1. It is MASSIVE
An estimated 450,000 people turned out on the streets of Stockholm for the Pride Parade last year. Let’s put that in context: Sweden’s population is about 10 million, of whom 1.5 million live in the capital. In other words 4.5 percent of the entire population of the country came to watch. That’s on top of the 45,000 people in the parade. That's a lot.
Photo: Leif Jansson/TT
2. …and it’s not just for gays
Nor just for lesbians, transgender people, bisexuals, queers, or any of the other groups that make up the increasingly unwieldy acronyms used to describe the community. The crowds on the streets of Stockholm always seem to genuinely reflect Swedish society. Sweden's issuing Pride stamps, same-sex weddings are being held at the Royal Opera House. Sweden has bought into Pride in a big way.
3. Sweden’s PM turned up two years before Justin Trudeau
Former PM Fredrik Reinfeldt marches in 2014. Photo: Annika af Klercker/TT
Canada’s charismatic Prime Minister rightly won plaudits when he marched in Toronto Pride. But Sweden’s then-leader Fredrik Reinfeldt beat him to it by almost two years, when he marched in Stockholm’s 2014 Parade. The current PM Stefan Löfven, then leader of the opposition, turned up too and has since participated after his election. We’re still waiting for the royals to turn up, but Crown Princess Victoria has already given out prizes at the annual Gay Gala, so maybe it’s just a matter of time?
4. Flags everywhere
Photo: Christine Olsson/TT
Stockholm’s small city centre means that it truly feels like Pride takes over the capital. The most visible sign of this is perhaps the flags, which fly from every single public bus, from the City Hall, from many foreign embassies and from most of the rooftops of the city centre. Practically the only ones not to fly them are the Royal Palace and government offices. So far.
5. The schlager, oh the schlager….
Why has Eurovision become the soundtrack for the gay world across Europe and beyond? Tacky music with memorable refrains, strange outfits and odd foreign accents has become inescapable at Pride events everywhere. In Sweden, however, they take it to another level. Spend a night in Pride Park and you’ll see a constant stream of artists who last released a single in the Swedish Eurovision heats in 1987, but where the entire Pride audience feeds them the love. Cute.
6. The Swedes
Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
They're angels, aren't they?
7. The parties!
Photo: Leif R Jansson/TT
Stockholm Pride isn’t just about the politics, or about the schlager – it’s also about the parties. At the official stage in 'Pride Park' (once again located at a sports ground in Östermalm this year) there will be poetry, theatre, punk performances, stand-up and more, not to mention a host of unofficial events held in the Swedish capital throughout the week. There’s something for every taste. Well, nearly every taste.
8. The politics
While Gay Pride used to be all about the politics, in liberal countries like Sweden the serious stuff has inevitably taken a bit of a back seat. But the organizers at Stockholm Pride aren’t complacent. This year there will be an opportunity to grill politicians “on LGBTQ at a BBQ” for example, discussions on LGBT people living as undocumented migrants in Sweden, and a lecture on how LGBT activists can respond to right wing populism and “homo-nationalism”. Those are just a few of the events with a more serious tone.
9. Dykes. On bikes.
Photo: Wilhelm Stokstad/TT
Our favourites. OK, Sweden doesn't have a monopoly here, but what Pride parade would be complete without them?
Photo: Mons Brunius/TT
Because, just like its people, you simply can't beat it for beauty.
Stockholm Pride – facts:
Starts on July 31st, concludes on August 6th following the parade, official party and other activities across town the day before.
Locations: across Stockholm, but the main area with stages, bars and stalls, is at 'Pride Park', otherwise known as the Östermalms IP sports ground.
More information at the official Stockholm Pride website.
This is an update of an article previously published on July 29th 2017