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NO2 FAMILY 2020 THE OFFICIAL COPENHAGEN PRIDE MAGAZINE

HEART CORE

ARE WE FAMILY?

Exploring what makes a community

MEET THE VOLUNQUEERS

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

Content contributors Andre Sanchez-Montoya (He/Him) Anne Sophie Parsons (She/Her) Copenhagen2021 Karin Lützen (She/Her) Laura Valentina Cortes Sierra (She/Her) LGBT+ Danmark Lee Ravn Kristensen (She/Her) Liv Rossander (She/Her) Maria Rathje (She/Her) Naomi Hagelman (They/Them) Paulie Calderon-Cifuentes (She/Her)

Translation and copy editing Adam Daugaard (He/Him) Helene Agerkvist (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

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

Cover photo: Brian Allesøe


CONTENT H E A R TC O R E M A G A Z I N E - I S S U E 0 2

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WELCOME

RAINBOW FAMILIES, #YOUAREINCLUDED AT COPENHAGEN 2021!

VOLUNQUEERS: THE PRIDE FAMILY

06 FAMILY FROM A BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE

11 HOW 18THCENTURY WOMEN TRICKED THE PATRIARCHY TO LIVE FREELY

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29 LET’S HAVE A QUEERVERSATION: FINDING FAMILY IN THE UNDERGROUND

34 RISE OF THE QUEER PHOENIX

THE CRACKED FAÇADE OF THE DANISH HEALTH CARE SYSTEM

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ALL FAMILIES ARE REAL FAMILIES

WE ARE FAMILY? LGBTI+ IDENTITY AND FAMILY IN FOUR FILMS

POETRY BY SYLVIA THOMAS

50 “THE LGBT PROFILE HAS GIVEN US THE GIFT OF A COMMUNITY OF VALUES”

53 LGBTI+ PEOPLE, THEIR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES CAN NOW GET APPROVED COUNSELING IN LGBT+ DENMARK

57 FROM MEXICO TO LONDON: LATIN AMERICAN TRANS ACTIVIST REFLECTS ON HER CHILDHOOD

44 MY INTERNET FAMILY

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


WELCOME!

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ear reader, It is our pleasure to welcome you to the second edition of HeartCore – The Official Copenhagen Pride Magazine. A special welcome to those of you joining us for the first time; this magazine is our first venture into print media and aims to be a platform for all of the voices that exists in the LGBTI+ community, as well as to amplify and empower these voices. With every edition, we have chosen an overarching theme which will be the red thread leading you through the content. The theme for this edition is FAMILY. Families are fantastic, complex, messy, vulnerable and, most of all, they come in all shapes and forms. Family can be a connection by blood but can also spring from community. As a marginalized community in particular, many of us have had to look beyond the relatives we grew up with to find the acceptance we count on as family relations. There can be grief in this, but also beauty – and it is never too late to find a community who will embrace you as you are. A family can be founded on greeting a new life, or on leaving an old life behind for something that feels like home. Families can be a safe harbor or a stormy sea. For some, families are chosen communities that come later in life, where others have families that have always been with them. Some still have families in the more traditional sense, as well as a community that they consider just as close. With this edition of HeartCore, we want to tell some of the stories of these families and the people who form them. As we begin to move into winter, we want to engage with the things that connect us and make

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us feel close to one another. It has been an unstable year in more ways than can be counted, and we are still faced with the uncertainty of what the future may hold and how to fight the ever-growing resistance to human rights. This can be a constant source of anxiety for many and presents a need for closeness and caring in between the battles that must be fought against homo- and transphobia, sexism, racism, fascism, misogyny, and other forms of oppression. We hope that you will enjoy reading about the history of the family structure we know today, family emerging through the underground, the struggles that can be present in starting a family as an LGBTI+ person as well as many more takes and topics. Again, we invite you to reach out if you have anything you want to contribute with to HeartCore, be it constructive feedback or an idea for the next edition. This magazine belongs to us all, and we strive to live up to that. We wish you a very happy read!

The board of Copenhagen Pride and the HeartCore editorial staff


Part of the HeartCore editorial staff at the release of the first edition in August. Photo: Ulla Munch-Pedersen

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FAMILY FROM A BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE by Naomi Hagelberg, Master of Science in Biology

Is the nuclear family the most natural family structure for humans, or were we doing something more natural back in the hippie days? Let us put the biological goggles on and analyze the story that human physiology and anatomy tells us.

Photo: Naomi Hagelberg, Pictured: Noah Hagelberg

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he human brain is plastic. This means a human can adapt its behavior to a long range of things, without necessarily viewing its adaption as weird, different, or uncomfortable. Time alone will cause any behavior to be viewed as the norm. Or said in other words: when a group of people has done something for long enough, most of the group will think this is the right way to exist. Because of this, a variety of cultures and family structures exist on our planet, and they all believe their version is truest. So, when we want to analyze which family structure humankind has, from a biological point of view, we can’t just look at the structures that exist today. Yes, even though the brain is a big part of our biological being and everything humans do, and therefore a big part of human biology, the human body sometimes tells a completely different story than the one that humans are living.  

Family = care for offspring Let us start by looking at newborn children. The human offspring cannot take care of themselves right after birth. Because of humans’ large brains, which are an important part of its strategy to

"Even though the brain is a big part of our biological being and everything humans do, and therefore a big part of human biology, the human body sometimes tell a completely different story than the one that humans are living"

Photo: Niels Hagelberg. Pictured: Naia Hagelberg

survive, humans must be born before the brain is fully developed. If the brain was to be developed enough for the child to be able to follow the adults by itself right after the birth, the carriers should have developed much wider hips and vaginal openings, so the child’s large head could be born without killing the carrier. The carrier would have to be pregnant much longer than nine months. More likely, the child would be carried for almost two years. And still, this child would have trouble surviving without other people around it, to help with water, food, and protection. Instead of physical adaption, humans developed a social adaption. They take care of the offspring. So, the human family structure includes the adults taking care of the children.

Family = a group of adults taking care of everyone’s children Since humans give birth very early in the child’s physical development, the children have no teeth to chew their food with, thus making them dependent on a fluid diet. They get this from the carrier’s mammary glands. During the pregnancy and

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the breastfeeding, the hypophysis, which is a 1 cm long gland in the brain, produces more of the hormone prolactin. The heightened concentration of prolactin stimulates milk production in the mammary glands, which nourishes the child. So, the human family structure includes the carrier nourishing the child. However, there are many exceptions to this element.  The milk production continues as long as breastfeeding happens, and no other factors reduce milk production. The child is not conditioned to only want to be breastfed by the carrier, which means the child can be breastfed by someone else who produces milk. The child is not dependent on the carrier giving it milk. The child can be breastfed by anyone who produces milk. On top of this, it is also possible to milk the milk by stroking along the mammary glands, and food can be boiled or mashed to a fluid substance, which the child can be fed instead of milk directly from the mammary glands.  Children are therefore not dependent on the carrier alone. Humans have developed a social family structure, which secures that the children can survive even if their carriers do not. Here we see the first signs that a group culture is important

Photo: Javier Allegue Barros

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for humanity and that everyone has a desire to look after children. This desire to look after children is an unconditional response. Unconditional response means that it’s not something the individual human has learned in their upbringing. Instead, humans are born to feel an urge to protect, whenever they see classic characteristics for a child. The classic characteristics are an individual with a head too large for the rest of the body, with big eyes, a small nose, and a small mouth. This is also the reason that many get the feeling of love, caring, an urge to protect and think it’s adorable and want to hold and pet it when they see a kitten, a puppy, or other mammal cubs.  Therefore, the human family structure includes a group of adults looking after the children, regardless of whether they are related by blood or not. 

Family = a group of people looking after each other Since the child can’t walk on its own after being born, it must be carried around or placed on the ground. This would become a big challenge if only one parent had to keep themselves and the


"It could seem like humans’ intercourse isn’t just about producing offspring"

Photo: womanizer-wow-tech

child safe by gathering food and protecting them against wild animals. Therefore, the human family structure requires that the parent and child are part of a larger group, who wants to help with gathering food and protecting against wild animals. So, the human family structure also includes adults looking after each other.

Family = a polyamorous, promiscuous group who look after each other Now let us look at reproduction. To create offspring, there must be a combination of an egg and a sperm cell. The egg producer does not constant-

ly have an egg available for fertilization by the sperm. They usually only have one egg available for up to two days every 28th day. The egg producer doesn’t necessarily show any physically clear signs of when these two days occur. There are a few small signs, e.g. some egg producers can feel their ovulation like a small sting in their ovary, other signs can be the secretion from the vagina becoming more sticky, sore breasts, higher body temperature, or a mood change in the egg producer, for example by having a bigger desire for intercourse, but none of these are signs that other people necessarily notice.  On top of that, sperm can survive in the uterus for up to six days, so it is possible to create an

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offspring if there is intercourse with ejaculation five days before ovulation. If humans want to ensure the creation of offspring, they should have intercourse as often as possible. Other factors affect the number of sperm cells being produced, like the thought of the egg producer having intercourse with other sperm producers. It is therefore not just a question of having intercourse with ejaculation often, but also that the egg producer has intercourse including ejaculation with more than one person. Since it’s so difficult to know when intercourse can lead to the creation of offspring, and humans are physiologically adapted to have frequent intercourse with more than one person, it could seem like humans’ intercourse isn’t just about producing offspring. Otherwise, the egg producer would have developed more obvious signs for when intercourse with ejaculation could result in an offspring, which the sperm producers could easily detect.

So, what is the point of intercourse? Intercourse isn’t something that’s done without any kind of sensory experience. Humans have about 8000 nerve endings in the clitoris head and 4000 nerve endings in the glans penis. These nerve endings give a pleasant sensation when stimulated correctly. Therefore, intercourse is an activity that, when done correctly, gives physical pleasure to all participants, and an activity that can be carried out in a lot of different ways apart from the penis penetrating the vagina. IntercourPhoto Naomi Hagelberg. Pictured: Naia Hagelberg

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se is something humans can do and get pleasure from, with all individuals, regardless of whether they are egg or sperm producers or if they can’t produce either. When individuals give pleasure to one another, they often develop fond feelings towards each other and want to help each other. Intercourse can be about making sure that a group helps each other. The human family structure can be a polyamorous, promiscuous group of all genders, who look after each other and after children.

