There’s going to be a ‘Moomin Pride’ event in the UK this year – and it already looks adorable

This year, you’ll be able to celebrate the joy of queer found family at the UK’s first Moomin Pride event.

The Moomins, hippo-like creatures dreamt up by Finnish illustrator and writer Tove Jansson, are deeply rooted in the LGBTQ+ community.

The Common Press, London’s first consciously queer intersectional bookshop and events space, will host the Pride Month event celebrating the queer sensibilities of these cute, bumbling creatures. 

Jansson wrote and illustrated stories about the lives of Moomins in their safe home, Moominvalley, from 1945 until the 1970s.

Her books and comic strips have been translated into some 50 languages and are enjoyed by both children and adults who find escapism in the Moomin’s welcoming nature. 

What are the Moomins?

Tove Jansson, the author and artist behind the Moomin universe, had several queer relationships during her life. (YouTube/Moomin Official/Moomin Characters)

Moomins are white, roundish creatures with large snouts who live in Moominvalley, a peaceful and idyllic natural land. Known for their love of journeying and exploration, typically venturing out to sea, they hibernate when their homeland becomes blanketed in snow.

How are the Moomins queer coded?

The Moomins have become accepted as characters and stories laden with queer themes. 

Many find identification in the Moomins because they symbolise a chosen family who protect one another and celebrate their true selves.

Through a queer lens, the Moomins also defy gender roles. Masculine and feminine notions become blurred and the gender of the characters is rarely established. 

But it’s not just in Moominvalley where queer notions exist. The Moomin creator’s queer sexuality also reveals the LGBTQ+ foundations on which the creatures exist.

Was Moomin creator Tove Jansson queer?

Tove Jansson created the Moomin universe to escape the horrors of World War II and to be able to “get away from my gloomy thoughts”. (BBC/YouTube/who knows)

Jansson, who died in 2001, aged 86, had several romantic relationships with women.

According to the Moomin website, Jansson never tried to hide her sexuality, even though homosexuality remained illegal in Finland until 1971.

She reportedly said that she “always fell in love with a person,” and didn’t care what gender they identified as.

Jansson’s romances and lovers were secretly included in Moominvalley.

In the 1940s, Jansson fell in love with theatre director Vivica Bandler, who was already married. The pair wrote letters to each other using coded language, very similar to what Moomin characters Thingumy and Bob do.

In the original Swedish, their names are traced back to Tofslan and Vifslan, the nicknames that Jansson and Bandler used for each other. 

Moomin creator Tove Jansson spent several summers on a remote Finnish island with Tuulikki Pietilä, the love of her life. (BBC/YouTube/who knows)

Thingumy and Bob also carry a secret in their suitcase: the radiating King’s Ruby. It’s not a stretch to interpret this as an embodiment of the pair’s forbidden love. The gem must be hidden from sight, perhaps a nod to the fact that the couple’s romance was kept from public view.

In 1956, Jansson met her future life-long partner, graphic artist Tuulikki Pietilä. They went on to collaborate on several Moomin-related projects including the Moominhouse and 3-D pieces in the Moomin museum in the Finnish city of Tampere.

Jansson and Pietilä lived together for 45 years in adjacent studios in Helsinki.

The character of Too-Ticky is said to be based on Pietilä, known to her friends as Tooti.

Jansson’s legacy is a place where kindness, love and acceptance are paramount. 

The Moomin Pride event is on 19 June. (Moomin/Riot Communications)

What is the Moomin Pride event?

The first official Moomin Pride event in the UK is set to take place this Pride month.

Speaking about the event, James Zambra, the creative director of Moomin Characters, said: “Tove Jansson was a trailblazer for the LGBTQIA+ community, and her art continues to be cherished by those who identify with it.

“It’s a wonderful continuation of Tove’s legacy to be able to host the first Moomin Pride event in the UK with The Common Press, who have that same pioneering spirit.”

Freddie Merry Ruddock, bookshop manager of The Common Press, added: “The Moomins represent so much of the queer experience. They’re a beautiful embodiment of chosen family and radical acceptance.

“The Moomins have been a major part of my life since childhood, as the Snufkin tattoo on my ankle proves, so it feels very special to be celebrating Pride with them here at The Common Press.”

Visitors will get an exclusive Pride tote bag featuring Jansson’s artwork as a keepsake.

Find tickets and more information about the event, which takes place on 19 June, here.

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