Gay Pride has been an increasingly popular festival in Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, for the past eleven years. The 2009 event took place this past weekend – but although there are twelve months to wait until the next party, gay rights in Iceland remain at the fore all year round.
Some 80,000 residents and visitors flocked to Reykjavik city centre on Saturday for the eleventh annual Reykjavik Gay Pride parade and the following outdoor concert with Pall Oskar, probably Iceland’s biggest pop star.
The Reykjavik Gay Pride attracted more decorated floats and marchers in costume than any time before, meaning the crowds did not go away disappointed.
The so called ‘Biggest Little Pride in the World’ involves up to a quarter of Iceland’s entire population. And the scale of the event is seen as testament to the country’s excellent equal rights legislation and the people’s inclusive nature.
It can be no mere coincidence that Iceland is now an increasingly popular gay holiday destination – a fact which can partly be attributed to features in major media: Reykjavik was featured as a recent ‘destination of the month’ in Attitude magazine, for example.
For such a supposed gay Mecca, it surprises some visitors how few gay establishments there are. There is certainly no gay village in Iceland. But that appears to have nothing to do with Iceland being a strict, conservative society; quite the opposite in fact.
It only takes a minute or two in a Reykjavik gay bar to realise that nowhere near all the customers are gay. And if you think all the dozens of other bars in town are straight-only, think again. People in Reykjavik go partying in places dictated by their taste in music, their taste in décor or simply by their bossy friends. They do not need to choose a venue based only on their sexuality.
If you are gay (or indeed bi, trans, curious, metrosexual or just ‘gay friendly’) and want to go to Iceland, there are a variety of helpful websites available. The GayIce.is site is a great English language resource including a list of links to other useful sites.
Visit Iceland, the country’s tourist board, also has a large website filled with information on things to do in Iceland, from the Blue Lagoon and the hundreds of geothermal pools to glacier hiking and white water rafting.