Story behind Gay Travel Finland
This Gay Travel Finland site is a dream come true for me and my husband Raúl Medina. We are the first gay couple to get married in Finland on the first of March 2017. Before and after our wedding we spent a couple of days in a hotel in Helsinki, hotel Helka. Our wedding pictures were taken in the hotel. During our whole stay I felt really good and safe, both as a gay man, a gay couple but also as a guest. But it was only after we were back in Turku, where we lived at that time, that I started wondering why I felt so good. I realized that it was about the values of the hotel. I could feel the values of diversity, inclusivity and equality in the atmosphere, in the attitudes of the staff towards LGBTQ people. I could see real actions in social media, the hotel was posting our wedding pictures and taking a stand, making a difference.
After this I started wondering is there similar kind of hotels, other places like restaurants, coffee places that are making noise about themselves, promoting these values, talking about gay-friendliness and really understanding what it means to be gay-friendly and why you need to be gay-friendly. I realized very quickly that there really are similar places but they are not communicating about themselves to the LGBTQ traveler or LGBTQ people in general. And you know why? Because they feel that it is obvious that everybody is welcome and everybody can feel safe. But this is not the case for LGBTQ people. Especially if you coming from a country where being gay is not accepted, either it is a crime or it is not socially acceptable. Most of the LGBTQ people in the world are living in countries where this is the case.
Gay Travel Finland launched in 2018
In January 2018 I launched Gay Travel Finland to promote Finland and Finnish gay-friendly brands to LGBTQ travelers around the world. Finland is one of the most gay-friendly countries in the world but we have not been very good in promoting it. I started educating brands, companies and destinations on gay-friendly marketing and communication and that is still big part of my job. I also give lectures in schools about LGBTQ travel, about diversity and inclusivity in marketing.
We Speak Gay is not just a brand – it’s a community
Very soon after launching this site and when educating companies, people started to ask more about tools for branding and for communicating their values every day. How could they make everybody feel safe and welcome every single day? That is when we came up with the We Speak Gay slogan together with my partner companies. We Speak Gay Community is a community of open minded companies and events that are welcoming to LGBTQ customers creating a safe atmosphere in which you can feel valued and respected. When using the We Speak Gay sticker in the window or logo on the WEB page the companies express values of diversity and inclusivity.
It’s not just about sexuality – it’s more about values
From the very beginning it has been more important for me to talk about values than just about sexuality. I understand that sometimes people feel more safe when they are mingling with their own kind of people. That is why we have gay clubs and bars. But for me personally diversity and inclusivity are more important. That everybody is welcome, everybody can feel safe and respected. On the Gay Travel Site we are promoting so called gay scene companies but more the diverse and open-minded We Speak Gay members.
Why We Speak Gay sticker or logo needed?
We Speak Gay sticker is needed to communicate already beforehand about the attitudes of the company towards diversity. Making everybody feel included. But of course this is not enough. You need to feel it as well. When you enter a We Speak Gay company whether it is restaurant, a hotel or a coffee place I want you to really feel it. This is a process of learning and doing things. I want to work for these values every single day. I help companies first and foremost to understand diversity and then start making actions to promote these values in real life. My husband is Mexican, foreigner in Finland, I have adoptive children from Asia. When you look different or feel different, compared to most of the people around you, these things matter. Representation is important. The companies need to have more diversity in their pictures and social media in order to make everybody feel included.
We are making progress and moving forward but of course there is still a lot to do. But for sure Finland is already a good place to live. We just need to work even harder and understand each other better.
You can read more about us Hannu and Raúl Medina in lifeof2men page