Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

6th July 2015

The long good Pride day
Posted by at 9.12pm | 2 responses | Gay, Out and About

Oslo really gets excited about Pride. The Pride Parade, traditionally held on the last Saturday in June, is preceded by a week of festivities. Even the trams are adorned with rainbow flags for the occasion.

Tram with Rainbow Flag

I’ve been rather sceptical about Pride recently. Just before I left, Liverpool Pride had announced a dramatic scaling back of its 2015 event. This was portrayed in the media as a disaster; personally I’ll be happy if this year sees a return to a more community-based event, rather than charging £11 to experience terrible music and overpriced beer.

Yes, I’m a grumpy sod, which meant that Oslo Pride was going to have to be quite special to shake me out of my funk. Could the Norwegians do something that Liverpool couldn’t?

Just after 1pm, I took up a vantage point on Bishop Gunnerus Gate, just outside the mammoth Oslo City shopping mall. I’d done my best to decipher the route description on the Oslo Pride web site, but I wasn’t 100% sure I was standing in the right place. Soon, however, other people started arriving; many of whom – ahem – conformed to certain stereotypes.

It was a hot, sunny day, which I hadn’t been expecting. I was wearing a black T-shirt and trousers, which didn’t help. I could also feel my exposed arms and neck being slowly toasted. I dashed to the Narvesen across the street to get a drink, then hid behind a bus shelter which offered some shade.

Finally, at just after 1.30pm, the police outriders arrived to block the surrounding roads. A cacophony of music, shouts and whistles heralded the arrival of the parade itself.

Oslo Pride 1

Some of the biggest cheers were reserved for representatives of the USA, just 48 hours after the Supreme Court there had ruled in favour of marriage equality. Participants waved American flags and brandished laminated copies of the historic front page of the New York Times.

US marchers at Oslo Pride

A lot of people marched on foot, but there were also a variety of lorries, cars, motorbikes of all ages. Many were carrying dancers and blasting out music.

Oslo Pride: Vintage Car Oslo Pride: Amnesty International Truck

Oslo Pride: Men on a Bike Oslo Pride: Men in Pink in Car

A pleasing appearance came from Lesbians & Gays Support the Dockers, a Norwegian group apparently inspired by Britain’s own Lesbians & Gays Support the Miners, the subject of last year’s film Pride.

Lesbians & Gays Support the Dockers Lesbians & Gays Support the Dockers

The diversity on show was excellent. It’s hard to imagine sex workers being represented so prominently in a UK pride event.

Oslo Pride Sex Workers

Oh, and special mention for these two people, one of whom must have been very hot, and the other who might have been feeling the breeze a bit:

Oslo Pride

It took well over 45 minutes in total for the parade to pass. Once it had done so, the crowd began to disperse. A lot of people headed in the direction of Spikersuppa, a small park just west of the Parliament building, which had been turned into Pride Park for the weekend. I decided to join them.

There were music acts on stage, and stands selling everything from frozen yoghurt to bondage gear. It was also very crowded, with long queues at every food and drink stand, and the sun continued to beat down. I was hot, thirsty and hungry; all alone in a sea of people. I was tempted to just dive into the fountain, but thought better of it.

Fountain in Oslo Pride Oslo Pride Park

It all got a bit too much for me. I escaped and went back to my hotel room to (literally) chill out and have a cup of tea. Then thoughts turned to food. I discovered The Scotsman, a Scottish-themed pub, in my guide book, and I ended up heading there for some much needed nourishment. I pulled up a bar stool and ordered the greasiest burger on their menu. It’s not an authentic Norwegian culinary experience, and thanks to a live football match being shown it was no less peaceful here, but my Oslo Pass gave me a discount on the food, and I’m cheap.

I headed back to the park a couple of hours later, feeling much better. I’d changed my T-shirt, having sweated right through the one I’d been wearing earlier, and the oppressive afternoon heat had given way to a much fresher feel. Even so, I felt a little downbeat. Everywhere I looked, people were enjoying the day with others; either as couples, or in groups of friends. Up until this point, I hadn’t really minded the fact that I was travelling alone, but now I was starting to feel lonely. By about 7pm I was ready to pack up and go back to the hotel.

Then the most random encounter happened in the queue for the toilets (no, not like that). The person in front of me overheard me briefly talking to someone.

“Are you from North West England?” he asked. When I responded in the affirmative, we then spent a good couple of minutes trying to work out how he recognised me.

His name was Mark. He’s from Chester and was visiting a friend in Oslo for Pride. A little bit of investigation revealed that we had mutual Facebook friends. How’s that for a coincidence?

So that’s how I ended up back in the London Pub for the second night in a row. This time, instead of nursing a pint on my own, I spent the evening there with Mark, his friend Kristján (who does a scarily good Scouse accent) and two of Kristján’s friends, Gro and Randy. We ended up staying out until about 2am, chatting, laughing and programming the jukebox to play increasingly cheesy Eurovision songs. It was an amazing end to a great day.

Thank you to them, and thank you to all the gays of Oslo – I feel a lot more cheerful about Pride now. 🙂

More pictures from the day below:

Tags: , , , ,

2 Responses
  1. Pingback by Statuesque « Robert Hampton
    9th July 2015 at 8:54 pm

    […] you read my previous blog, you may not be surprised to hear that I woke up on Sunday morning feeling slightly […]

  2. Pingback by Cruisin’ « Robert Hampton
    14th July 2015 at 9:49 pm

    […] I was determined to spend it) thoughts turned to my lunch plans. I had arranged to meet Mark (from Saturday’s chance encounter), so I needed to get back into the city centre. I’d missed the return cruise […]