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.
The 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. 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 centre 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 – or Centre of Attention – demonstrates our commitment to young LGBTI+ people. Situated in the more than 50-year-old institution Huset-KBH, 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 content 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!
Next year, Copenhagen will host World Pride 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.