Among Gays: Baltic Pride 2013

It’s my first time taking part in a parade promoting equality for of homo-, bi- and transsexuals, and I probably would not join events like these in my home country of Germany. Not being a fan of large crowds, the typical Christopher Street Day parades in Berlin and elsewhere aren’t my cup of tea. I find them too loud, too freaky, too camp, to use some prejudicial vocabulary. The public display of sexuality by some in these parades is something which I am rather reserved about, regardless of the particular kind or peculiarity of the sexuality.

baltic_pride_vilnius_2013_logoBut this is not what Baltic Pride, taking place in Lithuania on 27 July 2013, is about. While homosexual couples in Germany are hoping to receive the same tax benefits as heterosexual couples, while gay marriage is being introduced in France in England, Lithuania is at the same level as Russia or Senegal. As almost everywhere else in Eastern Europe, homophobia is rampant from pubs to parliament, from churches to universities, from old to young. There is no possibility to legalise or formalise same-sex partnerships. The Lithuanian parliament only deals with homosexuality in the context of laws criminalising “homosexual propaganda”. This refers to any public mentioning of homosexuality which implies that this could be a normal human behaviour.

So this is about fundamental human rights, civil rights and about equality. It is sad that in 2013 this cannot be taken for granted in a member state of the EU. But if it’s necessary to stand up for civil rights, I will of course take part.

Gediminas Avenue in the heart of Lithuania’s capital Vilnius is guarded by so many police officers, cars and horses that there can’t be a single police officer left anywhere in Lithuania. A good day for a burglary. The reason for the police presence are protests and violence which have been threatened against the parade. But the organisation both by the Lithuanian Gay League and by the police is perfect and is clearly and successfully geared towards de-escalation.

I had been afraid that I would feel a bit like at a zoo if I run through the city with a bunch of homosexuals under the sceptical stares of the rest of the population on the side of the road. At least the plan to set up a fence, which reminded me too much of a cage, was ditched at the last minute.

nationalist protesters Baltic PrideI still felt like at a zoo then, but the other way round: you might think that you’ll go to a gay parade to see extraordinary, zany and somewhat “different” people, but then you see the most absurd and outrageous people among those standing outside of the parade and vociferously protesting against it. Some of the protesters attempt to look menacing and threatening, but those of us marching in the middle of the boulevard often can’t help but laugh at the comments being thrown at us. They range from religious fanatics to nationalists, from muscle-bound bodybuilders (an environment which I had so far always associated with homosexuality) to and old man leading a goat on a rope, from EU-opponents to scatterbrains whose beliefs defy any closer definition.

Among the thousands who don’t participate in the march but who prefer to observe the spectacle from the sidewalk , those who are neutrally curious are in the majority. Many also visibly express their support by waving, clapping, thumbs up. I dare to make the prognosis that many more people will march in the next Baltic Pride.

Some eggs are being thrown at us. If protesters throw eggs at their fellow citizens while they are being filmed and with police officers standing in front of them, one can easily imagine how these radicals would deal with (suspected) homosexuals when they encounter them at night in a constellation of many against one.

The more I speak to the fellow Baltic Pride marchers and the more those on the side of the road are trying to take me into collective liability for everything from AIDS to child abuse with their screams, the more I realise that I, as a strictly heterosexual man, feel more comfortable here than in the rest of society. Because there you can never be sure behind which face lurks a homophobic zealot, a bigoted idiot or someone despising human rights.

Stuart Milk Baltic PrideThe closing event of Baltic Pride takes place at Lukiškės Square, which until 1991 was Lenin Square. Lenin is gone. That’s not the only reason why the wind of change and the hope for a better future blow across the leafy square in the bright sunlight. Stuart Milk gives a rousing speech. He is the nephew of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician in the USA, whose family coincidentally came from Lithuania and who was assassinated in 1978. Stuart Milk only got eggs thrown at him today, which is a progress of some kind, I suppose.

When the congregation dissolves, one of the organisers walks up to me, points out the protesters which are still loitering around the square and suggests that I remove the rainbow flag from my jacket which would identify me as one of the participants of Baltic Pride to ensure a safe passage to my home. “Yes, I thought so,” I agree with resignation. What must it be like if your worry is not only getting accosted for your convictions once a year, but if you have to be afraid every day that you might get insulted or beaten up because of your identity?

