Tupilak, a Nordic network of Queer cultural workers, started its first Nordic Rainbow History and Art Month which took place in Umeå, Stockholm and Vilnius on October, 2016. Between the 29th and 31th of October a representative of Tupilak Bill Schiller with the assistance from LGL intern Ingrida Kaulinytė brought LGBT* culture to Vilnius by holding a three-day seminar in Paviljonas and Swedish Embassy. The seminar emphasized famous LGBT* people who made a historical contribution in arts, literature, LGBT* movement and science as well as raised several issues that LGBT* has to face to overcome homophobia and transphobia in the European as well as Non-European societies.
MP Marija Aušrinė Pavilionienė was invited to the first discussion that took place on 29th of October in Paviljonas. First Bill Schiller showed a short film Natten är Min about Swedish painter Eugène Fredrik Jansson (1862 –1915) who is most known for his paintings dominated by shades of blue and muscled naked men. His homoerotic paintings, was a long standing proof of the hidden suppressed desires during the time when homosexuality was a criminal offence. After the movie screening Ms. Pavilionienė received her long due Bifrost Award of 2014 for her contribution to LGBT* movement in Lithuania. During her term of office Ms. Pavilionienė was one of the few voices to raise LGBT* rights violations in the Lithuanian Parliament. Art historian Karolina Rimkutė, artist Gabrielė Gervickaitė and curator Laima Kreivytė were present as well and contributed to the discussion. The three participants gave insightful presentations on the struggles Lithuanian artists who don’t meet heteronormative and cis-normative confirmative face in the society and how these struggles reveal the institutionalized discrimination.
On 30th of October seminar continued in Paviljonas and Bill Schiller screened a short drama film When You hear The Bells, directed by Chabname Zariab. The film portrayed the existing prostitution of male children in the countries such as Afghanistan, where patriarchy is so domineering that women are not allowed to go outside without an escort let alone dance in public. This particular task is then undertaken by young boys who are forced to dance in front of the rich men, often leading to sexual abuse. The movie contradicted the view that only girls and women fall victims of forced prostitution. The movie was followed by a discussion and Bill Schiller presented several books from Lillies of the street project, an international art project arranged by Nordic Culture Point in order to raise awareness and break the stereotypes regarding prostitution.
On October 31th during the last day of Nordic Rainbow History & Art month the meeting took place in Swedish Embassy. There was a short presentation of LGL history prepared by Ingrida Kaulinytė, which included the recollection of LGL‘s breakthrough social campaigns as well as Baltic Pride. The meeting attracted people from different backgrounds who were willing to share memories on LGBT* movement in Lithuania and exchange advice on how to proceed further while fighting for LGBT* rights. Bill Schiller awarded LGL for organizing Baltic Pride 2016 by handing a 2016 Arco Nordica diploma to one of the Baltic Pride participants Veronika Štefečková, an EVS volunteer from LGL.
During the three days seminar Bill Schiller emphasized the fact that “Legislation is only half the battle, culture must be raised and used as a weapon to fight dominant homophobic views in our society”. Furthermore he added “The society where legislation is perfect does not necessarily contain tolerance. If a child is bullied in school for his or hers sexual orientation it is not enough to refer to the same sex marriage laws and look the other way. It just doesn’t work.”
Hopefully next year more cities and Nordic countries will participate in Nordic Rainbow History & Art Month and the event will gather a more widespread public awareness. The Nordic Rainbow History & Arts Month was the first event of Queer cultural workers co-operation in a Nordic history that united LGBT* cultural workers from different cities and countries. Tupilak’s representative Bill Schiller shared his aspirations to include more countries and cities from the Nordic area particularly those who are most oppressed since, according to him, culture is one way to fight the oppression. It will be further observed if this three-day seminar paved the way for the future international events on raising awareness on LGBT* culture.