Military partakes in Oslo Pride

Over 25,000 people marched in June 27’s event in support of the LGBT community

Photo: Bilge Öner / Oslo Pride Oslo Pride 2014 also featured a large and diverse crowd of marchers and spectators.

Photo: Bilge Öner / Oslo Pride
Oslo Pride 2014 also featured a large and diverse crowd of marchers and spectators.

Sarah Bostock
The Foreigner

The popular parade, which proceeded through the streets of the capital as part of the annual Oslo Pride event, had Norwegian Armed Forces gay and heterosexual officers, soldiers, and other personnel in it.

The military had an information stand in Pride Park in the center of Oslo, offering visitors a chance to ask questions and talk to members of the Armed Forces.

“We must show that we support—and depend on—diversity in all its forms. We didn’t participate to recruit, but to show support and show that the Armed Forces want diversity in our own organization,” said Major Svein Erik Vangen.

The major, who himself is openly gay, has supported the parade for years and was the initiator of the Armed Forces’ stand.

“I’ve spent some time creating understanding among commanders in the system why this is important, but mostly all are positive when they realize what it is about. It is important that the Armed Forces participates in the Oslo Pride, because we must make it clear that we are totally dependent on diversity in all forms. We stood there not primarily to recruit, but to show support and that the military wants diversity also in our own ranks. We received only positive feedback,” he stated.

According to him, the 100,000-strong crowd cheered when they saw the military personnel marching in the parade. “The response we have received is overwhelming and fantastic. It exceeded my expectations, and confirms my assumptions about how important this is for the Armed Forces’ reputation, and the population’s understanding of defense,” Major Vangen declared.

The military’s participation has been voluntary the last five years, and they will be organizing next year’s too.

Oslo Pride originated in 1982 as “Gay Days.” Its purpose was to show equality, acceptance, and respect for the gay community. Same-sex marriage in Norway was legalized on January 1, 2009, some six and a half years before the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling.

This article was originally published on The Foreigner. To subscribe to The Foreigner, visit theforeigner.no.

It also appeared in the July 10, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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