(There is another article about the protesters against Baltic Pride. Diesen Artikel gibt es auch auf Deutsch.)

About Andreas Moser

You will most likely find me in the forest, next to the lake, reading a book. Just follow the cigar smoke!
This entry was posted in Human Rights, Lithuania, Politics, Travel and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Among Gays: Baltic Pride 2013

  1. Pingback: Unter Schwulen: Baltic Pride 2013 | Mosereien

  2. Raminta says:

    I am really glad that Baltic pride took place even I was not able to participate. I really hope that we are moving towards equal Lithuania, which accepts everyone, despite that they different than us. Variaty is beautiful thing. Human rights are so important and so not respected here. It’s sad to live in such a homophobic country…Anyway, I see a lot of tolerant people who speak loud about it. Situation will change, I am sure. Thanks for your blog and this article, I really like it :)

  3. Matteo says:

    I think countries especially in Eastern Europe that treat homosexuals as second-hand citizens are losing out in many ways.
    1. The pink dollar. Why would a homosexual go to a country where they could be harmed? These countries are losing millions in pink dollars.
    2. Homosexuals pay taxes. Give them their equal rights. They are paying for equality as do straights, blacks etc. Why are people in Eastern Europe or parts of the USA so afraid of homosexuals?
    3. I don’t think it is necessary to make such a strong statement that you are straight. Who cares? As a frequent tourist to Thailand, Thais taught me an expression, “Everybody is a little gay”. I laughed and thought how very true.
    4. In 2013 I would expect more from folk but ignorance and lack of education will keep the majority to make decisions.
    Nice article and good to see these brave souls make their voices heard. There would be no pride events if people just would mind their own business and live their lives instead of worrying about what others do in the bedroom.
    As a German I would expect gay marriage soon to be the norm. As a passport holder of an Eastern EU country as well, I have decided why live in a place where xenophobia exists? I am considered a non-minority but my friends come in all colors and sexualities. I am lucky to have such a rainbow of loving friends in my life!

  4. Ivano says:

    I dislike most Germans, but I tolerate gays.

    • Too bad for you then that Germans are almost everywhere. It’s hard to find a place on this planet where you are safe from them.

    • Dante says:

      Too bad that you dislike me without knowing me because I am both German and prefer women as sexual partners.
      Worse still, this also holds for Andreas Moser himself, as you can gather from the text above. ;)

    • Dante says:

      I have to apologise for skipping the word “most”. In this case, I don’t know whether you like or dislike me, it seams to be a quantum mechanical superposition of both with the higher probability for the disliking. ;)

      • Ivano says:

        OK, let me put it that way. Germans always find ways to be miserable, even on the road. German women, what do they want out of man? Why are they so scared and miserable? OH, and why are they so hateful towards “Eastern Europeans”? Because there are Jews? Why did Germans killed all the Jews? What was the reason for that? I find Eastern Europe a wonderful place. OK guys, you’ve got better climate in the Western Europe and higher taxes. Oh, I forgot to mention, you are overworked and thus receive higher salaries. The bigger the country, the lower consumer prices. The rentals are insane. It is no fun to live in a city where minimum normal rental is 1500 EUR per month. Many German men are ok, but not women. Women are horrible and miserable. Thus why I said “most” and not “all” or should I rather say “some”. I dislike some Germans. :-) Every country rocks in its own way. Why would you want every culture to be the same? In the Baltics or Russia they dislike gays more than anywhere else. In Uganda they execute ‘em. I believe gays should be left alone, let them marry each other, but… STOP… gays and children should not mix up. I do not trust children to gays, similarly as I would not trust kids to pedophiles. If there’s such homophobe culture in Lithuan, then why not accept it and not try to change it to your satanistic agenda? Gays should be tolerated, but advertising of homosexual lifestyle should be kept out. Long live eastern European cultures!

  5. Matteo says:

    @Ivano. I hold three passports and my German passport has the most value out of all three. I am proud to be of German blood and carry a German name.
    Andreas is right. Germans are everywhere and come in all kinds of shapes and sizes just like all nationalities. I love the Germans and I love the gays! Give it a try Ivano!

