The beautiful and ever-changing scenery, rich culture and wild nightlife are among the many things attracting gay tourists from around the world to Iceland. Iceland also boasts of being one of world’s advanced countries when it comes to gay rights, after having legalized the rights of same-sex couples to marry and adopt children. GayIceland brings the latest news and events from the LGBT..
GayIceland by Anna Kristine Magnusdottir Mikulcak.. - 1w ago
“So much more than words” is the title of the annual spring concert by The Reykjavik Queer Choir, which will be held in church Guðríðarkirkja on May 18th.
Ragnar and friends touring.
The title comes from one of the song lyrics the choir performs and marks the way to the concert which is sweetness, empathy, strenght, friendship and endless joy. The Reykjavik Queer Choir will be performing Icelandic as well as foreign songs in a variety of interesting arrangements. The director is Helga Margrét Marzellíusardóttir and the pianist is Halldór Smárason. Anna Kristine spoke with Ragnar Veigar Guðmundsson the section leader for the bases and started by asking him what the program will be like.
“The program includes various songs, from well-known pop-songs in new arrangements to orginal songs, written and arranged especially for the choir,” says Ragnar. “We have quite a few arrangements that Helga Margrét Marzellíusardóttir has made for the choir and those are always my favorites to perform. I can promise you a varied program with drama, joy and excitement!”
Is there a special theme? “The headline of the concert is “So much more than words“ and I think it is a good representative of how music can be so much more than just a lyric or chords. When it is put together in an interesting arrangement and performed with passion and emotion it can have healing powers and convey meaning to the listener that is maybe not obvious at first.”
“The importance of choir singing on mental health and happiness has also been well documented in various researches and I for one, do agree with those findings …”
How do you decide on the songs and do you always all agree?
“Within the choir, there is a song selection committee which all members are free to join. There, we put forth ideas of songs and arrangements and then it is ultimately up to Helga Margrét to select the songs that she feels best suit the choir and the projects we are partaking in.”
Will you have any guest singers? “For this year’s spring concert there will be no guest singers. We do sometimes invite people to perform with us if the program calls for it or if we have a special occasion. This year the selection of songs and arrangements in the spring concert hasn’t called for a guest performance but we will have interesting guests joining us for a concert later in the year.”
A safe space without prejudice
Asked why the choir was established and when, Ragnar says that The Reykjavik Queer Choir was founded in 2011 and was set up to be a safe space without prejudice for people to come together and enjoy singing, as well as to encourage queer people to take part in the art world, be positive role-models and increase the visibility of queer people. “Todays there are between 55-60 members in the choir,” he says, “and it has grown every year since it was founded.”
During the coming out period many queer people live in hiding and fear before being able to tell the world who they are. Do you think some of them join to choir because of the healing power singing can have?
“I am sure that is the reason for many people to join the choir, as well as the need to belong to a group of like-minded individuals where you are able to meet and interact in a prejudice-free environment and without having to justify your existence every day. To meet and sing together without the fear of being judged for who you are. The importance of choir singing on mental health and happiness has also been well documented in various researches and I for one, do agree with those findings as joining the choir has been one of the best decisions that I‘ve made!”
A standing ovation in Munich
“This trip has been in the works for a long time and we feel it is especially important to bring the choir to the queer community around Iceland and show visibility and be role-models in places that have not enjoyed the same variety of queer culture as Reykjavik has to offer.”
Ragnar says that this spring concert, will be the choir´s first in 2019.
“Yes, this will be our first concert for this year, but we have performed a couple of times already in a different capacity. Since our last concert in December of last year, we have actually been busy practicing for our upcoming concert as well as preparing for our late-spring concert trip to Ísafjörður and Hólmavík, which will be happening at the end of May.”
He adds that the choir has performed abroad as well. “Last May the choir participated in Various Voices in Munich which is the biggest queer choir meet in Europe and is held every four years. We had a great trip with very successful performances in different venues all over the city. The choir usually performs at Reykjavik Pride as well and has an annual Christmas concert.”
Were you well received aborad? “There certainly was a standing ovation for our performance on the big stage in Munich and we did receive great feedback for our performances at Various Voices which we were very proud of.”
Reaching out to the rest of Iceland
Asked what the choir has in plan for the nearest future, Ragnar replies it includes the spring concert as well as a special road-trip to Hólmavík and Ísafjörður where the choir will give concerts in both places. “This trip has been in the works for a long time and we feel it is especially important to bring the choir to the queer community around Iceland and show visibility and be role-models in places that have not enjoyed the same variety of queer culture as Reykjavik has to offer. Also, the choir director, Helga Margrét is from Ísafjörður and therefore this visit is of great importance to her. For the concerts in Ísafjörður and Hólmavík we will mainly be featuring Helga Margrét’s compositions and arrangements.”
“ … we feel it is especially important to bring the choir to the queer community around Iceland and show visibility and be role-models …”
I can’t let Ragnar go without asking one thing, what if one wants to apply to join the choir, how does one do that?
“There are auditions at the start of each semester that everyone is always welcome to join. It is a relatively easy and painless process with the choir director and we always advertise these auditions on our Facebook page when they take place. I do especially encourage all tenors to apply and join us at the next auditions.”
