perjantai 6. heinäkuuta 2018

June 2018

The start: Still working

My vacation started in the middle of the month. At the end of the season we had a little thing to celebrate - it is allowed to tell you why only later.

                  With my colleagues and some sparkling

After super hot May June 2018 wasn’t equally hot. However there has been very little rain so I had to use more water in my garden than during the whole last summer. 

    One of the hot days at the pool, water was needed in the garden afterwards             

Pirkanmaa Pride

In the first half of the  month we also visited the Pirkanmaa Pride in Tampere. We only attended the happenings of the parade day on Saturday because it was still working during the week. The starting place of the parade was a square at a mall. Originally the bosses of the mall had refused to let it be used in such place due to “political nature” of the Pride festive. They soon realized it was bad public relations politics and turned their opinion. One of the reasons were positively the supportive opinion of the Tampere city which actually owns the square. At the end the mall was very helpful to co operate with the Pride organization.

We use to carry our banderol wherever we march in the Pride parades. This time we had some problems with it. We have two banderols but one of them has been lost during the renovation of the Seta office in Helsinki last summer. Our second one was in Turku and it had to be delivered to Tampere. The person who did the delivery had difficulties in being in Tampere in time. Secondly I found out that the banderol was without its sticks. So I had a half an hour to get the new ones. There was a hardware store at the mall but the rack for the broom sticks was empty. The personnel told there is another mall near this one with another hardware store. So I ran there to notice just perfect sticks in the window and took them to the cash desk .... to hear that they were rake sticks and sold only with rakes ... so I bought the whole rakes and left the rake part there. After coming back to the square we soon got the banderol from Turku – not a minute too early!

The route of the parade went cross the city of Tampere but there were only quite few people to watch it. The weather wasn’t very warm so I wore my overcoat most of the time. The main happening took place in the park near the central square of Tampere. There we were happy to hear the city of Tampere had many initiatives to support LGBTI people: Our message has been heard.  
We still attended the Rainbow Mass in the church near the park. Because of many simultaneous happenings in Tampere during that weekend the hotel prices were doubled or tripled so we decided to skip the evening activities and drove home.

Multi cultural interaction

In the first half of the month I also had my lecture to the staff of the multi cultural support center for women, Monika naiset. The staff is also mostly multi cultural and they wanted to hear about LGBTI and non discrimination issues. I had a meeting beforehand with Hitomi Tabuchi one of the organiser of the event and we planned the content of my presentation. I only had 45 minutes for my presentation and it was quite compressed and full of information in spite of my efforts to focus only to the main issues. So when I asked for some questions after the presentation there was only very few of them – normally people tend to ask a lot. Maybe there was too much information to digest in such a short period. Anyway the response was very warm after the presentation.     

           With Monika ladies, the executive director Jenni Tuomi the second from the left


When my vacation started we made our first summer trip to Tartu. We had some pre defined goals and some free space for improvisation.

The first pre fined was the Estonian National Museum. It was built in the place where there was a Soviet airbase. The air base was strategically important so the city of Tartu and its surrounding were closed from the outside world. The people of Tartu were permitted to meet with friends and family once a year at a facility outside Tartu, and were not allowed to talk about the air base or even mention its name. The new museum building sort of rises up from the runway.

The Estonian National Museum

One exhibition was about the Estonian clothing. We were fascinated by the beauty of the dresses of the Estonian women from the 19th century. One little detail was a bit annoying: There is still a habit
to wear traditional skirts in the isle of Kihnu but there was none of the examples of it. We assumed the Estonians aren’t too happy to know that the tradition is a continuum from the time the Russian emperor persuaded the Kihnu people to convert to Orthodox religion.


 With Estonian Brides         

We also enjoyed the exhibition about Fenno-Ugric people and the story of Estonia from the stone ages to the modern independent country.                               

                          A Fenno Ugric trans person from Volga banks?

The other pre defined destination was the Tartu Botanical Garden. It was well planned with different sections, little hills, ponds, bridges and statues.

