– My life is a bit like a soap opera. One quickly thinks a little like this: “Especially, as if all this is happening to this one person”.
An autumn day in the early 2000s. The future leader of Trondheim Pride, Ina Haukvik, is standing in the schoolyard at Langveien ungdomsskole in Kristiansund. She is facing a choice. An important choice:
“Who should I hang out with?”
Admittedly, most choices feel very important at the age of 13-14. Even the most mundane decision can seem like an existential crossroads in life.
But for Ina, this choice was just that. A crossroads.
Who you choose to surround yourself with can have major consequences. Especially for young people like Ina.
Ina Haukvik was born with what she calls «a slightly poorly equipped toolbox». Many would call it an understatement.
– My mom was a drug addict all my life and she died when I was 12 from an overdose. I’m moving to my dad’s when I was five. He struggled a lot with alcohol.
Age: 31 years.
Comes from: Kristiansund.
Background: Soon graduated social anthropologist.
Current: Outgoing leader in Trondheim Pride.
Listens to: P2. I am very fond of music, but I am and will be a radio person. And preferably P2.
Looking at: I’ve been a little stressed lately, so I just did not get to look at anything new I just see things I’ve put before, because I know how it ends. And usually I like to watch the news, but now I’m taking a break. There’s too much pandemic.
Reader: The last book I read was Roy Jakobsen’s “The Invisible”. I read it when it was new. In other words, it’s been a long time since last. Growing up, I read a lot, but not in recent years.
An out-of-the-ordinary upbringing
We meet the outgoing leader of Norway’s third largest Pride festival, Pride Trondheim, at a café in the center of the capital of Trøndelag. The other cafe guests hardly notice that Ina enters the room. On the surface, there is nothing to suggest that the 31-year-old Christian wonder is anything other than a completely ordinary Christian wonder, with a completely ordinary life behind him. Men the skin deceives.
You can literally hear ears pricking around the cafe room when Ina starts to tell.
– When I was five, we were in a car accident. We were on our way to Grandma’s birthday when we crashed into a tractor. Dad ended up in a coma.
Ina, who was sitting in the back with her cousin, came physically unharmed from the accident. The father was worse off. After lying in a coma, he had to go through a long rehabilitation. In the end, he was granted disability benefits.
– What happened when my father drank, was that he fell asleep. He was a well-functioning dad from six in the morning to five in the afternoon, and then he was gone. He was someone who always came to parent meetings and “had things in order”, in a way. But it actually made the situation more difficult. Even though Dad was very nice where he was nice, I was alone in the evenings. When I moved out we got a closer relationship. I have nothing bad to say about him.
She was lucky, she says herself. Another understatement, perhaps. But when Ina turned ten, she got a nice “visiting family” that she was to stay with one weekend a month. When she turned 14, the visiting family became her foster family. When she turned 16, she moved to Trondheim.
Welcome to adulthood
The aging lady at the table behind Ina, has read the same article in Adresseavisen suspiciously for a long time. Everything indicates that the newspaper she hides her nose in, is now just for decoration. Ina is used to people reacting to her story.
– After I had moved to Trondheim, my dad became depressed. He had inherited an apartment building in Kristiansund, and I think he felt very much on this divide between owning this large house, at the same time as he was on disability benefits. And I think there are high expectations for how to be. He was ill for quite some time. Then he took his life on Christmas Eve. I was going back to Trondheim that day and celebrate Christmas with a friend. But I found him before I left.
Ina’s welcome to adulthood was to become an orphan at the age of 19.
The old lady at the next table later does not even seem to read the newspaper anymore. She looks straight at us. When I meet her gaze she quickly looks away. A few minutes later she puts down the newspaper and leaves.
Ina does not get to see this little mini-drama between the undersigned and the aging Trøndelag man. She sits with her back to the next table and drinks coffee. The way she tells her story even testifies that she does not care much if anyone happens to overhear her. The 31-year-old has had many exercises in talking openly about the difficult things in life.
That a story is difficult makes it all the more important to tell the way she sees it.
– It happens that I can not bear to tell. Mostly because I’m afraid the person I’m telling it to be touched and depressed, and then I have to sit there and take care of this person who thought this was tough to hear. At the same time, there is something in me that refuses to be quiet about it. I do not want it to be a secret, or something you do not talk about. Because I think that’s why there are so many of us who have been sitting at all. That you do not get to talk about it. It has been so taboo.
Volunteer member, involuntary leader
After her father’s death, Ina went to Copenhagen to study art. The year she spent in Denmark allowed her to lower her shoulders and have problems at a distance. But the sad reality awaited her at home in Norway.
– It was very nice in Copenhagen. I seem to remember that everything was fine. But it was probably a bit because I “escaped” from trouble. When I came back and had to start university again, I did not succeed. I went to the same hallways and sat in the same lectures as when Dad was sick. Then I took a break.
