Latvia Hub

Latvia's New Foreign Minister Comes Out Via Tweet: 'I Am Gay'

Screen Shot 2014-11-08 at 6.48.38 AM

The recently confirmed foreign minister of Latvia surprised the international community with a tweet this week in which he came out as a gay man. Edgar Rinkevics, 41, tweeted out the following a day after becoming the diplomatic representative for the small, democratic Baltic state which happens to share strong ties and a border with Russia. 

Rinkevic's tweet went out Thursday afternoon, was confirmed in a TV interview he gave that evening, and by Friday, had caused a stir in the formerly Soviet republic, with controversial pro-Russian activist Vladimir Linderman calling his statement "a political trend" and accusing him of "propagandizing a certain ideology." Rinkevics said he was inspired to be open about his sexuality as Latvia considers recognition of same sex partnerships.  What's also notable about the timing of his coming out is that Latvia is about to assume a six-month rotating leadership of the European Union, which will greatly raise the profile of the country as well as Rinkevic, who aims to campaign for legal status of same-sex partnerships.

While coming out via Twitter has become popular for some American celebrities, this seems to be the first time a major foreign official has used the social media service to do so. Rinkevic's announcement makes him the only out official in the Latvian government. 

[photo via screenshot]

Estonia Becomes Third Country to Ban Homophobic Russian Actor


Estonia has become the third country to declare Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin persona non grata, following his violent, incendiary comments about homosexuality and Ebola.

You might remember the actor for his comments calling for the killing of gay people in ovens, saying they pose a "living danger" to his children. His recent comments focus on Ebola, and he has a theory that the disease is turning people into zombies; the actor cites cases where people killed by the virus had been "resurrected" days later.

Okhlobystin is best known for "Interns," a Russian sitcom derivative of "Scrubs." Before this role, he took a hiatus from acting to become a Russian orthodox priest.

The other two countries to have banned Okhlobystin are Latvia and Ukraine. In the latter case, he was also banned for supporting the Russian presence in Ukraine and Russia's annexation of the Black Sea Crimea peninsula.

Bafflingly, Okhlobystin seems to take the Estonian ban as a positive development, referring to his national bans as "stars," saying:

Our mole in the Capitol called, congratulated me on the third star...Thanks to the [U.S] State Department for a high evaluation of my achievements.

Easy as it may be to dismiss Okhlobystin as a mentally unstable attention seeker, it's worth pointing out that the actor/priest harbors political ambitions, and he is popular enough in his native Russia to have drawn applause from a packed crowd in making his aforementioned call for violence against gays.

[h/t Moscow Times]

News: Latvia, Ryan Reynolds, Cannes, Life Ball, Cambodia, GPS

 roadNew Hampshire Senate holding hearing on new language in marriage equality bill. To vote tomorrow.

Dyingswan  roadAnti-gay activist allowed to lead first Baltic Pride March in Latvian capital of Riga. Activist: "It is only right that those against us should be allowed to express their views."

 roadRobert Pattinson's hair arrives in Cannes.

 roadArkansas GOP Chair slammed over stump speech warning voters of the dangers of having an open lesbian in the state legislature.

 roadDrama in Portland over new LGBT weekly magazine.

 roadRyan Reynolds to Betty White: "Why don't you go suck a hot c*ck."

 roadBrazilian government releases plan to defend civil rights and adoption by gay couples.

 roadPOLL: Half of Nevadans oppose civil unions. "The poll, which did not gather opinions about gay marriage itself, found 38 percent of Nevadans favor domestic partner legislation, while 50 percent oppose it and the remainder are undecided. Democrats back the plan, incorporated in Senate Bill 283, by a 46 percent to 36 percent margin, while independents support it 47 percent to 42 percent. But Republicans oppose the proposal by a 71 percent to 23 percent margin, more than offsetting the Democrat and independent support."

 roadHilary Duff, Carson Kressley, Michael Urie come out for AIDS Walk New York, which raised $5.6 million.

Mrgaythailand  roadCambodia crowns first 'Mr. Gay'.

 roadVallejo, California student wins $25K settlement in ACLU harassment lawsuit against high school: "Comments were said like they don't know if I was a boy or a girl, I need to pull up my pants, I'm a lady. I couldn't be put into a girls locker room."

 roadUK police stations lower Union Jack, raise rainbow flag in show of force on International Day Against Homophobia: "One police chief said the rainbow flag demonstrated his force's support for homosexuals who felt they were victims of prejudice. But critics warned that it was dangerous for forces to show support for particular campaigns."

Stpete  road While gay rights demonstrations in Moscow were marred by arrests, demonstrations in other Russian cities, like St. Petersburg, were notably peaceful. More photos.

 roadHearing for accused killer of Lawrence King postponed again: "A Ventura County Superior Court judge on Monday reset the first hearing for Brandon McInerney to July 8. McInerney's lawyer, Scott Wippert, says he needs more time to prepare documents before the preliminary hearing. McInerney, who is being prosecuted as an adult, has pleaded not guilty."

