The city of Malmö, the third-biggest city in Sweden, is located in the southern part of the Scandinavian country. From the shoreline of the Öresund, a part of the Baltic Sea, you can spot the Danish capital city Copenhagen on the horizon. Since July 2001, the so-called Öresund Bridge which can be crossed by car or by train connects both cities conveniently and without long waiting times for a ferry boat. Over the years, this bridge became a symbol of the connection between both cities, their countries, and their LGBTQ+ communities. Now, in 2021, Malmö and Copenhagen will be the co-hosting cities for World Pride 2021, which is unique in the long history of World Pride events. We interviewed 5 queer locals about how gay-friendly Malmö actually is!
– paid collaboration with @malmotown/Malmö Tourism –
5 Voices of the local LGBTQ+ Community in Malmö
We visited the Swedish city Malmö twice in the past two years and fell in love with its strong and sustainable connection to nature as well as to the queer LGBTQ+ community. In 2020, we returned to Malmö with a mission, to dig deeper into the queer culture and history of Malmö by interviewing five queer voices of the local community. Thanks to their interviews which we planned at their favorite spots of the city, we learned about how queer-friendly the city of Malmö is, not only for World Pride 2021 but also beyond. Enjoy our stories, Couple of Men tips, and the video interviews with Chris, Kaj, Karin, as well as Mats, and Sebastian. You will find out what and why they love Malmö and why you should plan a trip to Malmö for World Pride 2021!
A Queer Malmö City Tour for World Pride 2021
Sweden, get ready for World Pride 2021! Together with the Danish capital Copenhagen, Malmö will be co-hosting the biggest LGBTQ+ celebration the city has ever seen. In 2019, we were lucky to attend the 25th anniversary of Malmö Pride. In 2020, we decided to go on a second trip to Malmö… We caught up with five queer locals who took us to their favorite spots and shared their thoughts on LGBTQ+ life (in Malmö). For the first time in history, World Pride will be co-hosted by two different cities in two different countries. Connecting both cities, the Öresund bridge has made the queer relationship between Malmö and Copenhagen stronger than (ever) before. We want to know how and when queer people found their place in Malmö before pride.
Chris – “As a queer trans woman, I feel welcome in most places”
One of the locals we met in Malmö was Chris, Managing Director of the cultural institution INKONST. Chris arrived in Malmö at the end of the 80ies together with her partner, dancer Lars. Like no one else, Chris could tell us how the queer scene in Malmö has evolved over the years from that early stage on. At this time, Malmö wasn’t a popular place to live in Sweden, especially not for the LGBTQ+ community. However, for Chris and Lars, it was exactly the right moment to arrive in Malmö and to start something new. “Back then, queer life in Malmö was secretive and people would go to Copenhagen to live a gay life. For many years, Copenhagen was always more attractive. There was much more going on. But there have been changes in Malmö in the recent past couple of years.”
Chris is convinced that there is a very relaxed atmosphere in Malmö when it comes to LGBT people in general. And although there is gay-bashing also happening in Malmö, like in many, even gay-friendly places around the world, Chris feels welcome in most places in the South Swedish city. If you’d ask Chris to tick the box of the LGBTQ+ abbreviation, Chris would prefer the ‘+’ although Chris first came out as a gay man and then as a trans woman. “I don’t define myself about what gender I have and I most certainly do not walk around the city thinking about what gender do I have.” Today, Chris is living in a queer three-person relationship with a gay man and a non-binary person.
As Managing Director of the cultural institution INKONST, Chris is determined to working closely together with Malmö Pride and, of course, World Pride 2021 to create an even more queer space for the community and beyond. For Chris, it is important to present the LGBTQ+ artists, using the momentum, the fireworks of Wold Pride to continuously implement LGBT culture into Malmö’s DNA.
Website INKONST: inkonst.com/en
Mats – “I never ever felt unsafe in Malmö”
Historically, Malmö has a strong connection to water, because of its unique location at the shore of the Baltic Sea. LGBTQ+ travelers can also experience this connection around and on Malmö’s canals in the city center. Here we met our local guide Mats, who “never, ever felt insecure [unsafe] in Malmö”. We joined Mats and a lovely group of elderly queer people from Malmö on a relaxing boat tour around the city’s canals and the picturesque harbor area. His work as a guide in and around Malmö makes Mats an expert on gay life in Malmö. “The city center of Malmö is very safe and also in the parks. We [Mats and his partner] like Malmö. It is a nice city with many parks. There is also quite a nice gay community and, of course, we have some very nice restaurants.” He also has another good tip for a gaycation in Malmö.
