Monday, 20 June 2016

Baltic Pride Parade, Vilnius, Lithuania

What an amazing, beautiful day last Saturday. Baltic Pride, an LGBT festival that rotates among the three Baltic states, rolled into Lithuania this week and the highlight was an impressive parade through the center of Vilnius. In years past, the protesters have out-numbered marchers and Neo-Nazis (why is it always Nazis?) have caused trouble.

How quickly things change. About 2,000 people marched, a huge increase in participants from previous parades and a big accomplishment for small Lithuania.

Let the marching begin. The US Embassy was there to represent. Front and center, in yellow and purple shirts respectively, Dennis and Judy Shepard, the parents of brutally slain Matthew Shepard. Next to Judy, Ambassador Deborah McCarthy.

A stunning day. People brought their love balloons and lovelier outfits.

Europe, in union.

Multiple nations proudly showing their colors. Riding the bus, ready to party.

You gotta win them with humor. The cookie woman actually had a little sack of cookies!

The hugging Panda, a popular stop.

Everyone was watching. Members of the Lithuanian national basketball team? So said their T-shirts. Work stoppage for this important event.

American presence. On the left, Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey Milk.

Protestors were hard to find. This guy's sign says "Protect our children from gay propaganda." A sad reminder of the grim Soviet era (Vladimir Linderman is a current anti-gay crusader from Latvia).

A tribute to free flowing ideas and a bright future for total equality!

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