So, what did we figure out? The nuclear family doesn’t fit in with human physiology and anatomy, unless we accept infidelity and that nuclear families in a neighborhood develop a very intimate, helpful network. The hippies were probably closer to the natural family structure, even though they also had their challenges and it didn’t fit perfectly. In time, maybe we will find a healthy and natural state or the human family structure.

Disclaimer: There are a lot of other factors and arguments, which haven’t been included in this article, and the surface has only been scratched in the arguments and factors that were included. That is the premise for articles with limited space, as opposed to books with almost unlimited space. Take this as an appetizer to get you thinking.


HOW 18THCENTURY WOMEN TRICKED THE PATRIARCHY TO LIVE FREELY by Karin Lützen

In 18th-century Denmark, job opportunities arose for middle class-women seeking employment as e.g. nurses and schoolteachers. This led to cohabitation for several women, who raised orphans as their own children and who were buried side by side, without facing the same stigma that male homosexuals faced in the 18th century.

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ince 2007, a woman living with another woman (or a single woman) has had access to fertility treatment. This means that women have been able to, without any male involvement, and with help from the Danish health services, to legally start a so-called rainbow family. This is worth celebrating because when the law of artificial insemination was introduced in the Danish Parliament in 1996, a majority of the members believed this right should be

reserved for women who were either married or lived with a man as husband and wife. When members of the Parliament from both wings at the time were asked to argue in favour of this limitation, the answers resembled the words of a particular member of the Social Democratic Party: “I believe we can establish that the best thing for a child is to have both a father and a mother. It is best for practical reasons, financial reasons, and last but not least, emotional reasons.

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transpired in the late 19th century. The women were able to train as nurses or teachers or seek paid employment in charities. Nurses often lived in a special section of the hospital, whereas the gradually increasing number of schoolteachers were able to live by themselves. Although for the first many years the female teachers received a lower salary than their male colleagues because they were not considered breadwinners, they had the opportunity to form their own household. Several lived in boarding houses, often alongside other self-supporting women, but many also rented small apartments in pairs. This was even recommended by headmistress Ms Natalie Zahle. In 1872 she wrote in a daily newspaper article that if a schoolmistress received a better education, she would be entrusted with greater duties and thus receive payment equivalent to the responsibility and not defined by her gender. “As an unmarried woman, she must also establish a

Pictured: Natalie Zahle & the headmistress at Zahle's school Hansine Gerdtzen. By Niels Hansen

It is beneficial for a child to have an emotional attachment with both a male and a female parent�. No one had evidence to support this claim - that was just the way things were, and the heterosexual nuclear family had become a norm by the end of the twentieth century.

The birth of the modern woman 100 years earlier, the same ideal that a child should grow up in a family with both a father and a mother of opposite sexes was not prevalent. At the time, both unmarried women and two women living together were able to adopt orphaned children, thus creating their own family. Of course, this was only possible, if the women were able to support themselves financially, and, coincidentally, employment for middle class-women

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"100 years earlier, the same ideal that a child should grow up in a family with both a father and a mother of opposite sexes, was not prevalent. At the time, both unmarried women and two women living together were able to adopt orphaned children, thus creating their own family."


household and family circle, had one such not been assigned to her naturally, in order for her, despite her unmarried status, to satisfy the womanly inherent motherliness, without which, she endangers her calling becoming either quixotic or withered and mechanical”.

Exceptionally intimate friendships Miss Zahle’s two good friends: the housemates and headmistresses, Comtesse Thusnelda Moltke, and Widow Elise Bay, created such a life for themselves. They adopted three orphaned boys and thus created a family equivalent of the nuclear families at the time. The relationship of these two women was pointed out as exceptional, and when Comtesse Moltke’s School for Girls in 1910 celebrated its 30th anniversary, Natalie Zahle wrote an article about the school and its foundress. After carefully having described Comtesse Moltke’s school through the years, Miss Zahle wrote: “She has found her lifelong happiness in home life with Widow Elise Bay, née Lund, whose intelligence, vivacity, cheerfulness, yes, often effervescent humour, have worked miraculously for the Comtesse M.’s peculiar inclination to solitude and seclusion. The two have complemented each other in many ways,

The housemates and headmistresses, Comtesse Thusnelda Moltke and Widow Elise Bay, created such a life for themselves. They adopted three orphaned boys and thus created a family equivalent of the nuclear families at the time. beneficial to home and enterprise”. Mrs Bay passed away in 1916, and when Comtesse passed away in 1928, the school’s annual stated that: “by the side of her loving friend, Mrs Elise Bay, the body of Comtesse Moltke was buried”. In modern language, they were buried in the same plot. Other female couples became mistresses for orphanages and exercised great empathy and motherliness with each of their significant characteristics, like i.e. the misses Anna Herreborg and Agnes Hansen. When they retired in 1926, after managing the girls’ community school, Talitha Kumi, since 1887, the school’s chairman, manufacturer Rudolph Nielsen wrote in the book Danish Reform Schools in Images and Text (Danske Opdragelseshjem i Billeder og Tekst) of the women’s deeds: “They both possessed great abilities and an exuberant, warm emotional life, being faithful friends from youth, they happily complemented each other, one vigorous, the other of a softer virtue. Only such harmonious living could bear this exercise of spiritual and bodily strength as their calling bid them”. Even though he does not explicitly write that one

Pictured: Nelly Moltke

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Pictured: Emilie Mundt, Marie Luplau and their adopted daughter Karla

was the father, he suggests, using the opposing characteristics “vigorous” and “soft”, that one of them displayed authority and the other forbearance. “The two women devoted themselves to their motherly calling with an equally strong sense of duty and rights. The purpose, which they never shied away from, was to unite the children, each other, their home and their motherly friends by ties that could only be equated with those that blood binds in the natural home.” What these examples of female couples show are that the fact that two women started a family or lived a lifetime together did not cause a stir. The remarkable thing is also that way up into the 1920s, innocent descriptions about these special relationships were uttered so naturally. At the time, male homosexuality had been heavily discussed in the daily newspapers and in England,

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the lesbian novel The Well of Loneliness had been banned under strained attention. The novel was published in Denmark in 1929. No one cared to attach the ghastly appellation “homosexual” to these female couples, and it is also very unlikely that the women themselves have thought of their own domestic life as connected to this so-called deviant sexual lifestyle. Thus, we can conclude that during the time where homosexuality was an unknown phenomenon, two women were perfectly able to create a family. What was highlighted about these two female couples was that their different character traits complemented each other, whereas it was irrelevant that there was no man in the family.


THE CRACKED FAÇADE OF THE DANISH HEALTH CARE SYSTEM By Anne Sophie Parsons

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hen author Karen Stenlev met the Danish Health Care System in the context of undergoing fertility treatment with her wife, she was not prepared to face a wall – all due to her own mental illness. “Be fruitful and multiply, increase greatly on the earth and multiply in it.” The Biblical sentiment is one of the long-lasting testimonies: Establishing your own family as an adult is a golden guideline handed out universally across various countries, religions, and races. In an LGBTI+ context, this has proved to be a field where surrogacy and fertility treatment has helped create rainbow families through the years; Nina Stork made the lesbian community smile from ear to ear in Denmark back during the 1990s, when she opened one of the first private fertility clinics for the community, as well as women wishing to be single mothers. But what if this wish of creating a mother-mother-baby constellation is complicated to a

further extent – by having mental illness serve as an obstacle to achieving the goal of creating your own family? Author Karen Stenlev draws from direct experiences when she speaks; distilling a long-drawn episode of her life into a literary debut, her book Imens jeg blev til noget andet, (As I Became Something Else), centres her personal meeting with the Danish Health Care system and psychologists. The book describes how wanting to undergo fertility treatment, together with her wife with her mental illness dragging along like a ball-and-chain, left her figuratively bruised and battered. “The book is my way of transforming the pain we’ve been through – creating a new space where the struggles I’ve been through are given a voice and we can talk about them as well as create a dialogue about how mental illness is treated, also when you belong to the LGBTI+ community, rather than it having been all in vain.”

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A question of identity With a number of successive failed attempts at getting pregnant, Karen and her wife were denied fertility treatment from State Administration due to Karen’s given mental illness which was deemed a resounding enough factor to qualify her as a bad mother. The couple could not wish for anything more than adding a child to the family mix. The announcement came as a devastating blow: It was a reinforcing comment to the way Karen has always felt: like she was not able to accomplish

“The book is my way of transforming the pain we’ve been through – creating a new space where the struggles I’ve been through are given a voice and we can talk about them as well as create a dialogue about how mental illness is treated, also when you belong to the LGBTI+ community, rather than it having been all in vain.”

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anything; biologically, mentally, educationally, and sexually, the points making up the score of how she felt thoroughly inadequate was only emphasised by the official representatives within the Danish system. The question of identity has been a constant element, fluctuating between what society has told her as well as what she knew herself: Feeling different was also a companion through the early years; growing up in a little town outside Aarhus, Karen felt out of sorts, even before she was diagnosed with schizotypy later in life. With unrequited crushes on other girls as a young teenager, falling outside the concept of ’normal’ felt more like a distinct loss and a failure on her part. As though she could not recreate what was effortlessly presented around her. It is a feeling she still cannot shake till this day: “I’ve always had a supportive family in regards to my mental illness and sexuality, but I’ve met problems in society and in connection with other people: That I must be untrustworthy because of my illness and that people didn’t believe that I was a lesbian due to me wearing, for example, high heels and dresses. You never stop building your own story throughout your life; it’s all about which story I’m telling myself about myself”, Karen points out at the table we are seated at.

The Danish Health Care system like a cracked egg Even though the idea of normality has been opposed from queer activists and norm critical voices within the LGBTI+ community vocally, it has always been a stable marker Karen Stenlev has wanted to inhabit. As a safe haven. A way to counterprove the comments she has met and the feeling of never having to constantly explain her sexuality or her mental health: “Perhaps in some ways, it’s still more taboo to be mentally ill than LGBTI+ in this day and age, at least in Denmark – whereas you can actively show your sexual orientation, nobody can tell from looking at me that I’m ill. It’s a fight


Photo: Karen Stenlev ©RenatoManzionna

we’ve only started now and that people who have been subjected to strict assessment and regulation from the Danish government need to raise their voices about. The fact that people who should be more conscious of how psychologists and doctors, people in positions of power, speak to patients, how they use hurtful words and limit people’s potential.” Meeting preconceived ideas about how she must be and act has felt like a shackle through her life. Being mentally ill has meant that she was deemed not good enough to be a mother; being a lesbian meant that the married couple had to

approach the Danish Health Care System in the first place in the context of fertility treatment. The story is one defined by a drawn-out, exhausting battle against the Danish system and its compartmentalising approach to people, who lack the mental and physical resources to put up a fight. While Karen thought that they were simply going into fertility treatment, she was instead met with doubts as far as whether she was even able to fulfil the role of a mother. All because of notes, which their fertility doctor accessed from Karen’s psychologist.

