Gay and happy in Jyväskylä
The LGBT community is thriving in Jyväskylä with SETA hosting numerous social events for people of all persuasions.
Jyväskylä might not be able to boast the largest gay club in Scandinavia – that honour goes to Don’t Tell Mama club in Helsinki. In fact, there are no gay clubs in Jyväskylä at all, but that doesn’t mean that the LGBT community is not alive and kicking in this little city.
In many countries homosexuality is ridiculed or even illegal. Finland is considered a ‘gay friendly’ country with legislation protecting gay rights. The Association for Sexual Equality SETA is the national support and social group for LGBT people.
”In Finland it’s quite safe for same-sex couples to be affectionate in public, but it could be risky late at night. Male couples are more likely to be targets of street violence than female couples. That might be a universal issue, not unique to Jyväskylä”, tell Petri Janhunen and Jani Teittinen of SETA Jyväskylä.
If you are concerned – especially as a foreigner – of getting unwanted attention from street bullies then rest assured that same-sex couples are free and safe to show affection at the monthly SETA-hosted parties.
”Finns don’t really feel the need to define themselves by sexuality” says Jarkko Kekki, a language student at the University of Jyväskylä.
”It’s not something they feel the need to show off.”
Thus, it might be harder for foreigners used to more flamboyance perhaps to identify and interact with gay Finns.
SETA Jyväskylä is very active amongst the students, hosting parties and other cultural events on a regular basis. Monthly parties, known as Club Kaappi (Club Closet) are held in Ilokivi and students of all sexual persuasions are welcome to attend. These parties offer the perfect opportunity for Finns and foreigners to get to know each other in a fun and friendly environment.
An annual gay and lesbian film festival is also hosted each year by Vinokino. The most recent event was held 5.–6.11. in Ilokivi. Jyväskylä’s SETA hosted the Vinokino and Club Kaappi event together providing loads of entertainment the entire weekend, with a party co -hosted by Club Lunatic Eclipse on the Saturday.
”There were 7 screenings. Movies included ones for men, women, trans-people and even one for fag-hags! All people were welcome, and maybe a little different view of life,” tell Janhunen and Teittinen. The next SETA party in Ilokivi is Club Kaappi’s Pikkujoulut 3.12.
SETA also offers support for transgendered individuals.
”Locally we have a support group for transgendered people of all ages and nationalities”, say Janhunen and Teittinen.
”Transgendered issues are taken into account in legislation too. The law secures a transperson’s rights to medical examinations and physiological treatments at specialised trans-clinics”, they emphasise.
No matter what your sexual preference, or how you choose to define yourself, there is a community in Jyväskylä offering friendship and support, so don’t be afraid to be who you are.
Suzanne van Rooyen
Club Kaappi goes bar Bra 24.11.
SETA JKL: http://www.jklseta.fi/english.php;
The Trans Group: firstname.lastname@example.org