YOUTHFUL AND SPIRITUAL PRIDE: World’ northernmost LGBTQ+ festival returns to Longyearbyen this weekend with hopes local diversity spreads wider message of inclusion

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Photo courtesy of Longyearbyen Pride

A “rainbow” party for hormonal teens, storytime for little kids, cartoons for slightly older kids and a fair at the church – surely the stuff of chilling “wokeism” for some people/places, but for those in Longyearbyen participating this weekend they will be just among a few of the reasons to take Pride.

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Local sled dogs show off their colors during Longyearbyen’s first Pride Parade in 2019. This year’s parade is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m. Saturday at Svalbardhallen. Photo by Mark Sabbatini / Icepeople.

The world’s northernmost Pride Festival, following up on its debut in 2019, is scheduled from Friday evening through Sunday, beginning with a “rainbow party” for student in grades 7-10 from 6-10 p.m. at Rabalder Cafe inside Kulturhuset.

That will be followed by the children’s story/film at midday Saturday at Longyearbyen Library, a Pride Parade through town beginning at Svalbardhallen at 5 p.m. and an evening party at Barentz Gastropub. On Sunday afternoon a movie will screen at Kulturhuset and the festival will conclude at 6 p.m. with the party at Svalbard Church.

All events are free.

“The festival is family-oriented, and helps to show acceptance and diversity in one of the world’s northernmost communities,” the festival’s organizers note in an online statement. “We also want to show the many thousands of tourists who visit us every year, that Longyearbyen is an open destination for visitors with LGBTQ+ affiliation.”

The controversies surrounding sexuality and gender issues have largely been absent in Longyearbyen over the years, which some locals attribute the town’s unusually diverse and high-turnover population. Organizers say they hope that, in addition to countering any negative attitudes that may exist locally, they hope the spirit of Longyearbyen’s inclusiveness can serve as a model for other places.

As with the first festival local leaders are participating and voicing support, including Longyearbyen Mayor Arild Olsen who will again be one of the featured speakers during a rally at the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel following the parade.

 

Longyearbyen Pride 2021 schedule

Friday
• 6-10 p.m.: Rainbow party for 7-10th grade students. Food, drinks, competitions and music. Rabalder Cafe at Kulturhuset.

Saturday
• Noon: Storytime for children up to 3 years old. Longyearbyen Library.
• 1-2:30 p.m.: Animated movie “about finding your place in a world you feel like you don’t belong” for youths ages 7 and up. Longyearbyen Library.
• 5 p.m.: Pride Parade through town beginning at Svalbardhallen and proceeding along Hilmar Rekstens Vei to the Radisson Blu Polar Hotel.  Gift certificates will be awarded to the best entries in various categories.
• 5:45 p.m.: Pride rally in the Radisson parking lot featuring speakers Lene Jeanette Dyngeland (festival organizer, in English) and Mayor Arild Olsen (in Norwegian). Music by the Store Norske Men’s Choir.
6:30 p.m.: Rainbow party at Barentz Gastropub, with drinks in all colors and gift cards for the most innovative outfits. Will continue until closing time.

Sunday
• 3 p.m.: Movie: “Portrait of a Woman in Flames,” multi-award winning French film, Kulturhuset.
• 6 p.m.: Rainbow fair. Svalbard Church.