Sociohistorical project
Mike and Michel from Germany
Mike and Michel, Mülheim
18 and 22 years old
Hello! Can you please introduce yourself. Name, age, occupation and maybe your sexual orientation.

Mike: I'm Mike!
I am currently 18 years old, am currently an apprentice, currently live in Mülheim an der Ruhr, and about my sexual orientation, I am pansexual.

Michel: I am the Michel.
I'm in limbo about my education. All I have to do is take the exam and I am now waiting to receive feedback on an exam date.
I'm 22 and I'm not getting any older this year, like Mike. Otherwise, I'm gay.

You are together, am I right?

Mike&Michel synchronous: yes

Since when? So roughly how long has it been?

Mike: of course we know the exact date.
Michel: April 5th, 2019
Mike: Yes the 05.04.

And you guys have been living together since february?

Michel: Yeah

Why did you decide to move in together?

Michel: It was like that: I had a hard time. Last year, I was also in psychiatry, everything then crystallized that it came through the DRK
That everything got harder and my city is just toxic to me.
And then we decided that I would move in with him. We wanted to. You [addressed to Mike] have wanted it for a long time.

Mike: I thought we might then be able to discover the city together. Because I only moved to the Ruhr area a year ago when I started my job training. Here in Mülheim an der Ruhr

Where are you originally from?

Mike: He [answers for Michel] comes from Siegerland, he was born in Siegen. I come from the Lower Rhine region [Niederrhein]. I was born in Mönchengladbach and then grew up in a small town called Willich for 14 years and then a few more years in Meerbusch.

Near Düsseldorf?

Mike: Yeah. Everything in Düsseldorf.

What was the family background like?

Mike: We already know the geographic one, you [Michel] grew up in Siegerland.

Michel: Yes, I've only ever lived in Siegerland, but in every village there.
Most of the time in Geiswald. Of course that doesn't mean anything to you now, Geiswald that's the wicked place. I was there most of the time.
This is how I acquired a protective layer.

Mike: In fact, for me it wasn't just these 3 cities in total [born in Mönchengladbach, grew up in Willich and spent my youth in Meerbusch]. But also for a short time, my mother was almost homeless, moved from place to place, from apartment to apartment. In between, for example, I lived in Düsseldorf.
What was your family background while growing up? How did you grow up? Protected parental home? You already said that you moved a lot?

Mike: I was my father's second child. My father was 16 years old when he had his second son. This is me.
My mother was 14 years old at the time.
Yes is a bit critical. I actually grew up with my grandparents most of the time.
But that wasn't exactly my birth-grandma either. My biological grandmother was an alcoholic and she died when I was five years old.
Unfortunately, my mother helped out a bit - so that she died - because she bought the alcohol for her.
That was a bit stupid, because the relationship between my grandpa and my biological grandma was a bit difficult anyway. Love wasn't always there and it was all very stressful. My mother didn't graduate from a normal school, she was a problem child, you might have noticed, because she suddenly had a child at 14.
We were often kicked out by my maternal grandparents.
I only knew my father personally after eight years, before that I didn't know that I still had a father, he didn't get in touch and wasn't interested in me.
Well, my maternal grandmother died of alcohol and then we were suddenly thrown out because my grandpa had a new partner. My mother didn't get on with her at all and we were shown outside.
It was a little difficult then.
My mother hardly bothered about me during this time. During this time I was already conspicuous in kindergarten myself. I couldn't speak and formulate as well as other school-age children.
Later I went to a language school and from the sixth grade on to a normal school. When I was seven, my mother decided to fly to Argentina because she would rather do something with horses than raise her own child.
She then left me at the freeway rest area, she had picked up a rental car and sold everything else. Then let me out at the rest area and quickly put a phone in my hand. And then drove away or fled to Argentina. Fled is really the best expression.
I then came to my grandparents and that was honestly the best.
I got depressed because my mother left me. I went to psychiatry. How do you want to deal with it differently?!
I used to be bullied at school because I was very conspicuous then.
That was just a little difficult. Fortunately, my step-grandmother stood up for me later and was my mother for a while. And never, really, never left me in my life. Up to the age of 14.
From the 6th grade on I went to a normal school, I was actually a good student and luckily I went to a comprehensive school that supported me. And I had a good life.
Until I was 14 years old. When I was 13, my step-grandmother or my mother had the disease, which she [the step-grandmother] was to me too, she was diagnosed with lung cancer. She said that she had a total of five years to live, but that was only eleven months, and she knew it herself from doctors, she had told me the wrong thing. At the same time I got the ground pulled away from under my feet again.
During this time, in class, in German class, two days after my grandma's death, we had read a book. The book is called Malka Mai. This book is, for example, about the fact that under nationalism in Poland a Jewish girl loses her mother and later she does not want her mother back because the mother has left her and has not stayed with her. Two days after my grandma passed away, my German teacher asked us "how would you feel if you no longer had your mother?"
Yes, it was like being shot in the face for me. Like the gun and ran out.
A week later, after of course I told everything because I couldn't or didn't want to keep the pain in me any longer. My foster mother, my current foster mother, my ex German teacher asked me if I would like to live there and that's how I came to live with them.
Then I grew up there from 14 to 17 years old, by the way, that was still in the seventh grade when it all happened. In seventh grade, then I grew up with my foster parents the rest of the time up to 10th grade. And yeah that was actually pretty good there.
And I'm pretty proud because I moved out when I was 17 and have had my own apartment ever since. And now I stand on my own two feet and do my beautiful job training.

