Gay Days at the Oktoberfest ... a couple dressed in traditional Lederhosen kiss.
Munich's annual beer festival got underway to the collective clinking of tankards on Saturday. But did you know that gay Bierfest started on Sunday?
A mainstay of the German entertainment calendar kicked off with its usual aplomb this weekend. The price of the beer at Munich's Oktoberfest might have gone up (from €8.30 (£7.50) a litre to €8.60), but otherwise everything is looking rosy at the Wiesn (meadow), as the locals refer to the world's biggest beer bonanza, which attracts around six million visitors a year.
But there is a lesser-known scene the corporate sponsors steer clear of and where the leather trousers tend to be of a superior quality, even if they generally come in black rather than the traditional brown. Dirndl and Heidi-style wigs are also well-represented – except they are being worn by drag queens as well as the waitresses. Welcome to the gay Oktoberfest.
"Gay Days" at the Oktoberfest have their origins in the 1970s when the Munich Lowenclub (Lions Club), a gay fetish society whose members are confusingly known as "bears", booked the balcony in the Bräurosl tent. The owners expected a football club, and were taken aback when a group of gay men turned up. But the beer drinkers proved to be big-spending revellers, and, according to the waitresses, were more pleasant to deal with than other festival-goers. Now Gay Days is the second biggest gay event in Munich after the Christopher Street Day parade, and as many as 8,000 mostly gay men and some women fill the tent, although straight people are also welcome.