by Dann Dulin 23 July 2010
Hej! Greetings from Sweden! Your darling journalist has gone international. In this new year, I will make several trips abroad to report from Scandinavia, land of blondes, fjords, IKEA, ABBA, and Nordic men who are tall, built, and sexy…but I digress.
Peering out the window to a spectacular vista from my suite at the Grand Hotel here in Stockholm-which is built on fourteen islands and is considered the capital of Scandinavia-I stand beside Henrik Lindholm, Mr. Gay Sweden. What a cutie! He was crowned last night in the elegant Berns Hotel ballroom.
(Unbeknownst to him, a friend had entered him into the contest.) After the event, Henrik and I danced our tushes off to that snappy Schlager music! Henrik is my tour guide. He’s just nineteen, but he emanates a natural eroticismno surprise since Sweden has always been at the vanguard of the sexual revolution. Henrik hails from a coastal city in the southwestern part of Sweden. He and his two brothers (one is his twin) were raised in a house perched next to a pine forest. Not yet fully committed to a career, his varied interests include film directing, photography, architecture, animation, and writing. Winning the title of Mr. Gay Sweden has given him a platform to create a greater stir for AIDS awareness. This morning, we visited Millesgarden (several minutes outside the city), former home of sculptor Carl Milles. Magnificent works are on display in this outdoor museum, and there’s a spectacular view of Stockholm too. After lunch at Roxy, a delightful eatery in the trendy SoFo district, and a quick catnap at the hotel, we head out to the Vasa Museum, which houses a wooden warship that sank in 1628. It’s amazing that in 1960, thanks to the passion of Anders Franzen, this ship was raised from its watery grave after 300 years. (We underground-it to the Nordiska Museet where Greta Garbo’s private photo collection is on display.)
Ruby Comer: Henrik, what comes to mind when I say the word, “AIDS”?
I think of people tragically facing an early death. I think of a disease spread out worldwide that could end up killing someone dear to me, or even me. AIDS scares me.
This morning at Millesgarden, you mentioned that you are a condom advocate ….
I always wear condoms! And they should be provided to every guest who enters a disco. I know I am but one man and maybe it’s very naive to think that I can save the world on my own, but if each person did something …. I like your spirit, Mister GS! [Ponderin Clarence Sinclair Bull's photograph of Greta Garbo, I'm mesmerized by her dreamy eyes.]
In your opinion, Henrik, what more needs to be done for Sweden’s AIDS campaign?
I’m not sufficiently familiar with any of the campaigns to the degree that I consider myself worthy of speaking my mind about them. But perhaps that’s your answer. I think there needs to be more community seminars and prevention education in schools.
And what were you taught in high school about AIDS prevention?
AIDS was distant. I mean, I felt that AIDS was something that people far, far away suffered from. It was never really presented to us as a threat. We really didn’t get very much information concerning the subject. But I knew it was out there, and it scared me.
After the museum, we settle into dinner at Gerta, a boat-turned-floating restaurant. The next day I am off to a speaking engagement at Gotland University, in the fairytale town of Visby, located on the Swedish island of Gotland in the Baltic Sea. It’s just three hours via high-speed ferry from Stockholm. Henrik agrees to accompany me. While on the ultramodern Destination Gotland we eat at one of its restaurants and watch Walk the Lin.e. Love that feisty, rebellious Johnny Cash! Now checked into our quaint thirteenth-century room at the Hotel Wisby, we head out and walk along the cobblestone streets to the Stora Torget (town center). We’ve arrived just in time for a local festival. It’s medieval week and most of the residents are dressed in period costumes. It’s like stepping back into the Middle Ages.
[Looking over the crowd) My god, there's a Viking hunk if I ever saw one! Oh, sorry, Henrik. [I take a deep lift-the-bosoms breath and sigh loudly_)My desires seemed to have carried me away for a second. [We walk up the steep hill to Sancta Maria Cathedral where the panoramic view ofthe town melts into the sea and the breathtaking sun on the horizon. We pause.)
Wow, kolLa in. det hiir, Herrejiivlar! [He laps up the scenery.]
Ja!Ja! Henrik, have you known someone who has died from AIDS?
I consider myself lucky. I have no experience of friends or relatives struck by AIDS.
Let me get personal for a moment. Do you ever mix drug, drink, and sex?
No, I don’t drink or do drugs. I can definitely imagine though that being in an altered state people are prone to be more careless in their choices. Slip that condom on no matter what! [He winces with a halfsmile shaking his head, as if to say, "Cmon, get real."]
It does seem so easy, huh? But we can all lose our heads in the heat of passion, or lust. Lordie knows, I have. Say, when you finally do come to America, Henrik, what cities do you want to visit?
I don’t know. I would probably choose a ski resort, although I’d like to rent a car with some friends and drive from coast to coast.
Leaving this scenic spot, we lunch on the shopping street in a cozy cafe, Skafferiet, and have the traditional saffron pancakes. (Oh, so damn yummy!) We rent a car and drive down the eastern coast, passing meadowlands, unusual rock formations, and perky shade trees which dot the countryside. Our tootsies are now crunching into the white sandy beach and in plain sight are two tiny islands, Karlso and St. Karlso. We’re all alone. We sit and enjoy the calming view of the blazing sunset.
Do you have a life philosophy, Henrik?
(Immediately he replies) Gor det mesta av dina dagar! Make every day count!
There certainly was no hesitation there! And how right you are. [He peels his shirt off.) Say, what is coming your way with this new title of Mr. Gay Sweden?
With this position I hope to participate in more AIDS benefits. [ want to see this epidemic end. [He takes a deep breath of the fresh evening air.] In a month or so I will be the honored guest at a photographic art charity exhibit in the city of Gothenburg to help raise money for AIDS research. Presently they are marketing my picture as Mr. Gay Sweden on flyers for the event. Hopefully, my picture will bring people there so they can spend their money! [He grins mischievously.]
Many thanks to Tina Brannstrom, Christina Guggenberger, and Claudia Quas of the Stockholm Visitors Board, Annamari Thorell of the Gotland Tourist Association, Trudie Harris and Lotta Wastberg of the Grand Hotel, and to Mikael Bjornfot and Davidbr>
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