Cool! Thank you! Pretty crazy...
Mike: yes, it's just not that easy. a few stones have already been put in my way. And I can mention that, because I've already had severe depression, I've almost jumped off the bridge twice,
Once when I couldn't understand why my mother left me and then as mine, my mother, my step-grandmother, [step-grandma was like mother] then passed away.
When I later came to a psychotherapist, she hugged me for the first lesson and started crying.

Uff... It's a pretty blatant start in life...

Mike: Yes, that's right. It could have been easier…. So Michi [Michel's nickname]

Did you have it easier Michel?

Michel: I would like to say yes, but unfortunately it is not. I think that's pretty much the same. I hadn´t that drastic fatalities in my family, let's put it that way.
Of course, in my childhood there were also people who died, including my father. But I never felt that bond with the people who passed away. There was one person who passed away. I knew them for a year and a half, till I was two, but it wasn't worse.

But to start:
I grew up with my father and mother and sister for the first four years. In the small town of Eisern, this is a super small place. My father was a doctor, a general practitioner, my mother was a former painter and varnisher, but then she did further training, was a doctor's assistant to my father and it was with "Frau Doktor" and "Herr Doktor". [Mrs. and Mr. Doctor]
Though he didn't have a PhD. But that's what they were always called, and it was a small, beautiful house with the practice right below. A medium-sized apartment where an elderly woman lived and we just got the rest of the house.
Yes, it worked out fine for the first four years.
I'm talking a little confused now. I can't remember all of my childhood. I can only speak from stories told by my mother. I just pushed it all away. I actually can't remember things, it's like amnesia.
There is a photo I can remember where I played chess with my father when I was 4 and it was a glass chess game. And that's a nice memory and I don't know why, but I just associate nice feelings with it.
Yes, it was definitely the first four years and then one day I was in kindergarten. My mother arrived with the older station wagon, which was packed to the brim, and picked us up.
Me, my sister, my sister was already in the car as far as I know. And then I was picked up and told that we are moving somewhere else now. And yes.
And then there was the first women's shelter, then we lived in the women's shelter. And moved from shelter to shelter. We kept moving.
As it turned out later, it was simply because my father was borderline in the worst possible way, and didn't take his medication. My mother didn't know that he was borderline. My father's family kept this from her. Although the family had known that for decades.
Yes, if my mother had known that, she would have mixed in the tablets. She had had access to the pills too. But that's not how it worked. And there were various conflict situations that led to the abrupt separation or to the escape from my father. He just chased us with the saying that either I will have the children or neither of us will have the children. It was clearly a death threat against us as children. That's why we moved from the women's shelter. My future stepmother, who came from the USA with her son, was in one of the women's shelters. We got to know each other and quickly learned to love each other, and then we all moved in very quickly as a patchwork family. I didn't know the woman and we really, I think after a few weeks, we moved in together.
You just had to deal with it, you suddenly had siblings, additional ones, and a stepmother and you have to deal with that from now on. and generally the father is gone. And yes. Yes, that was just in early childhood.
We then moved in together. The first apartment, very small house, super small apartment, rooms were shared. And you have to say that my step-siblings, who were there at the time, didn't have it easy either. But they weren't easy to take either. It was much harder for my sister, of course, who was more of an adult and who perceived everything in a different way than me, who of course also had her problems and of course had let this out.
As a child you can't help but let it out, you can't swallow it down and ignore it. And my mother had to handle all of that and deal with the situation herself and at the same time live with a new partner and still find strength there. Super small apartment but it was always the best.
My mother always took care of everything, we never had a lot of money. But no matter what I or my mother, me or my sister or we wanted, it was always made possible in a way, no matter how. It was always made possible.
There were times when we went to the food bank. There were times when the clothes weren't the new ones, but the used ones. But my mother was always there and looked after us. In close contact with the youth welfare office, of course. You have to say that.
My father was feared by the youth welfare office, generally feared by everyone. My father was not an easy person, he was a great doctor, a great medic. As a medic he was really good, but as a person he was really very difficult to take.
A fun example. There was a parents' meeting at the kindergarten. Something was wrong for my father and he went there with a baseball bat. Then just hit the chair with the baseball bat and said So, now you guys listen to me. This reflcts him so well.
Or another example. My father announced himself at the reception from the youth welfare office downstairs. They actually had screwdrivers in their drawers and unscrewed their name tags.
That was my father, on the other hand he was a dear, nice father, caring, but on the other hand also an asshole. It was just Borderline, it was just pure borderline for him. We just always fled. It was always house to house. We moved as often as possible. Because at some point he found out the address. And then you just had to move on and flee further. And you have to mention that we didn't move far away. There was just no money, there was no money to move further. That we are moving north, for example, to my mother's family, there was no money. Therefore it was only possible to move to the local area. And it's hard to hide there.
And then of course patients know us or they see us. It's always been a game. Then it happened that we moved to Geiswald. The little place I told you about, the wicked district of Siegen.
Yes, super nice house! It wasn't pretty, it was big.
We could live it out to the full, and that is what our family is about, somehow, that you could always do what you wanted, that you could enjoy freedom.
And then in 2006 it happened. One evening I came out of my room, on the first floor, I came downstairs. I got to the stairs because I kind of heard howling and screaming. And then I went to the stairs and saw my sister running up the stairs crying and screaming as she walked into her room, and saw my godfather, who was like my father to me, and my mother. And then they said to me sit down and they stood downstairs, and I stood upstairs and then they told me that my father died, as it turned out later, killed himself. With his own air rifle. And then it was a difficult time for me. It was already difficult. I didn't know the circumstances, how he died or anything.
Then there was the fact that my father signed a contract that he would donate his body to science. So there was no funeral. There was only one mourning festival. Now an empty urn lies buried next to it, I don't know who, anyone in my family has a double grave. There he is buried, his empty urn is buried. He is now at Body World's exhibition. He donated his body to Body worlds. When I go to Body Worlds, to Berlin or anywhere Else. I Could see parts of my father?!
Is there the name of the people?

