Today is a national election day and Mrs. Johanna Sigurdardottir steps down as Iceland´s prime minister and the world´s first openly gay head of government after four years in office. No matter where you stand in politics, if you agree or disagree to the politics and vision Johanna stood for, we should be able to agree that an openly gay head of state has made a significance for the LGBT community and for the better.
The fact that she is a lesbian, has brought a lot of attention around the world which is important for gay people of all nationalities wherever they live. The absence of openly gay politicians is something we definitely need to address and change, our voice has to be heard on all levels if we are to make a difference for the better.
We can only hope that the legacy of Johanna will encourage more gay people to stand up and be active on the frontline of everyday politics. An absence only translates into silence and silence translates into invisibility which we´ve been fighting so hard for such a long time to break. And there is still much work to be done. A gay head of state, even in a small country like Iceland, sends a clear message to everyone, wherever they live. If we can do it, you can to.
I think many Icelanders don't realize the significance of all of this and how much it matters, not only for the wellbeing of the LGBT community alone but for human rights campaigning in general. When elected the local media hardly saw this as an important issue (she is gay and lives with her wife) or they simply chose to ignored it, at least in the beginning. It was only after all the attention we received from abroad we realized the world was watching and this was important. I´m sure her official visit to China with her wife Jonina Leosdottir recently will spark conversation among Chinese lgbt activist and fuel their fight for recognition just to give one recent example of that very significance.
We can only hope that Johanna´s legacy will pave the way for gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexual people, in Iceland and around the world, to step up and brake the invisibility on the political forefront. We are responsible for our destin, we can´t rely on someone else make good things come our way. It´s upon us to do it.