We are everywhere – Kaunas Pride
Pride or LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and people with other gender and sexual identities) pride is the idea that LGBT+ people should not keep their gender or sexuality a secret, but feel joy and pride over their sexual orientation, gender and community identity. Prides stand for a free and caring society where everyone feels good and safe to live and express themselves. Pride festivals have been organized around the world for almost half a century with a goal to draw attention to problems that people with different sexual and gender identities face.
In 2022, Kaunas holds the title of European Capital of Culture. A year earlier, on 4th of September 2021, Kaunas Pride took place. It was the first Pride festival in Baltic countries organised outside a country’s capital and had no connection with any political force, foreign funding or agency. The festival was organised by citizens for citizens. About 30 volunteers gathered to march together with 3,000 like-minded people on the main street of Kaunas just before Kaunas was awarded the title of European Capital of Culture. Defying the opposition of the local administration and the anti-gay remarks of the mayor of Kaunas, the Kaunas Pride festival managed to win a crucial court case against the authorities, emphasizing that the city must consider all its residents.
However, the Lithuanian LGBT+ community is still in difficulties. There is no adequate sex education based on science and human rights, the trans community cannot get professional medical help, and there is no possibility to make a gender transition. The Cohabitation Act is on a long paus, the mental health of the Lithuanian LGBT+ community is in the worst state of the European Union countries, and topics concerning them are censored based on the national law.
Kaunas Pride was a reaction to a harsh environment, which became especially evident with the moral panic that broke out during the global pandemic. This contributed to the growing hostility of the confrontation, changed the debate about how LGBT+ resists, united cultural institutions in support of the community, and proved that radical community collaboration can overcome many difficulties and shake up the mindset of an entire country.
The LGBT+ community has existed and will continue to exist. The slogan “We are everywhere!” tries to make people aware of this. It emphasises the diversity of the world, a desire to come out of hiding and not to live in fear or constant anxiety while trying to fit into the standards created by society.
Photographers: Severina Venckutė (NARA media), Laima Stasiulionytė and Janina Sabaliauskaitė.
Text: Viktorija Kolbešnikova (member of Kaunas Pride, Kreivės festival and Lithuanian queer archive išgirst), Bianka Soe.
Big thanks to the Estonian LGBT Association!
Part of the manifest We are Everywhere
WE ARE EVERYWHERE and we don’t want to hide.
WE ARE EVERYWHERE and we want to live our lives freely without harassment in the store, at work, at family gatherings, without violence on the street or at school.
WE ARE EVERYWHERE and we will no longer allow the decisions to be made for us under the guise of traditional values.
WE ARE EVERYWHERE and we demand legal and social guarantees for all, regardless of marital status, gender identity or sexuality.
WE ARE EVERYWHERE and we will no longer tolerate hate, disguised as “freedom of speech”.
WE ARE EVERYWHERE, therefore KAUNAS PRIDE.