Umea love and support weekend

How you experiance things is an important realisation as a journalist. In this article Russian Journalist Anna Kireeva writes about Pride and Love in Umeå.

 Photo: Anna Kireeva

Photo: Anna Kireeva

Coming to Swedish Umea for Barents Press RedEx workshop three Russian journalists understood that it’s also a Pride weekend in town. Have you ever been to Pride? We haven’t and got curious.

First discovery: pride is not only a parade itself. The parade is the final event. Pride is all about love, and, to our huge surprise, not only gay love. It’s a love weekend.

Pride and religion
“Pride can’t avoid a gay wedding ceremony”, - came to our mind, and a couple of curious journalists went to the church. There were several weddings, not gay, though the organizers of drop-in marriage hoped one might happen.

Killing the time, we found the priest .. and were petrified. The priest was a woman! More than that, she was smiling. She was smiling all the time. Once again: a woman priest was smiling. All the time. In the church. When did you smile in Orthodox Church last time? Have you ever seen a smiling priest in the Russian church, in this holy building with a strong smell of thus, very serious mood and thoughts, extremely strict and concentrated expression on faces, and a long bearded priest?

 Photo: Anna Kireeva. 

Photo: Anna Kireeva. 

43 years old nice looking woman was been a priest for 15 years.
“Since 2009, when gay marriage became legal, I married off eight couples, most of them were women. But even before 2009 I blessed several gay couples. It’s so nice they can have an opportunity to celebrate their love”, - says Susanna the priest diffusing kindness and softness. Next day she was among other priests on the Parade.

Another surprise came from an Islamic reformer. Born in Central Africa, the gay Islamic believer of uncertain age gives a lecture about gay and Islam. The reformer says God loves all his children, limitations and restrictions, as well as inequality, are human made.

The Parade came as a big surprise. To confess, I was overwhelmed. Thousands of people with colorful flags, families with kids and dogs, people in wheelchairs, representatives of church, various labor unions and political parties, elderly people and students – all gathered in the city park to support gay people in the world.

 Photo: Anna Kireeva. Morgan Kauppi and his daughter Bente and Iseli 

Photo: Anna Kireeva. Morgan Kauppi and his daughter Bente and Iseli 

Thousands of smiling people in usual and funny costumes are chatting or dancing on “Raining man”. 
“We are here to celebrate love. My wife is sick today and stayed at home. I am sitting with our kids, so we decided to come here. It is very important for people to have right to love whom they want”, - says Morgan Kauppi, a father of 5 years old Bente and 2 years old Iseli, who are having fun waving the flags.

Two 66 years old friends Ingrid and Malin are in the center of the gathering.
“We came here, because it’s fun - everyone loves and support each other. And of course, coming here is a statement. Not in all countries people have an opportunity and right to love whom they want. That is why it is important for us to come here and express support to gay people in the whole world”, - they say.

The long column full of joy, happy smiles, good mood and lots of love in the air starts to move along the city center, attracting smiles of random strangers.