Today is the start of this year's Oslo Pride. A festival where you get to be yourself, and enjoy music, art, debate and a spectacular parade.
Published: 23 June 2017
Several Norwegian cities have pride events every year, organized by local LGBT communities (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender). However, the biggest celebration of them all takes place in Oslo.
"Oslo Pride is a festival that should be visible in the cityscape; it should not be possible to miss noticing that there is Pride in Oslo during the ten days the festival is happening. It is important to change people's norms and perception," says festival director Fredrik Dreyer.
Norway was recently voted Europe's second best country to live in for gays, only surpassed by Malta, according to The Rainbow Europe Index.
"In many ways, we live in a dreamland and I know gay people who have moved to Norway just because they feel more included and accepted here. It is okay to be different here," says Dreyer.
Still, he points out that you need not go far out of the city before the situation is quite different.
"Parts of Norway are still very far behind, both in terms of how you talk about people who are not heterosexual, how families experience it, and the matter of being accepted. At the same time, people who are something other than gay and lesbian, such as bisexual or transsexual, can still have a difficult time in the cities. Even if bad attitudes also exist here, it is uncommon for someone to be harassed on the streets in the middle of the day without anyone reacting to it," says Dreyer.
"Oslo Pride aims to contribute to the acceptance of people just as they are, and acceptance for loving the one you love. I must be allowed to hold the hand of whomever I want."
Oslo Pride, June 23 – July 2
Skeive Sørlandsdager, August 23 – 27
Stavanger på Skeivå, August 30 – September 3
Trondheim Pride, September 9 – 17
Oslo Fusion International Film Festival, September 18 – 24
Tromsø Arctic Pride, November 4 – 12
Regnbuedagene i Bergen / Bergen Pride
Oslo Pride was held for the first time in 1974, and although the event has changed a lot in the years that have passed, the message has remained the same: Openness and visibility are important.
According to the festival's director, Oslo Pride is still very important, especially in three areas:
"The first is that we give a platform to voices that are not usually heard. Pride House is the queer community's main debate arena, and has many significant discussions on its programme," he says.
The second is visibility in the sense that a presence in the city helps the population to get used to people with other identities and sexual orientations.
"It is an important reason concerning why we rerouted the parade in 2012 so that the parade now starts in Greenland. This is an area of Oslo which has been associated with uncertainty due to some unwanted and unpleasant situations. This has conveyed an important message, and it has worked well," says Dreyer.
Last, but not least, Oslo Pride seeks to create a place for people who do not feel included in daily life.
"Everyone here should be treated with respect, and they should be respected for who they are."
Samantha Fox will be here, as will Sondre Lerche. And Oslo Fagottkor, which calls itself "Norway's most stylish gay choir".
"There is a whole lot happening during a very short time," says Dreyer.
In addition to the concerts and debates, Queer Artists will have an exhibition in the City Hall Gallery. 50-60 artists present around 500 works from Sunday 25 June up to and including 2 July.
"The parade on Saturday, July 1 is, of course, the highlight and by far the largest in Oslo after the 17th of May parade," says Dreyer.
Last year 35,000 attended, and this year even more are expected.
"There are always lots of people who go all out and use a lot of energy on the parade. It's going to be a party while also making a clear statement, which is why there are many attendees who challenge the norms of the society, including the presence of nudity. The parade always makes for a lot of fun, so there's no doubt that you should check it out if you're in Oslo," believes the festival director.
The parade takes just over one and a half hours to move through the city along the route from Grønland to Spikersuppa on Karl Johan Street. Both private and public participants will be present with vehicles, banners and flags. This will include the Norwegian Armed Forces, Sporveien Oslo - the municipally owned public transport operator - and various political parties will also be represented.
"It is a political demonstration for equality, inclusion and diversity, and we encourage businesses, organizations and others to take a stand and call attention to it. A work environment is best when it is diverse and when everyone feels accepted."
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