Following a highly successful Stockholm Pride last weekend the Eurogames begin today. The Eurogames are the longest running international lgbt sport festival in Europe, having been founded in 1992. It gives me a good reason to feature Stockholm in my “City Pride” series. Here are some locations in the city that feature in Sweden’s lgbt heritage.
Kungsträdgården – We’ll
start with the Eurogames, at the venue where the games begin. The grand opening
ceremony is being held tonight here at the Kungsträdgården after an afternoon
of fun sporting activities for visitors. The ceremony itself will include the
customary entrance of the teams, not only from across Europe but from as far
afield as Australia as well.
Olympic Stadium –
Stockholm has actually hosted the Olympic Games twice. The first was in 1912 as
host of the summer games, and the second was in 1956 for the Melbourne games.
Australia has strict quarantine rules on horses so couldn’t host the equestrian
events. So Stockholm was chosen as an alternate venue. There was even an
opening ceremony and Olympic cauldron. This stadium was built for the 1912
Olympics and hosted several events, including gymnastics. This was the year
that gymnastic pioneer and coach Niels Bukh finally got to the Olympics after
being dropped from the Danish team in 1908 (which would have made him the first lgbt Olympian). He was selected as a team coach for
the Stockholm 1912 games and they came away with the silver medal (in the now
discontinued Swedish System event).
Skeppargaten – This was
the final home of the distinguished Swedish writer and leading figure of the
Swedish socialist movement, Karin Boye (1900-1941). She was born in Gothenburg
and the family moved to Stockholm when Karin was young. After meeting her life
partner Margot Hanel in Berlin the couple moved into this house. In 1941 they
both committed suicide, Margot shortly after Karin.
Parliament building – Home of the Swedish
parliament, the Riksdag. It has seen 19 elected lgbt members – 14 men and 5
women. After the UK the Swedish parliament has the most lgbt MP sitting at the
present time, with 12 (including a government minister). The first lgbt MP was
Kent Carlsson in 1991 who wasn’t openly gay at the time. The first openly lgbt
MP in Sweden was Tasso Stafilidis, a member of the Left Party who was elected
The Kronor Palace – the
birthplace of Queen Kristina of Sweden in 1626. Her father treated her as his
male heir, giving her an education more suited to a boy. He was killed in
battle when Kristina was 6 and she succeeded to the throne. After reigning well
and wisely for 22 years she abdicated in 1654 and travelled around Europe. She
had a relationship with a courtier called Ebba Sparre, and the enigmatic nature
of their sexuality still lingers over 400 years later. A famous film of
Kristina’s life was made in 1933, starring Greta Garbo (below) in the title
Lutheran Cathedral – in
2009 the Lutheran Church of Sweden appointed the world’s first openly lesbian
bishop as Bishop of Stockholm, Eva Brunne (b.1954). She was ordained in 1978
and has served in the Stockholm diocese since 1980. While serving as Dean of
Huddinge and Botkyrka Eva registered her partnership with a fellow Lutheran
minister, Gunilla Linden, with the church’s blessing. Eva’s consecration as
bishop in the cathedral was attended by the King and Queen of Sweden.
The Swedish Academy -
This is the home of the organisation which is responsible for choosing the
winner of the annual Nobel Prize for Literature. Over the decades they have
chosen such lgbt authors as Thomas Mann (in 1929), Patrick White (in 1973) and
Selma Lagerlöf (in 1909, the first woman to win the Nobel Prize for
Literature). The Academy was founded in 1786 by King Gustav III, whose reign
saw Sweden’s golden age of cultural achievements. Gustav had many male
“favourites” as court and gave them high positions at court. Lgbt members of
the Swedish Academy include the above-mentioned Selma Lagerlöf (from
1914-1940), historian Wilhelm Erik Svedelius (from1864-1889), author Viktor
Rydberg (from 1877-1895), and UN Secretary General Dag Hammarskjöld (from
Cirkus – This is the
venue for Sweden’s annual national song contest, the Melodifestivalen. The
winning song goes on to represent Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest. It
hasn’t done badly – 6 winners in total, including this year’s winner, which
means the Eurovision Song Contest returns to Sweden in 2016. Unfortunately 1992
wasn’t a good year. Gay singer Christer Björkmann won the Melodifestivalen that
year and went to the Eurovision finals – he came second from last. Undaunted,
Christer entered the Melodifestivalen again in 1999 – and came last. Not to let
these set-backs get him down, he went on to become the festival’s supervisor,
and returned to Eurovision in 2013 as the producer of the finals held in Malmo.
Södra Maternity Hospital
– The first and biggest movie megastar to come from Stockholm was Greta Garbo
(1905-1990). There are many places in the city which commemorate her, including
several of her homes, but here, at Stockholm’s maternity hospital, Great was
born. Her starring role in the film biography of Queen Kristina helped to form
her iconic status that lasted long after she retired from public life in 1991.
The speculations on her bisexuality have helped to ensure that Greta Garbo
remains one of the world’s most enigmatic stars.