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GAY KIDS NORWAY – THE BOOK PREFACE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

”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.

fløgstad

Greetings from the Secretary-General, UNICEF – Norway

“Gay Kids – Gay People Were Young Once Too” is a book for children attending elementary and secondary schools and the first of its kind in Norway to address love between persons of the same sex. Adults may find it difficult or even embarrassing to talk about love between women or love between men to children and teenagers. Teachers often avoid gay issues at school. Most children and teenagers are therefore quite ignorant concerning what it means to be a gay man or a lesbian woman. Without proper educational support, they are left to their own resources – scrambling together whatever they find of information about the LGBT-minority from peers or the social medias.

“Gay Kids – Gay People Were Young Once Too” provides an excellent tool to counteract the above-mentioned challenges. The artistic approach makes kids talk and help them to make sense of lesbian and gay related issues in an age-appropriate way. According to UN Convention on the rights of the Child, Chapter 17, “society shall ensure the child has access to information, and especially information which creates understanding, social skills, moral and spiritual well-being and mental and physical health.” Whether gay or straight – when children hit puberty – they have a right to be prepared for the facts of adult life.

Belonging to a community is of importance to us all – but especially important for children and adolescents. Therefore constructing communities with room for tolerance and diversity – including diversity in sexual orientation and family forms – is of the uttermost importance. The basis for an inclusive and tolerant society is founded in the formative years of its citizens. According to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, all children have a right to protection, including children and adolescents for whom falling in love is quite similar but somewhat different from the majority of the population.  I am so pleased with the Gay Kids project. The book is a most valuable contribution to children’s wellbeing and upbringing and to a Norwegian society appreciative of the true virtue of love between women and love between men.

Kjersti Fløgstad

 Secretary-General, UNICEF – Norway