aA
On Tuesday, June 12, the Mayor of Vilnius endorsed the growing Friendly City map project and the new Friendly Stories photobook, both aimed at achieving LGBT+ equality.
Vilnius City Mayor R. Šimašius and Friendly City founder Romas Zabarauskas. Photos @ Ignas Nefas
Vilnius City Mayor R. Šimašius and Friendly City founder Romas Zabarauskas. Photos @ Ignas Nefas

“Vilnius is a city friendly to all, welcoming and open minded. These aren’t just empty words – these have been core Vilnius values for centuries. Our city has been a haven of tolerance since Grand Duke Gediminas wrote his famous letters inviting other Europeans to settle here” – said Mayor Remigijus Šimašius at the opening event. The Mayor also thanked the organizers and participants in the project: “Thanks to all those who are ensuring that people will feel welcome in your cafes, shops and hair salons. I thank all of you for spreading love, setting a great example and creating a free and open Vilnius.”

20.000 free copies of the Friendly City maps are now distributed around the Lithuanian capital city Vilnius and second city Kaunas. The Friendly Stories photobook can be seen at each of venues in the Friendly City network, currently 65.

The project was initially started in 2012 by filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas as an initiative to increase LGBT+ visibility. He was joined by Vilnius City Councillor Mark Adam Harold and the project grew to include other “friendly” categories, encouraging shops and restaurants to have wheelchair access, vegan options or simply to be welcoming to pets. In addition to printed maps, all the friendly venues can be found online at friendlycity.info.

The big news this year is the Friendly Stories photobook which includes ten different interviews by filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas with photographs by Arcana Femina. Both artists are themselves openly queer, gay and pansexual respectively. They used their access and trust within the local LGBT+ community to create a platform for some challenging stories that will increase acceptance and diversity in Lithuania.

Among the subjects is Rolandas Skabickas, a Chief Petty Officer in the Lithuanian Navy. Recently back from a humanitarian mission to Somalia, Rolandas decided to come out as gay in order to break hurtful stereotypes. As an openly gay Lithuanian military officer (a first in the country) his story will certainly push some boundaries. In another story, a trans nurse Danilas Pavilionis shares his hopes and worries about his future in Lithuania. Elsewhere, bisexual business woman Dovilė Stonė sees her future in Kaunas, where she established a peanut butter company. While 6 out of 10 stories in this publication are LGBT+, the other four represent different challenges for people in Lithuania, such as being vegan, Muslim or living with disabilities.

For a country where same sex partnership is still impossible and LGBT+ equality is lacking in many areas, Lithuania can surprise you with its continued efforts to create an equal and friendly society. In 2017, Lithuania became the first country to grant asylum to gay and bisexual refugees who were fleeing the homophobic purge in Chechnya. In 2019, it’s Vilnius’ turn to host Baltic Pride on its rotation around the three Baltic countries. The previous parade in 2016 met with almost no opposition and the next is expected to be a huge celebration of equality.

|Populiariausi straipsniai ir video

College freshers' advise: how to accomplish your dream of studying abroad

Attending universities abroad is no longer an unreachable dream; it is one option that more and more...

Vilnius University launches fundraising campaign to aid Belarusian students and scientists

Vilnius University (VU) said on Friday it has launched a fundraising initiative to help Belarusian...

Lithuania launches new website with detailed list of anti-Soviet resistance participants

The Genocide and Resistance Research Center of Lithuania has launched a new website,...

Remains of medieval soldier found in Lithuanian lake

Archaeologists and divers have unearthed the remains of a medieval soldier from the underwater...

Bishops: documentary "Francesco" does not change Church's teachings (1)

Pope Francis ' thoughts on the need not to reject homosexual people reflect the Holy Father's wish to...

Top news

Parliament approves Simonyte for prime minister

The Lithuanian parliament on Tuesday gave the green light for the president to appoint Ingrida...

Phil Serafino | D+ nariams

French restaurants, stadiums to stay shut over holiday season

Two weeks before the scheduled end of France ’s second coronavirus lockdown, signs are already...

2289 new coronavirus cases

On Tuesday, 2 289 new COVID-19 cases were recorded. In total, the country has already detected 51 655...

Karbauskis vows to stay in politics after renouncing MP mandate (1)

Ramunas Karbauskis , leader of the opposition Lithuanian Farmers and Greens Union , plans to stay...

Emma Court | D+ nariams

Elon Musk’s rapid-test tweets raise more questions than answers

Tesla Inc.’s Elon Musk could have Covid-19 . He could also be a high-profile example of...

|Maža didelių žinių kaina