Part 2 - BRGN interview series: Get to know the people who inspire us 🏳️🌈
The fight for equal rights, is far from over.
In BRGN we will continue to make our statement, supporting this fight through consistent commitment and strategy. We will use this moment to share some thoughts around the importance of Pride, through people who inspire us, enlighten us – and educates us further.
We hope you enjoy reading the second part of BRGNs interview series about the importance of Pride. The first part of our series is available HERE.
And let us not forget:
Pride is important all year round.
Pride is the most colorful time of the year. And I love color! Both in people's personalities and around. During pride celebrations, people who are not necessarily always accepted for who they are, is free to make the most of themselves and meet like-minded people. The loudness of Pride is important to pave the way for those who do not have the opportunity to express themselves as freely. In Oslo, I find that Pride has gone from being a demonstration march to becoming a national folk festival, it is absolutely fantastic. At the same time, I think it's important to remember the reasons why we mark Pride. Pride is both a party and a protest!
This may sound strange, but social media and especially TikTok have been important to me! There I have met and been inspired by many people who has broaden the horizon. Out in society, very much is heteronormative. But in the social media universe, there are those who push boundaries in terms of style, sexuality, gender, gender expression and different ways of life that dominate. That is good for me and much more exciting than seeing the same old.
My girlfriend, Inger Helene, has been a great inspiration to me. I grew up in Oslo, but she comes from a place in southern Norway where it is less accepted to be queer. When we started dating, she met all my insecurities with confidence- enough for both of us. Even in areas scarier to her than to me, she has gone ahead like a bauta! Inger does not always acknowledge this about herself, but she is a very brave and wise person.
Here I will quote Kim Friele: "Freedoms and rights have not come served on a wooden plate, we have fought for it. We must guard it and maintain it; we have to lock our doors at night, so no one comes to steal everything we have fought for and achieved»
We are in a dangerous situation both in the US and in Europe. Several states and countries had their rights stolen. We have to keep fighting, to move forward and not backwards. I participate in the public debate in the media and by being an activist on Instagram.
Each passing year, Norway has fortunately become better and more open. Only a few years ago Pride was "just" a parade in Oslo. Now Pride is a folk festival throughout the city. Several smaller towns have also got their own parades this year! Companies has eventually realized that LGBTQ+ inclusion is important for the workplace. Now, we need the politicians to follow up. By setting higher standards of inclusion, before providing financial support to religious communities. Unfortunately, this is the worst place to be gay in Norway today.
My best memory of Pride was during the parade in 2019: The drag DJ played Euphoria from the raft, and I danced through the city with my amazing friends. The sun was shining on the streets of Oslo - and it felt like the whole city was singing!
The best thing individuals can do to be more inclusive, is to not have so many critical opinions on things they do not understand or know enough about.
Pride gives me a sense of community and acceptance for who I am. It is a great celebration of community and love where everyone can be and express themselves exactly the way they want, feeling safe and proud at the same time.
But pride is also a fight, activism and a time to remember everyone who has fought before us. The parade is important to me. And it shows that we refuse to be oppressed and will continue to demand justice. Visibility is important, to combat and protest shame, stigma, threats and violence. We fight to preserve the rights we have.
Getting to know other queers in adulthood was really a game changer for me. We understand each other in a different way, even though everyone has different experiences of coming out. We have gone through a lot of the same things. It creates a sense of community, and you do not feel that different after all.
The queer YouTuber, Shannon Beveridge (@nowthisisliving), has been a great inspiration to me. She reminded me about myself, and her LGBT+ videos made me feel normal at a time when it felt impossible. It was like having a friend I could relate to and recognize. She inspired me and gave me strength to be as open as I am today. Hopefully I inspire others doing the same.
The fight is not over. In many parts of the world, our rights are being curtailed- and we do not have to look far to see this reality. This scary development shows the importance of pride. We must fight to keep our rights, and not take them for granted.
