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Nudes : Young gays in Berlin

The photographer Ashkan Sahihi was born in Tehran in 1963 and grew up in Germany. In 1987 he moved to New York. He has lived in Berlin for three years and has been taking photos for magazines such as ZEITmagazin, "New Yorker" and "Vogue". His last work, "Die Berlinerin", published in 2015, is a photographic study of women in Berlin.


"I come from a village of 1,500 people in Swabia, not far from Ravensburg. Everything was small and very Catholic and there was no one who would have been a role model for me as a young gay man. I found this life very difficult to accept. Mine Grandma already knew when I was little: He'll move away, he won't come back. When I came to Berlin nine years ago, it wasn't even clear to me that I was looking for a place where I could belong. I just wanted to away from the village.

Berlin was actually a random choice, simply because I got a place to study here. It wasn't until I moved to Hamburg in the meantime that I realized how much I miss the city. It's freedom. There is a kind of Berlin indifference that is very pleasant - because there is a great deal of equality in it. It doesn't really matter what you are here. Everyone can be as they want. The diverse is the normal, which I find very pleasant. The people here are mostly respectful without me having the feeling that everyone has to prove to themselves how tolerant they are all the time. "


"I had wanderlust to Berlin, although I had never been here, already at the age of 13. A school friend was often here, she always wrote me postcards. When I stood at the main train station for the first time, I had to scream that I was 50 - Centimeter monkey grin on my face. I moved here five years ago, from Lower Saxony. In the meantime I have arrived, but other countries also appeal to me, New York, New Zealand. Berlin is great for my youth, but I will certainly not grow old here. "


"São Paulo, where I grew up, is also a big city. But despite its size, I always missed coming into contact with very different people. My environment was relatively homogeneous and I always felt that that wasn't all. Homosexuality was always a stupid cliché there, so I had no role models and no support there to be able to come out.

I was fascinated by Berlin from the start because the people here are so different and yet live together. Here I can be and express myself as I want. I can hold hands with my boyfriend. Since I've been living in Berlin, I've had the feeling that I can explore myself and let go of the expectations of those around me. "


"I have always loved Tehran, the city where I was born and raised. Nevertheless, I always wanted to leave, at the latest when I had problems with the university because of my political commitment and my homosexuality. The love for Tehran was over immediately, when I came to Berlin. Today I think that I was actually just born in Iran, I don't have any roots there anymore. It's as if I had been born again in Berlin. But the beginning in Germany was difficult. I had to Spending a year in a village in Saxony where I had absolutely no life before I married my boyfriend and came to Berlin.

I was fascinated by how gay the city is. Of course I've heard someone yell 'fagot', but what the heck. I can no longer imagine living anywhere else. Even if I only go away for one day for work, I look forward to coming back. I'm free in Berlin. The greatest thing is riding a bike around town on a summer day. This feeling. That would not be possible in Tehran for so many reasons. "

Ashkan Sahihi: Beautiful Berlin Boys. Illustrated book, 48 pages, € 35, Kehrer Verlag. Exhibition in the Kehrer Galerie, Potsdamer Straße 100, Wednesday to Saturday, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m., December 3 to January 28. Vernissage: December 2nd, 7 p.m.

This article first appeared in our magazine "Tagesspiegel Berliner".

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