Saturday would have marked the twentieth anniversary of Iceland’s Gleðigangur, or Pride Parade, Fréttablaðið reports, but although the parade had to be cancelled this year for obvious reasons, organizers, activists, and LGBTQIA+ people in Iceland are finding other ways to mark the occasion.
Parade organizers made the decision to cancel the event right after social distancing regulations and gathering ban limits were set in place, knowing that it was simply too large an event to scale down in any practical way. The Pride Parade draws up to 80,000 attendees annually.
Although August’s regular schedule of pride events can’t go on as planned this year, organizers have encouraged people to observe the occasion in their own ways. “We’ve kind of put it in people’s hands,” remarked Reykjavík Pride president Vilhjálmur Ingi Vilhjálmsson. “To be active on social media and to try to be as visible as they can. We also plan to hold onto the educational and cultural events that can be postponed and put them on in the winter when hopefully, the situation has improved.” Pride organizers are encouraging people to use the hashtag #hinseginheima, or #Reykjavikpride in English, to tag their posts this month.
“Although planned events will be cancelled,” reads the Reykjavík Pride website, “Pride will never be!”
Making the LGBTQIA+ experience visible
“The parade has been so important for LGBTQIA+ people who aren’t in it themselves, people who maybe haven’t come out of the closet, or haven’t found themselves yet,” continued Vilhjálmur. “These people don’t necessarily have many opportunities to see themselves reflected in the media, nor in the streets. Our reality isn’t all that visible.”
Vilhjálmur says that people have been creative in how they are celebrating Pride Month this year. “I know one family that plans to bake rainbow cakes with their kids and read LGBTQIA+ kids’ books. A lot of people plan to go on their own pride walks with family and friends and be visible with their flags—I expect there will be a number of micro pride parades around the city.”
‘Plenty of Room for All Genders’
Strætó, the company that operates city bus service, is marking Pride month by dedicating a city bus in honour of trans people in Iceland. Transvagninn (‘the trans bus’) is adorned with the trans flag and the inscription “Plenty of room for all genders.”
“Trans people’s struggle for their rights has been quite evident in recent years and the latest breakthrough in Iceland was the law on gender autonomy,” remarked Guðmundur Heiðar Helgason, the PR representative for Strætó. “It only made sense to us that the Reykjavík Pride bus would be dedicated to trans people in Iceland.”
“The visibility of trans and LGBTQIA+ people is more important now than ever before,” said Trans Ísland chair Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir. “Even though Iceland has made it to the relative forefront of the struggle for [LGBTQIA+] rights compared to some other countries, there’s still prejudice and discrimination in most parts of Icelandic society. The struggle is nowhere near over. So it’s great to see a clear message from Strætó about trans people and our struggle for our rights and we welcome this excellent and prominent initiative.”