In Norway, the terms of attitudes towards people must get better. For example, one in five Norwegians find it uncomfortable to see gay people kiss. Transgenders are being discriminated of their gender identity and have narrow treatment options. Hate crimes against queers, increase.
Also, many with minority backgrounds experience being ostracised from their communities, and experience discrimination in schools and workplaces. But change is possible. Activism can change homophobic and transphobic attitudes. For me, it is important to contribute everyday activism.
I speak up in a situation where someone says something homophobic or transphobic. At TikTok, I post LGBTQIA+ themed videos for a young audience. This is my contribution and representation to a greater transparency, which I missed growing up. I believe visibility and representation creates more tolerance, understanding and acceptance.
Graduating from high school, same-sex marriage was not allowed in church. Today at primary school, my little brothers learn about queer people, and that they have the possibility to get married in church. The grown representation and visibility make it easier to be ourselves. Still, there is fights to take. It’s still not easy being queer or go outside the gender norms in our society. When I came out, I was afraid to hold a girls hand in public. I was afraid of the opinions of other people, but that have changed. The only times I think about it now, is in situations where I can receive comments, or if I am in a place where homosexuality is not accepted.
On an island close to my hometown Sandessjøen, there is a festival called Trænafestivalen. This is where I first experienced and saw a pride parade.
I was amazed by the diversity and the fact of everyone being so proud of themselves. I have always stood on the sideline, but this year I will attend for myself.
Discrimination against queers is ongoing. I recently posted a 14-second video on TikTok that says "Reminder: In a few weeks, Oslo will look like this," with a video of pride going in the background.
I received so many ugly comments like "fucking gay", "let us go and fight", "going to throw grenades at the crowd", "we have to burn down Oslo", "time to recharge the AK this year too", as well as comments like "ÆSJ" and "disgusting" etc.
When these attitudes so clearly still exist, it is a big problem.
In our day-to-day struggle, being a good ally is to stand up when you see injustice. And speak up when people are saying anything condescending about orientation, gender, skin color or identity. Support us by standing as an activist for queer rights, all year round – not just during pride month.
Pride developed as a need on a societal basis where people who feel outside the gender norms / sexual orientation can find a place they feel at home.
We are evolving as humans, and from my perspective, more and more people are breaking out of the way we used to live, the way we perceive life, our definition of what it means to be a human and the way we relate to each other, and not least to ourselves.
We need Pride as a reflection of that movement and change. To me, Pride is a symbol of openness, freedom, exploration, and love across gender, sexuality, orientation, and identity—a place where everyone can be themselves.
I've had a journey when it comes to my relationship with Pride. Before I transitioned to becoming a man, when I first came out as a lesbian, I sought like-minded people to find a sense of belonging and community. Pride was a significant and essential part of my life at that time.
After I started testosterone, I was more concerned about fitting in as a man, and at that time, Pride felt like something outside of what I tried to achieve.
However, a few years back, I started to acknowledge and embrace myself as a transman. I began to feel proud of being trans and the journey I chose for myself. Attending the Pride parade was such a joy. Not only because I love watching the whole LGBTQ community walking down the streets, but also seeing the massive amount of support by heterosexual cis-gendered people on the side of the streets, waiving their rainbow flags in love and affection.
Over the years, I have seen a change. Many more people support this movement regardless of gender and sexual orientation. Witnessing this change has made me confident that we are moving in the right direction.
I've never really had any big role models as an adult. However, both Lara Wachowski and Elliot Paige are some I see as inspiring people.
It takes a great deal of courage and self-confidence to come out as trans, one of the world's most famous directors and actors. The whole world has its eyes on them, and the general public already defined them, but they chose to break out of that and follow their own path regardless. I admire that.
Every single individual on this planet should have equal rights. We are all just humans, and we are born free. We should be able to be whoever we want to be, if we don't hurt anyone.
I believe that happiness comes from being able to express ourselves the way we are, raw and unfiltered, instead of pleasing those around us, society, or cultural expectations. Imagine how colorful the world would have been if everyone was indeed themselves. That's so much more fun than judging others for not being like yourself.
