Ola Hoftun Lillelien, a professional handball player, comes out publicly as gay in a heartfelt post on social media. (Instagram/@olalillelien)
Norwegian pro handball player Ola Hoftun Lillelien has bravely come out as gay and said he’s on the lookout for a “handsome boy”.
Lillelien currently plays wing position for Drammen HK in Norway. For those not in the know, handball is a popular team sport where players pass a ball with their hands – aka the name – and try to throw the ball into the other team’s goal.
In a heartfelt post on Instagram, Lillelien revealed that it had been his goal for a “long time” to share his truth with the world. He wrote that he wanted to come out “not for my own part” but “to be a role model”.
“About half a year ago, I told my family, friends and teammates that I most likely do not end up with a sweet girl, but a handsome boy,” he wrote. “The response was exclusively positive!”
Ola Hoftun Lillelien said that he decided to come out publicly on 21 April because it was the 50th anniversary of homosexuality being criminalized in Norway. He explained that he didn’t choose the date for personal gain, but to “proudly thank those” who “fought for my right to love the one I want”.
“I hope society today has come so far that boys and girls do not have to feel the fear of not being accepted for who they are,” he said.
“It is not a sensation to be in love and in love with someone, so I hope we have gotten there that it does not turn out to be a big deal.”
Lillelien then referenced a 2016 speech by King Harold V in which the monarch declared that Norwegians include “girls who love girls”, “boys who love boys” and “boys and girls who love each other”.
Lillelien said he had “only gotten to know warmth, joy and unity” through sport as a professional athlete, adding such themes are exactly what “sport is all about”.
“Sport has room for everyone, including you and me,” Lillelien said. “Because I’m still just me, Ola.”
Ola Hoftun Lillelien told NKR that one of the reasons behind the post was that he wants to find love, and he wants to be able to share his future relationship openly.
He described how it would be “very difficult” to have a boyfriend if “those around you do not know anything”. So he wanted to come out publicly to get a boyfriend “without it being a secret”.
Last week, the Norwegian government formally apologised for the historical law that criminalized homosexuality.
Approximately 119 individuals were jailed between 1902 and 1950 under a law that banned sex between men, euronews reported. The discriminatory law was overturned on 21 April 1972.
Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre said on 20 April that LGBT+ people had been “treated and criminal and prosecuted by the Norwegian authorities” as a result of the hateful legislation.
The government added: “The law had an important symbolic value and meant that homosexuals were exposed to multiple convictions, discrimination, slander and blackmail.”
“Criminalising and prosecuting people for their love life, treating [medically] healthy people, depriving them of career and work opportunities are serious violations of our values.”