Drag queen to compete in Reykjavík Marathon

It‘s not every day that drag queens in full costume compete in marathons, but that’s exactly what Hjálmar Forni Sveinbjörnsson Poulsen plans do in the Reykjavík Marathon in August.

„I saw a guy run the Reykjavik Marathon in a business suit last year and that’s how I got the idea to run in drag,“ Hjálmar says and explains that he‘s running 3 kilometers for The National Queer Association (i. Samtökin ’78). „Because I really believe that it is essential to keep the battle for equality going. We sometimes think that the battle is won, but you only have to read a few comments on Facebook to realise that prejudice is far from over.“

Hjálmar is super excited about taking part in the Reykjavík Marathon. It will the first time he competes in it. Last year there were 15.552 registered runners and it is expected that even more will take part this year.

Hjálmar has not decided what to wear in the marathon except for a pair of really high-heeled shoes. Is he not worried about falling on his face in the middle of the race? „No, no, I‘ve been practicing,“ he says laughing. „My record for wearing high heels was in Reykjavík Pride last year, when I was in heels for 19 hours. So 3 kilometers is not a daunting prospect. It took me three days though to recover from that. I could hardly stand the first day after the parade, but I‘ve got more practise now. It will be fine.“

Hjálmar is the reigning drag queen of Iceland and plans to crown his successor in the drag competition on August 5th. Three days later he intends to take part in the Pride parade as his alter ego Gloria Hole in full carnival outfit. The original idea was to let his grandmother drive his vintage Cadillac in the parade, but now he says that he is gonna rent a pickup instead for his number, and he is not sure if grandma is gonna drive.

„My grandmother has always been my greatest ally in the drag business, but I‘m not sure if she is willing to drive a pickup,“ he says. „I‘m gonna be dressed as a participant in a brazilian carnival in feather bikini with a magnificent headdress and have been very busy the last weeks sewing pearls and feathers to a skimpy bikini. I‘ll have two dancers with me on the pickup and perform to the song Carnaval de Paris. It‘s going to be a great show, I promise.“

„My record for wearing high heels was in Reykjavík Pride last year, when I was in heels for 19 hours. So 3 kilometers is not a daunting prospect.“

Hjálmar is currently living in Sweden and it was love that brought him there. „I have a Swedish boyfriend whom I met in Reykjavík a few months ago and when he left Iceland I decided to sell all my stuff and move to Norrköping to be with him. It‘s going great, but I haven’t found a job yet, so I‘m not sure how long I can live here. But if things don‘t work out I‘m not moving back to Iceland. The dream is to find a job in Tenerife and move there.“

The Cadillac Fleetwood in question is a ’91 model (4.9 L, 8 cylinder engine). Only one of many cars that Hjálmar has owned and repaired by himself throughout the years.

Speaking of jobs, Hjálmar has a degree from The College of Navigation in Reykjavík but he has no desire to go out to sea. „It‘s really hard to find a good place on Icelandic ships or boats and I don‘t think I will be working as a seaman in the future. But I loved being at the College of Navigation and it really surprised me how open and understanding the guys there were about me being a drag queen. They just thought it was very cool and I did not meet one person there who had an ounce of prejudice. I even attended class wearing full drag and they only smiled and kept going about their own business. Great guys.“

Hjálmar says that his Pride act is dedicated to the queens who have been banned from the parade in Scotland. Photo: Hjálmar with his grandmother Svanhildur Sveinbjörnsdóttir, who he describes as his “biggest ally in tha drag business”.

As a youngster Hjálmar lived in Ísafjörður but moved to Reykjavík in 2011 because he really felt like the only gay in the village. „The gays who lived in Ísafjörður were all much older than me and even though some of the guys were curious about gay life they didn’t really understand it. So I moved to the city to be able to be who I am. I‘ve never regretted that move,“ he says and adds that he loves being a drag queen and hopes everyone will support the cause of The National Queer Organization by donating to his run. „We have to make ourselves more visible in events like The Reykjavík Marathon. It is not enough to be gay for a day in the Pride parade.“

Main photo: background depicts the Reykjavík Marathon. Courtesy of marathon.is  Smaller picture, a cut out, shows Hjálmar in drag at the Reykjavík Pride Parade. Photo by Shilke Shurack. Courtesy of Hjálmar.

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