Lifeball  roadInside Vienna's Life Ball. More here.

 roadKenyan archbishop Zacchaeus Okoth slams homosexuality: "For the African, gender is either male or female; other issues such as homosexuality should not arise. In this context, the belief of the African is consonant [with] the teaching of the Bible, namely God created only two sexes: male and female. God created Adam and Eve. God did not create Adam and Steve!"

 roadUltradome: Milo Ventimiglia set to produce and star in weird web series about intellectual film discussion.

 roadSouth Carolina activists to protest omission of gays and lesbians from teen dating violence bill.

 roadGPS satellite system on verge of collapse? "The satellites are overseen by the US Air Force, which has maintained the GPS network since the early 1990s. According to a study by the US government accountability office (GAO), mismanagement and a lack of investment means that some of the crucial GPS satellites could begin to fail as early as next year."

Gay Prides Held Marked by Joy, Sadness, and Protest


Gay Pride happened over the weekend in Riga, Latvia, and thanks to a strong police presence was relatively violence-free despite a large swarm of angry protesters. Watch an informative video from Amnesty, International AFTER THE JUMP...

Last year's pride in Riga was less violent than the two before it, with marchers parading around an enclosed park watched over by a heavily police presence. In 2006 and 2005, things were a bit different.

Asbury Park, New Jersey held its Pride festival and inaugural 14-mile Ride with Pride bike ride.

Pride was also held in New Paltz, New York, and in the New York City borough of Queens. Flickr user Courtenay Redis writes, of the photo below: "Local politicians, community activiists and other supporters greet Leonor and Armando Garzon. Their gay son, Edgar Garzon, was beaten to death on this block of 37th Avenue in August 2001 in what is considered a hate crime, march in the 16th Annual Queens LGBT Pride Parade & Multi-Cultural Festival in Jackson Heights, Queens on June 1, 2008."

(image via flickr user courtenay redis)

Watch the Riga, Latvia clip AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Gay Prides Held Marked by Joy, Sadness, and Protest" »

News: Ugly Betty, Morehouse, Boyzone, Latvia, Sharon Stone

road.jpg Meet Ohio's Sally Kern...GOP Representative Jeff Wagner: "As much as some people would have us to believe otherwise, this country was founded on Christian principles. One of those long honored principles is the tradition of holy matrimony. One man and one woman joined together in a union that goes as far back as Adam and Eve. As our society has gotten further from that standard (not just homosexuality, but easy divorce, cheating on a spouse, etc.) we see a continued collapse of the basic building block of society the family unit. As that traditional family erodes, we see more sexually transmitted diseases, kids without parents, heartbroken people and I believe a host of mental and physical illnesses..."

Bettyroad.jpg Ugly Betty headed to Broadway?

road.jpg High-profile Canadian murderer of gay man Jeffrey Lalonde commits suicide in prison.

road.jpg Batman gets a milk moustache...

road.jpg Roman Catholic Cardinal Jānis Pujāts calls on Latvian government to declare gay pride marches unlawful, compares gays to drug addicts and alcoholics...

road.jpg Following last week's eulogy in the NYT, New York magazine weighs in with its final words to meatpacking restaurateur Florent Morellet.

road.jpg Gay couple receives $15,000 in damages from homophobic teen: "Five years ago, the 17-year-old, who can not be named because he was a juvenile at the time, threw a roll of toilet paper and a firecracker on the couple's lawn. In a related incident, the teen also threatened the couple by saying he would like to 'wreck his fist' on their faces. The boy was arrested, but police never charged him. He was instead asked to apologize to the couple and seek psychiatric help. That didn't satisfy Wouters and Thibault who felt the boy's apology was made only to keep him from being charged in criminal court. They took the case to the rights commission."

Morehouseroad.jpg Black, all-male Morehouse College battles homophobia from within: "Brewer, 22, didn't come to Morehouse with the intent of changing it. But he found that he had no choice. He had arrived here from Oklahoma City pretty comfortable with himself: outspoken, proudly smart and, at 5 foot 9 and 300 pounds, hard to miss. Early on, he decided he wouldn't water down his gay identity. And that, historically, has been a problematic strategy at Morehouse. The 141-year-old college has played a key role in defining black manhood in America. But with a past steeped in religion, tradition and machismo, it has struggled to determine how homosexuality fits within that definition."

road.jpg Texas high school criticized for putting photos of gay couples in the yearbook.

road.jpg Sex and the City publicity juggernaut achieves orgasm in Manhattan.

