Downtown Reykjavík became a bit more colourful Tuesday after the sidewalk outside Menntaskólinn í Reykjavík was painted with rainbow colours to kick of the annual Reykjavík Pride festival. Dozens of people gathered outside the building on Lækjargata to watch festival president Eva María Þórarinsdóttir and mayor Dagur B. Eggertsson deliver speeches celebrating the city’s LGBTQI communities.
This is the eighteenth annual Reykjavík Pride, and in recent years the festival has attracted crowds of up to 100,000 people, making it one of the largest in the country. The theme of this year’s festival is “Our History,” and there will be a number of events throughout the week that highlight key events and struggles in the history of Iceland’s queer community.
“If you look at the events of this year, the terrorism or the prejudice abroad, I think it’s very nice to look at history to see how we came to this place that we are today,” says Reykjavík Pride board member Vilhjálmur Ingi Vilhjálmsson. “But also to remind us that we need to keep working, because there’s still a lot we have to do.” In particular, Vilhjálmur says more needs to be done to support rights for transgender, intersex, bisexual and pansexual people.
“The struggle isn’t over, although a lot of things have been achieved,” says Dagur, echoing Vilhjálmur’s sentiment. The mayor also says he thinks the success of the queer rights movement will inspire other human rights movements in Iceland. “By supporting gay pride we are supporting all types of otherness,” he says. “It’s a day of joy, but it’s also a day of human rights in general.”
Reykjavík Pride will host daily events until August 7, including a historical walk on August 2 at 20:00, a seminar on LGBTI rights on August 3 at 12:00 and a story sharing event on August 7 at 20:00. The main event, the colourful parade that winds its way through downtown, will begin at Vatnsmýrarvegur on August 6 at 14:00. For the full festival programme visit the Reykjavík Pride website.