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The wish for a child hinged on whether a fertility doctor knew enough about mental illnesses and diagnoses, as well as how these manifest. That is why it is also important to talk about how it all comes down to human assessment and also depends on the doctor’s well-founded knowledge. It’s important to talk about stigmatizing mental illness, as no one told the couple what was going to happen. The State Administration never spoke to them or informed them about what was going to happen in their case. A humane treatment was left out of the equation and the couple was left to their own devices. “We need to think up how we treat and talk to people – especially those who get mentally kicked, while already on the ground. My psychologist told me once: At least you don’t have cancer – for me, it was a useless comment, as I just ended up feeling even worse afterwards.” The unfortunate premise is that you have to be very resourceful in order to explain that you are – in fact – unresourceful in regard to your job market position as a citizen in today’s modern world.

Light at the end of the tunnel There is a silver lining to the story, though. Although Karen’s book ends on an ambiguous note

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“We need to think up how we treat and talk to people – especially those who get mentally kicked while already on the ground. My psychologist told me once: At least you don’t have cancer – for me, it was a useless comment, as I just ended up feeling even worse afterwards.” as to whether a child is conceived or not, it is a happy one in real life, albeit not without juridical process that has been draining. Today, Karen and her wife have a five-month-old daughter. They succeeded in making their family dream come true. The sentencing was appealed, and the couple was able to overturn the State Administration’s ruling. That is why it is important that we talk to each other about aspects, which might still be considered taboo: To highlight marginalised voices in the continued fight for rights and especially also in connection with intersectional identities within the LGBTI+ acronym. To give voice to those of us who do not have the resources to do it.


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More info on copenhagenpride.dkHeartCore Magazine – 02

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Photo: Nelle Renberg

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ALL FAMILIES ARE REAL FAMILIES This article was originally written for INCLUDE Magazine by Martin Dover, published by Copenhagen2021 in 2019

Karen Therkelsen is on a quest to popularize her so-called “parent speed matching” as a method for LGBTI+ people to form a family of their own in a country that prohibits the use of surrogacy. The idea sprung to life when she decided to have a child with a gay man.

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aren Therkelsen had never given much thought to the idea of having children. The love of her life hadn’t entered her life, and she didn’t really care much for kids. Not that she had a problem with them, but she wasn’t exactly eager to have some of her own. But that started to change when she was in her 30s. “It was soon after my father died that I started thinking about having kids of my own,” she says. “I had thought about it when I was younger, sure, but the thoughts had never occupied much space in my mind, and now I suddenly felt a strong urge to become a mother.” Although the urge was strong, the prospects weren’t exactly the best. Prince Charming didn’t seem to be waiting right around the corner, and Karen was certain that she didn’t want to be a single mom. Plus, her biological clock was starting to tick. “I didn’t feel like doing it all on my own. I wanted my kid to have a father. I do have the deepest respect for the single women who decide to become mothers on their own, but I knew that it wasn’t something for me. I liked the idea of being in it together with someone.” When did you start thinking about forming a rainbow family? “I’ve always had lots of friends in the LGBTI+ community, so when I started to think about having kids, I already knew about this

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online community for people looking for co-parents. And I soon started to warm up to the idea of forming a rainbow family, because that would allow me to have a co-parent to lean on, and my kid would have a father in his life.” After giving it some serious thought, Karen realized that a rainbow family made perfect sense for her. That’s when she started looking for a gay man to be the father of her kid. “I spent a few weeks online, writing about ten guys or so. I met with two men before finding the right match, and I soon learned that you must be very candid about your expectations, the values you want to pass on to your child, and the way you want to raise them.” Eventually, she found the man. Martin was his name, and things just kind of clicked between them. Karen became pregnant, and baby boy Louis was on his way. “We really made an effort to get into a lot of the nitty-gritty details of how we wanted our family to function, well ahead of the pregnancy and the birth. And having very clear agreements helped us a lot when things got a little hard.” Karen and Martin decided to live together in the first months after Louis was born. This was incredibly helpful in letting Martin bond with his son, and it established a good balance between Karen and Martin as co-parents. After a year or so, Karen moved out of Martin’s apartment and


3 pieces of advice from Karen • Give it some thought: If you’re LGBTI+ and have reluctantly given up on the idea of having a family because surrogacy, adoption, or other means are not accessible to you, you might owe it to yourself to give the idea of forming a rainbow family some though. Being a co-parent in such a family can be just as rewarding. • If in doubt – check it out: Even if you’re still in doubt, maybe you should try and check it out? Meeting up with potential co-parents can perhaps help provide some clarity and help you decide. Be open about the thought process that you’re in when reaching out to potential co-parents, and you’ll most likely come across someone who went through the same thoughts at some point. • Make an agreement: If you meet a potential co-parent that you would like to have a child with, you must remember to ask questions and write down your agreement on a piece of paper – sort of like a contract. You must be very candid about your expectations, the values you want to pass on to your child, and the way you want the upbringing to be. Make sure to ask the tough questions and answer all questions sincerely. Learn more at: karentherkelsen.com

got a place of her own close by, so that the daily grind would get easier for the two of them. Louis is seven years old today, and Karen and Martin have split the parenting duties 50/50, meaning that Louis lives one week with Karen before living one week with Martin. During the week, they communicate about how their son is doing, as well as about practicalities. Furthermore, they spend every third Sunday together as a family and celebrate Christmas and Louis’ birthday together.

Self-employed rainbow family coach With seven years now having passed since Louis’ birth, Karen now tours around to talk about her experience and the ups and downs of being

a rainbow family, and she coaches others who already have or are in the process of forming a rainbow family. She also provides coaching for the collaboration on the child. “Having been through this whole experience myself, I want to pass on the lessons I’ve learned so that others can benefit from them. It’s been rough from time to time, because there really is no rulebook on how to make this type of family work. “But if you do it right, it can be the most rewarding experience. When doing a talk, I came across a PowerPoint slide with a photo of Louis looking at his father, his eyes brimming with unconditional love. It made me tear up, and I felt blessed to be part of such a loving family.”

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Parent speed matching Karen also organizes so-called “parent speed matching” sessions where people can come and meet potential co-parents, straight or gay, single or a couple. These events are quite like the infamous speed dating events, where one can talk to someone for a few minutes before moving on to the next person, thus meeting a lot of new potential dates in a short amount of time. At the parent speed matching events, Karen divides people in two groups: The people or couples looking for eggs and those looking for sperm. They then rotate so that they all get to talk to each other for 10 minutes. By the end of the night, everyone hands over a little note to Karen with the name(s) of those they want to stay in touch with. “That way, those that share a mutual interest in each other can get in touch and perhaps move forward towards forming a family. During their first meeting, I encourage them to be candid about their expectations and that they are looking for in a co-parent. The conversation should be open and candid.” “These parent speed matching events are a safe space for people to meet others who want to form a rainbow family. There are websites on the internet for that, sure, but my own experience tells me that talking about these things face-toface is much better.”

Becoming an activist Deciding on forming a rainbow family wasn’t hard for Karen, but reactions from her surroundings have been mixed, although mostly positive. “Some have suggested that having a kid with a gay man was purely egotistical. But most people have been very encouraging, telling me that I was brave. What’s been hardest in terms of being public about this is that there really are no role models.”

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That’s part of the reason why Karen gives talks about her story, coaches others in the same situation, and hosts parent speed matching events. She wants to be the role model that she never had. “Basically, I just hope to be able to empower people to form some fantastic, loving and caring families. But I also hope that me championing this agenda can ultimately foster a more inclusive world, so that my son and others like him won’t face prejudice because they’re rainbow children.”


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RAINBOW FAMILIES, #YOUAREINCLUDED AT COPENHAGEN 2021! Article and interview by Steve Taylor, Director of Communications for Copenhagen 2021.

Heteronormativity probably affects all LGBTI+ people at least once every day. We just get used to it, metaphorically rolling our eyes when we get the inevitable thoughtless question or comment. But for LGBTI+ parents, it can be especially wearing.

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Pictured: Noah, Sika and Elion on the set of the new Copenhagen 2021 film Credit: Jemma Tracey

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he emotionally draining comments and questions can make us forget just how far we have come in the journey for equality for rainbow families. The time when LGBTI+ people could only dream of parenthood is within living memory for the majority of us. And that’s not to say that we should just be quiet and deal with the comments and questions, but it provides some perspective. And that journey to equality, and the achievements since, are something we will celebrate at

Copenhagen 2021 when we celebrate WorldPride and EuroGames here in Copenhagen and Malmö. As well as providing a safe and welcoming space across the whole event for rainbow families, we’ll have two dedicated areas: Rainbow Children @ BLOX and CoA.

Rainbow Children @ BLOX Rainbow Children @ BLOX will be the playground where children are proud to be who they are, and where we practice saying this out loud.

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Here, you can expect Drag Story Hour, tiny concerts, workshops, dancing, and much more. The programming will be created by the artist collective De Sceneste who work on interactive projects and center children and young people in the activities. The square at Bryghuspladsen will feature installations, workshops and events that are interactive, and during school hours there will be programming that is connected to knowledge and learning.

CoA CoA – or Centre of Attention – demonstrates our commitment to young LGBTI+ people. Situated in the more than 50-year-old institution HusetKBH, CoA will draw on the hominess that already exists here. During the entire event, there will be house parents present, ready to talk, listen and provide support to the young people present. The house will mimic a ‘højskole’-feel, where routines, togetherness and hominess are at the centre. The entire venue will be alcohol- and smoke-free. We can’t wait to see you at Rainbow Children @ BLOX and at CoA!

