HeartCore - The Official Copenhagen Pride Magazine #3 FIRSTS

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Breaking the norms and abandoning expectations

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Editorial staff Mariya Alfa Staugaard – Editor-in-Chief (She/Her) Lærke Vinther Christiansen – Creative Content Editor (She/Her) Josefine Bruun Meyer – Editor’s Assistant (She/Her) Riccardo Vide – Photo Editor (He/Him)

Content contributors Anne Sophie Parsons (She/Her) Cécilia Ader Andersen (She/Her) Dag Heede (He/Him) Emma Rubin (She/Her) Lars Henriksen (He/Him) Nicholas Chisha (He/Him) Paulie Amanita Calderon-Cifuentes (She/Her)

Translation and copy editing Adam Daugaard (He/Him) Helene Agerkvist (She/Her) Lea Albrechtsen (She/Her) Louise Østergaard Sørensen (She/Her) Maria Vinding (She/Her)

Graphics and layout Søren Juliussen (He/Him) Camilla Engelby (She/Her)

Photography Renato Manzionna (He/Him) Ulla Munch-Pedersen (She/Her)

Interested in joining us? We’re always looking for new voices and experiences. Contact us at heartcore@copenhagenpride.dk Would you like to get HeartCore delivered to your doorstep four times a year? Subscribe for only 250 DKK by writing to abonnement@copenhagenpride.dk with your name and address – then we will provide information on payment. HeartCore is available to read online in Danish and English via issuu.com Search for “Copenhagen Pride” or visit our website at www.copenhagenpride.dk HeartCore is a primarily volunteer-run magazine based in Copenhagen

ISSN 2597-2588 Cover photo: Bert Svalebølle // Out&About





















Hent den danske version på www.copenhagenpride.dk/heartcore

FIRST AND FOREMOST, Welcome to the third edition of HeartCore – The Official Copenhagen Pride Magazine. Our theme for this edition is FIRSTS. Firsts are often viewed as special, memorable, or magical. First steps, first kiss, first dance. In this edition of HeartCore, we want to delve deeper into what can be included within the concept of firsts. The first official Pride in Denmark was the 1996 EuroPride in Copenhagen, when the city was the European Capital of Culture. As you can see, while some things looked quite different, many more things look familiar to us. As far as we have come, both as a society and a community, there are some aspects of that very first time that have persisted and that shape our celebrations and our battles today. We have several people on board at Copenhagen Pride who were barely walking in 1996, and with that in mind, looking back has become all the more important – to realize how we got to be where we are today. Not too long ago, we were celebrating our very own first: the launch of this magazine, and our first experience of the possibilities and challenges of creating an LGBTI+ publication for and by the community. While HeartCore is not yet at an age which lends itself to reminiscing, it is still both joyful and nerve-wracking to look back on how the magazine has grown, and is continuing to grow, from the first seed that was planted. We invited our writers to interpret the theme of firsts broadly and in a way that is not limited to the notion of time. You can read about what the idea of firsts means to different people


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in our community, from a personal account of a woman’s first year living with her true gender identity, to the first Pride celebration on the Western coast of Jutland and what that means to the local LGBTI+ community. We have spoken to board members of Denmark’s first intersectional folk high school and met organizers trying to break down norms in a time of online community – and so much more. It is, once more, time for Winter Pride Week a celebration that brings us all indoors and close to one another (if only in spirit) and allows us to seek insights into the different lives we live under the rainbow acronym. As always, HeartCore comes with an open invitation for you to reach out to us with any story, idea, or vision you might want to bring to these pages. We have a team of dedicated and talented writers, copyeditors, translators, photographers, and graphic artists, and we want to amplify as many voices as we can with our platform. Happy reading! – The editorial staff of HeartCore

Photos by Bert Svalebølle // Out&About

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CREATED IN GOD’S IMAGE By Anne Sophie Parsons

The first humans – and consequently also the first couple in the world – are portrayed in Judeo-Christian mythology as Adam and Eve: The cookie-cutter model for what a real man and woman should be, as well as the stable model for unified heteronormative origin. Such is the wide-spread reading and portrayal of them, but there are also much more queer and subversive understandings of how the original text describes them. One person investigating this is Danish theologian and author Kjeld Renato Lings.


dam  and Eve. Christian fundamentalists proclaim them as being the crystal-clear evidence of God’s plan: All human beings should live in a heterosexually coupled formation, multiplying, and making the Earth theirs. It’s an old tale, which has gotten the quality of flogging a dead horse over it. But dive down into the original Hebrew text of the creation account in Genesis, and most readers may be surprised to learn that far from being straightforward, the account of Adam and Eve’s birth is far queerer than might initially be expe-

cted – as is God, the Creator, described in an almost non-binary manner. God creates the first human being in its own image, meaning that both a male and female component is essential to its understanding of itself; Adam’s famous rib does not occur in text. Instead, it is said that one "side" of man is removed and then built up as a woman. One person who has researched and read the Bible in its original Hebrew version is theologian and author Kjeld Renato Lings. The theme of homosexuality and the Bible has been one of his main focuses throughout the years now; growing

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"Most readers may be surprised to learn that far from being straightforward, the account of Adam and Eve’s birth is far queerer than might initially be expected." up himself at odds with the negative representation of homosexuality, which was taught in his youth in a Conservative Lutheran environment, where being different was firmly frowned upon. Driven by skepticism vis-á-vis, the generally accepted normative readings of the Bible verses, he embarked on a path that has been in the making ever since. His latest book, Kærlighed under censur. Køn og seksualitet i danske bibeloversættelser (Love Under Censorship. Gender and Sexuality in Danish Bible Translations) from 2017 focuses exactly on the various accounts of homosexuality and gender variance which can be found in the Bible – and which are represented non-judgmentally in the original text. In the book, an entire chapter dedicated to the queer origins of Adam and Eve underlines this same non-conforming way of reading.

God’s feminine and masculine side “And with the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.” (Genesis, Chapter 2). This is but one of the multiple translations of the wellknown myth, but the Hebrew text in its original version has no “rib.” “Throughout the Bible translations that I’ve read, the ‘rib’ is a stable figure, which has almost taken on a mythological character in and of itself,


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popularized by tell-tale stories by for example an ancient rabbi. But the word in the original really refers to ‘side’ – meaning that it’s not a small, insignificant bone removed from Adam, but rather his ‘side’. From this Eve is molded and God is an artistic creator, investing as much energy as in Adam. Eve is not an afterthought – she represents the second side of God, making up the whole Human when combined with Adam.” Rather surprisingly, perhaps for unversed Bible readers or the mainstream Danish Protestant, is that the Hebrew text has a mixed representation of the Judeo-Christian God in terms of identity: “In Genesis, Elohim, the name of the Creator, is both described in singular and plural form – being one and many at the same time. Not only is there a non-defined entity, but it also has masculine and feminine words connected to it – the spirit of God, ruach, is feminine. Ruach soars above the creation process, overseeing the work carried out.” It’s a scenario, where singular and plural identity, masculine and feminine identity is represented. The blurred lines and descriptions reach into each other and fertilize each other in their combined constellation, offering a queer viewing of the Old Testament God, rather far from the otherwise vengeful father figure.

Adam and Eve – partners in crime And what is most essential about the story about Adam and Eve: They do not represent heterosexuality as being the only life option or even the prime example to be followed by all human beings. In the Garden of Eden, they act and learn like children – later returning to Earth, from which their essence is created to continue ‘adult life’. It’s in the cards all along, through a literary reading of the text, so to speak. It also raises the question of heteronormativity connected to Adam and Eve and fundamentalists’ understanding that the only viable way to follow God’s word is to live a heterosexually paired life: “The story of Adam and Eve highlights the problem of loneliness, rather than awarding heterosexuality the first prize placement as a

life model; it is through partnership with another human being, that the First Human can overcome loneliness. Humans are the only beings that can talk to one another – and speaking is a creational process in itself. We are social beings. Stating that heterosexuality is the sole option for everyone is clearly a reading that loses sight of the essential message, which centers on having the option to fill an emptiness within you,” Kjeld Renato Lings emphasizes.

t Va n d k u n s te F o r la g e

Bottom line: Adam and Eve have throughout the years been reduced to pawns in an outdated, chauvinistic, ideological approach that must be challenged. Kjeld isn’t done with Genesis: Far from it. A lot of work has been spent diving down into the text, but it still has the potential to offer fresh readings – words re-read from a new perspective and understanding. New meanings are emerging which only reveal that approaching the Bible’s stories as suffocatingly conservative and hostile to diversity of sex and gender is irrelevant and unbiblical. The fathers of church have only offered one way of reading the Genesis story – but in the text itself lies a multitude of new readings, potentially celebrating the plural forms that human lives may take.