Sister Sister is GayIceland’s podcast on the experiences of queer women hosted by Yaz Duncan. In this episode of Sister Sister Yaz speaks to queer people about their queer childhood heroes.
Yaz Duncan is the host of GayIceland’s podcast on the issues of queer women.
“The podcast is called Sister Sister. There used to be a TV show in the ‘90s called Sister Sister and I used to watch it all the time, so I decided to name it after that because I wanted it to be quite female focused. The podcast itself is for and by queer women. It looks at issues that queer women face, which I don’t think get discussed enough, and which I think are pretty universal, says Yaz, about Sister Sister.”
“The podcast itself is for and by queer women. It looks at issues that queer women face, which I don’t think get discussed enough, and which I think are pretty universal.”
She adds that the idea is to get a lot of different voices on those issues, and lots of different types of women, not just cis queer women. And sometimes men as well, as in this interview where Yaz talks to queer people about their queer idols growing up.
Gay comedian Jonathan Duffy has a new exciting comedy show, It’s been a while, that premiers tonight at theater Tjarnarbíó. GayIceland got in touch with Jonathan and started by asking in what ways it will be different from his previous shows.
“It’s going to be a catch up of epic proportions. Just a microphone, me and my charming demeanour.”
“Well, the previous shows I have done normally had a theme to them, they were focused on a particular issue like my last one, I wouldn’t date me either was all about dating. This show is basically a catch up. It’s all the things I’ve been doing over the past year and some interesting observations I’ve made. Despite some people possibly thinking I had disappeared, I’ve actually been doing a lot. I went back to Australia to visit my family, I made my own Late night chat show, and I’ve even been a fat dude trying to train for a half marathon. It’s going to be a catch up of epic proportions. Just a microphone, me and my charming demeanour.”
Jonathan says that he hasn’t done a solo show for the public in about a year and that’s one of the reasons he decided to put a new show together. “Just before I left to tour with my friend Hulli, i.e. Hugleikur Dagsson around Europe, someone who saw me perform at KEX hostel came up to me after the show and said: “I was wondering where you had been, I thought you went back to Australia.” So I thought I better do a show to let people know I’m still here – and I’m not dead.”
“I have a whole section on the things I noticed about each of the countries, like what it was like to check in to a hotel in Serbia that looked like the shining … or coming to the realization that I’m really not an Icelandophile.”
Have you been working on it for long? “No, not at all. It’s all very fresh so it’s exciting and terrifying cause a lot of it has been written in the last couple of weeks.”
Talking about your tour with Hugleikur, how did that go?
“It’s been insane. We’ve been in a new country almost every day. I have gotten to the point where I have no idea where I am many times. It’s also been exciting and interesting to perform as a gay man in countries where being gay isn’t necessarily accepted. Places like Serbia, Croatia the Czech Republic and others. It’s also been a great chance to see if my jokes work with other cultures, which so far has gone very well,” he says and admits that in all honesty, he never thought his jokes would go down very well in Serbia, but the audience actually loved them.
“Another thing that surprised me is that I thought I would have loads of ‘down time’ because of the travel. But it never happens, you basically just wake up, go to an airport, arrive somewhere else, perform and then go to sleep and do it all over again. It’s insane but also something most comedians dream about doing so you really can’t complain about it.”
Asked how the audience was, compared to the ones in Iceland, Jonathan says that in the east audiences were actually quite similar to Iceland. “They’re dark and sarcastic and love you to go as far as you can with a joke. I also noticed they loved being made fun of a lot, like Icelanders.”
Will you be bringing something from that experience to your new show here in Iceland?
“Lots of it. I have a whole section on the things I noticed about each of the countries, like what it was like to check in to a hotel in Serbia that looked like the shining, with more cigarette smoke, or coming to the realization that I’m really not an Icelandophile,” he says and adds that he doesn’t want to go into more details; if people want to know more, then they just how to come to his show, which premiers at Tjarnarbíó tonight.
Iceland is well known for for being a very gay friendly nation, but how does the land of fire and ice compare to other countries when it comes to dating?
In this episode of Cruising, Jono Duffy delves into the world of dating for gay and bi men in Iceland. What was it like before the revolution of dating apps? How has it changed? Is it different if you’re foreign? Jono interviews 4 local guys to find out just what the experience is like for those who live in Iceland. The names of the men interviewed in this episode have been changed to protect their privacy, but their stories are true.
Cruising - Episode 2 - Dating in Iceland - SoundCloud (2360 secs long, 50 plays)Play in SoundCloud
What does it feels like to be Polish and queer and living in Iceland? Polish people make up the largest ethnic minority group in Iceland, presenting more than 40% of all immigrants in Iceland as of 2018. Last year it was estimated that over 19.000 people of Polish people were living in Iceland. We at GayIceland are therefor keen to find out more about the Polish community in Iceland, the queer part of it to be more exact and what it feels like to be Polish and queer and living in Iceland. Today we interview a young gay man who didn’t feel comfortable in Poland and moved to Iceland.
At the age of 24, Jacob Volsky held hands with his boyfriend in public for the very first time. “I have a great sense of freedom here in Iceland. Like last year, I had a boyfriend and was able to hold hands with another man out in the street. Some of my straight friends didn’t understand why it was so special for me so I had to explain to them: “You can hold hands with someone already when you’re 14 and nobody pays attention to it,” but for me it was a great experience.”
