Media overlooks lesbian heroes in Norway shooting

lesbian couple in norway

If a married lesbian couple saves 40 teens in Norway and no one covers it, did it really happen?

This is the question posed over at Talk About Equality, which presents the under reported story of a married lesbian couple who rescued 40 teenagers during and after the Norway shooting last month by transporting them by boat from the island to the mainland.

The blog gives this account (translated from the Finnish capital city’s largest daily newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat):

Hege Dalen and her spouse, Toril Hansen were near Utöyan having dinner on the opposite shore across from the ill-fated campsite, when they began to hear gunfire and screaming on the island.

“We were eating. Then shooting and then the awful screaming. We saw how the young people ran in panic into the lake,” says Dale to HS in an interview.

The couple immediately took action and pushed the boat into Lake Tyrifjorden.

Dalen and Hansen drove the boat to the island, picked up from the water victims in shock in, the young and wounded, and transported them to the opposite shore to the mainland. Between runs they saw that the bullets had hit the right side of the boat.

Since there were so many and not all fit at once aboard, they returned to the island four times.

They were able to rescue 40 young people from the clutches of the killer.

“We did not sleep last night at all. Today, we have been together and talked about the events,” Dalen said.

My goodness, what an incredible story. I can’t even imagine channeling such selfless and effective bravery in the face of terror.

Roz Kaveney has an opinion piece over at the Guardian outlining a few reasons why this couple might not be getting the shine they quite deserve:

“You can just imagine news editors in Washington worrying that, if they pushed the story, they would be accused of promoting ‘the gay agenda’…

…In particular, gay teens need to be told not just that it gets better, but that they, personally, may one day get the chance to step up, be heroic and make it better.”

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman is Executive Director of Partnerships at Feministing, where she enjoys creating and curating content on gender, race, class, technology, and the media. Lori is also an advocacy and communications professional specializing in sexual and reproductive rights and health, and currently works in the Global Division of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. A graduate of Harvard University, she lives in Brooklyn.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/lizbourbon/ liz

    First of all, yes, that is an amazing story and these women are indeed very brave and deserve attention (if they want it).

    Now I’m not an expert on any of these things, but I think the reasons it hasn’t been getting as much attention in Norway might be because the urge to find heroes is less prominent in Norway than in the States. Not because they are lesbian, because I think that is not that big of a deal over there.

  • http://feministing.com/members/dark_morgaine_le_fey/ dark_morgaine_le_fey

    Oh yes, the “gay agenda” of telling it like it is? We wouldn’t want that. I saw a friend post this story on Facebook this morning, and I was utterly appalled that I didn’t hear anything about it before.

  • http://feministing.com/members/smiles/ Smiley

    Well, I guess it depends on how you define “Media”.

    The press in Europe have reported on the couple prominently. For example, in the French Le Figaro (not known for its leftish stances): http://www.lefigaro.fr/international/2011/08/02/01003-20110802ARTFIG00433-tuerie-d-utoeya-l-acte-de-bravoure-de-deux-femmes.php

    The comments do complain about the emphasis placed on their sexuality: “is it at all relevant?”

    I guess it is impossible to please everyone all the time!

  • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

    So factually reporting on something that occurred is now part of a “gay” agenda? I always thought that agenda was called “journalism”.

    I do know I saw this story shared by a number of people on my Facebook, I posted it to my wall and a couple of people shared it from there. I’m appreciative that I’ve managed to cultivate a circle of people who do take interest in news items like this. But think of how it may influence others to rethink their views on LGBTQ people, or even their views of womens’ capabilities/courage in general, if a story like this were simply reported in mainstream news sources?

  • http://feministing.com/members/tellevandlu/ Rae

    Actually, Autostraddle wrote on this back on the 28th.

    http://www.autostraddle.com/on-the-tragedy-in-norway-102373/

  • http://feministing.com/members/toongrrl/ toongrrl

    Someone should get a picture of them, take the photo to many classrooms (K-12), and slap stickers on them that say ROLE MODELS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Give the sistahs the Nobel Peace Prize and Purple Hearts!!!!!!!!!!!