Two men were left to burn after a homophobic resident of their apartment complex allegedly lit them alight. (Stock photograph via Elements Envato)
In Latvia, two men were set alight in a suspected homophobic hate crime – exposing the fault lines in a republic that resists recognising LGBT+ people.
According to local newswires, a scuffle allegedly broke out between a homophobic man and two men living in the same apartment block in Tukums, a historic town of red-brick builds and wood-carding mills.
On 22 April, one of the two men were doused in flammable liquid before being set alight. As the flames engulfed him, another man desperately tried to put them out, getting burnt himself in the process.
The attack has drawn rage from not only LGBT+ activists groups, long frustrated by the open hostility from social conservatives they face in the republic, but Latvia’s president, too.
In a Twitter statement on Saturday (24 April), president Egils Levits sought to stress that “there is no place for hate in Latvia”.
“If it is confirmed that the Tukums offender’s motivation was hate toward a group of society,” he wrote, “it exacerbates their guilt.
Naidam Latvijā nav vietas. Ja apstiprināsies, ka Tukuma noziedznieka motivācija ir bijusi naids pret kādu sabiedrības daļu, tad tas pastiprina viņa vainu. Latvijas sabiedrības vērtība ir iecietība, un šāda naida izpausme vienlaikus ir noziegums pret sabiedrību.
“A value of the Latvian society is tolerance, and this expression of hate is a crime towards the society as well.”
Men, burned alive by homophobe, encounter indifference from Latvia police
The victims claim that their attacker lived in the five-story apartment complex with them. He had long threatened and jeered at them, they claim.
Both men were burnt in the ensuing fire, with the first victim sped to a burns centre in Riga, the capital of Latvia, for treatment.
But when telling the authorities about the incident, they only encountered indifference.
“We reported these threats to both the police and the neighbour’s workplace, but there was no reaction,” the second victim told Tukums Independent News, a local newspaper.
“We had to wait for someone to be mutilated or killed.”
The Tukums District Police Department confirmed to the outlet that “two people have been injured in the fire” and an investigation has been launched.
Anger and shock quickly mingled among Latvian advocacy groups. Mozakia described “brutal, incomprehensible attack” as a “possible hate crime” in a Twitter statement.
Calling for the Latvian State Police to intervene, the LGBT+ rights group added: “The current homophobic attacks and incidents are a clear result of the hatred-based policies of some politicians and organisations.”
Indeed, Latvian lawmakers have increasingly sought to make the depth of disgust they feel towards LGBT+ folk perfectly clear.
The Latvian parliament, the Saeima, overwhelmingly voted to tweak the constitution to define the family strictly as a “union of a male and female person“.
It was a move that added to the already long list of woes for queer Lavvians. Living in a country that refuses to recognise neither marriage equality or civil partnerships, or enshrine same-sex couples with the right to adopt or any legal protections for that matter.
We’re in the season where every day new plants burst into exuberant life, bright leaves popping on stately old trees as the sap rises. Aries season pulls us out of winter hibernation, and this particular month brings a different kind of hope. For some in the US and a handful of other countries, the vaccine rollout is offering a promise of increased movement, connection, and ease in the coming months. Many are daring to dream of an end to the painful separations that have marked the last thirteen months. For others across the world, that reality still seems distant. Meanwhile, the countless fractures and tragedies we’ve witnessed over the past year are far from healed. The world we could create in the aftermath of this crisis is one of the major astrological themes of this year. Meanwhile, we as a collective are learning to think of ourselves collectively, which begins with the capacity to hold both joy and grief at the same time instead of just turning inward and shutting down.
This year and the years to come call for dramatic reversals, renewals, and reimaginings of how we can all live on this earth together. This month stimulates our desires—Aries is a sign that wants what it wants, when it wants it. Can this inherently selfish impulse can be harnessed for the greater good? Aries is traditionally seen as self-centered, survival-oriented, and can be impatient. Sound familiar? A long crisis brings out that survival-oriented flavor Aries energy in all of us (if we’re in touch with our desires at all). This month, I invite you to welcome your impatience in and begin a conversation with it.
Impatience is always about how our desires clash with the limitations of reality. If we maintain the strength of our desires at all costs, we can act recklessly. I’m reminded of an acquaintance who got an STI diagnosis but had a hot date lined up that night, and wanted reassurance they could keep the date, have sex, and not disclose their infection (clearly we all said, no, of course not!). Impatience can lead to unethical behavior with bad consequences for more than just ourselves. There are reasons patience is praised as a virtue while impatience is something we try to restrain.
Sometimes impatience is vital and necessary—like when genocidal and soul-crushing systems have held power for several hundred years. When your actual survival and the survival of your loved ones is at stake. When the status quo is robbing future generations of a habitable planet. In this case, Aries energy offers us the revolutionary courage to upend the status quo and fight for a better world.
