Minorities Helsinki’s senior home received an award for its inventions from Seta – This is what the finally evolving rights of minorities mean for the elderly

Older homosexuals have lived much of their lives branded as either criminals or sick. Now they tell how it has felt to live for decades in hiding.

Muppa, i.e. the cross between grandma and papa. That’s 67 years old Kuisma Savisalo is a friend to the child. She also has her own grandchildren, and the new home also has a room for Savisalo’s spouse Ipan for children.

Ipa only appears in the story with her first name, as she has previously been the subject of hate speech after appearing in a newspaper story. Kuisma is also used as a first name at his request.

Now the couple is sitting on the couch at home talking about their lives. At the same time, Kuisma makes handicrafts, in the background Ipan’s teenage child clicks on the phone and listens to the conversation with his ear.

“During Pride Week, we can show everyone that there are other people in the world. We don’t go back to the closet, ”Ipa says.

Kuisma participated for the first time in the Pride procession in the mid-2000s. Before attending, she still had to tell her children that her mother was a lesbian.

Ipa and her partner Kuisma Savisalo met in Tinder. It was a different acquaintance for both through the app – coincidentally, they had both first dated the same person.

Participating in the procession was a big celebration for Kuisma.

“It was liberating to finally be yourself. I had been thinking for 20 years about what I am. ”

Behind him was a long marriage in which many children had been born. Kuisma hadn’t been able to define herself during the relationship, but there had been a strange feeling in her back of her head that she wasn’t quite sitting in the mold.

“When there is a huusholl full of small children, you don’t have time to think about such things,” Kuisma laughs.

In 2005, she divorced her husband.

Changes did not run out of it. In her sixties, Kuisma began to reflect on her gender identity. He wanted to find a word to describe himself, something to tell relatives and friends about himself.

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Kuisma received help from the Gender Identity Research Outpatient Clinic. Many continue from research to the process of gender correction, words were enough for Kuisma. After a few years, they were found: a transgender transgender.

“At this age, it’s easier to go through your own identity. There is age and life experience, and professionals feel better. I think young people get tough when it comes to insisting that they have a mental health condition. When it is that uncertainty and minority stress that cause depression! ” Kuisma bursts.

To the aging Attention to the rainbow crowd has also begun in senior services.

The Kinapor service center in Helsinki has received Seta’s rainbow certification, which is a sign of the organisation’s commitment to promoting equality and equality. Kamppi’s service center has also received a certificate.

The rainbow certificate is visible in the everyday life of the service center, among other things, through operations. Director of Kinapor Senior Center Sari Hedman says that the house hosts workshops, peer groups and a lighter program, such as a rainbow grand disco in the spirit of Pride.

“We also have equality theses in use. They are visible in public areas. They make it easier for staff to deal with discriminatory speech, ”says Hedman.

Theses can be used to justify why a particular type of use is not acceptable.

He says that equality is also being promoted through external signs: a rainbow-colored interior and the avoidance of unnecessary sexualisation. Toilets, for example, are now unisex toilets.

According to Ipa and Kuisma Savisalo, attitudes have also changed within the rainbow community. If in the past lesbians were expected to wear a hedgehog and a plaid shirt, diversity is better understood today.

Toilet also emerge in the speeches of Kuisma and Ipa. They feel wonderful that there is always “someone with a flower hat” to tell you that they are in the wrong toilet.

“If you deviate a little from the norm, someone else will immediately explain to us where the toilet should go. Yes, we know how to take care of it ourselves, ”the duo says together.

Minority stress, that is, fear of discrimination and outright violence, is still present in everyday life. Even though times have changed.

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“I wish I could be as calm as it is. And people would not be allowed to spread hate speech in public, ”says Kuisma.

But sometimes they are pleasantly surprised.

Before Kuisma and Ipa moved into their current apartment, Kuisma had time to live in the Pasila Senior Center. He was afraid he would face prejudice among his peers and himself with his parents – and he was wrong.

“I was prejudiced myself! I was able to be seen and heard and be myself, ”says Kuisma.

For his part, Kuisma strives to change prejudices by acting as an experience trainer. He visits his own experiences, for example, in schools and service centers for the elderly.

Just The stories of experiential experts like Kuisma have been helpful in the work of Hedman, who runs the senior center.

“The stories have been really touching. Until 1971, homosexuality was a crime. The disease classification was removed ten years later. They have been suffering from stigma for a long time, ”says Hedman.

He acknowledges that there may sometimes be a more prejudiced gender and sexual minority among the older population. Staff training would also be important, Hedman said. This should be taken into account in in-service training as well.

“Sometimes the world and Finland have wondered whether it would be necessary to build their own senior centers for rainbow people. Unfortunately, this has to be considered as long as equality is not properly implemented and it does not seem safe for minorities to move to a service house, for example, ”says Hedman.

74 years old Hemmi Palm came out of the closet in 2016. He spoke to the magazine under his own name and face and sent a newspaper story to his brother and cousins.

“You have a demon, we have to pray for you,” was the reply.

Palm laughs. The reaction was no surprise, after all, he had been concealing his sexual identity for decades. All his life, Palm from North Karelia had also listened to how relatives hoped he would start a normal life and find a wife for himself.

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Palm’s childhood home was very religious. In the Roma community, private life was not talked about openly anyway.

When Palm encountered his first love, a man, in Sweden in the early 70s, the relationship ended after two years. He returned to Finland with a broken heart and depression. The family passed Palm to get help. For doctors and relatives, Palm came up with a cover story about a broken engagement with a woman.

“I was afraid they would inject therapy and give terrible medication. That they are trying to integrate. ”

“I believe in the true love that is in my mother’s eyes,” Hemmi Palm says.

A few a year later, Palm moved to Helsinki and found the group he described as the men’s district. There was also a partner with whom Palm lived for 26 years. Hidden, of course.

“It was cat-and-mouse play. We were never openly together, ”says Palm.

The relationship ended with the death of a partner. Palm was allowed to attend the memorial service, but the priest overtook the long relationship, noting that “a brother often went to see the deceased”.

Since then, Palm has been alone. Or not all alone, for six years ago the Amo cat moved in. Palm still doesn’t get used to the exterior.

“I’m a stranger everywhere, and I can’t share my feelings with anyone.”

Palm already knew in his teens that he was gay. However, he has still not found his place.

Palm says he doesn’t care about bars or dancing. In addition, Romanina represents a minority among the minority and has also faced racism within the rainbow community.

But the world has changed. Society no longer condemns in the same way as before. Sometimes he meets younger gays, and that’s when Palm feels a small sting of jealousy.

“My own life is kind of wasted,” Palm describes.

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