From time to time the discussion arises that there is a need to deal with queer prejudice within The national Olympic and Sports Association of Iceland, ÍSÍ, but still little has been come out of it. Jóhanna Ýr Jónsdóttir and Roald Viðar Eyvindsson spoke to athletes who say they’re getting tired of ÍSÍ’s inadequacy to tackle the matter and want the board to take action. 

Kári Garðarsson, head coach of Grótta’s women’s team in handball, urges ÍSÍ to start a dialogue on queer issues. He says that as long as nothing is done, instances of queer phobia will keep coming up within the sports movement

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Kári Garðarsson is the head coach of Grótta’s women’s team in handball. He has been a head coach in the champion league for the past seven years and has over twenty years of experience coaching.

“I don’t want to go into details, but unfortunately there have been instances where supporters of other teams have thrown inappropriate remarks at players out in the field. And yes, sometimes team players have made thoughtless, insensitive remarks,” says Kári.

“Which is hurtful, not only for openly gay athletes but also for athletes who are still in the closet. Prejudiced remarks like that can be harmful in more ways than one. They can, for example, prevent closeted players from coming out.”

So do you think that there are closeted athletes in Iceland? “Yes, of course. I mean just look at the statistics and you’ll see that there are really few openly gay athletes, especial gay male athletes, in the world. Because coming out in sports is tough, especially for queer men. Abroad, none of the guys in top-level soccer have come out yet. Top-level soccer players don’t come out, at least not while maintaining a career.”

Kári himself didn’t come out as a gay man until he was 26 years old. He admits he was afraid to and says because of that he can just imagine what a tough time closeted athletes must be going through. “Yes I presume it’s just as difficult for them, as it was for me. Before I came out I had already painted a very dramatic scenario; that I would have to quit anything and everything when it came to sports.

“ÍSÍ really needs to put it’s foot down … I want ÍSÍ to start addressing queer issues. We need to open up a dialogue on the matter.”

But as it turned out, the people within the sports movement were okay with it. Just like most others around me. So the reaction I got was good. And I was so relieved that I didn’t have to pretend anymore, that I could just be myself. It’s so bad when people have to hide in the closet. It’s bad for people’s mental health when they can’t be them selves. That’s one of the reasons why I want ÍSÍ to start addressing queer issues. We need to open up a dialogue on the matter.”

Kári says that coaches play a very important role in that regards.  “That’s something I know from being a coach myself. You see, the kids really look up to the coaches. So the strongest move would be to focus on the coaches and their assistants. For example, help them learn what the appropriate response is, if a player tells them in confidence that she or he is queer. So that the player gets a positive reaction.”

Played in the champion league with KA from 1999-2000, Grótta 2003-2004 and with Grótta again from 2007-2009.

Kári played in the champion league with KA from 1999-2000, Grótta 2003-2004 and with Grótta again from 2007-2009.

Kári believes that coaches and those in the inner most circle of the sports movement would benefit from a general education on prejudice and how to deal with it. He points out that racism is for example being discussed within the movement since more incidents of racism are coming up. Incidents which can most likely be linked to the fact that more and more athletes of other nationalities are coming to play in Iceland. And these incidents, he says, are being handled, partly thanks to the discussion that’s already taking place.

“Last summer a soccer player had a racist remark thrown at him from a member of the opposite team and it was firmly dealt with,” he mentions, referring to an incident where a player got fired for calling a goal keeper from an opposite team an ape, and adds that perhaps it also helped that the media got wind of it.

“I think it would do good if the sports movement approached queer issues in the same way as racism, because something tells me that we’ll be facing similar problems when more players start coming out,” he says. “But as it is, queer bullying hasn’t being brought up within the sports movement as far as I know, at least not specifically, just bullying in general.”

Kári says that in all fairness though, ÍSÍ shouldn’t be solely responsible for educating the coaches and their assistants on queer issues, seeing that it’s a time consuming and expensive affair. “We, the athletes who’ve already come out, could help. And maybe Samtökin ’78 (the national queer organization) could get involved,” he points out, but underlines that he still thinks ÍSÍ needs to take a firmer stance in the matter. “ÍSÍ really needs to put its foot down and start a dialogue on queer issues.”


