Chatting to Iceland’s only queer-aimed travel group about turning Iceland’s greenery pink
Iceland’s reputation as a haven for LGBTQIA people is well founded with same-sex marriage legal since 2010 and same-sex adoption since 2012. Fair enough, but what of those travelling into the country? People who won’t be here long enough to enjoy these benefits? Enter Pink Iceland, the first gay-owned and operated travel company, specialising in day/group/luxury/tailored tours, weddings and inter/national events. We reached out to one of the owners, Hannes Páll, to hear about what Pink Iceland does.
Why was Pink Iceland formed?
Eva and Birna, the two founders, were heavily involved with the LGBTQIA community, Eva being the chairman of Pride. They ran Trúno (former gay café) and had a hand in Barbara (former gay club) and were dealing with enough enquiries about travel that they saw it as a viable enterprise. Iceland is accepting but not many people know that. It’s always good to seek advice from a community with a shared history. You go to family for advice and we’re all family.
How has the reaction been?
Overwhelmingly positive. We’re doing something different so we get a lot of attention, to the point of shying away. We don’t want to overexpose ourselves, we like the idea of providing mostly for queer travellers. And of course, we’re Icelandic. Iceland is a niche country so we’re essentially a double niche. People love it!
You state that you believe that LGBTQIA-inclusive travel can always be improved. Care to elaborate?
There’s a tendency to think the queer fight is for ‘sameness.’ We don’t believe it is. We want be ‘different but equal.’ We’re not just like everybody else. It’s not saying one way is better than the other, just that every way is valid. There’s comfort in familiarity, with ‘your own.’
So we should be celebrating the differences between us?
I did a tour with two gay priests and ten minutes in we were telling ‘coming out’ stories. We all shared the belief that we have to stop talking about ‘melting pots’ and start talking about ‘salad bowls.’ That variety makes for a better salad! A recent addition was ‘Intersex Ísland.’ Things are improving. There wasn’t enough support ten years ago, but progressive change has made them welcome.
And so Pink Iceland has become even more inclusive?
Absolutely. We’re always striving to change and improve. It seemed that trans people were somewhat excluded in the gay community. We now have Ugla, she’s our trans advisor. We don’t claim to be perfect but we’re constantly working on being increasingly inclusive. We have to make profit but we’re working in a community. There are blurred lines of responsibility in making the world better but we want to make it better.
For a look at Pink Iceland’s events and packages, visit their website.