A PUSSY RIOT: Gay Pride in Iceland

I’ve tried to keep this blog clean—this is not the place for me to talk about politics or show photos of my children. My husband works for the US government and we’ve been posted to countries where they scrutinize every word he says, judging his slightest move, writing headline stories about a statement he made and even publishing comments about things he didn’t say or would never say. Don’t get me started on the article that was full of atrocious lies. And too, we’ve been targets. In one city, there was an Al Qaeda cell in our neighborhood and we were the only Americans for miles around. The last thing I wanted were photos of my kids posted online for those guys to get a better look at them. Now we live in a lovely safe city (knock on all kinds of wood) and, while I still don’t post photos of my kids here, I do feel like I have a bit more space to express myself.

Disclaimer: For the sake of clarity, I must state again that the opinions here are my own and do not represent those of the US government.

There are a number of things the US government, and even the Department of State, do that I don’t agree with—big picture things, small policies. This was especially true during the last administration. And candidly, offline, behind closed doors, I would be happy to discuss and argue my case, talk about foreign policy or politics. But I’ve kept that off this blog for the reasons I state above. Namely, I don’t want my words misquoted, put in the press, or to become a part or a complication of Mr. Green’s job. He can handle PR and public diplomacy through his channels, the official ones. What I say should be mine and shouldn’t become a part of his work. But what happened in Reykjavik this past weekend was so amazing and jaw-dropping that I have to put in my two-cents. The State Department and US Embassy Reykjavik did the right thing—publicly and with aplomb. And I have to talk about it. US Embassy Reykjavik not only supported the Gay Pride events, they were a major part of the activities. It was phenomenal. Rainbow banners flew from the front of the embassy. The ambassador announced he would march in the Gay Pride Parade and carry a banner. He invited the staff and their families to participate. Of course, he said participation was entirely voluntary. On Saturday afternoon, amidst a major rainstorm, dozens of embassy staff, I’d say 80%, came out with their families to march in the parade. We had T-shirts made with the rainbow flag and American flag on the front. On the back it said “Gay Rights are Human Rights”—Hillary Clinton. Kids waved rainbow flags and we started marching. Out on this rock in the Atlantic, one-third of the country’s entire population turned out on the streets wearing raincoats and braving the downpour. Kids, teachers, grandparents, thousands arrived to cheer on the marchers. I was overcome with pride—for my country, for my friends, for my husband’s colleagues, for humanity. I was moved to tears as I stood next to my family and dignitaries: the ambassador and Bay Fang, the visiting Deputy Assistant Secretary, that so many could come together to support such a basic and beautiful human right. I was grateful too that it gave me the opportunity to talk to my kids about it. Explain what we were doing on a simple level with the hopes that they will grow up thinking it right, normal, to celebrate all people, regardless of who they love.

And too the kids and I were in awe of the costumes, the decoration, the fan-fare. I know that Icelanders have style and flair but I had no idea just how outrageous Reykjavik could be. When the mayor showed up in drag it was hard not to gape. Even more hilarious was his float. In solidarity with the Russian music group recently imprisoned for a peaceful protest, he dressed as a member of Pussy Riot and his float had a huge banner that said “Free Pussy Riot.” The kids were more interested in the marching band and man dressed like a mermaid to ask questions about the mayor, but this too gave us the opportunity to tell them about peaceful protest and support, albeit with less mention of the band’s name.

The Mayor of Reykjavik (in pink) with the US Ambassador to Iceland

For doing the right thing, for being part of the right message, my heart swelled with pride. I’m proud of my country. I’m proud of Iceland. I’m proud of the State Department, the ambassador, my husband. And too, the events gave me a chance to really laugh—a much-needed bellowing, deep, hooting and howling. Watching the ambassador talk to the mayor dressed in drag then hearing the lovely newscaster in her studio say her few words, I was on the floor. Here’s what I heard from clip, “alkjoeriaewoiuaweoiu PUSSY RIOT awoeiurowiruaoweiu  Pussy Riot asoereuiore Pussy Riot” Check out the video for yourself, really:

http://www.visir.is/section/MEDIA99&fileid=VTV549F9462-EC45-4133-A874-4637C4357492

So thank you, US Embassy Reykjavik. Thank you Hillary Clinton for your support on this important topic. Thank you for encouraging a loving, open society and for making me proud (and for making me guffaw). Free Pussy Riot!

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About ericajgreen

Writer/Editor living in Reykjavik, Iceland
This entry was posted in Gay Pride, Government Officals, Iceland, Parenting, Reykjavik, US Ambassador and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to A PUSSY RIOT: Gay Pride in Iceland

  1. Sadie says:

    Very cool indeed! Thanks for sharing – a great step in the right direction for global equality :-).

  2. Kelly says:

    Very cool. Love the mayor in drag 🙂

  3. Hihankara says:

    Thank you for sharing this! It makes me proud to be an American, and as much as I was a fan of Iceland already, R’s mayor seems to be a rock star. If you haven’t seen it this is his campaign video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxBW4mPzv6E

  4. Paul says:

    Love it! Thanks for the view from the ground in Reykjavik Erica.

  5. Carla Feely says:

    Proud to be American. Awesome.

  6. diplomom08 says:

    We miss Gay Pride week…so much fun and the entire city was involved. I read about the events and equally proud!

  7. vasya says:

    Pussi Riot participate in hanging of gays and immigrants in the Moscow supermarket, one year prior to performance in the temple. Now gays arrange parade for their support. ahahahahah…
    http://yarosh.livejournal.com/283572.html

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