Ragnar Birkir is a single parent of three girls, living in Innri-Njarðvík and working at the local primary school and as a Herbalife distributor. At night he sometimes transforms into the drag queen Ina Vagina and performs with Drag-Súgur.

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Ragnar Birkir, one of the stars of drag cabaret Drag-Súgur, has gone through a lot, but says that he’s finally come to terms with who he is and that he just couldn’t be happier.

He was seventeen when he first came out as gay but a few years later he had become a member of the Christian denomination Krossinn (e. The Cross), married and a father. Four years ago, after getting a divorce, he came out as gay again and he says the gay scene in Iceland has changed enormously in the twenty years since he first came out.

Ragnar told GayIceland the unusual story of his journey through bullying to coming out, retreating into the closet again and finding the family he‘d always dreamt of in Krossinn, the dissolution of that dream and the return to the gay scene.

“I was born in Keflavík but after my parents got divorced my mother started living with another guy and we moved to the Westman Islands. It was hard. I was the new kid in town and when I was eight years old the kids at school started bullying me for being gay.

I hardly knew what that meant, but it was obviously something ugly and horrible and I felt ashamed, even though I didn‘t know what I should be ashamed for.

The bullying continued til I left the island and moved to Keflavík at seventeen. There I came out of the closet and three years later I moved to Reykjavík.”

“You were urged to become “your true self”, as they called it, which meant that homosexuality was not your true identity; you were just delusional. I was not happy being a gay person and I bought into this way of thinking.”

Ragnar did not feel happy even though he had come out. He had a lot of baggage and to make matters worse his older brother did not agree to his coming out. In his eyes that meant that the bullies had been right and that Ragnar was giving in to them.

“I was very lost and lonely,” Ragnar admits. “And getting my brother up against me was not helping. So I started going to meetings at Krossinn with a girl I was working with and in a way it felt like coming home. You were welcomed as a member of this big family and everyone was supportive.”

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Ragnar sought solace in Krossinn (e. The Cross), a Christian denomination, where he really tried to fit in and be like the others.

It did not take long for Ragnar to get back into the closet after starting going to Krossinn. Asked if there was a systematic program there to try to change people’s sexual orientation he says that, no, there was no such program but it was obvious that homosexuality was not looked upon favourably.

“You were urged to become “your true self”, as they called it, which meant that homosexuality was not your true identity; you were just delusional. I was not happy being a gay person and I bought into this way of thinking, married a girl in Krossinn and tried to be “normal”. I really, really wanted to fit in and be like the others. This seemed like the right way to do that.”

The marriage was a rocky one and after the divorce Ragnar and his wife got into a custody battle which he won. He does not want to go into any details regarding the marriage, just points out that obviously it could never have worked as he does not consider himself bisexual, he is one hundred percent gay.

“I was just so lost. My mother died when I was nineteen; my older brother made me go to a psychologist to get help with stopping being gay; I had all these years of harsh bullying to work through and all I really wanted was to find some peace, whatever the cost. But now I know that I‘m gay, there is absolutely no question about that.”

Breaking down the walls

Coming back out was not an easy task. The gay scene has changed enormously and Ragnar says that he was really scared at the start. “This June it will be four years since I came back out as gay. The scene has certainly changed, but I think maybe the biggest change lies in the way I look at my self as a gay person.

In 2013, a year after Ragnar came out again, he marched in The Reykjavík Pride Parade. "I was afraid to do it the year before," he recalls. On the right: Ragnar marching with his two older girls in the parade in 2015.

Ragnar marching with his two older girls, Atalía Von (7) and Sefanía Rut (5), in the Reykjavík Pride Parade in 2015. Two years before he marched for the first time after coming out again. “I was afraid to do it the year before,” he recalls. Missing from the picture is Ragnar’s youngest daughter, Adríana Bjarkey, aged 4.

When I was seventeen I only looked at the darker sides of being gay; not being able to have a family, not being normal, having to be active in the drinking and dancing scene to have a chance of meeting someone to love etc. I did not experience the gay lifestyle as being normal.

Today that has changed. Some even say that the normalisation has gone to far, that it has made gay people less visible and weakened the solidarity in the gay community. Now the communication is mostly limited to dating sites, there is no real gay scene in Iceland, no place you can go to meet other gays.

That is not necessarily a positive evolution. It‘s great in many ways, but at the same time it has made the gays less visible in the community. And I think that part of the prejudices against gay people lies within the gay community itself. There is this notion that you are supposed to be a real straight acting man even if you are gay and femmes like me are frowned upon in some circles within the gay community.

“There is this notion that you are supposed to be a real straight acting man even if you are gay and femmes like me are frowned upon in some circles … To me that looks like hating yourself for being gay …”

To me that looks like hating yourself for being gay and I‘ve spent years fighting that hatred in myself so I‘m not prepared to start acting straight again just to please some other gays out there.

It was really hard for me to start performing in drag again, but that‘s part of who I am and it is a necessary part of breaking down the walls I have built around myself as a gay person. That is what I am doing now; breaking down more and more of these walls.”

A fulfilling life

Since coming back out four years ago Ragnar has been in two short relationships, but they did not work out and obviously he sets high standards being a father of three. Laughingly he explains that some people have a hard time seeing gays as committed fathers.

“Some people get very confused when I say that I have three daughters who are living with me. It‘s like they think I bought them from some catalogue. And of course it is an obstacle for some men in dating me.

 “That is what I am doing now; breaking down more and more of these walls.”

“That is what I am doing now; breaking down more and more of these walls.” Photo: Liam Campbell/Elska Magazine.

One of the guys I was in a relationship with made it very clear that he did not want children, so there was no point in keeping that relationship going.

I would never ever abandon my daughters for some guy. They are absolutely the best thing in my life. But of course I want to find love, don‘t we all?

“My life is very fulfilling as it is and I‘m positive that when the time is right I will find the right man.”

My girls are always asking me when I‘m gonna get a boyfriend, but I‘m in no hurry. My life is very fulfilling as it is and I‘m positive that when the time is right I will find the right man. I‘m just not willing to start putting on some playacting to find that love.

I‘ve spent years coming to terms with the fact that the normal version of me is the guy I am today; a gay single parent who is at ease with the fact that he is feminine in many ways but still one hundred percent male and that is exactly who I am meant to be.”

Taking the stage as Ina Vagina (in the middle) alongside fellow performers of the drag-cabaret Drag-Súgur, that has become a hit.

Ragnar taking the stage as glamourus  drag queen Ina Vagina (in the middle) alongside comedian Jonathan Duffy and fellow performers of the highly entertaining drag-cabaret Drag-Súgur. The group will be performinng at Gaukurinn tonight at 21PM. More info here.

Main photo: Liam Campbell/Elska Magazine.

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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