The Estonian LGBT Association on Tuesday marked the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) by hosting a Rainbow Heroes award gala in Tallinn, recognizing people, collectives and organizations who have promoted and stood with Estonia's LGBT+ lives and community.
Estonian LGBT Association communications director Kristiina Raud said that mutual recognition and thanking one another makes everyone happy, according to a press release.
"The Rainbow Hero award is one way the community can thank those who act on behalf of all of our well-being," Raud said. "This brings attention to wonderful and significant actions, but also brings us joy. Actually, we could all say thank you to one another more, for both big and small actions — this gives us strength as well as fosters human contact."
Tuesday's award gala was held at Sveta Bar, an inclusive venue in Tallinn's Telliskivi neighborhood. Hosted by association cooperation coordinator Anette Maletjärv, the gala was also simultaneously interpreted into Estonian Sign Language (ESL), and featured performances by LGBT+ choir Vikerlased, su/mi, Amory Tingz, DJ Dyke and Ikoona.
Awards were presented by drag artists Helgi Saldo, Nordika, Ms. Elsa and Eeben Früülep.
This year, Rainbow Heroes awards were awarded in eight categories:
-Sara Arumetsa — for their academic activity contributing to the understanding of transgender
-Elizaveta Cheremisina — for their prioritizing of LGBT+ youth welfare in youth work
-Rene Köster — as a promoter of queer and drag culture
-Aet Kuusik — for their enrichment and popularization of LGBT+ vocabulary and topics in the media
-Viktoria Šperova — in the "My own voice, or the community about itself" category, for sharing their story and experiences
-Gea Kangilaski — in politics, as a valuer of LGBT+ people's opportunities and of intersectionality
-Androgear OÜ — in business, as a company inclusive of the community
Presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award on Tuesday was Lilian Kotter, one of the first LGBT+ activists in the newly reindependent Estonia and one of the founders of the Estonian Lesbian Union (Eesti Lesbiliit), one of Estonia and the entire Baltics' first LGBT+ organizations.
Also honored at the gala was Yuri Yoursky, a Ukraine native activist currently living in Estonia whose focus has been LGBT+ welfare, especially in the realm of healthcare, and who has been raising awareness and supporting the LGBT+ people of Ukraine during the war there.
Heroes on IDAHOT
Since 2020, the Estonian LGBT Association has presented its Rainbow Hero awards on May 17, or the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT). Anyone is eligible to nominate someone for the award, with nominators' grounds for nomination carrying particular weight in the choosing of recipients.
In addition to public recognition, recipients of the award are also presented with a Rainbow Hero pin.
Click here (link in Estonian) to read more about previous years' recipients, which include Punch Drinks, Annika Laats, former President Kersti Kaljulaid, Heinrich Sepp a.k.a. Helgi Saldo and Marina Kaljurand.
The Estonian LGBT Association is a nonprofit dedicated to LGBT+ people and their loved ones whose mission is to influence policy and legislation via strategic advocacy work to ensure that the Estonian state provides equal opportunities to LGBT+ people.
Founded in 2008 as the nonprofit Estonian Gay Youth, the organization adopted its current name and shifted its primary focus to advocacy and training efforts in 2012.
Editor: Aili Vahtla