There are a handful of ideas floating around about what “a better world” might look like and many of them rely on paranoid conspiracy theories. Millions of people believe that a cabal of politicians are stealing eating children, which is a new spin on a very old anti-semitic conspiracy (just Google “blood libel”), and that white supremacist hero Donald Trump is some kind of messiah. And the astrology of this month is a bit of a powder keg. So notice what you’re scared of right now and what you’re willing to fight for, and ask yourself: Who do I consider my people? Am I willing to fight for a better world for people outside that circle? Or am I quick to see anyone who disagrees with me as a dangerous enemy? How do I know what kind of threat I’m facing? Where do I find evidence? Is there counter-evidence? What if more collaboration is possible? From global struggles to interpersonal tiffs, this is a month that’s bringing us face-to-face with our impatience, our fears, and how we use power. If you find yourself in a high-stakes struggle right now, be willing to look at your own beliefs, your own tactics, and your own shadow side.
Apart from the more thorny energies, this is also a month that can revitalize, re-energize, and motivate us all to pursue our desires. If you’ve been stuck in lockdown a long time, if you’re still stuck in lockdown, if you’re exhausted and emotionally shut down—do what you can this month to find your fire, to reconnect to your desire for the lusciousness of life. Aries is the sap of springtime, rising up through the frozen ground. Tap into your own life force, spend some time with your feet on the earth, remember that you are not alone.
This is a time we are living through, my friends! Reach out for a reading if you want to talk more about how to navigate it. And for more astro insight including a monthly podcast, join me on Patreon!
Find your fire: Trust that stirring in your heart that’s telling you where to find your next adventure. Trust your body’s need for movement. Trust that what you feel most passionate about is worth your full presence and attention. Trust that you are becoming who you need to be by noticing what you love. Move your body in ways that remind you of your power.
Find your fire: Welcome a slow simmer of warmth instead of a blazing fire. Trust that you have untapped reserves of energy, waiting for the right occasion. Trust that the changes you sorely need will happen, are already in process, even if you can’t see them yet. Trust your dreams, your fantasies, and your sources of inspiration. Trust that you can slow down when you need to. Welcome your body into this new season by moving in ways that reconnect you to joy.
Find your fire: Welcome your strong love for your community. Welcome a wider perspective. Trust that spark of inspiration that catches you and lights you up. Trust your most naïve and hopeful utopian desires. Trust that conflict can expose truths we need to hear. Trust that conflict can transform communities without breaking them. Trust that each voice in a group has something important to add. Welcome the desires, the loneliness, the grief lurking beneath the surface when conflict arises. Lean into the love that exists despite it all.
Find your fire: Welcome your future, yourself as an elder, the world you have helped to create. Trust your intuition about what will get you toward that desired world. Trust the wisdom of what you’ve learned from the worst year of your life (whether that was this past year or any other). Trust that you have the answers you need. Trust that you can lead others forward. Welcome the responsibility of standing in your own integrity, even when it would feel easier and safer to fold. Trust that you won’t be alone.
Find your fire: Welcome your aching longing to reconnect to a larger world. Welcome what connects you now, even imperfectly. Trust that you haven’t forgotten how to be inspired. Trust that there will be more stories to tell in the future. Trust that it’s better to feel heartbroken about the world than to fall out of love with the world. Welcome the part of you that knows what you do next, and watch them go.
Find your fire: Welcome the healing that comes with finally facing and releasing what hurts. Trust that trauma isn’t your whole story or your only story. Trust that your feelings can move through your body and leave you intact. Welcome what’s changing in your heart. Welcome the opportunity to really feel your grief—it ushers in the capacity to really feel your joy. Trust that intimacy has many beginnings and many endings, and that each ending is also a beginning.
Find your fire: Welcome conversations that dip deep below the surface. Trust the boundaries that keep you connected rather than enmeshed. Trust your choices, and trust you can make new choices if you’re no longer aligned with the old ones. Trust people when they show you who they are. Trust your instincts and your gut sense. Trust what someone who loves you loves about you. Welcome a new balance of self and other—not leaving yourself behind to stay on a team, not burning any bridges when you need to center yourself.
Find your fire: Welcome the messy imperfections and minor adjustments of real-life love. Trust what your body relaxes into, even if your mind is looking for reasons never to trust. Trust that you know how to heal if you get hurt again. Trust your instinct for noticing the details others miss. Trust your insights, especially when they point to imbalance of power. Trust that real devotion exists and is quiet, consistent, and matter of fact. Trust your distrust of showier, louder declarations. Welcome love that heals you quietly, consistently, and without a lot of fuss.
Find your fire: Welcome levity, laughter, and completely and joyously wasting your time. Trust your impulse to play, to flirt, to create, to take a break from anything and everything goal-oriented. Trust what helps you feel that special sense of wonder that reminds you of being a small child, curious about something. Unlearn cynicism for a little while. Trust that it’s okay to take a nap. Trust your desire to be seen, cherished, and validated. Welcome (and request) compliments, affection, and appreciation in all forms.
Find your fire: Welcome gentleness and slowness. Trust your desire to do less, to stay in, to root down, to find safety. Trust your impulse to plan and structure and stay busy, but direct all that energy toward your private world. Make your own comfort and pleasure as important as the work you do for the world. Trust your desire to be witnessed. Risk being witnessed. Trust that a little vulnerability won’t undo a lifetime of competence. Welcome tenderness. Welcome what will restore you.