A very special rainbow family: Noah, Sika and Elion It’s almost ten years since Noah Skaalum won the Danish version of The X Factor and since then he has transitioned, married, and become a dad. We caught up with Noah just as we were filming the new promotional movie for Copenhagen 2021. Hey Noah! So, tell me about your family! If I were to describe my family to someone whom I have never met, I would say that we look like a typical Danish family. A mother, a father and a son. But if you look closer you will see a man once born a female, and a woman who is queer. We have battled infertility and ended the journey in success, with the birth of our son Elion. We are creative and open and like to create con-

“I want to tell other families that no matter what, nobody can take away from us the love we feel in our hearts and bodies” – Noah Skaalum tent about our family lifestyle, so everyone can see, that if they want family, it is possible. That’s an amazing journey. How does your family today differ from your own experience of family when you were young? I am lucky to have seen a lot of different family constellations, and therefore I knew that I could do what I want with my life: but I am very aware that that is a privilege. Denmark is often seen as a leading country on LGBTI+ equality. What’s your perspective on that? I have the most amazing family that have always supported me and my transition. I have had the pleasure of ‘coming out’ more than once. First, I came out as a lesbian and later on as a transgender man. My family has always had the saying ‘you are you, and that’s just fine.’ It has made my transition so smooth and I could really focus on what was important my happiness. Of course, I have met the other side of our society, I have been bullied in school and been name called when I was younger. It was hurtful and that should not have happened. But I grew from it and it made me the bigger person that I am today. I am happy.


That’s good to hear. It’s clear that the world has changed a great deal in the last few years, especially in terms of acceptance of rainbow families. I am so grateful that the world is finally seeing love when they look at rainbow families. But we need to work on the big thing, how we actually make the family. We need help growing our family. If we want to give our son a sibling, we have one chance left, one last egg in the freezer before we have to pay a huge amount of money. We conceived through IVF (in vitro fertilization, red.) which is very intrusive and harsh for the body to go through. We need better options and we need to show that LGBTI+ people can make a family if they aim to. If we look at the acceptance in our everyday life, we need more people showing up and sharing their stories about their loving rainbow family. And we have to look at the fact that, even though I have a male social security number and a full beard, I still legally have to be named a ‘co-mother’ in our son's birth papers. What are your hopes for your beautiful son Elion and the future world they will inhabit? My greatest hope for my son and every other child's future is that no matter what, they will have the same rights and opportunities as anybody else. Without meeting discrimination based on their sexual orientation, psychical appearance, ethnicity, disability or gender identity. So, I think I know your answer already, but what does #YouAreIncluded mean to you? I feel included when we understand the importance of this campaign. When people finally see that for some people it is still dangerous to love. To be included also means that we fight for a future where one will not feel scared to be who they are and love who they love. We need inclusion till the day that every kid in the world learns in school that they can be anything they want, love

whomever they want, dress however they want and still be just another person. ‘Dangerous to love’ is scary but a reality for too many people. What’s your message for rainbow families in countries where the situation is more difficult than in Denmark? First of all, I want to say that I see you and I feel sad and embarrassed that the world is like this in some places. I want to tell other families that no matter what, nobody can take away from us the love we feel in our hearts and bodies. Finally, what would be your top three tips for a rainbow family coming to Denmark for the first time next summer for Copenhagen 2021? I would say, come to Denmark and meet people. I can assure you that you will find friends and love. We have one of the world's most amazing Pride parades every year. People from all over the world visit Denmark to celebrate Pride, you will find people that you can relate to and maybe grow friendships - or even find the love of your life.

Worldpride and Eurogames 2021 Next year, Copenhagen will host WorldPride and EuroGames, a huge rainbow event taking place on 12-22 August 2021. Keep an eye on the Copenhagen 2021 app and website www.copenhagen2021.com to see our plans develop, especially in such difficult and uncertain times.


LET’S HAVE A QUEERVERSATION:

FINDING FAMILY IN THE UNDERGROUND By Andre Sanchez-Montoya

The Copenhagen based collective known as Group Therapy charts out their vision towards a more inclusive and safer nightlife on a path, we can all follow and dance along on.

Our journey as LGBTI+ individuals is rarely a straight line – and our history depicts the arc we have traveled towards self-discovery and acceptance. For many of us, we find ourselves living in a time framed as “Post-liberation”. A chapter that has come into the mainstream by legislation affording us an equal opportunity in marriage, protection against discrimination, and an ability to represent ourselves unabashedly in media. When looking at the arc towards post-liberation, understanding the value of the underground comes into historical importance. The early history of queer liberation found itself operating outside of the formal organizations we see today. Activists had to claim space against the backdrop of a hostile society in informal ways. This

meant that nightlife became a central institution for queer life and as a vehicle for social and political networks in the era of pre-liberation. With history in mind, what can we say about the nightlife spaces today in post-liberation Copenhagen? I pose this question because visibility does not translate into safety or acceptance. Our nightlife spaces are often marred by differences in class, race, and gender expression – and this not only the story in Denmark but is a common tale spanning many gay-friendly metropolises that our kin flock to seeking solace and safety.  As societies become more comfortable with the integration of our cis-gay community, where does that leave everyone else still relegated to the margins in a volatile society? We have to

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It was Copenhagen Pride 2019 when I walked into the Group Therapy party hosted at Ved Siden Af, and from the crowd, to the performance art, to the music – it was a sense of home. From the “we don’t party with the patriarchy” banner, to the check-in quiz by the door person, to the explicit safe space policies there was a palpable feeling of what this event was aiming to do and for whom. If you are meeting Group Therapy for the first time, they are a Copenhagen based collective putting on a series of therapeutic dancing sessions, where we can come together as a community and heal through movement. All ethnicities, sexualities, and genders are welcome. Consent is mandatory and phones are left off the dance floor!   Knowing the historical precedent of the underground in creating spaces for our chosen families – I wanted to gain an understanding of how Group Therapy works to foster this dynamic for members of our LGBTI+ community. I sat down for a queerversation with two of the organizers to talk about creating a space for those among us that do not feel like they are seen or reflected in post-cis gay liberation while keeping an eye on the future for the work that still needs to be done. 

remember that unlike other marginalized communities, we have the unique privilege of not being born into our own culture. We traverse our youth, and for some our adulthood, coming into our own sense of self. Most, if not all of us, have to seek our queer universe and family out. Nightlife and the underground often become the portal in which we can be transported into a world that can be inherently ours. Like many, I did not see myself represented in the mainstream queer culture nightlife – and I found myself magnetically pulled into the underground of Washington, D.C. I felt a space of joy where the dance floor and freedom of self-expression reigned supreme. And luckily, for many of us seeking out family, the queer underground has the superpower to transcend time and space. 

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A new wave: the emergence of the inclusive CPH underground In the late afternoon sun sitting along Sønder Boulevard, I met with Group Therapy organizers Morten Mechlenborg Nørulf and Carlo Molino. And they immediately agreed on one thing when I asked what drove the genesis of Group Therapy - something was missing.  For Carlo, a DJ whose music is grounded between classic house and disco,  “I love Copenhagen, but I felt that there was not a bridge between underground techno and mainstream queer pop vibes.”  Morten echoed Carlo’s longing for musical diversity in queer spaces that encompassed a wider variety and recalled on what it took to find that electronic environment in years past, 


“There was not a lot of room for diversity in music, so we had to go to other underground music scenes, which were not necessarily a queer-friendly space. It was dangerous to go to these spaces as minorities,” where Morten noted that security personnel and organizers were not attuned to what could make these events safe spaces for minorities. But it was the promise of good electronic music that brought them there.  “Some electronic events were happening around the Valby area, with Et Andet Sted,  it was very friendly, open-minded, thinking about the safety of women and queer people in those early concepts, having formulations of policies of no racism, no homophobia, this was something that they did a lot of at that time – but that whole area was gentrified” Morten continued. 

"Most, if not all of us, have to seek our queer universe and family out. Nightlife and the underground often become the portal in which we can be transported into a world that can be inherently ours." About three years ago, Et Andet Sted, switched names and locations to Ved Siden Af right in the city center and Group Therapy found its start as the soon to be collective. When asked about what drove Group Therapy’s principles in fostering an alternative to what

gay spaces already exist in Copenhagen, Carlo replied, “Cis gays are quite privileged, so we had discussions in the beginning and moved towards including all other communities within the LGBTQIA+ community - not just white gay men. We attract a lot of them, that is the perception of the event, but this is for our femme, trans, and non-binary friends.  They have much more of a need for these spaces than we do -when gay white cis men used to fight for acceptance and tolerance, they gained acceptance, now its non-binary and trans individuals fighting for acceptance.”

It takes a (queer) village… Morten and Carlo were quick to state that they are a part of a growing coalition of groups aimed at creating a safer more inclusive nightlife space for the LGBTI+ community including, Mainstream, DJ James Lotion, and the Malmö-Copenhagen collective known as SWEAT.  Morten:  “There are different parties and different promoters, but we work a lot together, it’s tight and cozy this family, each focusing on their own music style, crowd, they all pretty much have these same policies” Carlo:  “We also have to mention that the venue we work with, Ved Siden Af, has been very active in forming safer spaces policies.” Morten:  “It has been relatively easy for us, to start, with a venue like that where there are ideas about what is a good night going out in terms of safety and respectful behavior – we have our ambitions and it aligns with theirs” Carlo:  “We have been riding a wave together with other people when Ved Siden Af switched locations, and Club Mafia started the same time we did” Club Mafia, a consistent partner and presence at Group Therapy events, is a collective enforcing

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“It just made sense to us, you know we wanted to create a space for people to heal themselves through dance and through each other, in a space of freedom, of no fear, of no tomorrow” the individual's right to their own body and claiming space for diversity in Copenhagen nightlife, enforces safe space policies ensuring that there are consent and respect. And while we talked about how these collective works intimately together to within the underground queer music scene, our queerversation quickly honed in on the urban and political landscape that they all navigate. 

Culture for Who(m)? Morten and Carlo highlighted the recent formation of a group called CPH Free Promoters, where the goal is for event promoters to procure access to cultural funds and are working with other nightlife collectives in the aim that the Danish Parliament will recognize these collectives as promoters of culture – and access to sustaining funds in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic is a necessity where the cornerstone of these organizer’s businesses are dancefloors.  Morten:  “There are already critical voices of nightlife in Danish Parliament seeking to impose limits (on

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nightlife) – and it is important that we promoters, through this new organization – stand together and speak up – because that could be a problem in the future and then again with gentrification and having access to venues where we can throw events – because nightlife is culture and they need to recognize that in the municipality”.    Carlo:  “And again, maybe not so much for cis gay males, but all other parts of the LGBTQIA+ community – they need these cultural spaces too”.  This brought us into a wider discussion about the cishet normative perspective in terms of what the municipality denotes as culture and who has access to funds or privileges of other cultural groups. There might be a generational divide in getting politicians in the municipality to widen their view on what is culture for marginalized groups. Maybe this is not the culture they grew up with or it is not their inherent culture – but recognizing that this aspect of culture is just as valid, as the dominant cishet nightlife culture.  Copenhagen’s economic development of the


aspect of space, and who owns it, is a huge factor in the survival of these underground spaces that aim to serve the wider LGBTI+ community.   Morten:  “Finding queer spaces for underground music are getting harder and harder, we have to rent large spaces at quite expensive prices and it’s hard to afford that when you’re a small collective.”  