Despite the break year – life has in no way stood still for Ina Haukvik since then. And thankfully, the last year has been of a far more positive value than the first twenty years of her life.
Among other things, she found her way into Pride Trondheim, which has been a source of much joy. She signed up in anger, though.
– I’m really quite angry. I’m one who can probably pull down the mood at a party. And that was in a way I joined Pride. I remember that Børge Brende was at Torget and opened Trondheim Pride in 2017. Then I was so provoked that I signed up. I remember I wrote one’s application that Pride should not become a political platform.
Ina has been a member of a large number of voluntary organizations and has her own ability to end up in leadership positions without trying or wanting.
– Well, I’m a leader in Trondheim Pride, but I would never become a leader. The same thing happened at the Student Society, where I also ended up as the leader of my subgroup. It probably describes me a little.
She is also the youth contact in the organization Leve Sør-Trøndelag (National Association for Survivors of Suicide), where she has, among other things, the task of being an “equal person” for young suicide survivors. Someone they can talk to who has gone through the same thing themselves.
– I think people trust that I can do a good job, and that’s very nice, but maybe I should learn to say no sometimes. Like when I walked forward in that parade, for example.
Body hair and beer
The parade she is aiming for is the Pride Festival in Toronto – one of the world’s largest Pride events. In 2019, she had volunteered. The idea was that Ina should fiddle around in a reflective vest and just be one of many volunteers who made sure that the festival went smoothly. That’s not how it went.
– I ended up going all the way to the front of the parade. I got an intercom and had to talk to those who put on other than: “Yes, now we have come here and there, so now we have to go there and there”. I had no idea what the streets were like.
She had only lived in Toronto for three months. She was there in a study context – to interview Canadians about their body hair.
Well then, you read right: Their body hair.
– I’m not the most academic brain, so if I was to write a master’s, I would have to write about something that engaged me in a curious, strange way. By the way, I wrote my bachelor’s dissertation on «masculinity in Trøndelag beer culture». So my research does not save the world, but I do it in my spare time, so it goes well, says Ina with a sly smile.
Kristiansunderen has no plans to stay in academia after his studies.
– Well, when I finish my master’s, I want a good job. Maybe a little because I’ve done so much fun and held so many positions. Moreover, it is rare for anyone to announce a PhD on body hair and beer. Not for that, I would like to do something boring, but I do not want to become a researcher.
She says that her current dream job is to sit in a secluded office in some secret archive.
– You are not afraid that you will end up as head of the archive then?
– No, at some point I must also start saying no.
An open queer life
– When did you realize you were queer?
– I think I’ve always shown it a little. But I remember very well that my aunt, with whom I lived in Trondheim, asked me: “You, Ina, when are you going to get out of the closet, then?” But I never needed it. I do not think I felt any different. Since my life may have been a little different, it has not been such a big deal that I am queer. There have always been other things that have been difficult and “big”. Just the fact that my mother was a drug addict – it has been a thing to be ashamed of and something that others may not accept and accept.
– Getting out of the closet fades a bit in relationships, in other words?
– Yes, in a way. But at the same time, I started living an obviously queer life before I moved to Trondheim. And it’s probably a bit about the fact that when I grew up there were not many who were “out” and queer in Kristiansund.
Ina became the oldest member of her immediate family at the age of 25 when her last surviving grandfather died. Still, she says she has “the world’s largest family.”
– I have a queer family here in Trondheim. I have what many would call friends, but as I call family. We always stand up for each other and care.
Back to Langveien on early 2000 high. Ina continues to ponder, “Who is she going to start hanging out with?”
Should she be part of the crawl as a smuggler behind the shed? The cool mobs. “The problems”. Many of them have some of the same challenges as she has.
Or should she be with “the others”? Those who spend their free time on the plan. Those who have stable families and carefree lives, relatively speaking.
The choice fell on “the others”. She chose the “struggles.” The choice was important. And not least really.
– I made an active choice to hang out with those who had mom, dad, dog and little sister and car and cabin. It was not necessarily where I felt at home or felt understood, but I felt very safe there. And I fortunately realized early on that: It’s not about people necessarily having to understand you, as long as they try to understand. I’m grateful for that. I chose real friends. I’m glad I ended up in the right environment early.
Ina Haukvik has since made many important choices. And right choice. She has spent her time filling up her “poorly equipped toolbox” – at the same time as she has used it as a tool to help others.
– That I have used my experiences to help others, makes me able to go a little further. Maybe I was helping to stop a suicide after sitting on the crisis phone one day.
But even though she has managed to find positive uses for her negative baggage, she is careful not to give it any major meaning.
– I’m a little scared to think that everything has a meaning. Because I do not think there is any point in my parents taking their lives. It does not comfort me. And I’m afraid I’ll forget how painful it has been. It is something important in that it has been painful and difficult, but it is also what has made me here I am today. I do not know if I want to use the word happy, but I’m happy. I’m fine. I’m a little too, but it has to be a certain balance in life.