No
The funeral was very sad.
My sister, I have to add. My sister was much more affected by the whole situation. She was the typical fatherchild, and I was the mother child, and my sister was more and more affected, and she was also increasingly blaming someone. The guilt was simply the borderline, and I think my sister could never accept that and always looked to my mother to blame.
And that was also shown in growing up. That my mother became more and more unpopular to my sister
Yes, in any case we grew up then, all together in the house in Geiswald. I think I lived there for eight years. There have been good times, bad times, and confusing times. I was in school, in a normal elementary school, and was bullied by the teacher.
In fact, there was a nice anecdote. I was crying in the school yard a few days after my father died, and she came up to me and said, "It was only your father who died. Be quiet now." And that was such an example. She used to yell at me too, and then one day I was just… when she yelled at me - my mother had told me beforehand that if she yelled at me again, "Just go, go home". And then I did that. And nobody called the police that I wasn't there, that I just left. My mother didn't know anything. I went home, called my mom on a friend's phone. Then she drove to school with me, and the police had to come too, because of a violation of the duty of supervision and so I was no longer at this school. That was the cut. And then I went to a Waldorf school. I have to say: My mother's best decision, that she got the idea not to send me to a normal school and that there was one at all. Also that we were given the opportunity to attend a private school even as a socially difficult family.
It was the best way. The school also had its rough edges.
But for me as the creative person I've always been, it was simply the best school you could find.
And that's where I made friends, including my best friend, who I still have now, Max.
Yes, I wouldn't want to miss it either, and the school gave me a lot and took little away. Of course, I also had friction with teachers. I do not know. I've always had problems with adult people, rather than with students.
I had fewer problems with students than with adults. For some reason. Every school year there was a teacher I didn't get along with.
But it was a good time anyway.
I didn't always get on well with my stepmother, just to come back. There was a lot of friction. I now get along very well.
Another thing worth mentioning: She wasn't a lesbian before, just like my mother. Neither were they bi. She was in America for ten years, had children there, could only take one back to Germany with her.
Sorry let me explain, she had a child in Germany before, then went to America, couldn't take the child with her, had two children there [in America], could only take one child from America.
Gave the child up for adoption that was in Germany because she couldn't take it with her. So she had brought a child into the relationship at the beginning. - David.
Later, more and more contact with the child in America came up. We had also tried contact with the child in Germany, but that just didn't work at all. It didn't fit in the front or back. There was just too much friction and too much problems. It just didn't fit anymore. Everyone has gone his own way or continues on his way.
In any case, more and more contact was made with the son in America who continued to live there. And then he finally came to Germany. And it is now just under the upbringing of my stepmother and my mother.

How old is he?

Michel: He's actually four months older. I am the youngest of them all...

Yes, that's how we grew up. The circle of friends was a big part of our work. It was actually a big part of the family with us. There was always a circle of friends that was permanent. And that also changed less.
And that everyone agreed with each other, so to speak, so municipalities. It was actually some kind of commune. If anyone had a problem, everyone made sure that that problem was resolved.
My mother was, I would say, the focus. She was the mother of the commune to describe it best.
My mother is a very helpy person.
Rather, it is very much the helper. That's how I wanted to put it, helpful, exactly, a very helpful person if not you can even tell her afterwards that she has the helper syndrome. But now she has it under control. But she was real, she helped everyone.
We also had unofficial foster children for me at the time in Bergstrasse. Indeed we always had cases that my sister has brought up, or my brother. They just brought friends with them who had a very difficult social environment at home. And then they lived with us for half a year, nine months. That was always officially clarified with the youth welfare office. My mother just didn't get any money for it.
But the children had a home, and that was the most important thing for my mother to offer a home. My mother managed to take care of everyone without getting any money. And my mother wasn't employed herself. My stepmother had a dog grooming shop that wasn't doing that well either. It ran mediocre, there was never much money, but everyone always had what they needed.

