Katharina Oguntoye has been involved in the women's/lesbian movement in Germany and internationally since 1983/Photo: © Joliba e.V.

Afro-German activist wins Berlin’s Lesbian prize

Afro-German activist Katharina Oguntoye has been honoured for her life’s work against sexism, racism and homophobia with the Lesbian Visibility Award for Berlin 2020.

Reacting to the award, Oguntoye (61), who is of German-Nigerian heritage, said: “I’m committed to lesbian visibility because living in hiding is not an option”.

The award ceremony of the Berlin Prize for Lesbian Visibility is an important day in the calendar of Berlin, which prides itself as the rainbow capital, every two years.

“The Berlin Prize for Lesbian* Visibility is therefore not only a tribute to the winner but is itself a means of creating lesbian visibility,” the citation said.

Katharina Oguntoye has been involved in the women’s/lesbian movement in Germany and internationally since 1983, such as organizing the Berlin Lesbian Week, the Cross-Cultural Summer Institute – Germany, leading workshops at the Lesbian Spring Meeting and Audre Lorde Conference “I Am Your Sister” (Boston) and the International Feminist Book Fairs (Montreal, Amsterdam) and participating in numerous panel discussions in LGBTQI* forums.

Katharina Oguntoye, who said she became an activist because “I wanted to work for a more just society”, is also known for her publications, including the Berlin Lesbian Week documentary. She is also co-founder of a lesbian group with Kinderwunsch. (Lesbians who want to have children).

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Katharina Oguntoye, a historian and co-founder and director of the association Joliba-Intercultural Network in Berlin, has helped shape feminist and Afro-German movements – among other things as one of the editors and authors of the book “Showing Our Colours. Afro-German Women Speak Out” (1986), as well as a founding member of the “Initiative Schwarze Menschen in Deutschland” (Initiative of Black Germans) and ADEFRA (Afro-German Women and Lesbian Group).

Oguntoye’s scholarly research on the history of Black people in Germany was published in 1997; it will be reissued in 2020 under a new title “Black Roots, Afro-German Family Histories von 1884 bis 1950” by Orlanda Verlag. 

Austin Ohaegbu

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