Pride flag waving in the wind

Is a month enough? Celebrating and fighting for the rights of sexual and gender minorities!

Pride month - the time of year when rainbow people get to celebrate their identity and existence, and the steps our society has taken over the past year to help sexual and gender minorities. Pride Week, celebrated at different times around the world in June, is also a time to look at the challenges and injustices that sexual and gender minorities continue to face.

Is a month enough? What is often forgotten in the equation is that this minority does not disappear at the end of the year. The work that still needs to be done on the rights of sexual and gender minorities must continue year-round and relentlessly. 

Pride's thinking evokes more emotion than most of the other things that touch my life. When I think about Pride, I feel happiness and genuine joy that there are people in the world who want to raise the rights of sexual and gender minorities and that we can come together to celebrate an event that celebrates love, acceptance and inclusivity. 

At the same time, I feel great sadness and injustice, if not anger. Anger at the ill-founded reasons for oppressing a group of people whose status and security are constantly threatened and questioned. How can our world continue to be so closed and malevolent when it comes to human rights? How can anyone feel entitled to criticise how an individual defines their identity or who they love? Why should everyone fit into a heteronormative mould? From whom is the freedom to be and to love taken away? These are questions that I have yet to find a satisfactory answer to in my lifetime. An individual's experience of themselves does not effect anyone else's life. Everyone must have the right to define themselves.

Pride is an excellent time to draw attention to sexual and gender minorities and the discrimination, oppression and injustice they experience, but also to join in a celebration of the simple right to be oneself. Most importantly, however, once Pride month is over, we should not just forget about the whole issue of minorities for the rest of the year. It is easy to enter questions on the search engine about support for sexual and gender minorities. Challenge yourself: How can you be supportive and helpful?

In case you felt this text was difficult to understand, I challenge you too. Research, read, and educate yourself. Even discuss with those who disagree with you and keep an open mind. After all, we are still talking about human rights, not political ideologies. There is no room for hatred, but there is room for curiosity.

Have a wonderful, sunny and love-filled pride!

Jenni Hiltunen
Board member responsible for Social Affairs 2024
The Student Union of the University of Vaasa