There’s a word in Icelandic that captures the spirit of Reykjavík Pride 2018: baráttugleði. It means joy of fighting. And it refers to the tireless struggle that queer folk in Iceland have pursued in recent years and decades. A struggle for self-evident rights in Icelandic society. On this occasion, we’ll take a backwards glance. We’ll take a look at the road we’ve travelled and remember bygones both trying and joyful. But we won’t let ourselves get stuck in the past because that means nothing. Instead we set a forward course, raise our voices, and advance the struggle on a path blazed by brave pioneers.
But baráttugleði is descriptive in more than one sense. The word embraces not only the struggle but also the joy. In the 2013 Pride magazine, editor Lilja Sigurðardóttir wrote, “We are always in damn good spirits. A constant fun rules our world, the bitterness is washed down with rainbow cocktails, the protest march is merely a demand for joy, and all our battle songs are disco.” She’s talking about the sympathy and humor that has often characterized our queer society – at least, as seen from outside. “This impudent humor, the cheeriness that once was a way to survive in unbearable circumstances, now it’s just for enjoyment,” wrote Lilja. Our way of survival. The struggle to force change and the joy to armor ourselves for hostile responses. The fun fight. The joy of struggle. Baráttugleði.
Joy has, however, not always reached far below the surface. Over the years queer society has suffered severe and painful bloodshed. Individuals from our ranks have been killed by violence and disease. But today our people are likelier than others
to die by their own hand. If for no other reasons than these, it’s clear that our visibility, education, and role models make a difference and can plainly be of vast consequence. Our struggle is not without cause.
So let’s embrace the successes which have been won. Let’s thank the people who paved the way, and let’s remember those who have breathed their last and cannot celebrate with us today. And then let’s show the world how beautiful diversity is – with joy as our weapon.
Reykjavik Pride’s Management team 2018:
Gunnlaugur Bragi Björnsson, president
Helga Haraldsdóttir, board member
Karen Ósk Magnúsdóttir, treasurer
Ragnar Veigar Guðmundsson, board member
Vilhjálmur Ingi Vilhjálmsson, secretary