Photo: News Oresund via Wikimedia Commons
By Mathias Palmqvist Jensen (They/Them)
Daniel Delove works at The National Hospital (Rigshospitalet) and the night club Den Anden Side (meaning: The Other Side), and he is also an activist and Queer. Daniel is one of the reasons that some vulnerable people get help from the civil society, when the welfare state can’t – or won’t help.
We had a talk about the civil work Daniel does, about feeling at home or not at home in the rainbow family, problems in the healthcare system, and just a general chit chat.
Hi Daniel. How are you and what do you work with?
Hi – I’m doing okay. I am sitting in wonderful company at Copenhagen Pride. I am a nurse and work at something called the neuro-intensive department under the centre for brain and anaesthesia.
The rainbow family
Do you want to tell me a bit about how you fit under the rainbow?
I haven’t had the best upbringing under the rainbow, but along the way, I have discovered that there are many different people in our rainbow family.
We are pretty dysfunctional in our family, and we have to get better at sticking together and understand that some people are being forgotten.
I am a Queer POC [Person of Colour].
When the healthcare system and psychiatry fail
Will you tell a bit about what you work with in your free time? If you understand what I am getting at?
I think I understand – you’re getting at my volunteer work?
I offer Queers, BIPOC and transgender people come with them to their consultations/conversations and look through their blood test results. I know and work in the healthcare system, so I try to help others get treated properly and know what rights they have.
[The need] got more and more obvious when I joined the Queer-community. It was here that I discovered that a lot of people didn’t get the proper treatment. So, I just started with offering help to a really good friend – and then I knew her friend also needed someone. So now I give people I trust a number they can call, when there is need for help or guidance. Then I go with them to their consultations.
So, you sort of lead them to the door?
Yeah, I try as much as I can with the energy I have – also compared to what my focus is.
Activist in a broken healthcare system
How can it be that you, in the small amount of free time you have, and where maybe you should focus more on yourself, still find time to help others?
Because we have a healthcare system that is overrun and a foundation that is damaged. The only thing we do is treat the symptoms of the healthcare system instead of repairing the foundation. It’s hard to be in the middle of that, and my job is very tough physically and mentally.
My department is very sweet, and my management is incredible and supportive. But it’s tough because there is so much pressure and we’re lacking a lot. But that just means that this sense of justice grows even stronger.
So, instead of being one of those people who just accepts it and lets it keep running, I have decided to be a part of changing it.
Challenges for transgender, non-binary and people with mental health issues
What are some of the issues you help with?
Well, we can look at the transgender people who come to CKI [The Centre for Gender Identity, ed.]. The way they run it there, from what I have seen, is just not good. They have a very heteronormative view of how a woman or a man should be, so if you as a transgender person is also non-binary and you for example don’t want to be femme presenting, then you will be looked down upon in society, but also in the healthcare system because you’re not a woman in their eyes. You get pushed around.
The long process that drags out and kills hope
It’s a dragged out, mental process, and then mental illness is also a big problem, because you get looked at wrong in the healthcare system. I am not a psychologist myself, so I can’t speak about people with mental health challenges, but I see how people with these kinds of issues are met by the healthcare system and CKI. It becomes the root of all their problems.
I also know people with ADHD, autism, or other challenges who are afraid to ask for help because they know you get treated differently in the system after being diagnosed. It’s a bit of a death sentence. At least that’s how people experience it.
Sometimes I offer to go with them to their consultations. It helps a lot when you’re there with a nurse. They understand that I know the system. So, my work isn’t specific in that sense. I offer my help and then people can use the resources I have available. And then we take it from there.
Awareness team and the culture-carried club community
Can you tell us a little bit about what made you start working at Den Anden Side and what you do?
I had been in the rave scene for a while without properly raving, so for a time I was an observer. I also attended outdoor raves, but a thing I noticed was that if someone started to feel ill at these outdoor parties, people didn’t really take care of it, they almost pushed it away.
It could also occur at the clubs, but there was more focus on it. Me paying attention to it and being willing to help led to a job offer from Den Anden Side to join their awareness team. Through that job I also saw a lot of problems in the community and especially the blind spots. I understand the experiences of POC by being POC myself.
It was also Denise, who is an owner and in charge of the awareness team and Harm Reduction, who made me interested in all this. Denise is incredibly gifted and really wants the best for people. Denise wants you to party with respect for yourself.
The consensus on what we cannot talk about
The lack of help and understanding is a consequence of there being something we must keep quiet about.
You refer to the use of drugs and harm reduction, correct?
Yes, there is no political consensus about having an open conversation about drugs being a reality in Denmark. It’s something people use instead of getting drunk, because it gives you a more conscious way to party. So there is a need to talk about it.
You mean because politicians are politicians and are afraid to breach the subject?
Yes, and have become very aware of our scene [the electronic underground scene, ed.]
Unfortunately, that means there are a lot of things you aren’t allowed to mention or talk about, because then it might seem like you approve or support it. And that has been tough for me, because I am in a bit of a grey area here.
You meet a lot of people from the healthcare system, who go to raves themselves – they do it like Hannah Montana: “Best of Both Worlds”.
Hehe, yeah. So, I have been super nervous that I was going to be looked at wrong or judged by others.
Yeah, it’s actually very stigmatised, even though a majority of the people in Copenhagen who go clubbing actually do drugs.
Yeah – and get mindlessly drunk at the same time and end up laying on the streets. Then I see them at work with head traumas and such and blood alcohol content the size of…
Exactly, but people also have to understand that I have been in the scene, I have danced, I have had fun, I have partied and now I feel like I got it out of my system. I’ve been around the block and now I want to use the knowledge and experience I have gained and share it. I think that’s important for us to do.
We need more people like Daniel. We need more people who share their experiences and abilities. We have become a very segmented and split up rainbow, with blind spots where the white, gay, cisgender man is overrepresented and favorised. That is a shame. In my opinion, the rainbow should symbolise being a frontrunner, helping, making room and giving support.