EuroPride 2018: Identify-ing the Music of Diversity

Thomas Sekelius’s favorite EuroPride memory is deeply personal—and musical. “Singing my song ‘One More in the Crowd,’ the official Pride song, last year at Stockholm Pride was quite an indescribable feeling,” he recalls. “Not only did I sing a song of my own in front of hundreds of people dancing and cheering, but I got to stand for a cause that I have preached since day one. That was so genuine.”

While U.S. Pride wrapped up at the end of June, the party is just getting started in many parts of the world, including our home country of Sweden. Right now, the continent’s annual EuroPride celebration has just kicked off in Stockholm, where we are currently launching its new original podcast series, Identify, hosted by Thomas.

Identify investigates how music helps construct a person’s sense of self. The podcast features celebrity guests—including sibling duo Arrhult, writer TramsFrans, actress Saga Becker, artist Gabriel Fontana, activist Juliet Atto, YouTuber Sara Songbird and rapper Beri—sharing intimate stories about how music has shaped and influenced them. Each celeb has also created a playlist of inspiring songs, available until the end of August on our Pride Hub in Sweden.

To learn more about Identify, we spoke with Thomas Sekelius about the message behind the series, what it’s like to be LGBTQ in Sweden, and the music that’s helped shaped who he is today.

Thomas Sekelius, host of Spotify’s Identify podcast

Q: EuroPride is underway in Stockholm – what are you excited for?

A: I’m looking forward to seeing the community come together to paint the city in the colors of the rainbow while being the absolute proudest they can be. Pride Week is full of events that in one way or another fit everyone and will guarantee an amazing few days. But let’s not forget that not only this week, but the entire year is equally ours as anyone else’s. Diversity, diversity, diversity. Embrace it!

Q: What is unique about being LGBTQ/coming out in Sweden?

A: The overall acceptance of LGBTQ people in Sweden is pretty far along compared to other countries. This doesn’t mean that we should relax and be satisfied. We have a long way to go, in Sweden as well as other parts of Europe and the world. Even though acceptance has been better by the people there is still a lot of discrimination against more marginalized groups. So more safe spaces are needed for sure until we are all treated the same.

Q: You are open about your sexuality in your song “Awakening.” Why is music a good outlet for coming out?

A: Music plants a feeling in the people listening. Instead of only writing them down, you can combine those words with a melody and a massive production and give everyone a chance to almost actually taste the rainbow. You can really capture a feeling.

Q: As the host of Identify, you ask your guests questions about how music has shaped their identity. What are three times when music shaped yours?

A: When I was little, in my preteen years, and within the last two years. When I was little, I used to love listening to music in Swedish, English, and Hungarian, which is my mother tongue. I could float away to the land of music. I found so much happiness in music. When I was in the seventh and eighth grades, I had a hard time in school and could find both strength, peace and a trigger to my tears in music. I was also in musicals, training with a vocal coach, singing in a choir, and so on. Music was a big part of my life. The last few years, I went deeper. I began finding an interest in writing music and paid more attention to the production of songs, whereas before I mostly just listened to melodies, voices and lyrics for the overall feeling. Today, I aim to write my own songs, and am learning step by step how to produce my own product.

Q: Why is it important to feature diverse members of the LGBTQ community in your podcast?

A: People all over the world might be in a minority such as LGBTQ, but they’re still different in sexuality, ethnicity, opinion, and perspective. I wanted to make sure I didn’t just interview people with similar backgrounds. I wanted to showcase diversity to raise the bar for learning while listening.

Check out the Identify podcast and the EuroPride Hub, now available through the end of August.