Around reunification: Greek migrant LGBTQ voices become growingly visible

The entry of Greece into the European Economic Community in 1981 and, notably, the Gewährung persönlicher Freizügigkeit für griechische Staatsbürger [Provision of individual freedom of movement to Greek citizens] in 1988 reversed the ban on the entry of Greeks seeking work in West Germany. However, the improving financial conditions in Greece changed the nature of such migration: West Germany mainly attracted Greek professionals rather than Greeks who sought employment as workers, as had happened in 1960-1973.

A few of those professionals were Greek lesbian women who sought to study and/or work in West Germany. Some of those Greek lesbian women had already met German Feminists in Eressos on the island of Lesvos, which had become a beloved holiday location for lesbian women from numerous countries already from the late 1970s (Kantsa 2010). Encounters in Eressos encouraged some Greek lesbian women to migrate to Germany, especially Berlin and Hamburg. Greek lesbian migrants hoped to experience more freedom in expressing and developing themselves regarding their gender identities and sexuality compared to Greece.

Once in Germany, Greek lesbian migrants often participated in lesbian Feminist initiatives there, both politically and culturally. It was not atypical for them to participate in Pride marches. They contributed to the growing involvement of migrants in Feminism in the Federal Republic from the mid-1980s and the 1990s (Gutiérrez Rodríguez & Tuzcu, 2021)

Overall, the shifting attitudes of the West German state towards migrants, the improving financial condition of Greece and the diversifying social backgrounds of Greek migrants in West Germany related to the protests in which they were involved. These were far from uniform, reflecting the heterogeneity of Greek migrants living in West Germany. One way or another, such protests often involved the collaboration of Greek migrants, other migrants and German activists, particularly evident in the late 1960s and early 1970s.


20, 21: Greek artist performing as Nana Mouschouri in the lesbian bar Frauenkneipe in Hamburg in 1991. Courtesy of Evgenia Tsanana.

22, 23: Visibility of Greeks in the Gay Pride of Hamburg in 1999. Courtesy of Evgenia Tsanana.