Bears International 2021 #bearculture awards
Bears International is a division of ILGCN (Int Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network) that is led by Bill Schiller, Stockholm, Sweden. Bill has been a regular esteemed guest at Tallinn Bearty, every year, first and foremost to present awards for outstanding contributions to different laureates advancing #bearculture and LGBT equal rights.
This year, because of ongoing pandemic restrictions Bill cannot travel to Tallinn, and Tallinn Bearty is virtual, so we asked few questions from him instead.
TB: how has ILGCN doing looking forward?
Bill: The ILGCN was started at an ILGA (international lesbian & gay association) conference in Paris in 1992, told by the political activists once again that legislative reform was the only priority and that LGBT culture was an unimportant rival for time and energy. The ILGCN has always argued that rainbow culture is a powerful weapon against homophobia and silence, and is a worthy colleague -- not a rival -- on the human rights barricade. The ILGCN has several volunteer secretariats in Eastern Europe where homophobia is rampant, North America, literature, theater/performances, for and about the elderly LGBT, and recently -- #BearCulture.
TB: your led organization gives out also awards what we like to call in a broad category of #bearculture, tell us who are the laureates in 2021?
Bill: Even before the creation of the ILGCN Bears' Culture Secretariat, the ILGCN's "Bears International" team of activists in Poland, Estonia, Sweden, Norway, Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus has over the years handed out a number of award diplomas. These are named after ancient Greek heroes and legends to remind us all of a time when men were proud of their male lovers.
This year's Hyacinthus 2021 (lover of Apollo) for outstanding artwork and human rights work goes to activist and filmmaker Leo Herrera of Mexico/USA. Leo's most notable work is The Fathers Project, queer utopia about HIV/AIDS and if that hadn't happen. Take a full uninterrupted, uncencored view HERE
The Iolaus 2021 (lover of Hercules) for courageous LGBT work in the face of ferocious homophobia goes to Sergei Zimin of St. Petersburg, Russia.
The Calais 2021 (lover of Orpheus) for networking, travel, and information linkage goes to the Bear World Magazine of the United Kingdom.
TB: any final words to all of us?
Bill: Give these three laureates -- and earlier award winners -- extra online applause! The heteronormative world showers its people with all kinds of awards and trophies all the time while we are often too shy to give a pat on the back to those who give so much time and energy to culture and LGBT rights.
Are Bears on the LGBT barricades? Some say no -- we are happy to guzzle our beers undisturbed in dark cellars. But I think we are indeed a fighting force on those rainbow barricades and in seminars with our art, films, music, and our presence in those Pride parades.
And we deliver a powerful message both to the heteros and to the other sometimes snobbish gays: we can be of any size, any age, of any profession, dressed as we wish, with a cane or in a wheelchair -- smashing all the stereotypes that homophobic politicians, religious leaders, far-right conservatism or mass media (especially in Eastern Europe!) want to force on us. Another admirable characteristic - we are not provincials who do not care about the situation of Bears and other LGBT people face in other countries.
TALLINN BEARTY is an excellent example of promoting #Bearculture -- music, art, films -- and reaching out to bears facing rough situations elsewhere, in Eastern Europe, and beyond.
Greetings to all you onlline bears at TALLINN BEARTY this year!