Check out any of the Pinkies’ Facebook groups or other online areas this week and you are guaranteed to find a stream of gushing messages describing a) how much we love Iceland, b) how much we love our Icelandic choir hosts and c) how homesick we all feel for a place we don’t actually live in.
We have just returned from our annual foreign choir tour. In recent years we have been lucky enough to travel to Paris, Malta, Athens and Lisbon Prides to name a few; for our 30th birthday trip we knew we had to go somewhere special. After a close vote in rehearsals, Reykjavík came out on top – Pinkies in Iceland was about to become reality. Confession – I only voted for Iceland because I was informed there were fewer cobbles and hills than the other choices. After Lisbon in my wheelchair I was ready for a flat holiday! Iceland was somewhere I knew nothing about – but I wasn’t sure there would be much to do, I didn’t imagine it would be a particularly fun place and I never imagined in a million years I would have anything in common with the locals. How wrong my perceptions would prove to be.
What an astonishing place. From geysers to puffin colonies, from lunar volcanic landscapes to lush green fields and streams, you were never far away from a sight that would simply take your breath away. We have all, I’m sure, come away with our own personal treasured memories. For me a favourite is the view from the top of Gullfoss, an amazing waterfall just outside of Reykjavik. A view made even more special by the efforts it took to get me (and wheels) up the 150 or so stairs and steep gravel path to the summit. It was at the top I realised how very lucky I am to have such good friends, who without question or complaint, made it possible for me to have that experience.
However beautiful the landscapes, nothing could compare to the sight of the standing ovation we received from the incredibly generous and supportive audience during our joint concert with the Reykjavik Queer Choir, Hinsegin Kórinn. I felt so privileged to be invited to perform for (and with) such a wonderful group of people; I was extremely proud to be a Pinkie that night.
The Queer Choir describe themselves as a provider of a prejudice free environment where queer people can sing together. They are similar to us in that they sing a wide range of repertoire – from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody to traditional Icelandic folk songs. For me a highlight of their performance was Coldplay’s Fix You – an stunning arrangement which moved quite a number of us to tears. Which we incidentally had to swallow quite quickly as we were back on stage straight afterwards! It’s hard to believe such a charismatic, talented and able choir is just two years old.
Reykjavik Pride itself was another unforgettable experience. The parade route was packed with people, it felt like the whole town had come out to celebrate with us. The crowd was a sea of rainbow necklaces, almost every shop was decked out in some sort of pride decoration. It was inspiring to see so many young families there – Pride in Iceland felt like a true community event, for everyone – with even the mayor dressed up for the occasion and joining in the march.
Ahead of us marched the Queer Choir. Talented yes but did I also mention lovely? Generous? And fun. So much fun. Together we’ve rehearsed, performed, marched, ate, drank and partied the night away. The Pink Singers are lucky to have made some fabulous friends in Iceland and I think I can be confident to speak for everyone when I say we can’t wait to see them again – both in Dublin for Various Voices 2014 (a festival of LGBT choirs in Europe) and when (we hope) they accept our invitation to sing with us in London. Thank you so much for making our trip to Iceland as wonderful as it was.
Like I said, anywhere there are Pinkies online there are bound to be scores of messages gushing love for our Icelandic friends and the trip itself. And now with the addition of this article, the Pink Singers’ website is no exception.