Photo:Māris and Tony
Devil& Angel

What's it like to be gay in Eastern Europe?

What's it like to be gay at all?

E&M was looking for the answer to these questions and one day we found them - BEAUTIFUL and HAPPY living in the small European microstate of Malta.

They call themselves Devil& Angel and are a gay couple. Māris is originally from Latvia and is engaged to the Maltese Tony. One sunny day, Māris gave us the answers to all our personal questions.

E&M: Tell me a bit about yourself, how did you meet Tony?

Māris: I was living in Ireland. I spent there two and a half years working there. In my free time I used to chat on msn messenger. It happened that one day I got chatting to Tony.

E&M: So, you met online when you were in Ireland and Malta.

Māris: Yes, our chats lasted for 6 to 10 hours, day and night, and once he invited me to visit him. When my next holiday came, I told myself, if you don't take risks, you don't get to drink champagne and bought the ticket to Malta.

E&M: What happened next?

Māris: I spent two weeks with Tony in Malta and then he didn't want to let me go any more, you know... After just a week he came to visit me for two more weeks. The second week of our holiday we already spent together with my relatives in Latvia.

Māris: Yes, but we both knew what we wanted

Photo: Māris and Tony
Happy together!!!

from life. I had an eight-year relationship behind me and Tony had been married, he has two daughters. About the marriage...of course it was a mistake he made. He hid his sexual orientation from everybody and hoped that in a marriage he would lose his interest in men. Of course that didn't happen.

E&M: What do you think was the reason he hid his homosexuality?

Māris: He was scared of accepting it. The situation in Malta 20 years ago was also different; you were still afraid of what other people would say about you.

E&M: That's how it was for Tony, but how was it for you to grow up as a gay man? I mean, you're 32, which means you grew up in the Soviet Union - a society which had no information about homosexuality at all.

Māris: I've been lucky; I never sensed a bad attitude towards me. My family accepted my homosexuality. The first person I talked to about my sexuality was my aunt - incidentally, she was 85 years old at the time. She told me that being gay is nothing bad and that she knew that in independent Latvia, before the occupation, there were also people like me. I talked to her and she helped me a lot to get my thoughts in order. My brother also told me that it didn't matter who I slept with, I would still be his brother. But...I also know homosexual boys whose parents hold it against them.

E&M: Did you hide your sexual orientation in public like Tony?

Māris: I didn't hide the fact that I was gay. I knew from the beginning that I was different - so what? I'm a person like everybody else.

E&M: That was then, but how would you compare how is to be gay in Latvia, Ireland and Malta nowadays?

Māris: My work colleagues in Ireland never let me feel bad or different; in Malta you can feel free and as a homosexual couple you can walk hand in hand everywhere. I haven't lived in Latvia for more than 5 years, but I would say that it's harder- you cannot kiss or hug on the street that easily

Photo:Marcin Sroka/ www.youthphotos.eu
Gay Parade in Krakow

E&M: That's true - this year in Riga the participants of Gay Parade were protected from demonstrators by an enclosure and by the police. What would you say is the reason for
the negative attitude in Latvian society towards homosexuals?

Māris: In Latvia people are actually unhappy about the situation in the state - prices are raising, the living costs are high - so they are angry. Once in a year there's the Gay Parade and take out their anger on homosexuals, but actually they are unhappy about their lives.

E&M: They say that homosexuality endangered traditional family values.

Māris: That's ridiculous. They've forgotten that in the traditional family only the man works, while the wife looks after the children. So is this model still a value today? No, because they both earn money nowadays.

Some people are also of the opinion that Gay Parade affects the sexuality of the children who watch it. That's not true, because if you're not homosexual in the first place you won't go to bed with a person of the same sex just because of Gay Parade!

E&M: So homosexuality is nature rather than nurture?

Māris: Yes. Tony has two daughters and they're both heterosexual. It's also proven by the fact  that if a gay couple adopt a child, it doesn't mean he'll become homosexual.

E&M: And now the last question - what would you wish to all lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transvestites in Europe?

Māris: Be happier :) and don't worry about what people say.

E&M: Thanks a lot for the interview.

Māris was interviewed by Eva Sablovska

IN -1106 DAYS