It’s that time again and Reykjavík is gearing up for the gayest weekend of the year (and that’s including the Eurovision Song Contest weekend). Iceland’s first Pride Parade in 1994 consisted of a handful of people, but the event has since grown into a week-long festival culminating in a procession that takes over Reykjavík’s city centre. This year, the festival is dedicated to baráttugleði, which means joy of fighting. The term refers to the struggle that queer people in Iceland have gone through in recent years and decades.
A little bit of history
In 1975, Hörður Torfason, an up-and-coming singer, scandalised the country when he admitted to being homosexual in an interview in magazine Samúel. His coming out was groundbreaking for the gay community, but society’s reaction was less than stellar. Faced with hostile reactions and threats, Hörður eventually left the country for a few years while the commotion died down.
Every victory was hard-earned…
Much like Hörður Torfa was the “first (openly) gay man” in Iceland, Anna Kristjánsdóttir was the “first (openly) trans person” in Iceland. Anna didn’t get the support she needed from the Icelandic medical system, so she went abroad to Sweden, where she came out as trans in the 90s. For a long time, Anna was the only out trans person in Iceland and had her work cut out for her to gain acceptance.
But it’s getting better
Ever since 1940, the year gay sex stopped being a punishable offence in Iceland, there has been excruciatingly slow but steady progress towards acceptance. Rigid gender roles and strict heteronormativity have slowly made way for a more liberal attitude towards sex, love and life from the general population.
There have been milestones…
Gay people in Iceland have today been granted many legal rights that seemed unthinkable just a few decades ago. Same-sex common-law partnership came first, followed by adoption rights, and finally, in 2010, same-sex marriage.
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir has been a prominent politician in Iceland for decades. In 2009, she made international news when she not only became the first female prime minister of Iceland, but also the first openly lesbian prime minister in the world. Her wife, Jónína, is a writer and in 2013, she published their love story after having to keep their life private for decades.
But things aren’t perfect yet
When Hörður Torfa returned to Iceland after his informal exile, he and some other enterprising people founded Samtökin ’78, Iceland’s most prominent LGBTQIA rights association. Samtökin ‘78 have spent decades educating the Icelandic public and fighting for the rights of their members. Unfortunately, there’s still a need for Samtökin – the fight for equality isn’t over yet.
Reykjavík Pride takes place August 7-12. The Pride Parade leaves from the corner of Hverfisgata and Ingólfsstræti past the city pond towards Hljómskálagarður park, Saturday, August 11, at 14:00. For more information, visit the website of Reykjavík Pride 2018.
Let’s Paint a Rainbow
For the past few years, the City of Reykjavík has invited volunteers to paint a huge rainbow in downtown Reykjavík. The location of the rainbow changes from year to year and is announced the day before. All are welcome and volunteers are encouraged to bring their own paint brush.
Standup: I wouldn’t date me either
Imagine if you suddenly found yourself single and the last time your were in that situation the iPhone didn’t exist. Stand-up comedian Jonathan Duffy talks about reinventing himself in a world of iPhones and online dating after the end of a long-term relationship. Jonathan will share his experiences, dating disasters and sexual mishaps of the past three years.
Reykjavik Pride invites you on a Queer Cruise. Sail around the small islands off the coast of Reykjavík, and see the city from a different perspective. Local DJ and radio host Siggi Gunnars will provide music and there will be special offers at the bar. Cruisers meet at the Elding Whale Watching Centre at 20:30. The ship will set sail at 21:00, so don’t be late! Tickets cost ISK 2,500.
The biggest event of the festival is, of course, the Pride Parade itself! Reykjavík locals flock downtown to witness the spectacle and celebrate everyone’s right to live and love as they choose. The parade leaves from the corner of Hverfisgata and Ingólfstræti, heading past the Tjörnin pond to Hljómskálagarður park where an outdoor concert will take place.
Family Rainbow Festival at Klambratún Park
The Family Rainbow Festival takes place at Klambratún park by Kjarvalsstaðir museum. Queer parents along with Reykjavík Pride will offer a colourful programme for guests of all ages. Get ready for entertainment, outdoor games, and food for everyone.