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Prejudice?

Icelanders pride themselves in being accepting and non-judgemental and one of the leading countries when it comes to queer rights. Some even say that the acceptance in the society is so much that there is no more need for Reykjavík Pride. That the fight is over. But what does the queer community itself say. Is there still prejudice in Iceland? And how does it show itself?

Eva María Þórarinsdóttir Lange.
Eva María Þórarinsdóttir Lange, chairman of Reykjavík Pride.

Eva María Þórarinsdóttir Lange, 34: “I can speak from experience, that when my girlfriend and I go into a “straight” bar and are spotted holding hands or showing in any other way that we’re a couple, not to mention if we dare to kiss, some straight guys instantly pop up in front of us asking us for more. It’s incredibly annoying and they’re totally invading our comfort zone.

For lesbians, this harassment is usually merely annoying but for gay guys it can get more offensive; while straight guys find lesbians exciting they tend to not be too keen on gay guys.

So even here, in lovely little Iceland, there’s still prejudice, there are simply different types of prejudice and this is one of them.”

“…even here, in lovely little Iceland, there’s still prejudice, there are simply different types of prejudice…”

Hjálmar Forni Sveinbjörnsson Poulsen.
Hjálmar Forni Sveinbjörnsson, the “Drag Queen of Iceland 2014”.

Hjálmar Forni Sveinbjörnsson, 21: “I think that gays are sensing a decline in tolerance against homosexuals; there was great awareness here 10 years ago and “older” people have accepted gays but I fear there’s a new generation coming up that’s not as accepting.

Personally, if I go out clubbing wearing a drag, I avoid going beneath Bankastræti because that’s where the young people hang out and many of the young guys seem to have a lot of prejudice.

They think they’re tough guys and try to impress each other, and the girls, by shouting stuff at us. I’m not saying I’m too scared to go near them but I’d never kiss a guy in front of them or anything, there’s always a stare, some mouthing and unpleasant gestures, at least.”

Georg Erlingsson Merritt, 37: “When I go downtown wearing a drag, there are always a few fools, as I choose to call them, who make comments and have negative attitude and it’s just down to me to be unfazed and answer them back, then they usually shrink back.

Georg Erlingsson Merritt.
Georg Erlingsson Merritt, co-ordinator of The Icelandic Drag Competition.

However, what I find strange is this trend amongst gay people, to have attitude against those who wear a drag or accentuate their looks in some way. Suddenly, some gay people shy away from showing they like that and even say it’s disgusting to dress up in a drag. Then, the same people go home and watch RuPaul’s Drag Race on TV.

Recently, I was asked to attend a birthday party wearing a drag, which I happily did. There a woman thought it funny to stick her hand up to my crotch. I of course got furious and told her off. A little later, a man came up to me and said I shouldn’t be so sensitive about this, as I was asking for it by wearing a drag, and my jaw dropped to the floor!

If this attitude is emerging, then there’s something really wrong with our fight for queer rights. Basically, I think it’s a relapse in your campaigning if people like myself can’t be the way we are without running into trouble with both straight and queer people, which is why I think it’s even more important now to go out wearing a drag!”

We don’t want others to think we’re different

Our interviewees are not only of the opinion that there is still prejudice against queers in society, but that it varies. That the entertainment industry has possibly obscured society’s perspective of what it means to be queer – think Modern Family-type soccer dad and cosmopolitan L Word-type career woman). That it has made it so “straight-looking” that those who don’t live up to these normalised images, who don’t look cis-gender, are more likely to experience prejudice. And are because of that not accepted for who they are.

Reynir Þór Eggertsson, 42: “I can’t remember how long it’s been since I first saw criticism on how all homosexuals in TV and films were queens and dykes. I think this attitude has always been there, since gay people started appearing in the media one way or another (usually in a negative, or at least laughable light). While queer people have become more visible in society the criticism is that they’re not shown as the true diverse group that they are, and that’s of course very understandable.

Reynir Þór Eggertsson.
Reynir Þór Eggertsson, teacher and TV celebrity.

However, there are certain groups within the queer community that have gone too far in demanding that the queens and dykes will be silenced and hidden behind the scene, just like the fat back up singers who aren’t allowed in Eurovision any more. The thing is, the closet doors are everywhere and many gay people find it convenient to jump inside when it suits them. That’s something that the queens and dykes have never been able to do. So they’ve been forced to be the face of the fight for gay rights and therefore often suffered all sorts of violence or even paid with their lives.

As I said in the beginning, the negative attitude amongst gay people towards those of us who don’t fit into the “straight” mould is nothing new in our society, they only become more obvious when it gets easier to come out. Because those who are different ruin the argument that we’re “just like everybody else”. And that’s where our own homophobia feeds, in our hearts – we don’t want others to think we’re different!”

“…there are certain groups within the queer community that have gone too far in demanding that the queens and dykes will be silenced…”

Tora Victoria, 48: “I’ve heard this discussion amongst gay people and I think it’s fair to say that it’s a topic that needs to be addressed. It’s deep-rooted and revolves around “the norm”. I don’t have time to go too deep into what’s considered “normal” but you can see for instance by the fact that when two women hold hands in public, it’s much less of a deal than when two men do it.

Tora Victoria.
Tora Victoria artist. Photo/Þormar Vignir Gunnarsson

Queer people can now exist in society as long as they appear “normal” at least. Anything “non-normal” must be kept within the queer community and hidden from the rest. This why the Reykjavík Pride Parade is still so important.

We, the transgender people, are way behind gay people in getting public acceptance and being visible in society. To be gay is possibly considered more “normal” than being transgender, simply because transgender people are not as common and haven’t been part of the public discussion for as long, thus haven’t reached as far in their fight for rights.

