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Homophobic media conspiracy? Or just a tiny story?


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Unless your head has been buried in the sand for the past week or so, chances are that you have heard about the terrible tragedy that was the July 22nd massacre in Norway.

Chances are that you have heard about the courageous acts of heroism enacted by some bystanders whilst trying to save lives. German tourist Marcel Gleffe heard the gunfire and, having a military background, recognised it immediately and began to rescue some youths with his boat.

However, you may not have heard about the lives saved through the actions of married lesbian couple Toril Hansen and Hege Dalen. Picked up by Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, an approximate translation of their article reads:

‘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 [a] 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, 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 [could] 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.

Slowly but surely, this story has gathered steam through LGBT community blogs and websites yet the mainstream media has decided to not run this uplifting tale of human endeavour nearly as much as they have run profile pieces on murderer Anders Behring Breivik and the relative merit surrounding the use of ‘right-wing Fundamentalist’ when describing him.

‘Talk about equality’ have been running the story under the title ‘If a Married Lesbian Couple Saves 40 Teens from the Norway Massacre and No One Writes About it, Did it Really Happen?’ which has sparked some debate over whether the media has deliberately quashed the story because of innate prejudice towards lesbians.

The Guardian only covered the story on Wednesday 3rd August and Roz Kaveney suggests that by writing about a married lesbian couple as heroes, many American news editors would be worried that they could be accused of pushing forward a ‘gay agenda’. President of the LGBT society of Dundee University, Laura Rose Darbyshire, says ‘The first few days after the massacre were about loss and the country coming to terms with what had happened and moving forward. No, I don’t think it’s a media conspiracy I just think it was an unknown story which is starting to be covered by bigger media outlets now.’

Is this a ‘media conspiracy’ or is this story just not deemed important enough, regardless of the sexual orientation of the heroines? Are some members of the LGBT community getting up on their high horse or should we just praise these women, who aren’t asking for fame, fortune or recognition anyway? They did a great thing that day and surely that is what Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen should be remembered for.

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