshot of a specific social status quo at the beginning of the 21st century. So, if you’re looking for the latest information, do get in touch with the advisory bodies credited on the website, who will be happy to help.
Overview of subject areas
History and society
Homosexuality in German law, the law and lesbian and gay life in the GDR, lesbian and gay history and the Rhine-Neckar region, statistics on registered lesbian and gay partnerships and marriages 2001-2014 in Ludwigshafen, homophobia and more.
Featured topics, biographies, media
Queer art, queer videos, homosexual architects, biography of trans Ludwigshafen artist Liddy Bacroff, biography of the Ludwigshafen actor Dietmar Kracht, biography of the Ludwigshafen activist Napoleon Seyfarth, exhibition program, other voices on the exhibition and more.