Gunnlaugur Bragi.

Let’s get ready for a Queer Time – Reykjavík Pride Begins!

It’s summer in Reykjavík and although the weather might not be as balmy as it is in other parts of Europe the rainbows are still getting ready to take prominence over the one of the most northern capitals in the world.

The Reykjavík Pride Festival (known as Hinsegin Dagar in Icelandic) has been a regular calendar event in this little island nation in the Atlantic since the early 1990s. The origins of the festival we see today actually took place way back in 1993 when a group of queer Icelanders decided to march through the streets of the capital demanding freedom from discrimination and equal rights. This first march galvanised some members of the community and the following year it was repeated. This repetition slowly gained traction over time and in the year 2000 Hinsegin Dagar became an official festival.

The purpose of Reykjavík Pride is to celebrate diversity and inclusion. It also serves as a time to remember the many people who dedicated time and energy to end discrimination and seek complete equality. The festival kicks off on August 2nd and goes till August 6th and includes many events over a multitude of venues in Reykjavík. Of course one of the biggest events is the pride parade, set to take place on the final saturday of the fest.

Pride is one of the most attended festivals in Iceland with more than 100,000 people regularly taking to the streets to wave flags with the queer community. To put that in perspective, that’s nearly a third of the population of the entire country. With the festivities kicking off, I sat down with the current president of Reykjavík Pride, Gunnlaugur Bragi Bjönsson to get the scoop on how the preparations are going, what people can expect and what work there still is to be done for queer folk in Iceland.

Before we got into the fun, it was necessary to address some serious issues facing LGBTQ+ people around the world and even in neighbouring countries. Readers might not be aware of this but there was a recent incident in Norway in which a gunman opened fire at a queer bar in Oslo. The attack resulted in the deaths of two people and injuries sustained by 21 others. The local courts have ruled the attack as deliberate and malicious in intent and Oslo officials cancelled all pride celebrations for the year as a precaution to protect the public.

Norway is one of the closest Nordic countries to Iceland and both places have experienced a similar level of acceptance for LGBTQ+ people. There has also been a sudden increase in anti-LGBTQ+ sentiment in Iceland in the form of graffiti, anti-trans sentiment was recently published in a national news website and other anti queer opinions that have been made very public by prominant individuals including former Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur Davíð Gunnlaugsson.

GayIceland: What are your thoughts about the backlash the queer community in Iceland (and in many other places in the world) are currently experiencing? Would you have guessed this is something we might experience in 2022?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “The LGBTQIA+ community is frequently asked “Why does Pride still exist? Why are Samtökin ’78 still active? You’ve already achieved everything!” Our answers are usually similar:
Although a lot has been achieved, full equality is still only a vision.

We know that the human rights that we’ve had to fight for can easily be taken away from us again.
And we always have to keep our eyes open for a possible backlash and be ready to fight back if and when it happens.

So, no – the backlash we’ve started seeing here in Iceland is not completely unexpected but it’s frightening nonetheless.”

GayIceland: How important is it for the community to stand together in times like these?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “It’s absolutely vital for the queer community, both locally and internationally, to stand together in times like these. We have to remember that an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us. Not standing together would only serve to benefit those attacking us.”

GayIceland: In light of that and of recent events, such as the shooting in Oslo, Norway, will you be taking special precautions at this year’s Pride Festival?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “We were all shocked when we heard about the shooting during Oslo Pride. An attack which, despite making the Oslo Pride Parade impossible this year, made it even clearer to all of us why we need to be visible and continue fighting. It shows you exactly why we need Pride.

Having now both mentioned the importance of the international queer community standing together, and the shooting in Oslo, it’s an important honor for us at Reykjavik Pride that representatives of Oslo Pride will later this week visit Reykjavik in order to march in Reykjavik Pride Parade in the name of solidarity with all those who cannot march.

“The backlash we’ve started seeing here in Iceland is not completely unexpected but it’s frightening nonetheless.”

As always Reykjavik Pride follows all rules, recommendations and regulations that apply to such mass gatherings and are in constant dialogue with all those who must be involved. We will of course continue to do so as we strive to create safe spaces for all queer people.”

GayIceland: This year’s slogan is Beauty of Freedom, what is the idea behind that?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “This year’s theme, Beauty of Freedom, is a phrase that we have borrowed from Systur’s song; Með hækkandi sól, written by our one and only Lay Low.”

The song was chosen to represent Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest this year in Turin, Italy.

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “The lyrics revolve around the rising sun as a metaphor for the freedom on the horizon and the hope of achieving said freedom. The freedom of LGBTQI+ people in Iceland has expanded over the course of the last years and decades; The freedom to be visible and to actively participate in society. The freedom to take up space. The freedom to be who you are.

