LGBT Rights Pioneer Axel Axgil Dies

The gay rights pioneer who became known as "Axel Axgil" came out of the closet in Denmark, 1948. The next day he lost his job. This weekend, he died of "complications from a fall." He was 96 years old. According to The Washington Post:

Axgil, born Axel Lundahl-Madsen, was among the founding members of the organization — one of the oldest gay rights groups in Europe — in 1948.

On Oct. 1, 1989, he and his partner Eigil were among 11 couples to exchange vows as Denmark became the first country to allow gays to enter civil unions, with nearly the same rights as heterosexual couples. Eigil Axgil died in 1995.

In the 1950s, both were sentenced on pornography charges to short prison terms for running a gay modeling agency that issued pictures of naked men. The men melded their first names into a new surname, Axgil, and used it in a public show of defiance.

The journalist Rex Wockner was in Copenhagen in '89, when Axel and Eigil exchanged vows. He took the picture at top. (Axel's the fellow on the left.) See some of Wockner's other pictures from the occasion AFTER THE JUMP ...