From one side of the world to the other

“I had to lose everything to find out what I was capable of.” Gay comedian Jonathan Duffy tells readers how his break-up led him on a life-changing journey to Iceland.

I had first come to Iceland in 2011 on vacation with my then partner. It was a nice little country with amazing landscapes and interesting people. I remember at the time we had joked with each other about how it would be fun to spend some time living there. Flash forward to August 14, 2015 and I was at Keflavík airport arriving from Amsterdam ready to start a new life. Sounds exciting, but the confident comedian about to turn 30 was actually a broken and scared little boy looking to start over somewhere really far away from painful memories.

“My final birthday in OZ. That’s a cake made of cheese, cause I like cheese and don’t really like cake.”

I had been with my partner since I was 20 years old. Together we had racked up a ton of adventures and seemed to be in the kind of relationship that was going to last forever. He was (and still is) a doctor and I was a gay comedian working across loads of different projects in Australia. We were sort of a D-List power couple. There was even a documentary about how we had spent years living in the heart of the homophobic Australian outback and had an amazing time doing so. All of this changed for me in what seemed like an instant.

I had begun touring festivals with a comedy show that took me all over Australia and eventually New Zealand (which is kind of like the reverse of an Icelander going to Denmark, in that Australia is like Denmark and Iceland is our New Zealand). While I was there I had an incident in a gay bar that shook me emotionally and psychologically. I performed my final two shows there and went back to Melbourne. All I wanted was to just get on with life and get back to the man who knew me better than I knew myself. A man who was sure to know how to make things better. However this couldn’t be the case.

When I returned he revealed to me that there were some issues in our relationship he wanted to talk about. He insisted that he wanted us to stay together and work through it. We went to two therapy sessions and it seemed that almost in a gust of wind, life as I knew it was over. I had spent years devoting my time and energy to our relationship and his success. I had blindly put myself second to make sure he was happy because I had so much unresolved self-worth issues. Of course there were other things that contributed to the break up but if I were to pin point the part I played in the relationship collapse it would be that my own hang ups and issues aided in creating an unequal partnership.

“I was alone for the first time in my adult life, living in a city where almost everyone knew me as one half of a couple instead of an individual. I no longer had a house I owned or even a car and had no idea what to do.”

I was alone for the first time in my adult life, living in a city where almost everyone knew me as one half of a couple instead of an individual. I no longer had a house I owned or even a car and had no idea what to do. One morning while we were going over final details of the break up, he asked me where I thought I would go. I remember telling him, ‘I don’t know, I feel like I just need to get out of here.’ He asked me where and I asked why it matters to him and he told me that he still wanted to be able to have me in his life. In a weird fit of aggression I shouted at him, ‘Well you don’t get to decide that, maybe I’ll move to Iceland.’

Enjoying the landscape of Iceland.

He was perplexed by this and insisted I was being a bit dramatic. Later that day he approached me as I was sorting through items in my office and said that he’d done some thinking and actually thought it wasn’t a terrible idea. He said that if I wasn’t tied to anything anymore, then why shouldn’t I just go have an adventure and see what life was like where I get to be in charge and I’m not constantly associated with someone else. He actually helped me make my travel arrangements and when the day came he even drove me to the airport. Maybe it was to make sure I actually left the country, I’ll never know.

This one act of spite opened a window to me that I probably never would have acknowledged if I had stayed in Australia. I got a British passport and did some travel. I settled on Iceland as my final destination for a couple of reasons. I knew someone here who was willing to help me with a place to stay. This friend also had a network of other creative friends and that provided an incentive to hit the ground running. Going somewhere nobody knew me also meant that I could create my own narrative. A chance to start over and do things my way. The time I had spent in the outback living in a community of just over 1000 people also influenced this. I knew how to live in small populations and also knew that it’s less likely in a country of 330,000 people that I would just fall through the cracks and end up homeless or working as an escort.

So I arrived broken and ready to heal which is possibly the most cliché thing you could say about someone moving here. I didn’t have an end date but also hadn’t convinced myself that I was going to be here forever. I had decided that if things worked I would stay, if not I would go somewhere else.

Jonathan was the creative director for Iceland’s entry to Eurovision in 2016. Here pictured with singer Greta Salóme (on his right).

In less than a year, through hard work and determination I had accomplished what I believe is more than I ever would have done if I had stayed in Australia. I made music videos for one of Iceland’s most beloved pop stars (Páll Óskar), one of which was nominated for music video of the year, was the creative director for Iceland’s entry to Eurovision, became a main stayer in the stand up comedy scene, now in my 13th year as a comedian I never imagined i would work as a paid comedian in Iceland, I have a successful gay comic strip (Bruce the Angry Bear) and with Hugleikur Daggson my podcast Icetraila is one of the most listened to in the country.

“Iceland is a beautiful country which I now proudly call home. The people here are like a family to me and just like any family they sometimes piss me off. I make fun of Icelanders all the time but just like with my own family, they may be idiots at times but they’re my idiots so back off.”

Iceland has taught me that I can be the boss of my own life and career. It’s also taught me that nothing is ever handed to you – unless you are Icelandic and have famous parents (I’m just kidding, or am I). Everything I have achieved here has been through hard work, determination and countless hours doing other things I hate to pay rent so that I can focus on what I really love. Almost like the end scene in the wizard of OZ, I had to go on a weird journey to discover that I had the power to do it all inside me the whole time, I just needed to sort of lose everything first to get there.

I went back to Australia for Christmas last year and it was fun but I can’t quite describe the feeling after 4 planes and almost 3 days of travel when I touched down to the snow-covered runway at Keflavík on new years eve and thought ‘Finally I’m home.’

“With my friend Ólöf Erla on my first day in Iceland.”

Iceland is a beautiful country which I now proudly call home. The people here are like a family to me and just like any family they sometimes piss me off. I make fun of Icelanders all the time but just like with my own family, they may be idiots at times but they’re my idiots so back off.

I think the most important lesson I’ve learned in my time here is that when you go somewhere new there will always be a honeymoon period where everything is shiny and new. You spend a while looking at this place through rose-coloured glasses but then eventually the honeymoon period is over and if you have things you haven’t dealt with before you came, they will eventually resurface.

Iceland is amazing but is just a country like any other. A place is what you make of it. You have to pay your dues and respect how things are done, you have to challenge things to make progress, which is one of the beautiful things about immigrants, but ultimately you need to remember that any place is exactly what you make of it. I don’t know if I will be here forever. Just over two years ago I thought I was going to be a doctor’s wife till the day I died. Nothing is forever but for now I certainly don’t have any plans to leave.

Note: The story of Jonathan Duffy 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.

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        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.

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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.

          Contact Us

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