Do your mother and her wife / girlfriend still live together?

Michel: Yeah

Are they married?

Michel: Yes they are married.

Mike: registered civil partnership.

Michel: Yes, registered partnership.

When did they get married or rather entered into a civil partnership?

Michel: Oh god when was that 2008 or something... I don't know exactly when it was. I should know … but I only remember the party. The celebration was nice.
Someone was playing a guitar and it seemed so improvised, but perfect at the same time.
It had such an industrial style. We lived in an office building from a warehouse factory at that time. The factory was right next door and there was an area where we celebrated, it had an industrial style. That just worked really well.

And now are they going to get married?

Michel: That is exactly what will probably happen for the next anniversary. Yes that will take a while. For me, Petra is my mother. I also say mom. I say to her, my stepmother, more like Petra, but also mom every now and then. I feel both like my mother.
At some point it just became more and more normal for me, because after all, I grew up with it at the age of five. And now it's just completely normal. At school it was "like you have two mothers. Eh, that works?" and then you explained that. Of course there is. Yeah, it's totally cool. So I never found out anything negative. There was of course a problem in the above. I think growing up was part of being bullied in order to get stronger. So everything that was negative for me only strengthened me in the end. And yes.

Now you are who you are.

Michel: Yeah, right, now I am who I am.
I have never lost interest in medicine. I always wanted to be an emergency doctor, but I didn't have the energy to do my Abitur [high school diploma]. And now I have job training to be an emergency paramedic. I will finish it soon, now finally! And then I reached my goal.
The first goals of my life in my younger life have been fulfilled. That although the start was quite difficult and what I have told you is only a small fraction.
Yes, there were always problems and there weren't always good times with my mother.
I - puberty hit me pretty hard, and that's how it came about when you think about my past. And then came puberty that caused a total catastrophe in me. I then went to the child therapist and was treated with the maximum number of hours that one could have, even with extreme prolongation and everything possible. Two and a half years is the maximum you can get. And then came group therapy. But that was never an option for me.
And then, at the age of 16, I moved into my own apartment with a family friend from the "commune", I have already described. [He describes the family and friends of the family as close together as they would have a commune].
He had a house, there was a very small apartment downstairs, a room, kitchen, bathroom, the bathroom two square meters, if at all.
But the 2 rooms, the kitchen and the bedroom were big enough. In need of complete renovation. And it came - I have to go back further.- This family-friend was also a kind of father for me. I had a lot of father figures, where I always have the masculine, a masculine voice, there was always one in my upbringing. The clichés are of course now being fulfilled. If a mother can get that across [the father's role], of course, that's not a problem.
But there are always things that a man can explain better to a boy. I just had the caregiver, two caregivers - once my godfather and then this family friend named Gerhard.
And he had a new acquaintance.
I got on really well with the woman he engaged. She had become a mother in that way for me too. I generally, very quickly, close people in my heart and then connect them too. And that person suddenly fell into a coma, through a stroke, all of a sudden out of nowhere. Nobody knew and nobody suspected it. Nor there were any signs or anything else. Just a massive stroke and then went into a coma and. Yes, there were situations too, for example I always went to the hospital, to the intensive care unit, and I went to the hospital, then I said the last words to her. I was alone with her room, I said my last words to her and then said goodbye. The next day I wanted to visit her again. And that's when the family decided to turn off the machine. Nobody had told me that and I sat there for 5 hours and waited and at some point I got the call "you should come home, we have to tell you something" and it was already over. Then there was the funeral and Gerhard was maximally finished. She was a big lover to him, if not the greatest, although I don't want to say the greatest. After all, he also had a wife and his children, and he had had the wife much longer.
But it hit him very hard, and then I just moved in with him in his apartment, in the house he had, and helped him with everyday situations. I cooked with him, took care of phone bills so that something was wrong, and called for him, et cetera.
We just lived together, supported each other, and then the apartment became vacant, and then I refurbished it in the meantime. And then it was my first apartment of my own, and I got along with less than Hartz IV, about half of it, monthly. My mother gave me massive support. But it was always difficult and then I finished school.
Then I did the rescue worker job training. I was doing volunteer work in DRK. I was active
everywhere, did something everywhere and had a cleaning job besides attending school and volunteering for the DRK. I went cleaning for a family, more likely with a couple from the circle of friends who had their own company to finance my tuition so that my grades are good. And yes.
That was just the way it was on the whole. I kept working my way up. I was then deputy director for my DRK regional group, when I was 18, I was just 18 for a day. It was already clear before I was 18 that I would be the deputy director. I was very active in the DRK, did a lot, organized a lot. But that was what broke me in the end. And then I got job training, and then my illness came along. I have fibromyalgia, and I have a flare-up like that, and I had a massive flare-up and couldn't hold a glass of water or anything and I was afraid for my education and my existence. Then I resigned from all my offices, and so the spiral went backwards and forwards, so that I came to the clinic, and then I was completely rebuilt. Now I am going to do everything in peace and again. That was the story of my life.
And of course you have to say I met him [looks to Mike] here, he also saved my life several times.
Mike: Several times?