Jacob moved to Iceland from Poland on a whim. “It was never my plan although I was always very interested in the Scandinavian countries so somewhere in my veins I had an urge to explore it but I never thought I’d be living here.”
“I have great sense of freedom here in Iceland. Like last year, I had a boyfriend and was able to hold hands with another man out in the street.”
He met a young woman at a party who had just returned to Poland after spending a summer working here and upon hearing her stories about Iceland Jacob thought he´d do the same. “I think it was a sign, and I took it so I’m here now.”
She assisted him in finding a job at Keflavík Airport and he found a place to stay in the neighbourhood, the Reykjanes peninsula. He only meant to stay a few months but 18 months later he’s still here. “I just fell in love with this beautiful country and feel comfortable here. So, I decided to stay and live here for as long as I could, and I’m really happy to be here. It was a hard decision to begin with because I had to change all my plans and change my whole life. And I didn’t know anyone here, not a single person.”
Can’t live in an oppressive country
Jacob had just finished a BA degree in Film Production but didn’t feel comfortable living in his homeland. He had heard that Iceland had good equality laws that included the LGBTI community and that it was a friendly environment for queer people. “It was a very big factor, actually, because I had come to the conclusion that I couldn’t live in a country that is so oppressive for the gay community. There’s no law or regulation in Poland for LGBT people at all. So, gays have no rights at all.”
Jacob says that the current government in Poland is very conservative and religious. “So, there’s no mentioning of queer rights in our laws, no mentioning of gay relationships or anything like that. It´s not forbidden to be gay, but in my opinion, things are moving into that direction – like in Russia – more towards what´s going on in the East of Europe. Although, now that we have a very oppressive government, I´ve noticed since I moved away that the gay community in Poland is waking up somehow. For example, this year was the first time that 15 cities in Poland organized a gay pride parade, which is unusual because before that it was only in 2 or 3 Polish cities. Now it’s even in the smaller cities. So the message from the gay community is that they’re stepping up, even though they have an oppressive government. Or maybe it’s because of it,” Jacob muses.
However, he’s not expecting big riots in Poland, yet. “I think that the Polish mentality is that we want freedom, but we don’t want to fight for it. However, when we are being provoked, we resist and decide we really need to fight back. So, it’s hard but I think the gay community is gaining strength.”
Parents comply with the Church
Jacob considers himself very lucky, his family is very supportive and he’s never had to hide his sexual orientation from them. “I came out in Poland seven years ago, when I was 18, although my friends knew about it already. I never actually tried to hide it although it sometimes was very painful for me. Homophobia is very strong in Poland, out in the streets in public places.
Jacob hadfinished a BA degree in Film Production. Not long ago he worked on a project involving renowned actor John Rhys-Davies.
Sometimes you can’t be wearing a shiny jacket or fancy shoes unless someone will call you a “faggot” or whatever, and no one else says anything in return because they’re scared. It’s not like that everywhere in Poland but it’s very, very common. But, my family was awesome about this, I really appreciate how my parents reacted because my friends weren’t all so lucky, sometimes their parents refused to allow them to live with them anymore. And sometimes that wasn’t even exactly how the parents felt but what their priest expected them to do. Poland is a very religious society and if you’re a member of a very religious community, what the priest says is more important than anything else.”
With Polish people being the biggest minority group in Iceland, or over 40% of all immigrants, there’s a strong Polish community here. How does Jacob feel he’s treated, as a Polish immigrant and a gay one as such? “I’ve never felt any prejudice about either, personally. The only thing I’ve noticed is that sometimes Icelandic people complain about the Polish but not specifically about gay people.”
However, Jacob admits he doesn’t see himself as part of the Polish community in Iceland, but more of an international community. “One of the reasons I came to Iceland was because I DON’T want to be part of a Polish community. I go to a lot of meetings and events at The National Queer Organization Samtökin ´78 and I meet there people from all around the world. I don’t think there’s a specific Polish gay group in Iceland, there are some Polish gay men here, but I actually haven’t met one Polish lesbian here.”
“Homophobia is very strong in Poland, out in the streets in public places. Sometimes you can’t be wearing a shiny jacket or fancy shoes unless someone will call you a “faggot”
Come to think of it, Jacob says, gay women in Poland seem to be more quiet. “Whenever we talk about LGBT rights, we’re talking about men. Lesbians are either more quiet or we just don’t want to see them. I also think that in Poland it may be easier for them to hide. Two guys living together with a kid would be a scandal. But if it were two women, it wouldn’t be considered as bad. And if they identified as lesbians, people would say “Oh, it’s just a phase, it’s hormones” and wouldn’t treat it seriously. Which is bad of course, if people don’t take you seriously and don’t treat you with respect.”
Homophobia amongst homosexuals
But Jacob says that because of the way they’re brought up, there’s a lot of homophobia within the Polish gay community. “Many gay people there say they don´t need gay marriage, that they don´t want it. It’s easier to be quiet, not to show it, so they’re living in a straight Matrix. I’ve heard these opinions in the Polish gay community, that having kids is unnatural, not good. They prefer to be quiet and don’t want to be open about being gay and have been made to believe these things are wrong because they´ve been raised to believe that. Eastern Europe is not that open, the support you have here in Iceland is amazing. I want to be a husband one day, have kids and a family. But I couldn’t live in Poland because my culture wouldn’t allow it. So, for me living here is more natural for me; it’s my nature. I needed to escape all that.”
