Dorottya Rédai, project coordinator of the fairytale book A Fairy Tale for Everyone (Meseország mindenkié), has been selected for Time Magazine‘s 100 most influential people of 2021. She says this recognition further encourages her to continue working “in the very hostile political environment we are living in.”
The book contains seventeen well-known fairytales reframed in a way in which the hero(es) belong(s) to a stigmatized or minority group such as the elderly, homosexuals, transsexuals, Roma, or people with disabilities; while adoption, extreme poverty, and children from abusive families are also featured among the tales’ themes.
The book’s publication caused outrage in radical right circles, just like in the Fidesz-led government and led to several scandals. Vice-president of the far-right Mi Hazánk (Our Homeland) party, Dóra Dúró, for example, shredded a copy of the book, while the prime minister himself said that Hungary is very tolerant of homosexuality, but homosexuals should leave children alone. Perhaps not independent from the hysteria it caused, the book topped and still tops several best-seller lists.
According to Time‘s explanation, “The LGBTI+ community in Hungary is one of the most popular targets for Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s hate crusades. Standing up to this takes a lot of courage. It means enduring smear campaigns in an already hostile societal environment of restricted press freedom and attacks on the rule of law and fundamental rights. This hostility is amplified by a bombardment of rhetoric that everybody who is different is a threat to the country.
Dorottya Rédai is a symbol of the courage needed in such an environment. In collaboration with fellow members of the Labrisz Lesbian Association and book editor, Boldizsár Nagy, the academic and activist spearheaded the development of the children’s book A Fairy Tale for Everyone, which incorporates LGBTI+ characters into reimaginings of traditional fairy tales.
This work shows so beautifully how colorful life is. It makes young people believe that—no matter who you are—there is a fairy tale waiting for you that is your life.
When publishing stories with lesbian, gay, and nonbinary characters becomes a reason to adopt laws restricting freedom of expression, it is clear that democracy is in grave danger. As it is in Hungary.
But there is hope.
And with people like Dorottya Rédai and her colleagues at the forefront of the struggle for equality, we can continue to believe in a happy ending.”
Dorottya Rédai. Via people.ceu.edu
Rédai, who works as Central European University’s (CEU) researcher, commented that her inclusion is a great honor and recognition. “It encourages me to continue my work in the very hostile political environment we are living in. It sends a message that what we are working for is very important and I hope it will inspire other activists in the region to continue to address LGBT+ issues, even if it seems difficult, exhausting, and sometimes scary or hopeless.”
featured image illustration via Labrisz Association