Additionally, after the long isolation of the last years, we now have the freedom to gather together and unite once more in solidarity. Finally we have the freedom to celebrate our victories and stand together in the fight for human rights, awareness and equality. Still, although this freedom is crawling closer, the drowning night sky that sets us back is never far away.”

GayIceland: For the past two years the festivities have been restricted by covid, but not this year. How do you think that will affect the festival? In what way do you think this year’s Pride differs from the festivities in recent years?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “During the pandemic, we did our best to celebrate Pride through the means afforded to us, but of course it wasn’t the same as before. Now that the pandemic has a smaller influence on our festivities, we will use the opportunity to truly come together, stronger than before, without completely leaving behind everything that the pandemic taught us. This means that we will continue some of the activities we introduced in the last two years, such as the Pride TV special in collaboration with RÚV.
Additionally, we recognize that there’s a generation of young queer people who, to some extent, have gone through their whole adolescence without celebrating their true selves. We feel that it’s important to show them that this is also their Pride, so this year we’re introducing a Youth Pride concept, where young people get the platform they deserve; to celebrate, unite and take initiative.

Gunnlaugur Bragi.

Another new concept we’re introducing this year is the PRIDE CENTER, our very own Pride hub and headquarters which we opened at Geirsgata 9 (Gayrsgata) in Reykjavík on Friday 29 July. At Pride Center, which will be open throughout Pride, you can find our Pride Store but also a cafe and a bar where our queer family can come together, reconnect over a drink and simply enjoy the Pride spirit. We will also host various Pride events at the centre, such as a part of our Rainbow Conference, the annual QueeReads event and more. We hope this new concept will be well received, especially after the years of social distancing and no large Pride events.”

GayIceland: What are the highlights of this year’s festival?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “Some of the highlights are the same as in the previous Pride festivals, such as a glamourous opening ceremony, a splendid closing party and of course the Pride Parade, where tens of thousands gather down town Reykjavík to celebrate all things queer and spread awareness of the things that still need to be fought for.

In addition, we’ll have a fantastic drag comedy show, starring none other than Trinity the Tuck, a world renowned drag performer and various very talented local performers. We are also introducing a new two-day-long Rainbow Conference, where we’ll explore the realities facing LGBTQIA+ people in Iceland and abroad.”

Gunnlaugur is this year’s Pride President, but he has returned from a break.

GayIceland: This year marks your return as chair of Reykjavík. What have you been up to up until now?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “In 2019 it was finally time to follow an old dream of broadening my horizons by moving abroad. At that point my boyfriend had already been studying in Copenhagen for a year so I decided to move there too. Almost a decade after graduating from Reykjavik University, I decided to enrol in a management master’s programme at Roskilde University. I finished the master’s degree, while working in communications for a global tech company with headquarters in Copenhagen, but my time in Denmark unfortunately ended up being mostly spent social distancing and working remotely due to Covid-19. But it was a great experience and I learned a lot of valuable things, nonetheless.”

GayIceland: What does it feel like to be back in the game?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “I’ve been somewhat involved with Reykjavik Pride since 2012, so although the years away were a good break, I have to admit I felt like something was missing! So, it’s great to be back and I’m very thankful to get the chance to be involved again as we come back together again.

Reykjavik Pride is an organisation where almost all of the work is done by volunteers like myself. I believe it’s very important for such organisations to create an environment where volunteers feel like they can come and go as they can and want. Now I’ve tried taking a break and coming back and I can confirm that it works! I also want to mention that Reykjavik Pride always needs more volunteers for a variety of interesting tasks, including to serve on the board of Pride.

GayIceland: Do you feel like the queer community has changed in your absence?
Gunnlaugur Bragi: “We’ve already mentioned Covid, which I think has affected our community greatly as already marginalised communities are much more vulnerable to such disruption.

The queer community is growing more diverse with each year and it’s amazing to see this diversity have the space to florish. The younger generation is so aware and active, and the impact of their initiative is evident. But the backlash is evident and that influences our community greatly.”

GayIceland: Do you have any words or message you wish to convey to the queer community of Iceland?

Gunnlaugur Bragi: “I sincerely hope this year’s Reykjavík Pride will be a platform to address the backlash we’re experiencing, unite as one and educate each other in our efforts to combat the marginalisation we face as a community. This will however only happen if we all show up and participate. So – see you all at Reykjavik Pride!”

Photo / Courtesy of Reykjavík Pride.

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.



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    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.

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      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.

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        Blue Lagoon
        - One of the 25 Wonders of the World

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        - 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%.

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        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.

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        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.

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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.

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          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

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