The outside world noticed that even though more gay pride parades were being held in Poland in 2017, there was still massive security present. Police officers with weapons and well-equipped vehicles followed the parades, which is surprising to those only familiar with the pride parade in Iceland. “Yes, there were some anti-gay protests organized at the same time. It’s common. You have to understand that neo-fascism is growing in Poland. These nationalists’ groups are growing and the government silently supports them by not doing anything about them. It’s good that the police are at least protecting the people participating in the pride parades because it can be risky for them; there has been some violence occasionally and of course, there’s no law against it. It’s like that everywhere, in big cities like Gdansk even, there’s always a lot of security measures during gay pride parades.”
Jacob is happy living in Iceland.
As he mentioned before, the queer community seems to be slowly rising up in Poland, in response to the current regime so Jacob says it’s understandable that we’re hearing more and more about clashes in Poland than before. “There’s a bit more turbulence now than has been in the past, because we seem to be leaning towards the times of the Communist party. The government is going backwards a bit and trying to control the media more etc., which is sad because we’re about to celebrate 100 years of independence, yet we‘re going backwards now.”
Gógó Starr and the drag-performance group Drag-Súgur will be putting on a show at bar Gaukurinn tonight, downtown Reykjavík, impersonating animation characters, in an eclectic queer Parade.
Gógó’s alter ego Sigurður Heimir Guðjónsson.
”I used to have a big crush on Peter Pan because he’s a wild boy snatching people away in a dream world”, says Sigurður, bursting in laughter. I had asked him to pick out an animation character he loved, and I could already sense some kind of family resemblance between him and his childhood hero. Down to the tights.
Sigurður Heimir Guðjónsson is better known as Gógó Starr, the reigning drag queen of Iceland. His drag performance group, Drag-Súgur, throws its monthly show this Friday night at Gaukurinn and tonight, each performer, drag queens and kings alike, will be impersonating animation characters, in an eclectic queer Parade. An opportunity for us to capture his light-hearted perspective on the ambivalent, ever-evolving links between drag and animation.
”I feel that the villains have it all and I tend to gravitate more towards them when it comes to drag.”
The connection between animation and drag
Drag queens have inspired animation characters for a long time. Take Ursula the Sea Witch in The Little Mermaid (1989) for example, she is based on a real-life drag queen, the ineffable Divine. And also HIM, in The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2014), ”one of the most iconic, queer things to be in animation as of yet”, according to Sigurður. Or Yzma, in The Emperor’s New Groove (2000), who looks like a campy caricature of an aging diva (she also happens to be one of Sigurður’s favorite animation characters: a coincidence?).
But does animation inspire drag queens? At the very least it inspired Sigurður when he started doing drag. Jessica Rabbit in particular ”her impossible proportions, insane looks, magnetism and charisma” helped him shape Gógó Starr, says Sigurður. Today, animation continues to fuel his creativity as he draws from multiple characters and blends some of their traits in a potent, queer brew. Sigurður says that he is not the only one, as most of performers in Drag-Súgur are also animation fans.
”… the resemblance goes beyond appearance, as drag queens and villains share the tendency to throw shade all over,” Sigurður says
However, while drag queens do inspire animation characters, the before-mentioned characters happen to be villains more often than not. What makes drag queens-looking characters evil figures of choice in animation? ”Well, the hero and main protagonists are meant to be relatable, and fit the norm, or least deviate so superficially that a vast majority of people can connect with them nevertheless. So if heroes tend to fit the norm, villains, on the other hand, tend to be unsurprisingly depicted as abnormal. And as drag queens happen to embody otherness in the collective psyche, then drawing from them can feel almost intuitive,” says Sigurður.
This is why he, presumably like most of those who blur the lines of gender and sexuality, feels more attracted to villains. ”I feel that the villains have it all”, he says, ”and I tend to gravitate more towards them when it comes to drag.” Between Cinderella and her evil stepmother, Lady Trémaine, he would rather sip tea along with the latter. ”Because the resemblance goes beyond appearance, as drag queens and villains share the tendency to throw shade all over,” Sigurður says and laughs. And the public loves it.
If you prefer princesses, you won’t be disappointed either
However, those who prefer princesses won’t be disappointed either at the show tonight, Sigurður reassures, as most of the performers will play more than one act and express the different facets of their persona. And although Gógó’s ”evil side will show its pretty face”, says Sigurður, ”she also has more than one”. After all, she happens to be the (self-proclaimed) ”Miss Congeniality of Iceland”. ”At least when interviewed”, says Sigurður and laughs.
”Evil side will show its pretty face, but she also has more than one.”
So either you’re into Evil or Super Drags, make sure to show up at Gaukurinn this Friday-night before 9pm to see your favorite animation characters at their queerest and support the local drag scene because, as Sigurður puts it so elegantly: ”We are so good in Iceland goddammit!”
The Icelandic National Queer Organization, Samtökin ’78, has a new chair, a young bisexal woman, a linguist and a mother by the name of Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir.
Þorbjörg Þorvaldsdóttir, the new chair of the national queer organization Samtökin ’78, here taking part in the Reykjavík Pride Parade.
