Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen.
Last year, I lost my dear friend and mentor. Just two months before I took this picture. He never got to actually see the picture, but if it wasn’t for him, I never could have made it.
Tonight, I think of you, Per Folkver.
Per told me that a photographer should never try to please. The biggest risk for a photographer, he said, is when we are trying to please the audience.
Instead we need to challenge: challenge how we see each other, the world, and ourselves.
Tonight, with this photograph, we are challenging homophobia and the hetero-normative definition of love.
Because, make no mistake; in many parts of the world, distributing this image will cost you your freedom. Appearing in this peaceful image will get you killed.
But when they hate — my answer is more love.
When they oppress — my answer is more freedom.
When they say: "Protect the children against gay propaganda," I say: "Take it easy … it doesn’t work like that. I spent two hours in a gay bedroom and I’m still straight."
I would like to thank those who helped me to get this story out: The jury, World Press Photo, Scanpix, and my agencies: Panos Pictures, LAIF and Prospekt.
To my dear family who are with me here tonight: Jeg elsker jer så meget!
A big hug to my photo chief, Thomas Borberg, and the world’s most photography-loving newspaper, Politiken.
Tonight, I think of you, Jon and Alex. You and all the other LGBT-activists who trusted me.
They want to humiliate you — but to me you are the brave. They want to make you look weak — but I always believed that only the strongest dare to be vulnerable.
Before stepping on a land-mine Robert Capa was quoted for saying, "If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough," and I always felt, that was a cliché macho comment.
But maybe I wasn’t fair to Capa. Maybe, we just need to rediscover his words to something like this:
"If our pictures aren’t good enough, we’re not emotionally close enough."
Because if I am not moved, touched, happy or angry when I take the picture — for sure, neither will any of you when you see it.
This image is not trying to please. In fact, I hope it can challenge press photography.
Challenge how we define closeness. Challenge our personal involvement in the stories we do. Challenge us to take a stand.
But above all, I would like to thank World Press Photo for giving me this opportunity to challenge hate. Challenge hate with something as simple as love!