Monday, July 10, 2017

Tallinn pride parade 2017

Last week was the Baltic pride week in Tallinn and the Tallinn pride parade on Saturday.  They rotate the pride weeks through the Baltics, so it is in Tallinn once every three years but the parade part hasn't happened for 10 years.  In the mid 2000's there was quite a bit of opposition to the parades, a little bit more in Latvia but still in Estonia too with the parade goers being pelted by eggs and some violence.  It's great to see the change in society over the last 10 years, there were thousands of people gathered for the parade and everything went peacefully.  It was a great environment with a lot of positive energy.  There was a free open air concert after the parade.

This was the first pride parade that I have marched in and I'm very glad I participated.  In a lot of ways this was a Saul/Paul transformation for me.  At one of the parades in the 2000's I was visiting Estonia and randomly saw part of the pride parade in Old Town.  I remember seeing parade goers and protesters (nothing violent or out of the norm) and sympathizing with the protesters.  To clarify, I sympathized with the people holding signs, at the time I had no knowledge of egg throwing and never did condone that type of behavior.

At the time I had not spent enough time critically thinking about the impact of gay marriage on society.  My thinking was influenced by my religion which had taken a hard stand against gay marriage.  In the 2006 mid term elections, the GOP decided to ratchet up the culture was by calling for a constitutional amendment.  It was an attempt to boost turnout among evangelical Christians and never had any hope of passing.  My Church specifically asked all its members to write to their senators to support such a constitutional amendment.  Looking back I am disappointed that my Church allowed itself to be a pawn in the game of petty politics and deeply regret allowing myself to be influenced as a result.  I can't go back and change the past but I can act in the present by speaking out on behalf of minorities and the vulnerable in society who might benefit from an ally.  

I thought about organizing a Mormons building bridges group but had to work in the morning so I wasn't sure if I'd make it at all and didn't want to commit to being an organizational leader.  Also it would have ended up as a very small group.  Lucky for me on the way to the parade I ran into the Tallinn University student union group so they let me tag along.  Most of the students in the group were current or former students of political science and were some of my all time favorites!

Ann sold books in the United States and has the same name as my Mom! She just graduated this year, congratulations!


 I ran into my good friend and colleague Terry at the concert after the parade.  He is from Canada and noted that there was less nudity than the parade's in Canada.  There wasn't any nudity and overall it was a great family environment in old town.  Rather different from the stereotypical German pride parade's from the 1990's (haven't been to any, but that's based the stereotype I have of 1990's German pride parades).

I took quite a few selfies because a lot of ways this was about me doing something I needed to do for myself. 

 I was Marleen's supervisor for her Bachelor's thesis a few years ago and now she just graduated with a master's in Political Science, congratulations!

Ada had awesome purple lipstick and as soon as I saw it I thought, "that's blog material right there!"  If anyone needs new lip stick consider purple!  Ada just graduated from IR and got accepted to a PhD program on the other side of the planet and I'm super happy for her, congratulations!

All in all it was a great experience.  Marching in a parade is a very small and simple thing, but when many do it together (koos koos ├╝heskoos!) then our societies can become safe and tolerant places for everyone. 

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