Lars Henriksen off the record

We got the chance to sit down with Copenhagen Pride’s chairperson for a more personal Q&A. While the questions were really quite short, the answers – as expected – were not. Here comes the good stuff we bet you did not know about Lars Henriksen.

Lars-Henriksen-Copenhagen-Pride-2018

So, Lars, do you have a boyfriend?
I do! He is one of the kindest and most patient people I know. We have been together for a year, and I should probably look very far and wide to find a person who is more different from me, than he is. We are simply each others juxtapositions. Had he not approached me, I am positive, that we would not be together today. I owe it all to him. I am terrible at the flirting and dating game, so I am very grateful to him for his direct advance. I learn from him all the time because of our completely different life experiences and backgrounds. He is very self-reliant, and I admire him immensely for what he is able to do. As he is not from Copenhagen, he had no idea of who I was when we met, and thus had not formed an opinion of me. I think it has liberated me in his company, to be able to be just Lars and not the chair of Copenhagen Pride. I sometimes have a tendency to be ambitious on other people’s behalf and he is good at telling me to mind my own business, and allow him to decide for himself. I do my best to lend him support for what he wants and not try to influence him towards my own agenda. I need a person, who doesn’t take me too seriously, and thankfully he filters me well. We still conduct a long distance relationship, but hopefully that will change in the not so far future.

Your style in clothing is very Unique. Where do you buy your outfits?
Anywhere, as long as they are on sale. The advantage of a somewhat quixotic wardrobe, is that often what I want is what is left over from a season and that will then go on sale in the following season. So basically the key is to wait. And dress timelessly, haha! I have, however, had a certain penchant for Moods of Norway – but apparently not sufficiently to keep them in business. Much to my dismay they went bankrupt last year.

Describe a situation that you never in your wildest dreams could imagine you would have found yourself in.
When we first moved into the countryside, my ex-husband and I, and started farming, our first sow had quite the unique personality. Her name was Sif, named after the renowned pig in Pontoppidan’s short story, “Et Grundskud”.
We didn’t have much experience as farmers at the time, and as she was our only sow to begin with, we developed a quite pet-like relationship with her. She was very good natured, and in her first litter had 13 piglets. Second litter consisted of 17, which was a bit of a problem, as she had only 14 functioning tits, which meant that the piglets were constantly struggling for nourishment. The runt of the litter was about half the size of the others and stood no chance in the competition.
I was of the opinion, that nature should be allowed to run its course, but when my boyfriend found her ice cold and lifeless on the floor of the sty, he took pity on her, and brought her in to the house and placed her on a pillow in front of the fireplace to heat her up. We had a male Dachshund at the time, who took an immediate interest in her, and snuggled up next to her, and before long she started to warm up and stir and twitch.
As I had imagined, the maternal feelings in my boyfriend were by this point extinct, and it fell to me to feed her with formula milk when she woke up – which happened around the clock. This meant that I hardly got any sleep, as she would wake me up hourly with a disgruntled scream, and not quiet down till I had left the bed, gone to the kitchen, heated the bottle and fed her. Then she would go back to sleep with a most satisfied expression on her little face until it all repeated itself 45 minutes or so later.
After 3 sleepless nights, I had had it. Something needed to change. When piglets are with their mother, they massage the utter of the sow for a few minutes to entice her to give up the milk. They will franticly push away at her with their small pink snouts, and the instant the milk begins to flow, they all calm down and start to suckle peacefully. This knowledge would become my salvation.
I decided to move Sylvia, as she had now been named, into my bed, in the hollow of my armpit, and when sleeping on my side, the bottle could rest in my hamstring and be kept at body temperature through the night. In her sleep (and most importantly: before she started wailing), Sylvia would start pushing her snout into my armpit as if to entice me to give up the milk, by which point I, half asleep would grab the bottle, stick it in her mouth and let her drink her fill. She would silently doze off again and so would I. This went on for the better part of 4 weeks.
I brought her everywhere. To work, I worked at a retirement home at the time as a nurse’s assistant, and at Christmas I even brought her to my family in Holstebro causing quite a stir on the ferry. She got photographed, as my grandmother was circling the Christmas tree with her in her arms
Sylvia survived, grew up to be a very large pig, and was like one of the dogs. She would come on all walks, and in everything behave like she was part of the pack. We were quite the spectacle, when we walked the neighbourhood with 4 dogs, 2 cats and Sylvia. I had never imagined I should ever be sharing my bed or celebrate Christmas with a pig.