A Space for Healing & Representation While we spoke about the collection of experiences that brought them together and the opportunities and challenges on the horizon, it was impossible not to go back and consider the intent all this work started with. When asked about how the name of the collective came to be, Morten responded after much thought that they arrived at “Group Therapy”,  “It just made sense to us, you know we wanted to create a space for people to heal themselves through dance and through each other, in a space of freedom, of no fear, of no tomorrow”. (laughter)  As these emerging groups push and expand on creating a wider and more inclusive underground and nightlife, it goes beyond just policies for those of us who attend the events – it also extends to representation of talent. Active safer safe policies can allow diversity in who attends but seeing a range in representation in the musical talent is equally important and is something that Group Therapy and Ved Siden Af work together to do.   Morten:  “It’s important to remember where it all came from, history of electronic music - black people needing those spaces due to marginalization – and in terms of booking and talent, this is important, and it’s a good thing to remember in this country that is very white.”   During our queerversation, as Carlo and Morten spotlighted the other collective working in

unison across Copenhagen, it was hard not to envision all this work as a path forward for more progressive and inclusive nightlife policies – not only in our cis-gay spaces but also in our cishet venues as well. Allyship does not only exist in the daylight and the idea of post-liberation does not extend to everyone in our community. Carlo and Morten agreed that this is where a lot of the hard work needs to be done with many cultural gatekeepers in Danish nightlife who need to unlearn privileged perspectives regarding safety and security for their events.  It is easy to see nightlife and the underground as a monolith, but it has its layers and intricacies, and for us, as LGBTI+ citizens of the world, it has a unique historical precedent that affords many us of a moment of freedom not experienced or accepted elsewhere– one that connects us as a family through that unique atmosphere of dancing and glamour.  “The goal is not anymore an underground gay rave, it’s more like – I feel like we created a tiny community where it is everything” – Carlo.

Queersaurus Post-liberation: refers to the time period after the gay liberation – a social and political movement spanning from 1960s – mid 1980s Safe(r)/space(s): Venues, events or communities with a specific set of guidelines to avoid marginalization of guests. Underground: artistic or another social environment that exists outside and possibly in opposition to the dominant, recognized or established environment. Gatekeeping: when someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity.

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RISE OF THE

QUEER PHOENIX By Paulie Calderon-Cifuentes

PANDEMIC! RIGHT AHEAD!

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R  

ise and shine, fellow Queers. It’s time for your morning meditation, your bowl of oatmeal with berries, bananas, and fiber supplement, your daily skin-care routine, and then out to... Oh, wait a minute... It’s lockdown. Is the anxiety kicking in? Mine is. Do you miss your friends? I do. Are you crawling up your walls because you haven’t had a hook up in months? Guilty as charged. The times where queer people used to gather down on Studiestræde, in underground raves or cozy apartments around a raclette, fondue, and wine, seem far away in Dreamland.

But why has it been especially hard for queer people to experience this quarantine, I wonder. I want to go back to Harlem, New York, during the 1920s, where the ballroom culture originated, and the first houses were created. African American and Latin American Queers created the ballroom scene out of the necessity for a safe space. Queers that were being kicked out of their homes, neglected by their parents, rejected by society, found in these balls a place to shine, to be. We gathered and created our own families, to overcome loneliness, poverty, and fear. Eventually, during the ’80s and the ’90s, it was thanks to our queer-tight-bonds that we survived our first pandemic, HIV/AIDS. This

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infection took the lives of many of our brothers, sisters, and siblings, but it didn't manage to take away our liberty, our strength, and our pride. We rose like a fabulous Phoenix, spreading feathers of hope and resilience. So, when we are forced to distance from each other, we risk becoming ill, weak, and depressed. But let me remind you something: There is no familyhood more powerful than ours. We are the family we chose.

A new generation’s struggle Previous generations paid with blood, sweat, and tears for the freedom of living our sexualities and identities. And even when we fight, I want to believe that we have evolved to stand up for each other, regardless of what letter of the acronym we represent. Some might say that there is no such thing as an LGBTI+ community and they might have strong arguments for that claim. But when I was beaten up and raped in 2016 for being a naive gender fluid youngster in the city center of Copenhagen, I remember receiving the unconditional support from a lesbian couple that practically saved my life. I remember being surrounded by gay men every time I had to go to the police or the doctor or was feeling terrified and couldn't sleep. I remember other trans people mobilizing, so members of the parliament and the police would do their jobs and bring the perpetrator to justice. So, when the moment demands it, I believe that we can stand up for and protect each other. Is there still space for the more privileged ones to be self-critical? For sure. From race to gen-

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der, from class to disabilities, queer people must engage with self-criticism now more than ever and rise above our prejudices to build a stronger community and to protect the freedom that our ancestors have achieved for us. This pandemic will not tear us apart, but I want to make an alarm call today because it does represent a threat to our lifestyles. We can’t allow the system to erase us again. Hungary has passed a bill that ends recognition of transgender identities. There are reports in Uganda of increased homophobic and transphobic rhetoric. Latin American countries, like Colombia, have implemented lockdown strategies based on gender that have resulted in the harassment of transgender people in the street by other citizens, or by the police. And given the overload in the health systems, LGBTI+ people are being deprioritized, From HIV treatment and testing to gender-affirming therapies. I firmly believe that by uniting our community, as we have done several times before, we will be able to slow down and even prevent an outbreak of queerphobia. We inherited a safer version of the world for our community, and because of this, we have the responsibility to continue the fight without taking one single step back. WE OWE TO EACH OTHER TO STAND TOGETHER. And in my opinion, we must stand not just for our community, but for every person who needs it.

What we owe to each other But what degree of responsibility do queer people have towards a world that has historically tried to eradicate them, over and over again?


The German philosopher Immanuel Kant suggested in his doctrine ‘Transcendental Idealism’ that principles and values must be universal. To exemplify this, think that if you don’t want people to kill you, then you should not kill others. That’s another way of saying: Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you. This, however, doesn’t imply that we ought to stand up for each other. Transcendental idealism constrains Kant from providing an adequate account of degrees of responsibility to others because it doesn’t establish a contract between members of society. For Kant, at the end of the day, you either act entirely out of necessity or out of complete freedom. You do not take other’s necessities into the equation. Thomas Scanlon takes the Kantian premise of universal principles and values and evolves them into a new line of moral philosophy called Contractualism, where the moral compass is built based on "what we owe to each other". As a reference, check out the American TV show, The Good Place. For Scanlon, we owe each other NOT TO CAUSE EACH OTHER HARM. During a pandemic, for example, a simple act like staying home is a way to display morality. However, as mammals – gregarious animals that we are – we face the great necessity of social interaction. So, how do we find the perfect equilibrium between interdependency and independence? How do we reach the formula for not causing harm to others, and yet supply our basic human needs? I think that the answer lies in pain. As members of a community that has always been neglected, abused, and abandoned by the system, queer people could choose to turn their backs on

the world, or we could use the experiences from our past, and become the leaders and protectors of the most vulnerable members of our society. If we use the pain of our stories to encourage empathy, we can transform our suffering into kindness.

Queer up! To survive this pandemic, and the other catastrophes that are to come during this new decade (I’m looking at you, climate change), it is no mystery that we must rethink society as it is right now. From our economic system to our white-cis-heteronormative misogynistic and chauvinistic culture, we need to develop a culture that displays deep levels of empathy, kindness, and solidarity towards our natural and human resources. Only that way, might we be able to survive the economical and ethical crash that COVID-19 and climate change will cause. If you think about it, it’s as if we - Queers – have been training for the last century to be the fairies that spread the magical dust of love and hope. It is time to rise above our human nature once and again, and I honestly believe that this time, Queers should be leading the transformation. Queer-up people, Queer up.

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Photo: Jes Nijjer @jeskeepswimming

POETRY BY SYLVIA THOMAS Sylvia Thomas is from the Shawnee nation, a writer, spoken word artist, and advocate from the United States of America. Her work focuses on the LGBTI+ community, specifically the transgender and intersex communities. Sylvia works in HIV prevention and provides consultation to many organizations and businesses. You can follow Sylvia on social media under the name sheissylvia. To see Sylvia performing her poem, visit the YouTube channel of Copenhagen Pride.

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One night, I left my friends, and they wondered where I went. I wondered that too.

I thought about our past pulling and pushing our people In poverty and how it is still our present

It was supposed to be another night of being hypnotized by beautiful boys’ and their bodacious thighs while dancing all dumb and doubting danger while dosing drugs and drinking with strangers

I thought about lesbians living life loud and loving louder And gay men lusting in a crowd and liberating prouder Giving us each a bit of power.

But for the first time in a long time I had to stay home. Stay home and roam in a place that I’ve lived lies and told truths  Tonight which I confronted And could have control

I thought about how black and brown really bonded what we know as a rainbow.

