Will a week-long queer celebration of the life of renowned fairy tale scribe Hans Christian Andersen soon be added to the international gay party roster?
That’s the question now dividing the Danish city of Odense, Andersen’s birthplace, where a member of the country’s parliament has controversially suggested that an annual LGBT festival honor the writer of such children’s classics as “The Ugly Duckling” and “The Little Mermaid.”
Trine Bramsen, the Social Democrat MP who came up with the ideal for a homo-themed Andersen celebration, thinks the gay gala could put Odense, Denmark’s third biggest city, firmly on the map—while also bringing much-needed tourist kroner to the area.
“We know that homosexuals are a wealthy people,” Bramsen told Denmark’s TV2. For gay travelers, she says, the festival could also dovetail with the country’s recent decision to give same-sex couples the right to marry in Danish churches.
At least one local politician is vocally opposing the Andersenfest idea, claiming that economically-challenged Denmark has more important matters to be focusing upon than cockamamie schemes like Bramsen’s.
“To go out with such silly suggestions in this time shows that she never saw the writing on the wall,” says opponent Merete Riisager, MP from the country’s Liberal Alliance party.
For his part, honoree-in-question Andersen (1805-1875) actually seems to have been largely celibate in practice, but is generally considered by modern historians to have been bisexual—at least in theory, since his diaries indicate massive unrequited crushes on both men and women.
“You can’t say that Hans Christian Andersen lived in the closet,” Vivi Jelstrup, the head of Denmark’s National Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender People, told local newspaper Fyens Stiftstidende. “The word ‘homosexuality’ did not exist back then—’bisexuality’ even less. It came first with Freud. So it’s not a question that Andersen would not stand by his sexual orientation, he just had no chance to live it out.”
Is a happy ending in store for this fairy festival tale? Stay tuned.