Michel: Yes, several times

And have you been living here together since February?

Michel: Exactly

You are building your future.

Michel: Exactly

Do you have a rough plan for what your future will be like? Three children and five cats?

Mike: Of course, we don't have the biggest budget that we can deal with in the first place. That I take care of my education and that you take care of your health and then your work and then your exam and then we can think about it for a long time.

Michel: I'm the one who says, for example, you can get engaged now, and then you have to get married later. I am one of those

Mike: and first of all I say keep your feet on the ground, please don't take off yet.

Michel: He is the reality in the relationship and I am the one who wants to dream.

Mike: you are the dreamer not the one who wants to dream.

Michel: [noods] but actually: I definitely want children at some point. That's for me.

Mike: I don't want adoptive children, but foster children.

Michel: yes exactly we want to foster children. So i dont want- I don't even know what to call that - to have a child with a woman?

Mike: Nah, that's called loan maternity.

Michel: I definitely don't want that, because then it always...

Mike: it's their child.

Michel: [repeats] it's their child and one of ours. It is always... It is missing for me... So either both have the same relationship or... Well, if one of them has a different relationship to the child, I find that difficult.
That's why we prefer the children who need help, help can be given to them, and they can be our children too. It doesn't have to…. I don't have to…. You don't have to know the child from the baby. I don't care. I just want to be able to offer a child a home.
And that's just my wish that I raise a child and show them how life works and show them the first steps in this difficult world.
And that would be my wish for the future.

Mike: I believe that when ten years are over, then you can talk about it.

Michel: First of all, just earn money and in peace, calmly plan all your steps. Get that far, and maybe study later or something else. First of all, calm down and then say, "Well, now I have experience for life, a little, not like everyone else, but a little. And now I have the confidence to explain to a child how the world should work . "

If you now look back on your life and then consider the situation of LGBT in Germany. Have you always somehow been able to live as you have lived? From the social context or felt somehow not accepted by society?

Mike: That was a bit difficult for me overall.
Of course, heteronormativity is exemplified by your parents, grandparents. I was actually quite early.
When I was 15, I had my first girlfriend and at first I thought I was like everyone else in class. You really didn't think so much about how you are and.
I had a girlfriend and that worked well; maybe it has to do with it: she wasn't like some others, but behaved like that overall. How would I say that today ..? Yeah like a boy.
I already liked that. Yes, that didn't go that well, but we still had a good time.
I actually had a relation with guys, sometimes or I don't know, that was so half and half. Somehow I felt a connection, somehow fell in love and was interested in boys. The first time when I somehow looked up Body Transformation on YouTube, for example. Then somehow I found guys with the upper body a bit attractive. Yes, I don't like it at all anymore.
The six pack or overtrained, not at all.
Yes, I thought for a long time that I actually don't like young and don't like girls and somehow found it all abnormal. And then only then did I think I was asexual or something like that. Because I only felt love and nothing else.
For example, when I talked to the boys - during puberty of course - they got such "great tits" or "boah, look at your ass, wouldn't you imagine how you noodle them right?"
And I thought rather no. Then somehow there were a gay boy or two in my school? And suddenly it was.
"Doesn't he have a great ass, a cool face, don't you want to smooch him? I want to see how the upper body looks free."
I didn't like that either. Both not. Somehow I felt wrong everywhere. It was a little difficult to be honest. To be honest, I wanted myself... I found the outing in itself superfluous and didn't find it good for me.
I only noticed that later through a friend, ex-girlfriend, a classmate I met, who happened to meet at an apprenticeship fair. She said she was pansexual.
And then I found my sexual orientation in this sexual orientation. The important thing is, my class was weird and I think, like in almost all classes, a real incest class. and of course I wasn't the most popular boy in the whole school.
Suddenly, of course, a teacher's child, and then from one moment to the next I had no more fun at school, although I had 5 before that, and they too wanted nothing to do with me. Very social. [Irony]
In any case, it happened that I changed my sexual orientation at school because it was a bit critical, because there were a lot of swearwords and I really felt discriminated against in some situations that just didn't want to live as an outed person at school.
There was one person at school I saw who came out and took an even harder step. I wanted to save myself from that. The proceeds came when I graduated from high school.
Yes, and that was the biggest and the best thing that happened to me. The teachers, they were all super social. But the students weren´t at all.
I'll put it this way, they only had their own village called Willich in mind. So in the broadest sense. If you were to explain the earth to them, behind Düsseldorf there would be the abyss, and behind that is the black nothing. For them there would be no Mülheim [the city where Mike and Michel now live], for example. They didn't think as far as some other people, nor were they interested in things. I really just couldn't get on with these people…. Kind of difficult ... get along.
Well we got along kind of, but I'm no longer connected with them.
Michel, how was your internal coming out?

