Hans Christian Andersen ‘Gay Week’ Causes Controversy


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.

From The Telegraph:

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”.

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to JVL.


K s Goh
KS Goh6 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Stacy S.
Stacy S6 years ago

I notice that they don't even consider that, since he supposedly never had a sex life, he might have been /asexual/ instead of bisexual. Personally, whatever his orientation might have been, we will never know it for certain as he has been dead and cannot state it for himself. Therefore, I think it is crass to make an assumption of any sort about his sexuality. And doubly so when doing it purely to cash in on the possibility of something we'll never know.

I have no problem with them setting up a tourist event, but why not use someone from their country who is/was openly gay or bi as the figurehead for it rather than playing guessing games about someone who isn't around. It reminds me of school bullies whispering in the halls about their suspicions on someone's sexuality.

I agree with C. M. P. Let's remember the man for his works, not for what his orientation /might/ have been.

Michael MacDonald

there isn't one good reason not to do this unless you have a bias against gay people.
It would be good for your economy because of tourism obviously
and making your society more open/accepting to gay people is the right thing to do.
I seriously wonder why you opponents on here are so against this idea if you don't have anything against gay people.
You seem to care a little too much about stopping it for me to believe that you hold no biases.
I just bought a game about hans christian andersen the other day
now I'm glad I bought it.

ANA MARIJA R6 years ago

"One should not be celebrated for their sexuality, but because of their achievements."
I agree...

rene davis
irene davis6 years ago


Christine Stewart

I had no inkling that "The Little Mermaid" was some LGBT essay!

Marie W.
Marie W6 years ago

And does it matter.. his works live on.

Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin6 years ago

Sunne in Sweden would be the next gay spot. Selma Lagerlof, the author and recipient of the Nobel prize in literature aswell as a member of the Swedish Academy, lived nearby. And she was gay. Her letters were opened a few years back and revealed her deep love for another woman, Sophie Elkan, and their relationship. Lagerlof decided shortly before her passing, that her personal letters couldn't be read until she had been deceased for 50 year. She knew that the world weren't ready for its content, but hope the people of the 1990''s would be.

C.M Padget
Carolyn Padget6 years ago

One should not be celebrated for their sexuality, but because of their achievements.

Ian Fletcher
Ian Fletcher6 years ago

Good idea! Gays are big business for open-minded cities like Barcelona, Copenhagen, San Francisco, Sitges... so why not for Odense? When gays feel welcome, they stay. That's great for everyone..