Out UK's Adrian Gillan admires Norwegian wood in Oslo, the capital and the most populous city in Norway.
Norway is one of the most progressive countries in the world when it comes to gay
human rights, with equalities legally enshrined across the board from age of
consent, which is 16 for all, to entry into the armed forces.
However, in the land of the
Midnight Sun and the Nobel Prize there are still conservative attitudes to
change beyond the big cities and in Norway's own Protestant bible belt.
Church blessings for gay relationships and adoption rights
are still issues and the country has never joined the European Union.
Up for it at the Oslo Sommer Parade.
Nature and culture collide at the far end of a mighty fjord that is Oslo and nowhere
less so than in the small but perfectly formed gay scene at the city's very heart,
between the railway station and Royal Palace. But before losing yourself there, there
are two world-class artistic attractions that only a dumb queer would miss - the
awesome and occasionally erotic nude Vigelands Sculpture Park just west of centre
and the Edvard Munch Museum (he of "The Scream" fame) just to the east.
REFRESH YOUR SOUL
Build up your strength with fine modern dishes at the one-price-fits-all menu pallet
in eatery Det 11 Bud, part of a gay restaurant-lounge-club complex on Kirkegata
near the Cathedral. Unfortunately the club part of this equation - Soho - was
shut at the time of writing, its future uncertain. Note: Drinks in Oslo are not
cheap and smoking is now banned in all public places in Norway - tough if you smoke
but at least your hair and clothes won't stink the morning after!
Then stroll through the pedestrianised centre onto Kristian IV's gate and sink
into the comfy velvet-clad chairs and sofas at dark-yet-glowing, homely, atmospheric
lounge bar-cum-cafe Sjokaladekoppen - try saying that after a few beers - drinking
in a sea of seated, relaxing hunky blonds.
Then skip around the block to sit at the stools in Chairs on CJ Hambros Plass, a
lively and fairly young hostelry with a small, open dance-floor and very busy loos.
The vast and cavernous London Pub beneath Chairs unfortunately still strangely stinks
of stale bear and pre-ban smoke and attracts an older, hairier, be-leathered crowd
to its dark and spacious basement chambers. The more hardcore meet several times a month at SM and uniform club
SLM on Gronlandsleiret, just east of the train station and somewhat out on a limb.
The younger disco babes cram into the Shu Club back on Kristian IV's gate just above
Sjokaladekoppen, for its cheesy lower floor and trancy, strobe-lit upper space.
Feet first at the SLM Club.
There are a couple of good, clean saunas a short walk north east of bars: Club Hercules
on Storgt and My Friend on Calmeyers Gate. And just north of the saunas are a couple
of gay sex shops - GI (Gay International) on Rosteds Gate and Big Boy on Schaeffers Gate -
for the usual shelves of toys and vids.
Oslo has its own gay beach - Paradisbukta - a short bus-ride (No. 30) out of town,
which fills up on sunny days. At nights - which hold their light well in the summer
months - there are several city cruising grounds. Try the small Stens (pronounced "stains")
Park or, even better, check Vigelands Sculpture Park, in bushes just beyond the main
central monolith - note condom dispensers nailed to the trees!
Oslo Pride is known as "Skeive Dager" in Norwegian, Oslo Gay Pride is the largest cultural event for Norway's lesbian and gay
Events include a film festival, concerts, exhibitions, entertainment, political debates and a large
festival area on Rådhusplassen, just outside City Hall.
Annual Parade in Oslo.
Norwegian operates direct flights to Oslo Airport Gardermoen from London Gatwick, Edinburgh and Dublin. The journey from the
UK takes less than two hours. You can also book special fares online on British Airways and SAS through
ebookers who all fly direct to Oslo.
We have a great selection of gay-friendly hotels in Oslo at special online rates through our
THE LITTLE BLACK BOOK
Big Boy (Schaeffers g 1; T: 0047 21 92 43 27)
Chairs (CJ Hambros pl 5; T: 0047 22 70 87 00)
Club Hercules (Storgt 41; T: 0047 22 11 11 13)
Det 11 Bud (Kirkegt 34; T: 0047 22 33 35 70)
GI Gay International (Rosteds g 2; T: 0047 22 20 37 36)
London Pub (CJ Hambros pl 5; T: 0047 22 70 87 00)
My Friend (Calmeyers g 15B; T: 0047 22 20 36 67)
Shu Club (Kristian IV's g 9; no phone)
SLM (Gronlandsleiret 73; no phone) Website
Sjokaladekoppen (Kristian IV's g 9; T: 0047 22 41 66 08)
Revised February 2015.