Guðni Baldursson, one of the founders and the first chair of the National Queer Organisation Samtökin ’78, has passed away. His is one of the big names in the history of the Icelandic queer battle for equal rights and many remember him with deep gratitude for his tireless work for that cause.

Guðni Baldursson was the first chair of Samtökin ’78 and one of its founders.

Guðni was chairman of Samtökin ’78 from 1978-1986. He was also the first Icelandic openly gay person to run for parliament and played a huge part in Icelandic legislative reforms for the rights of queer people.
Guðni was born on the 4 March 1950, had a degree in business and worked at Statistics Iceland for almost 40 years. His life partner was Helgi Magnússon who died in 2003.
GayIceland asked some of Guðni’s co-workers and friends to tell the readers about this remarkable man and fighter.

“HIV Iceland (formerly Iceland AIDS Organisation) was founded in 1988. Guðni Baldursson was one of the founding members, and was asked to sit on the first board of the organisation. Subsequently he was a member of the board for almost thirty years, which benefitted the organisation greatly. It was invaluable to have such a clever and experienced campaigner working with the organisation. Guðni knew how things worked after his pioneering fight for the rights of gays and lesbians the years before. There was strength in the presence of this humble and dauntless man in the painful times when the AIDS epidemic was spreading. The situation in those years was indescribably hard when young people had to meet death in the shadow of prejudice, banishment and fear.

There are many of us that owe a great debt to Guðni. He was the first chair of the National Queer Organisation, Samtökin ’78, and the part he played in the campaign for equal rights and the visibility of queer people in Iceland was am major one and must not be forgotten. The stamina, courage, enthusiasm and perseverance of those who faced the battle in those years was so great that it will be remembered for times to come. All this may have taken a greater toll than people realised. Guðni’s health worsened over the last years of his life, he was lonely, had trouble with his drinking and disappeared from the spotlight. He missed his late life partner, Helgi Magnússon, a great deal.

Guðni and I knew each other for decades and were also connected by family ties. We sometimes had a chance to chat and when Guðni was in a good mood he told really good jokes and then we rolled about with laughter.

“There are many of us that owe a great dept to Guðni … the part he played in the campaign for equal rights and the visibility of queer people in Iceland was a major one and must not be forgotten.”

I know I am speaking on behalf of many people when I say that Guðni, this benevolent guy, will be remembered with respect and warmth and will be thanked for our mutual journey.”

Einar Þór Jónsson,
HIV Iceland

A good man and a remarkable frontrunner

“When I arrived on the scene of Samtökin ’78, in 1987, the first chair of the organisation, Guðni Baldursson, had retired. When his name was mentioned it was with respect but deep down I could sense that the ways had parted. After working for the organisation for seven years Guðni had left the field, weary of the battle. He was a thinker and a loner and it did not suit him to run a social centre. With unfailing political vision as his weapon he took on the role of a chairman in the tiny movement of queers in Iceland at a time when queer people had absolutely no rights and gays were beaten to a pulp just for existing.

Politics was important to Guðni and soon after he became chairman he took the parliament on. He ran for a seat in parliament, the first openly gay man in Iceland to do so, for the party Alliance of Social Democrats party in the early eighties. The silence was broken and the issues of queer people were discussed in parliament. First one bill was presented, then another, and in 1993 the Prime Minister st up a committee to investigate the situation of queer people in Iceland and make suggestions for change.

As fate would have it that was where I got to know Guðni Baldursson. For almost a whole year we met every week, attended meetings with the committee and worked every weekend in Guðni’s office at Statistics Iceland. This was before the time of the internet and the only way to tackle this humongous project was to imitate the mouse who ate the elephant; take one bite at a time. But the

Guðni with former chairs of Samtökin ’78 on the organisation’s 30th anniversary. Upper row from the left: Margrét Pála Ólafsdóttir, Guðni Baldursson, Guðrún Gísladóttir, Matthías Matthíasson, Lana Kolbrún Eddudóttir. Lower row from the left: Þorvaldur Kristinsson,  Percy Stefánsson, Hrafnhildur Gunnarsdóttir and Frosti Jónsson. Photo/Screenshot of a cover photo on a special magazine dedicated to the anniversary.

results were among the best in the world: registered partnership and protective laws for queer people became law on 27. June 1996. The shy, silent man who preferred to speak little and quietly in public, opened up little by little in our private talks, told jokes and squeaked with laughter with a boyish glint in his eyes. This was his home field where he was working on the matter that meant most to him, equal human rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation.