    • Ivano says:

      @Matteo, The Valuable Passport Holder: Should I bend over now so you can enter me, or the vice versa? :-) That does not mean we will fall in love with each other. I’ve seen “gay porn” where straight guys were just having fun. That’s one thing, but another thing is propagating it in the public, in schools, kindergartens, the government and spreading the HIV, which is basically a sort of depopulation agenda. OK to be GAY! Just don’t push it on us STR8S. As we say: DOMO HOMO. It means: Thank you gay (Japanese).

      Tschuess

  6. No gays says:

    Please writte all info , about Dutch guy which showed his naked ass to priest. This old priest ir very famous here as has spend many years in KGB prisons faiting for indepence. And here some stupid pederast and shows naked ass. Very nice parade and values. Thanks a lot . All this info is on tv, news papers and police protocol.

    • Dante says:

      Please writte all info , about Dutch guy which showed his naked ass to priest.

      Very nice parade and values.

      Do you really want to judge all the participants of the baltic pride parade or even all homosexual people (at least those who want equal rights) by one chuff’s behaviour?

  7. Dante says:

    @Ivano

    gays and children should not mix up. I do not trust children to gays, similarly as I would not trust kids to pedophiles.

    What have these both sexual preferences to do with each other? A gay man’ preferences are other men, not children. This is something completely different. And some children are girls, and I would think they lead a “more dangerous” life if living with a heterosexual, or why for example should a gay man rape an adolescent girl?
    Additionally, fears about children adopting the gays’ sexual orientation can be assumed as rather pointless. If so, why should strictly heterosexual or even homophobic parent’s children sometimes develop a homosexual orientation in spite of all the troubles within their family?

    • Ivano says:

      @Dante – as a teenager I was raped by homosexuals. They would lure me into their apartment or they would act as if they were my pen-pals and once I visited them in theur respective cities, they would have sex with me by having me absolutely drunk first. In the morning they would tell me I jumped on him and that I could not remember anything because I was drunk. I was raped, but I did not report it. It was a huge shame to report it. If I did I would always have been labeled a “homo” or even worse, a “slut of a homo”. Back then they were both pedophile and homosexual, because years later when I accidentally met them again when I was 20 they tried to rape me again. I saw them hugging each other and they were both grown up men around 30 yrs. of age. I knew a lot of homosexuals, who some of them were my friends and just friends, who told me they like much younger male friends for sex etc. but when I asked them if they’d like a teenager, a couple of them said, as i clearly remember, why not. And they would always put their hands on my legs even knowing that I was straight. Once one jumped on me, overpowered me on the floor, sit on my face and out his penis to my mouth. I was able to free myself and hit him with a chair. Once raped by homosexuals, you emit certain vibe and it attracts more of those kind of folks. Now they advertise their lifestyle openly in public. Even in school I had other suspectedly homosexual kids grab me by my butt, come from my behind, etc. and I saw them doing it to other kids as well. I wasn’t homosexual at all, and I am not now. Not even a bi. Am not even curious. It’s disgusting. Males stink, male to male is repulsive. Perhaps because of my good looks and my soft side they thought they could take advantage of me. Now that I am almost 40, I get less and less stares from the gay community and I feel repulsion towards them. Even if I agree that they need their rights same as I need mine, but let them stay in their gay clubs and not come and rape straight guys. Next time any homosexual touches me I will have to use some kind of projectile towards him.

      • Dante says:

        Would you have found it less repulsive if you had been a girl and been raped by “straight” men? I don’t think so. First and foremost, these guys are rapists, that’s the key point.

  8. Pingback: Baltic Pride: The Arguments against Gay Equality | The Happy Hermit

  9. Robert says:

    I thank you for your blog, and admire your courage, fairness and conviction. I love Lithuania and spend about a month there every year. Over the years, I have developed some wonderful friendships. I’ve also witnessed a positive change in attitude towards homosexuality. The blog was directed towards the mind-sets of bigotry, ignorance and hatred held by some people who happen to be Lithuanian. People change. Cultures change. Even the Pope! (Sort of) Although I live overseas, I am a resident of Washington State in the US where last year, by popular vote, complete equal rights became law. There were observable changes in the attitude and behavior when I returned this year. It was like everyone breathed a sigh of relief that that topic was no longer an issue and we all can go about living our own lives. I am 60+. Never would I have imagined the change in the tide concerning equal rights for all. Thanks for the witty and poignant writing.

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