Let’s face it: Sweden is a nation of beauty. And that’s just the people.
The country that has given us ABBA, IKEA, and Loreen is also a world leader in LGBT equality. And they aren’t afraid of shouting about it, either.
I recently visited Stockholm – my first trip to Sweden. I took in many of the usual sights: the Royal Palace, a stroll around the picturesque medieval quarter, the Vasa Museum, home to an impressive 17th century shipwreck rescued in the 1960s – fully intact – from Stockholm harbor. But it was scratching beneath the surface of Stockholm and getting beyond the normal tourist trail that delivered the most delights.
Summer is magical, with long days when the sun barely sets. Swedes love to take advantage of every ray, and lots of seasonal bars pop up around the waterways of Stockholm. Mälarpaviljongen is a combination of outdoor bar, restaurant and garden centre. Lusciously decorated with blooming plants and flowers, if you like their hanging baskets (ooh err!) you can take them home with you, for a price. Book the floating pavilion for a private party, and overflowing bowls of locally grown strawberries are provided. And if all that wasn’t enough, it’s the hangout of choice of Stockholm’s glit- and clit-eratti.
Most bars and restaurants in Stockholm are so mixed that it is rare to find a venue that’s exclusively homo. But places that are LGBT owned and managed definitely attract a gayer crowd, be it through loyalty or hip factor.
Sofo (South of Folkungagatan) is the trendy part of town – home to vintage clothing shops, homeware and design boutiques, and some super cool cafés. Every afternoon in Stockholm is an opportunity for ‘fika’ – essentially an opportunity to meet with friends for a coffee and a cinnamon bun. What’s not to like?
We stopped at Louie, Louie which was full of cool gals and guys gossiping and working some of the fiercest fashions I’ve ever seen. But this being Stockholm, they weren’t too cool for school – one hip chick came over to tell us how cool WE looked!
ROXY was enticing us in for dinner with a fab red neon sign proclaiming its name. The restaurant and bar owned and run by lesbians attracts a hefty share of lady loving ladies and their gay boy friends. Yes, the waitresses are gorgeous. What do you expect? And the food is just as tantalizing – local, seasonal with a touch of Spanish flounce. The décor has a retro 70s feel so feel free to bust into a bit of ABBA.
Sweden – and Stockholm in particular – are so keen to attract LGBT visitors from across the globe that they have launched a competition to entice us. (Like we really needed our arms twisting!) The city has recruited six men and six women from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to represent different aspects of the city – from food and flavors, to bars and nightlife; the great outdoors to fashion and design. You can listen to some of these Swedish homo hotties in episode 48 of homoLAB here, the podcast I make with my radio friends Baylen and Lucio with a little help from Gay Star News.
With the international conference on LGBT rights taking place in Stockholm later this year, Sweden is definitely a country that lives and breathes its commitment to equality… and let’s not forget next year’s Eurovision competition. Go on, live some LGBT magic in Stockholm!
Enter the Win A Date With Stockholm competition here. The website also has free downloadable gay and lesbian guides to Stockholm. You can also keep up to date with the latest on Twitter @lesbiansthlm and @gaystockholm.