Tonje Frøystad Garvik and Lene Sleperud took Norway by storm when they won the Norwegian reality TV program “Farmen” in 2018. Not only did they receive attention for the victory, but also for their relationship with each other. One might think that being two girls in a relationship was not particularly startling in the year 2019. However, since they became famous, the response has shown something quite different.
“So many lesbian girls, parents and friends of queer young people have thanked us and described how much it has helped them to have two "ordinary girls" as role models. Others, fortunately fewer, have expressed dissatisfaction and fear that we are "spreading" our orientation - as if it were contagious! It's pretty amazing in 2019.”
Tonje has been a part of the “KT family” for many years as an ambassador. Not for her orientation, but for her positive energy, unpretentious attitude and sporty approach towards life. However, all that she was and is, she feared to lose when she was to come out as gay.
“Finding out that you are a lesbian when growing up in a small town is not very easy. I had no girls to identify with, either around me or in the media. In public, lesbians were often portrayed in a stereotypical way that I couldn’t identify with. I feared who I was as a person would disappear and become insignificant when I came out as a lesbian. I thought it would overshadow everything else that made me.”
Tonje felt that she no longer "fit in" anywhere.
“When you are young, you would rather be like everyone else; "normal" – whatever that is. It felt like I didn't fit in anywhere anymore. It was a very lonely feeling, which I know that many gay people unfortunately experience. I was filled with so much unnecessary shame and fear. Therefore, it’s so important that we show ourselves and share our relationship publicly.”
“When it comes to love, I fall for chemistry and personality, not gender."
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Her girlfriend and now fiancé, Lene Sleperud, had a different and freer approach to her orientation, being a "city girl” from the capital.
“When it comes to love, I fall for chemistry and personality, not gender. Tonje was the first girl I fell in love with. It surprised me that people made such a big deal out of it, compared to when I've been with boys before. People told me that I didn’t "look like a lesbian" and were taken aback by my choice.”
“What should a lesbian girl look like?” Tonje jumps in.
“Some of us like to have short hair, others long. Some use "skinny jeans", others "baggy". Some are "butch" other "femme". We don't have to fit within a box to love who we want. We are just girls.