We may never see a Queer as Folk reunion, but a German web series is spotlighting gay sex in a different city: Set in Cologne, Kuntergrau explores the diverse relationships of a group of five friends in their teens and 20s.
And with English subtitles now available, Kuntergrau is reaching a whole new audience.
The show, which launched its second season in April, follows 19-year-old Lukas, who has moved to Cologne, considered the gay capital of Germany, from the countryside. His circle of friends includes Leopold, a sexually ambiguous 17-year-old; 27-year-old banker Marcel, who is HIV-positive; and 20-year-old Jan, who is uncomfortable with the BDSM side of his hot boyfriend, Noah.
Kuntergrau’s writer/director, Kai Kreuser, was inspired to work on the series because he didn’t see young gay men like himself represented in German media. “We’re talked about but not talked to,” he explains.
The “coming out” narrative—complete with anxiety, depression and alienation—is a regular part of LGBT representations, both in the U.S. and Germany. The German soap Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love) got a lot of mileage out of the travails of super-couple Christian and Oliver.) But it doesn’t speak to a generation who may have never faced rejection or been in the closet in the first place.
Kuntergrau “doesn’t turn homosexuality into a problem,” Kreuser says. Instead it touches on issues that are universal—first loves, conflicts with parents—as well as some more unique to gay men—like sex work and living with HIV.
The show was made with an all-volunteer cast in conjunction with the Anyway, Cologne’s LGBT center. So far, the series has garnered more than a millions views altogether on YouTube, reaching audiences in Russia, China and the Arab world.
“Our generation is the one to form the future and we definitely will influence society’s perception of sexual minorities,” says Kreuser. “Never before has a generation been so accepting of sexual orientations. Hopefully one day no one will care anymore and we can leave the concept of ’coming out’ behind.”