Boyzoneroad.jpg Boyzone performs the Full Monty...

road.jpg Cyndi Lauper, Charo, and the nephew of Harvey Milk to grand marshall San Francisco gay pride parade.

road.jpg McCain commercial features woman wearing Barack Obama t-shirt.

road.jpg Chinese not happy with Sharon Stone's statement that the earthquake was "karma": "That prompted the founder of one of China's biggest cinema chains to say his company would not show her films in his theaters, according to a story in The Hollywood Reporter...Ng See-Yuen, founder of the UME Cineplex chain and the chairman of the Federation of Hong Kong Filmmakers, called Stone's comments 'inappropriate,' adding that actors should not bring personal politics to comments about a natural disaster that has left five million Chinese homeless, according to the Reporter. UME has branches in Beijing, Shanghai, Chongqing, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, China's biggest urban movie markets."

News: Barack Obama, iPhone, Vermont, Minke Whale, Charmin

road.jpg Poll shows Barack Obama pulling ahead of Clinton in Iowa: "Most Democratic likely voters in Iowa, 55 percent, say they're more interested in a 'new direction and new ideas' than in strength and experience, compared with 49 percent in July -- a help to Obama, who holds a substantial lead among 'new direction' voters." And Obama struggles with spin...

Iphoneroad.jpg Smartypants with iPhone tries to use method in latest Apple commercial to ask why plane hasn't taken off yet and gets read by pilot: "If the passenger with the iPhone would be kind enough to use it to check the weather at our alternate, calculate our fuel burn due to being rerouted around the storms, call the dispatcher to arrange our release, and then make a phone call to the nearest Air Traffic Control center to arrange our timely departure amongst the other aircraft carrying passengers with IPhones, then we will be more than happy to depart. Please ring your call button to advise the Flight Attendant and your fellow passengers when you deem it ready and responsible for this multi-million dollar aircraft and its passengers to safely leave."

road.jpg Guardian gone: Now, everybody will be squeezing the Charmin.

road.jpg Latvian government minister and newspaper owner praise international anti-gay group Watchmen on the Walls pledge fight against homosexuality at "human rights' conference, slam Arnold Schwarzenegger for "teaching homosexuality" to children.

Whaleroad.jpg 18-foot-long Minke whale discovered swimming lost, 1,000 miles up the Amazon river: "Environmentalists are now considering the best way to transport the mammal from the Tapajos River, where it was last seen, back out to the Atlantic Ocean. 'It is in good condition,' veterinarian Milton Marcondes from the Brazilian Humpback Whale Institute told the Associated Press. 'We couldn't do a blood exam, so we don't know how it is doing internally, but we gave it antibiotics as a precaution.' He added that it would be easy for the whale to become ill as a result of the stress of being so far from its natural habitat."

road.jpg South African guesthouse owner turns away gay guests: "We are certainly not gay-friendly, this is a Christian household. We have never had a gay couple staying in the house and we prefer to keep it that way. We hereby cancel this order and exercise our right of admission."

Azisroad.jpg Popstar Azis continues to stir the pot in Bulgaria with racy magazine cover: ""I am ready to do anything for a high rating for my show! As you can see from the pictures, I sold my body, or as we say it, got a tuning." (NSFW)

road.jpg British police officer among men nabbed in restroom sex sting: "The officer, who has not been named, was fined 13 days' pay following an investigation into 'cottaging' at toilets on Harrison Drive, Wallasey. Six people have been charged under the Sexual Offences Act - two have pleaded guilty, four are awaiting trial. Another 32 people, including the officer, were issued with cautions over the incidents."

road.jpg Tom Cruise angered by publication of fatsuit photos.

Milo road.jpg Milo Ventimiglia thinks it's time to get mysterious for Nixon Watches.

road.jpg Gay and lesbian Ohioans "eager" for Governor Ted Strickland to test limits of laws surrounding state's same-sex marriage ban.

road.jpg A visit to the virtual queer red light district (nsfw).

road.jpg Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS hit hard by stagehand strike.

road.jpg Same-sex marriage supporters get vocal in Vermont: "More than 20 people testified before the Vermont Commission on Family Recognition and Protection at its public hearing at Lyndon State College, and throughout the 90-minute session, only two people stood up to speak against same-sex marriage. This was the second forum held by the 11-member commission and the second time that a strongly supportive audience turned out. Major anti-gay groups in the state are boycotting the hearings. Joseph Gainza of Marshfield floated one theory on why gay marriage has not become a divisive topic during the hearings: Most straight Vermonters, including him, noticed that the sky did not fall down after the Vermont Legislature legalized civil unions for same-sex couples seven years ago. 'The change came and you realized that nothing in your life has changed,' said Gainza. 'The only difference is that your neighbors have some rights they didn't have. And none of your own rights were taken away in the process.'"


Towleroad - Blogged