News that celebrated Danish author and poet Hans Christian Andersen is thought to have been bisexual may surprise some but the debate, originating from Andersen’s own writings, has existed for quite some time. Now, and to much controversy, one of the country’s MPs has suggested they should cash in on this controversial subject and hold a “gay week” tourism event.
Trine Bramsen, the Social Democrat MP for Funen, the poet’s birthplace, is promoting the idea as a way to lure high-spending gay couples to the island.
“There is so much palaver about Hans Christian Andersen’s sexuality, and I think we should use it,” she said. “It should be a week where gays from all over the world can come to the island of Funen.”
She said participants in the festival would be able to marry in Funen’s many historic churches, after new laws come in guaranteeing gays the right to religious church weddings.
However, not all in Denmark are happy with these plans.
One pensioner, Finn Wagner, is being quoted as saying: ”This great Dane has been enjoyed by millions of children and adults worldwide … Denmark has not deserved this. Funen has not deserved this.”
Opponent MPs have also suggested that this is a frivolous idea that detracts from the country’s current economic concerns.
Other countries have been very keen to court the gay community though, especially when it comes to the marriage business. Nepal, for instance, used its (ongoing) reinvention as a gay friendly nation to begin offering same-sex marriage holiday packages, with keen government interest in the tourism — and profit — it could bring the nation.
As Andersen’s sexuality remains a hot topic even in the rather accepting Denmark, such a public declaration — and exploitation — of the writer’s identity will likely be unpalatable for some. Yet, given Denmark’s increasingly liberal stance on LGBT rights, it may be that even if now is not the time, such a celebration could be profitable, both economically and, crucially, in raising and maintaining Andersen’s profile.
Andersen, who some believe to have died without ever having had a sexual relationship, expressed very strong and even exaggerated affections for both sexes, and queer theorists have been especially interested in Anderson’s propensity to write into his stories commentary on emergent identity and forbidden or impossible loves — for examples think “The Ugly Duckling” or the almost certainly autobiographical “The Little Mermaid”.