We have to educate people

Handball-player Daníel Örn Einarsson, who is a right-wing for sports club Víkingur says that there’s all kinds of ignorance going on about queer issues within the Icelandic sports movement. Ignorance that he’s experienced first hand.

Daníel Örn Einarsson is the right wing for the men's handball team at sports club Víkingur.

Daníel Örn Einarsson is the right wing for the men’s handball team at sports club Víkingur.

“Oh, yeah there’s prejudice against queers in sports in Iceland and just like racism in sports, it’s hidden. People have for example come up to me and said: “You’re my friend but I hate gay-looking dudes”. Or: “You’re not a fag like them, because you’re not gay-looking”. It’s the same thing like when people say: “I’m not a racist, but….,” says Daníel.

“So people may think they’re not prejudiced, while they really are. They have this predisposed notion on how a queer person “is”, even though they don’t even know any queers. Similar to people who haven’t been around many black people but still make all kind of presumptions about them.”

Daníel is the first – and so far – the only handball-player in the men’s top division in Iceland to publicly announce that he’s gay and says that the support of his team mates really helped when he came out six years ago. “Yes, they talked to each other and to our coaches and to those in charge of the team and made it clear that this wasn’t something to be made a big deal out of. That this wasn’t an issue at all.”

“Queer issues should be handled within the sports movement just like other minority-related issues … it’s tiresome that ÍSÍ isn’t dealing with the matter.”

None the less Daníel felt prejudice two years after that, especially from older people within the sports movement; from some coaches and those in charge. “They were afraid how the team might react when I came out and just didn’t know how to approach me. Simply because of their own insecurities. Because it was totally new to them.

And then there was also a team that didn’t want me as a player, mostly because the coaches and the management didn’t know how to tackle the fact that I’m gay.”

Daníel says it just goes to show that younger generations are way more open to queer issues than the older ones. And that’s why he thinks that the coaches, especially the older ones, need to be educated on how to deal with queer issues, so they can handle them with confidence.

Daníel has a long career in handball. In the past he has stated that supporters of other teams have made disrespectful remarks about his sexuality. Photo: Screenshot from the homepage of Víkingur, www.vikingur.is

Daníel has a long career in handball. In the past he has stated that supporters of other teams have made disrespectful remarks about his sexuality. Photo: Screenshot from the homepage of Víkingur, www.vikingur.is

“That is not to say that the younger ones don’t need education as well, although they are less prejudice than the older ones. Some of them are 18-19 years old and coaching 14-15 year olds. They need to be educated on how to deal with queer issues, so they can handle them with confidence when or if some kind of incident occurs.

Of course queer education won’t affect some of them. None the less you can still teach them to adjust.

And this might sound a bit weird, but you can teach them to talk to the kids and tell them that being queer isn’t a big deal, even though that’s not something they necessarily believe themselves.

However I think many of them actually believe that they’re already dealing with these things appropriately, when in fact they’re not. There are many out there who feel that they know plenty, but they simply don’t.

They’re stubborn and think that what they’re doing is enough. And when you mention better education to them they just go: “Oh no, not that whining again.”

These are the same people who tend to say: “Oh, are the feminists complaining again.” Or: “Are the queers whining, yet again.” And then when something negative actually does happen, they pretend not to notice.”

Therefore Daníel thinks that ÍSÍ needs to address the matter. “Discrimination against queers shouldn’t be accepted.  More should be done to educate people on queer issues.

Queer matters should be handled within the sports movement just like other minority-related issues. And frankly, I think it’s tiresome that ÍSÍ isn’t dealing with the matter officially.”


Indifference will cost us prominent athletes

Twenty year old student Jón Ágúst Þórunnarson played handball with sports club HK since the age of five and says he is familiar with most of the other clubs as well as being well connected within the world of handball in Iceland. He thinks that coaches and staffmembers of the clubs are in dire need of education on queer matters, because as long as nothing is done to prevent prejudice and queer bullying there is danger that queer athletes keep giving sports up.

