The most gay-friendly region North of the Arctic Circle captured in powerful imagery
Swedish Lapland, Sweden’s largest but least-populated region is a magical landscape of quirky tradition and wonder.
In June and July after Swedish ‘Midsommar’, the sun hardly ever sets and the area comes alive with wonderful things to see and do until the autumn.
Because of Sweden’s forward-thinking stance on LGBTI rights (being homosexual was made legal back as early as 1944), plus its fantastic record for hammering down on anti-gay and trans discrimination, Swedish Lapland is arguably the world’s most gay-friendly Arctic region.
Photographer Martin Perry of experiential travel magazine for gay people, OutThere/Travel, recently traveled to Swedish Lapland to capture the spirit of the region and some of the more interesting, less traveled parts of Sweden’s Northernmost destination – Jokkmokk, Storforsen and Piteå.
1 Smiley market trader at Piteå’s annual Church Market (2 July 2016) set beside Öjebyn Church, Piteå’s oldest church.
2 Räkmacka, a Swedish national staple – the shrimp sandwich. There is even a famous Swedish saying ‘To slide into a shrimp sandwich’ which means that one has an easy, enjoyable life. I slipped into this one at Skeppscafe on the small harbour of Piteå .
3 Quintessentially Swedish warehouse building on the small harbour of Piteå.
4 One of the many charming small wooden houses surrounding Öjebyn Church Piteå, built at a time when it was the law for people to attend church on a daily basis. Each of these houses were originally occupied by a number of families, each generally taking just one small room each. Today many of these are owned by decendents of these families but they are no longer allowed to live there. Instead they work something like British beach huts where you can only occupy the huts during the day. So family members gather there for Fika and to socialise.
5 Or in this particular case, we stumbled on some local Piteå women having a kiki to celebrate the annual church market inside one of the many charming small wooden houses surrounding Öjebyn Church. They were in high-spirits, so to speak and we spent a wonderful afternoon with them exchanging stories.
6 Summer in Swedish Lapland is all about spending time on the water and Piteå is a beautiful place to do just that.
7 The Church of Sweden are simple, minimalist Lutherian churches, whose council unanimously backed same-gender marriage when it was made law nearly 7 years ago.
8 One such chapel is at the quaint Hotel Storforsen, set on the edge of a lake with a view of the majestic Storforsen waterfall.
9 Holiday chalet at Piteå havsbad, a gay-friendly family-oriented holiday park set along side a mile long sandy beach with shallow waters which hosts thousands of visitors throughout the summer and provides huge conference facilities in the rest of the year. The park has recently been bought by new owners and is undergoing some much needed renovations. These incude a completely new spa facility and a ‘Sky bar’ both with expansive sea views.
10 Naked swimming is a much loved Swedish past-time. In Swedish Lapland you’ll find many a naturist beach, this one is adjacent to Piteå havsbad.
11 The formidable cascading waters of the Storforsen log flume feeding a lake, as seen from Hotel Storforsen.
12 View of the lake a short walk from the majestic Storforsen waterfall.
13 A lavvu – traditional Sami tent at Fjällträdgården (Mountain Garden), Jokkmokk, Swedish Lapland where visitors can learn about the areas unique plants and flowers.
14 A selection of foods made by Eva Gunnare of Essense of Lapland. Each product is handmade from naturtal ingredients picked in the local area and based upon Eva’s knowledge of Sami culture presented as part of her ‘Travel in Taste’ experience. Location: Fjällträdgården, Jokkmokk, Swedish Lapland.
15 Husky resting for the summer season – pets now, but working dogs when it comes to winter.
16 The eerily bright midnight sky through the trees as we crossed the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland, just south of Jokkmokk.
For more information about traveling to the region, head to SwedishLapland.co.uk.
To be inspired by gay and lesbian welcoming Sweden, head to VisitSwedenLGBT.com.