Rowen Theodore, 16 – Shawnee, Kansas, United States

When I was a kid growing up in the middle of redneck country, my father told me that all mentally ill people were inherently evil. My community taught me that there was no place in the world for queer people. I was taught to hate myself before I even knew who I was. In a town a mere hour’s drive away from the Westboro Baptist Church, the LGBT+ community is constantly in danger. I’ve heard horror stories of hate crimes from friends I’d do anything for. LGBT+ people make up 40% of our homeless youth, and last year I nearly joined them when I wrote queer poetry on the walls of my closet during a manic episode in the aftermath of Orlando. I spent so much of my life believing that I was alone. I’d been taught that a girl who likes girls is a dead girl, that people like me were made to burn. I cannot express how important Skam is to me. For the first time in my life, I saw people like me getting a happy ending. I saw people like me humanized on screen. And what you’ve done for us in Norway, today, will save the lives of LGBT+ people in perilous situations all over the world tomorrow. I cannot thank you enough for the feeling of acceptance and understanding you’ve given me. Thank you, Skam.