After Denmark, I drove further to Sweden. Luck was on my side: by pure coinicidence, during my time in Stockholm, the Gay Pride took place. It was a truly special experience that I won’t forget so soon. It felt like the whole city and all its citizens were coloured in the colors of the rainbow. Signs with cheerful sayings decorated almost every cafè and even public transport busses held up flags in support of the Pride.
Before I was at the Pride (short for: Gay Pride), I honestly knew almost nothing about it. I didn’t know why the Gay Pride was held, and I also had close to no knowledge on what it means to be something else than straight. I had an idea what it means to be homosexual, sure, and bi- and transsexual were familiar terms to me as well, but that really was the limit of my knowledge.
So, I was eager to broaden my mind. I picked up my camera and my audio recorder, grabbed my sunnies and my backpack, and headed towards Stockholm city center. Since I didn’t know much myself, I guessed that my best option was to talk to people who were actually in Stockholm to celebrate the Pride. I visited the Pride House, the Pride Park and the Parade (you’ll find more information about each of them further below). In the end I sat down with four amazing experts on the topic: Anna, a LGBTQ activist at the front in Sweden, Emilia, a transgender woman, and Marie and Louise, members of RFSL, a Swedish LGBTQ NGO (I will be posting my conversations with them in the upcoming weeks!). For now, I want to share my first impressions of Stockholm during the Gay Pride 2019 with you.
I apologize in advance if I say anything that is not one hundred percent correct; I am trying to learn and grow as a person everyday and I am just at the start of my learning journey. I’m truly sorry if I offend anyone by anything I say, please let me know in the comments below if that is the case!
Let’s start with the city itself. What a surprise Stockholm was! Wherever I looked, beautiful old buildings decorated the streetside. Along with countless trees and parks, it was a delight to walk through the streets for hours.
The city center looked a lot like this photo right here. Narrow streets were surrounded by tall houses.
Being in Stockholm during the summer, it was clear to see that the Pride had taken over the city. Apart from rainbow-colored decorations everywhere, the actual Pride took place in three main events: Pride House, Pride Park and the Parade.
For anyone who doesn’t know: every summer, the Gay Pride is held to celebrate equal rights for everyone to be who they want to be – whether that’s straight, homosexual, queer, transgender or something else – and to have the right to love whoever you want to love.
The Pride House was a gathering point for intellectual conversations and personal story sharing of LGBTQ persons. For the course of three days, lectures, workshops and debates were presented here. Since my first goal was to learn more about the Pride, the Pride House was the perfect place for me to start.
While a large part of the Pride was the celebration of love, life and human rights, Pride House cherished the importance of discussing issues and challenges for the LGBTQ community. Here, organizations, companies, political parties and individuals could come together and share their experiences and their opinions. Here, I met with two women and talked about their experiences with being a member of the LGBTQ community.
First I sat down with Anna Stendin, member of an anti-discrimination NGO in Sweden and trans herself.
After my talk with Anna, I took a small break to eat some fries at the bar. Then I went to meet up with Emilia Larsdotter, a transgender woman who shared her touching personal life story with me.
To read about these conversations in-depth, keep an eye out for my next posts! I will publish my interviews with Anna and Emilia in the next few weeks.
Pride Park was a huge festival area full of live-music, games and food. This was definitely part of the celebration, and I came here right after the Pride House. They also made it super easy to do that: the whole week, so-called ‘Pridebusses’ drove you from Pride House to Pride Park and the other way around. If you had bought a ticket to one of these events, then you could take a ride on the Pridebus for free – very convenient.
I initially came to Pride Park to talk to more people about the Pride and its meaning. But when I arrived here, I got so swept up into the party mood around me, and I had to postpone the interviews for a bit. There was so much to see: concerts, stand-up comedy, poetry readings and more were on the program. Classic festival-food trucks and food stands with flavors from all around the world offered a nice break from all the noise. And among all these stands, there were plenty of information stands as well: Here I took a break to talk to Marie and Louise from RFSL. RFSL is the National Association for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer rights in Sweden and has projects in many different countries around the globe. It is also one of the biggest organizations that fights for the rights of the LGBTQ community in Scandinavia.
First thing I did after arriving at Pride Park – join the crowd to cheer on this beautiful queen.
It’s safe to say that we all had a pretty good time!
(Excuse the short video, the live performance was too good to hold my phone while dancing!)
The Pride Parade on August 4 marked the end of the Pride week. With 45,000 participants and 500,000 onlookers, this was the biggest parade in Scandinavia. The sun was shining warm that day, and even without rain the whole city had turned into one big rainbow in the form of flags and signs.
Below some impressions of my experience at the Pride Parade!
All in all, visiting the Pride 2019 in Stockholm was a wonderful experience. I can recommend it to anyone who wants to inform themselves about the LGBTQ community, or is looking for support – or who simply wants to join the party!