"Adam and Eve have throughout the years been reduced to pawns in an outdated, chauvinistic, ideological approach that must be challenged."

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More info at copenhagenpride.dk



The Municipal Archives of Copenhagen and the Wedding Office are launching a search for samesex marriage stories on the occasion of Copenhagen 2021 – WorldPride and EuroGames “When he planned the City Hall, Architect Martin Nyrop deliberately designed the inner-core of the magistrate building so that the city council were literally sat on top of the city’s memory,” Elisabeth Bloch, Municipal Archivist, explains as she points from the large windows on the 3rd floor overlooking the central reception hall of the Copenhagen City Hall and lets her finger travel down the decorated walls, passing the Wedding Hall and ending at the smaller windows that give a view into the archives. As we are invited two floors below street level into the heart of the City Records office, where the oldest documents date back to 1275, Ms. Bloch explains that when City Hall was built

at the turn of the 20th century, the archives with their 3 kilometers of shelves were believed to be built for the future. Today, however, the records held in the archives and made available to the citizens of Copenhagen extend over more than 50 kilometers. Much has been made accessible online, and more is put on the internet every year. But still it is the responsibility of the City Archives to collect and preserve all relevant documents and information pertaining to the life in Copenhagen.

The stories of citizens For many years, this responsibility extended primarily to documents and letters relating to the

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running of the city, but from 1969 it was decided to also actively collect diary entries and narratives from ordinary citizens to preserve firsthand accounts of life in Copenhagen. 2000 elderly Copenhageners sent handwritten accounts of their lives to the archives, where they are still kept. This happened again in 1995 – and on various occasions, the archive has asked for narratives on special occasions: Tivoli-stories for the 175th anniversary of the amusement park in 2018, School memories in 2014 on the occasion of the bi-centennial of the Danish public school and etc. “We WANT to collect and preserve as varied and representative a collection of memories as possible”, Ms. Bloch says, “but going through our material, we must acknowledge that LGBTI+ lives are strangely absent from all the collected material we have. Either because LGBTI+ individuals did not send us anything or because that part of their lives that pertained to their sexual identity or gender identity was left out. We don’t know – but LGBTI+ lives are and have always been an integral part of Copenhagen. We would like to help preserve the history of ALL our citizens.”

“Therefore, the Copenhagen City Archives and Copenhagen 2021 have decided to collaborate on a search for LGBTI+ stories for the archives. We believe that for this first step, a thematically focused approach will work best.”

A momentous step On the 1st of October 1989, the first same-sex union was made official anywhere in the world at Copenhagen City Hall – a momentous step forward that since has led to same sex marriage or official civil unions for same-sex couples being a right for more than a billion people around the world. “We want to tell that story. – Or rather, we ask the citizens to help us by telling their story: Write to us about your same-sex marriage or registered partnership in Copenhagen. Include pictures, invitations or other documents relating to the day and send it to us. We will preserve it for eternity. And if you wish, we can make it inaccessible for up to 20 years in the archives”. For WorldPride in 2021 – the City Archives and the Marriage Office of Copenhagen will collaborate and turn some of the collected narratives into an exhibition at city hall.

Photo by Renato Manzionna

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Photo by Renato Manzionna


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The City Archives is collecting wedding stories The Copenhagen City Archives is collecting wedding photos and stories from LGBTI+ people’s weddings and registered partnerships in Copenhagen from 1989 to 2021. The photos and the recollections are being collected as historical documentation of this important history. A selection of the material will, after agreement, be used in exhibitions connected to World Pride2021 and EuroGames 2021 in August 2021.

Contribute to this collection You can contribute to this collection by sending your wedding photos and stories to the City Archives. The photos must be in either JPG or TIFF-files in the highest quality. Contact the Archives if you have questions or need help with this. Every picture must be accompanied by a page-long text (A4), where you talk about the photo and the wedding. The text accompanying the picture must include a headline, information about the date it was taken and if possible, information about the photographer. Read more about the collection: kbharkiv.dk/ LGBTI-bryllup If you have questions about the collection, contact archivist Dorthe Chakravarty, telephone: 21839688, email: is4s@kk.dk Remember that you are always welcome to give your memories to the Copenhagen City Archives, which has a large collection of memories written by the citizens.

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S P A C E FOR CHANGE Working On It: on working with inclusion and norm critical thinking in Corona times By Emma Rubin


ow   do we create workplaces with space for everyone in a time of Corona, where Zoom meetings and digital workshops have become the norm? And can distance help to create space for change? This is the case, according to the newly minted consortium Working On It which consists of four experienced norm critical consultants. Here, they explain how they work with inclusion in a time where distance is of vital importance. Few sentences have gained as much importance to the Danish people as the one presented to us in the spring of 2020: Together separately. But how can we be together separately? And how does one create space in the community for everybody – even during a pandemic? To talk about this, I have interviewed anthropologist and gender specialist Elin Ferm, norm critical designer Stine Kunkel, diversity scientist and communicator Sabrina Vitting-Seerup and inclusion coach Rikke Voergård-Olesen. They have united their


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expertise and experiences to create Working on It: a consortium that, among other things, works with stereotypes regarding gender and sexuality in the workplace. As they put it: “We want people to get past the ‘there is a problem’-stage and towards ‘how do we solve it?’”. But what is the problem? Is inclusion truly lacking in this age, where we are together separately? To this question, Working On It answers: Yes!

“How can we be together separately? And how does one create space in the community for everybody – even during a pandemic?”

”We all have biases”, Elin Ferm says and continues, ”this idea that we can divide people into fixed categories.” “But it is not necessarily the categories themselves that make up the problem,” Rikke Voergård-Olesen elaborates, “it is what we attribute to the categories. The stereotypes that we have, they block the way for a lot of good things in the workplace. They create differential treatment and discrimination. This is why it is important that people become aware of the fact that they have them and that they practise how to question them”. Study after study on the job satisfaction of LGBTI+ people show that many do not feel as if they can be themselves at work. For example, the trade unions LO, FTF and Akademikerne were all able to show that only 27% felt as if they, to a great extent, could be themselves at work. Apart from the personal expenses on the individual employees, who are not able to be their authentic selves at work, Working On It also

points out that this has consequences for the bottom line of companies. Sabrina Vitting-Seerup describes it as such: ”We have these fixed categories inside our heads about gender, sexuality, ethnicity and so on, and we need to get beyond these stereotypes if we want to live in a Denmark where we honour talent, ambition and competence – regardless of the body that contains them”. But how does one work on breaking down stereotypes and ensuring inclusion during a global pandemic, where physical distance has become part of everyday life? “Somehow, in this strange lockdown-pandemic-age – or perhaps because of it - some of these topics have risen on the agenda”, Elin Ferm explains, “suddenly people are paying attention to movements like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter in a way they didn’t before”. “And Corona shows how norms can change very quickly,” Stine Kunkel points out. “One of the things we so often hear when talking about the inclusion of LGBT+ minorities is that ‘it needs

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Working On It is an assemblage of three consulting houses (Ren Snak, NORM og Normværk), who started working together during the Corona pandemic to help businesses working towards more inclusive workplaces. Read more at www.workingonit.nu

“We have received a norm critical injection, and we are seizing this moment to install new norms in the workplaces we are co-operating with.” - Rikke Voergård-Olesen time’ – ‘equality is on its way; it just needs some time’. But with Corona, it took, what? Seven hours before the country shut down? And people suddenly stopped giving handshakes”. Rikke Voergård-Olesen expresses it as such: “Denmark has received a norm critical injection, and we are seizing this moment to install new norms in the workplaces we are co-operating with.” Talking about their work, Working On It explains how digital space can help bringing people together. “First and foremost, the good thing about digitalisation in a norm-critical context is that the digital space is so anonymous”, says Sabrina Vitting-Seerup, “and we are able to make use of this anonymity and distance. People can write more openly, and I have seen people share


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personal stories they never shared during physical workshops.” It is also a question of utilising the digital space in terms of keeping in touch and finding allies to collaborate with, Working On It believes. This is one of the reasons the four of them got together separately.

