26 June, 2017

Why Pride?

Pride Festivals gather people from around the world to celebrate the diversity and equality of sexuality and gender. Pride is currently ongoing here in Helsinki, and you can catch up with the festivities later in the summer in other cities, including Turku and Stockholm.

From time to time, the significance of Pride has been questioned. Why should people celebrate their sexuality, especially in such a flashy manner? After all, heterosexuals don’t have a festival of their own!

Pride has a profound impact on both society and individuals. The best examples of the meaning of Pride can be told by people whose lives Pride has affected. People such as our CEO Jukka. This is his Pride story:

Does anyone remember the homosexual liberation weeks? The successor to Pride always had a scary connotation in my mind. A few decades ago, when liberation weeks were active, I hadn’t yet fully freed myself and kept a part of me in hiding. Why didn’t I have the courage to join the marchers and live a full life? I couldn’t find comrades among heterosexuals, but I was afraid of losing everything if I was seen with that small, noisy crowd. That fear was partly justified, and partly imaginary. It was justified because, for example, later in life I have been rejected from a potential workplace because the employer felt my sexual orientation would jeopardize the relationship between the company and its clients.

Luckily I also met people who thought and acted differently during the years. However, I had decided to not join the marchers. At the same time, though, homosexual liberation weeks around the western part of the world started to interest me. I wanted to be a part of the group. They seemed like carnivals and fun parties, where people with same interests gathered. So, I went to the liberation weeks of Stockholm, London, Berlin and many other European cities in the interest of partying.

My world started changing during the Pride festivals in Stockholm and Tel Aviv. They weren’t liberating gatherings of small groups of like-minded people, filled with partying through the night, but festivals for the whole city. A bit like Vappu in Finland, but with less drunken noise and more samba. And when ministers led the crowd in Stockholm, I understood that we are all together, despite our different backgrounds. I had the courage to come out of the closet for good.

This year in Philadelphia, the Pride flag received two new colors, brown and black. I sincerely wish that the new and improved flag of love and peace could be seen in the hands of even more people celebrating all kinds of love and equality during the Pride festivities in Finland. We could come together once again as individuals who are equal, but at the same time so wonderfully different.

I wish a happy and love-filled Pride festival to all of us!