But who is she, were does she come from and what are the biggest challenges she will be facing as the chair of Samtökin ’78? GayIceland contacted Þorbjörg to get answers to those questions and the first one was simply: Who are you?
“My name is Þorbjörg, I’m 29 years old and bisexual. I’m married to Silja Ýr S. Leifsdóttir and we have a daughter together, Valbjörg María, who is 3 years old. I come from Garðabær, where I grew up for the most part and where I live now. I’ve also lived in several other places in Iceland as well as in Denmark, Honduras and the Netherlands. I’m a linguist. I completed a BA in general linguistics at the University of Iceland, and obtained an MA degree in linguistics from Leiden University in the Netherlands in 2017. I’m currently a PhD student of Icelandic linguistics at the University of Iceland. Previously, I have worked part-time as a bartender, caretaker in a nursing home, hotel receptionist and as a flight attendant.”
What are your feelings regarding your new position as chair of Samtökin ’78?
“I’m very excited about this role and the year ahead. I also feel the weight of responsibility, of course. Samtökin ’78 is a great organization and there is such rich history involved. I’m going to do my absolute best in upholding its name by fighting for equality and acceptance of all queer people.”
“ … a bill that will allow more hate speech has been presented in parliament. We have been very vocal in our opposition to those changes, of course, especially in light of the fact that there is next to nothing being done to combat hate speech or hate crimes in Iceland.”
Why did you decide to run for this office?
“I’ve enjoyed working for Samtökin ’78 and felt that I could be of even more use as the spokesperson and leader of this organization.”
Have you been involved in the work of Samtökin ’78 before?
“Yes. I’ve been part of the board of Samtökin ’78 as secretary for the past year, and before I moved to the Netherlands in 2015, I was a member of trúnaðarráð – which has the role of an advisory board.”
What do you consider the biggest challenges you’ll be facing in this job? What are the big issues and what will you emphasize in your work as chair of the organisation?
“I want Samtökin ’78 to mature and expand, and the challenge there lies in maintaining a close connection with the grassroots while also allowing Samtökin to grow to its full potential. Another huge challenge is simply making sure that Iceland does not suffer a backlash in queer acceptance and rights as we have seen happen in countries around us. Right now, for example, a bill that will allow more hate speech has been presented in parliament. We have been very vocal in our opposition to those changes, of course, especially in light of the fact that there is next to nothing being done to combat hate speech or hate crimes in Iceland.
“What I think is ever-important, and that we need to focus on the most, is queer education. Educating people about what it means to be queer is the most efficient way to combat prejudice and increase acceptance.”
Another bill that we are following closely is a bill on trans and intersex rights. This legislation, when passed, will improve the lives of trans and intersex people considerably. It will make changes in gender registration and official name change much easier, and give trans people access to medical care without having to first be diagnosed with a mental illness. It is a very important step forward. At the same time, the authorities decided not to include protections for intersex children against normalizing surgeries and other unnecessary medical interventions, which were present in earlier drafts. We are extremely disappointed by that, and sincerely hope that the bill will be corrected as it passes through parliament.
What I think is ever-important, and that we need to focus on the most, is queer education. Educating people about what it means to be queer is the most efficient way to combat prejudice and increase acceptance. We’ve come a long way here in Iceland, but there are still so many spheres of society that we need to reach. One of our goals is that all people who complete university education in subjects that prepare students for working with people, such as becoming teachers, doctors, police officers and psychologists, will receive training on how to address queer issues. This would be incredibly beneficial for both the professionals themselves and queer people in Iceland. It’s very important to know that you will not be met with prejudice when you seek e.g. police assistance or when you need medical care.
Samtökin ‘78 also need to push for improvements with regards to legal protection and assistance for queer asylum seekers. Queer people who seek asylum here in Iceland are being deported back to countries where their lives are in danger simply for being who they are. This is absolutely unacceptable.
“We need to have a plan in place to make sure that people will not have to hide who they are as they grow older and need assistance at home or move into nursing homes.“
Another issue that will become more and more pressing in the coming years has to do with queer senior citizens. We need to have a plan in place to make sure that people will not have to hide who they are as they grow older and need assistance at home or move into nursing homes. Again, I believe that educating professionals is a key factor in ensuring this doesn’t happen.
In general, I think that it is essential that all queer people in Iceland, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression or sex characteristics, feel that they belong in Samtökin ’78. Together we are a force for positive change, and together is how we can best influence our society.”
“Just Another Drag Show or Whatever” is slated to be full of international drag royalty and laughs for days.
Are you a Reykavík local with nothing to do this Friday night? Maybe you’re a tourist visiting the island and surfing the web for queer things to do while you’re here. Well, you’re in luck because three amazing, internationally renowned drag queens are blessing us with their presence this Friday. It’s like if the queen of England, Beyonce and one of the Spice Girls were performing. Anyways, buckle in and keep your credit card handy because it’s about to get drag-tastic up in here!
No really, what are your plans this Friday night? If you would ask me any other week I’d probably reply with the usual “oh… uh, I’m not sure yet” response that really means I plan on staying home alone in my sweatpants and having a threesome with my two favorite boys: Ben & Jerry.
HOWEVER, this Friday is a bit different. This Friday, international drag royalty is visiting the lovely little frozen rock we call home and it’s time to step our kitty girls up to the box office to be razzled and dazzled by these stunningly stellar queens.