Hear more from Working On It during Winter Pride Week: LGBTI+ INCLUSION – WHAT WORKS? Time: 22/2 at 17.00-17.45 BREAKING UP WITH MAJORITY NORMS Time: 24/2 at 17.00-18.00

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We’re getting ready for the sixth annual Winter Pride Week, and in the Human Rights Group we’ve been excited to reveal what participants can expect this time around. The theme of this year’s Winter Pride is “FIRSTS” and we have created a program that interprets this broadly, with a focus on representation and the good stories that bring us warmth in the winter cold. Below, we’ve selected a few events that will hopefully inspire readers to explore the full program, which can be found online. We hope that you will enjoy the program, which is full of interesting debates, talks and performances, all with the purpose of giving insights into the varied lives we live as LGBTI+ people. All the debates and events will take place online, so please check out our Facebook page and download the app for more information. This is also where you can find the program in full! Happy Winter Pride!


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This event will look at the positive steps being taken to improve the lives of LGBTI+ individuals in the Global South. It will focus on ‘firsts’ such as a new counselling service in East Africa, a film festival in Tunisia, and a financial empowerment curriculum in Kenya, all of which aim to improve the wellbeing of LGBTI+ populations. The event will shed light on and celebrate the achievements of those fighting to secure a better future for LGBTI+ individuals in the Global South. Language: English Time: February 22, 18.30-19.30

We know it isn’t easy to come out or to live as bi+. We want to discuss these topics with a panel: The first time you encountered the concept of bisexuality; the first time you identified as bi+; the first time you encountered biphobia. Language: Danish Time: February 25, 17.00-18.00





LGBT+ Youth has conducted the first Danish survey looking into the wellbeing and conditions of LGBTI+ students in primary school. Unfortunately, the results show that too many LGBTI+ students are experiencing discrimination in school. Come and here more about the results and the political recommendations of LGBT+ Youth for a more inclusive and diverse school system. There will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions about the report and the politics of LGBT+ Youth. Language: Danish Time: February 23, 17.00-18.00 WEDNESDAY







Have you ever been met with bewilderment, lack of respect or critical questions about your sexuality or gender identity at the doctor’s? In that case, you’ve likely been exposed to emotional harm. It is a typical but nonetheless serious consequence of a healthcare system designed for the heteronormative majority. How do we help doctors, nurses, and other healthcare personnel to include LGBTI+ people, and how do we avoid emotional harm in the healthcare system? Language: Danish Time: February 26, 17.00-18.00


Judith Butler is an often-used reference in discussions, but it can be difficult to fully understand her theories, which is why Associate Professor Michael Nebeling from Center for Gender, Sexuality and Diversity at Copenhagen University is giving a crash course in Butler’s gender theory and concept of performativity. He will explain and discuss the central concepts and classic misunderstandings of Butler. Both connoisseurs and those completely new to Butler’s world can enjoy this. Language: Danish Time: February 24, 20.00-21.00

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@ WINTER PRIDE WEEK 2021 For Winter Pride Week 2021, Copenhagen Pride's culture group offer a versatile program that has something for everyone. Based on this year's theme “FIRSTS”, we have selected artists from various art scenes and LGBTI+ representation has been an important focal point. The program includes theatre, concerts, performance art and film, and a range of all-embracing LGBTI+ artists are lined up for events that we are immensely proud to present. Despite the challenges of the past year, we were able to look forward to Pride Week this summer while still sharing art, culture, and love in person and online. Therefore, we are extremely excited to see you again online for Winter Pride Week 2021 where the culture program is being live streamed from Huset-KBH.

Below you can see a selection from the culture program that we are looking forward to sharing with you!


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For the first time in Winter Pride, we are live streaming from our own studio in Huset-KBH. From here, our wonderful host Jezebelle May Daniel’s will present the Winter Pride program together with a variety of guests during the week. Every night, Jezebelle will round up the day with a goodnight to all our viewers. Friday night, Copenhagen Pride’s Nadia Abraham and Albert Bendix host the Winter Pride Studio where various guests are visiting in between the evening’s LGBTI+ Live Music Unplugged event.

For this new concept, we have invited Queer artists to participate in Q-Obstructions! The artists will be performing their own expressions prepared with the Winter Pride’s added obstructions where theme, sound, time, and props must be incorporated into their performances. Join us for an evening of creative explorations, where only the artists know what will unfold. Language: All languages are welcome! Time: February 25, 20.00-21.15

Language: Danish and English Time: February 22, 23, 25 and 26, 19:30-20:00



Once again, MIX Copenhagen will present a selection of short films for Copenhagen Winter Pride. Based on this year’s theme, the audience is invited to a viewing of six short films all sharing the theme of FIRSTS. Each in their own way, they portray the ‘first times’ you can experience as an LGBTI+ person: the first romance, the first sexual experience, the first love.

Friday will be an evening of music when some of the LGBTI+ community’s fantastic music performers will perform live unplugged. You can, among others, meet MOODY and her playful and flirty pop universe mixed with her inspiring and personale lyrics, and Betty Bitschlap, Denmark’s only recording drag artist, who’s vision is to show that you can be part of both the queer community and the mainstream music industry: “I might be queer, but my music is completely straight forward”.

Language: English Time: February 23, 21.00-22.00

Language: Danish and English Time: February 26, 20.00-21.15

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Photo by Camilla Winter


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Photo: Josefine Moody

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A dark winter night, Asta Selloane Sekamane, André Lund Rømer and I meet up in true 2020 style, on Zoom, to have a chat about Denmark’s newest educational platform: Denmark’s Intersectional Folk High School (DIH). Of course, we spent the first 10 minutes performing the inevitable ritual of online conversation, where we in turn ask the two others whether they could hear us. After establishing that we can actually hear each other, there we sit; me in my Swedish apartment, André in his home, Asta in a stairway – alone, yet together, exactly as 2020 has decided it must be.

Lærke: Tell me a little bit about yourselves and what your roles are in DIH? Asta: My name is Asta Selloane Sekamane, and I am the chairperson of DIH’s board. I’m 30 years old, the child of a 5’11 white woman with mousy hair, and a black, politically active refugee from Lesotho. I’m also a geology student, mother of three boys, and board member in Afro Danish Collective, and also on Elle Magazine’s new Diversity Board. As chairperson, I often get to be the public face of DIH, and the one who needs to keep a general overview, though thank-


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fully I have André at my side. I’m a good planner, and I’m rather good at mind-managing, so my task is to stay on top of things and make sure that everything is running smoothly. André: My name is André Lund Rømer. I’m 29 years old, and I’m enrolled at university from autumn 2021. Until then my main focuses are my work at DIH and a few other projects. I grew up on Bornholm with my parents and two brothers. In my upbringing, I experienced a great exclusion from the outside world, the feeling of not fitting in. It’s especially that feeling that motivates

Photo by Ulla Munch-Pedersen

me in my work, that no one should feel left out, alone, or worthless. For many years, I’ve engaged in activism, volunteering, and organizational work. At DIH I’m the treasurer, so I’m responsible for finances, marketing, and supporting the board in their work.

