While West European society is pondering the perspectives of gay men becoming priests, adopting children and legalising marriages, in Latvia the respect towards homosexuality and the acceptance of it is still in the embryonic state. My own view of the world was revolutionised once I moved to England, and my new English friends (who are straight) invited me out for a drink to the local gay village. Why a gay village? It had class and atmosphere.
Now, visiting home, the contrast between the two societies has showed me that the local public is unprepared to face homosexuality on a daily basis, to permit it as a part of their surroundings. Can the Gay Pride parade make the shift? I doubt it. In countries such as France or Britain, where homosexuality has become inherent in the fibre of society, a gay pride parade is regarded a little caprice of a boisterous child. It arouses a fleeting verbal clatter of criticism and ravishment, and so it sinks into the routine. On our land, however, the Gay Pride parade is a flamboyant, outrageous and provocative event that is bound to produce friction and a mental quake in the local public.
Curious about the general public attitude, I analysed the comments of young people on Latvian online forums, and I was struck by the fact that the upcoming event engenders hostility in them, replacing the previous feeling of indifference. The parade, with this obvious aim to open eyes, is puzzling: Do they march in order to become an integral part of the society and be regarded on equal terms with heterosexuals, or they are crying out for the special respect toward their disability.
The parade, as an educational device in homosexuality, is also misleading for people, as its aura of an MTV-type commercialism makes them believe that the purpose is to draw young people in homosexuality rather than reduce homophobia. Even though the parade is framed in the educational conference and an ecumenical Church service, it will not reduce the impression of the procession itself.
I can't argue that Latvian society sooner or later will have to accept homosexuality as a regular phenomenon, but marching through streets with banners and slogans boils down to unnecesary theatrics in what is undoubtedly a peaceful mission. It strips off the human aspect of the being gay.