“I remember times when my team mates made prejudiced remarks or told gay jokes and the coaches did absolutely nothing. They just ignored it, like it was normal for the boys to behave that way. There was even this one coach who laughed at the jokes and participated in the whole thing.”

“I remember times when my team mates made prejudiced remarks or told gay jokes and the coaches did absolutely nothing. They just ignored it, like it was normal for the boys to behave that way. There was even this one coach who laughed at the jokes and participated in the whole thing,” says Jón Ágúst.

“I think it would help a great deal if the coaches got education on queer issues. Because if a coach isn’t prejudiced against queer athletes then his team isn’t either. That’s a fact,” says Jón Ágúst, who wants to make queer education part of the coaching education. “That way everyone would have to go through it in order to become a coach, and later the coaches could educate members of their own teams on queer issues. It would become routine.”

So you think that coaches can really influence athletes/the team that much?
“Yeah, I mean teachers have to be able to tackle bullying, but it’s even more necessary for coaches to learn that since the kids look up to them. Some kids almost perceive them as gods. Especially if the coach is a former player himself – like Ólafur Stefánsson. After he came back the handball division at Valur sports club has simply exploded, because he is a god to the kids.”

Jón Ágúst says that on the other hand, it can be devestating if you’re a queer athlete and your coach is unsympathetic to queer issues. “I remember times when my team mates made prejudiced remarks or told gay jokes and the coaches did absolutely nothing. They just ignored it, like it was normal for the boys to behave that way. There was even this one coach who laughed at the jokes and participated in the whole thing.”

Wait – did the team and the coaches know that you’re queer?
“Yeah, it was common knowledge that I’m queer. It would have been far worse for me if I was gay, because in sports in Iceland most of the prejudice against queers is against gay men.”

So they knew and still they kept making inappropriate remarks and the coaches did nothing to stop it? 
“No, and I went to those who were in charge and I complained about that coach in particular, the one who grinned and laughed at the gay jokes. The response that I got was that he was simply the coach, whether I liked it or not and that was that. End of story.”

“I know guys who were really good at sports … but left clubs because they were bullied for being gay.”

Jón Ágúst says that was one of the reasons he decided to leave the club – two years ago.  “I just felt really really uncomfortable there given the circumstances, especially around that guy, the coach.”

Asked if he was the only one who left the club Jón Ágúst admits that there were others who also dropped out, partly because of that same coach. “And then I also know several guys who were really good at sports, who had a lot of potential, but left other clubs because they were bullied for being gay. Some of them feel so bad about what happened, so ashamed, that they don’t want to talk about it. It’s just to hard for them.”

Jón Ágúst says that if things don’t change for the better then more and more promising athletes will quit sports. He has tried to help improve the situation himself by giving lectures on prejudice with Jafningjafræðslan (a peer-to peer education program) at schools and sport clubs and at The Icelandic Boy and Girl Scout Association and says that it’s made a world of difference.

Jón Ágúst wants to make queer education part of coaching education.

Jón Ágúst wants to make queer education part of coaching education.

“However it’s immensely time-consuming and frustrating to have to explain things from scratch almost everywhere we go. It would help a lot if some groundwork had been done, say if coaches had already discussed things a bit with the kids. But I don’t see that happening unless ÍSÍ steps in and takes an active stand against prejudice, discrimination and bullying,” he says and adds that until it does, ÍSÍ will keep loosing promising athletes.

And you think educating the coaches on queer issues would help prevent that? “Yes. And not only on queer issues, but also on equality and prejudice in general and issues related to immigrants, people of other faiths than Christianity and so on.”

Finally asked if he ever misses playing handball, Jón Ágúst takes a pause before answering. “Well, I’m currently trying to focus on running, badminton and cycling,” he says. “However, I’ve spent more than half of my live playing handball, so yeah it would be great to get back into the game.

But the idea of joining another club is stressful because being accepted by a new team, by a group of established friends, can be hard and on top of that there’s always the frightening possibility that you’ll be met with prejudice. Based on my experience, I’d really have to think things through before making that decision.”

Main photo: Nordic photos/Getty Images

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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