Visit Sweden offers a warm welcome to LGBT+ travellers – and everyone else – as James Litston discovers on a visit to Gothenburg and its islands
It’s Saturday afternoon here in Gothenburg, west Sweden, but the people lining the city’s main street aren’t your average passers-by. Families, couples and groups of friends are waving rainbow-coloured flags or wearing capes, bandanas and other accessories in rainbow-bright stripes.
There’s a contagiously upbeat atmosphere of anticipation – and the approaching sound of whistles and music suggests there’s not long to wait.
The people of Gothenburg are out in force to celebrate West Pride, a week-long festival of LGBT+ arts, talks and culture held each year in early June, and of which today’s colourful march is the highlight.
As the first of the floats turns into the street, the waiting crowds cheer in support. Groups bearing banners with slogans such as “No To Homophobia” lead the parade.
A posse of schoolkids dances past with a sign saying “Marching with our gay friends”, and a local hotel has cleverly sponsored a float with the message “Room for All”.
Adding to the spectacle are rousing drummers and marching bands, while some of the floats pump out pop music (inevitably including lots of Abba). Among the more eye-catching marchers are a group in head-to-toe fetish attire, a troop of soldiers with brightly painted faces and a guy in heels enthusiastically doing the Macarena.
It’s all high-spirited, good-natured fun with a strong underlying political agenda that highlights equal rights and acceptance for LGBT+ people. It’s heart-warming to see the message being embraced by the predominantly non-LGBT+ revellers. Gothenburg is clearly out in force to champion diversity.