Diversity and Inclusion
Helsinki: One of the World’s Most LGBTQ+-Friendly Cities
"It's crucial to say that everyone is welcome in Helsinki," states Hannu Medina. Dedicated to making Finland even more inclusive, he's the force behind the travel guide Gaytravelfinland.com and collaborates closely with Strawberry. Photo: Mika Ruusunen
"I realised that Finland is one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly countries in the world, but we weren't doing much to promote or communicate this to the outside world and the community."
"So, in 2018, I started the website," says Hannu Medina.
In recent years, the Finn has worked tirelessly to assist Finnish companies and organisations in demonstrating an even stronger commitment to inclusion.
His company/community, We Speak Gay, offers training and courses on the subject. The mission of the travel website is to provide information and knowledge to visitors to Finland.
"In the process of creating the site, I discovered that many companies were keen to express their support for diversity and inclusion, but they lacked the vocabulary and tools to communicate this effectively."
"This is what led me to start We Speak Gay," he adds.
Klaus K Hotel: The Official Pride House
In Helsinki, Clarion Hotel® Helsinki, Clarion Hotel® Aviapolis, and Klaus K Hotel are all proud to be involved with We Speak Gay. During Pride week, Klaus K Hotel is honoured to serve as the official Pride House, hosting lectures, performances, and celebrations.
"I've filled my house, office, and hotels with gay, lesbian, and all possible children of the rainbow. Tolerance creates safety, and safety leads to openness—an open space to be different. We find that a colourful workplace creates colourful solutions," says Petter Stordalen, owner of Strawberry.
The founder of We Speak Gay tells Strawberry that strong, clear leadership voices are essential to improving things for everyone.
"Petter Stordalen is very pro LGBTQ, so it was natural for me to contact Strawberry when I embarked on this project. And perhaps the most crucial factor for a company wanting to improve on diversity and inclusion is that its leadership has a genuine desire for change, and it's not just a PR stunt. I sense this desire in Stordalen," says Hannu.
Excellent LGBTQ+ Destinations
Although Helsinki and other Nordic cities are safe and great travel destinations for LGBTQ+ visitors, Hannu believes that there's still some way to go.
"My impression is that many Nordic countries take diversity and inclusion for granted. We've become complacent because we have strong legislation protecting individuals in the LGBTQ+ community. Many people in the Nordic region think that everyone is welcome and that it's not a big deal to say this out loud, but this is not necessarily the perception within the community itself," he explains.
"If you've been hidden for as long as the LGBTQ+ community has historically, it can be difficult to suddenly feel that you're welcome everywhere," Hannu reminds us.
The Importance of Talking about Inclusion
This is why Hannu is pleased to see both Klaus K Hotel and GLO Hotel Art flying the progressive flag year-round, not just during Pride, and have it waving in the wind in front of their entrances.
"Small things like this are incredibly important and send a signal to the community that everyone is accepted here, regardless of their orientation."
"It's easy for some to say they support an important cause, but one must also dare to show that one stands by it. Even in tough times," says Hannu.
"We're well on the way in the right direction, but it's important for large companies to use their voice. If you don't loudly state that people are welcome, they won't know."
"Openness and information lead to inclusion and acceptance. It's crucial not just to think it but also to say it out loud," he concludes.