Proud to be average

He ‘s the first to get Iceland into the top ten finals in Mr. Gay World. And now he has a new album coming out next year. We spoke to Troy Michael Jónsson about his music career, the decision to move to Iceland, his passionate battle for lgbt rights and the pressure of taking part in a contest like Mr. Gay World 2014.

So, Troy, why don’t you start by telling us a little bit about yourself.
“Well, I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA. Then I moved to New York for a reality show and stayed there for three years working on my music career, performing at Gay Pride Parades all over the east coast. After appearing on TV shows like “The Next American Gay” (which had a successful air in 6 countries on the OutTV Network) and “Snooki & JWoww” (a hit show on MTV) I guess I started to feel that I needed a change in my life, a break from all the craziness in New York. So I moved with my other half to Iceland in 2013. I had been here a couple of times before and immediately fell in love with the country on my first visit. What fascinates me about Iceland is how beautiful everything is. There’s also no military. So everybody can live in peace without worry. And for those reasons and more Iceland is a country which I now proudly call home.”

And then you ended up participating on Iceland’s behalf in Mr. Gay World. Why?
“Firstly, I’ve done a few competitions before, representing my home state Pennsylvania in the States and also the US in a different competition, so I’m experienced in that way. But it’s also due to my strong background in politics; I have a degree in Political Science, I’ve campaigned for politicians, like Senator Joe Sestak and President Barack Obama, and I’ve publicly spoken out for gay rights for many years. That combined with an endless desire to succeed always makes me interested in competing for an opportunity to be a worldwide ambassador for gay rights. Marriage equality, the ability to donate blood, suicide prevention – equality for gays in all aspects is basically at the top of my list. That’s what I strive for. My whole life has been based on trying to help others in any way possible. Especially when homosexuality is involved.”

Brains before beauty

The contest is described as a competition for gay and human rights. But isn’t it really just a standard beauty pageant?
“You know, when you think of the word “pageant,” its mainly about beauty. However, not in this case. During this competition we had to pass a written exam showing knowledge of gay rights and a brutal “one minute challenge” in which a journalist grilled us with controversial questions. If we failed we had absolutely no chance of winning. Of course appearance plays a part of it. But it’s not the main part. In this competition it’s brains before beauty.”

So what were the judges looking for?

Troy chose to wear an interpretation of Bardarbunga volcano as the national costume. He started smoking from his mouth as he walked on stage and “erupted” in the end. The costume was designed by Ólafur Helgi a.k.a. Starina.

“A well spoken person who can be the ambassador for their brand and promote what the Mr. Gay World Organization stands for. There were a series of challenges: a cooking challenge, an art challenge, one minute challenge, a private interview, photo shoot challenge and showing off a national costume, formal wear, swim wear and a final question on stage.”

What did you bring to the table?
“I don’t think anyone expected me to do well because Iceland has never been into the top ten. Also because I wasn’t anywhere near in the good shape as some of the other contestants. However, I was confident that I would storm Iceland into the top ten for the first time. You see, I’m very well spoken and comfortable with myself. And even if I wasn’t the most fit, my confidence bypasses what any fitness level can reach. I’m proud of being average. I’m not perfect and I never want to be.  I just want to be me. I had no tricks. I just went in there, relaxed and remained myself. I never tried to be someone else. Stayed myself the whole time. That’s how I ended up doing so well.”

“I don’t think anyone expected me to do well because Iceland has never been into the top ten. However, I was confident that I would storm Iceland into the top ten.”

Tell us about the preparation.
“It was insane. I had little sleep due to an intense workout routine, mixing up my workouts with Crossfit and Strength Training and swimming every morning. And in between I met had a unique opportunity to meet with great activists, such as the Mayor of Reykjavik, Dagur B. Eggertsson, and the former Prime Minister, Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir.”

Any drama behind the scenes?
“There wasn’t really any drama amongst the contestants. But, we were ALL a bit shocked that Mr. India did not make the top 5. Theres something magical about him. His presence just takes you to a new place of happiness after you’ve been around him for 15 minutes. I couldn’t be any happier that he became part of my life. I’m not taking away from the others and I congratulate the Winner and the Top 5. But it’s clearly obvious that Sushant, Mr. India, was the winner. He won the art challenge, the Peoples Choice Award, was chosen Mr. Congeniality and part of the team which won the sports challenge. But he didn’t make it to the top 5? A bit strange to me.”

