Bears On Ice, the only Icelandic men only festival, will be held in Reykjavík for the 11th time from the 3rd to the 6th of September. Organizer Frosti Jónsson promises an event that will be remembered for a long, long time.
“It’s a fantastic weekend where bears and friends get together for a long weekend. Where you can enjoy the company of like-minded guys, be yourself and have fun in a totally relaxed and attitude free environment,“ he says with excitement about the upcoming festival.
Asked what the bears concept stands for Frosti explains that the roots of that concept are in America in the seventies.
“Then there was a group of gay men who didn‘t feel they fit into the gay scene at the time who was very focused on looks and fashion. We don‘t all fall under that stereotype, we come in all shapes and sizes, and the bears scene emphasizes respect for that. We all have a right to have a good time and be appreciated regardless of how we look.“
Frosti says that the emphasis on good looks and hot bodies has been part of society for as long as anyone can remember and that the gay scene is neither better or worse than the rest of society in that regard.
“It‘s necessary to break free from those stereotypes and those ideas on how people are supposed to look and dress. Respect is the key concept of the bears scene and we welcome all gay, bi and trans men to our parties.“
But has not the bear concept become a stereotype of it‘s own by now?
“No, not at all. How can people of all shapes and sizes be a stereotype,“ Frosti asks back. “Of course the guys who find themselves in this scene have certain attributes in common, but first and foremost it‘s a question of attitude. The bears scene is all-inclusive, you just show up and act like yourself and no questions asked.“
“If you are not satisfied with the gay scene in Iceland as it is then make something else happen yourself. Be a doer…“
Frosti says that the bears scene has grown a lot in recent years and that it is now a big part of the gay scene everywhere. “Luckily it has become accepted that we don‘t all look the same and we behind Bears on Ice have really emphasized that point. It takes all kinds to make a society and the same goes for the queer community.“
DJ Brent Milne, Big Dipper and GoGo Starr will entertain on Saturday.
Frosti was on the news recently criticising the people who were criticising the Pride Parade in Reykjavík and he says that he is tired of people sitting at their computers criticising everything that other people are doing.
“If you want to see changes be the one who changes things,“ he says. “If you are not satisfied with the gay scene in Iceland as it is then make something else happen yourself. Be a doer, not a talker, or shut up.“
But how did Frosti himself end up organizing the only men only event in Iceland?
“It all started back in 2005,“ he says. “Then I got an email from two guys in London who wanted to visit Iceland to have a good party and asked me if I could organize that. I really liked the idea and we created an event that lasted for three days and was a huge success that we wanted to repeat. And that‘s how the Bears weekend in Reykjavík became an annual event.“
Since then Bears on Ice has grown tremendously. This year about 150 foreign participants have confirmed their coming and all the events of the whole festival are sold out.
“But there is room for everyone at the dances and parties,“ Frosti says and he hopes that Icelandic gay, bi and trans men will show up at the Welcome Party in Iðusalir on Thursday and the big gala night in Þjóðleikhúskjallarinn on Saturday where the famous American musician Big Dipper will be the main attraction. “Newly crowned drag queen of Iceland, GoGo Starr will also entertain guests and DJ‘s DJ Dramatik, Bistro Boy and Brent Milne will keep people dancing til the wee hours of the morning.“
Bears on Ice is becoming more popular every year. In light of his talent for organizing popular events Frosti was approached by a group of girls who asked if he would put together a girl’s only event, but he respectfully declined. “It isn’t really my area of expertise,” he gleefully admits. “Besides, I have my hands full with the bears.” Photos by Páll Guðjónsson. GoGo Starr photographed by Andri Marinó.