Dear unknown Icelander

Dear unknown Icelander,

My name is Yannis and I identify as a able-bodied, cisgender, gay, male individual. I am 35 years old and married to Themis a 30-year-old, able-bodied, cisgender, gay, male individual and this is our story.
We were both born and raised in different parts of Greece. We have spent most of our lives there, we went to the university, we worked and we still have our family and friends there. We met each other in 2010 and after a casual sex date we kept in touch for the next 2,5 years before we meet again. The second time our meeting led us to a relationship and finally marriage.
Before we left Greece I had my own private practice as a Speech and Language Therapist. Themis had worked in the Greek Filming Industry as a Second Assistant Director and had been studying at the University of Athens. For both of us things had been going bad financially due to the economic crisis.

Yannis (on the left) and Themis moved from Greece to Iceland in 2015. Today, they share their story with the readers of GayIceland.

On the other hand we had been together for more than a year. We were happy but socially things were limited. At that time there was no formal recognition of the same-sex couples, partnership or marriage. There is now in the form of a limited civil partnership. However that was the least of our social problems. While we were both out to our families and friends, things were more difficult and dangerous in the society and our working environment. Imagine that one of the first professional advice I got when I entered practice was to be careful not to look or act “gay” because some Greek people still associate gay men with child offenders. It was impossible to be out and safe.
Nevertheless, Athens is a big city that gay people live relatively free and happy lives but not without a cost. Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people were on the rise because of the rise of Fascism/Nazism in Greece due to the Financial Crisis. There had been attacks at the Athens Pride Parade, personal attacks (physical and verbal) against couples who were holding hands in public and violent demonstrations against gay-themed theater plays. Those incidents had made our social lives and sense of security worse so we started thinking of moving out of the country.

“one of the first professional advice I got when I entered practice was to be careful not to look or act “gay” because some Greek people still associate gay men with child offenders … Hate crimes against LGBTQ+ people were on the rise … There had been attacks … so we started thinking of moving out of the country.”

It was August 2015, when Themis came back from a night out with friends, he brought up the idea of moving to Iceland. We have been looking for other options but we didn’t want to move to another European country while fascism is on the rise. Themis’ friends seemed to be excited about the “Icelandic Financial Miracle”, the sense of security and gay rights. He stayed up all night looking up information about Iceland. He really appreciated how peaceful Iceland seemed to be and that gay couples could adopt or get married. Even though we are not religious the right of gay people to get married in a Church was striking to us that had lived most of our lives in a conservative Christian Orthodox Environment. Following the excitement we starting looking for job opportunities.

We started applying for jobs the following days and I got a job offer a week later. After that point everything happened really fast and none of us, including our families and friends had time to process their feelings. To most of them that decision was a shock but our closest friends realized the need of that change. Not only did we need financial stability – as everyone in Greece – but also needed a stable, secure and supportive environment for our gay lives. Unfortunately people still believe that the only reason we migrated to Iceland was financial reasons. For me, that view clearly demonstrates how much people in Greece don’t realize or deny the everyday struggles LGBTQ+ people are facing. Sometimes even LGBTQ+ people themselves.

The couple were forced to move from Greec due to circumstances. Photo by Anders Kristensen/

I arrived in Reykjavik on October 4th 2015. Themis arrived in Iceland 1,5 months later, earlier that we expected because we did not want to spend more time separated. Since then we found an apartment downtown and have been living there ever since.

By far the best experience for us is the social inclusion of gay couples. Coming from a possibly dangerous environment we tend to be scared and hide our relationship and our affection in public even now. Our first positive experience was being able to rent an apartment as a couple without being judged or declined the offer just because we were 2 men living together. Later we had the chance to meet other gay people and for the first time in our lives we met married gay couples with children and people who had such an established relationship that were discussing their retirement plans! Themis still remembers his first visit to the hospital when he said to the doctor that he had a male partner and the doctor responded that he was lucky to have a man to massage his back. Even in his first job a colleague apologized when she took for granted that Themis was straight! Later Themis went to the University of Iceland where he continued to have positive experiences being able to openly discuss his relationship and sexual orientation and even make projects and presentations about it.

“Our first positive experience was being able to rent an apartment as a couple … Themis still remembers his first visit to the hospital when he said to the doctor that he had a male partner and the doctor responded that he was lucky to have a man to massage his back.”

Personally I remember the stress we went through to buy our wedding rings. We were about to sign a civil partnership in Greece but buying wedding rings there seemed impossible. So we decided to buy the rings from Iceland. We were afraid of a negative or aggressive behavior so we discussed the possibility of going separately to check on the rings. Finally we decided to go together and we were amazed to see how we didn’t even get a single strange look from the salesperson as if we had asked the most common thing. Since then I feel we are even more relaxed to be ourselves here in Iceland.

