Probably few of those present at the New York’s Stonewall Inn on the evening of June 27, 1969 suspected what a fateful and meaningful night was in store. Judy Garland had just been buried and the evening was an occasion for her fans to drown their sorrows – but this night was to become something more. This night, queer people finally turned defense into offense and on the way discovered the power of unity. The battle for rights was begun in earnest, and the foundations laid for the Pride celebration we know worldwide today. This year we remember that half a century has passed since a watershed moment which has been crucial for all the rights and visibility we queer folk enjoy today.
But that’s not all! This year we embrace the 20th year in a row of Reykjavík Pride. In 1999, the organization Samtökin ’78 organized “Queer Weekend in Reykjavík” specifically to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the Christopher Street uprising. About fifteen hundred guests came together in Ingólfstorg on Saturday, 26 June, and it was promptly decided to hold a similar celebration here in the city every year. A year later, when the first Pride parade was underway, twelve thousand people attended. In a 2017 interview, Heimir Már Pétursson, one of Reykjavik Pride’s founders, said, “We got twelve thousand people. Not to fight us. Not to make fun of us. Not to belittle us, but to walk with us. That’s when I knew that we’d succeeded at this and tears ran down my face.”
Over the last two decades Pride has grown and thrived and today is not just one of the country’s most-attended festivals but probably the most-attended Pride event in the world – relative to the population. We’re obviously very proud of this success, but we take our role seriously and treat the history with respect – because only by knowing where we came from can we know where we are going. And we’re going forward.
We will forge ahead toward full equality – legally and socially. We will combat all adversity – assault, discrimination, and the microagressions of daily life. We will continue to discuss, study, and challenge. And we’ll celebrate too. So for these reasons Reykjavík Pride 2019 will last for ten days, with more, and more varied, events than ever before. We will celebrate the achievements of the past decades and show where we are going. Onward.
On behalf of the directors of Reykjavík Pride I wish you a hearty welcome to the festival of the year and hope that you enjoy it to the fullest. Together, we’ll paint Reykavík in all the colors of the rainbow like never before
President of Reykjavík Pride