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PRIDE – International solidarity: Stronger together

Image may contain: Flag, Colorfulness, Sky.
Illustration photo: To the left, the Stonewall Inn as it looked in 1969. The window reads: "We homosexuals plead with our people to help maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets of the Village." Diana Davies © New York Public Library (, CC BY-SA 3.0). To the right, the rainbow flag symbolizing the LGBT movement. Ludovic Bertron (, CC-BY-2.0)

Are you wondering why we celebrate Pride? Pride is about making queer culture visible, and celebrating queer love and diversity. It is about remembering battles that have been fought, victories and losses, which have led us to where we are today. In Norway, it is a milestone that Pride is no longer just a celebration for queer people, but also has become a celebration in which the majority population, businesses, and political actors participate. Internationally, we see that Pride is being celebrated in more and more places. A strong mobilization for the rights of LGBTI+ people worldwide over the last decade has led to many breakthroughs. Yet Pride is also a reminder that equal rights, recognition and respect cannot be taken for granted, and that these things are still not a reality for everyone. International solidarity is therefore crucial to equal rights worldwide.

STK has collected a handful of texts from UiO researchers and other relevant partners, that we hope can provide some insight into the research being conducted on Pride-related topics.

Equal rights, recognition and respect?

By Ragnhild Helene Hennum, Professor at the Department of Public and International Law, The Faculty of Law, UiO (translated by the Editor)
Bildet kan inneholde: Mennesker, Offentlig hendelse, Begivenhet, Demonstrasjon, Publikum.
Illustration photo: UiO and OsloMet went under the slogan Fearless Knowledge during last year's Pride. Jarli & Jordan / UiO

As a result of an almost 70-year struggle, lesbians, gays and bisexuals today have good protection and equal rights. One might wonder what happens then, is the "fight" finally won? Some might say yes, and that it is time to shut down the gay movement. But equal rights for gays and lesbians does not mean that other groups such as transgender people have equal rights, where in fact much work remains to be done. In addition, the gay movement also has an international responsibility, to continue fighting in solidarity with gays and lesbians in other countries, who continue to face discrimination and persecution. It is also important that it is not just about being right, but also getting right. By this I mean that formally equal rights is no guarantee against discrimination and oppression. These rights must also be enforced and complied with. Equal rights alone is no guarantee that lesbians and gays, and their way of life and ways of living are recognized and respected.

Increasing polarization

By Bendicte Bull, Professor at the Centre for Development and Environment, UiO (translated by the Editor)

Today's Brazil is in many ways an extreme example of the increasing polarization between those who claim to defend family values and fight against gender ideology on the one hand, and those who fight for equal rights between genders and different minorities on the other. This is a polarization we see in many countries. But fortunately, there are also positive signs. New movements are constantly emerging, and everything indicates that the new generation of Latin Americans are heading towards the rainbow, refusing to believe the narrative that sexual liberation is the cause of societal dissolution and chaos.

Homophobic state, but not a homophobic society

By Agnieszka Graff, Associate Professor at The American Studies Center, University of Warsaw, Poland

Poland’s LGBT problem is serious but it must be seen as a political battle: hatred against sexual minorities is being mobilized by the populist right in coalition with ultra-conservative groups like Ordo Iuris. Of course, the anti-LGBT propaganda is doing real damage. LGBTI+ people, their family and friends are scared and outraged. People are increasingly using the word “fascism” to describe what is going on. But we are a homophobic state, not a homophobic society.

Bildet kan inneholde: Tekst, Font, Linje, Logo, Grafikk.


Bildet kan inneholde: tekst, font, grafisk design, linje, colorfulness.

Bildet kan inneholde: Sirkel, Linje, Logo, Grafikk.

International peace and security policy

By Johanne Rokke Elvebakken, Coordinator of the PRIO Gender, Peace and Security Centre, The Peace Research Institute in Oslo

The anti-gender movements and the backlash against women and LGBTI+ persons weakens the further enhancement of the WPS agenda, and possibilities of LGBTI+ persons inclusion into international security policy. While the topic areas discussed as part of the WPS agenda have distinct identifying factors and unique challenges, the gendered dimensions of the WPS agenda could be a way in for LGBTI+ issues on the security side of the UN. It will be interesting to see how Norway will go about tackling potential discrimination and abuse based on sexual orientation and gender identity in its role as a recently elected non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Queer Sámi organization

By Dávvet Bruun-Solbakk, Activist and Student at UiT; and Elisabeth Stubberud, Activist and Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning, NTNU (translated by the Editor)

Those who were open queer early on risked a lot, including being bullied in public, but they also met those who harassed them with appropriate response. Much has also happened in a short time in terms of organization: a handful of people stood on the barricades when no one else dared, shouting to the public about verbal and physical violence, harassment, discrimination and suicide. Their openness and work prepared the ground for what was to come over the next ten years. They showed a fighting spirit that reminded those of us who came after that we have the right to be here.

Those who took up the fight before us had to scream. We have multipled, and do not have to scream so loudly, but we must still work to be visible, for the sake of ourselves and those who come after us. 

An alternative Scandinavian tradition?