When we think of Scandinavia, in general, we instantly have to think of a good relaxing Scandinavian sauna. The Ribersborgs Kallbadhus is one of our favorite spots in Malmö and Mats agrees enthusiastically: “I go there frequently, also in the middle of the winter. You are in the sauna, then you jump in the water, and you sit down on the benches outside [within the sauna complex] in the fresh air before you go in the sauna again.” Located on the water, you can enjoy this beautiful sauna with a refreshing skinny-dip in the Baltic Sea. During the monthly event Queer Kallis, tradition meets equality when all areas are open to all visitors… disregarding gender or gender identity. “When you go there, you always meet somebody you know. And if you don’t meet somebody you know, you can easily find someone to know if you want to [get to] know someone. Just use your eyes and I promise you’ll find someone very attractive with whom you can spend an hour, or two.” Malmö’s Swedish open sea bath-house should be on everybody’s bucket list!
Gay-friendly Review: Ribersborgs Kallbadhus
Karin – “You are welcome all over the place in Malmö”
Back on our bikes, the next stop on our queer Malmö tour is Folkets Park, right in the heart of the city. “We are at Folkerts Park, [which means] the park of the people which is one of my favorite spots in the city”, says Karin, our lesbian local we met at the place where the annual Pride Parade usually ends up in one big outdoor party. “It is a perfect place in Malmö because of the music, food, and you can meet people in the middle of the city.” We strongly agree. The atmosphere was perfect with thousands of queer people and their allies gathering in the park, dancing in front of the performing artists on stage, and just celebrating their day together with a rainbow flag in their hands. We cannot imagine a better spot for that in Malmö.
On other days, Folkets Park is a very popular green recreation space where you can relax with friends or family. In the middle of the park, we find Sallys Café, a small take-out café that serves Fika. Fika is what the Swedish call lunch or a snack break around lunchtime. Actually, if we are not mistaken, you can have a Fika the whole day. It just means coffee with friends and something sweet or savory. Actually, you can find many places like that, friendly, welcoming and open-minded, around the city be it close to the water or one of the many parks around the city. “I love that the whole world is represented in Malmö, all different countries and people. You can find good food, and it is a very open city.” That also means that for many locations and events throughout Malmö, the LGBTQ+ community is very much integrated and accepted within Malmö’s society.
Karin really likes the circumstances that in her opinion queer people are welcome all around the city. “Here [in Malmö] are not so many gay [LGBTQ+] places or clubs. I think you don’t need them because you are welcome all over the place in Malmö. I think it is better when you can be in a place with everybody.”
Website Sallys Café: malmofolketspark.se/verksamheter/sallys/
Sebastian aka Soleil Camara – “There are so many talented musicians here”
Being the only gay bar in town, the Red Shoe Bar is a popular hangout for all kinds of queer people and their friends. The bar has a Berlin vibe going on with concrete walls decorated with pieces of art. We visited the place several times during our two trips to Malmö. Every time, the place was crowded with queer people and their friends and allies. It was easy to get in touch with the locals while trying one of the delicious cocktails the gay bar at Drottninggatan is famous for. Here we met with Sebastian, also known as DJ Soleil Camara who tells us all about his life as a black gay man in Malmö, the local music scene, and the importance of Pride. “People here are so pretty laid back, down to earth. For me, gay-life here has always been excepted. And I am very happy about the support…”. Sebastian looks relaxed while he pours himself a drink. “We [the LGBTQ+ people] like this place [The Red Shoe Bar]. The cool thing is it is so mixed. On the weekend, you meet at 7, 8, or 9, have a drink, and then go somewhere else.”
DJ sets are an essential part of a night out at the Red Shoe Bar. “You can see that everybody is like doing their thing, music-wise. There are so many talented musicians here.” But not only there. We all know about the importance of music during a Pride parade. Dancing, laughing, and having fun peacefully is as important as the political statements the community has to push forward. “Pride for me is a political thing. It is about just being there. I was happy to be there waving a bear flag supporting the bears.” Especially in Malmö, we recognized the diverse palette of different music styles on the different trucks at Malmö Pride and the happily dancing crowd. “As a DJ, I make something called future beats, a mix of up-tempo, hip hop, R’n’B, soul music with electronic vibes. Gay guys and gay girls like to dance, and if there is rhythm it does not matter what kind of music. Let’s bring in more of that, all types of music.”
