Gay Kids Norway is a storybook for children. Nonetheless grown-ups such as parents, teachers and adult Gay Kids can enjoy it too. The 239 pages long book is divided into six chapters that can be read independently. The first three chapters are about being a kid, having friends and belonging to a family, whatever family means. You can also read about what it means to belong to a Norwegian minority – such as having an immigrant background, belonging to a non-protestant faith or simply just being gay. Love between women and love between men is described in a child centred way. But most of all Gay Kids Norway, the book, is all about being a child.
Some of the sections are easy to read and reflect upon. Some are more difficult to digest. The easy sections are meant for children in the age group from 10 to 12 years old and include mostly illustrations, amateur childhood photographs and a line or two from the oral history interviews. Other sections are meant for older children, teenagers or really clever kids. The amateur childhood photographs are then adorned with longer quotations from the oral history interviews and with research based knowledge about gays and lesbians and their lives through the last 100 years in Norway. The more difficult parts are marked with red cherries.
A glossary is found at the end of the book. Here, words that some kids can find difficult are explained.
We here at Gay Kids Norway would like to send a special Christmas greeting to the pioneers Kim and Wenche. As the first open leader of the Norwegian LGBT organisation and the first open MP they paved the way for the next generations of Gay Kids here in Norway. Due to their braveness, gays and lesbians can now celebrate Christmas with ALL of our loved ones. Respect!
Dearest adult Gay Kid. As you know this is the time of year that maybe if you are lucky you will be travelling home to mum & dad, or to your mum or dad, or a little more unlikely to mum & mum, or to your dad & dad. What ever your family constellation, Christmas is an ideal opportunity to get the photo album out. If you have been following this blog you will know what we are after. Yes photos of you as a kid.
The picture above is of the Norwegian Labor MP Anette Trettebergstuen celebrating Christmas with her family. Not looking too happy about her Christmas present; a doll.
”Gay Kids – gay people were young once too” is the result of the encounter and collaboration between the photographer Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty, researcher Bera Ulstein Moseng, the leader of Gay & Lesbian Health Norway Rolf Martin Angeltvedt, the graphic designer Halvor Bodin and illustrator Emma Olsen. It was Lill-Ann Chepstow-Lusty that coined the original concept of the book and exhibition. It is an art project aiming to document a neglected part of modern Norwegian childhood history: the childhoods of grown up lesbian or gay persons. Gay Kids Norway emphasis is not on gayness per se. It is a book and exhibition about children made for children. By presenting research based knowledge, collecting and presenting numerous childhood photographs and childhood stories from three generations of grown up gay or lesbian persons; the book and exhibition promotes the concepts of non-discrimination, visibility and mutual respect among Norwegian children.
Gay Kids Norway – the book and exhibition would not have become a reality without the generous support from a number of foundations and public organisations such as the Freedom of Expression Foundation, the Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training, the Norwegian Ministry of Children and Equality, the Government Grant for Artists, the Society of Free Photographers, the Institutional Photographers’ Association and the Museum of Cultural History. The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the Norwegian Directorate of Health have been supportive players throughout the whole project. Thanks are also due to UNICEF and their then Secretary-General, Kjersti Fløgstad.
The above drawing is of Bård Nylund, the leader of the Norwegian LGBT- organization LLH, as a child.