very late this october a surprising (to me, that is) group in finland decided to take action. they were not people who were unrelated to the topic at hand nor people who had not taken action before – there were think-tankers, digital marketing professionals, celebrities, corporate leaders, politicians, etc – but many of the members of the group had hardly taken a personal is political stance previously.
in a couple of days they put together a video that premiered at the TEDx helsinki conference on one of the first days of november.
i had read about my friends' facebook statuses that "great things were on the way", but nothing prepared me for the actual viral. i cried, and i wasn't the only one.
(if you cannot see the english subtitles, click on cc.)
the past year in finland has felt abrasive. last summer the pride march was attacked. people interviewed on tv, columnists and bloggers have taken their liberties seriously and uttered hurtful words using both their impressions about religion and their right to free speech as excuses. yesterday a "style consultant" asked the gay couples who dared to dance at the president's independence day reception to "show some respect" and refrain from dancing.
just like everywhere around the world, gay kids are more likely to take their own lives than straight ones – the bullying and marginalization is a reality as much here as it is in where the "it gets better" campaign was started, the us.
curiously all of these people claim to know plenty of lgbti-people and that they have close friends from sexual minorities. i am sure they find nothing religiously, stylistically or veraciously problematic about hurting (intentionally?) their other friends, either.
some even ask why gays are above criticism... although none of them can give any other "critical" argument but that they're grossed out about gays (that is, imagining sex between gay men, let's be honest here) and seeing gay people being treated just like others feels like an insult on normality (i.e. forces them to imagine sex between men).
the video above was shown at schools and on all national tv stations and it created such a wave of applause that the force behind it quickly gathered people to write their stories. today, they are launched as a book. it will be available in bookstores nationwide and online (for example here).
all the proceeds go to the youth help line funded by the mannerheim league for child welfare – about which i have distressed views because of their psychiatrist's inexplicable views about gay parenting. nonetheless, the helpline is the only viable one nationally and their work is without hesitation thoroughly admirable.
the book launch is tonight at jenny woo from 7.30pm onwards. there will be a couple of short speeches, some live music, excerpts read from the book and djs, myself included.