That amber burned in Guðni’s mind til his dying day. He lost his life partner, Helgi Magnússon, far too young, only 48 years old in 2003 and the last years were without doubt very hard for Guðni.

Uppermost in my mind now is gratitude for having known a good man and a remarkable frontrunner, and I send my deepest sympathy to his family and friends. Icelandic queer society has a lot to thank Guðni Baldursson for.”

Lana Kolbrún Eddudóttir

He kept up a tireless battle

“The place where many of us got to know Guðni Baldursson did not look impressive – a windowless room in the basement at Garðarstræti 2 – but in the minds of us who went there it was still the brightest room in town, a sanctuary full of bright hopes and battle mood. This was the first location of Samtökin ’78 and there Guðni greeted members with kindness and friendship and the battle mood was in big part thanks to him.

Guðni was the first chair of the National Queer Organisation, worked hard for it and opened his home to members so at times it resembled a social centre. He was well read and eager to learn and followed developments in the fight for equal rights abroad closely, bought educational books on the matter and subscribed to many magazines that were nowhere else to be seen in Iceland.

“Guðni never tired of writing educational articles in Icelandic news papers and always reacted when queer people were discriminated against or met with violence.”

Guðni never tired of writing educational articles in Icelandic news papers and always reacted when queer people were discriminated against or met with violence. He did not hesitate to stand for the cause in his own name and with his photo published, which was in no way given in those days. A clear sign of what the situation was is clearly demonstrated in the fact that when Guðni ran for parliament for the Alliance of Social Democrats, being the chairman of Samtökin ’78, many people in the party opposed it strongly.

Guðni was a courageous fighter. Not only was he the chair of Samtökin ’78 from the start and till 1985, but after he quit the job he kept up a tireless battle in the committees which the parliament founded and sat on the board of HIV Iceland for almost thirty years.

Now when we say goodbye to Guðni Baldursson foremost in my mind is gratitude for all his hard and unselfish work. The memory of a good man and comrade remains.”

Böðvar Björnsson

 We all owe him a dept of gratitude

“I have a lot to thank Guðni Baldursson for, both personally and as a common citizen of this society which he played such a big part in changing for the better.

When we got to know each other, within the Alliance of Social Democrats in 1983, I was shamefully ignorant about queerness. The pioneers within Samtökin ’78 with Guðni at the forefront, had however been working for several years to open Icelanders eyes to the fact that gays and lesbians were not just some strange creatures abroad.

Guðni Baldursson will be remembered with deep gratitude for his tireless battle for the rights of gays and lesbians and queer people in Iceland. Photo/Courtesy of HIV Iceland

“This looks no different from a normal home!” a journalist exclaimed, who visited Guðni and his partner Helgi at their home. Guðni told me about this smiling his prankish smile but of course it was a sad thing and showed in a nutshell what they were fighting against.

The journey that the pioneers in the National Queer Organisation started in 1978 was therefore not exactly a fun run. The slope was stony and steep, not a field for the faint of heart to play on.

Guðni led the journey in the early years on the way to a more open and more just society. He was in fact a leader of a revolution though he certainly did not come across as one – he was a soft-spoken and well-behaved man. Under the quiet surface the fire of passion for justice kept burning and he was tough enough to follow the matters he fought for to the end, that was the key. His intelligence and logic also made him an obvious choice as a spokesman.

We are lucky to have had Guðni. We all owe him a debt of gratitude, both queer people and all Icelanders. He leaves a deep imprint, which leads upwards and in a positive direction.

Thank you, dear Guðni. I think of you fondly.”

Jónína Leósdóttir

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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