Hej Emma, tell us more about yourself and your role at WestPride…
Hej! For the last three years, I have been the General Manager at West Pride Gothenburg LGBTQI Festival. We are between four and seven employees depending on the situation and workload. Besides organizing the LGBTQI festival in Gothenburg we educate schools and organizations on LGBTQI-issues all year round. I am very fortunate to have a job that actually makes a difference in society.
Which was the first pride festival you attended, tell us about the experience!
I have attended several pride festivals in Gothenburg and Stockholm but the experience that really stands out was attending the Pride festival and Pride Parade in Riga, Latvia, Marching the streets in Riga with heavily armed police protecting us and with an anti-LGBTQI crowed screaming and throwing eggs at us was very shocking for a Swede.
What is important with Pride festivals in your opinion?
Pride Festivals will always be important as long as discrimination and prejudice exist. Even in Sweden, which is a secular and progressive country we have a lot to improve. In April of this year West Pride conducted a national survey with the help of an independent Poll-institute to find out how the living conditions for LGBTQI people are in Sweden. To be honest, they were even worse in some ways than I could imagine. Here are a few examples.
- 73% of LGBTQI-people hear derogatory comments.
- 21% of LGBTQI-people have been subject to hate crime.
- 39% of LGBTQI-people feel that they are discriminated against.
The whole survey is published here: https://westpride.se/hbtqi-undersokning/
In your experience, how is it to live as an LGBTQ person today in Sweden and Gothenburg?
Gothenburg is voted as one of the most LGBTQ friendly travel destinations in the world, however there is a lot to improve. I identify as queer as I strongly oppose the hetero norm and CIS norm, however I myself haven’t really been subject to discrimination. Nonetheless, I have quite a few friends that have experienced prejudice and been verbally and violently abused in Gothenburg. For them, and all LGBTQI+ people in the world West Pride will continue working for an open and inclusive society by making the LGBTQI community visible, creating safe spaces at Pride Festivals and educating schools and organizations on LGBTQI issues.
What advice would you give to young people who are unsure about their identity?
I would tell them not to worry too much and take their time to discover their identity. I would also advise them to seek out groups and organizations where they can feel safe exploring themselves. In Gothenburg, there are a number of places you can reach out to, for example, RFSL Ungdom, RFSL Newcomers, Hänget at Frilagret, EKHO Göteborg, HBTQ-labbet in Mölndal, Mötesplats Simone, and GIA (Gays in Angered). And of course, they should feel extra welcome to West Pride on June, 9-13th 2021.
Visit westpride.se for lates news and updates!
Thanks Emma! Stay healthy! Love / Team StandOut Travel