Queer youth center in Reykjavík: “A safe space for queer teenagers”

Recently a national conversation on bullying brought to light that homophobic bullying is sadly still a thing in Iceland and a recent survey shows that one-third of LGBT+ youth feel unsafe at school in the country.
Hrefna Þórarinsdóttir explains why safe spaces for queer youth are vital and tells the story, goals and challenges of Hinsegin fèlagsmiðstöð, the queer youth center she’s been running since 2016 in Reykjavík.

Hrefna Þórarinsdóttir.

What is Hinsegin félagsmiðstöð in a nutshell and how does it translate in English for the few of us who dare not to speak a word of Icelandic?
“It is a safe space for queer teenagers to develop and find their place under the queer umbrella, to give and get support.
We want to create that “home away from home” feeling in our center. We want it to be a place where queer teens can find others that share the same experiences and mindset. And most of all a place where they feel welcomed, can have fun and forget about all their worries and problems or, on the contrary, talk about them with people who are trained to tackle those issues.
We have currently one permanent staff member and I, plus two temporary staff members due to increased attendance. Otherwise, the program is mainly staffed with volunteers from The National Queer Organization, Samtökin 78.”

“I’ve been noticing increased interest from even younger kids (6-13) so it may be time to create a safe space for that age group as well.”

When did you create the center, and where can it be found?
“The center was greenlighted in 2016 and we opened in September that same year after a few months of brainstorming and planning in Spennistöðin youth center, Barónsstígur 32 A, Reykjavik 101.”

Didn’t Samtökin 78 have their own youth program at the time?
“Samtökin had indeed their own youth program called Ungliðahreyfing Samtakanna 78 for many years and it was very popular and successful. But in 2016 the age range was becoming too wide. And as we know, a 13-year-old can have a very different mindset from a 20/25 old or even an 18-year-old. So, Samtökin asked Reykjavík city to help them find ways to make the program take that more into account.

“A few times a year we invite queer people that the teenagers consider role models to visit us and talk about everything, from the color of their toothbrush to their experience of coming out.” Pictured: singer Páll Óskar.

That is where I came in the picture. I had worked in youth centers for many years and was at the time working for a leisure center in Reykjavik which is now known as Tjörnin. I’ve had good experience working with different groups of young people and was asked to join this project so I just jumped in! We decided then to create a youth center for 13 to 17-year-olds so we could give that age group the specific attention and support it needs.”

Is it the only center of this kind in Iceland?
“I think this is the only youth center that focuses on queer youth in Reykjavík but there are others in municipalities like Keflavik and Akureyri if I remember correctly.”

Let’s talk a bit more about the teenagers who come to the center. How many of them gather on a regular opening?
“Around 80-110 teens gather on a regular opening and the numbers are always growing! It is kind of crazy since we had around 20-25 when we first started in 2016! Try to remember 80-110 different names and pronouns – it’s hard but not impossible!”

Have you noticed trends or patterns amongst those who come: age, gender, sexual preference, social background?
“No, not exactly, but I’ve been noticing increased interest from even younger kids (6-13) so it may be time to create a safe space for that age group as well. We will be taking the first steps in that direction in the next weeks and hopefully we can offer some kind of opening for at least a part of that age group as soon as possible.”

Does the center host informal hangouts or do you schedule meetings, events, etc.? Both perhaps?
“We are able to open once a week and we always have something planned. We offer different kinds of activities: a TV room, a board game corner, a good recording studio – karaoke is a very popular activity, a cozy corner and so much more. It’s hard to list everything. Mostly the kids just come here to hang out with their friends and other kids who may going through the same experience. Some also look for guidance from our staff.”

María Rut and Ingileif, founders of Hinseginleikinn, have showed up.

What are the highlights of the year?
“We take part in Reykjavík Pride each year, that is a big deal for us. Last time we had around 70 super excited teens join in our Pride float. Queer Role models is definitely another one: a few times a year we invite queer people that the teenagers consider role models to visit us and talk about everything, from the color of their toothbrush to their experience of coming out. Last year we also had a super successful Queer Prom for the first time, and we are planning the next one already. So as you can see, we do all kinds of stuff!”

What do the parents think about it? Do they play some role in the center?
“There are some very supportive parents, and we are very grateful for them. They have helped with our participation in Pride for example. Some kids come without their parents knowing and we respect that, but we would rather be always in touch and of course in good terms with the parents.”

How did Covid impact the project?
“Covid hit us pretty hard. During the first wave we had to close down, just like the other youth centers in Iceland. The second wave took Pride away. And during the third wave we had to close from October to mid-January although we tried to hold some events online then. But the kids always prefer to meet in person and that is very understandable. In mid-January we opened again with limitations and are very excited to be able to reopen the center without any limitations as soon as possible.”

What’s the next big thing on Hinsegin félagsmiðstöð’s agenda? “We are starting to plan our second Queer Prom scheduled in April!”

Any other challenges you had to face?
“In youth work the most common issue is always funding and I think that is the main reason why projects like this one fail. It is sad but true. We are always in the endless journey of looking for funds and even had to close temporarily at one point because of funding problems. But I don’t give up easily.
I think visibility is also very important. The more people know about us, the more people are willing to fight with us to keep this youth center open and growing.”

“Imagine that you can only go once a week to the very place where you feel welcome and are able to meet your friends. That is not fair to these kids. ”

What would you dream Hinsegin félagsmiðstöð to be in, like, 5 years?
“Wow, I have so many dreams. First, my dream would be that we can open more often, like other youth centers in Iceland. As of now we are only able to open once a week and that’s not enough. Imagine that you can only go once a week to the very place where you feel welcome and are able to meet your friends. That is not fair to these kids. I also dream that we have enough funding to pay our very important volunteers. Another dream I have is that we can offer a program for younger kids as I mentioned earlier. The fourth and maybe the biggest one is to open similar youth centers in other municipalities in Iceland.”

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: https://blush.is/

    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.

        Our unique position at the center of the capital markets allows us to see firsthand how these values have redefined corporate culture and success, deepening and accelerating our own commitment to champion inclusive growth and prosperity, as we strive to create more equitable opportunities to help people of all backgrounds reach their full potential. Most notably, we published our diversity statistics for the first time in 2020. These metrics serve as a quantitative assessment of where we are today and help determine what strategies we need to adopt to enhance diversity in the workplace. We recognize that we have much work to do, but we are steadfast in our commitment to creating a diverse and inclusive culture—one that reflects the communities in which we live, allows all employees to be their true, authentic selves and fosters individual growth and achievement.

        As we move forward together, we will continue advancing diverse ideas and perspectives that help fulfill the promise of a more inclusive and prosperous world. We aim to set the pace for rethinking capital markets and economies anywhere and everywhere. To learn more about the company, technology solutions and career opportunities, visit us on LinkedIn, on Twitter @Nasdaq, or at www.nasdaq.com.

        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.

          Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
          For all your Apple needs. We are here.

          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

          Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.