Months after our partnership in Greece, we decided to get married in Iceland too. We got married last March in the presence of our best friends from Greece. Being addressed as grooms was such an emotional moment that we will always remember.

These experiences changed our lives for the better and have strengthen our relationship even more. That is not to say that Iceland is a LGBTQ+ paradise. Strangely I still miss the variety of the Greek gay scene with the gay coffee houses, bar and clubs. Personally, I am glad I came with a partner cause the dating scene seems limiting too. Interpersonal relationships is still an issue and we feel more lonely than we felt in Greece. The language barrier plays an important role but also the cultural differences and the daily struggle make it difficult for us to keep up with our social life.

“These experiences changed our lives for the better and have strengthen our relationship even more. That is not to say that Iceland is a LGBTQ+ paradise,” says Yannis about his stay here.

Even though all of the above did not come without personal sacrifices, yet I still consider our story to be a privileged story. We happen to hold an EU passport, had friends who could lent us money, family who supported us emotionally and we will always have a place to return to if things don’t work out. Not even our fellow LGBTQ+ Greeks share these privileges with us just because we live in Iceland now. I can’t help but think what really happens to all of those people, LGBTQ+ especially, who do not share those privileges? How is our life limited, degraded and threatened just because we were born at the wrong place at the wrong time? And finally how should we treat those in need when they ask for help in our countries?

Icelanders should feel proud that they have created a society that provides a safe space and a growing place for LGBTQ+ immigrants like me. For that I will always be grateful. On another note I wish you would remember after this reading that among you there are people who have been forced (directly or indirectly) to leave everything behind and they need your support in order to survive and grow in a place far from what they used to call home.

Yours sincerely,
Yannis & Themis

Note: The story of Yannis & Themis is a part of stories that were originally read at an event called Distant Voices, during this year’s Reykjavík Pride, and are now published on GayIceland’s with the permission of the authors and help of the event’s organisers.

Á. Óskarsson
Á. Óskarsson

Á. Óskarsson offers a variety of products and services to sports centers, swimming pools, schools, kindergartens, and the general public. The company specializes in sport-related products, activity-focused games, and a wide range of solutions for sports facilities.

Á. Óskarsson has been involved in numerous big projects related to building sports facilities and has made it their benchmark to offer good quality products and equipment since the company was founded.

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.



    Blush was founded in 2011 when it started selling high quality sex products. The goal from the beginning was to change the market and take the discussion about sex products to a higher level. Today Blush provides professional services in a pleasant environment that fulfills different needs, both for individuals and couples. Blush respects diversity and wants to set a good example in all of its messaging to target audiences. Sexual health and equality in sex is important and Blush wants to focus on those issues through education and open discussion. Blush works in a socially responsible manner for society, their customers and the environment.

    Check out Blush’s website:

    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.




        Nasdaq (Nasdaq: NDAQ) is a global technology company serving the capital markets and other industries. Our diverse offering of data, analytics, software and services enables clients to optimize and execute their business vision with confidence.

        With over 4,300 employees in 39 offices around the world, at Nasdaq we all contribute to the success of the company and its culture, and each one of us has the ability to make a difference. When it comes to our core mission and values, we embrace the role of Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (DIB) as a fundamental driver of our corporate growth, workplace culture and market development. We strive to create a culture that embraces the power of different perspectives—a culture where people’s unique backgrounds and different experiences helps us fuel innovation and support our clients around the world.

        Our unique position at the center of the capital markets allows us to see firsthand how these values have redefined corporate culture and success, deepening and accelerating our own commitment to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, as we strive to create more equitable opportunities to help people of all backgrounds reach their full potential. Most notably, we published our diversity statistics for the first time in 2020. These metrics serve as a quantitative assessment of where we are today and help determine what strategies we need to adopt to enhance diversity in the workplace. We recognize that we have much work to do, but we are steadfast in our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture—one that reflects the communities in which we live, allows all employees to be their true, authentic selves and fosters individual growth and achievement.

        As we move forward together, we will continue advancing diverse ideas and perspectives that help fulfill the promise of a more inclusive and prosperous world. We aim to set the pace for rethinking capital markets and economies anywhere and everywhere. To learn more about the company, technology solutions and career opportunities, visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @Nasdaq, or at

        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

        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 2.000 meters within the earth where seawater and freshwater converge in a tectonic realm 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 two hotels, three restaurants, three
        geothermal lagoons, a subterranean spa, a renowned line of skin care, a thriving research center, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

        Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

        The Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

        - 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.

        - 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. “

        VSÓ Ráðgjöf


          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.

          - 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.

          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.

          Contact Us

          Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.