BEARS INTERNATIONAL CULTURE DAYS IN STOCKHOLM
Stockholm -- An international gathering of Bears and Bear organizations saluted Bear culture in the Swedish capital on a two-day Bear International event September 6-7, 2017 with presentations, art work and films.
One of the aims of the event was to illustrate some of the works of Bear International Art Diploma winners 2016 and 2017 -- this time including Charlie Hunter and Mike Wyeld of Canada/UK and Luis Loras of Spain -- whose works were highly appreciated by the audiences.
One presentation in person came from John Earhart, chairman of Norway Bears (Den Norske Bamseklubben) focusing on exchanges between the Norwegians and Bear organizations in Russia, Ukraine and Estonia. He also commented on and past and future Norwegian visits to Moscow and St. Petersburg as welcome by the Russians struggling with Putin's ban on "homosexual propaganda."
Andrus K. of the new Belarus Bear group, Lokys, -- in Stockholm for a international journalist conference -- expressed a strong desire for increased LGBT contacts with Nordic Bear organizations and with other colleagues in this the last dictatorship in Eastern Europe. He also described intensive efforts to educate Belarus journalists working in a very homophobic media to understand the importance of LGBT rights and culture.
New Nordic Bear Website Spreading Information Thoughout the Nordic zone and beyond
Joakim J. of the Nordic Bears described their creation of a new Nordic Bear website to provide current information on Bear organizations and events in the Nordic area, eventually to include activities of colleagues in Eastern Europe and elsewhere.
Bill Schiller of Bears International explained the organizations aims to promote Bear culture and international solidarity. The network is open not only to men but also to women, trans, bi-sexuals, immigrants, refugees, HIV positives, differently-abled and queer-minded. "We want to break the stereotype concept -- that Bears are only interested in beers, parties and sex hidden away in underground pubs -- but to confirm that Bears are also producers of high-quality art, music and films -- and proudly take their place on the rainbow barricades such as at local Prides, Baltic Prides and other LGBT events -- especially important in Eastern Europe where political and religious leaders and a homophobic media insist that gays are only "half men" -- undeserving of human rights or protection from discrimination and violence," Schiller adds.
Bear culture Events Inspired by Colleagues in Tallinn
"The promotion of Bear Culture was inspired by the Bearty-Tallinn Bear organization in the Estonian capital," Schiller says, noting that the Estonians sent greetings to Stockholm but were unable to participate in person as they were attending an international Bear festival in Sitges, Spain. At their annual event in Tallinn, the Estonians focused one year on Bear art and photography, the next year on music and song and in 2018 the focus will be on Bear films.
A message from the Ukranian Bears mentioned that only a few Bears participated in Kiev Pride this year, but that the chief Pride organizer is urging the Bears to increase their number next year and to march under the Bear flag. The Ukrainian Bears are calling on Bear colleagues in the Nordic region to join them at the event in Kiev next June.
The two-day Bear cultural event was organized with the ILGCN (international rainbow culture network) Information Secretariat-Stockholm with the support of Tupilak (Nordic rainbow culture workers) and Nordic Bears-Stockholm. It took place at three Stockholm venues -- the PositivHIVa group local (for men having sex with men), the SLM locale and the gay-friendly Stockholm pub, Secret Garden located on the Old Town city island.
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