Ahmed Fahady is one of the health buddies who work for Hivpoint, the Finnish HIV Foundation. Fahady has been active as a health buddy since 2019. Advocating sexual health is a matter of heart to Fahady and the workshops he has hosted around sexual health have been extremely inspiring and innovative!
Hi Fahady! This year’s Helsinki Pride theme is “role models”. You have spoken openly about sexual rights and sexual equality in your work as a Hivpoint health buddy. The health buddies have been trained by Hivpoint to conduct workshops on sexual health and rights in migrant and refugee communities in Finland. Your way of speaking about LGBTIQ-rights and equality makes you a role model for so many people.
I’m interested in knowing, how has activism about sexual rights and sexual equality impacted your own identity?
I have been discussing, teaching and talking publicly about topics related to sexual health, sexual equality and sexual rights to immigrants from all kinds of nationalities who have moved to Finland recently. During this process I started to be open about myself and LGBTIQ-issues and that impacted my personality and identity positively. To me, positive impact came, when I started to be open about myself to myself and to others.
Of course, talking openly about sexual health, sexual equality and sexual rights has impacted my own sexuality in a positive way. Before being a health buddy, I didn’t really care about protecting myself and others from STIs, but now I follow safety instructions and care about myself and others. Sexual health is an important part of human wellbeing. I now know what sexual rights I have, and others have.
How has active speaking impacted your desire to promote equality?
Talking about LGBTIQ-rights has directed me so much to promote equality -the equality that we didn’t have in my home country. In Finland it’s clear that everyone needs to promote equality. It’s not optional, it’s a must for us and It should come from our heart not from an authority.
What kind of role models did you miss while growing up?
I came to Finland when I was 24 years old. I grew up in a society where we had a totally binary idea of gender. There was only man and woman and everyone who didn’t belong to this binary, was odd and strange. I was missing all kinds of LGBTIQ role models when I grew up. Before I came to Finland, I didn’t know anything about the spectrum of gender and sexual orientation.
What makes you speak out about sexual rights, equality and sexual health?
There are two things that give me the desire and strength to speak out. First, I’m in Finland and here I feel safe to speak about it publicly. Second, the audience, the people who are listening, are listening with open eyes and ears. They think with their minds not with their emotions. In my own country I would not have felt as safe to speak about these topics and I would not have had the right people listening to me. Everyone who would have listened to me about LGBTIQ-rights would have felt like it’s a bad thing to talk about sexual equality and different sexual orientations or gender identities. I would have risked my own life talking about LGTBIQ-issues. Here in Finland I have the right, I have the ability and I have the voice to talk about these issues.
What has happened when You have spoken about LGBTIQ-rights in Finland? Have some positive things come into your life as a result of speaking out?
Yes [Fahady nods emphatically]! Positive things have come into my life as a result of speaking out. Being open about myself made me happy and I got to know many amazing people from the LGBTIQ-community. That really made my life much better.
On the other hand, has there been any negative things as a result of speaking about LGBTIQ-rights?
Even in Finland when I’m talking publicly about sexual equality and sexual health there are still people who criticize me for talking about this. Some people have even thought that Finland has paid me to talk about sexual equality. So, there have been some negative situations too.
What kinds of greetings would you like to send to people during Helsinki Pride week?
Thank you so much for speaking about equality. You are representing millions of people around the world who are not able to talk. Thank you so much from all my heart. Stay strong. Although we got the equal-marriage law in Finland, we still need to continue the work for equality. It’s important that we continue this activity and defend the rights of gender and sexual minorities. Do not care about the small amount of people that tries to shut you off. Don’t care about them, don’t spend time listening to them, just be yourself. Thumbs up for you!