Fortunately, I've been very lucky throughout my life regarding support from those around me. Ever since I dressed as a boy as a kid, to coming out as bi, to coming out as a lesbian, and even transitioning from a woman to a man, I've always been treated with respect and love.
Not everyone has understood all my choices and the changes I've gone through, but I've never been disrespected or hated. That has to do with the self-confidence I've had in my identity throughout. I have expected people to treat me as the person I feel that I am. However, I know that this does not apply to everyone. I've read multiple articles about gay people being beaten up or killed just because they are gay. I even have friends that have been hit on the streets for being a lesbian.
There is no place in me where I can understand how one can justify beating up someone just because they are different than you.
That said, I do see a big change globally. When I started testosterone back in 2011, transitioning was not very usual. When I met new people and told them that I was trans, they looked at me like they had met a new kind of human for the very first time. Questions and weird looks ran me down. Now, I feel that people don't really care that much. People are still curious, but they don't look at me like an alien anymore.
Additionally, there's been many rules for LGBTQ people, including rights for trans people. Especially in Norway, where I grew up. For instance, I had to remove my uterus to get an M in my passport. They waived that rule in late 2016 because of human rights. So, the world is moving forward when it comes to LGBTQ rights.
The first thing that comes to mind, is from a few years ago. I was reading an article in the newspaper about a 17-year-old girl in Oslo encouraging people to participate in Pride, whether they belong to the community or not, and to walk in the parade for those who do not dare to walk for themselves. I thought it was so brave and beautiful, but also funny that a 17-year-old shows more courage and wisdom than many adults.
Discrimination is a word that shouldn't exist. Every single human being is unique and different. So why can't we just enjoy these differences and colors we all bring into the world? And explore it and each other rather than judge these differences?
I believe there's still a long way to get to that place. I think the key is to, first, start understanding that everyone is not like yourself. Second, I think people, in general, fears change. Not just external changes, but changes within themselves too.
I believe by having a more playful and exploratory approach to life and oneself, you'll start seeing life differently. When one is very protective of their beliefs and established reality, unknown external elements can quickly become a threat. By challenging yourself and trying out new things, you'll see life differently. It will change you, and often for the better.
To be able to have genuine empathy and generosity for someone or something, you have to have been through or experienced it yourself to some degree. So, in my opinion, the more you expose yourself to new experiences, the more you will understand others.
Finally, I truly believe in colors. The more shades, the more fun, and exciting life become. What if you could only paint with one color? Wouldn't your art become monotonous and boring?
One color is not more valuable than another. They are tools for different needs and expressions, and I want to see more of that in the world. Having a mindset where we enjoy and appreciate our differences and uniqueness is how I truly believe the world can join to move towards a more inclusive society.
To me, Pride is a combination of celebration and the fight for queer rights.
Some might say the celebration is a bigger focus for us in Norway than the political aspect, but I think the celebration is a form of protest itself. With all its beautiful components, of people breaking the gender norms with clothing and makeup, as well as the public display of queer love.
I think “freedom” is a word that describes Pride the best for me. It feels like a day where you’re free of judgement.
The Pride community has affected me by opening my eyes to all the wonderful queer identities that exist. It has also made me realize how there is an experienced hierarchy within Pride itself, which I explored in my MBA project.
It seems like white, gay, cis men are on top, and especially the more masculine ones. As a white, gay, cis man myself, I have got to make sure that everyone is heard and seen, especially queer people who experience being a double minority. Some experience racism or misogyny in addition to having a queer identity.
There are so many beautiful, sad and interesting stories that deserve to be heard and we need to make room for them.
A close friend of mine has been a great inspiration to me for sure. He will know this is about him.
He made me feel even more comfortable as myself, through exploring my identity and sides of myself I would not have done if it was not for him. I am very thankful for this friendship.