What’s the story behind DIH? Asta: DIH is Mica Oh’s brainchild. Mica Oh is an antiracist educator, an amazing woman who has gathered a plethora of knowledge that has not been filtered through the white man’s lens. She has an immense amount of knowledge of intersectionality and how various kinds of structural oppression affect different people. This applies to minorities, e.g., based on either gender, race, or sexuality, but also people who do not belong in a minority group. So, this is her dream – to create a space where there is room for anyone who deviates from the norm, where there is room for all the intersections that our world isn’t built for. That is the incentive that has brought Mica Oh to bring together a lot of amazing people that she believes in, and in whom she sees a lot of qualities. She has gathered people who has plenty to say and are ready to put in the necessary work required to build an educational institution from the ground up. André: The story is just as much a question of the students not receiving lessons on a topic about them but rather from them. It is in this

connection that Mica Oh put together a board so diverse that you don’t have to speak on behalf of others. DIH is different from any other folk high school, precisely because it is intersectional and because it’s online. What were some of your thoughts behind this basis? Asta: We are part of a segment of people who fit into different intersections, and we’ve created this school not only for other people who fit into these intersections, but anyone who needs to learn about intersectionality. Then the subject can be fashion, art, activism, or antiracism, but the entire purpose is that we’re all more than just one thing, and I think that that is the most important purpose of the school. It’s a space where everyone can feel safe. André: The fact that the lessons are online creates greater accessibility. To us, accessibility is key so that everyone can participate on their own terms, but also that there is a general physical availability. It’s of no consequence what mental, physical, geographical, or other challenges our students have, we will always do our utmost to meet these needs. And it is also great that we can expand our platform and use digital media in new ways in an educational context.

Photo by Ulla Munch-Pedersen

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What kind of knowledge can people expect to bring with them after a course at DIH? Asta: We’re doing something new – we incorporate all the things we like from the conventional education platform, and then we throw away the rest. So, there are definitely some elements from conventional academic education, but it has been combined with a creative approach to these conventional subjects. So, what we’re going to do is move within the intersections of things that aren’t black or white. DIH is going to have a module-based construction, which means that you can sign up for a 4-week intensive package, but it will also be possible to divide the modules into a more manageable schedule, depending on your current situation. If, for instance, you lack time and energy, it is possible to limit it to one module a week instead of two. We provide a more flexible schedule because we work with people, and we are people ourselves. There also needs to be room for the people who want to, and need to, receive this knowledge, but maybe aren’t racing down society’s highway at the same speed that society thinks they ought to.

“We are founding the school we wish had been there for us”

We are primarily going to offer our lessons in two languages – English and Danish. We have founded this school because we live in Denmark, and in Denmark, there is a serious lack of intersectional, inclusive spaces in educational institu-

tions. But we also live in a globalized world and a lot of people belonging to our age group feel comfortable with the English language. For this reason, we think that adding an extra language to the curriculum will expand our opportunity to follow with the times and offer representation from different intersections. André: We are going to work with two different groupings in our lessons that both take up an equal amount of space. There will be the fundamentally practical and academic, where the students are taught the significance of different kinds of structural oppression, and what the different intersections represent. Of course, the courses will be taught by educators who have personal experiences with these intersections. The setting will either be as a lecture, workshop, or other formats – depending on what the educator chooses. We will also offer a selection of creative subjects focusing on diversity, representation, and intersectionality in music, art, literature, acting, and fashion. Here the format of the course will also be up to the educator. So, variation will be visible in all aspects of the courses, which is something that we decidedly prioritize – both in terms of the format of the courses, but also the subjects and the representation of intersections, which needs to be as adequately fulfilled as possible in each course.

What are your aspirations with DIH? Asta: If everything progresses perfectly, we hope to have a physical location, and from that, we would like to become international. But we also want to be a central part of education in Denmark because what we do, and would like to do, with DIH is to challenge conventional institutions. So, if I can dream as freely and unrestrained as I want, I would want us to sit next to the conventional education institutions in the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. There we would discuss how education should be executed because we are aware that that is the place we need to be if we are to make any real changes.

André: I have the same aspirations, and if you could just add an international stamp on all of it, if I’m allowed to dream uninhibited [laughter]. If there is anyone out there who would like to participate in one of your courses at DIH, or in some other way engage in the project, how can they do it? Asta: Right now, we have our Instagram account @DIH_Danmark, Facebook account Danmarks Intersektionelle Højskole, and soon we’ll launch our own website. These are platforms where people can follow our work. When there is more information on how to put together the first course, it’ll be announced on these platforms. So, start by saying that your birthday wish is for a financial supplement to help pay for lessons. Nudge your job adviser and say “Hey, alternatively I could go to DIH, it’s not quite there yet, but if we cooperate…” Tell your Trade Union that you need further education and inquire whether anything related to intersectionality is available. Push the boundaries of where you normally go if you want to go to a Folk High School. We also need to be true to our name, so we, as the board, might hit some of the bigger intersections, but we don’t represent everyone. For that reason, we will have some blind spots and learning curves, so anyone who has the time to help would be great. We are founding the school we wish had been there for us, and that also means that we are dependent on people’s engagement and feedback. André: Yes, well, I’d say much of the same, but follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and write to us, then we’ll make sure to answer. We’re really nice, and we would love to open a dialogue with people, and if anyone out there feel that they have something to contribute with, then we’ll find a solution that works for everyone until we are able to welcome people to the school for real. And we have a lot of super cool events coming up. There will be some even before the school is up and running. So even if you don’t want to talk to us right now, you will still be able to follow us, and see what is going on. And there will be lots of amazing stuff with the most

inspiring people, so you will get to meet us out there. But we are counting on being ready for the first student in Spring 2021. Asta: We have a lot of things that we need to talk about. So, Denmark – you thought you were ready for 2020, but you have no idea what’s going to happen in 2021!

What is intersectionality? Intersectionality is a term in feminist theory concerning the intersection between means of expression. It was put into words for the first time by the American academic, Kimberlé Crenshaw in 1989, who in her research, among other things, highlighted specific problems that black women had that were not voiced in the feminist movement. In short, it is about experiencing social inequality based on different aspects of your identity – e.g., as a bisexual woman or a deaf non-binary person – and that the intersections between these aspects of your identity amplify suppression. To think and work intersectionally means acknowledging the intersections and understand your own position in relation to them.

Folk High School Folk High School is a translation of the danish term højskole. The concept is an educational institution with no requirements for enrolment and no final examination, where students explore topics of their own choosing. The courses are not free, but you can apply for a variety of grants. Traditionally, these schools would be livein, but DIH are breaking ground by making their courses available online.


AMANITA By Paulie Amanita Calderon-Cifuentes

Being a woman is not easy. Being a queer, trans woman of color, who also is a migrant and seropositive, is extra hard.

Photo: Maria Skårderud

Trigger warning: This article mentions sexualized violence and transphobia.


n  the following article, I would like briefly to share with you my personal story, from the first moment I recognized myself as female, to the first year when others recognized my gender expression as such. I would like to emphasize the fact that everything expressed here is entirely based on my life experiences and learnings, and by no means am I aiming to represent every transfeminine person. I can only speak for myself, and I can only share what I know and what I have lived, using the language that represents me the most, without engaging with highly academic discourse. I also would like to warn you about triggering content in this article, such as sexualized and physical violence. I recognize that for many others the experience might have been very different, but today I would like to take up some space and focus on me: Paulie “Amanita” Calderon-Cifuentes.

Pretty Little Paulie I was three years old the first time I was vocal about my female gender identity. Back then I didn’t know anything about queer theory or what being a trans person meant, and I had never questioned who I was either. I remember asking my mom: “Why don’t I look like the other girls? Why would you insist on cutting my hair and make me wear clothes that none of the other girls were wearing?”. Her response was simple: “Well dear, that is because you are not a girl...” And then all hell broke loose. My parents took me to as many psychologists and priests as they knew in order to fix whatever was broken. This was the first form of violence I was probably ever exposed to. Around the age of eight, I was sent to the hospital with broken ribs because my father felt the need to “educate” me. It was then when I realized that the big fat pink elephant in the room was femininity. You see, I convinced myself to be a cis gay man, and as long as I could keep this to myself, everything would be under control. Unfortunately (and fortunately), I have always been excessively stubborn, and I could simply

"With each minority box we check, people, and especially heterosexual cisgender men, dehumanize us." not continue living with such a distasteful lie. Don’t get me wrong. I love my gays. But I was never one of them. By the age of twenty, I was already crossdressing. I remember buying my first pair of Jimmy Choos in the Winter of 2009. No one will ever take away from me the gratification of walking on those stilettos for the first time. I felt like a freaking Amazon. The highest of heels, the sharpest of weapons. And I could walk in them like a Victoria’s Secret model. At that moment, however, I mostly suffered under homophobia and heteronormativity, not transphobia and cisnormativity. Then 2011 happened. I was in Bremen, Germany, at the Max Planck Institute of Marine Microbiology where I had just been accepted to do a master’s degree. And while celebrating my twenty-second birthday, I was drugged and raped for the first time. The perpetrator was a cis white straight German man who fetishized transvestites, and who infected me with HIV. I already had a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology and knew that if I were ever infected with HIV, antiretroviral treatment would allow me to have a perfectly normal life and would even make me incapable to transmit the virus to others. Even with unprotected sex. I quit my master’s and moved back to Colombia. I set a goal for the next months to become undetectable so I would be untransmittable and never infect anyone else. Then I decided to use my career in biological sciences to fight HIV/AIDS, serophobia, and transphobia, and to stand up for those that did not have the class and education privileges that I had had access to.

