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Why does Pride matter? 5 LGBT persons explain

As proud sponsors of Pride in several Nordic cities, we would like to emphasise the importance of Pride. We have interviewed five LGBT persons and asked five questions about Pride and what it is like to be an LGBT person today.

Pride flag waving in the sky

The rainbow flag is a colourful manifestation of love and tolerance, regardless of people’s sexual orientation.

The five LGBT persons we have talked to are Sanna, Mió, Emma, Robin and Peter who whole-heartedly shared their experiences and perspectives. Read more about them further down in the article.

Pride: interviewed personsPeter, Sanna, Robin, Emma and Mió.

How many times have you attended Pride? Tell us about your best Pride experience!

Peter: I’ve attended Stockholm Pride five times in total. I’ve been part of a show on the big stage in Pride Park twice, and both times have been absolutely magical experiences with so much love! This year will be my third time.

Emma: I’ve only been to the one in Helsingborg a couple of times. What I like best about Pride is to be accepted and respected on the streets and be able to show who you are.

Mió: Ouch, my memory is so bad. I think I have a bit of prosopagnosia and I almost never remember people I’ve met before (I usually lie and say I wasn’t wearing my glasses). This is applicable to this question as well, but I’m guessing… 7? Or 10?

It was a great honour for me to give a lecture and read from my book at Stockholm Pride. I’ve also had a show and a lecture at Luleå Pride which both were insanely fun to present.

Sanna: I visited Pride every year between 2005 and 2018 and have also been a volunteer at Sweden’s federation of LGBTQIA students, RFSL Stockholm as well as participated in a large number of panel discussions and similar. In 1998, I ended up in the Pride parade just by chance when my family visited Stockholm during that time. I was too young myself to participate (13 years old) but I had just started to realise who I was, so from that aspect, it was an important experience anyway.

For many years I loved the song fest, called Schlagerkvällen in Swedish, and I have many great memories from this event. The best memory though, was the time when my brother – who has a substantial disability – attended as well, both at the park and in the parade. He was so very happy and enjoyed himself immensely the entire evening. That was really lovely.

Robin: Every year since my move to Stockholm. I have also visited my own hometown’s version of Pride one time, in Småland.

My best Pride experience must have been Pride a year ago or so, I’m not entirely sure. But it was a year when I joined the parade. The memory is so powerful and familiar in a warm and indescribable way.

West Pride Paraden i Göteborg - prideflaggaPride parade in Gothenburg.

How will you celebrate Pride this year?

Robin: I wish I had more concrete answers to this question but I haven’t really planned anything, except that I will celebrate it in some way.

The reason why I don’t know is because I’m busy planning my own wedding which takes place one month after Pride, so I am mainly focusing on that. But Pride will be celebrated for sure!

Peter: I’ll celebrate with work and friends, go to some shows and of course join the parade!

Sanna: I don’t know much yet. I’m not part of any panel and haven’t planned anything. Perhaps it’ll be a spontaneous visit to Pride Park, we’ll see.

Mió: This year, 2019, Luleå Pride took place at the same time as my youngest son got married in Stavanger, Norway. It was colourful and wonderful. We were three proud parents, on our son’s side, at the bridal table having an excellent time.

What’s so important with Pride in your opinion?

Sanna: Best, and perhaps most important, is that it’s growing so much. That Pride is celebrated in so many places around Sweden (and the world) and more and more participants get involved. This means Pride and everything connected to it is not just one week with lots of “fun happenings”, instead issues surrounding equality and discrimination is more and more highlighted.

Robin: Pride and the entire festival is about very important and critical matters. It’s a demonstration for equality for everyone and the right to love anyone you want. It’s the chance for people to get together in a group and support each other and work together towards a better tomorrow. At the same time, the festival and the crowds are a tribute to the Stonewall riots in 1969.

Mió: It’s crucial. Considering how the political climate is changing – I’ve had it with this SD (Sweden Democrats) crap and all those middle-aged men who have nothing better to do than hate Greta. That’s why it’s so important to keep the rainbow flag so high. Watch the HBO series ”Years and Years” and keep that development in mind.

Peter: It’s important that we are seen, heard and that everyone can take part and be noticed. Not just those who scream the loudest and are the most visible ones, but everyone.

Emma: To show that we, in the LGBT world, are also humans. That we want to be seen for who we are, and not being stepped on or mocked.

pride-flags-hands-gallery.jpgThe parades are one of the highlights of the Pride festivals in the Nordics.

In your experience, how is it to live as an LGBT person today?

Emma: From my own point of view, it’s only positive but I do receive some low blows and mocking. Then I have to stand up for myself and not let it impact me, or else the bully wins.