I’ve interviewed drag queens Jackie and Sherry to get a little insider information on what to expect from “Just Another Drag Show or Whatever.” From all the Tee they spilled, I can promise you it’ll be way more than just another show, or whatever…
Here’s the Tee:
What: “Just Another Drag Show, or Whatever” Who: RPDR All Stars Season 2 winner Alaska Thunderfuck 5000, drag superstar and legend Jackie Beat, international drag darling Sherry Vine, drag queen of Iceland GóGó Starr, Deff Star, Miss Mokki, and last but not least queen of clubs Miss Gloria Hole. Where: Gamla Bíó, Ingólfsstræti 2, 101 Reykjavík When: Friday, 22 March 2019 @ 21:00 – 00:00
Meet and Greet with the queens 19:30 – 20:30
Doors open for general admission 20:30 How: Buy tickets here at tix.is, or snag a last minute one at the Gamla Bio box office! Why: Well… why not? C’est la vie, right?
This is a show you will not want to miss hunty! Seriously, why watch RuPaul’s Drag Race at home on Netflix like every other night when you can see these queens in the flesh! Behold their majesty as they tickle your funny bones. Inhale the deep aroma that only comes from years of sticky club performances radiating body-ody-ody. Feast your eyes on jaw dropping lewks and mugs painted for the gods!
MEET THE QUEENS
JACKIE BEAT + SHERRY VINE
Sherry Vine and Jackie Beat are drag icons, reuniting in a no-holds-barred, down ‘n’ dirty, anything goes BATTLE OF THE BITCHES!
Watch as the dynamic drag duo that the New York Times called “the Laurel & Hardy of drag” take each other on, song by filthy, filthy song! Blindly picking their topic from a hat, each determined diva will belt out one of her world famous, sick ‘n’ twisted song parodies. Whether the topic is politics, penises, or poop these gorgeous gals will have the perfect parody to present!
A Bit About Sherry
1. How would you describe your drag style and how it differs from other queens?
“My drag style is Hooker Barbie! I’ve always wanted Sherry to be a Vegas showgirl.” 2. To the children out there, how would you describe your performance to someone who knew nothing about drag? (Let’s hope there are some cherries to pop in the audience)
“I’m a live singing comedy queen. I take pop songs and destroy them with filthy, hilarious lyrics!” 3. What’s something in your wardrobe that screams your signature style?
“A hot pink, extremely tight spandex Band-Aid dress.” 4. Who’s your favorite queen on the latest season of RPDR?
“Well, I’m biased towards the NYC queens; Honey, Sugah and Scarlet.” 5. How do you think RPDR has shaped, changed, or influenced the world of drag?
“It’s opened drag up to the masses and helped make it a legitimate art form in the USA. But please remember, there was drag before Drag Race, lol.”
A Bit About the Show 1. What are you most excited for coming to Iceland?
“Hot Icelandic men! Just kidding- I’ve never been and it’s on the top of my list. So I am very excited!” 2. Is it your first time visiting our little arctic island?
“Yes!” 3. How underrated do you think the Icelandic drag scene is?
“I don’t know yet. I started following some of the queens on Instagram and can’t wait to meet them. They seem crazy. Plus DeTox said she loves the girls there.” 4. When did you first get introduced to the Icelandic drag scene?
“When that bitch Gloria asked me to come. LOL – love her!” 5. Without revealing too much, tell us what we should expect from the show.
“I can guarantee lots of laugh and insanity. Jackie and I have been performing together for almost 30 years and we are gonna bring it all to Iceland!”
A Bit About You
1. How would you describe your drag style and how it differs from other queens?
“I’m a clown, but I’d like to think I am a glamorous clown! I am not about “passing” or being “fishy.” If you want to see a real girl, go to the mall!” 2. To the children out there, how would you describe your performance to someone who knew nothing about drag? (Let’s hope there are some cherries to pop in the audience)
“I always say if you’re blind, then you will get my hilarious live song “parodies. If you are deaf, you will get my gorgeous but campy look. If you happen to be blessed with both sight and hearing, you are really in for a treat!” 3. What’s something in your wardrobe that screams your signature style?
“Probably the leopard print pantsuit. It’s fabulous but also comfortable. Like me!” 4. Who’s your favorite queen on the latest season of RPDR?
“I really love both Scarlet Fever and Silky Nutmeg Ganache… So essentially the skinniest and the fattest!” 5. How do you think RPDR has shaped, changed, or influenced the world of drag?
“It’s a double-edged sword. It has made it more popular, but at what expense? I think it’s great that now everybody is enjoying drag, but it was more fun when it was a little more underground.”
If you’d like tickets to this fabulous show, click the link here or here.
To learn more about Sherry, click here or here.
To learn more about Jackie, click here or here.
If you don’t know what drag even is, oh child get to google right away.
What does it feels like to be Polish and queer and living in Iceland?
Polish people make up the largest ethnic minority group in Iceland, presenting more than 40% of all immigrants in Iceland as of 2018. Last year it was estimated that over 19.000 people of Polish people were living in Iceland. We at GayIceland where therefor keen to find out more about the Polish community in Iceland, the queer part of it to be more exact and what it feels like to be Polish and queer and living in Iceland. Today we start that journey by interviewing a young woman who has settled here and has no plans on going back to Poland.
