It’s that time again and Reykjavík is gearing up for the most festive week of the year. 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 queers of all ages and takes place 3-8 August. Reykjavík Pride is Iceland’s biggest annual event. Let’s take a look back at how we got here.
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 ground-breaking 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 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 1990s. 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 returned to Iceland after his informal exile, he and some other enterprising people founded Samtökin ‘78, Iceland’s most prominent LGBTQ+ 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 ‘78 – the fight for equality isn’t over yet.
The Pride Parade leaves from the corner of Hverfisgata and Ingólfsstræti past the city pond towards Hljómskálagarður park, Saturday, August 7. For more information, visit www.hinsegindagar.is/en.
Pride Events 2021
Neo Vogue/Drag Race Dance Class – August 4
Learn how to dance a dance challenge from RuPaul’s drag race. The dance that will be taught is a fusion of vogue, disco, and commercial choreography. Margrét Maack will teach the class and the event is free of charge. The location of the class is between the H&M and COS stores in downtown Reykjavík.
Queer Party Walk – August 5
Join a queer pub crawl and learn about places with historical value. Icelandic gays flirted with the soldiers at Hotel Borg back in the days. Later on, the lesbians hid at Stúdentakjallarinn (the Student Cellar) but eventually, the drag scene started to bloom at Rauða myllan (Reykjavík’s very own Moulin Rouge). Drinks are included in the ticket price. The walk takes approximately 2.5 hours.
Tickets: 4.900 ISK
Shameless: A proud comedy show – August 6
Shameless is a comedy show by Kimi Tayler and Jono Duffy, also known as the power couple of queer comedy. They enjoy self-promotion and shameless jokes and present a proud Pride comedy show. Get ready for an unconventional night of pure stand-up, live from Reykjavík and Paris.
Tickets: 2.000 ISK
A Nordic Utopia – August 6-8
The Nordic countries are renowned for being frontrunners in equality, but is that really the case? A conference in the Nordic House will explore this topic with contributors from all the Nordic countries as well as Greenland, The Faroe Islands, and Sápmi. Topics will include colonialism, white feminism, queerness, ableism, immigrants, emigrants & asylum seekers, hate speech, the intersections of all this, and marginalisation in general.
Drag Brunch – August 7
This isn’t a normal brunch; this is a brunch experience! Combine delicious food with laughter, singing, clapping, and stomping, and then you get an idea of what Drag Brunch entails. Don’t miss this unique event, there’s only a limited number of tickets available so make sure you get your ticket for a brunch you’ll never forget. Organised by Kiki Queer Bar & Out Of Control Show in collaboration with Reykjavík Pride.
Tickets: 5,490 ISK.
Check out the full programme at www.reykjavikpride.is