A lot of the prejudice against transgender people are based on ignorance, that transgender people are simply homosexuals who are just “flaming gay” and wearing a drag. And this sort of prejudice can be equally much found within the gay community as outside of it; the fact that I’m being asked to comment on gay people’s issues is actually a great indicator of that.

“ If for instance, a “male-to-female” person looks fairly feminine (not to mention pretty) then that person doesn’t experience as much prejudice.”

You could liken the “straight-influence” amongst gay people to the status of being “passable” amongst transgender people. If for instance, a “male-to-female” person looks fairly feminine (not to mention pretty) then that person doesn’t experience as much prejudice. If she’s not, she gets a totally different attitude. It’s all about looking “normal” and in this case, it’s about fulfilling some standard image. At the end of the day, all variations from the “norm” are publicly disapproved, whether that’s queer people or not.”

Those who are closest to the norm defend it

That brings us to another question: does prejudice really exits within the queer community?

Íris Ellenberger historian.
Íris Ellenberger historian.

Íris Ellenberger, 37: “It’s evident that when gay people seek acceptance under the presupposition that they’re just like everybody else, and then receive that acceptance, those who are the closest to the “norm” start defending that image and frown upon those who somehow undermine it. So those who stand outside the “norm” are more likely to experience prejudice and disapproval.

I remember hearing many ugly comments about gay men of Asian origin, that people couldn’t tell them apart because they all looked the same and stuff. I have also heard gay men speak badly of other gay men because they were “too feminine” or too flamboyantly gay and somehow looked TOO gay. And then I’ve heard them bad mouthing lesbians because they weren’t “feminine enough” or didn’t live up to a certain female image. Then I’ve heard lesbians, who try to fit into the prevalent image of women, do exactly the same.

Furthermore, I’ve heard all of those people make very prejudiced comments about transgender people. So it always appears to be those who are the furthest from the “norm” or the middle who are prejudiced against, even within their so-called group.”

“I have…heard gay men speak badly of other gay men because they were “too feminine” or too flamboyantly gay and somehow looked TOO gay.”

Guðmunda Smári Veigarsdóttir Dísuson (queer activist): “Yes there’s prejudice amongst us. Is it new? No, but certain groups are not as marginalized as they once were. Especially gays and lesbians as well as some trans people with “passing privileges” sometimes too. Although there’s a lot of improvement needed in relation to trans issues. Young trans people especially suffer human rights violation, having to deal with BUGL (the Child and Adolescent psychiatric Department) and the bullshit they face there!

But with less marginalisation it’s more demoralising and hurtful when these groups prejudice against those who are still in the fight. Those who are treated like shit out in the street. Those who face people who still claim trans doesn’t exist. Those who still get shit from their parents, and then having to try to defend their right for existing to some “privileged gay guys” – who on top of that refuse to stop using the term “gay pride” or just “gay” as a denominator for all Queer (LGBTQIA+) people. So maybe there’s not more prejudice but they run deeper and have become a lot more hurtful.”

Acknowledge the diversity

What ways are there to fight prejudice from the general community and in the queer community?

Kitty Anderson. Photo/
Kitty Anderson, president of Intersex-Iceland. Photo/Birkir Jónsson.

Guðmunda Smári Veigarsdóttir Dísuson: “It would be a good start to start acknowledging the diversity and to take it into account. To change the website name “GayIceland” to something more inclusive. And stop calling Pride “Gay Pride”, just use “Pride” or “Reykjavík Pride” And stop believing that Iceland is some Queer Utopia, it’s still far away from it!”

Íris Ellenberger: “Learn about your privileges and check your privileges all the time. Also, start thinking about ways to break down norms instead of constantly seeking to fit into them.”

Kitty Anderson, 33: “It’s often claimed that queer people have gained most of their rights. At the same time, it’s often forgotten that even though homosexuality was removed from the list of mental disorders in 1993, there are still groups under the queer umbrella who are defined as sick. Just in 2012 a law was passed which defines “Trans” as a disease and still today surgery is performed on Intersex children because biological diversity is still defined as a sickness. However humankind’s diversity is not a disease and together we should make sure that groups within the queer community are not identified as sick or disordered.”

“…we can only grow and become better as people if we try to show understanding and empathy towards the struggles of each other.”

Ugla Stefanía Jónsdóttir, 24: “When it comes down to our own community I think it‘s all about realizing what we have in common and why it is so important to stick together and create solidarity. The reason why all of the groups under the queer umbrella are being discriminated are because of gender norms, first and foremost. This also relates to other power structures within our community and in the end, we are all brought down because of these factors.

Ugla Stefanía Jónsdóttir.
Ugla Stefanía Jónsdóttir, vice chair of Trans Iceland. Photo/Móa Hjartardóttir.

We need to step a bit out of our own bubble and realize how much we have in common with each other, even if we don’t have the same identities there are so many similarities and we can only grow and become better as people if we try to show understanding and empathy towards the struggles of each other.

Starting within ourselves and focusing on our own community I think is so important and that definitely multiplies towards the general community.

Be curious, seek knowledge in other groups, make sure you are supporting others and not damaging them; because if you are discriminating other groups whether that be within the queer community or not, you are only damaging yourself and your own fight.

Be well-rounded, be aware. Never stop learning and hearing about experiences from other people and groups.”

 

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.

Locations:

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.

      Landsbankinn
      - 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.

      Dohop
      - 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. “

      Macland
      - 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.

          Núðluskálin
          - 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).

          Seatours
          - 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.

          600x400-seatours-tasting

          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.

          600x400-seatours

          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
          -shags
          -kittiwakes
          -fulmars
          -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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