“The most gratifying thing was meeting young gay men all over the country. After almost every performance, one or more students would cautiously approach the stage to seek a connection with us. Some asked for a hug. Some cried in our arms. Some just stood there and looked beautiful and asked for advice on how best to hang out with their families. Each time my heart swelled. I could palpably feel their helplessness and tension. How they had an internal battle with themselves.
Each time, I made sure to tell them that they are perfect just the way they are. They’re fine. That the shame they feel is never, ever, ever their fault. That they themselves have full power over their own life path. That their soul is just perfect the way it is,” says actor Bjarni Snæbjörnsson, who wrapped up his second tour with the Stertabendu theater troupe across the country last Friday.
The band performed the play Góðan daðin, faggi in collaboration with the Þjóðleichúsið and after the shows at the Þjóðleichúð the band performed for a total of 10,000 young people aged 14 to 19 in the best grades of primary and secondary schools, a total of 56 shows across the country.
A unique opportunity to meet the country’s youth
Bjarni says her heart is full of gratitude for this unique opportunity to meet the country’s youth and school staff and have a theater session with them. The receptions by school administrators, janitors, teachers and other staff from all schools were excellent.
“We felt their obvious appreciation for talking about queerness and for mentioning out loud how complicated it often is to be human.” The students were also absolutely fantastic, and we loved having a moment with them in discussions after each performance, where they often asked deep questions and gave us great reflection on our work,” says Bjarni, who says he sometimes cried after the young people said goodbye.
“I cried with sympathy because I remember this vulnerable place when I was a young man in existential crisis. I also cried with sadness that homosexuality still creates so much discomfort and tension in our young people .That some of them still get a lot of harassment from society.Some of them get barked at school every day.Some of them told me that their families don’t accept them not. Some of the harassment is more subtle where their homosexuality is never assumed. All this creates a great wound in the soul of these children who will follow them for the rest of their lives, “explains Bjarni, who says that the trip taught him not to be indifferent to this.
Bjarni says the flip side of gay issues in Iceland today is because we fell asleep on the watch. “Congratulating ourselves as a society on how far ahead we are and letting it rest there is extremely dangerous. It is also very dangerous not to take it seriously when our young gay men talk to us about mental or physical abuse, the harassment and intimidation they experience on a daily basis.
Because our young homosexuals continue to commit suicide when the harassment and the stress become too much.”
Also feel the toxic and critical atmosphere
Bjarna says that over the past few weeks she has been following the news from the United States, where one southern country after another is competing to pass laws in an effort to eradicate homosexuality. Drag shows are banned, trans children’s rights to medical care are taken away, and in Florida books that have anything to do with homosexuality have been banned.
“This is all done to ‘protect children’.” All of this only hurts children, especially those who are trans and genderqueer. It’s starting to remind me uncomfortably of the rise of Nazism in the last century, when book burnings were the order of the day and one social group was placed above another. Hitler finally succeeded in dehumanizing Jews, gays and others. And we know exactly how it ended,” says Bjarni.
He says that in light of all this, he was filled with immense gratitude every time he took the stage to show Good Morning, a celebration for young people.
“I gave thanks for my privilege to live in this country with the privilege of being able to show up with me and all my weirdness on stage and to tell my story shamelessly and frankly within the school system. That in every school we were so well received and felt the gratitude of those present and spoke to each other with love and empathy There are not many countries in the world where a trip through the country’s school system with a queer play would be possible. To be born where diversity is celebrated in this way is a great privilege and I am grateful for that,” says Bjarni.
“But the veil is thin. We also felt a toxic and damaging atmosphere downstairs. Some students didn’t deal with the fact that there was a gay man on stage who spoke shamelessly about his feelings and his homosexuality. It happened twice that barking was heard outside in the lobby. It happened once that the English word ‘faggot’ was heard in a pejorative sense. It was meant for us.”
Left the dream on the boat
Bjarni recalls that he recently met a young heterosexual man, a football player, who Bjarni taught acting to many years ago when he was a teenager. Bjarni says he remembered him well because he was a great actor.
“He told me that seeing our show made him realize how much he had been the victim of micro-bullying in his youth. He wanted nothing more than to continue acting as a teenager. He wanted to study dance, singing and acting and he dreamed of applying for the acting course at LHÍ but he didn’t dare because he knew that if he started dancing, acting or singing, he would be so harassed and bullied by his football teammates. He would be called queer and gay because of this ‘gay’ hobby,” Bjarni explains.
“So he didn’t do anything. He gave up his dream on the boat. He left this beautiful artistic part of himself because the society he belonged to wouldn’t allow it. He didn’t trust himself. to step out of the box others had put it in. There is nothing sadder than when our young people betray themselves in an attempt to conform to outside expectations. . It’s not just sad for this young man but also for us as a society. Maybe we missed our amazing new young actor there.”
Diversity is our strongest superpower
Bjarni says we feel better when we take care of our marginalized groups. “When we decide to make diversity our strongest superpower and the cornerstone of our social fabric, we all experience more freedom to be ourselves. Then we all have the courage to blow our boxes and to take the journey that each of us desires and wants,” says Bjarni.
“The question of queer people is not just about us queer people. Because when we empower marginalized groups and put energy and focus on diversity, equality and education, we all benefit.
We have done many things well. But there are lightning in the air. We must beware of indifference and polarization. Do not fall asleep on the price.
Instead of boasting about our openness, let’s listen better and be even more curious. Let us choose to learn and open our hearts to the stories of others’ experiences. Let’s choose to create a society based on diversity and the visibility of all groups with empathy and a love of arms.”
The show Good morning faggi is created and produced by the Stertabendu theater group in collaboration with the Þjóðleichúsið. The final performance of the work will be a special rehearsal on the main stage of the National Theater on April 28.