Johan, in his own words:“Ultimately I think ‘being gay’ should only come down to sexual preference, but as we all know, things are not that simple. Referring to intersectionality, to me being gay means dealing with discrimination, norms and prejudice – just like other categories: gender, race, social class, ethnicity, nationality, religion, age, mental disability, physical disability, mental illness, and physical illness and so on. Resting on this topic I believe everyone, to various degrees, suffers from a marginalized identity and I wish that people would think more holistically when discussing feminist/queer etc topics – When you speak for an isolated group of people it will very likely have an impact on other groups or movements.
In my case I’ve been, and still am,unavoidably influenced by internalized homophobia but it was more present when I was younger – I felt more constrained as a person and more prone to adhere to whatever heterosexual norms and rituals I encountered in my everyday life. Since then I’ve been trying to be aware of whatever broader contexts and social hierarchies I’m being influenced by and try not to let them have too much of an impact on my personal identity as I don’t want to be a victim or less of a human.
Having this said, being gay definitely doesn’t define me as there are many other implications to an identity, but I do think that it has an influence on my life, even on a practical level when it comes to questions like how and where do I meet potential partners? how is it to be a part of a community that I only share a few common traits with? how and should I establish a family? To whom and when do I come out of the closet? (continuously!) and much more. The path is not as straight for me in comparison to people living the IKEA life. Sometimes I see this as a blessing and sometimes it scares me.
I also like to think and hope that being a gay man means that I’m more capable to sympathize with other minorities and able to break free from general conformity, but again, being gay is just one out of many variables. I often wish that sexuality and gender were more deconstructed in today’s society but just like people have tendencies to discriminate they also seek similarity and I think that many gay people find comfort and a sense of belonging in gay subcultures so I’m a bit torn about this. Regardless, no-one deserves loneliness.
On the topic about challenges/successes in my life I think I have been quite successful obtaining what I’ve been striving for. I have a great set of friends, a decent career and two good relationships while they lasted. The greatest challenge is myself, I’m always anxious of losing these things when I have them and I’m not always enjoying the ride.
I came out to my mum when I was 18. I think she was shocked, if not, very surprised. She took me to see a therapist and I’m not sure if it was to validate the fact or just help me deal with the topic. Since then she’s been great and she’s often curious as to what’s going on in my dating life. My dad knows but I’ve never had a proper conversation with him about it.
When I turned 28 my little sister came out as queer which is great, we have a lot in common and often go out clubbing together.
I’ve been very privileged having been born and raised in Scandinavia and I think that heterosexual norms (not to mention the law) are less intrusive here in comparison to many other places. A drawback of having established laws for gay marriage and gay adoption is that we’re currently lacking a clear agenda of how to improve lives for LGBTQA people. Statistics show high numbers of suicides, young people being bullied in school and and hate crimes towards LGBTQA people, especially trans-gender.
Overall I think the LBTQA scene in Copenhagen is friendly and open-minded. It’s also quite small and I think that people seem to be look out more for other people here and it’s less extreme in many ways in comparison to London where I lived a few years back. One thing that I miss though is that the scene could be more diverse. It’s very caucasian and it doesn’t have that queer club playing the Smiths and the alike.
Finally I just want to add that I’m happy to be a part of this project. It’s great to have a medium that highlights the vast differences of gay people and have each of them tell their personal stories. This is how we deconstruct stereotypes and promote something that other people (gay or non-gay) can identify and sympathize with. Media in general is, in my opinion, doing the opposite thing.”