If you could pick only one LGBT novel – which one would that be?
This is a very difficult question. I have found that I have related differently to different novels at different times in my life. Often when the plot has somehow resonated with me on a personal level. My top 5 would probably (in random order) be: The Well of Loneliness, Maurice, The Picture of Dorian Gray, The Front Runner and The Thief’s Journal. Probably this selection also bares my age to all.

Do you possess a very specific skill that noone would expect you to have?
I am quick at castrating piglets and have actually been involved in the castration of both stallions, bulls, rams and billygoats as well as pigs. To not worry anyone unnescessarily, I should probably assert, that it is a skill that I rarely apply in my present circumstances. No call for alarm. But with 250 sows on free range at one point, I sort of got the hang of it.

What do you think your friends find most annoying about you?
That I am loud and opinionated. I can be quite intense. Unfortunately, I am prone to stand on principle, which can make me come off as a bit hardheaded. I sometimes think I would make a lousy politician, as I find it difficult to settle for less, when I believe justice is on my side.

Pick one Danish person that deserves a public statue.
Axel Axgil. I am very reluctant when it comes to accepting that people are judged retrospectively for their actions. Surely Axel made mistakes in his life, and at times misjudged situations or chose to support the indefensible, but all that does not take away from the fact that no single person has done so much and suffered so much for the liberation of all of us, and he should at least be acknowledged for that. Remember that the only people who never make mistakes are those who never do anything. Hindsight is a weapon for the self-righteous.
I would also love to see a statue of Mathilde Fibiger. I don’t know if she was, in fact, herself a lesbian, but her fictional character Clara Raphael has strong lesbian views and characteristics, and at the end of the day that is probably all the more impactful. Regardless of her sexuality, her influence on the liberation of women cannot be underestimated, and she should be honored for this.

Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Absolutely and completely. I don’t think it is possible to work for one minority at the expense of other marginalised groups. To me, feminism is a theoretical framework, that enables us to be better at what we do and to continually analyse ourselves and our own practices in the context of privilege and power.
In every situation we find ourselves in, we are more or less privileged compared to others. To be aware of your own privilege, and thereby when you hold an advantage over another, is a powerful tool when you want all people to be able to realise their full potential.
Space is not something a person should fight for, but something we should strive to make for one another, by stepping backwards a little to allow others to occupy the space you have left open. That, to me, is what feminism is all about, and it can be applied universally.

For a first-time visitor in Copenhagen – what would be a must-see?
I absolutely adore Copenhagen – no matter the season – and there are so many places and things I love and find noteworthy.
I think, if I know the tourists, the first place might be Regnbuepladsen with the rainbow flag. Every time I pass there, I am reminded that we live in a city that publicly and openly is declaring that we, as LGBTQIA individuals, are welcome and treasured citizens. That makes me both happy and proud of my city. After that probably the Tower of Christiansborg. Not only is it free of charge (which sadly most of the museums have ceased to be), it is also a symbol of the open and accessible democracy that we continue to enjoy in Denmark and which we must safeguard at all costs. And from the tower, the view is spectacular and gives you an excellent vantage point to understand the city layout.

What are your personal favorite quotes?
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”, which is a quote by Martin Luther King Jr.
The other one is from one of my favourite song writers and poets, Oskar Hansen, and it goes like this in my own translation:
“They ask you not, when snuffed out be your lantern’s final light, if you did loose or did prevail, but if you stood to fight”. This quote is hanging on the mirror in my bathroom, to remind me every morning what is important to live by.

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