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Photo Niels Vogensen

Paulie and the City… of Copenhagen I moved to Copenhagen seven and a half years ago and continued with my postgraduate education in Molecular Biology, which I finished in the summer of 2019. Here I built the strongest and most beautiful friendships of my life. It was thanks to Alex and Jens that I survived. Those two basically saved my life. At this point you are probably thinking: She is in Denmark now, she has a network, she is safe. I thought so too. But in the summer of 2016, at the early hours in the morning after leaving a party, I was raped for the second time. In the gate of my building. In the city center of Copenhagen. This time I was beaten up so badly that a nose reconstruction was necessary in order for me to breathe through both nostrils again. About a year later, inspired by those two attacks, I decided that crossdressing was not enough. So, I started the social transition, came out as a trans woman, and started taking hormones. What a thrill the first time my nipples felt sore! How exciting it was to see my hair growing and my skin turning softer and smoother. It was like slowly waking up from a long nightmare. And although people would point fingers at me in the streets, and coworkers started


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making extremely uncomfortable and offensive transphobic jokes, I was experiencing a form of happiness that I had never enjoyed before. On one hand, I finally felt like myself. On the other hand, it took me a lot to overcome both assaults. And I wish I could say to you that I am 100% fine, but the truth is that to this date, I live with anxiety and depression. And revictimizing myself by telling this story over and over again doesn’t really help me either. HOWEVER, I will share my story as many times necessary, until people realize HOW HARD IT IS OUT THERE FOR TRANS WOMEN. And especially for trans women of color. With each minority box we check, people, and especially heterosexual cisgender men, dehumanize us. We matter less and we are more vulnerable, so people abuse us more. This is why the life expectancy of trans women of color in the Americas is 34 years old, according to the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights. That is also the reason why, for my twenty-ninth birthday, I invited hundreds of people to a massive masquerade ball to celebrate my life and my re-birth. Everyone came wearing masks, and at 3:13 am exactly (time of my birth) I stopped the party and went up to the stage. “For 29 years I have been wearing a mask. Tonight, I

invite everyone here to take off the mask with me. From this moment on, I will only respond to the name Paulie and to the pronouns she and her,” I said. It was magical.

Finally, Amanita Around the time I turned 30, things shifted massively for me. Gay guys became my number one fans, while straight guys started catcalling me instead of spitting on my face and yelling transphobic insults at me. My dating apps got flooded with sex requests, and I started getting a lot of free things as “presents”. I was also shut down and asked to be quiet or to shut up by men way more often. People started commenting on the way I dress, and considerably fewer career opportunities showed up at my door. In general, I feel like others make more assumptions about me now. I also fell in love with a Danish man, and he fell in love with me. This was the first time I ever truly loved someone and the first time that someone ever truly loved me for who I really am. I will never forget that. Romantic love... that almost killed me. I realized then that the forms of violence had shifted. I was not only experiencing transphobia and cisnormativity anymore, but I was also experiencing sexism and misogyny. I also felt for the first time in my life that I was real. That I wasn’t lying to myself. That I wasn’t wearing a mask to please anyone. That whatever price I had paid for the privilege of owning myself had been worth paying. Throughout my life, I have experienced a lot of FIRSTS, but experiencing my queer femininity to its full potential has been the most exhausting, rewarding, gratifying, and empowering experience ever. This summer, I decided to start using the name Amanita, too. Amanita Muscaria has been my favorite mushroom since I was a child. It is well known among us microbiologists for being a symbiont of pine trees. It is also known for being highly neurotoxic, poisonous, and psychoactive, due to the production of Muscimol and Ibotenic Acid. It is also known in Celtic culture as the

throne of fairies. The queen of the fairies always sits in it and grants wishes to those that find her in the forest. This symbiotic yet poisonous basidiomycete is magical, outrageous, and unapologetic. Just like me. Being a trans woman of color has not been easy, for sure. But being Amanita has certainly been fabulous.

Seropositive: Testing positive for a given pathogen, especially HIV Serophobia: The manifestation of aversion towards people living with HIV. Like homophobia, it manifests itself through acts of exclusion or discrimination, whether implicit or explicit. Cisnormativity: The assumption that all human beings are cisgender, i.e., have a gender identity which matches their assigned sex. Untransmittable: When a person is living with HIV and is on effective treatment, it lowers the level of HIV (the viral load) in the blood. When the levels are low (below 200 copies/ml of blood measured) it is referred to as an undetectable viral load. This is also medically known as virally suppressed. At this stage, HIV cannot be passed on sexually.

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In 2021 Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality will carry out its first ever Pride. I spoke with the chairperson and board members about their reflections and hopes for what the newly named West Coast Pride will accomplish in the new year in regard to overall acceptance and LGBTI+ rights in Western Jutland. Barren, brown-grey fields. Sheep nipping at the surviving strands of grass still to be found here and there. Round hay bales signifying the end of summer. At the moment, there isn’t much that spells summerly Pride when you ride the bus in the direction of the Danish west coast in November. But new winds are being carried in from the salty North Sea: West Coast Pride is the name of the next Danish Pride to join its older siblings and it will take place in Ringkøbing with a colorful parade and a week full of cultural events. Resting on the shoulders of a small, but committed group of passionate souls, with a founding meeting in October last year, it is a new initiative


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in every shape and form. But the crucial fundament was in a lot of ways instigated by a letter posted in the Ringkøbing local newspaper back in 2018: A young man wrote about his desire to move away from his hometown, feeling that he couldn’t be himself as a gay man. “He’s an old friend of mine – and that really opened my eyes to the fact that, frankly, things ought to be improved in the context of acceptance and diversity,” Emil Sloth Sig, chairperson of West Coast Pride explains, as we sit down for a coffee at Restaurant Nordic in central Ringkøbing. The place is cozy and new guests are welcomed with a smile; in the street before we enter, I happen to overhear an animated talk between

A young man wrote about his desire to move away from his hometown, feeling that he couldn’t be himself as a gay man. “We do not agree on everything, but if we can change their perspective on diversity and the LGBTQ community, we have accomplished something great for all of us.”

two jovial men crossing paths. The conversation is not rushed – being able to stop for a small chat with acquaintances makes out the spine of the local community.

West Coast Pride - its very own Pride Yet, at the same time as it is a blessing, it can also be a crux – everybody knows everybody here. The board members in West Coast Pride were themselves able to point out that LGBTI+ people experience unpleasantries specifically in this context during meetings. Board member Mette Nørgaard adds that one leg which the new Pride rests on is to break down prejudices against minorities, as well as adapt the concept to the local area:

Photo by Anne Sophie Parsons

“It wouldn’t make sense to do a 1:1 copy of Copenhagen Pride. We’re different from each other – as we should be and have our own individual strengths. The parade is one aspect of the week’s happenings – it makes more sense to focus on the events, concerts, panel discussions and exhibitions, which will take place during August next year to share experiences and give insight into different LGBTQ themes. It shows that there’s a community and it’s something we can do together locally.” The plans are already set in motion and the program for the Pride week is shaping up; inclusion is at the helm of the seaward celebration of sexual and gender diversity.

