Being proud of who you are should be an everyday thing. However, for LGBTQI+ people, being proud is especially celebrated in August here in Iceland during Reykjavík Pride. GayIceland’s Anna Kristine Magnúsdóttir-Mikulcáková asks members of the community what meaning Pride has for them
Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir, chair of Trans Iceland:
“The thing I love most about Reykjavík Pride is that it’s unlike any large Pride event – the fact that it remains such a grass root and community led event that isn’t commercialized like most Prides nowadays, makes it truly special and heartfelt. To me Pride is a revolution and Reykjavík Pride is true to it’s roots and purpose.”
Lilja Sigurðardóttir, author:
“Reykjavík Pride to me means acceptance, affirmation, dignity and
visibility. Not only does it mean all those things within the LGBTQ+
community but also for the whole of Icelandic society. The percentage of
the general population that shows up for the Pride parade in Reykjavík is
unique in the world and every year, when I see the turnout, I am so proud
of my country. Nowhere is perfect for LGBTQ+ people but when a huge part of the Icelandic nation takes to the streets to show support, it tells us that
we are a valued part of society.”
Sigurður Júlíus Guðmundsson, CEO Arína information and cashier at Samtökin ´78:
“For me Pride means freedom, acceptance, strength and peace. My first Pride was the first time I truly felt invincible. I felt a true sense of belonging. I stepped out in front of the world and there was no fear. I was happy and at peace.
Every year I remember this feeling and I am grateful to see new faces every year beaming with happiness and joy loving every minute of it. There is no greater feeling than having the freedom to be yourself unapologetically. Even if it‘s only once a year!”
Skaði Þórðardóttir, artist:
“Growing up in the 80’s and 90’s when Iceland was way more closed and
hostile toward queer people, it seemed an easier life just to remain in the
closet than coming out. Reykjavík Pride showed me that LGBTQ is such a
diverse group of people and being part of LGBTQ does not have to determine your success in life. And I want to use this platform now to give my gratitude and love to those who came out before me, your visibility gave me the courage to live the life I live today.”
Alexander Björn Gunnarsson, studying social work at University of Iceland:
“I like that I was able one year to dance around in a flamingo suit and nobody knew who I was.
Another year, I was able to do a political performance, carrying a coffin with Trans Ísland in the pride parade, and not have to worry about my safety.
Last year I was able to walk and sing with my choir (Reykjavík Queer Choir, Hinsegin Kórinn), spreading music and love everywhere.
Reykjavík Pride, for me, is an important venue for all the different emotions and activities one can think of.”
Frosti Jónsson, marketing executive and a musician:
“Pride comes with a lot of meanings to me and for many different reasons. Some are personal and some collectively. From a personal perspective Pride is an important reminder that you are not alone and you share experiences, feelings and struggles with a lot of people around the globe. Being visible and being accepted for who you are as an individual and as a part of a larger entity brings a message accross which is always relevant and important. Collectively we can change the society and peoples views and attitudes. We´ve seen that happen in Iceland and it can happen elsewhere. Pride is also about celebrating life and the milestones achieved while gaining collective power beyond our own circles to keep on fighting, overcome hate and ignorance and change the world. The struggles LGBTQ+ people are facing all around the world is just as much our business as its anyone else and thats why Pride is important for all of us.”
Reynir Þór Eggertsson, lecturer at Helsinki University, Finland:
“The fight for the right of LGBTQI-people seems to be an endless one, as we see with backlash in many places around the world. Therefore, Reykjavík Pride is incredibly important. There will always be those who agree with the last person who spoke. All those allies from Reykjavík who turn up every year for Reykjavík Pride to support your cause proves that the majority of the Icelandic public is on the side of LGBTQI-people and supports our fight for full human rights; therefore Reykjavík Pride keeps the momentum on our side.”
Margrét Nilsdóttir, artist, psychology student and chairperson of The Icelandic National BDSM Organization:
“Reykjavík Pride is a celebration of human diversity. It is a chance to shake off, if only for a day, the feeling that we must hide a certain part of us to be accepted. It is also a chance to revel in the joy of witnessing that we can all come together despite being so diverse, and a chance for society at large to witness that unity and hopefully learn from it.”
Jóhann G.Thorarensen, English teacher,translator and IT manager:
“The first time I really took part in Pride parade I walked with the hate speech group where we showed comments from the internet on placards. I thought the idea was brilliant! In your face kind of thing. It was also a chance for me to fight for others, for my queer mates, my daughters and my students. In fact, for almost everybody except myself. A fight after my own heart. It was difficult and I felt I was revealing a side of myself that I really just liked to keep to myself and those who knew. But things changed. I started taking part every year.
Last year I had the rainbow flag painted on my cheek, the rainbow raincoat on my back, the rainbow cowboy hat on my head and my friends with me on the lorry bed, with me at the front. I was smiling, I was strong, I was proud. No matter who saw. Heck, the more the better. I was proud to be who I am and what I am. Come what may. And this is what the Pride parade is for me. It is about not giving up when you feel weak. About getting stronger by being true to yourself and having the support of your friends and the people around. It’s about being proud of who and what you are. It is about unity and Pride.”
Photo / Sigurthor Gunnlaugsson