Up mount Esja in drag

Next Saturday Hjálmar Forni Sveinbjörnsson will climb mount Esja in drag as his alter ego, Miss Gloria Hole. Hjálmar will walk to the top of the 914 meter high mountain in high heels, to raise awareness and money for HIV Ísland.

“I hope this project and me walking up a mountain in drag will start some sort of dialogue so that people can familiarize themselves with the disease,” Hjálmar is an experienced hiker and once hiked 450 kilometers in 11 days. He says he’s a bit out of shape but will make it to the top of Esja, crawling if necessary.
“I hope this project and me walking up a mountain in drag will start some sort of dialogue so that people can familiarize themselves with the disease,” says Hjálmar, who is an experienced hiker and once hiked 450 kilometers in 11 days. He says he’s a bit out of shape but will make it to the top of Esja, crawling if necessary.

“I’m used to walking on heels and walking on mountains but I don’t know how these two elements will come together. I haven’t figured that out yet and therefore I don’t know how on earth I should practice for this,” says Hjálmar Forni Sveinbjörnsson.

Hjálmar will climb mount Esja, just outside of Reykjavík, in drag next Saturday with the aim of raising awareness and money for HIV Ísland, an organization that supports those diagnosed with HIV and their families as well as educating the public in order to raise awareness, eradicate prejudice and combat the spread of HIV.

Hjálmar has been a drag queen for many years and even won the title of Iceland’s Drag Queen in 2014. He has also performed as a drag queen outside of Iceland, including Sweden, Spain and Tenerife. Is he nervous to put on his drag attire in the harsh nature of Iceland?
“I try not to think about it too much and I also try not to look up at Esja. Yesterday I saw some snow at the top of the mountain,” he says and adds that he has really thought about what to wear.

“I will be warmly dressed underneath, but on the outside I will wear my most elegant attire. If I get in trouble, I will have my trucker shoes with me which were given to me by Sigga Klingenberg, Iceland’s famous fortune-teller.” The trucker shoes, as Hjálmar calls them, are very high Buffalo shoes which were the biggest fad in Iceland in the 1990s. “I will start the walk in high heels, but I expect that I will change shoes quite frequently to rest my feet. But I will wear heels the entire time, they will just be different in height.”

“… on the outside I will wear my most elegant attire. If I get in trouble, then I will have my trucker shoes with me which were given to me by Sigga Klingenberg, Iceland’s famous fortune-teller.”

But why walk up Esja in drag? “I am leading a project for HIV Ísland, a project which is meant to raise awareness and money for the organization. One of the things we are working on is a condom campaign where we get famous individuals to pose in photos with some reference to condoms. The slogan is: “Show some responsibility, use the condom”.

Then on the 1st of December, which is World Aids Day, we will have a celebration marking the end of the project in Harpa concert hall. I thought it would be cool to raise even more awareness and so the idea of mountain walking in drag was born,” Hjálmar explains with a smile.

He nods enthusiastically when I ask him if he has climbed Esja before. “Yes, yes, yes. I am an experienced hiker and once even hiked from Ísafjörður to Reykjavík. That took me 11 days and I was hiking some 45 kilometers per day on average,” he says. “Recently I’ve been on a hiking break so I’m not in terrific shape but I will make it up to the top of Esja, I’ll crawl if I have to.”

He expects to get all the way to the top of the 914 meter high mountain in 2 1/2 – 3 hours, a distance that he usually covers in 30-45 minutes.

Many misconceptions need to be corrected

It’s safe to say that Hjálmar is putting himself through quite an ordeal for HIV Ísland. So the next question that comes to mind is why this cause is so close to his heart? “I am not infected myself but I know a lot of people who are. I lived with one infected person, for example, and until then I didn’t realize how ignorant people were about this disease. I even got to hear lines like: “Oh my God, are you using the same cutlery?” I felt that something had to be done and that more education was needed to eradicate this fear.”

Hjálmar says that money to fund the HIV Ísland organization is extremely important to raise. And that half the battle is won if an active discussion about HIV takes place in the society.

Hjálmar is also known as the drag queen Miss Gloria Hole and won the title of Iceland’s Drag Queen in 2014. He has also performed in various countries, Sweden, Spain and Tenerife to name a few.
Hjálmar is also known as the drag queen Miss Gloria Hole and won the title of Iceland’s Drag Queen in 2014. He has also performed in various countries, Sweden, Spain and Tenerife to name a few.

“We need discussion. I don’t think we can change anything without discussion. I hope this project and me walking up a mountain in drag will start some sort of dialogue so that people can familiarize themselves with the disease. There are so many misconceptions about HIV and Aids out there that need to be corrected.”

“There is a sense of carelessness in the air. They think that it’s no big deal to get HIV. That you just pop a pill and that’s it.”

Hjálmar says that young, gay men do not have enough information about HIV. “There is a sense of carelessness in the air. They think that it’s no big deal to get HIV. That you just pop a pill and that’s it. It’s true that HIV isn’t the most horrible disease you can get and that you can live a perfectly normal life nowadays if you’re infected. But it doesn’t change the fact that you have to be medicated every day. And there are so many side effects to these drugs that people have no idea about,” says Hjálmar and stresses that education is key.

“We need more education. We need more education in schools. We need to educate the younger generations, through social media for example, so that this fear of HIV and Aids will cease to exist.”

The money that will be raised until the 1st of December will go directly to HIV Ísland. It will be used for ongoing educational projects, to strengthen the work that is already being done and to support new individuals who are infected with the virus. Hjálmar encourages people to join him on the unusual hiking adventure. “I will have a camera crew with me that will document the whole thing and everyone is welcome to join me,” he says and adds that he has already convinced many of his friends to walk with him.

Will anyone else be in drag?
“Not that I know of. But who knows what will happen come Saturday?”

You can read more about Hjálmar’s adventure on Facebook (in Icelandic):

To donate to HIV Ísland you can deposit to:

 The account 0156-05-064764  Social security number 280394-2549

Main photo (of Esja): Andrew Scala.

Á. Óskarsson
Á. Óskarsson

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See links to social media in the upper left-hand corner


Á. Óskarsson selur fjölbreytt vöruúrval fyrir íþróttahús, sundlaugar, skóla og leikskóla og einnig ýmsar vörur til einkaafnota. Fyrirtækið selur vörur til íþróttaiðkunnar og leikja ásamt því að bjóða upp á ýmsar lausnir fyrir íþróttamannvirki.

Á. Óskarsson hefur komið að fjölda stórra verkefna við byggingu íþróttamannvirkja og hefur frá stofnun kappkostað að bjóða vandaðar og endingargóðar vörur.

Tenglar á samfélagsmiðla eru í efra horninu vinstra megin.



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          VSÓ Ráðgjöf er alhliða ráðgjafar- og verkfræðifyrirtæki sem leggur áherslu á trausta og faglega þjónustu sem tryggir viðskiptavinum hagkvæmustu lausnir hverju sinni, skilar raunverulegum árangri og stuðlar að samkeppnisforskoti.  Á skrifstofum VSÓ í Reykjavík og í Noregi starfar yfir 80 manna samhentur hópur verkfræðinga og annarra tæknimenntaðra starfsmanna.

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          - once tasted never forgotten

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