CHILE: Pride and marriage

An optimistic start to Pride Month, the Chilean president announced this week he would back an equal marriage bill:

That being said, he’s the outgoing president, and this bill has been stalled in the Chilean Congress since 2017, so while it is a very positive step, who knows what the political reality will be. LGBTQ rights have been steadily improving over the past decade in Chile, though of course there’s still work to be done (as in any country – Chile got rid of its blood ban back in 2013, while Canada still hasn’t).

That being said, there’s serious positive momentum for equal rights, and Santiago has a really awesome-looking Pride parade every year – I’d love to go!

FINLAND: Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo

Picked up a really interesting and different book by a Finnish author for this month – Troll: A Love Story by Johanna Sinisalo (it’s titled “Not Before Sundown” in everything but the North American release). Troll is set in a slightly altered present day Finland, where trolls (in their European folklore roots) exist as a type of wild animal. Angel, a young photographer, rescues one from being attacked by teens and secretly takes it home to care for it. With that, he ends up set down a dramatic path that overturns his life.

It’s a fast read but a compelling one, with constantly shifting viewpoints even in the same scene, and interspersed with both real and modified excerpts from other sources on trolls – folklore, journalism, fiction. The novel has a deeper subtext about the meaning of possession and power in relationships, especially in queer relationships. Almost all the characters are gay men, and this ties skilfully into the flow and flavour of the conflict in this novel.

ISRAEL: Dana International – Diva / LGBTQ community in Israel

Israel has won Eurovision a few times, but most notable was in 1998 with Dana International becoming the first trans artist to win the competition. Here’s her winning performance:

The Guardian has a great article on her career and on her role in raising trans visibility in the arts in Israel and Europe. Israel is generally positive on LGBTQ rights and representation (Tel Aviv’s Pride fest is legendary), but there are tensions with the ultra-Orthodox community and a lack of active support from right-wing governments.

As there are no civil marriages in Israel, only religious, and the decisions on marriage are decided by largely Orthodox rabbis – Israel still does not allow same sex marriage, but will recognize marriages in other countries. So while Israel does pride itself as being more supportive of its LGBTQ community than its neighbours, there’s still a fair bit to go.