What’s there to be proud of?
After 30 years of pride parades, what does Pride mean in Norway? How has it evolved and why is it still important?
Pride has been a tradition in Norway since the first parade in Oslo in the early 80s until today. Oslo Pride or ”Queer Days” is a week with interesting seminars at Pride house, concerts, big party venues and an own Pride Park fair. Next week it’s on again.
Pride festivals now take place all over the countries, from Bergen and Stavanger in the west, Kristiansand in the south, Trondheim in the middle and sometimes all the way up in Finnmark far up north.
Pride has followed the LGBT* (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights movement, from protection of Ls and Gs in the work protection law in 1981 to a gender neutral marriage in 2009. Many have started believing that the battle for rights and acceptance are won. They settle with this, and don’t see what all the fuss is all about.
Each year around the time of pride the same comments come up. “It’s okay that people are gay, but do they need to put it up in our faces? We don’t shove our heterosexuality up in theirs. And why do they have to be so flamboyant and half naked, why can’t they act more normal? What people do in their beds is their business, why must they be so visible?”
The apparent normalization of lesbians and gays shows that there is a place for those who differ from the norms in society, but how far does that go? When the most common insults in school are “gay” or “whore”, how much equality is there? You can be gay, but you have to act like a man. And in school if you don’t act according to the norms following your gender, you’re gay whether you like people of the same sex or not.
And already there we are forgetting the B’s and T’s, which are often included by their respective initial, but easily forgotten when it comes to action. Minorities and norm breakers within the LGBT group are not recognized. Transgender people in Norway are forced into sterilization, bisexuals are confused, people living with HIV are being stigmatized through the penal code, fetishism just got free from the diagnosis stamp, but can’t escape the taboos.
People gay or lesbian who are out and amongst friends don’t know how it is to be invisible out somewhere on the countryside, in a religious society that states homosexuality as something unnatural or in a society that doesn’t recognize your gender. We live in a place where many can’t see the difference between a trans person that breaks with gender norms and a drag queen, they only see something different and dislike it.
That’s why pride is important, as a place where diversity can be made visible. To remind people that they need to take action. Pride is the place where forgotten causes can be fought and minorities celebrated. Where the space is big enough for everyone. That pride through the years has become an extensive festival with lots of fun, a gathering place that includes politically interested as much as those who just want to meet others, that’s just a big plus.
Until there is a world where everyone can be them selves regardless of gender and sexuality, and where all sexual expressions based upon consent and equality are accepted – We need pride! And what the hell, even then – it’s great fun!
Written by Eirik Rise, organisational secretary of Queer Youth Norway