Sweden, like all of the Scandinavian countries, has long been an advocate for LGBT rights. In fact, there are some who would claim that Sweden is one of the most accepting countries on that front. Sweden was the 7th country in the world to legalize gay marriage, and one of the first countries to criminalize homophobic discrimination.
Because of Sweden’s highly accepting nature toward LGBTQ causes, it should come as no surprise that the country has several prominent celebrities who are out of the closet. On this page, we want to look at just 12 of them.
Between the 1920s and 1930s, Greta Garbo was regarded as one of the best screen actresses in the world. This Swedish movie star had a close relationship with MGM where she would star in many hits including Grand Hotel (winner of the Oscar for Best Picture), Anna Christie, and Romance.
Obviously, since she grew up in the early part of the 20th Century, where LGBTQ was heavily frowned upon, especially when she was working in the United States. So, she was never ‘out’ when she was alive, although she did have several high-profile relationships with men, although many people do suspect that this may have been to cover up the fact that she was gay.
After her death, many people noted that Greta Garbo had several love affairs with her female co-stars, and there is a series of letters from Greta herself where she discussed how she loved women. This was a big deal back in her day. Her most famous letters were directed at Mimi Pollak (a Swedish actress) where she basically stated that she was a lesbian and that this was the way that God had made her.
Sure, she wasn’t inspirational in her life. However, many people have sourced inspiration from Greta since. They have looked at how she grew up in an incredibly hostile culture, and she was still happy to share her feelings with people that she loved…even if she couldn’t do it in public. That was still a huge step.
Erika Linder is a Swedish model. She is one of the most famous androgenous models in the world and, while she was scouted to be a model at a young age, she decided that she wanted to get an education first. It wasn’t until she was 19 that Erika started to hit the model scene in a big way.
Over the years, Erika Linder has broken away from her modeling roots a little bit. Instead, she has started to dabble in acting where she regularly plays gay characters, perhaps her most notable being in the Canadian film, Below the Mouth.
Erika Linder has been a great source for many in Sweden (and Canada where she does most of her work). Not just because she is a lesbian, but because she demonstrates real Swedish culture. A culture that is accepting of everybody, no matter who you are.
One thing that you will notice about many of the inspirational gay celebrities is that many of them are just openly gay. They never talk about being gay. It is just known that they are gay and everybody is 100% fine with it since it is an accepted part of Swedish culture. Casper Andreas falls into this category.
Casper Andreas is a successful Swedish actor, director, producer, and writer. While he is based in New York City now (we suppose that’s where all the jobs are), he does still try to inject a touch of Swedishness into everything that he does.
Perhaps his most famous work is Going Down in La-La Land, which takes a look at gay culture in the United States.
Clara Henry may be one of the ‘newest’ celebs on this list. She is known worldwide for her YouTube channel, Tahultsbarn. She boasts a whopping 500,000 subscribers. In Sweden, she regularly appears on television and even had her own talk show for a small while.
Clara Henry describes herself as a pansexual, and she regularly gives interviews to the Swedish media on this. However, most of her public activism is targeted at promoting feminism, as well as helping women deal with the stigma of having a period. In fact, she is one of the leading advocates for allowing women to have easier access to period products.
Clara has stated several times that she doesn’t want to be an activist. She finds it very tiring, however, she believes that she has a responsibility to the public to do it. She says that since she is a public figure, it is up to her to ensure that people are treated equally. We absolutely love her philosophy here!
Rickard Engfors has had his hand in many entertainment pies. He has acted, presented, sung, and done a bit of comedy. However, he is perhaps best known for his drag act where he was part of the drag group After Dark.
Again, Rickard Engfors is a person who proves just how accepting Sweden is as a country. As part of his drag act, he has graced the stage with many top celebrities, and he was often invited to perform for the Swedish royals.
In recent years, he has put a lot of effort into promoting pro-LGBTQ causes in Sweden, as well as dabbled in even more modeling. On the modeling front, he is a great source of pride for Sweden. They love that the man they once dubbed ‘Sweden’s Best Looking Girl’ is having major success as a model.
If you live in Sweden, then Lotta Brome will likely already be very familiar to you. While she is a TV host throughout the year, she is perhaps best known for hosting the Christmas Eve special on SVT every single year. She has also provided commentary for the Eurovision Song Contest, on occasion (Eurovision is absolutely massive in Sweden!)
She has been out for several years. In 2006, she had a child with her then-girlfriend. The father of the child was one of Lotta’s co-presenters.
