Stockholm Pride is a week-long affair that not only hosts the largest Pride Parade in Scandinavia (and one of the best in the world), but it’s also an event that brings the city—and the country—together in a show of unity with the Pride community. Every year the police, government officials, the Swedish Church, and other official organizations give their support to the LGBT by taking part in various events and marching in the parade, and this year Sweden’s Armed Forces are throwing their hat in the ring with a Facebook post that pictures a pair of military boots sporting the colors of the rainbow flag on the shoelaces.
The image, which was posted to coincide with the ongoing Stockholm Pride Week, included the statement: “We are prepared to go as far as necessary. Your right to live how you wish, as you want, and with whom you want is our duty to defend. And we are prepared to give everything to do that.”
Anders Nemo Stjernström, communication strategist for the Swedish Armed Forces, told The Local, “In part we wanted to show that we clearly take a stand for everyone’s equal worth and rights, that we actively, every day, contribute to ensuring we can continue to live as we wish in a free Sweden.”
Stjirnström went on to say that using the pride flag’s colors and slipping it into a detail on the uniform is something the Armed Forces has tried before and received a very good response to, making it very clear what the Armed Forces means and stands for.
The post has so far received nearly 6,000 reactions and has been shared more than 650 times, while on Twitter the post has received similar attention. While most reactions have been positive, not all have been.
“You do not need posts like these,” wrote one commenter. “I’ve been involved in military activity before and continue to do so, so I can tell you that you already have a uniform system and a kind of behavioral system that makes you unable to see any difference (almost). Are not these systems sufficient? Why should you do more, because when there is war, I will not care if you are black or transsexual as long as you destroy the enemy.”
Stjeirnström replied to the post, “For the Armed Forces, it is important to take a stand, to show that we stand up for all people’s equal value, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expressions. Even though the year is 2017, this is still not obvious to many. This is our way of showing that the authority is involved in the matter.”
Stockholm Pride is one of the biggest events on the city’s calendar, with more than 60,000 people taking part in the annual parade each year, and more than 600 thousand lining the parade route. Pride week features lectures, seminars, workshops, and exhibitions through the city, while Pride house is the cultural heart of the week, with film, theatre, and various other performances. Pride Park hosts thousands upon thousands of people each day, with food outlets, shops, stalls, and other attractions, including daily performances on the main stage by top national and international acts.