2008 Euro Pride, Stockholm, Sweden

Three unforgettable august days in Stockholm’s Euro Pride 2008. Enric Vilà, our co-president, wrote this report

On 1 August 2008, the Kulturhuset’s Auditorium in the centre of Stockholm held Euro pride event on Is Christianity in the closet? Kulturhuset is an open meeting place for everyone and a forum for culture of all kinds. The debate was organised by Ecumenical Groups for LGB Christians (EKHO), the Church of Sweden and Sensus (study organization). The debate was conducted by Elisabet Qvarford and the participants were: Matti Michelman from Lithuania, Maria Grujic from Bosnia, Maria Gruszczynska from Poland and Enric Vilà from Catalonia/Spain.

The Archbishop of Sweden Anders Wejryd opened the session and wanted to be there during all the seminar. He was elected archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden in March 2006 and took office in September of the same year. He said that religions can be limiting or liberating ones. This year commemorates the 60th anniversary of proclamation of Declaration of Human Rights on 10th December 1948. He emphasized Human rights are theology. The issue of sexuality should not divide the Lutheran tradition, though this is not an easy issue anywhere, he added. Why is homosexuality seen as such dangerous? Because it’s the end of male dominance under patriarchism.

Maria Gruszczynska described the situation in Poland and how roman catholic church and government are preventing changes. There’s light now after the tunnel. Matti Michelmann added that between Riga and Stockholm there’s one hour’s flight but 20 years difference concerning LGBT issues. Maria Grujic talked about liberating theology and the situation in Bosnia. The bible should be contextualised, she added. Enric Vilà presented the European Forum of LGBT Christian Groups and how changes developed in catholic Spain till the approval of Same-sex marriage law in 2005. Participants during the seminar were touched by eastern countries witnesses and a debate continued on the best strategies and actions to fight homophobia.

On 2 August the Pride Park was the meeting point for starting the demonstration. On a heavy rainy day, thousands of groups marched under the Rainbow Flag. As rainbow comes after the rain, the result of sunshine only comes after storm/difficulties and tears/rain. That’s why despite all weather difficulties this Euro pride has been one of the most persevering, intense and joyful one. The march passed through main streets in Stockholm and lasted 5 hours. I would remark that anyone could read in one of the placards: This march is for those who cannot march.  A Lutheran priest also hold one with the sentence: God is Love. And really Love was in the air. Thousands of anonymous joyful participants could be seen during all the long march. 

On 3 August at 18.00h The Eucharist of Love began at Storkyrkan (Stockholm’s Cathedral), in the city centre, organised by EKHO. The mass was celebrated by the bishop of Stockholm Karoline Krook. In May of 1999 she was consecrated as bishop of Stockholm Diocese, Sweden´s second woman with that position. For the ceremony she counted with the collaboration of Elisabet Volden among others priests. The cathedral was crowded and the vivid, joyful and couraging. A gospel group chanted spiritual emotional  celebration was a closing party of Jesus’ Love. After the Eucharist a refreshment was served in the courtyard of the temple and participants could share dialogue and company.

From here I want to thank to all organizers for the opportunity to live the unforgettable Euro pride 2008 in Stockholm. Specially I want to thank EKHO members for their hospitality, kindness and engagement. All invited participants were hosted at The Langholmen Youth Hostel one of the most captivating in Stockholm. Built in the 1840s, it served as a prison until 1975, when the last convict left the island. Accommodation now is in well-equipped cells. And this place has been a lesson for us. Let me add that slavery has been natural in the bible and has been behind the church for a long time till recently. It has been very symbolic for me to be in a kind of prison.

Sweden is a model in many aspects for Europe and I can say is a kind of “paradise” concerning LGBT Human Rights. The support of Church received by LGBT is a lesson. As the Langholmen experience, that should encourage all of us to transform slavery into liberation for everybody in church and society. Let’s march for those who cannot march.