Instead of collectively cheering with community I came back to my closet, I came back to wonder why I wandered away I came back to think  I thought about touch  And what it meant to be told you’re good enough with just our fingertips I thought about drag queens  demanding democracy and diluting drama. And giving the damned more damage.  I thought about Trans women as our death tolls rise like ticks and tocks We take our time and tell our truth  I thought about how bold our bodies were  Bumping and booming to each other ’s beats In a bustling building drenched in our sweat with heat  I feel baptized.  I thought about our lovers who leave and live their lives Not promising a tomorrow or next times

I thought about our first time we met to host a hug instead of a handshake because together we know our hearts are humble homes together.  I thought about how my closet,  Our closet  And how we keep our colorful clothes kept away with our courage Until you found yourself a key  Or a person Or a book Or a song  Or an article Or a magazine One thing is, one day, something set us free.  Free from failure to perform perfectly  Because what they see is wounds of skin Honey, we were born to be burned in It shows how everyday I’m flaming.  My love my sexuality my pride is something I will always be claiming. That night I left my friends To make amends with the odds and ends  I called this a weekend’s cleanse  The first step  I placed a mirror in my closet. And the last step was to be honest

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WE ARE FAMILY? LGBTI+ IDENTITY AND FAMILY IN FOUR FILMS By Anne Sophie Parsons & Maria Rathje

Family – can’t live with them, can’t live without them. Family dynamics are portrayed in widely different ways in LGBTI+ films, as exemplified here through The Bird Cage (1996), Theorem (1968), Saving Face (2004), and A Fantastic Woman (2017), but they all revolve around the question of inclusion and exclusion of LGBTI+ characters in family units, all in the same breath. Trigger warning: homophobia and transphobia

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Robin Williams and Nathan Lane in The Birdcage. Credit: Granamour Weems Collection

MIKE NICHOLS: THE BIRDCAGE (1996) “We are family,” the drag queens sing from the glittering stage of the Bird Cage, the club where the film The Birdcage (1996) begins. The film, like so many others, grapples with themes of family, shame, and erasure in an LGBTI+ context. In The Birdcage, Val, the son of the gay couple Armand and Albert, is marrying a girl from a conservative family and asks Armand to help win over his fiancée’s parents by pretending to be “normal,” i.e. neither gay nor the owner of the drag club downstairs. At first, Armand refuses to hide who he is to cater to the ideals of the conservative senator, but he eventually relents because he wants to help his son. The erasure which is necessary for Armand to fit into the world of a conservative senator’s daughter is all-encompassing. Though it starts with décor, it soon becomes clear that the main threat is Albert, Armand’s partner. Albert is too feminine to “pass,” and much of the film is spent by Armand plotting ways to hide him away and instead include Katharine, the woman who gave birth to Val. However, when Katharine fails to show up at the dinner, Albert dresses up in drag and passes as Val’s mother, impressing the senator with the conservative opinions.

It is made clear through comedy that the threat to the nuclear family, here, is a figment of the conservative imagination. However, the acts of erasure that are deemed necessary to cater to this worldview are interesting. The question of if and how to make oneself more palatable to a heteronormative world is one that Armand and Albert grapple with. They both want to support Val, but at what cost? Val recognises Armand and Albert as his parents and claims not to be ashamed of them, but it is hard not to notice that it is the gay couple who is expected to change to accommodate the senator. PIER PAOLO PASOLINI: THEOREM (1968) In Theorem (1968) by Italian provocateur director Pier Paolo Pasolini, an upper-class Milanese family disintegrates after the visitation of a young, handsome, mysterious man. The maid, the mother, the father, the son, and the daughter all fall under his charms and engage in sexual relations with him with psychological consequences for all of them as a result. Theorem sets out from the get-go to present the nuclear family as a normative stifling structure, which prohibits the characters from facing their own true selves, being constrained by

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societal conforms; the movie shows that there’s no functional family before or after the Visitor’s arrival as a queer revelation splinters the familial construction. Yet, queerness is not the inherent transgression, even though it is emphasised by lingering groin shots and piercing bedchamber eyes: Sexuality is the key to opening your eyes, and is portrayed as a world-changing event that propels the family members down different paths; a metaphorical veil has been removed from their eyes, where the state of the world is shown as the thing to revolt against, rather than sexuality in itself, be it in a heterosexual or homosexual context. In Theorem, the family members overthrow their original identities after The Visitor leaves. Is it chaos or freedom that the family finds? Pasolini’s art movie doesn’t deliver any clear answer to the question. Its interest is in showing the instability of what a family is – and how the family members are shocked to their core by the sexual meeting with the nameless Visitor as a symbolical and existential act that pulls out the rug from under their feet. ALICE WU: SAVING FACE (2004) In Saving Face (2004), queerness is not a revelation, but rather something to be kept quiet in order to fit in. The film, a rom-com by director Alice Wu, follows the successful Chinese American Dr. Wilhelmina ‘Wil’ Pang trying to balance her lesbian identity and the traditional lifestyle of the close-knit Chinese community in New York. She must house her overbearing mother, Gao, when Gao ends up pregnant out of wedlock. Both Wil and her mother must fight to keep up appearances in their own right, which comes to a head when Wil ends up embracing a new relationship with the ballerina Vivian. The theme of cultural shame permeates the movie in its double-edged nature; Chinese heritage defines the social and communal spirit, but only offers a narrow way of being “right” – both the closeted Wil and her mother are equally unable to live up to the ideal of the perfect daughter. Wil’s mother is aware that Wil is a les-

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bian but keeps setting her up with men. Turning a blind eye on Wil’s homosexuality is a way to brush a slight under the carpet – to save face. The need to be out versus being accepted is Wil’s ultimate dilemma, which positions her between two poles that are presented as her core tasks to combine. Saving Face offers a humorous and tongue-in-cheek take on an otherwise serious topic. The movie ends on a happy, campy note where Wil comes out and repairs her relationship with her mother, showing that no one can uphold facades throughout their life without compromising themself. SEBASTIÁN LELIO: A FANTASTIC WOMAN (2017) In A Fantastic Woman (2017), the family of Marina’s deceased partner, Orlando, violently excludes her from his funeral and tries to erase her from his life. The film shows Marina trying to navigate the loss of Orlando and the hate and shame that his family wants to pile onto her. Marina is unapologetic and secure in her identity as a trans woman, but Orlando’s family continually questions and condemns it, even harassing Marina and committing a violent attack against her. She is bullied into leaving Orlando’s apartment and kept out of the funeral arrangements. In this film, the family unit is overwhelming and exclusive; Marina is excluded from it both because of her trans identity and her status as an outsider, while Orlando is forcefully kept inside the family even after his death. The cis-heteronormative family becomes a powerful, destructive force in Marina’s life, but the film shows glimpses of Marina’s chosen family, especially in her singing teacher, who is both a father figure and a therapist to her as well as a friend who encourages her to make the leap from nightclub performer to classical singer. And this is A Fantastic Woman’s final conclusion: Marina’s triumph in maintaining her integrity and finding a way to say goodbye to Orlando, scaring the family into giving her dog back, and finally closing on a scene where she belts out a classical aria in a theatre.


Daniele Vega in "A Fantastisk Woman (2017). Copyright Sony Pictures

All these films present LGBTI+ people as a threat to the cis-heteronormative family. Even so, the main issue in these films is not that the LGBTI+ people are unwilling to coexist peacefully with(in) the nuclear family, but rather that the nuclear family rejects and excludes them, often violently. A dichotomy emerges, between being out and proud – and therefore excluded – or caving in to pressure and trying to hide your identity to blend in. A pressure, that many LGBTI+ people know all too well.

In these four films, the erasure of LGBTI+ people is necessary to uphold the status quo of the (cis)heteronormative family unit. The films grapple with this erasure, and with the question of who should be erased and by whom. However, the films also show that the effort to hide your true self is in vain and that the need to be part of a family, chosen or otherwise, is intrinsically human.

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MY INTERNET FAMILY by Lee Ravn Kristensen

When you feel like you don’t fit in in the world around you, be it due to who you are or what you like, it is invaluable to find an accepting community – even one that’s spread around the world. This is Lee’s story about finding a family in the online universe

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guess I’ve always been a bit of an outsider. I love video games, comic books, and Dungeons and Dragons. I spend most of my days indoors in front of my computer, alone in my apartment with my cats, Darth Vader poster on the wall, and Batman logo on my sheets. When I was a child, I was bullied relentlessly. The most common thread to pick at was my unusual hobbies. I was a nerd and a “tomboy”, and I was alone: an easy target for bored kids with something to prove. Except it wasn’t just the kids. It was my family as well. “Wouldn’t you rather like something normal?”   “You can’t live your entire life in a fantasy world.”   “Don’t you have any real hobbies?”

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I learned to be ashamed of my interests, but there was nothing I could do about it. I liked what I liked, and I just learned not to talk about it. It became like a dirty secret everyone knew, but no one talked about, and it hurt, deeply. My family, who was supposed to love me unconditionally, didn’t. They made fun of me, but only because “they were worried others might make fun of me”. That reasoning didn’t help my budding anxiety disorder.

Faraway friendships When I was 15, I realized I was gay - and I was terrified. I had this idea that of course my family loved me and would accept me no matter what, but that hadn’t been my experience in the past. If something as harmless as reading comic books was a shock to their “normal” world that they felt


the need to correct my behavior, then what would my sexuality mean to them? Would I be further ostracized for another thing I couldn’t change? The first person I came out to, I’ve never actually met face to face. I met Jim through a game we both played online. He’d referred me to a message board where other people who played the game would chat, both about the game itself, but also other games and real life. I found a lot of kindred spirits on that forum, mostly around my age, but there were a few younger, and older. There was even a grandfather! Jim was a father of two from Liverpool, and he played the game with his oldest daughter. I didn’t even mean to tell him I was gay, at least it wasn’t what I had set out to do that day, but he casually mentioned he was going to the pub to meet his buddy’s new boyfriend, and the offhand mention of a gay couple just set me off, and I told him. He wasn’t surprised I was gay, he told me, which threw me for a loop. He said he’d suspected for about a year now but wasn’t going to say anything, because it didn’t seem like I was ready yet. Then he threw a second curveball: A lot of the people I was talking to on the forum every day were LGBTI+. And I just had no idea.

Growing up online I grew up and into an adult while on this forum, and the other users grew with me, and suddenly I had all these friends who were struggling to be

adults right alongside with me. We became each other’s support through a terrifying time of deciding what we wanted to do with our lives, going to school to realize those dreams, and suddenly having to file taxes. The internet has grown a lot since I was 15, and it’s never been easier to keep in contact. At first, it was just text, but these days everyone has a microphone, and we talk daily. We’ve moved from forums to Skype, to Discord, but it’s the same people I talk to, my “Internet Family,” I call them. For over 10 years, I’ve known these people, shared hopes, and dreams, shared a drink from across the world on a Friday night, and if that isn’t family, then I don’t know what is. If I don’t show up for a few days, someone checks up on me, if I’ve mentioned going somewhere, someone will ask how it went when I come back. When I experience something exciting, my first thought is to tell my online friends, and with a phone in my pocket, now I can. I have anxiety and depression. Something I’ve struggled with for years now, and something I’ve found too many young people suffer from as well. When I told my biological family I was depressed, the most common reply was “Why didn’t you say something if you were struggling?” and “It’s no wonder when you sit on your computer all day and never go outside.” I understand the sentiment, the concern that sparks these responses, but they never help – quite the opposite. I just became that little child who had to be afraid of their own existence again. When I talk to my internet family, I never feel like I have to hide. I don’t have to tone down who I am to “seem more normal” to the world around me. I can express my feelings and opinions, and I receive honesty and compassion in return. This summer, I visited an online friend across the country, and without any prompting from me, he cleared his bedroom so I could hide in there if I experienced sensory overload or just needed a break. My grandmother sometimes still asks why I spend so much time in the bathroom at her house.

