Berlin’s openly gay mayor, Klaus Wowereit, has stepped down after 13 years in office. The mayor, who was one of the first openly gay officials elected, has seen his support crash land after years of delays and skyrocketing costs from the city’s long-planned Berlin Brandenburg Airport. In stepping down, Wowereit called the project his “greatest defeat.”
“I’m gay, and that’s OK,” Wowereit said before his election in 2001. In fact, for Berlin, it was more than OK. Since Wowereit first took office, Berlin, “poor but sexy” (his 2003 quip and the city’s unofficial slogan), has transformed. In 2006, it was likened by the New York Times to “New York City in the 1980s,” in that “[r]ents are cheap, graffiti is everywhere and the city crackles with a creativity that comes only from a city in transformation.” More than 150,000 jobs have been created since 2005, with start-up firms being drawn to the city like tourists to—well, to Berlin since Wowereit took office.