Working out before a photo shoot.

Apart from snatching the Mr. sports prize, what did you get out of the contest?
“I wanted people to realize what I’m capable of and that I have a big heart. I never focus on “me”. I live my life fighting for equality, focusing on how I can help others.”

But you lost your job because of Mr. Gay World, right?
“That’s correct. I needed a 2 extra days off work to escape the possible volcanic eruption in case it would prevent me from flying abroad. However, I was sent a TEXT message from my boss at Icelandair Hotels Keflavík telling me not to come back to work if I took those extra days off. Given the standard of Icelandair Hotels I thought it was extremely unprofessional. It was also shocking as I never missed a day in work and covered everyone’s shifts if asked, and the manager later told me this had nothing to do with my performance, I was a great employee. All the same I was told to choose between the two. So I chose the competition because it gave me the opportunity to capture a world title and become a worldwide ambassador for gay rights. I would choose equality, human rights, any day over my job, no matter what it is. I still respect Icelandair as a whole, but I cannot support the unprofessional branch in Keflavík.”

Would love to work with Paul Oscar

After digging a bit we found out that you’re one busy bee.
Smiles. “I have so many things planned. For now, I’ve taken on a new platform to be able to get gays to donate blood, as it’s still a worldwide issue. I plan to work with various organizations and speak out at events throughout the world on behalf of the gay community to get gays in line for blood drives.”

Having fun with photographer Adam Bouska, from NOH8 the world’s largest marriage equality campaign.

A little bird told us you’re also working on a new album.
“My music career is about to take off with the release of my very first album, a hip hop album, in 2015. With it I want to spread the message of hope by highlighting my own triumphs and tribulations. I collaborated with a lot of great people on the album. It’s all still a big hush, but I can name R&B Singer NuNu and music producer and rap artist Neptune, both stationed out of Pittsburgh PA.”

On that note, how do you find the Icelandic music scene?
“I would love to collaborate with Paul Oscar and Steinar. I’ve performed with Steinar before and he truly is talented. The goes same for Paul Oscar. I love him. It would be a blast to work with him. To bring a twist to his style, for example by adding a rap verse from me.”

And then there’s a Oprah Winfrey project.
“Yes, I’ve just finalized a project called “The Oprah Effect” which highlights the success story of Oprah Winfrey. It’s an idea for a television series I’m going to pitch to the OWN Oprah Winfrey Network. And if it becomes a reality I’m hoping it will help influence the lives of many. Especially those in need. Other than that I can’t tell you much about it – at least not at this stage.” Smiles mysteriously.

But why Oprah, are you a fan?
“We’ve faced very similar struggles in life, which I’m not ready to talk about. Not yet. And because of that I proudly have her birthday tattooed across my ribcage. Some people think it’s crazy and don’t understand my admiration for her. But I just find her so inspiring.”

Seems like 2015 is going to be a very exciting year for you.
“With my upcoming album and possible return to television I believe my future is bright. My ideas keep growing as life goes on. My desire for success is never-ending. So 2015 is it!”

Troy and friends at Mr. Gay World 2014. From left: Sushant (mr. India), Fabrice (mr. Germany), Peter (mr. Finland), Troy and Werner (mr. South Africa).

Main photo: Sushant, Mr. India, left with Troy. All photos: Courtesy of Troy Michael.

Click here to see the Mr. Gay World 2014. To see Troy on stage fast forward to 09:50.

For more photos from Mr. Gay World 2014, click here.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.


Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.


    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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        Ísey skyr
        - once tasted never forgotten

        Our Story
        Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

        For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

        Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
        This is our secret and you are in on it

        You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

        - noodle bar

        Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

        All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
        We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
        Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

        Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

        - adventure cruise

        Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
        and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

        The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.


        This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.


        The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

        Birds, possible to spot:
        -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
        -eider ducks
        -white-tailed eagle

        The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
        Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

        Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

        Contact Us

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