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Niels (Peter Jacob) Matthiasen
(July 21, 1924 - February 16, 1980) Denmark

Niels Matthiasen

Politician

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Born in Copenhagen. As an adopted child and as a youth, Matthiasen, in his foster parents' home, met the leading politicians of the Social Democratic Party as well as a great many authors, artists and actors. He was included in parties, theatre outings, and at the table of artists in restaurants. He left school at an early age and worked, from 1939 to 1957, he worked for his father's publishing company, from 1954 as managing director.

Matthiasen organised the election campaign for the Social Semocratic Party in 1957, and in 1961 he was elected Party Secretary. As such he modernised the organisation of Denmark's largest political party. He also became a public figure. His tall stature, handsome features and outgoing manner were combined with a ready wit and a noticeable fondness for representative duties. He attached importance to being well-dressed on any occasion.

He was a member of Parliament several times, and Minister for Cultural Affairs. By the time of his death he was regarded by many as almost the national embodiment of culture.

Matthiasen was often seen in public life, in the theatre, at exhibitions and at other cultural events in the company of the prominent ballet dancer Kirsten Simone. It was not generally known that he was an homosexual and he probably had real politic reasons for staying in the closet. Howevere, in journalistic and cultural circles, in Parliament and in the higher echelons of the Social Democratic Party, as well as in the gay subculture, his "secret" was well known.

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Source: excerpts from: Aldrich R. & Wotherspoon G., Who's Who in Contemporary Gay and Lesbian History, from WWII to Present Day, Routledge, London, 2001

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