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Long (social) distance These days with social distancing, it’s been especially important for me to have the network I do. For a long time, I couldn’t visit my grandmother or go to work, and I still don’t meet people as often as I used to, and definitely not in the same way as before. But one thing that remains largely unchanged is my online network. We’ve arranged movie nights before the virus, but we’ve never had quite as many as we’ve had this summer. Every week we’ll get together three or more people to watch a movie online together, and that has really helped with the feeling of isolation. I communicate with my Internet Family the way I always have, but I’ve been so fortunate that I know how to use all these online tools to get together, and I’ve found myself helping a

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few of my “real life” friends and family members with how to join a Zoom call or use the Discord client to speak to multiple people at once. Recently, my grandmother said to me “So this is what you’ve been doing on the computer”, with a sense of understanding in her voice that nearly made me cry. It’s taken a long time, but it seems like people are getting around to the idea of having more of an online presence and the importance of having a network, regardless of whether it’s online or face to face. Having my Internet Family has saved my life, and with them, I’ve found love and understanding beyond my wildest dreams.


VOLUNQUEERS: THE PRIDE FAMILY By Mariya Alfa Staugaard Photos ŠRenatoManzionna

The volunteers during Copenhagen Pride Week are known as volunqueers. All it takes to volunteer is a profound respect for our values and the community between shared by LGBTI+ people and as well as allies.

Copenhagen Pride Week would not be what it is today, had it not been for the usually large gathering of volunteers who choose to spend their time and energy both before and during the event. Pouring beers, selling rainbow flags, managing security, or something entirely different, each and every volunteer is an important part of the unity that is Copenhagen Pride. For many of the volunteers, the community is a big part of the experience to do volunteer work for Copenhagen Pride. At the Copenhagen Pride Week 2020, a significantly lower amount of volunteers was needed during the changed circumstances, but those who came reported that the spirit of solidarity was intact. We talked with a few of them, on a rainy afternoon, about what it means to them to be a volunqueer.

Carsten (he/him) - Host in the Human Rightsprogramme: "I am a host in the Human Rights -programme and have been for three consecutive years. My role is making sure events are properly set up and that the guests are well-received. To me, being a volunteer means I have found meaning with Copenhagen Pride. The Human Rights assembly

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aspect itself means that you can reach some certain groups with subjects, which is not possible in everyday life - even if it is not something you know about. All Danes should be forced to watch at least two debates - of their own choice! There is a big sense of community in volunteering. This year especially, as the whole Pride-family are gathered at the city hall square, and that makes the world of a difference. The coolest thing about volunteering is the community and to make a small difference in the world."

Kamille (she/her) - Pride Store: "I have been a volunteer for Copenhagen Pride for the last three years. This year, I have sold merchandise at the Pride Store. It has gone really well, and we are selling a lot. I think it is important to help out. It is an important cause, and because I’m bisexual, I believe it is important to show your support and be a part of that community, which I’m not so involved within my daily life. It is an awesome community and you get to know many lovely people. We are not just volunteers - we are joined together for a common cause. The best thing about being a volunteer is witnessing the support from other people. Both people who are not a part of the community, but also LGBTI+ people whom you see waving their flags at our usual parade. It is amazing to watch people come in and be curious, also generations, which are not always so visible. Today, a woman came in wanting to learn more about pansexuality. It is great to see people who don’t know much about this field come in, wanting to learn about it."

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Nuka (he/him) - Safety: "This year, it’s the third time I volunteer at the Copenhagen Pride. At the moment, we are counting the number of people coming and leaving the square. We do this in order to make sure that the number of people agrees with security restrictions, which is important. The maximum number of people permitted in the square is 450 guests and 50 personnel. I like volunteering for Copenhagen Pride. It is a small organisation, but with many visitors. It is a good experience when people smile at you and when people are having fun at the square. I meet many people, both newcomers and regulars, and make sure people are going in the right direction." Karlsson (he/him) Runner: "It is my second time volunteering at Copenhagen Pride. I function as a runner at the square. My job is emptying the bins and getting food and water. I also go the rounds and assist people around the square. The community is very important to me, it is good. It is fun when you can tease one another. And the tasks - you are able to try out new things which you’ve never done before. It is nice to meet new friends whom you can trust and confide in. And it is awesome to meet new people - whoever they are."


Lars (he/him) - Bartender: "My role in Copenhagen Pride is tending the bar. I have also always appreciated providing good service and seeing people smile. During the regular Pride, I usually function as bar supervisor. Collectively, I have worked for the Pride for almost 14 years now, and I have enjoyed it so much – the community is amazing. To me, volunteering for Copenhagen Pride means everything. There was one year, where I thought of going as a guest, but ended up volunteering anyway. I could not stand not being here, I feel like a part of the Pride! It is a community where we can support each other. We can all talk about our experiences, both as gay people, but we have also had many parents to LGBTI+ people join in and have heard their stories. My first year here, I stood next to a mother and her son, both are still a part of Copenhagen Pride today. It is amazing to see parents who are so supportive of the community. We have come a long way and we should be proud of that."

veteran volunteers who look forward to coming back. Even though we do not talk to each other all year round, the jargon is back on track as soon as we enter the square. There is a real sense of solidarity, we help and support each other, wherever we can. This year, there have been a lot fewer of us than usual. Many core volunteers have not been here this year. In return, we have witnessed many newcomers, which is just lovely. So, it has been different, but also great. Many of our volunteers are a part of the LGBTI+ community in their daily lives, so they already have a sense of belonging. I hope they feel well-treated and appreciated because this is important to us. Furthermore, it is just awesome to see so many different people who meet and get to know each other, making a few wacky friendships along the way. I believe it’s important that we find space for all volunteers. We are a diversity festival and it is our obligation to find space for people, including those, who have trouble finding space elsewhere."

Thinking of volunteering? At WorldPride next year there will be plenty of opportunity to join the Pride community. Annemette (she/her) Head of Volunteers: "I am the head of volunteers at Copenhagen Pride. We are lucky, as many of our volunteers are

Write to volunteer@copenhagen2021.com to learn more.

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“THE LGBT PROFILE HAS GIVEN US THE GIFT OF A COMMUNITY OF VALUES” by Liv Rossander

‘Slottet’ (eng. ‘The Castle’), Denmark's first and only LGBTI+ nursing home, is celebrating its anniversary. After five years in rainbow colours, warden Henriette Højsteen is reminiscing on a weekday that is, most of all, outrageously ordinary.

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"Hi!" With a warm smile, a curly-haired woman steps out of Slottet’s impressive front door. She looks like someone who has smiled all her life, and in her curls, white stripes mix with darkness. She gestures towards a nearby park bench and sits down at one end. No doubt, this is Henriette Højsteen's home ground. We are sitting in front of Slottet. A nursing home that, in addition to having an extraordinarily wonderful placement in a park in Nørrebro, is actually like most other nursing homes. Apart from the fact that it is Denmark's only LGBTI+ nursing home, and purposefully works to ensure that LGBTI+ people are also an integral part of the nursing home community. For that same reason, it is nothing short of appropriate that the bench we are sitting on is painted in all the colours of the rainbow. In a few days, Slottet can celebrate its fifth anniversary as an LGBTI+ nursing home, and even though the media coverage was massive when the nursing home reopened in 2015, it

hasn’t affected their everyday lives, says Henriette Højsteen, who is Slottet’s daily supervisor.

Sniggered at ‘norm-critique’ "The LGBT profile has first and foremost given us the gift of a community of values," she says. "We have always reflected the diversity of the citizens of Copenhagen and Nørrebro, so we have had many different people here, but it has brought Slottet together." All employees have been on a course on what it means to have an LGBTI+ background when you are older; what times and major events the residents have lived through. Slottet is one of five profile nursing homes in the City of Copenhagen. The others, however, have somewhat different profiles - such as "food" or "music". To begin with, our reaction was, "Well, we accept everyone, why should we take a course on LGBT?" But when you come to the course, you become more aware that there are things you haven’t thought about because you are straight and part of the majority,” says Henriette Højsteen,

Photo: ©RenatoManzionna

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who also says that it is actually the norm-critical approach that is paramount to their work with LGBTI+ individuals. "We sniggered a bit at first – 'norm criticism' – but you have to be aware of the norms and the fact that you can't impose them on other people. You have to wipe the board clean and welcome the person." There is a special focus on the way Henriette Højsteen talks about meeting people at eye level. There is no doubt that this work is important to her. An elderly gentleman, Jørgen, once came up to Henriette and told her that whereas he had only felt tolerated elsewhere, he felt accepted at Slottet. "It was something that really touched me," says Henriette Højsteen, pausing the flow of stories and looking out into the garden. In her belt hangs a name tag with a rainbow on it. "The artefacts help to remember to meet people at eye level," she says, holding out the name tag. For that reason, there are also rainbows to be found almost everywhere at the Castle. "They are reminders that there are many ways to live your life," says Henriette Højsteen. “You have some prejudices with you, you know. When the lesbian resident wants to drink tea with her contacts to get to know them, they think she is hitting on them. People with other sexualities are given some other motives,” she says and emphasizes the point by putting two fingers on my arm.

Unequal health put the lives of the LGBTI+ elderly at risk One would think that Denmark's only nursing home with an LGBTI+ profile would be densely populated by LGBTI+ people. At present, Henriette Højsteen counts three. Due to Coronavirus, Slottet has not been able to take in new residents, so even though they have room for 110 residents, they currently only have 51. However, that is not the reason, says Henriette Højsteen – it is not unusual that they

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are but a handful of LGBTI+ people at Slottet. "Well, if you estimate that about 10% of a cohort is LGBT, it actually fits very well. Already, only 10% of a cohort goes to a nursing home, so a lot of people manage on their own, ”she says. Henriette Højsteen does not believe that the number of LGBTI+ people is important. The most important thing is that people here are guaranteed that they can be 100% themselves, and not "crawl back into the closet" when they come to a nursing home – a phenomenon that is otherwise well known in LGBTI+ circles.