Lotta Brome has talked heavily about how difficult it was to be gay when she was growing up. Unfortunately, Lotta was born shortly after homosexuality was no longer regarded as a mental illness in Sweden. So, she was born a little too early for people to have changed their whole mindset, and she led most of her early life and career in the closet, constantly fearful that the media would out her.
Luckily, Lotta also lived in a time when there was a major shift toward LGBTQ positivity in Sweden, and, over time, she was happy to come out publicly. She constantly talks about how much she loves Sweden for making the experience so comfortable.
Swedish actress and artist, Kakan Haermannsson has been no stranger to controversy over the years, and she has accepted that she has been wrong in some of the comments that she has made. However, a lot of people look up to her for the positive comments that she has made toward LGBTQ causes since she came out as a lesbian.
Kakan is a very prominent lesbian in Sweden, and she often talks to the media about what it is like being out in modern Sweden. She has spent a great deal of her time pushing for more equality in the media in Sweden, especially when it comes to sexuality.
Most of Kakan’s artwork focuses on LGBTQ life, and you’ll often find her showcasing some of her pieces at the many Pride festivals that happen throughout the country.
Tony Irving is a British-Swedish dancer who has had success in both countries. Although, in Sweden, he is perhaps most famous in Sweden for presenting the dance show ‘Let’s Dance’. You can also find him performing on a whole host of different TV shows, radio shows, and even the odd cruise ship.
In more recent years, Tony has been heavily focused on running a network of dance schools which can be found throughout Sweden, the United States, and the United Kingdom.
Tony Irving is married, and he still lives in Sweden. As with most of the people on this list, he regularly talks about gay rights in Sweden, particularly on his radio show.
If you live in Sweden and you watch SVT (almost everybody does), then you will likely have heard Pekko Heino before. He is the TV station’s continuity announcer. Although, he has also presented the odd TV show in his time, as well as hosted several TV shows.
Throughout the year, you’ll find Pekko giving talks in both Sweden and Finland (he is a Swedish Finn) about gay rights in both countries.
Magnus Betner identifies as bisexual, although we still felt that he was worthy of inclusion on this list of inspirational gay Swedish celebrities. This is because almost all of his career as a comedian has been spent pushing two things; acceptance of LGBTQ rights, and feminism. Even in Sweden, you’ll rarely find a male comedian who has built his act around just one of those things, let alone both.
Outside of his act, Magnus doesn’t talk too much about his personal life, though. He is married to a woman (and has a daughter), but he dislikes the media. He believes that they will twist everything he says, so he figures that staying private is much better. The only reason why we know that he is bisexual is because of his act.
Sweden is one of only a few countries in the world (perhaps the only one) that televises awards just for gay people. Each year, you’ll find the Gaygalan Awards on TV. In 2006, Roger Nordin picked up the ‘Homo of the Year’ award at the event. This is due to his coming out just a year prior.
For a long while, Roger Nordin had one of the most listened-to radio shows in all of Sweden. Not surprising, really. He had been building up a radio following since the age of 14. However, for much of his radio career, he was ‘in the closet’. In 2005, he decided to come out live on the radio. It was a major talking point in Sweden for a while (and then everybody very quickly forgot about it, because it was so accepted), and you’ll still find Roger Nordin talking about gay rights both on the radio and on TV.
Jacob Dahlin, unfortunately, passed away in 1991. Up until that point, he was a popular TV and radio host in Sweden. Throughout his entire life on TV/radio, he was openly gay. He would regularly push for more LGBTQ acceptance in the country.
It was his death from an HIV/AIDs-related illness that resulted in the Swedish government starting to take note of the HIV/AID epidemic among the gay population in Sweden, leading to a huge investment in HIV/AIDs research, as well as the promotion of safe sex. Because of this, Sweden has one of the lowest death rates for the virus in the world.
As Sweden is one of the most accepting nations in the world, you’ll rarely find somebody who is afraid to come out of the closet, especially since the 1980s/1990s. While most of the gay Swedish celebrities are not exactly taking the world by storm when it comes to fame, they are certainly popular in Sweden, and it is here many of them are talking about gay rights in the country. Many of them have even had a positive impact on Sweden’s acceptance of LGBTQ (Lotta Brome is the most notable) while others, especially Clara Henry, are pushing for even more change in the country.
One thing for sure is that we’re going to see a major positive shift towards gay rights in the future, and you can bet your bottom dollar that Sweden and the Swedes are going to be leading the charge!
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