Five Qs for the chairperson

A whole new Pride

Lars Henriksen has been chairperson of Copenhagen Pride since 2013. Here, he discusses what the new circumstances will mean for Copenhagen Pride Week 2020 and what has been learned during the planning process.

What can we expect from Copenhagen Pride Week this year?

First and foremost: that it will be different than usual! We’re working with a number of digital formats that are new to us. Hopefully, this will give us valuable experience we can use in the coming years.

It’s been important to make sure that Copenhagen Pride is still visible in the cityscape, so we’ve maintained a presence at City Hall Square. We’ve gathered the Human Rights Program and Culture Program in four large tents, with full live streaming, as well as the chance for the audience to be physically present, if allowed. The program will be running from Monday to Friday.

Together with Agenda Group, our most important partner in that regard, we’ve also created City Hall Square as a digital universe, so you can participate from home if you’re not comfortable showing up in real life. An advantage of that is that people outside of Copenhagen will be able to join.

Our outdoor concerts at City Hall Square will not be possible this year, so again we’ve dived into the digital possibilities and created an amalgamation of the artists who would have played during the week, for one concert on Saturday August 22nd.

It’s been our wish to execute as much of the program as possible and to direct attention towards what’s most important to our community, and to shine a light on our challenges and lives.

What’s been important for you during planning?

We’ve wanted to create formats that make it possible to participate and that create a sense of activism.

And most importantly, we wanted to create something that shows that we care for our participants in an uncertain time. It hasn’t been our goal to reach the limit of the ban on gathering; on the contrary, we want to show that we are responsible and take all possible considerations for the safety of our participants. 

Why not just cancel and save your efforts for next year?

There are several reasons for this. The first, and most important, is that we’re not just a festival, but a rights movement, and we cannot pause the fight for LGBTI+ rights for a year.

Looking at the world around us, we see that several governments have exploited the Corona crisis to pass legislation that limit the lives and safety of LGBTI+ people. We cannot stand idly by. We also have a great sense of responsibility towards the Danish LGBTI+ community. We know that Copenhagen Pride Week is an energy boost for many, as well as a way to let off steam and gain confidence. We cannot postpone that for a year either.

Lastly, there’s the consideration for ourselves as an organization. We receive a grant from the city of Copenhagen, which hinges on an agreement that describes certain goals we must meet. It is a responsibility and a commitment we take very seriously. We want to show that we understand that with a municipal grant comes a responsibility towards the citizens. 

If we cancelled, we’d run the risk of having to pay back all funds, both from the city and from sponsors, which would have meant a de facto shutdown of the organization for two years and dismissal of our staff – which would take away our ability to execute other activities and carry out political lobbying. It was simply not an option to cancel.

Isn’t it much cheaper to create Copenhagen Pride Week in the format you’re using this year?

If there’s one thing we’ve learned from this process, it’s that it isn’t at all cheaper to work with digital formats. There is a huge amount of technology, software and developing involved and at the same time, we’re faced with less funds than usual.

But when the need is greatest, help is often closest. It’s been amazing to realize how much knowledge and experience we have within our organization, and how constructively and positively everyone has reacted to the task of switching things up in the 11th hour.

At the same time, we haven’t been able to get a cent from the compensation schemes offered in the wake of the Corona crisis. They depend on a number of requirements that we don’t meet. To get salary compensation, your employees must have been sent home without work, which wasn’t possible for us if we were going to create a completely new Copenhagen Pride Week in a matter of weeks. To get basic expenses covered, you must have expenses for at least 12.500 kroner a month, which we don’t. We’re very conscious of expenses as an organization, so most of our funds go back into the community. Lastly, we’re a free festival where everyone can participate without fees, so we’re not faced with lost income for tickets or repayment for the audience. We are, however, faced with loss of income on drinks and merchandise, which isn’t covered.

This means that we’re depending on everyone’s support, and for everyone to buy our wrist band, since it’s now an income we rely on more than ever.

What are you most excited about for Copenhagen Pride Week 2020?

I’m looking forward to seeing if digital formats increase and extend the possibilities for participation in Copenhagen Pride Week.

It has also been touching to experience how many of our partners immediately came to us, when we went out with the news that we were working with digital formats, and asked ‘how can we help you?’ This goes to show that Copenhagen Pride is a community that many people take responsibility for. I couldn’t be more grateful for the organization we are, for all our incredible volunteers who have gone into this task with positivity and passion.

And I’m looking forward to us raising the rainbow flag over Copenhagen again this year!

How can you help?

  • Participate: Either physically, to the extent that we will be allowed to gather in August. For instance in the debates at City Hall Square. Or digitally, as described in this article.
  • Become an activist from home: Hang the various flags of our community out of your window, set up viewing parties, upload pictures and messages on Copenhagen Pride’s platforms and ask questions at the debates.
  • Buy the support wrist band: For yourself. For your friends. Heck, why not get an early start on your Christmas shopping?


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