Our culture comes out of the cities and it is only in the big cities of the world that it gets to grow and flourish. Of course there have always been lesbians and gay men in Iceland but many of those who were lucky enough to recognize those feelings moved away to foreign cities. When Samtökin 78 were founded in 1978 they were at last recognized as "the Icelandic sexually-political refugees." The homosexual exile was not without pain, people had to say goodbye to their language and culture. But when these refugees started to come home again in the early eighties they became a very strong and influential gay group, bringing cosmopolitan gay culture to Iceland, where it mixes with the habits and culture of the nation in a strange but fascinating way.
The Icelandic gay society is small but very active and a 'gay scene' exists only in Reykjavík. There are lesbians and gay men all over Iceland but the only organized services for gay men and lesbians are in the capital. Here gay men and lesbians mix freely and in the only really gay disco in town there are just as many lesbians as gay men. The same goes for the Community Centre of Samtökin 78, so MSC Iceland, the leather club, is in fact the only place strictly reserved for males. A couple of bars and discos are 'gay friendly', open to straight people but chiefly catering to the gay crowd.
Some foreign gay men and the lesbians travelling to Iceland for the first time hardly know what to think of Reykjavík. One night you might feel you are in a busy gay club in Hamburg or Manchester but the next night you feel that you have landed in a small village in North-Dakota and you´ve lost your train-ticket! Reykjavík has many of the things you find in the metropoles of the world but as soon as the guest is starting to "feel at home" he or she is reminded that this is a small community, speaking the language their forefathers spoke thousand years ago, and in many ways like a big family of 280.000 people.
To enjoy life with this family you have to try to enjoy a rather strange mix: World culture, where and when it can be found, magnificent nature and some strange customs of a nation isolated for centuries. Icelandic culture is young and ancient at the same time. But if you come, armed with curiosity, you will feel at home before you know it
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