New executive director of Samtökin ’78: We are all in this together

Daníel Arnarsson has now been hired as executive director of the National Queer Organisation, Samtökin ’78. Daníel has been active within the organisation since 2014, as well as being politically active in the Left Green Movement, and is in fact one of their deputy members of parliament. GayIceland was curious about the new director: Who is he, where does he come from and what is his vision for the future of Samtökin ’78?

Daníel Arnarsson is the new director of Samtökin ’78. He thinks its important for queer people to put their differences aside and stick together.

“My name is Daníel Arnarsson. I was born in Reykjavík in 1990, but grew up in Þorlákshöfn, a fishing village on the south coast. I moved to Reykjavík when I went to university in 2010, but now I live in Hafnarfjörður. It was great growing up in Þorlákshöfn and I’m still in touch with people in my village, as I love to visit there and reminisce about old times, since my parents are still living there. I am in a civil partnership with Hólmar Hólm and we have been living together since 2011.

I have been lucky enough to get to work in various fields, but I have been working since I was very young. Mostly in the restaurant and service business, as a waiter, kitchen assistant etc. For a few years, I worked for the Icelandic coffee company Te & kaffi where I got to manage three coffee houses, besides being on their sales and marketing team in 2013.

In later years I have changed fields, being the general secretary of the Left Green Movement from 2014 to 2016, as well as being one of their election campaign managers in 2013 and 2017.”

How long have you been a member of Samtökin ’78?
“I’ve always followed the activities of Samtökin ’78 from the side line, so to speak, but I have not been an active member for long, only joining the organisation in 2014 and immediately offering my services in the advisory council, because I wanted to do my part to help people and be useful. A while ago I saw that the organisation was advertising the job of executive director and decided to apply for it. However, I was not hired at that time. Then it was not until a few weeks ago that I got a phone call where I was offered the job of director, as my predecessor had suddenly quit and I had also been deemed qualified for the job when I applied previously. I must say I was really not expecting that phone call, but I of course said yes without thinking twice.”

“… being a member of a political party and a deputy MP is not a disadvantage, but a bonus as it means that I know how to play in the political landscape and that is a good thing in the organisation.”

Can the members of the organisation expect a change in the emphasis of Samtökin ’78 with you as director?

“I intend to take my time to learn the ropes, speak to the members, and try to draw the big picture of the organisation – what are our values and our role? Where can we expand and where can we scale back? I think directors should certainly put their mark on the organisations they run, but I seriously doubt that I will change the organisation radically, as that is not part of my role, but depends on the members themselves. Needless to say, I’m obliged to respect the course which the board and the annual general meeting of the members set, as well as I possibly can.

Daníel and his partner Hólmar Hólm. The pair have been living together since 2011.

Having said that, I must add that there are a few things in the structure, representation and planning of the organisation that I would like to improve upon. Apart from that, I’m eager to hear from all queer people and urge them to participate in open discussion, both to criticize and tell me what they think. We must remember that we are all in this together. My emphasis will then be on professionalism, clarity and the efficiency that lies in simplicity. In my opinion, the small things, that make the whole picture, often matter most.”

What will be your priority as director?
“First and foremost I intend to act professionally and with respect for all queer people. I want to facilitate communication between different groups within the organisation – as well as outside it. My priority will be to streamline the organisation, define it better and review its roles, various as they are.”

You are a deputy member of parliament for the Left Green Movement, how is that compatible with being a director of Samtökin ’78?
“I consider it a valuable experience in the job that is ahead. The battle for queer rights is in essence a battle for human rights and as such the battle is highly political. I think I have learned a lot about dealing with these matters from my work with the LGM. I’m not trying to mask the fact that I have worked for that movement for a long time and hope to stay involved in politics. First and foremost, I mean to work professionally and passionately for the benefit of queer people, regardless of where they stand politically, as it’s of no consequence to me as director. In my opinion, being a member of a political party and a deputy MP is not a disadvantage, but a bonus as it means that I know how to play in the political landscape and that is a good thing in the organisation.”

“The most important thing for me is not to go into the trenches. The worst thing is to be divided from within. Queer people ultimately have to stick together and get things settled, even though we may not agree completely on all things.”

And if you have to take a seat in parliament, what happens then?
“Not much, really. If it so happens that I will be called to sit in parliament it probably won’t be for a long period of time, a week or so at the most, and we, myself and the board, will deal with that as best we can. On top of that, I’m actually the second deputy MP in my constituency so it’s that much less likely to happen frequently. As you can see, I have only been called once so far.”

The new director intends to take his time to learn the ropes, speak to the members, and try to draw the big picture of the organisation – what its role is and its values.

Your predecessor considered it a challenge for her in this job not to be queer, do you think that matters in this job?
“Yes and no. Queer people are of all kinds and their experiences very different, so it’s hard to say if that matters. The most important thing for us as human beings is to be able to empathise with each other, respect one another’s experience and try to understand those who are different from us.”

Have you been in a position of responsibility for Samtökin ’78 before?
“Yes, I was part of the advisory council for two years and attended a few board meetings in that capacity.”

There have been difficulties within Samtökin ’78 for the past few years. What is your approach to making the organisation more unified?
“The most important thing for me is not to go into the trenches. The worst thing is to be divided from within. Queer people ultimately have to stick together and get things settled, even though we may not agree completely on all things. That did not happen in the BDSM case but we need to fix that rift as soon as possible and I’m willing to work to help reach a good conclusion. Human rights are certainly not a given thing – it can take decades to achieve those rights, but they can be taken away from us with one stroke of the pen. Fortunately, we are stronger together and we should think about the future instead of getting stuck in petty arguments with each other.”

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.


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.

      - 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. “

      - 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.

        - 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).

        - 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.


        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.


        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
        -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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