Karsten P. empties a test tube filled with metal pieces into the palm of his hand. They're the tiny screws and bolts that held his face together after he and his partner Sven were violently assaulted in a life-changing attack outside their local store.
Two surgeries later and fearful of being attacked again, the openly gay 52-year-old taxi driver -- who doesn't want to be identified because of concerns of another attack -- avoids public spaces and always takes pepper spray with him. He and his partner have also been forced to move neighborhoods in the northwest German city of Bremen following mounting costs as a result of being injured.
"I went outside and saw someone kicking my partner's head. I was trying to stop him and right at that moment, I got hit from the side," Karsten recalls about the attack. "I kind of lost consciousness and when I got up again, I thought my partner was dead. He was all covered in blood and he didn't move at all."
Police identified the attackers as two locally known Muslim extremists. They were never arrested and later fled to Syria. After demanding answers from local prosecutors and the mayor's office and not getting a response, Karsten turned to Germany's far right party, the Alternative for Germany (AfD).
"I don't like everything they say," Karsten says, "but this is too dangerous for gay people to live openly here, if we get attacked like that. We need a party that's talking openly about this."
People like Karsten and Sven aren't alone in supporting the party. There is even a German term for gay support of the far right: "homonationalism." A 2016 survey from "MEN," a monthly magazine for gay men, showed that 17% of respondents openly supported the AfD, higher than the national average.
"A party like the AfD gives people from minorities an offer of social identity," says Beate Kupper, a social psychologist at Hochschule Niederrhein University in North Rhine-Westphalia who studies the far right in Germany. "If you identify strongly with a group and you have an 'out-group' that you can position yourself against, that is a good feeling for your personal belonging."