Midsummer celebrations across Denmark mark 75th anniversary for world’s second oldest LGBT+ organisation
Internationally it’s a bit of an outlier, that Denmark has had one association at the center of the LGBT+ movement for eight decades. LGBT+ Denmark was founded in 1948 and in the 75 years since, Danish gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender people have achieved remarkable political victories. The anniversary is celebrated with a big party in Copenhagen and smaller events. In the autumn, a cultural celebration will follow in collaboration with both large and small cultural institutions across the country.
There has been an almost unimaginable development since the idea of an association for homosexuals and bisexuals began to sprout among a group of young people at a midsummer bonfire party in 1948. At the time, it was a subversive and dangerous idea – and one of the association’s founders, Axel Axgil, lost his job, his apartment and his party membership because of his work for the association.
The association was founded very discretely as ‘The Circle of 1948′, then in the 1970s it came out as ‘National Association for Gays and Lesbians’ and today the name is ‘LGBT+ Denmark’. The world’s second oldest LGBT+ organization! There is still a lot to fight for, but Denmark has nevertheless become one of the countries in the world with the greatest freedom and degree of rights for LGBT+ people: In 1989 Denmark made headlines around the world with the first ever civil partnership for same-sex couples. In 2014 Denmark was one of the first countries to make self-id available for trans people, and in 2017 Danish politicians removed trans people from the list of mental ilnesses. And our association has been with us all the way. We want to celebrate that.
On the 75th birthday on 23 June, there is a midsummer party at Amager Strandpark. From 5pm you can sit on the grass and buy food from a pizza foodtruck and refreshments from the bar. From 19:30 there will be bonfire speeches and singing: Author and actor Johannes Lilleøre will give this year’s bonfire speech about the importance of using your queer voice – both when the association was founded in 1948, in his own childhood in 1980s West Jutland and in 2023. Stand-up Molly Thornhill will lead the singing of classic Danish queer songs. Actor Kristoffer Eriknauer reads out stories from the association’s members over the years. There will also be a special greeting from the last survivor of the association’s founders: 99-year-old Doris Pollas, who will also be appointed honorary member.
Local groups in Aars and on Lolland-Falster hold smaller celebrations, and all participating cities make a joint, nationwide quiet celebration at exactly 19:48 hours: We hold 75 seconds of silent gratitude – to mark the 75 years and the foundation year 1948.
If you are lucky enough to live in Copenhagen, the evening can continue to a pop party in Pumpehuset from 10 pm. In Tivoli you can go to the anniversary concert the day after Saturday the 24th, with the Tivoli Late Night Orchestra in front, fronted by Betty Bitschlap and guests. In Copenhagen, you can also experience the Museum of Copenhagen’s exhibition Queer in Copenhagen through 1000 for free in the City Hall from 22 to 24 June.
Head of secretariat Susanne Branner Jespersen:
“I am very touched that we in Denmark have stood together in our association for so many years. From a small sprout planted in 1948, we are today a large, popular association with volunteers and activities across the country. As in all movements, there have been disagreements along the way, but we think the anniversary is an opportunity for the entire LGBT+ community to celebrate all that we have achieved together. We hope that in this way the anniversary can help us connect with each other across generations and identities.”
In the autumn, we continue with a cultural celebration in collaboration with the Royal Danish Library, the Royal Danish Theatre, Museum Vestfyn, Cinemateket, SMK, Medical Museion, The Hirschsprung Collection and others. See the preliminary programme at www.lgbt.dk/75