Models are usually seen and not heard. But Danish model Josephine Skriver, who has starred in campaigns for Michael Kors, MAC, and DKNY and walked the runways for Lanvin, Erdem, and Diane Von Furstenberg has something to say.
We caught wind of Skriver’s story over on BuzzFeed. The model spoke to Amy Odell about her start in modelling and the status of the industry as a whole, including the lack of diversity on the runway. But what we were really impressed by was her candid and sharp take on growing up with two sets of gay parents.
Skriver’s upbringing would send any conservative American Republican into fits: Her mom, a single lesbian, decided she wanted children, so she put a listing in a gay publication seeking out a gay male who wanted kids too. And yet Skriver’s family sounds more traditional than you may think; she and her brother share the same biological parents, who remain close and share holidays together. Anyone would be proud to be from a family like Skriver’s–and she certainly is.
“It’s always been me that’s dragged my parents to the gay pride parade because I’ve always been so proud of them,” she told BuzzFeed. “We call ourselves “rainbow kids.’”
So we emailed with Skriver, who is currently in Europe, to ask her about growing up with gay parents and why she hopes her story won’t be that interesting.
Fashionista: What was it like growing up in a nontraditional family?
Skriver: I often get that question and every time it makes me smile, because I never really felt that my family was that much different or “nontraditional.” Yes, of course both of my parents are gay. But besides that, I always felt they were identical to most of my friends’ parents. During the years which I grew up, it was already more rare in our community to have one’s parents still living together under the same roof. Many of my fellow classmates already lived in separate households and had two different homes to commute in between, just like me.
But having said that, of course I was still aware that my family was different.
And everything different tends to be a subject for mockery by people who don’t understand the situation. So my mother always told me to be open about our family life, that it was important not to hide who you are, because if you are embarrassed about something, people are even more likely to tease you about it.
What did growing up within the LGBT community teach you?
I think that being a part of a minority group has helped me become very open to learning about things I don’t know or maybe just don’t understand yet. Because when it comes down to it: All humans are just humans! So no matter your sexual orientation, your race, or gender, we should all be born with the same basic human rights. I therefore have a burning wish: that the world one day will wake up and accept that while we may be different in a lot of ways, when it comes down to the core we are all part of one single world and should work together for a stronger future.
Have you found that acceptance of the gay community is different in the US than Denmark?
For me, Denmark currently appears to be a more open country when it comes to the LGBT community. But then again, Denmark is a really small country as well, so even though the effort in the fight for equal rights remains the same, it might be less of a challenge to reach a united voice.
On the other hand, the US is a larger nation with a different history, and also more diversity as well as differing opinions, so I think it’s just a matter of time and continuous education before acceptance can become the norm. Hopefully sooner than later!
How did you feel about the recent Supreme Court decisions?
I was very happy when I heard the news. It is a great step in the right direction for LGBT citizens in the United States to be treated with equal rights under the law. It is really significant that even the Supreme Court is now taking a stand and requiring respect for the rights of the community, but it is still a small step in on the long route towards complete equality.
How has the modeling community, and the fashion community, reacted to your family story?
In some ways, I feel like the industry I work in is one of the most open. The more “misfit” you are in the outside world, the more the fashion industry will embrace you. It is a very open minded community, so my story has always been met with a lot of positivity. And of course the fact that half of the industry are members of the LGBT community probably doesn’t hurt, either!
How do you feel about sharing your story–do you think it will have an effect?
It always made me feel good to share my story, mostly with people who had a problem with homosexuality previously, because I always have a little hope I can help them understand that being part of a family like mine does not make me less of a human in any way.
So by getting my story out there, I hope will get a lot, or even just a few, people to see and understand that gay parents can be just as good as straight parents. I want to speak up for (and speak to) all the children in similar situations as myself and help them understand that they should never be less than proud of their parents choices–to be open and true to who they are, whether their parents are gay or come out as gay later on in their upbringing.
But most of all, I wish my story will actually not be that interesting soon, because that would mean that society has come to accept LGBT parents to be just as traditional and normal as any other way of having a family.
What else do you think needs to be done to help the LGBT community?
There are still a lot of states in the US where the LGBT community has a long way to go from attaining the same rights as their follow American citizens. I really hope more states would allow same sex marriages and adoption, which would recognize that LGBT parents are just as positive role models as straight parents.
I feel that people could continue to show their support to LGBT community by donating to charities that advocate for LGBT rights, writing to their local politicians and ask for them to stand up for the community, and even something like stop using words like “gay” to refer to anything negative. It’s also important to support films and TV shows that depict LGBT characters where they are not stereotypes but rather people living the same type of everyday family life (Just with a different kind of love). This way, LGBT individuals in society are seen positively and are no longer mere outcasts in everyone’s eyes.
But the easiest thing for people to do is to come out, not just as gay, but openly come “out” as a supporter of gay rights as well. Because the louder our voices are together, the better the chance is for us to be heard.