What does it feel like to be Polish and queer and living in Iceland? Polish people make up the largest ethnic minority group in Iceland, presenting more than 40% of all immigrants in Iceland as of 2018.  Last year it was estimated that over 19.000 people of Polish origin were living in Iceland. We at GayIceland are therefore keen to find out more about the Polish community in Iceland, the queer part of it to be more exact and what it feels like to be Polish and queer and living in Iceland. Today we interview a young gay man who didn’t feel comfortable in Poland and moved to Iceland.

Jacob Volsky.

At the age of 24, Jacob Volsky held hands with his boyfriend in public for the very first time. “I have a great sense of freedom here in Iceland. Like last year, I had a boyfriend and was able to hold hands with another man out in the street. Some of my straight friends didn’t understand why it was so special for me so I had to explain to them: “You can hold hands with someone already when you’re 14 and nobody pays attention to it,” but for me it was a great experience.”

Jacob moved to Iceland from Poland on a whim. “It was never my plan although I was always very interested in the Scandinavian countries so somewhere in my veins I had an urge to explore it but I never thought I’d be living here.”

“I have great sense of freedom here in Iceland. Like last year, I had a boyfriend and was able to hold hands with another man out in the street.”

He met a young woman at a party who had just returned to Poland after spending a summer working here and upon hearing her stories about Iceland Jacob thought he´d do the same. “I think it was a sign, and I took it so I’m here now.”

She assisted him in finding a job at Keflavík Airport and he found a place to stay in the neighbourhood, the Reykjanes peninsula. He only meant to stay a few months but 18 months later he’s still here. “I just fell in love with this beautiful country and feel comfortable here. So, I decided to stay and live here for as long as I could, and I’m really happy to be here. It was a hard decision to begin with because I had to change all my plans and change my whole life. And I didn’t know anyone here, not a single person.”

Can’t live in an oppressive country

Jacob had just finished a BA degree in Film Production but didn’t feel comfortable living in his homeland. He had heard that Iceland had good equality laws that included the LGBTI community and that it was a friendly environment for queer people. “It was a very big factor, actually, because I had come to the conclusion that I couldn’t live in a country that is so oppressive for the gay community. There’s no law or regulation in Poland for LGBT people at all. So, gays have no rights at all.”

Jacob says that the current government in Poland is very conservative and religious. “So, there’s no mentioning of queer rights in our laws, no mentioning of gay relationships or anything like that. It´s not forbidden to be gay, but in my opinion, things are moving into that direction – like in Russia – more towards what´s going on in the East of Europe. Although, now that we have a very oppressive government, I´ve noticed since I moved away that the gay community in Poland is waking up somehow. For example, this year was the first time that 15 cities in Poland organized a gay pride parade, which is unusual because before that it was only in 2 or 3 Polish cities. Now it’s even in the smaller cities. So the message from the gay community is that they’re stepping up, even though they have an oppressive government. Or maybe it’s because of it,” Jacob muses.
However, he’s not expecting big riots in Poland, yet. “I think that the Polish mentality is that we want freedom, but we don’t want to fight for it. However, when we are being provoked, we resist and decide we really need to fight back. So, it’s hard but I think the gay community is gaining strength.”

Parents comply with the Church

Jacob considers himself very lucky, his family is very supportive and he’s never had to hide his sexual orientation from them. “I came out in Poland seven years ago, when I was 18, although my friends knew about it already. I never actually tried to hide it although it sometimes was very painful for me. Homophobia is very strong in Poland, out in the streets in public places.

Jacob hadfinished a BA degree in Film Production. Not long ago he worked on a project involving renowned actor John Rhys-Davies.

Sometimes you can’t be wearing a shiny jacket or fancy shoes unless someone will call you a “faggot” or whatever, and no one else says anything in return because they’re scared. It’s not like that everywhere in Poland but it’s very, very common. But, my family was awesome about this, I really appreciate how my parents reacted because my friends weren’t all so lucky, sometimes their parents refused to allow them to live with them anymore. And sometimes that wasn’t even exactly how the parents felt but what their priest expected them to do. Poland is a very religious society and if you’re a member of a very religious community, what the priest says is more important than anything else.”

With Polish people being the biggest minority group in Iceland, or over 40% of all immigrants, there’s a strong Polish community here. How does Jacob feel he’s treated, as a Polish immigrant and a gay one as such? “I’ve never felt any prejudice about either, personally. The only thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes Icelandic people complain about the Polish but not specifically about gay people.”

However, Jacob admits he doesn’t see himself as part of the Polish community in Iceland, but more of an international community. “One of the reasons I came to Iceland was because I DON’T want to be part of a Polish community. I go to a lot of meetings and events at The National Queer Organization Samtökin ´78 and I meet there people from all around the world. I don’t think there’s a specific Polish gay group in Iceland, there are some Polish gay men here, but I actually haven’t met one Polish lesbian here.”

“Homophobia is very strong in Poland, out in the streets in public places. Sometimes you can’t be wearing a shiny jacket or fancy shoes unless someone will call you a “faggot”

Come to think of it, Jacob says, gay women in Poland seem to be more quiet. “Whenever we talk about LGBT rights, we’re talking about men. Lesbians are either more quiet or we just don’t want to see them. I also think that in Poland it may be easier for them to hide. Two guys living together with a kid would be a scandal. But if it were two women, it wouldn’t be considered as bad. And if they identified as lesbians, people would say “Oh, it’s just a phase, it’s hormones” and wouldn’t treat it seriously. Which is bad of course, if people don’t take you seriously and don’t treat you with respect.”

Homophobia amongst homosexuals

But Jacob says that because of the way they’re brought up, there’s a lot of homophobia within the Polish gay community. “Many gay people there say they don´t need gay marriage, that they don´t want it. It’s easier to be quiet, not to show it, so they’re living in a straight Matrix. I’ve heard these opinions in the Polish gay community, that having kids is unnatural, not good. They prefer to be quiet and don’t want to be open about being gay and have been made to believe these things are wrong because they´ve been raised to believe that. Eastern Europe is not that open, the support you have here in Iceland is amazing. I want to be a husband one day, have kids and a family. But I couldn’t live in Poland because my culture wouldn’t allow it. So, for me living here is more natural for me; it’s my nature. I needed to escape all that.”

The outside world noticed that even though more gay pride parades were being held in Poland in 2017, there was still massive security present. Police officers with weapons and well-equipped vehicles followed the parades, which is surprising to those only familiar with the pride parade in Iceland. “Yes, there were some anti-gay protests organized at the same time. It’s common. You have to understand that neo-fascism is growing in Poland. These nationalists’ groups are growing and the government silently supports them by not doing anything about them. It’s good that the police are at least protecting the people participating in the pride parades because it can be risky for them; there has been some violence occasionally and of course, there’s no law against it. It’s like that everywhere, in big cities like Gdansk even, there’s always a lot of security measures during gay pride parades.”

Jacob is happy living in Iceland.

As he mentioned before, the queer community seems to be slowly rising up in Poland, in response to the current regime so Jacob says it’s understandable that we’re hearing more and more about clashes in Poland than before. “There’s a bit more turbulence now than has been in the past, because we seem to be leaning towards the times of the Communist party. The government is going backwards a bit and trying to control the media more etc., which is sad because we’re about to celebrate 100 years of independence, yet we‘re going backwards now.”

See also: “I found love in Iceland” says queer Polish activist

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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