When Magda Doborzyńska first moved to Iceland from Poland, she was only planning on staying for a few months. She was having trouble finding work in her home country and was offered a job in the Westfjords. A year later, she has no plans on going back. “I found love here,” says Magda, who met her girlfriend about seven months ago, after moving to Reykjavík, and now she’s working in the city while learning Icelandic.
Reflecting on her experiences living in Iceland with her partner, it’s the little things that stand out to Magda. “The thing that was very new for me was that no one was looking at us on the street. And also, when I say I have a partner, people aren’t assuming the gender of the person, which is a small thing but it’s really new for me,” she says.
“… there is no education in Poland about human rights and about LGBT people. There are a lot of stereotypes, and teachers are also not educated.”
In Poland, Magda was working as a political activist. She focused on human rights issues, and in particular women’s rights, LGBTQ rights and rights for people with disabilities. “It was a great adventure, but it was also very tiring,” she explains. “The political situation in Poland is really complicated now and really bad. After maybe two years of doing activism I was very, very tired.”
We don’t have any rights in Poland
In particular, Magda says the situation for LGBTQ people in Poland is very bad. “We don’t have any rights, actually. Any form of partnership, legal partnership, marriage, adoption — it doesn’t exist.” Although there is a hate crime law in Poland, Magda says it doesn’t include crimes against LGBTQ people. “A few weeks ago, our president said that he would consider a law kind of similar to the one in Russia, against homosexual propaganda. It’s just an idea, but this government is scary and they’re not supporting any human rights for anyone, especially for LGBT people.”
On the other hand, Magda says the general population in Poland seems to be more tolerant than the government. “A lot of people think that we should have a right to get married, for example,” she explains. She says that disconnect is perhaps because it comes down to the fact that the current government has promised more social programs for families and poor people. At the same time, she says the ruling party in Poland is connected to the Catholic Church, as well as some far-right and nationalist groups in the country.
“When you are poor you just want to have something to eat and you want to have a place to live and you want to have money to buy books and stuff for your children to go to school. You’re not thinking about other things that might be more abstract. You’re just thinking about what to do to get money to live, and I understand that,” she says. “The other thing is that there is no education in Poland about human rights and about LGBT people. There are a lot of stereotypes, and teachers are also not educated.”
“We don’t have any rights, actually. Any form of partnership, legal partnership, marriage, adoption — it doesn’t exist.”
“With this new government there is more space in the mainstream for some nasty ideas, like fascists and nationalists and all this hate speech they are producing. For example, someone was beaten on the street because he was holding hands with his partner. I’m sure there are a lot of stories like this, but I think people are saying it doesn’t make sense to report it to the police.”
Magda lived in Gdańsk, one of Poland’s biggest cities, so she says her experience in her homeland was fairly positive. She first started coming out when she was just a teenager. “I was fifteen and I was walking in a park with my sister and I told her that I think I might be interested in girls,” Magda says. “She was like, ‘yeah, that’s fine, okay.’ But coming out is a process, so I was having lots of coming outs in my life and I am still doing it.” Today, Magda identifies as pansexual.
Magda lived in Gdańsk, one of Poland’s biggest cities, so she says her personal experience in her homeland was fairly positive.
While she doesn’t speak with her parents much, Magda says her siblings and her friends have all been accepting. “I was living in a big city so I felt kind of safe,” she says. “I can’t say that I experienced real homophobia, like abuse or things like that. But, of course there a lot of people who have.”
Although she may not have experienced any homophobic violence, Magda says there have been moments that have frightened her. “There was one situation I remember very well,” she explains. “It was seven years ago, and I was coming back home with my girlfriend. We were living in a not very crowded district and it was in the late evening, so it was dark, and there weren’t a lot of people on the street.
We were holding hands and there was a guy who was walking just behind us, and he was talking on the phone. At one moment we heard that he was saying something about ‘beating faggots.’ I was so scared, so we stopped holding hands and we headed straight to a nearby train station to wait a bit, because I was too scared to continue this walk with this guy following us. I don’t think he saw us, and I don’t want to think about what would have happened if he did.”
Polish people are ‘waking up’
Despite the homophobic policies of Poland’s current government, Magda still holds out hope for the future. “I can’t say that it’s only getting worse. It’s getting better at the same time. But I think we need a lot of time to make it work,” she says. “There are a lot of great people in Poland who are fighting and there are a lot of young people who are getting involved in activism. It’s great because there is a new perspective and they are very brave, and I’m really impressed with their work.”
Magda says she feels like Polish people are “waking up” right now to different human rights issues. “In 2016 there was this whole thing related with abortion law in Poland and at that time there was a lot of mass demonstrations. A lot of people came into the street to say no to the law,” she says. “This whole thing showed us that there are a lot of Polish women who want to be active and who want to fight about women’s rights. But not only women’s right because when you are an activist you are meeting other activists and you are learning about other people. I believe in an intersectional feminism, and I believe that you can’t fight only for women’s rights or for LGBT people or poor people. You have to fight for everything in the same moment. You have to think about other aspects of discrimination.”
“I think there is a cultural difference between the typical Icelandic person and the typical Polish person. But I think it’s probably great for these people that they are coming to such a nice country full of different people.”
