Experience Helsinki's Inclusivity and Vibrant LGBTQI+ Scene with Tom of Finland Exhibition
In Helsinki, capital of the world’s happiest nation, we believe that inclusiveness, art and culture are key enablers of a good life. Helsinki’s LGBTQI+ scene is active and open to all. From coffee shops and clubs to museums to Helsinki Pride celebrations, not to mention our gorgeous archipelago, the capital of Finland has a lot to offer.
According to the World Happiness Report rankings, Finland is once again the world's happiest country in 2023 for the sixth year in a row. The tolerance and inclusiveness of Finnish society are among the main contributing factors to the nation’s happiness. In Finland, the Marriage Act legalises same-sex marriage, and the new Act on Legal Recognition of Gender entered into force in April 2023.
“Helsinki has always represented to me freedom and the opportunity to experience diversity, as well as the opportunity to blend in with the crowd at the same time,” says Annu Kemppainen, who started in November 2022 as Executive Director of the Helsinki Pride community.
Helsinki Pride Week is the biggest cultural and human rights event in Finland. Pride Week takes place this year from 26 June to 2 July, and everyone is invited to enjoy the Helsinki Pride parade and park celebrations on Saturday 1 July. “The City of Helsinki has been Pride’s main cooperation partner for years. It’s a big declaration that puts Helsinki in the position of value leader,” continues Kemppainen.
“Helsinki is still a hidden gem tourist destination among the rainbow community. This is a city where human rights are realised and everyone is welcome, and the rainbow scene lives and develops constantly. This summer, the legendary DTM gay club will reopen in a new location. In Helsinki, visitors can combine in a unique way the urban buzz – cultural experiences, top restaurants and lively nightlife – with the peace offered by the surrounding nature and archipelago,” says Hannu Medina, Founder of We Speak Gay Community and Gay Travel Finland.
“This year's new Amos Anderssons Hem home museum and the Tom of Finland exhibition at Kiasma are great places to visit that open up the history of the rainbow community. The life of Tove Jansson and message of her Moomins also resonate strongly in the hearts of the rainbow community,” Medina continues.
Freedom of artistic expression
One of the highlights of Helsinki’s cultural offerings in 2023 is the Tom of Finland exhibition at Kiasma, the Museum of Contemporary Art. Tom of Finland (born Touko Valio Laaksonen, 1920–1991) ranks among the most internationally acclaimed artists to come out of Finland. His drawings of happy gay men proudly enjoying their sexuality were revolutionary at a time when homosexuality was still considered a crime and fetishism classified as a disease. His art has been liberating and empowering for countless gay men and sexual minorities for decades.
Tove Jansson (1914–2001), painter and the mother of the Moomins, lived and influenced in Helsinki. She placed her love, theatre director Vivica Bandler, in the centre of the Helsinki City mural “Party in the City” already in 1947 – visible today at HAM, the Helsinki Art Museum. From 1957, she shared her life with Tuulikki Pietilä, spending summers together on the island of Klovharu. This summer, The Summer Book, Jansson’s timeless classic telling about endless summer days in the archipelago, becomes film with Glenn Close as lead actress.
In the Generation 2023 exhibition at Amos Rex, young artists between the ages of 15 and 23 get the chance to convey their ideas to address today’s biggest issues. Many people turn their eyes to the coexistence between man and nature, but the works in the exhibition also deal with norms related to gender identity and appearance and take us forward in questioning familiar concepts. Who has the right to wear a dress, and who gets to define gender? We have moved on from the time of Tom of Finland and Tove Jansson, and today art is one way to openly raise socially important issues in public discussion.
Learn more about Helsinki’s offerings and meet your local guides to LGBTQI+ Helsinki at MyHelsinki.fi