A controversial effort to honor the life of fairy tale author Hans Christian Andersen with a lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) festival in his native Denmark has sparked a row between local politicians and advocates.
As The Telegraph is reporting, the gay-themed, week-long Andersen celebration was the brainchild of Trine Bramsen, a member of the country's parliament, who believes the LGBT literary gala would attract more visitors to the town of Odense on the island of Funen, where the author was born in 1805. "There is so much palaver about Hans Christian Andersen's sexuality, and I think we should use it," she said, noting that she believed the event could also capitalize on the country's marriage equality law. "It should be a week where gays from all over the world can come to the island of Funen."
Still, Bramen's opponent Merete Riisager seemed unlikely to warm to the idea, noting that the rival lawmaker should not "come out with such silly suggestions at this time," according to Pink Paper.
Best known for his beloved stories "The Little Mermaid" and "Thumbelina," Andersen is widely believed to have experienced unrequited love for both men and women in his life; children's literature experts occasionally cite the dark, original ending of "The Little Mermaid," which was not maintained in the 1989 Disney adaptation, as symbolic of Andersen's outlook on his relationships.
As Pink News notes, Andersen wrote to the Grand Duke of Weimar in 1847: "On that cool evening, when you took your cloak and threw it around me, it warmed not only my body, but made my heart glow still more ardently." Similarly, in a letter to a friend in 1835, he wrote: "I long for you as though you were a beautiful Calabrian girl."
Interestingly, Vivi Jelstrup, the head of Denmark’s National Association of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals and Transgender People, told local newspaper Fyens Stiftstidende that while she supported the idea of a gay week in Denmark, she believes Andersen was actually bisexual rather than gay, according to Queerty: "You can't say that Hans Christian Andersen lived in the closet. 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."