Reykjavik Pride has come to an end. After almost a full week of all kinds of events peaking with the Saturday Reykjavik Pride Parade we have to give the organizers and participants thumbs up for all their effort and hard work. We really appreciate it and so do the tens of thousands who, with their attendance, show their support and participate in the celebrations.
Reykjavik Pride is an important event for the LGBTQI+ community and the Icelandic society as a whole where we proactively celebrate human rights for all. It is a platform where we can show gratitude to those who have fought on the front line for decades and those who continue carrying the torch.
Let´s have a Queer talk
Initiating a conversation about queer related issues, the role and politics of Pride parades in general, is important. Without a talk, we can´t move forward. For what reasons are Pride events being held and what are the overall motives behind it? How do we address the ever increasing fragmentation of the queer movement and how do we see the role of intersex, pan-sexual and asexual individuals and groups under the queer umbrella? Is BDSM a lifestyle, fetish or a part of an individuals sexuality? Where does BDSM fit into the picture or does it belong under the queer umbrella at all? To find answers, we need to have the conversation.
Without initiating talks about those issues and opening up a dialog we won´t progress, which will result in the stagnation of Reykjavik Pride and Pride events in general. An open discussion is nothing to be afraid of and should not be avoided.
A spouse or a nanny?
In his speech at the Opening Ceremony the Canadian Ambassador Stewart Wheeler made a good point about the progress in LGBT rights he has witnessed and experienced personally with his partner Brian Armstrong. Today they are recognized as spouses and can openly participate in Reykjavik Pride. Whereas fifteen years ago his partner was only recognized as a member of the family on the same level "as the gardener or a nanny" as he put it himself and did not enjoy the same basic rights most spouses take for granted such as medical benefits etc. There is a real chance they may face that same situation in their next posting or worse as in many countries they might not have the opportunity of being openly gay.
Why Celebrate Our Achievements
We have a good reason to celebrate what has been accomplished in Iceland in a relatively short time. But the struggle continues both here and worldwide so we need to recognize the challenges queer individuals are facing in their everyday life as well as within our own queer community and address the issues ahead of us. We need to raise general awareness on those issues and reach beyond our own community. Legal rights and general social acceptance are two different things and Reykjavik Pride (and Pride events in general) are extremely important in our fight on both fronts. It’s when everyone under the queer umbrella can unite in the fight for legal rights and social acceptance and celebrate every victory. Individuals, who have come to terms with who they are, celebrate their personal victory and not less importantly individuals who have come to terms with who we are and accepted us for who we are celebrate with us.
It´s not all about the party
In defense of Pride we find it a bit superficial criticizing the Saturday´s parade floats or the outdoor concert on Arnarhóll for being "dull" or simply "boring" because these critics are missing the whole point of the Pride and see it as any other entertainment. It´s an event with a message that matters, it´s not just another party on the block. If you (as a member or representative of a group) want to experience something "more fun", throw your own party. We´re sure that will be much appreciated. And using Reykjavik Pride to draw attention to some conspiracy theory of political "pinkwashing" by one of the supporters with connections to the struggle in the middle east is somehow putting the responsibility on the volunteers organizing Reykjavik Pride. Maybe pick another platform for that discussion instead of raining on this parade for welcoming much needed support from everyone and being inclusive.
Reykjavik Pride has been a marvelous success 17 years now. It has grown and it has changed, but it remains an important platform for the LGBTQI+ community to send a message while raising awareness of cultural diversity and human rights.
Words by Frosti Jonsson. Pictures by Pall Gudjonsson