                                                  In the Botanical Garden

The optional part of our trip had a plan to go to swim if it was possible. Actually we did it twice: The first time in the Lake Võrts, the second biggest lake of Estonia in the center of the country. Because of the super warm May the water also was warm and the totally calm. Next day the other swimming place was in the opposite side of Tartu, Lake Peipus. It is one of the biggest lakes in the Europe and only the western coast is in Estonia. We had some information that it was too cold for swimming a week before but for me it was totally ok anyway.


The Lake Võrts with some strawberries                

The Lake Peipus

We continued to south from our swimming place Mustvee to follow “The Onion road”. The name refers to the very old fashioned orthodox people living there who make their livings by fishing and growing onion and chicory. The road goes through the very picturesque old villages on the banks of the Lake Peipus. On the way we visited Alatskivi manor to have the birthday lunch of my spouse. 

                                      The Alatskivi Manor

                                                  The Onion road views

                                        Some Tartu pictures

The Midsummer

This year we spent our Midsummer at our family summer cottage with no special rituals – the wind was too hard to make a bonfire. 

     The day after the Midsummer the wind finally calmed down

The nice thing there was I introduced Anukatariina to my eldest sister. I had told about her many years ago but this was the first time these two sisters met. My sister and her husband replied they first thought it was our third sister entering the cottage.

                                       With my sister

Helsinki Pride

Immediately after the Midsummer the Helsinki Pride week took place and I wanted to attend some events there. On Tuesday I was invited to the British Embassy as a representative of the Dreamwear Club. The subject was non discriminative work places. The secretary-general of Seta told about the situation in Finland and she quoted our survey as part of key information.

In the British Embassy. The general secretary of
Seta Kerttu Tarjamo (l) and the leader of the event
Tanja Lehtoranta (r)

The other event I attended was the Trans Day on Wednesday where I had a consultation stop on the coming name law. It seemed the people weren’t very well aware about the subject and I had a plenty of people seeking for information.  


The third event to attend was “hearing” of Parliamentary LGBTI group. In Finland the LGBTI issues have gone on in accelerating speed. For example in the year 2015 we considered it would unrealistic to start a citizen initiative on the new trans law. Now it seems it would be unnecessary: The huge majority of the parties have a positive commitment on the issue – though they vary a bit in their content. Only three conservative parties, one in the government are against it so we wait for the parliamentary election next spring. One of the issue was banning the so called conversion therapy which has been very difficult to make happen.

                                         The members of Parliament discussing

In the session there also were representatives from two of the conservative parties. The first of them was very aware of the issue and promoted it very strongly. She told about the difficulties in telling the facts to her fellow members of parliament, partly due to lack of knowledge and partly due to lack of motivation to get it. The other also was somehow willing to do something positive but it turned out he totally missed the elements of the issue to form even a basic descent picture of the issue. This notion made me think the MEPs should have some popularized scientific lectures on the issues they make decisions.

When I attended the Amnesty trans law happening next day the feeling of the things getting better grew stronger. The people who told about their life implied the everyday environment has become easier and people less and less discriminative around them. It seems that the awareness of the issue and normalisation of the thought that someone near you might be trans has took its toll. That of course doesn’t mean discrimination has totally disappeared. And the major problems are still the old trans law and treatment practices.

                            The Amnesty event

I still had a break between the Pride activities to pick the organic strawberries. The timing was perfect, the rainy season started just the next day after that. 

                                    In the strawberry field

                       Our traditional way to enjoy the harvest

In Helsinki Pride the promotion of LGBTI was very obvious also in other ways. The Finnish business world had woken up very strongly and the shops in Helsinki were full of Pride products and both the many commercial and official building had their rainbow flag. Some even complained the firms were just pink washing without a proper LGBTI program. I thought every firm took part in its own way and so promoted the Pride policy.

The amount of the participants in the Pride parade was a new record, according to police it was approximately 100 000. This time no provocation took place, everything went on in delightful Pride mood.

The "diversity of the gender" - block was that long, and I was in the middle of it...

And back to the banderol...

Before the parade I got a call and I was informed that the missing banderol had been found at the Seta office. So we now again have two ones, one for the capitol area and another for the other part of Finland.

Starting the parade at the Senate Square                                                       

                                                 The happy ending of the parade                                

The useful way to use the banderol - the park was full of  barnacle goose poo.

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