By: Amanda Sandström Beijer
Photos by: Alina Rudya
Fully assured that they’re good enough, even when people all around have been trying to make them understand that they’re a freak that doesn't belong. Stinny Stone’s road up to this day has been uphill. This brought them big muscles and, an even stronger urge of letting their true visions materialize. Stinny brings their brain waves into form by sewing clothes, drag, photography, creative direction, make-up, and it makes Playful go Ahhhh.
”Not relatable, relatable and trashy”, that’s how Stinny describes themself.
They grew up in a small town named Porta Wesfalica, and say they couldn’t have had a more beautiful upbringing. Although the more we talk we understand that it has a shadow to it.
”It was a very safe upbringing, in the sense that everything was so close by, and everyone knew everyone. I had a five-minute walk to school and all around there were farms with pigs, horses, sheep, and all kinds of animals. Our ways of having fun were shooting with guns and playing with animals.”
The downside of growing up in a small town, where everyone knew each other was the talk.
”I found it hard to be myself, but I have never compromised, as I’ve been this way since I was a little boy. Back then everyone thought I was a freak in my dresses. I was obsessed with Pippi Longstockings, she was my icon and I saw the films over and over. Then the yearly Carnival came, and I wanted to dress up like her, so my mother sewed me a dress and bought me an orange wig. The problem was that after being Pippi for that one day, I didn’t want to wear anything else. So thenceforward I was always dressed as Pippi Longstockings in kindergarten. The apron got so dirty and ugly, but I never wanted to take it off. My parents wondered ’what the fu*k was going on, what can we do?’ because everything was falling apart, and the parents of the other kids were wondering what was up with this kid. My mom just answered that ’it’s my kid and he just loves to dress up like Pippi every day of the year.’”
Sometime after this period Stinny started school and everything suddenly felt very different.
”People recognized me and asked if I was that weird kid that always wore Pippi’s clothes, and they didn’t want to be my friend since they thought that I was a total freak. I was so shy and embarrassed and suddenly I had a feeling that everyone was seeing me as a mad person. So, I got bullied a lot which was also really tough for my mother. She works as a hairdresser and had all the kids' mothers as clients, and they asked her all the time what was wrong with me and why I was acting so crazy. She had to defend me against her clients and it was just very intense for her'', Stinny explains.
”As they all talked so much it took away part of my youth. Like I never got the chance to ’come out’ to my parents and tell them that I’m gay, because everyone in my hometown outed me to them, and didn’t give me the chance to do it myself. The people at my school told my mother that their son was gay even before I knew it myself. I hadn’t even started to question that yet and didn’t know much about my sexuality, if I was bi, transsexual or what I was, before I was told from every direction.”
Being bullied took a big toll on their life and self-confidence and Stinny eventually got depressed.
”I think what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, and after some time, I found a boyfriend. I was like 15 when we got together, but after all this bullying I felt I was too much, so I tried to be less of who I was, and acted more masculine and tried to not look gay. My boyfriend was also looking very heteronormative. It was a pretty toxic relationship in that sense. He was very pretty, and I was trying to be perfect for him. We were basically teenagers, and that’s also why it wasn’t very hard when I ended it.”
The end came when Stinny turned 18, decided to make reality of their dream and moved to Berlin.
”I wanted to study arts, photography and design and to spread my wings and get the space to become the person I really was, without any limitations. But my boyfriend didn’t want to leave our hometown, so I left by myself.”
Before moving to Berlin, Stinny, who had their uncle and cousin already living here, had been visiting the city plenty of times. Although their view on the city has changed since they were young.
”I thought Berlin was dangerous. I could see that young people were drinking beer and people were looking through the trash bins and there was graffiti everywhere, and as a small-town-person I was shocked by all of this. But already back then, I knew that I needed to live in a big city to get the creative freedom I was looking for and to meet people who had a similar way of thinking. I saw so many opportunities to express myself and to make my dreams come true. I basically moved to Berlin to be accepted for who I was.”
Although Stinny used to have family here, when they arrived, they didn’t know anyone.
”It was very hard to find an apartment of course and I found my first few friends in the university where I studied photography.”
This was a private school, and it wasn’t really the vibe that Stinny had imagined before coming here.
