Something wonderful happened this week, Estonia became the first post-Soviet country to allow same-sex couples to register their partnership.
As an Estonian abroad, I get asked a lot “so, what is Estonia like?”, as most people do not know much about it. I try and be positive cause Estonia has wonderful nature, a rich culture and history to offer. BUT I am always a little embarrassed to admit, other than technology, Estonia is not the most forward thinking country. Things might be different now but when I was growing up, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, discrimination- they were all something that were felt almost on a daily basis. I guess that is part of the Soviet inheritance to the older generation. Although, the last 5+ years have brought on nation-wide discussions on those topics, definitely already a change from my childhood. Yet, reading forums of national newspapers and seeing so many people approve of the use of the n-word and homophobic slurs, made me so mad and sad that I questioned my ability to reintegrate if I ever decided to go back to Estonia on a more permanent basis. I cannot help myself, I try and justify the actions of close-minded Estonians because Estonia is home but some things should not be justified in the 21st century.
This week, sitting in class in film school in Germany, during the break I quickly checked my Facebook feed and saw the good news. Later that evening I watched the video of the Estonian parliament voting on the issue and I will admit it, I teared up a little. While I completely understand that it is a whole different issue, me and my generation felt something similar than when our parents heard that Estonia became independent. As a straight, proud Estonian, I truly believe that this decision is a significant step towards Estonia’s future, from independence towards true freedom.