The LGBT Activism in Estonia: Gender Perspectives

Tuesday, July 15, 2014: 8:30 AM
Room: 501
Oral Presentation
Airi-Alina ALLASTE , Tallinn University, Estonia
The history of the gay movement in Estonia is largely undocumented, since during the Soviet period, gay networks were completely 'underground',no official organisations existed, and accordingly, no official records of it were available.During the Soviet period, homosexuality was illegal; male homosexualacts were decriminalised only in 1992. There were signs of an emergentmovement since the late 1980s and a number of pioneering NGOs wereestablished in the 1990s, although a strong umbrella organisation remained absent. In the most recent period several NGO-s have beenestablished but subsequently closed down for various reasons.

Today, Estonia's LGBT activism is is very much a youth movement, rather lesbian-centred, loosely connected and with a number of distinguishable clusters of activism. Different NGO-s focus on various issues and in some represent smaller groups. A specific cluster in the movement is related to political art and feminism, which is becoming rather visible in Estonia. Theoretically Estonian LGBT movement is conceptualised as identity-based movement insearch of strategies of involvement.

The empirical part of the paper considers the findings of participant observation in various events organised by LGBT activists in 2012-2103, and in-depth interviews with them. In particular, the paper considers: how LGBT activism is defined by individual participants involved at the moment; explanations of the female-centeredness in LGBT activism, and gender specific differences on these explanations.