Supporting the local LGBTI+ community on the Danish West Coast Western Jutland hasn’t been looked upon with the most forgiving eyes: narrow-minded and Bible-thumping, the image is one that doesn’t invite ideas of embracing sexuality and expressions of identity in its plural, flamboyant forms. But it’s a portrayal, which the people behind West Coast Pride wants to offer a counter-image to – one where no one has to be ashamed or feel wrong due to who they are.

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While West Coast Pride hasn’t had its first Pride just yet, the wish to be able to offer support and direct focus to the LGBTI+ community is one of the implemented key factors: “We also make sure to visit Ringkøbing High School every other week to show that we exist. Reaching out to schools, politicians, cultural stakeholders, football clubs and even churches have all proven only to be supportive in turn. Everybody is only showing good will towards the new forthcoming Pride. Particularly, the involvement of a dean in Velling in our collaboration is very welcome regarding a religious input – being able to reach out to the more conservative Christians from Inner Mission, we want to get into dialogue with those who are the most opposed to our Pride’s goals. We do not agree on everything, but if we can change their perspective on diversity and the LGBTQ community, we have accomplished something great for all of us.” Growing up and not having any representation or place to go to talk to like-minded people is a lived experience among a few of the board members, which the volunteer organization will try to prevent for any young or elderly individuals coming to terms with their sexual or gender identity from now on.

A milestone is also to include all of the West Coast in the Pride’s outreach – and not only the Ringkøbing-Skjern Municipality. Engaging youth from the Ringkøbing Vocational Education and Training School to create rainbow-colored benches to local politicians, it is across all walks of life that the involvement takes place.

A sailor’s rainbow tattoo West Coast Pride has figurative winds in its sails at the moment: The newest update being the organization’s logo, which features a rainbow-schemed anchor, echoing the themes of Faith, Love and Hope known from the traditional sailor’s tattoo. The logo plays on the sea-based location, as well as the openness that is connected with the depiction of a rainbow. But trust is also one of the keywords to the entire initiative: That locals will support the new West Coast Pride once it “comes out” next year, that LGBTI+ people feel safe to show their true colors and that the vast majority of people will help to pave the way for a local community, be it small-knit or not, where everyone is free to be who they are. At least that’s West Coast Pride’s humble goal.

Interested in West Coast Pride? Check out their website at www.westcoastpride.dk and be sure to mark for calendars for 2-11 August 2021!


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Get Copenhagen Pride in your own living room! with our new jigsaw puzzle

The jigsaw puzzle will be available in our webshop this spring! Find it at


200 PIECES: 199 KR. 1000 PIECES: HeartCore Magazine – 03 299 KR.


PRIDE CALENDAR More and more Prides are springing up around Denmark, proving that it is far from just a capital city phenomenon! Check out this calendar to see what Prides are happening near you in 2021. And if you cannot find one in your area, perhaps you could get together with some friends and see about starting your very own? Be mindful that changes may occur and always check the website for the latest information.

Copyright © Free Vector Maps.com


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WorldPride & EuroGames When: 12–22 August 2021 Contact: www.copenhagen2021.com

Aarhus Pride When: Check online! Contact: www.aarhuspride.dk

West Coast Pride When: 2-11 August 2021 Contact: www.westcoastpride.dk

Viborg Pride When: Check online! Contact: www.facebook.com/Viborgpride

Kolding Pride When: 7 august 2021 Contact: www.koldingpride.dk

Odense Pride When: 15 May 2021 Contact: www.facebook.com/Odensepride

Fanø Pride When: Check online! Contact: www.fanoepride.dk

Aalborg Pride When: 10 July 2021 Contact: www.aalborgpride.dk

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Mohamad's personal photo


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Mohamad Sourity is a Syrian LGBTI+ refugee who has been living in Denmark since 2015 when he fled Assad's dictatorial regime. He has a professional background in maritime logistics. He sat down for an interview with HeartCore to share some first experiences and perspectives. Was Denmark your first-choice destination? If yes, please elaborate on why it was so. After the war had broken out in Syria, there was a hope that it was a temporary situation and things would soon return to normal. Therefore, the thought of leaving was not so much there, initially anyway. As time went on though, it became obvious that living in Syria was not just dangerous, but that it was actually deadly. As a gay man whose sexuality could not be expressed due to the oppressive laws and culture of my country, I decided that if I was going to leave my country for another, then my destination had to be as

LGBTI+ accommodating as possible. Denmark being the first country in the world to recognise same-sex unions was naturally on the top of my list. What are some of your first-time experiences and acquired perspectives as an LGBTI+ person living in Denmark that you might not have otherwise experienced while living in Syria? The most notable would have to be my first Pride Parade in Copenhagen 2016. I moved from Center Sønderborg to Frederiksberg Kommune in 2016. It was a delightful surprise to learn that the

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The colourful attires, the parties, and the street dancing are some fond memories that always make me appreciate being here. It was amazing to see parents holding their children’s hands which they had brought along to support and spectate. It reassures me of a future with less stigma and more acceptance of the LGBTI+ community, as these youngsters grow up seeing that this is a normal aspect of life. I will say, as well, that making friends who are not of a similar culture to mine has not been easy. I get the sense that some, and not all Danes, are afraid of the Islamic culture, or might be afraid of a cultural delusion. In that way, they are distrustful. Somehow, this fear also translates itself as stigma, even in the gay community, when one has Arabic roots. In contrast, though, the open-minded ones make the best friends, and this I can attest to.

Mohamad's personal photo

Pride Parade actually launched from Frederiksberg. It was the first time that I found myself in a group of that size where the vast majority identified as LGBTI+. It was an inexplicably wonderful feeling to see so many people supporting homosexuals. To be able to raise the rainbow flag without fear was overwhelming, as where I come from, homosexual tendencies are persecuted. On the other hand, I was also deeply shocked to learn that some Arabic members of the LGBTI+ community born here in Denmark are still in the closet. In Pride Parades they must wear masks out of fear of being identified by friends and family.


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"To be able to raise the rainbow flag without fear was overwhelming, as where I come from, homosexual tendencies are persecuted." Could you highlight some differences in the culture, way of life, etc., between a Dane and a Syrian from both an LGBTI+ and a heterosexual perspective? I was surprised at how early people become independent and live on their own here in Denmark. In my culture, you do not live alone until you are married off, with marriages usually being pre-ar-

"Personally, my proudest achievement to date would be that while working for Mærsk in 2017 I suggested to one of the captains, who is also a gay man, that Mærsk Line should find a way of participating in Copenhagen Pride. To my delight, Mærsk Line became one of the sponsors of the Pride Parade in 2018"

ranged. In this way, you are, to a great extent, denied a sex life until you are mature enough to be married. In the same vein, Arabic families more often live together in larger family units even the very old members of the family, unless it is impossible from a medical point of view. Denmark being a country that supports and propagates the rights of LGBTI+ people, means its LGBTI+ residents have access to social activities and networks such as bars that are specifically LGBTI+ friendly. In my country, an LGBTI+ person wouldn’t have access to PrEP or condoms because the thought is that sex should only be between a man and woman, or several, in the case of polygamist married heterosexuals. This, unfortunately, propagates the spread of infections among LGBTI+ people whose access to information and medical attention is limited.

In what ways do you participate or express yourself as a member of the LGBTI+ community? I have participated in almost all the Copenhagen Pride Parades, except for when I was out of the country on work missions. I am a member and volunteer at LGBT Asylum and participate in several activities. I am also a volunteer with Copenhagen Pride where I help with the social media section. Personally, my proudest achievement to date would be that while working for Mærsk in 2017 I suggested to one of the captains, who is also a gay man, that Mærsk Line should find a way of participating in Copenhagen Pride. To my delight, Mærsk Line became one of the sponsors of the Pride Parade in 2018. I am lucky and grateful that I now live in a country where I am able to live openly as a gay Arabic man and experience that side of my life to the full. I am aware that there many people in the world who are denied that right.

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NINA By Dag Heede

Historically, men have always taken up the most space. This is also true of modern LGBTI+ history. When the medical classification of homosexuality was invented by doctors, attorneys and humanists approximately 150 years ago, the focus was, first and foremost, on men loving men. And to this day, male homosexuality has been more present than female homosexuality.

