Come Together

Photo: Rikke Høyen

When community is strength 

By Lars Henriksen (He/Him)

”At last night’s festivities, the courtyard was jammed with people who would in lewd terms shout that the participants were homosexual persons, and in the room several couples in male attire were observed kissing one another while at the same time persons of the male sex were dancing with one another in the most indecent of ways … At the party, the majority of those present were ladies. Menfolk in disguise, who would not only in their dress, but also in their demeanor share a disappointing resemblance to women.”

“But I remember that we danced around and had a really good feeling of contributing to the cause. I am dancing with one of the others named Finn, and we are a score of us or so, I believe. And adding to that are those who arrive to look at us. And we talk to some of them, and they express diverse attitudes towards it [the ban]. But mostly they were, as I remember it, positive in their positions and found that we were justified in protesting the discrimination, we experienced.”

The first quote is from a police report dating to 1923 and pertains to parties in the social club, NEKKAB, which would the following year be dissolved by the Supreme Court of Denmark an be declared illegal, as it was alleged to “strive to be the haunt of and connection between men of a homosexual propensity.” The second quote is from Ole – one of the men who participated in a 1971 dance action at City Hall Square to end the dance ban, which deemed public same sex dancing between men unlawful. 

From a 50 years distance they both tell the same story of the importance of community and the alliances as the foundations for the fight for freedom. Alone you feel vulnerable, but shoulder to shoulder with other LGBTI+ persons (or whichever term we at different times have used for ourselves and others) we are able to shout out loud, be who we are, and protest against discrimination. 

The club of the outcasts

In 2023 – on the centenary of when the first cries to battle in the courtyard at Jagtvej were heard by disgruntled governing powers, we convene again in City Hall Square to mark Pride and to stand up for a society with room for diversity where those who stand out are not forced into hiding or locked behind bars. This is the red thread of our movement: that together, we stand strong. 

This realization was at the root of the riots in New York City in 1969 that birthed the Pride movement. And it was the same inspiration that filled Axel Lundahl Madsen in 1948 at the Midsummer solstice bonfire in Kildeparken in Aalborg. That we will no longer accept oppression and fear – isolated from each other. We must form groups, organisations, talk to one another, party together, forge bonds to know that however cruelly the world may treat us, we constitute an alternative – the club of the outcasts – that is strong enough to unite us and solid enough to endure opposition. 

Come together – walk together

”We are here – and we will be here forever,” Helmer Fogedgaard wrote in an editorial in Vennen [The Friend] in 1949. “We’re here, we’re queer – get used to it!” the cry sounded in the Christopher Street Remembrance Day Marches in the 1970’s – a cry that resounds globally in Pride marches also today. A clear and conscious reminder, that we are more than single and isolated, but a movement that moves people, opinions and hearts. We march together and we stand and walk together. We have each other’s backs. 

COME TOGETHER, the theme of this year, the battle cry of Copenhagen Pride 2023 urges us all to show up, step up and and join – and resist, to place community before the individual and others before self. 

The LGBTI+ community faces opposition all over the globe of a kind that is both internal and external. Strong outside forces oppose us. We are familiar with them. Now we also encounter a 5th column who, under the guise of fighting for the rights of some of us, challenge the very fabric of our community that has strengthened us and create a climate of mistrust between us as they claim it legitimate to want to limit certain LGBTI+ individuals’ rights, while claiming to promote selective other groups in our community. 

We will not allow ourselves to be divided and thereby ruled. 

This is the simple message – the resounding battle cry from the activists of the past: 

Stand united!

Come together!

Community is strength!


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