Sporting gay fest set for kick-off

Stockholm Pride, the largest gay pride festival in the Nordic region, opens on Monday. Organizers have selected sport as the theme of the festival, aiming to profile gay sporting stars and to overcome homophobia among athletes and fans.

The festival is due to be opened by Glenn Hysén, a former footballer for the national team. The choice has proven controversial among some gay activists, who point to an incident six years ago in which Hysén thumped a man who groped him in a toilet. In an article in Dagens Nyheter on Monday, gay activist Anders Selin said this made Hysén unsuitable to open Pride.

“Of course you should be able to defend yourself against being groped and touched. The man who groped crossed a line for what is allowed and did something wrong. But was the man’s transgression so bad that he deserved to be thumped,” he wrote.

Nonetheless, Hysén will be playing in a specially arranged football match between gay football team the Stockholm Snipers and a specially selected celebrity team.

Also due to speak at the event is Sports Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth.

The festival will take place throughout this week, culminating in a parade on Saturday and an outdoor party in Tantolunden park. Among those performing will be Swedish Idol star Cissi Ramsby, British eighties pop act Bananarama and drag queen RuPaul. Additionally, this year’s Eurovision Song Contest winner, Marija Serifovic of Serbia, will be performing at a special ‘schlager’ evening on Thursday.