Dag Heede (b. 1962) He, him, his Lector in Danish literature at Cultural Sciences, University of Southern Denmark. Author of “The Empty Human. An Introduction to Michel Foucault” (“Det tomme menneske. Introduktion til Michel Foucault”) as well as monographs on Karen Blixen, Herman Bang and H.C. Andersen. He is currently occupied with the Danish homosexual literary history.


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I  n addition, legislation has almost exclusively been occupied with men. Lesbianism was generally regarded as an impossibility in the 1800s, because as the English Queen Victoria declared, women had no sexuality. Thus, there was no offence to legislate on or prosecute. The world’s first modern homosexuality diagnosis was nonetheless given to a woman. The prominent German psychiatrist Carl Friedrich Otto Westphal (1833-1890) received a female-loving woman at the famous Charité hospital in Berlin in 1864. In 1869, he wrote the world’s first article about homosexuality, or “die konträre Sexualemfindung” (“the opposing sexual feeling”), as he called it. When the French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984) wrote the ground-breaking “The History of Sexuality” in 1976, he proclaimed Westphal’s article as nothing short of the birth certificate of modern homosexuality.

“The first explicit description of a homosexual person in Danish literature is a woman.”

This is a thought-provoking parallel to the entry of homosexuality in Nordic literature. Here, descriptions of love between men are much more present than those of lesbian love. The first explicit description of a homosexual person in Danish literature is, however, a woman. Her name is Nina, and her name is the title of a surprisingly

early, now completely forgotten debut novel by the likewise forgotten writer Otto Martin Müller (1860-1898). In his time, he was a respected and well-read author, but his untimely death at 38 years has most likely contributed to the fact that he was never written into the history of literature. Instead, he might end up being a figure in Danish LGBTI+ history. Nina is remarkable, as it was not until 19001910, that homosexuality really was thematized in Danish literature. The “Great Vice” affair of 1906-7 was an important factor. The story began with a banal arrest of two young men in a back yard in Copenhagen. They were under suspicion of theft, however, it turned out they were committing “fornication” as it was called at the time. A zealous police investigator used the arrest as an excuse to unravel a homosexual network, which, among other things, involved male prostitutes, and the affair was covered by the yellow press, which lavished in the juicy disclosures of homosexuals. One of the victims was famous author Herman Bang (1857-1912), who had to escape to Berlin, where he stayed for two years. Naturally, Herman Bang’s homosexuality had been a public secret for decades and as far back as his literary debut in 1880 with the novel “Hopeless Generations” (“Håbløse Slægter”), rumours had been surfacing concerning his “queerness”. And the novel, which was confiscated and deemed immoral, does contain loads of queer and destructive sexuality, among other things, odd brood-eating female monsters, as well as the two effeminate and decadent main characters, William Høeg and Bernhard Hoff, who are everything but healthy, heterosexual men. Queer-theoretical reading strategies are required to read them - and the older female boy-eaters - as allegories for homosexual men. Nina is something else. Even though her lesbianism is the novel’s greatest suspense motif, the “secret” which is revealed at the end as the solution to all the mysteries concerning her deviant and interesting character, the theme is completely explicit. Müller writes into a modern, scientific, continental-European tradition, which

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“The progressive narratives of the past can hold homosexuality, as long as it’s sublimized, repressed or - maybe - strictly monogamous. But “preaching” homosexuals must be eliminated.” is evident in the novel’s subtitle: “A psychological Depiction” (“En psykologisk Skildring”). The author, who was only 23 years old at the time, was internationally oriented, spoke several languages and later passed the translator exam in Portuguese. Undoubtedly, he was a cosmopolitan and, in many ways, ahead of his time. The international view can somewhat explain why Müller chose a lesbian main character for his debut novel. Furthermore, one can wonder whether the novel has an autobiographical motif as well. Has Otto Martin Müller himself been “burned” by a young, lesbian woman? The other main character, whose point of view we see throughout the text, is indeed a German academic, who shares his first name with his author. Contrary to him, the character Otto Jünger has already had his literary debut with a fictitious novel entitled” Schattenbilder”. The writer moves from Berlin to the romantic Heidelberg, where he accedes to a research position with a famous astronomy professor and he becomes a regular guest in his family home. The novel opens with Otto’s arrival by boat to the Southern German city in rainy weather. The first person he meets, as he finds himself lost in the otherwise empty city, is androgynous being


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in a raincoat, who turns out to be female. She is “everything but beautiful” but, nevertheless, she is luring in a scientific, rather than a romantic way: “She would have captivated a psychologist more so than a beau at the ball”. The woman is later revealed as Nina, the daughter of Otto’s boss. In time, Nina and Otto form a friendship, as they share a love for art. Nina is a painter, but Otto convinces her to become a writer, and with this being his field, he can teach her. They fall in love and end up engaged. Rather than physical attraction, common work seems to be the foundation for the marriage: “Now, they could work together in the name of their love, fully and sincerely, it would last a lifetime”. However, Nina has a fatal secret: she is in love with a female friend, who is married, and she does not have the power to suppress this feeling, regardless of her affection for Otto. In a dramatic showdown scene, she discloses her love and its consequences. She cannot handle chastity in relation to women: “If I cannot have what I want from the one I care about; I have to get it somewhere else”. She has seduced young women, yes, “contaminated” many people: “Many young women have cried, and still cry for my sake; their blame still rings in my ear, - many sleepless nights I have had for their sake. I have cared for them, - have kissed them and, to some extent, shown them a world, unknown to them, and then - I have forgotten them”. By uttering these words, Nina signs her own death sentence. The progressive narratives of the past can contain homosexuality, as long as it’s sublimized, repressed or - maybe - strictly monogamous. But “preaching” homosexuals must be eliminated. And Müller does so: Nina has weak lungs, has suffered two pneumonias and a third will cost end her life. And during her terrible confession, it does just that: “She had caught a cold, her chest was under attack from the cold wind, but she kept her neck exposed”. Thus, even the progressive and farsighted portrait by Otto Martin Müller enters the modern tradition, where a good homosexual is a dead homosexual.

Congratulations to Cécilia Ader Andersen on winning the short story contest advertised in the first edition of HeartCore! About the story: James came to Cécilia when working on her novel. He is a minor character in the novel without much of a background, so she decided to give him one. And while doing so, she knew his story would be one that could help others find peace as well.

JAMES FOUND PEACE Cécilia Ader Andersen is a Danish-French author currently based in Århus. She is 29 years old, married to her wife Jasmin, with degrees in both Psychology and English literature. During her difficult childhood, reading helped her get through the darkness, and with a dept of gratitude owed to the many authors that shaped her childhood years, Cécilia decided that the best way to give back was to become an author herself. Cécilia has been writing short stories for the past decade, is the author of a poem published in New York, and is currently working on a novel. 2013, she was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, which propelled her writing unto a path where the human psyche is in focus, wishing to detail the intricacies of human behaviour and relations as much as possible. Her main topic has always been the LGBTI+ community, giving voices to those who don’t believe they matter.

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t was   the year 1916 and a war was raging in Europe, but on a small island off the coast of southern Canada, everything was peaceful. Just a small handful of men had volunteered to sail across the treacherous ocean to join in the war effort, and although no one had heard anything of them since, no one was worried. No one cared too much. At least not the people who did not read the newspapers, which was almost the entire population of the island. Down by the shore of the island stood a house a little way from the local village, where Evelina and her 22-year-old son James lived. The house, which overlooked the edge of a forest, was built haphazardly, a gravity-defying construction of scrap metal and wood. The windows hung loosely on their hinges and the roof looked to be one storm from collapsing on itself. The handle on the front door was rusted hard and unyielding. Evelina, who had just been to town to buy some carrots and onions for dinner, came back with a big bag filled with much more. She stepped onto the porch and disappeared into the house with a content sigh. However ugly and depressing the house looked from the outside, the inside was charming, cozy and altogether very inviting. Evelina took off her shoes and slipped her feet into a pair of woolen socks instead, before walking over to the kitchen. She nibbled at a piece of stale bread before cutting herself a slice of the lemon pie she had baked the night before. She glanced out the window and saw her son, before bringing water to boil on the stove to do the dishes. James emerged from behind the trees and stepped past the edge of the forest. His expression was the same as it always was – downcast and tortured. His lips were pursed as though he was thinking of something bothersome and there was a deep crease between his eyebrows. His footsteps were heavy, giving him the impression of being weighed down by a pair of invisible hands. Yet he was holding his head high, refusing to bow down to anyone or anything. Here was a man who was angry at the world.


