Here in Reykjavík more than anywhere else, the power of unity has grown to be embodied in the ultimate annual action for the Queer community since the first Pride Parade in 1999.
Twenty years ago, Reykjavík Pride was attended by a tiny group of people who proudly showed their faces – themselves as who they really were – to the city for a weekend. Now, it’s ten days of pure energy, humour, respect, glowing enthusiasm and camaraderie, which mostly takes place within Reykjavík’s 101 postal code.
2019’s Pride included a variety of organised festivities, including but not limited to the opening ceremony, a cruise, educational events, the Icelandic Royal Drag Competition and, of course, the Reykjavík Pride Parade. Let’s not forget a couple of the wonderful hosting venues, Gaukurinn and Kiki Queer Bar, true staples of the Queer community that have been instrumental in bringing more and more people from abroad for year-round events and especially for this awesome time of the year.
Iceland has a very rare sense of community. Even its politics passionately support the community and movement in its quest to continue to write new pages in Iceland’s Queer history. Perhaps surprising to some, and possibly against all odds, the families of Reykjavík have enthusiastically embraced the movement and become more involved year after year.
While Iceland’s politics support the community, the fight for equal rights is not over. Slowly but steadily, equality concerns are being heard, institutions are recognising needs and minds are being changed. For so long, Queers have turned self-defence into unconditional love, and that adoration has spread and thrived in the rainbowed streets of Reykjavík and throughout Iceland.
On Saturday the 17th of August, the much-anticipated Pride Parade was launched in front of Hallgrímskirkja and made its way down to Tjörnin (‘The Pond’). Vehicles, floats and participating groups slowly moved past onlookers, with all eventually joining the magical Páll Óskar in a grand celebration.
While the Parade had a record amount of onlookers, participants and floats attending the concert near Tjörnin revealed the wonderfully explosive level of the nation’s music scene’s involvement even more with performances by Daði Freyr, Aaron Ísak, Vök, Heklina, Beta, Una Stef, Hatari and, last but not least, Páll Óskar, concluding the concert with a fabulous show to bring this marvellous day to a close.
My heart was blown wide open to see how so many people can come together to create a happy moment in time, away from our most anxiety-inducing fear: being ourselves.
Feeling like I was in a dream, I have no doubt that the evolution is on, even after the confetti is scattered by the brisk winds and the rainbow flags fluttering across the city are folded and tucked away until Pride 2020.
Emmanuelle Neveu @ Emmanuelle Sól Blackline
Thanks goes to Rachel Corvo, Sigríður Sirrý Dagbjartsdóttirand Þórdís Þórhallsdóttir for their help.