Out from the cool: the development of gay Greenland

Content warning: this article talks about committing suicide.

In 1926, a title for the ny hours paper divas australia boldly asserted that:

Only man is gay in bleak Greenland.”

Fast forward nine decades later and that article stays one common Bing outcome for everybody who is interested to understand exactly what — or no — gay world is available in this isolated country.

Exactly what internet online searches cannot expose is actually a tale which was posted in Greenland’s national paper,


, in 2001. The report went an anonymous interview with a gay guy who was simply thinking about creating a space for other people ahead with each other. At the end of the article had been a contact address for individuals in order to get up-to-date.

After a flurry of e-mails, word shortly got out that mysterious man was Erik Olsen, a radio broadcaster located in the administrative centre town of Nuuk, whoever sound was actually heard round the nation daily. A few months later on, he appeared regarding first page of some other national newspaper — now named and photographed. Right now, the gay and lesbian party Qaamaneq (Greenlandic for “The mild”) hadn’t merely began, but had been thriving.

When I first talk with 47-year-old Erik, whoever courage makes him anything of a spokesperson for any country’s homosexual population, the guy recalls Qaamaneq’s genesis.

“allow me to consider back again to 2001,” the guy starts, remembering a time over. “we told the paper that gay [men] and lesbians needed somewhere to meet and talk to one another.”

It really is as easy as that.

Early version of Qaamaneq was not clearly governmental because users found once per month and held events, (“No protests,” Erik includes). But the proven fact that the class existed — and publicly — can typically be interpreted therefore.

Similar to collectives, going the distance showed tough. School visits helped distribute the phrase to the next generation that they just weren’t alone, but former board user Jesper Kunuk Egede recalls a specific stress at attempting to use political leaders on issues like use, although some “were keen on functions.”

Before long, Erik discovered himself alone left, as other individuals moved out and the team gone away automatically in 2006. It will be decades before Qaamaneq resurfaced, and also by after that much had changed.


t isn’t hard to identify a rainbow in Greenland.

In icy Ilulissat on west coastline, I get to the town’s watch factors and stare back at a village speckled in selection of colored buildings that, on a sunshiney day, radiate like an aurora borealis on area.

It really is a practice that were only available in 1721, where establishments were colour-coded: yellowish for hospitals, bluish for fish industrial facilities … nowadays, you are able to spot every shade. Locals let me know it really is become a means of keeping a illumination throughout the seemingly indefatigable winter seasons.

As I carry on strolling, we arrive at the previous Inuit settlement of Sermermiut, just 1.5 km out of town. The views are hitting to say the least: icebergs float and crack like some sort of opera where I feel just like the only audience.

Attaining the edge of a cliff, we stare down at the shocking drop below inside ocean whose transparent surface, skewed merely by shards of iceberg, is clear as a mirror. It really is here that too many Greenlanders have come to get their unique existence.

From a traveler’s perspective, it really is a very peaceful area: stretched before me personally is absolutely nothing but ice and silence. And maybe which is a problem, too.

Greenland’s suicide costs have actually consistently ranked since greatest worldwide. With a whole population of just over 56,000, it really is harrowing to read of scientific studies which expose that up to every fifth younger person, and each and every last youthful lady, has experimented with kill themselves.

Its true that Greenland, in which different towns can simply be achieved by planes or ships, hasn’t rather easily fit into for the ever-shrinking global world. Here, a whole lot feels too far away and every thing provides the power to look large once more.

Using one step back, we substitute the clean summer atmosphere and wonder exactly how many individuals could have produced this type of a decision for their sexuality. We grew up in outlying NSW, in which the nearest area was actually a 30-minute drive and trains and buses ended up being non-existent, and so I recall that feeling of entrapment all also well. A lot more than that, I know it really is anything only amplified utilizing the realisation that you will be different.

Despite numerous articles focussing on the scary few suicides, no research has been carried out into the mental health of Greenland’s LGBT populace.

Obviously, this may be guesswork on my part, but studies from other countries constantly demonstrate that lgbt youthfulness in remote areas are prone to dedicate suicide, which makes me personally believe that Greenland is similar, or worse.

Inside Denmark, an otherwise liberal country and something of closest Greenland has to a neighbour, the rate of committing suicide amongst homosexuals and bisexuals is 3 x more than regarding heterosexuals.


reenland legalised same-sex relationship in 2016. The force may have shocked some because it was actually directed from the nation’s far-right political celebration but, as well as usually the instance, the queer neighborhood had been steps in advance.

Six years before, this season, Nuuk held the very first Pride. For Jesper, with the knowledge that 1000 on the 17,000 that define Nuuk’s population stepped down the roadways with rainbow flags ended up being a satisfying summary to Qaamaneq’s work.

“It was fantastic to see how good obtained it had been,” the guy tells me. “It revealed that the amount of recognition had altered plenty.”

Since Nuuk Pride, Qaamaneq might revived, incorporating LGBT to their name; Greenland’s 2nd largest city, Sisimiut, braved the elements in April because of its first pleasure, while drag queen Nuka Bisgaard toured the country confronting racism and homophobia through activities and an associated documentary,

Eskimo Diva


Recently, 28-year-old lesbian creator Niviaq Korneliussen is a literary feeling together with her first unique,

Homo Sapienne

(to get released in English afterwards this current year as



In a message, I ask Niviaq exactly what the present scenario is much like.

“It’s recovering continuously,” she writes in my opinion. “a lot more people —especially males from older years — are now actually outside of the wardrobe, and although people still have prejudices, i believe the audience is about right road.”

Its heartening to see the LGBT area can prosper and, despite geographical barriers, accomplish wedding equality ahead of when Australian Continent. There is doubting the united states’s leaders are sending an optimistic message that can be seen and thought by others, no matter how distant, that is hopefully attempting to improve mental health, as well.

Although he’s today based in eastern European countries, Jesper tells me that a greater number of gay people are choosing to stay static in Greenland. “this is certainly a noticable difference in the circumstance two decades ago, in which many left and don’t come back,” he states.

And part of that, without doubt, must come down to the people who may have battled to give the LGBT neighborhood a voice. Greenland requires the likes of Erik, Nuka and Niviaq. Thus as well does all of those other globe.

Mitchell Jordan is a Sydney-based publisher and vegan activist.

If you’d like assistance, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Qlife on 1800 184 527.

Další aktuality