Michel: My coming out was really fun in the end.
I never read books, really never, technical books are the maximum and only when I have to study.
But there was a book - I'm the shopping master, I like to browse amazon or other things - and there I discovered a book. "Love, Simon". And then my interest was aroused.
I was very insecure. I was very insecure for myself for years. It felt like an eternity, really an eternity. You always told yourself "it's a phase ... it's just a phase .. it's not that long, and it just lasts ... it will only be youth ... this is puberty." I don't know what; I always talked yourself out of it.
And then there was this book. I then ordered that. And I really read it through within 24 hours.
And in those 24 hours I still had a 12 hour shift [at work]. Of course I couldn't take that with me to my work because it would have been noticed. You don't say that there. Don't show it. And I had nothing to cover the book with.
Everyone would have asked "What kind of book is that?" or they would have wanted to read the blurb. You were totally shitty.
In any case, I searched this book. And then it was clear to me. It's over. It's you ... it's just like that. I never wanted to give in to this cliché.
There's just this cliché: two lesbian parents who have to have gay children. There is no other way. And I never wanted to give in to this cliché. But after reading this book it was just clear to me, 'It's you'. Because I've read it so fascinatingly. I was blown away.

How old were you when you read this?

Michel: 20. It was actually a very late coming out. And as I said, it took a long time.
And first I dyed my highlights and only for myself because I felt like doing it. And then I said,
'Okay, I'll come out to my best friend first.'
But I didn't dare tell him that. To look him in the eye and tell him that. Although I knew one hundred percent that it was not a problem for him, 300%, otherwise how many percent, I knew it was not a problem for him, but I just didn't dare. I was too cowardly for that. And then I said: Okay, then I'll write a letter, and I wrote this letter for several weeks. I wrote him a kind of diary. I wrote in there every day, and in the meantime I was ... I was still working on everything. And then in the middle of the night after the shift at 11 p.m., just full of thoughts, I just drove to Frankfurt.
And was in the middle of Frankfurt and didn't know what I was doing there because I was just thinking about coming out. It was completely insane and it went on like that. Then I sat down in Frankfurt and continued to write this letter on my cell phone. And then I kept writing it. Funnily enough, I kept writing to him when I was in other cities. It happened more often. I sent him [my best friend] a location and then said in the letter 'now you've got a location from me.'
And then after 18 pages the letter was finally finished (written on the computer). I ordered a nice stationery. I had a seal made and everything. I made it really laborious because I wanted this letter to be perfect. I just wanted this letter to be perfect.
I also proofread it several times and all sorts of things. Yes, and then at some point I just sent it off. And then it was completely over for me.
Then I stood in front of the mailbox and dropped the letter and then I thought 'Shit, what did you do?' I was completely exhausted with my nerves. I was also no longer capable of anything. And then he got the letter. And he just said briefly, "It's not a problem at all. It's not a problem for me."
And for me that was simply proof that it worked. Then at some point I told the rest of the group of friends.
There are also a couple of weeks on it. And then one evening I was in my apartment and wrote to my best friend, 'I'm completely exhausted.
I have to tell other people now. I can not stand it anymore'. Then he said to me. 'Just do it.' Then I did it, I went to see my mother.
Of course, my mother wasn't home. Everyone else was. There were family friends and my stepbrother and my stepmother. But my mother wasn't there, she was still shopping. And I wrote to my mother 'come home, come home please' and then my mom was there, and it just wasn't the mood to come out. And at some point, when everyone was talking, I said to my mother 'I have to tell you something'.
"And I'm gay" and suddenly dead silence in the whole room... although I was 100 percent sure that everyone was talking to each other. And then "there is no problem. It's perfectly fine." The funny thing was I came out in front of two lesbian couples. Yes, but I saw it as a problem.
When it came to outing and growing up, I grew up completely sheltered, and I still got into such a big drama, which wasn't necessary.

