As thousands of people gathered in Oslo this weekend to round off annual “Oslo Pride” celebrations, many more were also assembling in smaller cities and even bygder (villages) around the country. It’s finally acceptable for people of all sexual orientation to show their pride in who they are.
Today’s Oslo Pride began as Homodagene (literally, The Homo Days) in 1982, when some homosexuals dared to openly proclaim themselves as gay or lesbian. That later evolved into Skeive dager (the word skeiv is the opposite of “straight”) until “Oslo Pride” took over in 2014.
Rainbow flags, the symbol for pride that’s meant to symbolize diversity, now adorn not only public buildings, trams and buses in Oslo, but also fly from homes, offices and not least commercial enterprises. The flags have become so prominent that some gay rights organizations were warning this week that they shouldn’t be used as a “commerical gimmick” for marketing purposes.
“If you’re only latching on to this because it’s popular, you’ll be viewed as simply seeking attention,” Ingvild Endestad, leader of the Fri (Free) associaiotn, told state broadcaster NRK. “Pride activists are very strict, so if a company or store goes out and supports Pride (and gender rights), they’ll be criticized if they don’t actively work to promote change.”
There’s still opposition to homosexuality in some quarters, and several Oslo residents reported how their rainbow flags disappeared from their homes. “Someone stole the flag we had hung up outside out apartment building, twice,” Susanne Demou Øvergaard, leader of a network for lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transsexuals from minority families, confirmed to newspaper Dagsavisen. Residents responded by holding a flag ceremony this week and mounting an even bigger flag.
Tens of thousands were expected to march in Saturday’s Pride Parade that follows more than a week of seminars, concerts and other special events where Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette-Marit made a supportive appearance as well. Local football clubs including Vålerenga have also joined the wave of Pride support that’s celebrating the 5oth anniversary this year of the beginning of the gay rights movement.
Longtime gay rights activist Kim Friele, who was among the first to hold an appeal in Oslo in 1972 before a group of only around 20 people, was honoured this week with a statue in Oslo. She also received an official apology from the police, for earlier harassment. She’s glad that “pride fever” is now stretching from Kirkenes in the far north to Kristiansand in the south.
“Diversity can often be a bit hard to see,” Magnus Thun, who’s been behind Drammen’s new pride celebration, told Aftenposten. “It can be difficult to find other homosexuals here (in Drammen), but it’s also a point that you shouldn’t always have to head for Oslo. Therefore I think this will be good for the city.” Among other smaller communities holding Pride events: Hadeland, Nord-Odal, Flisa, Skien, Leirvik, Osterøy, Træna and Harstad.