Intro: Latvia is a free country, since 1991, and now a proud member of the E.U. It boasts a expansive coast on the Baltic Sea as well as unique World Heritage turn-of-the-century architecture. It’s older citizens are conservative by nature, remembering the 60-year Soviet occupation, while younger citizens reach for the future through education and uninhibited exchange with the world. Not surprising however, as in other former communist-dominated eastern European countries, homophobia runs high fired by Catholic Church condemnation and neo-Nazi rhetoric and violence against LGBT people. Since the first Pride march in 2005 there have been threats, aggression and law suits to stop the event. But in 2007 with worldwide attention focused on the Riga city festival there were signs of social sobering with official permission and police protection; the modest Pride festival happened peacefully with success.
Presented here is a story from Passport magazine that looks at recent history and behind the hysteria to find a quiet brave gay community of hospitable and welcoming activists, citizens and business people.