Mió: Where I am today, I’m sure I’m privileged. White, middle-aged man (ouch, that was hard to write) with good income and large network. In a country where it’s possible for me to marry anyone I want (which I have when I married my Zeb) and feel quite safe when I go out, and so on. But that’s far from the truth for many. In our country, my town, there are many who fight desperately to feel safe and acknowledged, not to mention the worst cases like Chechnya.

Sanna: For me personally, it’s not something I think about every day. I’m white middle-class and am fortunate enough to surround myself with good people, which is how everyone should be allowed to live. My life is like any other person’s life. But I am affected as I am involved and passionate about equality and norm criticism. Sure, I have experienced homophobia and been afraid of people’s opinions in the past, and these experiences are probably affecting me still.

But I am also very aware that my life does not represent everyone. Many are afraid to come out, people are still prejudiced, and in some respects, it feels like society is evolving backwards.

Robin: I find it’s getting better and better. I can only answer for myself of course. But I haven’t really had any problems as an LGBT person except from some attacks by trolls online and dirty looks on the street. But not any problems as such. Since I came out, I have received more love than hate from the people around me.

From society’s point of view, there are still work to be done when it comes to LGBT persons. There are issues and discrimination that complicate life for LBTQ persons. Issues that impact me as well, such as the right to donate blood and have children.

Peter: Personally, I find it much easier now than when I was younger. The Pride movement plays a major part in this.

Närbild av gaypar som håller hand.

What advice would you give to young people who are unsure about their identity?

Mió: Remember that you’re not alone. Remember that you are what you were intended to be, and your strengths develop when you realise this. If your family abandons you, there’s a rainbow family waiting for you, and if your friends let you down. there are new ones just around the corner.

Peter: Don’t be afraid, you’re not weird. Everybody goes through this. I believe that the best way to find yourself is by searching, exploring and testing. If it feels right, just go for it!

Emma: Dare to go out there and live your life. It doesn’t matter what others think and say. Build your self-confidence.

Robin: Talk to someone you can trust, the school counsellor, school nurse, parents or closest youth clinic. Don’t keep your thoughts and concerns to yourself – it’ll only hurt you. Plant the seed outside and let it grow from there but at a pace that is good for you. Don’t stress about it or feel pressured.

And above all, telling anyone about your sexual orientation or sexual identity and “coming out” doesn’t automatically mean that everyone needs to know. You can still choose who to tell, which means you can live openly with only your closest ones knowing about it.

Sanna: Find someone you trust and talk to them. If there is an LGBT association in your hometown – contact them. Here in Stockholm we have the amazing Egalia for instance. An incredible organisation with great leaders and awesome friendships.

When I was young and before I came out, I read books and blogs. Watch movies, follow accounts on social media about and by people you can identify with! It might sound silly, but identification is super important.

pride-parade-helsinki-flag-girls.jpgAt Nordic Choice Hotels we participate in Pride parades every year, of course.

Proud sponsors of Pride

Nordic Choice Hotels strongly believe in diversity and work very hard for equal rights and opportunities at our hotels, in our mind and last but not least, in society. That’s why sponsoring Pride is a no-brainer for us – we strongly believe in equality for everyone. Or as Petter A. Stordalen puts it: to us, diversity means a better culture. Read Petter’s own word about why we sponsor Pride.

We love diversity and hate inequal treatment. It doesn’t matter who you are, we live in this world together. To anyone who wishes to be like you – welcome. We have room for everyone.

And lastly - HAPPY PRIDE!

Pride: Robin Larsson

Robin Larsson

"My period of mental instability and my suicide attempt gave me insight to who I really am and the inner powers I possess, without knowing it."

Pride: Sanna Mac Donald

Sanna Mac Donald

"We must continue working towards total equality, and not be satisfied with “tolerance” where people who are considered norm “accept” those who are not the norm."

Pride: Mió Evanne

Mió Evanne

  • Age: 54
  • Residency: Luleå
  • Profession: Creative Director, musician and composer
  • Homepage: evanne.se (SE)
  • Instagram: @mioevanne

“We are no longer a small country that wants to keep our borders closed. No, we are a big world doing our best to survive and improve all the time.”

Pride: Peter Svensson

Peter Svensson

  • Age: 41
  • Residency: Gothenburg
  • Profession: Hair dresser and drag queen under the name Cherry Wilder. Winner of the Drag of the year at QX Galan.
  • Homepage: cherrywilder.com (SE)
  • Instagram: @cherrywilder
  • Youtube: CherryWilder

“Regardless of who you are, I think you should keep your head up high and treat people exactly the way you want to be treated!”

Pride: Emma Olsson

Emma Olsson

“Before I went out in public, I was wondering if people would look at me differently as I differ from the norm. But I have noted that I receive so much love all the time.”

Heart in pride colors

What is LGBT?

LGBT is an initialism that stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender.

  • Homo- and bisexual is about who you are attracted to or in love with.
  • Transgender is about how you identify yourself and express your gender.

More information on RFSLs homepage.