Sandra Ósk Eysteinsdóttir. Photo / Guðmundur Davíð Terrazas

To Find A Way Forward Together

Sandra Ósk Eysteinsdóttir of Reykjavík Pride on why the Rainbow Conference matters.

When many people think of Reykjavík Pride, they think of the family-friendly march that winds its way through downtown. For many of us in the queer community, this is a chance to band together and celebrate our existence and visibility.

But there is another side to Reykjavík Pride. One in which we get together to talk about the challenges we still face in a largely cishet society, listen to one another speak from different areas of marginalisation, and try to earnestly map out a path to a better society for us all.

This side of Reykjavík Pride is less visible to Icelandic society at large, but the Rainbow Conference is arguably an indispensable part of it: a time and space just for us. And this year, Reykjavík Pride board member Sandra Ósk Eysteinsdóttir tells us, the focus is on the most pressing issues the most marginalised folks in the queer community face.

More than the backlash

“We wanted to talk about things that were in the news, such as the backlash, queer rights, and the hate crimes all around,” she says. “Also in Iceland, not just in the US and stuff. In Iceland, the voices are more loud, the hate speech is more visible than it was. So we thought it was really important to talk about that.”

Sandra is unfortunately correct: a few prominent media outlets have indeed taken it as their personal mission to print any opinion piece that mocks queer people, trans people in particular, no matter how ill-informed or outright false the contentions in these columns may be.

“We wanted to talk about things that we thought were important, like the backlash, but also to talk about something that has not been talked about at Hinsegin Dagar before,” she adds.

Looking at this year’s Rainbow Conference programme, one can find panels on an impressive range of topics, from disability and queerness, sport and queerness, queer refugees, and queer youth.

“We wanted to do much more, but we only had nine spots,” she says. Still, not too shabby a lineup, so what is the inspiration?

We wanted to talk about things that we thought were important, like the backlash, but also to talk about something that has not been talked about at Hinsegin Dagar before.

“We were just a group brainstorming,” she says. “We didn’t want this to just be about how things are bad, right? We also wanted to have something new. Like this is how this is. We don’t want to have it like this. What are we gonna do about it? That’s how we looked at it. Because if we’re always talking about how things are, and not talking about the future, how are we going to change it? Nothing will change.”

This way forward, Sandra says, comes from listening to one another.

“We can have all kinds of ideas,” she says. “And you can have one idea and I can have another one. And it’s really important that we get inspired. We can walk away from things inspired. And that was our focus: to talk about how things are today and hopefully, get inspired to change it in a good way.”

Will the straights be there?

With so much emphasis placed on straight and cis people educating themselves more on queer issues, is there an expectation–or even a hope–that some of them may attend this conference?

“Yes and no,” Sandra says. “Because I think it’s important for people not in the community to come to a conference and listen to it. But if you’re just gonna come there to use what you’re hearing, to talk down on the things we are talking about, then I don’t want you to be there. But if you have a sincere interest, you are welcome to come, of course. Because I think there are many things we have to talk about here, and it’s very important for straight people to listen. But It’s also a week for queer people to come together and have fun.”

I think there are many things we have to talk about here, and it’s very important for straight people to listen. But It’s also a week for queer people to come together and have fun.

Funny enough, Sandra’s path to the board of Reykajvík Pride began by being invited to give a talk of her own at the event.

“Me and my wife were asked to have a lecture about being queer and elderly; how it is to be an elderly person like going to an elderly home or have to have homecare,” she says.

Shortly thereafter, she was asked to apply for the board, and this marks her second year. She and her wife are both nurses who have been in the healthcare industry for many years.

It’s tough to stand out

Iceland’s abroad as a queer paradise is also something Sandra has thought a lot about. It’s easy to say Iceland is a comparatively better place to be a queer person than other countries. But does it live up to the hype?

Sandra is direct.

“No,” she says. “Because, for me, as a lesbian, I wear the rainbow. I work with all kinds of people, I take care of people from all walks of life. I have never, ever been talked down to or felt like I’m being discriminated against or anything, never, ever. But I don’t know how it would be if I was a trans person. I don’t know if I would use the pronouns ‘they / them’. I don’t know if people would use the pronouns that I would like. I know many trans people. And I also know many people that use ‘they / them’ pronouns. Life is not always easy for those people. And they are as queer as I am. So even though I would say oh, it’s easy to be a lesbian in Iceland. I cannot say that for every queer person. So it depends on how well you fall into the crowd. Because if you stand out, it can be hard.”

As such, Sandra recognises that “queer” is too broad an umbrella to be able to make generalised statements about how Icelandic society at large treats its more marginalised members.

“So, of course, I would like more queer people to come and live in Iceland, because I think many countries are much harsher than ours,” she says. “But I would be lying if I would say just move to Iceland, because everything is so good and beautiful.”

That said, a big part of the purpose of the conference is to help build a better society.

“I would like to look at it that way,” Sandra confirms. “Our hope is that we can talk about how things are, and if we are talking about hard things, find a way to move forward together.”

The Rainbow Conference will be held on August 10th at Iðnó. See for the full programme.

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.




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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
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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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