Website Red Shoe Bar: redshoebar.se
Kaj – “Malmö is a small town with a huge personality”
Long summer days are another advantage of enjoying your gaycation in Sweden. We joined Kaj for a “sunset at the water” of the Western Harbor nearby Malmö’s landmark, the turning torso. With live music, a very mixed crowd, and the best view in town we talked with them about being queer, non-binary gender identities, and socks. “We are here at the West Harbor of Malmö. One of my favorite places in this town because of the beautiful view and the possibility to hang out with friends, eat ice-cream or swim in the ocean. Oh, and yeah, I love silly socks.” Kaj laughs heartily while pointing at your socks before looking at the sunset over the Öresund. “[Malmö] is my favorite city in the whole world. It’s the city in Sweden I feel most safe in. Malmö is the [Swedish] capital city of veganism, LGBTQ+ people, feminism. It is like the most politically correct city.”
We love this place by the water, too. Already during our first trip, when we stayed at the Ohboy Bike Hotel close to the Turning Torso, we loved to hang out in the evening with live music at the Titanic Lovelock Point and Swedish locals going for a swim at the so-called Daniaparken badplats. And while we talked about Kajs journey as a non-binary person living in Malmö, we learned more about what Pride and World Pride means for the local queer person. “Pride for me means everything”, says Kaj. “Because walking with my friends, with my siblings, other people in the (…) LGBTQ+ community down the streets of Malmö it’s like ‘We are here, we are queer’. Understanding you are not alone as a queer person, you have all these people around you come together at Pride, and we find each other and connect with each other, I think that this is so nice and super important.” Being not alone is an important issue for the queer community, especially before, during, and after the coming out. World Pride seems to be a great opportunity to fight for equality, stand up, and enjoy our colorful lives together.
“I absolutely believe that World Pride brings people together. I would hope that everyone could meet for World Pride once a year.” But that’s not all. Kaj hopes that this huge queer event will be a celebration of queer sustainability. “I want to see more queer people, in TV, in books, just on billboards in our city. I want to see people like myself. I would really love to see more representation after World Pride in Malmö and our society as a whole.”
A Sweden adventure in summer – simply irresistible. Especially with a gay-friendly touch. We visited the south Swedish city of Malmö several times already. We collected all our experiences, tips, and stories in this guide with additional stories about the lively LGBTQ+ community near World Pride 2021.
Sustainable & LGBTQ+ friendly Malmö
During our two trips to Malmö for our Gay Malmö Travel Guide, we could experience this independent and free atmosphere of the south Swedish city first hand. As part of our research before the World Pride 2021 events together with Copenhagen, we had the chance to talk to different people of our community representing the several letters of the LGBTQ+ acronym in Malmö. One thing they all have in common: They love and appreciate Malmö for its LGBTQ+ friendliness, diversity, and sustainability. And now it is your turn to book your trip to South Sweden, to Malmö!
After a wonderful time in Malmö, we boarded our rental car for a 5-days road trip along the South Swedish coast to Mölle, Helsingborg, and Kivik. Stunning Swedish nature, unforgettable sunsets over the Baltic Sea, and some wonderful unique gay couple stories. Did we mention our clothing-optional gay beach?
Plan your trip for World Pride 2021 in Malmö & Copenhagen
World Pride is more than just an event or an excuse to party. The city and its Pride organizers set the bar high, aiming to integrate the Pride’s values into Malmö’s society sustainably. “When I say LGBT culture, I am referring to culture for all the different people summarized in the LGBTQ+ abbreviation. But in the end, World Pride is about social sustainability, social innovation, and building structures for the future. It is not enough to only organize an event, but to use the implemented structures to join forces with communities worldwide and to create safe spaces for the vulnerable people of the LGBT community.” – Chris Schenlaer.
Do you want to know more about our gay travels around the world, the LGBTQ+ Community, and queer culture? Stay tuned on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. See you again soon during a pride parade or at a place with a gorgeous view!
Karl & Daan.
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Please note: This trip was made possible in close collaboration with Tourism Malmö as well as the tips and help to come from our wonderful readers, followers, new and old friends from all over the world. Nevertheless, our photos, our videos, our opinions, and our writings are our own, as always.