“There is so much self-expression here—I feel very free!” Freya, a member of the new teenage Queer Street Theatre workshop excitedly gushes. Though it’s just her fourth day in the program, the group—all queer and between the ages of 15 and 17—already seem like a family. “It’s been great,” Syd, another member, chimes in. “Everything we are doing has a purpose even if it’s just fooling around. This all means something to us,” they say sentimentally.
Over Reykjavík Pride, the teens will take to the streets daily to perform. The workshop has quickly become more than just an outlet for choreography or comedy for the group. It’s a much-needed oasis, a place where they, as queer youths, can find their own tribe—people who understand them on a level many others won’t.
“I think it’s super fun to have people to just be idiots with. That doesn’t happen enough,” performer Þór adds, smiling broadly. “Social anxiety? Bye!”
“They are just so full of ideas and energy. And they are so confident,” project facilitator (and resident ‘Cool Aunt’) Kimi Tayler raves of the group. “Yes, we were definitely not that confident,” Pride Festival Manager Sigurður Starr Guðjónsson adds, laughing. “But to be that age and so out, proud and loud. I love that we are able to give a platform for that and I hope that it inspires others just as much as it inspires us.”
From the get-go, the plan was to have daily performances throughout Pride from the 3rd to the 8th to August. That said, Kimi and Sigurður couldn’t have anticipated just how passionate the group would be.
“They want to do everything and more,” Kimi says. “Today, I went out for lunch and I came back and they weren’t there. Then I got a message, ‘Kimi, come to Hallgrímskirkja!’ I go there and they are in the street doing dance routines.” She beams—an extremely proud Aunt.
“They’ve come up with some really fun and joyful ideas, but there are also some quieter performances. They are really intensely reflecting on their community,” Kimi continues. “They want to have a dance party one day and something like a memorial the next. It’s amazing to see such different reflections.”
The group is certainly a multi-talented bunch. They’ve got singers, dancers, actors, roller skaters, an award-winning rapper and even a trombone player, which Kimi—a former trombone player herself—is particularly obsessed with. “They were practising a number from Moulin Rouge and at one point I’m like, trombone solo here?” She laughs.
A force of nature
For Kimi and Sigurður, working with the teens has also made them re-examine their own queer youths.
“Oh, it was completely different,” Kimi says quietly, of her own experiences compared to theirs. “I wasn’t out [at their age]. And the dialogue was so different. I certainly didn’t have a queer group of friends growing up because nobody was out. So it’s really lovely to be around young people who are expressing who they are through their art. And they have such clear voices.”
“It’s almost overwhelming at times,” Sigurður adds. “You can’t help but think, ‘Oh, if I had that or if this was everywhere!’ Just think of all the crap you could have skipped by figuring yourself out then.”
“Seeing the relationships they are building together as a group. Just watching them dancing as a group outside Hallgrímskirkja. They were like a little force of nature,” Kimi concludes. “When they are doing that, nothing can touch them. And that makes my heart warm.”
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