Mike: When I came out there I was... well I think I was actually open. Or. I indicated it. The most important thing for me was that I told my foster parents first.
I only told my family and then my best friends. And then my grandpa.
I said to my foster parents "Yes, I think I think I'm not that straight" then they just said "How? Are you gay? Are you bi". Then I said "No, I don't feel either. I'm pansexual" and then only came "what's that" and then they were really interested and asked me what that was. I can't remember how the conversation came about. But it was not a problem at all.
But it was that with my grandpa .. Fortunately, he then found a great love. And then I made hints at the breakfast table about rights against gays.
It's pretty difficult, but also a bit funny overall, because my grandpa's current wife has divorced her husband. The man later revealed himself to be gay after 15 years of marriage. Yes, the conversation was a bit critical then. And then I said "Yes, but he already knew that" and so. Because it's not easy at all with him, there used to be a time when you weren't allowed to. He was a police officer himself.
Moderate stereotypes, if you are police and gay you will be bullied or gunned down directly. It's pretty tough and it's not easy either. Not at all. And then I managed to explain it to you.
And to the rest of my family, I just introduced him later, when I got together with Michel, and said "Yes, my partner!" Some looked at me stupidly.
But I thought to myself why coming out, it doesn't matter. Or do I have to come out as straight now?
Why is there always this hetero normality? Why do you have to come out? By the way, they always say this and that.
Nobody really cares. The main thing is that you are happy yourself. And so from the people "oohh he's gay" that doesn't help anyway.
I think and it was my decision. I think that coming out doesn't necessarily have to be okay if you later feel better about it. But if you have the feeling that you have to come out, but you don't want to, you don't have to come out, or you can do it in such a way that it is not the focus at all.
For example, just arriving with your boyfriend on a Christmas holiday.

Did you do this ?

Mike: Yeah.

Michel: but then you are of course a bit in the center.

Mike: Yes, I'll put it this way... I honestly thought that... I just got it.
Overall, I think it was a bit more pleasant because we were about 60. And if someone had said something negative, that could have been - just a real farming family - I think you would have looked at this person stupidly. Especially the older ones. And one would have spoken a serious word. Either the whole family would have been divided.
So that they wouldn't have been so friendly. But that I would have divided the whole family. But it didn't get that far. Fortunately for me on my father's side, I grew up in a tolerant family. On my mother's side, my grandpa, where I grew up for a while, the situation was a little more difficult, but it worked.

Michel: We have a good relationship with everyone.

Mike: It was a bit difficult so that at some point you checked it out when I said yes I would come with a friend. By the way, I'm in a partnership with him. This is not just a cool buddy.
Has moving out of your parents' home changed anything in the way you deal with your sexuality?

Well, you Michel moved out before you came out? But you and Mike were still living at home when you came out?

Mike: Yeah.

Was there a change that somehow suddenly you were 'you' or something?

Mike: I had a lot to do with school. I was still living with foster parents when I came out.
I also lived it so openly. And that is important that you arrive somewhere new, that you feel comfortable and that, if you want to be able to tell it at all, you can tell the truth and such. This is also important when you arrive …

Michel: It was my second apartment, while I was out and it wasn't anything special. You have to say that the apartment was actually at my workplace. I worked in the ambulance service. And I lived above the ambulance. If I wanted to go out, I had to go through the ambulance.
There was the first time... I made my outing very big, I did it on all social media platforms at the same time, with a picture and a signature. And posted the same thing everywhere.
I just wanted to end this corridor radio, these rumors. I didn't want this to happen at all. "did
you hear he's gay" and something. I did not want that. I just wanted to testify myself. To everybody!
I just did that. Then there were various conversations.
Moving out provided me with a place of retreat. That has always been the case in general. It gave me a place where I could just get away from all these conversations.
"You are gay? Ah how is that?"
All the questions. You were always questioned, always the subject ..
And the apartment gave me ... so moving out simply gave me the freedom and also the distance from my mother who wants to mother you. And yes, moving out gave me strength.
Did you choose your profession with regard to your sexual identity or did your sexual orientation have any effect on your choice of profession?

Mike: Not at all. As I said, I'm currently job training to be a chemical laboratory technician. Then I would like to do the chemical technician too. Not at alI, I don't think the chemical industry has anything to do with being gay.
Overall, yes, rather like that, ambulance service moderate and then also towards social issues, towards medicine, nursing.
But for me that had no influence at all .. No, I had my interests, they were decisive. Overall, I have a completely normal comprehensive school. My first elective was science, then chemistry and physics and mathematics.
At the same time, of course, my German teacher was the counseling teacher at my school.
Then she said, "Your grades look like you could do something in the natural sciences-technical field.
And that's what happened to me. And then I actually found out about apprenticeships. For example, I did another internship, in a completely scientific-technical profession, in a commercial profession and then got to know the job in the laboratory. And I decided to do it because it looked the most beautiful or somehow the most interesting to me.
Some others would say "uhm dry". But for me it really is. I think I really did everything right.
Maybe after 20 or 30 years I'll open a kiosk or something completely different. I do what I want to do.
Maybe I'll open a bar too, a little gay bar. But I only choose my current job based on my interests.
And luckily, even though I only have a secondary school diploma, I have been accepted.
I am the only one with a secondary school diploma in my Max Planck Institute. [A levels are required normally]

Does your sexuality affect your choice of career Michel?

