It might have been cold and as close to the North pole than any other Mr Gay Europe has ever been before, but the warm welcome by the city of Tromsø and the gay community could have melted any iceberg.
Arctic Pride is organized every November of the city of Tromsø, Norway, 3011 km away from Sofia, Bulgaria, where Mr Gay Europe 2019 Alexander Petrov lives. When invited to this place north of the arctic circle Alexander was positive, but maybe slightly cautious.
“My initial thoughts were Its so up north, so who is going to want to live there, and maybe its just gonna be this barely civilized icy wasteland. I was wrong. Tromsø has this communal sleepy small town feel, while looking modern and up to date architecturally.
Although it was mostly dark and cold while I was there, the people were bright and warm making you feel not like a tourist, but like an old friend that has finally come to visit.
Tromsø also provided numerous magical experiences from trying Finbeef (cooked reindeer meat) to cable car gazing from a top of the nearby mountain as the blue hour sets in over the city to chasing the illusive Aurora Borealis (Northern lights) to just messing up your biorhythm with its uneven day-night cycle, this time of year the city has about four hours of light per day.
The Arctic pride was vibrant and fiery in contrast to its frozen surrounding, as many aspects and groups of the LGBT community were portrayed and took part pride walk (policemen, the army, the leather community, the local Sami population, members of the church, political movements, etc.)
The one thing that was interesting to me was the perceived ratio of straight allies to LGBT people. It was like the whole town came out to support their very fewer LGBT citizens. The people of Tromsø are not only surviving so far up north but thriving in their unique and magical homeland,” Alexander commets.
Alexander also met up with the mayor of Tromsø, Gunnar Wilhelmsen, and with several representatives of the native Sami population that recent year also have worked hard to promote LGBT rights among themselves.
The Sami population spreads over four countries; Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia, and the area including this native nation is referred to as Sampi, the land of the Samis, they have their own national celebrations and their own flag.
As part of the trip to Tromsø MGE president Tore Aasheim reached out to the Sami LGBT community and invited them to send their own delegate to Mr Gay Europe 2020 in Newcastle, England, next summer.