The colourful darkness – Abstract of our report on Stockholm Pride

Abstract: This report is grounded in current research on the growing problems of mental illness, self-harm, drug abuse, prostitution and related psychosocial problems in society. Based on this, we evaluate the content of Sweden’s largest LBGT event, Stockholm Pride, by performing a study of their online programme in 2017.

Some studies have been undertaken on the people who participate in the annual Pride marches, showing them to have a strong political left-wing leaning. This is, however, the first study on the content of Stockholm Pride. Our findings reveal that factors which are usually considered positive in society, such as responsibility, community and norms, appear very rarely in the Pride programme, and when they do, they often appear in negative context. The predominant general picture of Stockholm Pride is that it is a joyous happening for human dignity and what in Swedish is called “Alla människors lika värde”, which in English would be translated as “The equal value of all people”. However, the programme catalogue with hundreds of events does not show a single hit for either of these search phrases. The public picture of Pride as a beacon for these values can therefore be rejected as false.

What does appear in the Pride festival, however, is a philosophy of radical individualism and rebellion against norms, especially traditional ones. The word “norm” appears many times in the programme, though never in positive terms, sometimes in neutral but mostly in negative terms. “Anarchy”, on the other hand, is portrayed in positive terms everywhere it appears.

Yet more serious is the manner in which Stockholm Pride deals with areas that have negative effects on public health. Themes such as dominance, BDSM, violence and pain get more than 40 hits in the Pride program and, in all but a few cases, these are described in an accepting fashion, as perfectly legitimate ways of enhancing a sexual experience. The same applies to drugs; in all Pride events where the search term appears, Pride uses drugs and the term “chemsex” in an accepting context. The organizers avoid the word “prostitution”, instead using euphemisms like “sex work”. When these terms are included in the search, all events in the Pride programme portray even prostitution in a positive light.

The advice from research as well as from the leading Swedish public institutions for public health is to always work consistently towards moving vulnerable people away from self-harm, drugs and prostitution, not encouraging such phenomena which threaten both the individual and society. By doing the latter, Stockholm Pride has shown itself to be a far from reliable partner in promoting public health. Instead, it is a risk factor that no responsible part of society ought to support.

The full report can be found in Swedish here. A summary in English of the vision and work of The Clapham Institute can be found here.