Michel: to be honest, not at all - at first. I only came out during my job training. I knew all of my colleagues are tolerant, everyone. I've also never heard anything negative from anyone. But you were the number one topic of conversation. And that really bothered me at some point. You just have to live with the emergency services that sayings are made.
And that may be worse elsewhere. But that's bad in the ambulance service. And the funniest part of the whole story. There was one day before I came out, I had dyed straight strands and there were slogans from my colleagues.
About "with something you can open a gay bar for me" And what I don't know. "Better not let the soap fall" and such, there were such slogans.
And the next day I was outed and then they came and were all meek and apologized that that was not what was meant. But then I don't have such an understanding with them that they like to continue their sayings. I don't want to forbid them anything with my outing and my sexuality. Of course, I don't think it's great that you take fagots as an insult. But I had to live with it.
I was an apprentice. There was no other way. I couldn't assert myself because I wasn't on the works council or anything else. You'd rather be meek. When I was out, I actually didn't think about my job at all, that wasn't a problem at all because I knew that everyone was tolerant.

Mike, are you out at work?

Mike: Yeah

What did your colleagues say? Was that a problem for them or not at all?

Mike: Nope, not at all. It's just a completely normal topic. You don't talk about it. I don't think that's that bad, to be honest. Actually, that shouldn't be such a big topic, because it's something completely normal. Part of private life. Yes, of course, I said so, but it wasn't an issue there.

Are there social, political milestones or something that had an impact on your personal development regarding your homosexuality or pansexuality?

Mike: I really celebrated it on the day when the Bundestag decided that marriage is decided for everyone, so that's decided that it will come. I celebrated it right, even though I didn't even know I wasn't straight. I was in a heterosexual relationship on that day [resolution of marriage for everyone], I actually came together with that girl on the day. That was a little weird, but overall? - I still celebrated it. Sometimes I found other people interesting because they then outed themselves, I didn't somehow say bad words to them, but I had supported these people, said "wow respect that you are so extreme and not afraid . "

Michel: For me it was the marriage for everyone also. It was my milestone. It was the first thing I really noticed in that direction. But it was more a thing for my mother. That she's getting married now.
At that time I was still very unsure of myself. Didn't think about ever getting into a same-sex marriage and was happy, for my mother, that it was possible.

Do you feel at the time of your life that the way people deal with homosexuality, the way society deals with homosexuality / with LGBT * people has changed? Do you think that not much has changed yet? Or has everything got better in the last few years?

Michel: There are a lot of open people, tolerant people. But there are also other people who are not so tolerant and say "What shit is that?" For example, if you look at the right-wing groups, you just fear that it can be like it used to be, that you will step backwards instead of making progress.
I don't want to think about it. Especially because in the past under nationalism here in Germany the Nazis forgot homosexuals. Today it is still the case that homosexuality is no longer seen as a disease, fortunately, but that there are still therapies. And I think that's not possible at all.
I actually have discrimination - although it is of course more open than it used to be, in the past it was even a criminal offense. We can't really complain today, the older ones
Gays, lesbians, transsexuals, transsexuals they can say, "But what you're talking about is small."

Mike: But when we go through town together and hear "oh stupid faggot" or something. Then I think to myself he didn't hear the shot anymore. Well, we're not in our thirties.
We have heard that many times before, that it doesn't just happen once. We actually still have discrimination in society. And that is not acceptable.

Michel: I think it's just a matter of education. So for me it's an educational thing that needs to be educated, it's just like that. It must be understandable to the people who have problems with it, it must be made understandable for them, so that they understand it on their level. At whatever level that may be that they can understand and understand. Because I think it's just an understanding thing, they just don't understand or want to understand. But. Yes, I can't really say much anymore. It's just ... So much is still missing. We also heard about the situation elsewhere. That is actually shocking. You feel like you're in a sheltered cocoon. And still one will stay here [in Germany]. I don't even want to know what it's like elsewhere.

Mike: But you have to admit that some other countries are much more progressive than we are.

Michel: Yes, that's just the question of where and why that is. You'd have to find out. That has probably already been found out. I don't know. In fact, I'm more of someone who is poorly informed about that. Although it concerns me. But I'm actually not well informed.

Do you have a tip for queer young people or something you want to give them on the way?

Michel: Mine is actually a personal one: if possible, come out as soon as possible; If it is possible, if it is not possible, then at least stay true to yourself.

Mike: Now I come with my saying and that's the complete opposite, I have a different opinion on it. You are a person the way you are. You don't have to put yourself in the spotlight somehow or don't actually have to tell anyone.

Michel: Yes, that's true too. I agree with that too.

Mike: No one should really care about what you like and what you love, what you are. You are you, you should take your life the way you want it.

Michel: stand by yourself.

Mike: yes exactly, stand by yourself. And when it's at school. And if you have cool colleagues in school (or in elementary school? You probably don't know that yet.) And in secondary school, it's a bit critical. I didn't do it then. But it always depends on the situation itself to say you are you. You don't have to stand out. You don't really have to say anything, because your private life belongs only to you. you can share it with people. But the following applies: How YOU want it and not otherwise!

Thank you!



Interviewed by Hannah Wiendl
October 2020