I also get inspiration from a lot of musical artists, especially Lady Gaga and Olly Alexander (Years & Years). They inspire me when it comes to exploring your identity, for example through creativity and fashion - two things that obviously are very important to me.
Fighting for equality will always be important, because queer people still get discriminated and experience hate in public spaces, and especially on social media.
I think dressing up in unusual fabrics and clothes for men, is part of how I fight for equality. It has always been a bit scary leaving the house wearing pink eyeshadow and glitter, but self-expression is a great form of fighting to me.
Of course, I also try my best to correct people and share queer perspectives when it is needed.
Yes, I would say so. Though, I believe there are still some teachings that needs to be done for the general public, like old stereotypes about how a gay man or a lesbian woman should act or present themselves.
That said, I am mostly surrounded by likeminded people, so it is hard to feel like it has gone the other way. Now, I think we need more awareness around trans people and people who do not live by the man/woman gender norms. It seems like it is harder for cis-gendered people to understand their perspective. As for myself, I feel generally accepted and welcomed for who I am.
I do not have a very specific moment, but I think my first Pride in general, always will be unforgettable. I was part of the parade and seeing everyone around cheering was both exciting and emotional.
I remember coming home that night, feeling like I wanted to do it all again the next day. I found glitter in my room for weeks after - which in my opinion is always a good sign of a fun time.
Discrimination is for me a synonym with hatred and disrespect. It is putting yourself above someone else, signaling that you are better than them.
I think everyone should try to be more empathetic and see things from someone else’s perspective. It can be hard, but it is the greatest way to get an understanding of someone else’s life and journey.
Additionally, it is important to call out someone saying something homophobic or racist, not letting it slide even if it is in a humoristic way.
For me, Pride is about how far we have come and how far we have left. A reminder of how well we are doing and where we have potential for improvement.
However, it is just as much about our brothers and sisters, living under inhumane conditions in countries that are far behind Norway on the question of freedom to be and love whoever they want.
I have been a part of it for a few decades now, with the ups and downs regarding queer rights.
While in Norway we have fought to get married and have equal rights, people in other countries are fighting to be allowed to fall in love, have a boyfriend and live an everyday life without threats and at worst facing a death penalty.
Like the pandemic, the struggle shows how small the world is, and how little it takes for all rights to be taken from us. Laws that infringe on human rights, happen right outside our own borders every day.
Also, the resistance in our own country is (surprisingly) large and increasing. No right is a given, so the focus on this fight should be always and increasingly. No one knows what tomorrow brings. We know what we have, but also what we can lose.
Pride has always been a proud reminder of our history and the progress that the struggle has led to. I still remember when I was 17, standing ready for my first parade. For the first time in my life, I was included with people who knew and felt, just like me, exclusion. "I'm coming out" was played over the speakers that day, and to this day this song reminds about how lucky and proud I am of being who I am.
Kim Friele and Great Garlic Girls meant a lot for me. Finn Schjøll, he gave a positive insight into what it is and has been like, to be queer.
I am so grateful for the fact about them going ahead, paving the way for me and others to have the freedom that I feel today!
Because they can so easily be taken from us.
No rights come for free.
In some environments abroad, but also in Norway, some people are fighting hard to remove what we have managed to create so far.
There has been a big change since I was younger. Just the fact that a gay person can be invited on television for their ability, not their orientation, is a great progress.
I feel less fear now and I also see the openness among young people growing up. They are educating themselves with knowledge about gender and orientation, in a speed that even I struggle to keep up with sometimes!
The biggest moment was when I attended my first parade when I was seventeen. I was so proud over the fact that I could finally be part of something as big and directly aligned with my inner secret battle was unforgettable!!
Discrimination is when a person does not experience being respected for and allowed to be the person it feels that they are. This could be either orientation, religious/cultural background or gender.
Inclusion is realizing that I am not going to understand everything. It is about knowing that humans are completely different, and that diversity is empowering for our country. Both for our quality of life, economics and politics.
Inclusion is about respecting. To give the respect, which you expect to meet in return.