Sweden Pride

This year EuroPride comes to Sweden, being held in double cities Stockholm and Gothenburg. The whole concept of LGBT Pride has taken strong root in Sweden, and many towns up and down the country hold their own celebration. For example, today is Springpride in the midland city of Eskilstuna.

Currently there are 73 Pride festivals in Sweden during the year. From Arctic Pride way up in the north to Malmö Pride in the south, it is possible to celebrate throughout the year.

Swedes seem to have embraced the concept of Pride with open arms. There is, of course, a commercial benefit but the main reason seems to be that LGBT Pride resonates well with the societal Swedish values of equality, tolerance and acceptance. However, like everything, it has its opponents. Right wing groups occasionally organize counter demonstrations or, as in Eskilstuna yesterday, decide to put up homophobic, anti-Pride propaganda. Thankfully, these groups are small and as long as the majority of Swedes continue to stand up for Pride, they have little impact.

If you’d like to know where a Pride is near you, go to http://www.svenskapride.se which collects all the National events in one place.

Sweden’s history of LGBT rights is a comparatively progressive story. Changes didn’t happen automatically however. Thanks to the hard work of campaigners, lobbyists, and politicians, society can enjoy one of the most egalitarian legislations in the world. According to wiki:

‘ Same-sex sexual activity was legalized in 1944 and the age of consent was equalized in 1972. Homosexuality was declassified as a mental illness in 1979. Sweden also became the first country in the world to allow transgender persons to change their legal gender post-surgery in 1972 whilst transvestism was declassified as an illness. Transgenderism was declassified as a mental illness in 2008 and legislation allowing gender change legally without hormone replacement therapy and sex reassignment surgery was passed in 2013. After allowing same-sex couples to register for partnership in 1995, Sweden became the seventh country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage countrywide in 2009. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and expression has been banned since 1987. Also, since 2003, gay and lesbian couples can adopt children, and lesbian couples have had equal access to IVF and assisted insemination since 2005. Sweden has been recognized as one of the most socially liberal countries in Europe and in the world, with recent polls indicating that a large majority of Swedes support LGBT rights and same-sex marriage.’

Sing in Christmas with Europe’s oldest gay choir

Did you know that Sweden has a very large number of choirs? Singing in a choir is in fact one of Swedish people’s favorite pursuits. That means that there are lots of choirs to meet various needs and interests: gospel choirs, political choirs, church choirs, integration choirs, indie choirs.

So, it’s not surprising then that the first gay choir to be established in Europe came out in Stockholm. 35 years ago to be exact, just a short time before London’s Gay Men’s chorus was founded.

As a conclusion of their 35 years’ celebrations, Stockholm’s Gay Choir is holding two Christmas concerts on Sunday 17th December at Playhouse Theater in Stockholm. Tickets can be bought via this link biljettkiosken.se/itschristmas or in the foyer an hour before the concert. Or find the choir on Facebook or their website.

Buy a ticket, support a good cause and contribute to Sweden’s diversity. And get a bit of Christmas gaiety at the same time! See you there!

Stockholm A-Z: LGBT living

Sweden is internationally known for its tolerance and openness and this means Stockholm is a great city to live in for members of the lesbian and gay community. However, visitors to the Swedish capital might be disappointed in the size of the gay scene. Where many other capital cities have gay neighbourhoods, or lots of gay and lesbian restaurants, cafés and bars to choose from, Stockholm's choices are limited.

One of the reasons for this is that the very tolerance and acceptance that exists in the city has led to a a general integration into the mainstream. Where other places around the world have needed to develop a strong and powerful subculture, it seems to have been less important in Sweden. This means that in Stockholm most places are mixed.

However, there are today a couple of bars, Torget in the Old Town is aimed and a young twinky fashionable crowd and Side Track on Södermalm aimed generally at the older and bear crowd and SLM for the fetish crowd. If you want to strut your stuff, a few clubs nights exist such as Patricia, Candy and Wonk. For a nice cup of coffee or a bite to eat head towards gay cafe restaurant Adams Bistro in the Odenplan area.

Other than occasional parties and club nights, there's very little just for lesbians and unfortunately nothing apart from interest groups exclusively for the transgender community.

In the summer half of the year, the very popular outdoor bar/restaurant Mälarpaviljongen opens its doors and is well worth a visit to take in beautiful Stockholm views and beautiful Stockholmers.

For more information on venues grab the gay rag QX or visit http://www.qx.se. Also check here for gay beaches, gay-friendly beaches and cruising areas such as Långholmen, Frescati and Kårsön.

Once a year, Stockholm organises the biggest Pride festival in Northern Europe. Usually on the first weekend in August, Stockholm Pride is a real carnival and succeeds in balancing the playful, the sexual and the political. The festival attracts up to 60000 participants who take to the streets in pride. Pride week is usually packed with club nights and parties and definitely worth a visit.

But LGBT living isn't only about parties and festivals. In Stockholm's community there is a plethora of things to occupy yourself with. If you enjoy singing, you can listen to Stockholms Gay Choir, the oldest gay men's choir in Europe. They give concerts twice yearly at Christmas and in the spring and are well worth the modest entrance fee. If exercise is your thing, then Stockholm's gay rugby team Stockholm Beserkers are a good option. On frequent Sundays they compete, and they practice on Monday and Wednesday evenings on Årstafältet if you want to go along.

If swimming is your thing, Stockholm Dolphins practice at Eriksdalsbadet on Södermalm. For more info: http://www.qx.se

And for dancing outside of the clubs, why not give Queer Salsa a go? Check out Queer Salsa Stockholm on Facebook for more information

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