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James had been wrongly accused of a crime he did not commit, and his two years in prison had been some of the worst in his life. After being vindicated and released, James came back a changed man, and although James refused to talk about it, it was clear for everyone to see. Everyone used to look up to James, used to admire his unwavering kindness and almost constant positive take on life, but ever since coming home, he was locked in his own shell, a prisoner of his own mind. James looked up at the house, his frown deepening, and deviated from his path, turning instead to go around it. He knew his mother was home, and he wasn’t in the mood to see anyone. When he turned the corner, James stopped in his tracks, and his heart started beating fast against his ribs. The breath in his lungs froze. James’s eyes found Ben, who was sitting on the half-finished south side wall of the annex he had been hired to build, a glass of water in his hand. James wondered briefly how on earth Ben could withstand sitting in the full glare of the sun. As soon as Ben saw James standing a good way from the small annex in construction, he smiled an inviting smile. It was all James needed to make up his mind, something he had tried to do for months. With hesitant steps, James came over to Ben, shyly returning the smile in earnest. Lately, there was only one person who could produce a smile on James’s lips. James hesitated for a couple of seconds before he leaned closer and kissed Ben on the mouth. It was a quick press of lips against lips. Panicking, James pulled his head back and hurried away. Bewildered at first, Ben hopped off the wall, caught up with James and tapped him on the arm. James whirled around with a scared look in his eyes. “I’m so sorry,” James muttered apologetically. “I don’t know why I did that.” Ben looked at James with half a smile, his eyes were not unkind. “You’ve never done this before, have you?” he asked in a calm voice meant to soothe James’s fear.

“What? Kissed another man?” “Yes.” James sighed. “I’ve never kissed anyone before,” he admitted after a moment of hesitation. Unsure, for just a second, about how to proceed, Ben then placed both hands on either side of James’s face and kissed him back. For the first time in what felt like forever, James relaxed the muscles in his shoulders and the shadows in his mind seemed to recede to the back of his brain.

“Ever since coming home, he was locked in his own shell, a prisoner of his own mind.” Evelina, who was doing the dishes and absentmindedly looking out the window, watched the two young men find each other. When her heart started beating fast with gratitude, she closed her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispered, before walking away from the window to give James and Ben some privacy, knowing the gods would hear her thanksgiving. A moment later, she felt a warm breeze brush against her right arm, and she understood it as the gods’ way of saying, “you’re welcome.” A second breeze against her cheek whispered, “and thank you for being patient with him.” Outside, in the baking sun, James let Ben kiss him deeply. A warmth, completely unrelated to the heat in the air around them, spread through James’s body, limb by limb, and he knew that his defenses were melting – and he didn’t care. Ben’s lips were soft and gentle, and James felt safe. He felt seen for the first time. What James didn’t know, was that this was the first time Ben was kissing another man without the heavy weight of fear pressing down on him. Back in Europe, where Ben came from, men kis-

sing men was a crime, and Ben had seen many of his friends being taken by the police simply for loving the wrong person. Knowing it was just a matter of time before he too would be arrested, Ben had eventually fled his homeland, deciding that the outbreak of war was the perfect time. And in leaving everything behind, Ben never looked back. He was a skilled architect and builder, and he had quickly found work on the island. Evelina had approached him just a few months ago and he had gladly accepted the job of building an annex for her son. Ben had then grown more and more fond of observing James from afar; there was something about James that reminded Ben of himself. When Ben broke off the kiss, he moved his head back just enough to look into James’s dark brown eyes. He could see James’s soul more clearly than ever before – a soul that was suddenly blazing with the fiery flame of life. “I had no idea you felt this way,” James muttered, trying to avoid Ben’s own eyes, but they were too bright to shy away from. Ben’s eyes sparkled emerald and gold in the light of the sun. Ben cupped James’s cheek in his hand. “You don’t think you deserve to be happy. But you’re wrong.” He was adamant and his eyes said so too. Ben chuckled at James’s unbelieving eyes, and he allowed himself another kiss, this one short, filled with reassurance. “Let me show you what I had in mind,” he added, looking over his shoulder to the annex. With a caring touch to James’s shoulder, he started walking away. James followed him with a light spring to his feet. He followed Ben all the way over to the annex and entered through a hole in the wall where he knew the front door would be erected. James was absolutely amazed at Ben’s progress – what had just a month earlier looked like a messy mound of wood, bricks, and glass, now almost looked like a house, though there was no roof and some of the walls only went as high as James’s shoulders. Ben stepped through the house, narrating his thoughts and ideas. He was suggesting placing the bedroom so that its windows would be facing

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east to receive the morning sun, and he talked about his plan to build in an open fireplace in the living room, laying down bricks for the hearth, which would be enough to heat the whole place in winter. On the off chance it wouldn’t, Ben was also planning on putting in a small wood-burning stove in the bedroom. Throughout the tour, Ben thought he could glimpse the beginning of tears in James’s eyes, and there was a sudden vulnerability in James that Ben had never noticed before. At the end of the tour, Ben grabbed a bunch of animal skins and what looked like an impossible mess of rope and knots. “See those two hooks?” he then asked, indicating two metal hooks jammed into the two pillars upholding the soon-to-be roof of the porch. “You can hang this hammock and lay down the skins to enjoy the afternoon sun,” Ben added. “Do you like it?” James nodded, overwhelmed, and he unconsciously moved closer to Ben. However, suddenly standing so close to Ben made James slightly lightheaded, and he took a couple of steps away again. Ben noticed and smiled to himself. There was a brief silence before Ben took James’s hand and held it softly. He buried his own eyes into James’s and awaited a signal of approval. When James let go of a barely noticeable nod, Ben moved closer, so close that the space between them was paper-thin, and he kissed him. Once more, the weight on James’s shoulders lifted, and he circled his arms around Ben’s waist, wishing to disappear into the kiss entirely. They began kissing with feverish urgency, the promise of a wonderfully adventurous journey in the making. James felt safe, safe at his most vulnerable, and he knew that this was the very moment that would take him into a happier future. For weeks, James spent almost every waking hour with Ben, helping him out as much as he could on the construction site. Ben taught him how to lay down bricks in symmetrical patterns, showed him how to polish wood to give it a shiny sheen, and Ben enjoyed every minute of it, knowing James did too. Intimate complicity grew between them, and James’s mood brightened daily.


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James finally broke free and he returned to his old self, the one from before going to prison. He tried to keep his giddy happiness to a minimum when he wasn’t around Ben, but he knew that the people around him were starting to notice the change in him. Therefore, one afternoon, when he could no longer keep the secret, James approached his mother who was in the kitchen. Her hands were sticky from dividing maple syrup into three different jars. “I have to tell you something,” he announced shyly. Evelina turned around before rinsing her hands in the washing basin. She smiled when she saw her son. “No, you don’t, my sweet boy. I already know,” she said in return. She dried her hands on a cloth draped over the back of a chair and then took James’s in her own. James’s hands were calloused, and she knew it was from helping Ben out. “How?” James asked. He never failed to be amazed at how intuitive his mother was. “I see it in your eyes. You’ve come back to life,” Evelina answered with tears coming into her eyes. “And he is a wonderful man.” At hearing this, the very last bricks of James’s protective wall came down. A lump formed at the back of his throat and he stood frozen for a couple of seconds, too dumbfounded to do anything. “I am so sorry,” he tried to say, but his voice sounded blurred to his own ears. “I never meant to cause you any pain.” “You never caused me any pain, James. Your suffering was painful to see, yes, but you have nothing to apologize for,” she said, placing her two hands on either side of James’s head to force him to look into her eyes. It had been so long since James had let his mother touch his face. Evelina let her thumbs stroke his cheeks. “And when you are ready, I would love to invite Ben for dinner,” she added, and James laughed the laugh she had missed hearing for so long.

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