Lesbian Couple Saved 40 Teens in Norway Massacre


Several weeks have passed since the carnage in downtown Oslo and Utoya island, but it took the media a considerable amount of time to commend the heroic actions of a married lesbian couple who braved gunfire to save 40 teenagers from Anders Behring Breivik’s bloody rampage.

Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen were camping on the other side of the lake from Utoya when they heard gunfire and screams from the island. †They jumped into their boat and crossed toward the noise, without regard for their personal safety. †As bullets struck the boat, they pulled teenagers from the water and made four trips back and forth, saving the lives of 40 people who might otherwise have drowned or been shot.

In the days after the attacks, stories of bystanders’ bravery during the Utoya shootings hit the news. †But somehow, Dalen and Hansen weren’t discovered by the mainstream press until over a week afterward. †Now, analysts are questioning whether sexism, homophobia, or both were at play.

In the Guardian,†Roz Kaveney points out that women don’t fit into the paradigm for a heroic rescue. †”A lot of the press like their tales of heroism to fit standard narratives, in which men protect and women nurture,” she writes. †And it’s true that many of the people first heralded by media outlets like the New York Times and the Telegraph were men. †She adds that lesbians are even less likely to fit traditional images of the “rescuer,” and concludes that journalists may also have been reluctant to touch the same-sex marriage issue in the context of the Norway shootings, since Dalen and Hansen are married.

Over at the Telegraph, Tom Chivers acknowledges that many of the same thoughts ran through his head. †But, he points out, many “proudly liberal” newspapers neglected Dalen and Hansen’s story (although certainly, even though it may be liberal,†The New York Times is capable of sexism and homophobia). †”I†think itís more likely that itís just that, in the panicked days after the attacks, they just never happened to speak to a journalist,” he wrote.

It’s true that there were many heroic stories to be told in the aftermath of the Norway attacks. †But Dalen and Hansen’s should have been among them. †At least we can laud them for their bravery now, even if we are a few weeks late.

Related Stories:

A Firsthand Account of the Massacre in Utoya

Norway Sounds Alarm Bell in Europe

Is Breivik Insane? Mental Illness and Extreme Right-Wing Ideology

Photo from NRK P3 via flickr.


Lisa D.
Lisa D5 years ago

I have nothing against homosexuals...but ...human beings rescued the children not lesbians. Why does it have to matter? Why make a fuss? The focus should be on rescue of the children not sexual preferences, not religion, not political parties etc...why can't we live in harmony peacefully and help each other instead of fighting for power hierarchy?

Fred Krohn
Fred Krohn6 years ago

A pair of Walküre should receive the attention they are due. The old Norse ways before the invasion of Christianity respected women and would have honoured them well. Had the nation wised up and abolished gun control (and socialism), they would still be a decent place to live... I'm expatriate and will never return to live because of the socialist attitudes and liberal-extremist government.

Trudi Gray
Trudi Gray6 years ago

Isn't it time that there was some good PR for the gay community?

Beth M.
Beth M6 years ago

I would like to know why it took so long to recognize these heros. How about it media??

Randall S.
Randy Stein6 years ago

This whole thing is extremely sad. That the media didn't immediately give these two INCREDIBLE people the acknowledgement they so rightly deserved despite risking their lives not once but FOUR TIMES. All because they were women and because they were lesbians. Even sadder is that they had to do what they did because there are still hate-filled demonic beings on this planet who would intentionally set out to slaughter so many children. Thank god there are sill such unbelievably courageous people around to save children against such monsters. As human beings, as womenm, and as lesbians they can teach us all.

Suzanne H.
Suzanne H6 years ago

Courage, goodness is not a sex............

Bill C.
Bill C6 years ago

Heroes no doubt

what homosexuality has to do with it is beyond me.

Perhaps sexual orientation is important as lesbians somehow get boat driving skill thru lesbian osmosis and thats how they became heroes

I figure they were just 2 scared people who could not sit there and watch, like most heroes

Michael Kirkby
.6 years ago

Who cares what their orientation was? These women are heroes, period.

Dan B.
Dan Brook6 years ago

Nice to read about these heroes!

Alicia N.
Alicia N6 years ago

thanks to that couple