In a country where the Pride festival is more widely attended than the Independence Day parade, it’s no surprise that there would be some pretty great LGBTQ+ spaces in the capital city. Reykjavík queers are vast and diverse, as is the case worldwide, and while there are still many hurdles to knock over towards full inclusivity, here are some of the most inclusive places where love is love is love.
Known as one of the most steadfast bars in downtown, Gaukurinn has gone through a few transformations and reinventions – much like Madonna or Cher – and is currently the place for edgy, cruelty-free queers and allies. They host the majority of the drag shows in town, book a wide array of underground artists of all genders, and hold a staunch “No Xenophobia” warning on entry. It’s a place where one can truly be anyone they are or want to be.
Kiki Queer Bar
This go-to gay dance club is the rainbow splashed spot to slam shots, scream for fun and go wild to Katy Perry remixes. Weekends here are crazy and fun parties for the pop minded dancing queens, and the crowd is quite diverse. It is rather tame by most gay club standards and you won’t find glory holes or a den of iniquity, but you might just find your new crush and make out on the dancefloor.
The queer association of Iceland is an all-inclusive supportive space in the heart of downtown where people can go for information on practical matters as well as attend cosy social functions, educational talks in Icelandic and English, support groups, and dating introduction meetings. It is a great place for sober people, it hosts family hours for parents and kids to meet and play, plus bingo and board game nights and karate classes. Samtökin ‘78 is also the official headquarters of the annual Pride parade and there is an amazing unicorn mural on the side of their building!
This non-profit radical community centre in Reykjavík is a sober, vegan, queer-inclusive safe space that contains work spaces, a community kitchen and meeting room for folks from all walks of life. They are a particularly important space for the trans community, hosting monthly support groups in English as well as drop-in social hours for trans and non-binary folk to meet and mingle. They also hold vegan cooking classes, sex positive workshops, political discussions, language classes and family hours. They have a small membership fee or ask for donations at each event, and they are well worth it.
The newest member of Iceland’s queer scene is this very cool, very dark, very fabulous little bar right downtown. Fittingly, it’s tucked away upstairs behind another bar and one enters the premises through the smoking patio and bathrooms, only to then enter a small den with black and grey rococo brocade wallpaper, a small selection of top shelf drinks, and very cute staff. Run as a community organisation, the bar opened at the end of January and runs men-only, women-only, and non-binary queer mixers. The music is loud and fun and people are dancing and flirting all over.
While not exactly a dedicated queer space of its own, this cool downtown hostel and bar is definitely a fun LGBTQ+ friendly place with all kinds of great events. Located right on the main drag, it’s an ideal accommodation for the party-minded traveller. One can often start their day with a clothing swap, a speed dating or friending session, or watercolour workshop, then heat up their evening with one of the funnest karaoke parties in town or screenings of RuPaul’s Drag Race hosted by Iceland’s reigning mother queen, Gógó Starr. Go have a ball!