By Peter Edelberg
Associate Professor at the SAXO-Institute, University of Copenhagen (translated by the Editor)

The tradition of marking the anniversary of the uprising has spread from New York to the entire world, and unfortunately it has led to the misconception that the Stonewall riots was the defining moment for LGBTI+ people in all countries. A classic American cultural imperialist idea - to put it harshly. And you have to - because in Scandinavia we have an activist history that goes back further than 1969, and this is among other things what we want to show with our research project. The situation was also very different in Scandinavia than in the US in 1969. Police violence against sexual and gender minorities and criminalization of non-heterosexual sex were already history in Sweden and Denmark, and were on the threshold of becoming history in Norway. In Scandinavia, then, the annual Gay Pride Parades were more widely interpreted and branded as a call for and a celebration of visibility, rather than a protest against violent repression.

Must not be left with only one prevailing model

By Wencke Mühleisen, Guest Researcher at the Centre for Gender Research, UiO (translated by the Editor)
Bildet kan inneholde: Mennesker, Begivenhet, Offentlig hendelse, Parade, Festival.
Illustration photo: UiO and OsloMet went under the slogan Fearless Knowledge during last year's Pride. Anders Lien / UiO

The increasingly global popular culture, where virtually 'everyone' consumes the same, most often American series and movies, fashion, as well as Facebook's global spread, are also characterized by paradoxes. On the one hand, western norms and ideals of equality and diversity have been spread across the globe. This implies a real opportunity for influence in a democratizing direction related to gender and sexual diversity and rights in conservative and religious fundamentalist societies. But from a post-colonialist perspective, Western hegemony associated with the proliferation of popular cultural representations can also be problematic. The massive influence of Western popular cultural expressions has often replaced, or erased, local traditions. And the western modern notion of homosexuality and heterosexuality, male and female – as essential and biologically distinct categories – prevail.

Everyone must constantly rethink their body

By Agnes Bolsø, Professor at the Centre for Gender Research, Department of Interdisciplinary Studies of Culture, NTNU (translated by the Editor)

Cis-persons must also continuously rethink their body over their life-span. Cis people rework their understanding of their own bodies through mainstream cultural narratives about the body. What about transgendered people regarding cultural images? Here we lack the flora images that can soften intermediate positions, processes of change and transitions. Here too, medical technology is ready to help, but until now, the central health authorities have guarded the boundaries of gender quite strictly. With the new guidelines currently being drafted, this monopoly is about to end, but the diagnosis seems to be retained.

Cis people are not pathologized if they happen to experiment or make minor ‘mistakes’, playing gender loosely or on the edges of gender norms. Society is rather redeeming, smoothing out a lot of trouble for cis people. We need a politics of social and cultural long-term change for transgendered people too. With queer theory, as outlined here, the battle for rights to medication and surgery directed at the public health system is not necessarily the best political strategy in the long run. However, at the moment medication and surgery are saving lives every day, demonstrating a political dilemma that runs very deep.

Queer history in Norwegian

By Runar Jordåen, Historian at Skeivt arkiv, University of Bergen Library (translated by the Editor)

Today's notion of homosexuality, as an innate sexual orientation, originated in the late 1800s, and queer history is the story of how categories such as sodomy, homosexuality, ambiguity, transpersonal, and queer have evolved and change over time.

Skeivt arkiv documents and disseminates this story in Norway, but little research has been done so far. There is a striking gap between all the talk about gender and sexual diversity, and the lack of knowledge of history, struggles fought, victories and losses. How did queer people live in rural and urban settlements in the past? How did societies deal with gender and sexual nonconformities through history? How deep does the acceptance go? When did the basic turning points occur? The truth is that we know very little about what it was like to live as queer, how society viewed those who had broken with expectations of gender and sexuality, in the immediate and distant past.

The subjective experience

By Sunniva Serigstad, Research Assistent at the Centre for Gender Research, UiO (translated by the Editor)

Asexuality can bring nuance to our perspectives on sexuality. For instance, there is not necessarily a correlation between physical responses and subjective experiences of desire for those involved in sexual activities. The expectation of correlation between physical responses and subjective experiences of desire have two specific consequences: If a person has a physical response in a situation where they do not want to engage in sexual activities, they risk being sexualized against their will. This is one reason why explicit consent is so important: a person’s physical responses are no guarantee that they actually want to engage in any sexual activities.

Gender and sexuality in the Viking Age

By Marianne Moen, Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Museum of Cultural History, UiO

Gender roles in the Viking Age are often presented as a neatly segregated affair, wherein men and women inhabit different social roles and even spheres. New research however, indicates that things are likely to have been rather more complex.

Numerous sources indicate that Viking Age society had a completely different relationship to the body and to bodily functions than what eventually became the ruling norm through the Christian Middle Ages and more recent history. Sexual acts were not something to be hidden for example, nor were they shameful or polluted in any way. Similarly, other bodily functions were much more open, and not surrounded by secrecy and shame such as they are today.

Further reading

  • Gender dysphoria by Reidar Schei Jessen, PhD candidate at Oslo University Hospital/Department of Psychology, UiO
  • Was Jesus queer? by Halvor Moxnes, Professor Emeritus at The Faculty of Theology, UiO