With great sorrow we learned on Sunday evening that Svein Skeid had passed away in Ullevål hospital in Oslo on Sunday, 13th December, shortly after experiencing a heart attack.
Svein had recently celebrated his 70th birthday, and now leaves a void behind. Through four decades he has worked relentlessly for gay rights and been at the front line of many a battle. The results of Svein’s work are manifold.
In the 80’s, when the AIDS epidemic hit with full force, Svein committed to the cause. When most were timid and shied away, Svein sought knowledge, spread infirmation and worked with prevention.
Svein also worked relentlessly to remove the psychiatric diagnoses connected to fetishism and BDSM, an effort that continued up until 2018 when WHO finally declared that fetishism is no illness.
Another of Sveins great interests was collecting the history of the first gay venues and meeting places in and around Oslo. A great deal of his work is now part of the national Queer Archive in Bergen. For many years, Svein guided historic tours in Oslo, sharing facts and stories about gay meeting places. His light and joking storytelling was always a varnish over earnest and serious sharing of knowledge, and he underlined the importance of not only collecting history, but sharing it with others.
Many will remember Svein as unafraid, openly wearing full leather outfits in his daily life, whether he was out grocery shopping or just grabbing a coffee. Svein never hid his interests, and his openness has helped many others to tear down their own barriers and acknowledge their own fetishes.
Svein was an integral part of Scandinavian Leather Men Oslo (SLM) since the early 80’s. He took part in organising parties, spreading information, and not least inviting and welcoming new members to the club.
Svein took the initiative for SLM to take part in the 1991 Gay Pride parade in Oslo, and thanks to his oppenness and visibility, we have been visible in the parade every year since.
Describing Svein’s personality in just a few words must always include exhibitionism and rebellion. One also can’t escape his stubborn relentlessness. Without these traits, he would not have been able to get the results he did on so many fields.
Svein worked hard to conserve queer history, and he made queer history.
We remember you, Svein, with gratitude. You will not be forgotten. Rest in peace.
The funeral is scheduled for the 29th of December at 11:30 at Østre gravlund’s big chapel. Due Covid-19 there is a restriction of 50 attendants so the ceremony will be streamed live. You can find further information at Svein’s memorial website.
If you’d like to read an in depth interview with Svein Skeid from a year ago (in Norwegian), please click here.
(Image: Svein Skeid at the movie premiere of Tom of Finland during Oslo/Fusion. Photo taken by Reidar DeadSwan Engesbak)