In Iceland, Magda says she hasn’t been very active in either the local Polish community or the local LGBTQ community. After her experiences in Poland, she says she’s putting her activism on the back burner. “I’m just having a rest from any activism,” she says. “But I think I would like to do some stuff here in the future, maybe for the Polish community, but I’m not sure yet what I want to do. I just need some good rest now.”
“But I think I would like to do some stuff here in the future, maybe for the Polish community, but I’m not sure yet what I want to do,” says Magda. Photo / Aga Doborzynska
Although she has heard that Icelanders have some stereotypes about Polish immigrants, she also says she hasn’t experienced any xenophobia firsthand. “I think there is a cultural difference between the typical Icelandic person and the typical Polish person,” she says. “But I think it’s probably great for these people that they are coming to such a nice country full of different people. There are lots of different people from different countries here, and I believe that if a person is open to learning something from other people then there’s a hope to communicate.”
One of Iceland’s biggest queer events of the winter is just around the corner and this year a very special guest is here to join the party.
Hannes (blonde gorgeous guy on the right) and his husband Villi.
The drag queen Detox will be making an appearance at this year’s Rainbow Reykjavík. Pink Iceland’s eighth annual winter pride event kicks off on Thursday, March 7 and runs until Sunday, March 10, and there will be plenty of chances to meet the former RuPaul’s Drag Race contestant.
This isn’t Detox’s first time in Iceland — she headlined last summer’s Reykjavík Pride festival too. But Pink Iceland’s co-owner Hannes Páll Pálsson says the idea of bringing Detox in for Rainbow Reykjavík has been brewing since the drag queen’s first visit to Iceland a year and a half ago.
“She posted something on her Facebook that she was coming to Iceland, and we reached out as Pink Iceland and said, ‘Hey if you’re coming to Iceland let’s meet up and we’ll show you a good time,’ ” Hannes says. “She and her assistant BJ have just become really close friends with us now and it’s really sweet.”
“She’s coming to host it for us and then she’s going to take a few days off just to hang out afterwards as well, because she’s just super in love with Iceland.”
Hannes says they were having dinner together on Detox’s last night in Iceland when he brought up the idea of her performing at Rainbow Reykjavík. From the beginning, Hannes says she was excited about the idea.
“She’s coming to host it for us and then she’s going to take a few days off just to hang out afterwards as well, because she’s just super in love with Iceland,” Hannes says. “She’s been super welcomed here and feels great about it.”
People who have tickets to the whole festival will get to meet Detox at the opening event on Thursday before visiting the Blue Lagoon with her on Friday. On Saturday she’ll be hosting the festival’s cornerstone event: the annual Masquerade Ball.
“There’s going to be a meet and greet there before the party starts,” Hannes says about the Ball. “She’s also going to be the judge of the catwalk that we’re doing to host.
It’s something that we did last year as well, which is paying homage to the ball culture of the early 1980s New York era.”
In addition to the appearance by Detox, Hannes says there will also be performances by local drag queens.
Of course, as a Masquerade Ball, everyone is also encouraged to don their own masks and costumes.
“People super dress up for the ball, so you’re probably not even going to know who’s there to entertain because it’ll all be so entertaining,” Hannes says.
The first poolside drag show in Iceland
One new addition to this year’s festival is a special Golden Circle tour that will take place before the Masquerade Ball on Saturday.
“We’re going to take everybody to this pool in Hveragerði,” Hannes says. “People can go into the pool or the hot tubs or whatever, and we’re going to have a drag show right there outside, while people are in the pool. I think it may be the first poolside drag show that we’ve had in Iceland. That’s one of the things that we’re super excited about this year.”
This year marks the eighth year that Pink Iceland has hosted its winter pride event — which also coincides with the eighth anniversary of the tourism company.
“It was one of the first things we ever did as a company,” Hannes says. “Even though we’ve changed so much and grown so much as a company, this little winter pride is always a great reminder of where we started and what we were doing in the beginning.”
He says the festival came about from a desire to host an event during the winter, which is typically the low season for tourism in Iceland.
“The fact that we’re called Iceland, we really should have winter tourism. So we thought, let’s do something fun for the winter months,” Hannes says.
“And also do something for the community. We really encourage Icelanders to take part in whatever they can. The winter here is long so we need any excuse we can to party and have fun and meet people.”
“Even though we’ve changed so much and grown so much as a company, this little winter pride is always a great reminder of where we started and what we were doing in the beginning.”
Since it started, Hannes says Rainbow Reykjavík has always attracted a fairly small and intimate crowd, which he says is one of the draws of the festival.
“You get to know everyone,” he says. “That’s what we love most about the festivals that we’ve had in the past. Even at this year’s festival, we’re getting I think two or three people who have been here a few times already. People make really significant connections at a festival like this and they stay in touch. There are people who met each other at Rainbow Reykjavík and they still travel together six years later.”
Although the trip to the Blue Lagoon on Friday is restricted to people who have tickets for the whole festival, Hannes says other individual events — such as the poolside drag show in Hveragerði — are open to the public. Tickets can be purchased by contacting email@example.com.
Of course, everyone is encouraged to attend the Masquerade Ball, which starts at 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 9 at the Iðno Theatre. For more information about the festival visit www.rainbowreykjavik.is.