Josephine Skriver is the face of many things. She has appeared in U.S. Vogue, was named a Victoria's Secret Angel in 2016, and made her SI Swimsuit debut in 2020. But while the Danish model’s bustling career has gained her more than six million followers on Instagram, she uses her fame to advocate for global LGBTQ rights. This passion stems from being raised by a lesbian mother and a gay father. Since opening up about her upbringing, Skriver has become involved with organizations like Family Equality Council, Stonewall Initiative and COLAGE. We talked to Skriver about Pride Month to find out more about her advocacy and her childhood.
What does Pride Month mean to you?
"To me, Pride Month is something that always brings me so much joy. It's a time I can celebrate my parents, dance in the street, and really just feel alive. Pride reminds me how stunning love, in any shape, can be and is a time for celebration, release and freedom. People deserve to be happy, live out their own truth and love who they want to love. It's a month to celebrate how far we have come and remind us how far we still have to go. We will keep going until every person out there is shown respect, tolerance and love. We might not all love the same way, choose the same things or believe identically, but one thing is for sure: we all deserve to love and be loved in return."
Why is being an LGBTQ+ advocate so important to you?
"I have always pondered this question because my first thought has always been, ‘Why wouldn't it be?’ If there's anything worth fighting for, it would be love. Fight for your right to love regardless of sex, religion, color, shape or background. Fight for the right to spread that love into making a family. Fight for the right to make the world a more open and welcoming place that celebrates our differences because no matter how unique we are, one thing that connects us is the human heart's capacity to love and want to share that with others. Love shouldn't be a question -- it should be a fundamental right. Love who you want. Unapologetically."
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What do you love most about your upbringing?
"Every upbringing experience comes down to one thing: the people. I never looked at my parents and thought it was weird that they loved people of the same sex. I saw my parents as good parents, and they loved me. They loved others. They were great influences on me. They taught me to work hard, live passionately, speak my mind, be curious, and give this life my all. Those are the things I remember most about my upbringing, always being surrounded by love."
What do you think is the biggest misconception about being raised by gay parents?
"The biggest misconception is that it in any way hurts us. After learning about my family story, a few people I have met have looked at me with pity or told me they felt sorry for me and that things must have been hard. It took me by such surprise the first few times because I had an absolutely amazing upbringing. To me, it was normal. I had a family, and my family loved me. It didn't matter to me who they loved or the sex of who they loved. Family are people you love and who love you back. Family is when the people closest to you have your back no matter what. When I look back at it, I can't think of a thing I would have changed. There was so much love in my home that I feel extremely lucky."
Was there a moment in your life you faced hate because of who your parents are?
"Hate is a strong word, but of course, I have had my share of people making fun of me and looking down on me because of my family background. However, I have always looked at it more as a lack of knowledge. They just don't know anybody and aren't informed. By telling my story, sharing what my parents did for my brother and me, and showing how they raised us on love first, I hope I can open some people's eyes up to a different kind of family structure. My mom always told me, ‘Don't fault them for not knowing any better.’ But I hope by sharing my story that, in the future, they will now know better and do better. Tolerance and respect go both ways, and only through communication and listening can we all learn to understand each other and see one another in a different light."
How did you handle it?
"I'm still continuing to grow and learn. I really just try to be as patient and understanding as possible. It's always about opening a discussion and letting others speak. It's not always the what but the why. I hope that by hearing my story and learning about a different way of being a family, even if they disagree with it in their private lives, they would understand that some people are different from others, and that's O.K. Differences are what makes the world exciting to me. I could never be mad at someone for having a different culture, belief or upbringing than me, and I can only ask that they do the same and let me have mine and treat me how I treat them, which is with kindness, openness and respect."
What is the biggest message you hope to get out of using your platform?
"My biggest message would be that families come in all shapes and sizes. The definition of family is incredibly broad, beautiful and fluid in many ways. Love is what makes a family -- it’s not always blood. All a child truly needs is a loving parent or person in their life, whether single, straight, queer or gay. To any kid out there, either in an LGBTQIA+ family or a member of the community itself, you are loved, and you are bright. Keep shining your light of love on this world, so hopefully, one day, we can all live in harmony amongst each other with understanding and pride."