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Stockholm’s Pride and beauty

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For years, beauty has been synonymous with Sweden: from Nordic models to Nordic design and fashion – and yet, at no point in the year does the beauty of this country seem more pervasive than when witnessed from the perspective of Stockholm Pride, Scandinavia’s largest Pride Festival.

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Even with temperatures hovering in the nineties, a record-breaking crowd of 600,000 people cheered this year’s Stockholm Pride Parade, which featured more than 60,000 participants alongside 150 colorful floats and festively-attired marching contingents. For the first time in Stockholm Pride’s history, Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt attended the parade, as did several of the nation’s more illustrious politicians.

All through the weeklong Pride festival, rainbow Pride flags fluttered from the bridges of Stockholm and decorated Stockholm’s public buses. One of the more liberal countries of the world, Sweden has a history of secularism that has helped make Stockholm one of Europe’s more desirable destinations for LGBT people. With a history of acceptance, openness, and diversity, Stockholm is often considered the LGBT capital of Scandinavia.

This year’s Stockholm Pride theme was “Everyday Life” and featured an opening gala performance by Eurovision winner Conchita Wurst.

Apart from the Parade, festivities included the inauguration of the 7/11 Wedding Chapel, which converted one of the global convenience stores into a destination wedding venue, complete with Slurpees.

More than 2,000 Atlantis Events cruise passengers enjoyed the build-up to Stockholm Pride – and the city anticipates a future visit from lesbian travel company Olivia, in support of Stockholm’s burgeoning lesbian community.

Representatives from Stockholm’s soccer team, as well as Sweden’s first LGBT-certified hockey team were also in attendance during Stockholm Pride, serving as a harbinger of Stockholm’s role as host of the 2015 Eurogames, which will be held in conjunction with Stockholm Pride 2015.

Nearly forty years ago, back in 1976, Sweden integrated its entire military, enabling gays to serve without being closeted. In 1979, Sweden became the first country in the world to declassify homosexuality as a medical disorder, which followed Sweden’s legalization of same-sex sex – way back in 1944. Same-sex marriage has been legal in Sweden since 2009.

As a European magazine correspondent wrote in 1934, “It is true that the Swedes have a natural advantage in looking distinguished and elegant. Say what you will of the young gentlemen of Stockholm, but they certainly can dance.” What was true in 1934 remains so today. In the hours following this year’s Pride Parade, locals and visitors convened in Pride Park at the Royal Gardens before heading to Berns, Stockholm’s legendary performance space and nightclub, for another all-night party.

In short, Sweden is a country that celebrates the beauty of LGBT people and nowhere is that more evident than during the beauty of Stockholm Pride.