The Vikings: for most of us, they’re the peak of cis-het masculinity. But increasingly, research is showing that this simply wasn’t the case. I’m a Viking historian. I study queerness and gender in the Viking Age, and how those ideas have been weaponised by white supremacy in the last 200 years.
The Vikings were the people who lived in Scandinavia around 700-1100 AD. They’re most famous for raiding, trading, and exploring throughout Europe and beyond: as far east as Russia, as south as Turkey, as north as Iceland and as west as Newfoundland, Canada.
By the end of the Viking Age, the Vikings were converting to Christianity, but for the majority of the Viking Age, they believed in the Norse pantheon of gods, with Odin, Thor, and Loki as some of the most famous gods.
I research the myths and rituals around these gods. I’ve questioned how Odin has been presented in myths; I’ve explored Viking magic and the impact it had on gender; and I often give a lecture called “Why We Should Care About Queer Vikings” which traces how white supremacists have portrayed Vikings in ways that serve their political purposes.
Learning about our past doesn’t end when LGBTQ+ History Month does, so here are five queer Viking stories that you probably haven’t heard before.