LGBTI+ PEOPLE, THEIR FAMILIES AND LOVED ONES CAN NOW GET APPROVED COUNSELING IN LGBT+ DENMARK by Sidsel Sofie Poulsen, LGBT+ Danmark

In July, Denmark got its first accredited LGBTI+ counseling, when LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling in Copenhagen received a big approval of quality from RådgivningsDanmark (Eng: Counseling Denmark). One of the users of the counseling says: “You feel very welcome there, even though you are so vulnerable.”

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very Thursday at 18-20 o’clock, LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling is open. Here LGBTI+ people and their loved ones can either show up at the NGO’s offices in Aarhus or Copenhagen, call, send an email or chat online with the counselors about anything they might

be struggling with. That has been an option for several years, but in July 2020 the counseling became accredited and fulfills the requirements for counseling offers set by the branch organization RådgivingsDanmark. Therefore, it is now documented that the counseling is high quality.

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Photo: Ulla Munch-Petersen

The LGBT+ Denmark counseling deals with all kinds of questions about gender, sexuality and body and therefore has a specific audience. ”Many people think that in 2020’s Denmark it isn’t particularly troublesome to break the norms surrounding gender, gender expression and sexuality. It’s an understanding that we in the counseling also find in the users, who therefore can find it very individualizing and double shameful that they or their family members’ gender identity or sexuality is causing them difficulties.” That is how Julie Breinegaard, who coordinated the

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process behind the accreditation from LGBT+ Denmark’s side, describes one of the reasons counseling specifically for LGBTI+ people is still important. If you are a prospective family, parent of a transgender child, or something third, you can get regular and legal counsel in navigating the jungle of Danish laws regarding LGBTI+ people’s rights. There is also room for questions about breaking the social norms as a family and how you can best support and help each other with staying true to yourselves.


“Many people think that in 2020’s Denmark it isn’t particularly troublesome to break the norms surrounding gender, gender expression and sexuality. It’s an understanding that we in the counseling also find in the users, who therefore can find it very individualizing and double shameful that they or their family members’ gender identity or sexuality is causing them difficulties.”

A unique counseling with a specific target audience – and room for family related questions One of the reasons that a specific LGBTI+ counseling space is important is also that the target users can experience barriers when seeking help with other concerns, as they can be nervous about how they will be met as an LGBTI+ person, tells Julie Breinegaard. “We work norm critically in the counseling. That means we can support people in turning the feeling of them being wrong into

talking about what norms are making them ask themselves these questions.” Julie continues: “We can also tell them that they are not alone, because we have spoken with many others in the exact same situation. That can be a huge relief.” In the accreditation, RådgivningsDanmark has assessed LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling in Copenhagen on a number of parameters, which secures that the counseling has a high standard and that the counseling’s users can feel safe in knowing that laws and ethical guidelines are being respected. In the accreditation, there was

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a focus on the teaching of new counselors, and that the counselors use their own experiences as LGBTI+ people while still remaining professional and accommodating the individual user’s needs. Since both the users and RådgivningsDanmark are satisfied with the way the counseling is carried out, it signifies that the offer is working as intended.

Counseling for families with transgender children or on their journey to their own family Julie Breinegaard explains that it changes over time which areas the users need to talk about: “The volunteering counselors have in the later years experienced a rise in the number of users wanting to talk about the trans-area, where the counselors can assist with conversations about identity and relations, and counseling in the different possibilities regarding the medical area, as well as legal matters.” The counseling has also seen a rise in parents to children who don’t identify as their assigned gender or in some other way break with the norms regarding gender and gender expression. One of the things they seek advice for, is how they as a family can support their children in being who they are and how they should handle the reactions from the rest of the world. Julie also explains that: ”We get a lot of questions regarding family laws, for example marriage, second-parent adoption and rainbow families in different versions, all which our attorneys help them with.” This means that LGBTI+ people in the counseling, aside from getting help with their personal struggles with breaking the norms, also can get help to navigate within the laws when two become three or four become five.

Julie Breinegaard points out, that the association want to use their experiences to also get LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling in Aarhus accredited in cooperation with the volunteer counselors there. At the same time, they are working to establish new offers of counseling in regions that are lacking. In other words: it doesn’t look like there will be lower quality or less offers for LGBTI+ people in the future, in fact it’s the opposite.

Information about the counseling LGBT+ Denmark’s counseling offer confidential counseling for LGBTI+ people and others in need of counseling about sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, including legal matters for LGBTI+ people. The team of counselors consist of around 10 people, all working as volunteers. It is open every Thursday between 18-20 and you can call their phones, email, chat online or show up in person at LGBT+ Denmark’s offices in Aarhus or Copenhagen. Århus: Vester Allé 8a 3. Sal, 8000 Århus C Tlf. 86 13 19 48 / 22 30 19 48 raadgivningaarhus@lgbt.dk Copenhagen: Vestergade 18E, 4. sal, 1456 København K Tlf. 33 13 19 48 raadgivningen@lgbt.dk The counseling is open for everyone and free. Read more at: lgbt.dk/radgivning/

The future brings more accreditation of more counseling offers It has been a big project to get the counseling in Copenhagen accredited, with having all parts of the work approved for quality and documented.

Photo: Ulla Munch-Petersen 58

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FROM MEXICO TO LONDON: LATIN AMERICAN TRANS ACTIVIST REFLECTS ON HER CHILDHOOD by Laura Valentina Cortés Sierra

Trigger Warning: This article discusses violence against transgender people

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andance or Candy Chávez is a Mexican activist who has been fighting for trans women’s rights for more than 6 years. She comes from Jalisco, Guadalajara, where around 12 to 15 trans women are murdered a year. Candy has received threats and experienced physical attacks, which ultimately led her to decide to leave Mexico. She had to put her activist role of documenting the violence against trans women on hold, which she otherwise did in collaboration with the Latin American and Caribbean Network of Trans People (REDLACTRANS):

“I suffered threats from several powerful people and I preferred to leave before exposing my family or myself more.” She moved to London looking for new opportunities, where she is still involved in activism. Latin America, as she states, is a dangerous region for trans women. With her confident voice she introduces the spine-chilling result of her research: the life expectancy of a trans woman in Latin America is between 35 and 41 years. "Most of us die from violence, bad surgery, or poor medical treatment.” Her jaw tightened as

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the experiential views from the trans community. Emphasizing we are not evil, we are not sick, we are different; but we are not wrong for who we are. A huge part of my youth in Mexico, I lived with the anxiety of not identifying with whom I was meant to be, and not knowing what was happening. Society was always emphasizing that they were going to put me in a psychiatric hospital, that being trans was a mental illness.

she gave the figures. "In the last 5 years, nearly 300 trans women have been murdered in Mexico, at least one a week.� In this interview, Candy opens a window to her childhood and adolescence. Both from her experience and her opinions, she highlights some of the issues trans kids have to face in Latin America.

What is your perception of trans childhoods and the role the media plays in it? Since I was five, I knew I was a woman. To talk about trans childhoods is to talk about the recognition of children's rights. Of children who are not comfortable with the gender that society wants to impose on them. Of children that should be allowed to recognize their own gender. Talking about trans childhoods is very important. The media doesn't talk about it. They exclude or stigmatize it by saying that we want to impose a gender ideology on children. We are not an ideology, we are not an idea, we are an identity. I believe that the media should approach trans issues with much more respect, speaking from

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"The trans community seeks the inclusion of trans children, so that one day they feel comfortable in this world."

Then you start to live in fear. If we make being transgender visible, we make the new generations understand it as something normal. If we educate children outside this rhetoric of assault and violence, in a sphere of respect, affection and self-recognition, then we are going to raise happy kids free of judgment. Violence is something we learn, discrimination and stigma is something we learn. We are not born with them; they are taught to us.

What can parents or guardians do to create a childhood that is as safe as possible? As parents, educate yourself. If you sense it, or your children at some point tell you that they feel like a different gender than they’ve been assig-


ned, don't judge. Because children don't do things to be judged. Often, they don’t even understand that they are being judged. They understand what they feel. Before scandalizing, analyze it. Give the child the peace of mind that they can count on you. Investigate, talk about the topic. If you want to go to a therapist, do it. Look for a specialist to support you, but not the children, they are fine because they know what they want. The one who needs to understand this process is you. From there, perhaps the child chooses gender reaffirmation, and then you have the task of understan-

ding and supporting them in a transition that will be less painful and more affirmative as a result of your support. Even for parents without LGBTI+ children, it is important that you learn about these topics, for instance through organizations working in the area.

What is your position on gender stereotypes? It is very harmful to give objects or colors a gender because they are stereotypes. A trans girl can

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I am an activist because the first time I looked for work as a trans woman they told me that my only job was going to be on a corner selling my body. I understood just as it happened to me, that it happens to many – many trans women have been deprived of their rights. Then something woke up in me, a feeling of screaming “I want to do something for others” like cars and there's nothing wrong with it. That a girl plays with cars or a boy plays with dolls has nothing to do with their gender identity or sexual orientation. All those are false associations we create, and they are still huge in Latin America. When we stop forcing those associations, we are going to allow children to freely develop their abilities and happily explore their capabilities.

What is your message to trans children? We have to find ways to let them know that we exist, and that the adult trans community seeks the inclusion of trans children so that one day they feel comfortable in this world. Because there

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is nothing more terrible than living a childhood, adolescence and youth pigeonholed in something that you are not and not being able to express who you really are out of fear of being assaulted. I say this from personal experience.

Why a life in activism? I am an activist because the first time I looked for work as a trans woman, they told me that my only job was going to be on a corner selling my body. I understood just as it happened to me, that it happens to many – many trans women have been deprived of their rights. Then something woke up in me, a feeling of screaming “I want to do something for others.” I do not want to speak from my position of privilege. I have a good family, I have not had to be immersed in the world of sex work and all these things that many trans women are involved in because they are neglected, stigmatized, physically and emotionally attacked or left behind in the social world. I have had the luck that many have been deprived of. I know the risks, I know that at some point I may have to be a little more controlled, but I will never stop.


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Profile for Copenhagen Pride

HeartCore - The Official Copenhagen Pride Magazine (english)  

The 2nd edition of Copenhagen Pride's official magazine!

HeartCore - The Official Copenhagen Pride Magazine (english)  

The 2nd edition of Copenhagen Pride's official magazine!

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