”People were a bit snobbish, and I’m rougher and more straight forward in a sense. I didn’t really feel understood here either. They were very particular with what they assumed was ’working’ and not working, and into one particular way of fashion- and contemporary photography and the teachers told me to ’calm down’. They said that I didn’t have my own style and that I had to figure something out, but I didn’t want to figure something out, I just wanted to realize my vision. But they all thought it was too trashy and wanted to ’correct it’. In Germany we say, ’Durch die Blume sagen’ and it translates ’through the flower’ and means that one doesn’t yet have style and soon will realize it themselves.”
Once again being surrounded by people who didn't understand them and wanted to change them, left Stinny once again feeling depressed.
”I was supposed to come to Berlin and feel accepted, but this was just the same as before but with fancier words describing it. The teachers were on me as well, telling me that I looked so crazy with my hair and my clothes and asked why the things I created weren't as crazy as I was. I just wanted to ask them why they were looking so boring and creating things that looked so plain. I didn’t want to stay around people who told me that I wasn’t good enough, smart enough or creative enough, and that I didn’t have a clear vision, by people who were lacking any kind of creative thinking whatsoever, so I left.”
Stinny quitted university and decided to find their ways elsewhere.
”Suddenly I felt free to do what I wanted and found people who understood my vision and asked for it. I wanted to start sewing my own clothes and do the actual fashion rather than that fashion photography which I found to be so f*cking boring. But if I should be honest, I actually started hot-gluing. I hot-glued everything until I realized that it wasn’t sustainable and a bit too trashy. So, then I started sewing, and then the singer Valentin was doing a music video and asked me to create her outfits for it and style her. From the start she loved my vision and understood everything I created, which was such a big moment for me. My work was appreciated, and I wasn’t this Pippi creature, weirdo, freak, with their wig on the side, and a dirty apron anymore.”
This was the first experience where they felt they could be themself fully and that their creativity was appreciated and wanted by someone else. After that Stinny has styled a lot of celebrities such as the German rapper Katja Krasavice.
But as mentioned before, Stinny works within various creative expressions besides styling. One of them being videography and they have done the’10,000-hour rule’ of cutting videos, which pretty much makes them a professional on paper.
”Back in my hometown, as I didn’t have any friends but still wanted to be creative, I went to the theatre and applied for some roles in an ensemble and found some friends. But they were all a bit small-minded, so I was bullied by them as well. I then started to create my own music videos, like drag performances, as a young boy in hot-glued couture, and I started cutting and editing the videos of myself and finally I became really good at it. Even today I sometimes take jobs from advertising companies and help out with editing and cutting their videos.”
Even if a lot did shift once they moved to Berlin, as they now have a big community and achieved a lot of creative freedom as well as being publicly acknowledged, the city is not a utopia for queer people.
”Berlin is never as good as when you’ve left the city. Because the city’s very intense and I tend to get overwhelmed here from time to time. Although every time I leave the city, I’m like ’oh my gosh, I want to go to Berlin’. I then realize that people don’t question me in this city, in the same way they do everywhere else. We don’t have the same kind of judgmental theme where we analyze everybody and tell them how we perceive them”, they says and continue;
”At the same time, it’s not a safe space when one is looking like I do, in the streets of Berlin. Inside Berghain, KitKat or my own parties, I feel safe, but not on the way to them. I always must scan the street and risk to get harassed and spit at, and people sometimes throw bottles at me. Even on my way over here we had to switch sides of the street. I’ve learned how to read this to a certain extent, but it’s dangerous and exhausting to not be safe in the streets outside my home and being harassed with homophobic words or being attacked from the behind. I thought everyone would be so open here, but they’re not. You can do whatever you want to in one of the many safe spaces, yes. But you can’t even be yourself in the streets of Kotti.”
Berlin - the city of openness, could be a good tagline. Although Stinny points at that we do have a long way to go until that’s the reality for all of us.
”Me and my friends are always in a big crowd. If we’re five or more, then we’re mostly okay but otherwise I must go with Uber. Although there’s been times when I couldn’t afford it and instead, I got assaulted and pushed down the stairs. It’s strange the way the laws work; if you steal something you go to prison, but if you throw a glass bottle on someone the police doesn’t care.
Although Stinny can see a brighter future for the city and watches their friends and community take place within politics.
”My friend Gloria Viagra went into politics now and I’m so proud of her and I know that if someone will change this, it’s not the white cis men, it’s women like her.”
Stinny Stone's favorite spots in Berlin