Accepted paper:

The hidden people amongst us: gay men in Iceland during the occupation in WWII

Author:

Særun Lisa Birgisdottir (University of Iceland)

Paper short abstract:

This paper will examine the attitude towards gay men in Iceland, focusing on the period 1940 -1947 when Iceland was occupied by the British and US Army.

Paper long abstract:

This paper will examine the attitude towards gay men in Iceland, focusing on the period 1940-1947 when Iceland was occupied by the British and US Army. The lives of these "hidden people" can be accessed through oral legends, along with rare newspaper articles from that time. Icelandic men who had lived in isolation due to their sexuality had for the first time the opportunity to accept their sexuality in the company of the British and American soldiers without risking discovery. So far, stories of these men have largely been contained within their own group. By drawing attention to these hitherto hidden narratives, the paper aims to highlight the experiences of these men as well as the attitude towards gays in Iceland focussing both past and present. It will also highlight the impact the occupation had on gay men's lives in Iceland and the public discourse after the American soldiers left Iceland. The purpose of my contribution is to shed light on a community in which homosexuality was carefully suppressed and give a glimpse into the world of those who belonged to the margins of society and had no place in the official view of history.

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