You may recognise Danish supermodel Josephine Skriver from magazine covers, campaigns for Gucci, Armani or DKNY (delete as appropriate) or pretty much any catwalk under the sun - take your pick. But what you might not know is that Josephine grew up in an LGBTQ family, with her mother being a lesbian and her father being gay.
Twenty odd years ago Josephine's mother placed an advert in an LGBTQ magazine seeking a gay male partner to start a family with, two children later and the Skriver family are still going strong. Not that Josephine was aware of her circumstances growing up or anything, because LGBTQ families are just like any other family, except maybe with fewer fights, bigger holidays, and more presents around Christmas. Newly appointed as an ambassador for Family Equality Council and it’s Outspoken Generation Program, a project dedicated to bringing awareness to LGBTQ families by giving parents and children the opportunity to share their stories – we catch up with Josephine to discuss what it’s like to be a ‘rainbow kid’.
What was it like for you and your brother growing up with gay parents?
I didn't really know my life was any different, because I had parents that loved my brother and I very, very much; parents who have sacrificed, loved, fought, and taught us about life like any other parents would.
Does it bother you when people use words like ‘unconventional’ or ‘non traditional’ when referring to your upbringing?
I just hope that one day the concept of 'family' will mean a lot more than the traditional straight couple, with two kids and a house with a white picket fence. For me, family is a group of people bound by love! Love is what makes a family!
"We are all born in different cultures with different personalities, and we all have a right to just be who we are! It has without a doubt opened my heart and taught me that love does not judge, love does not discriminate, and love does not hate."
How did growing up in an LGBTQ community affect your outlook on the world?
It has taught me to look at the world and every new thing with open eyes and an open mind! None of us are the same… We are all born in different cultures with different personalities, and we all have a right to just be who we are! It has without a doubt opened my heart and taught me that love does not judge, love does not discriminate, and love does not hate.
Why did your mother specifically want you both to have a gay father as opposed to a straight one?
My mother never specifically wanted a gay father for us, actually. But being part of the LGBTQ community herself, it just came as a very natural choice to seek a father from the same background.
Did it matter when you were younger that your mother and father weren’t related to each other in a conventional way?
Not at all. My parents were and are gay, so imagining them in a straight relationship would actually be quite weird for me.
How much time do you spend together as a whole family?
With me living across the Atlantic it's not much these days. But for bigger holidays and birthdays, we are all together.
Have you or your parents ever experienced discrimination first hand?
Yes, sadly it’s not always easy being part of a minority group that some people look down upon, so obviously we have experienced it a few times. But I think growing up in a country like Denmark has shielded me from a lot of the hate that still exists in other parts of the world. I have only recently started to understand the extent of it.
How does Denmark differ to other places in the world when it comes to LGBTQ families and communities?
Denmark is very progressive in the fight for LGBTQ rights, so growing up in a very accepting country has been a blessing. We’re not perfect people by any means, but I do appreciate the openness that the Danish have about this particular issue.
Are you friends with lots of other LGBTQ families?
No, actually. Growing up, I was the only kid in my age group with LGBTQ parents. Not until a few years later, when my brother was born, did most of my parents’ friends finally start to have kids of their own. Now I am like a big sister to them all.
Do you think LGBTQ families are represented enough in the media, popular culture, or even our general consciousness?
Not really. I wish these relationships were shown more, and not only when a show wants to be politically correct and include everyone! If LGBTQ families were simply presented as part of normal settings, with the members experiencing the very same issues as other families experience, without any stereotype, that would be the most helpful in showing progress.
What about films like The Kids Are Alright (in which two lesbian parents are torn apart when one of them sleeps with the biological father/anonymous sperm donor of their kids)? Are films like these helpful or detrimental to bringing about equality for LGBTQ families?
I must admit I was a bit offended by the movie, because at first I was really happy about the subject being brought up on the big screen. But the scene where the mom chooses to sleep with the straight male father was – at least for me - very unnecessary, and an unlikely scenario!
"How can loving another consenting human being and wanting a family ever be wrong? Woman or man… love is love, and the heart wants what the heart wants."
Do you ever get asked about your sexuality in the context of your parents?
Yes, a lot!
What do you hope to do with Family Equality Council and its Outspoken Generation Program?
I hope I can help raise awareness about how amazing and loving parents members of the LGBTQ community can be. Who they love does not make them any less capable of raising great human beings. The more people realise that my own upbringing and that of others were healthy, positive ones, the more they will come to understand that the love in an LGBTQ household is no different.
How do you think that being a model will help you with your cause?
Being a known face on a bigger platform can give me a bigger voice to use in this fight.
Should more models be speaking up and showing support for different causes?
Standing up and fighting for what you believe in is really important, because just the smallest thing can bring about big changes. So when you do have the power to be heard more and spread your message to the rest of the world, I would personally find it a shame if I didn't take advantage of the opportunity.
If you could give one message to the children of LGBTQ families what would it be?
Be happy and proud of how amazingly courageous your parents are! They did not back down! They have fought hard to have you as part of their lives!
And what would you say to the people who discriminate against them and their parents?
My question to those people would simply be: How can loving another consenting human being and wanting a family ever be wrong? Woman or man… love is love, and the heart wants what the heart wants. The child or children in this kind of family situation are not victims or people to be pitied, because we are just like any other child – wanting the love of parents who hope to share it.