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German LGBT actors come out en masse to call for more diversity

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German LGBT actors come out en masse to call for more diversity

A group of German LGBT actors have come out despite warnings this could affect their careers to call for more diversity in TV, film, and theatre.

Numbering around 185, the group released a joint manifesto in a national magazine, Süddeutsche Zeitung, calling for a change of attitude in the industry as well as more LGBT characters in scripts.

German LGBT actors forced not to come out

The group said they decided to “come together” in a campaign called Act Out and using the hashtag #actout to call for an end to the discriminatory attitudes and urge others to come forward.

A number of them said they were told not to declare their sexuality because it would limit them from being considered for heterosexual roles.

“Until now, we have not been able to talk openly about our private lives without fearing repercussions on our professional lives,” they declared in their manifesto.

“All too often, many of us have been cautioned– be it by managers, casting agents, colleagues, producers, editors, directors, etc.– to keep quiet about our sexual orientations and gender identities to avoid jeopardising our careers,” they said.

“We are actors. We don’t have to be what we play. We act as though we were– that is our job,” they added.

German LGBT actors speak of their experiences

Speaking separately to Süddeutsche Zeitung, six of the actors related their own experiences being in TV, film, and theatre while hiding their LGBT identities.

Eva Meckbach, who starred in the series Tatort. said, “”Reality should be as diverse on screen as it is in real life.”

“Society is much wider and more diverse than the decision-makers think,” Meckbach said.

Karin Hanczewski, who also starred in Tatort, said: “When we talked about it as a group, it suddenly became clear that this was how we could change something– as a group, as a big group.”

The six also pointed out how few role models they had as young people.

They were also told during their careers “play as if they were heterosexual,” and that they shouldn’t bring their respective partners along during red carpet events.

Diverse German society should be reflected

The overall group noted that despite the fact that German society is becoming more diverse, it is “still hardly reflected in our cultural narratives.”

“Our society has long been ready. The viewers are ready. Our industry should stand for togetherness and reflect society in all of its diversity,” they said.

They further cited the overrepresentation of straight white men both on and off-screen.

Some high profile German cultural institutions have aired their support for the initiative, including the Berlinale, the Berlin International Film Festival.


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