Find your fire: Welcome a fresh perspective. Trust that the truth is stranger than you know. Trust that the world can surprise and delight you. Trust your desire to talk it out, to debate, to holler, to hum. Trust the words that come to you, even if they’re stranger than you expect. Let the familiar become new. Let your worldview expand to include the here and now. Welcome a way of seeing your life where you are one node in the center of a network where everyone else is their own center node, but you still get to be in your center.
Find your fire: Welcome a way forward. Trust that there’s solid ground beneath you. Trust your resilience, your resources, and your capacity to rest if you need to. Trust that you deserve what is reliable, sustainable, slow-growing, and trustworthy. Trust your sense of self-protection. Trust your readiness to connect. Welcome what you’re ready to claim and hold onto.
Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan is a YA fantasy about Lei, a Paper Caste girl, who is forcefully taken from her family by the imperial guard in order to join the newest class of Paper Girls. Paper Girls are the most beautiful paper caste girls in the kingdom, chosen to serve the king as concubines for one year. Some of the girls are from the few influential paper caste families, offered to curry favor and bind their families closer to the power of the crown. Some of them are chosen from the country at large and either regard serving the king as an honor or believe the material benefits to themselves or their families are worth it. Lei, kept in line only through threats to her remaining family and already resentful of the imperial regime for previously abducting her mother, is caught between the rock of being forced to service the king when her mind and body revolt against the very idea and the hard place of the strict new realities of her life that she cannot escape.
Once in the palace, Lei struggles, not only with her lessons, but also with the company of the other girls. The noble girls not only have a head start on the knowledge and skills expected of a Paper Girl, but they’re not eager to include Lei in their social circles. They’re used to having maids and fancy clothes and performing courtly graces, and every time Lei struggles or makes a mistake, mockery and taunting is sure to follow. Some of the girls are also eager to be there, either from a desire to serve the king or for the status and benefits being Paper Girls will bring them and their families, motivations which Lei has trouble understanding. Lei becomes friendly with one of them, Aoki, but Lei constantly has to watch herself around her because Aoki is truly enamored of the idea of serving the king and won’t hear of Lei’s very real horror of the man. Being set adrift in a hostile environment would be tough enough, but Lei’s mental anguish at being used by the king is chilling. Paper Girls don’t have the ability to refuse to become Paper Girls, or to refuse a summons by the king when they’re in the Palace, so they don’t have the ability to truly consent, and Lei’s horror at her lack of agency causes her to panic and react in unpredictable ways. CONTENT WARNINGS: While this book does not depict the physical act of rape in lurid detail, it does occur and neither does it draw a curtain at the door to the king’s quarters. There’s physical violence, mental and physical intimidation, and general bad times along those lines.
Lei’s lack of agency is emblematic of the Paper Caste as a whole’s lack of agency. Despite the existence of a few high-status families at Court, as evidenced by some of the other Paper girls, most of the Paper caste is oppressed and taken advantage of by the Moon and Steel castes. What I really enjoyed about this novel besides the world-building was that Lei is actually a late addition to the plot to overthrow the King leading such a cruel system and make a better kingdom. They weren’t waiting for a prophecy or a chosen one, Lei’s violent yet inept rejection of her own fate literally bumbles into a well-laid and intricate conspiracy that is already in place and wasn’t looking for any other help. In fact, they would rather she just keep her head down and not mess them up, because she doesn’t have the training for this, which of course, Lei does not do. It’s an interesting change from the common Chosen One formula.
Also interesting is Wren, a fellow Paper Girl. Lei is fascinated by Wren, who is withdrawn but kind, unlike the other wealthy Paper Girls. Wren is a part of the resistance, trained from childhood and planted among the Paper Girls to gain access to the King. Wren also has to let herself be used, and she empathizes with Lei’s reactions. She alone among the resistance thinks that Lei should be included and possibly help them. Along the way, their relationship becomes physical as well as emotional, as they bond over the pressure cooker of their environment.
Girls of Paper and Fire is a great beginning to a series. The world-building is intricate and interesting, and it turns the Chosen One as Rebellion Figurehead trope on its head. Although there is lots of serious content, it handles it well, and the physical relationship between Wren and Lei mirrors the intense emotional pressures they both face. If you like fantasy YA series, you could do worse than look here.
Cheyenne Parker, American TV reality star from Ex On The Beach is ready to fire Up Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He tells GAYPV Puerto Vallarta Gay Magazine and Travel Guide “I have been frequenting Puerto Vallarta for about 12 years now, and each time I come here, I fall more in love. Recently, I decided to move here and start a new luxury concierge business, Leisure In Life.”
Why did you chose Puerto Vallarta? What do you think is PV’s strengths versus other major gay cities, like Mykonos, Barcelona?
Compared to other travel destinations globally, I find that Puerto Vallarta provides an excellent level of customer service and luxury options that, unlike Mykonos or Barcelona, won’t break the bank. The concept of my new business here in Vallarta is simply to elevate and create unique experiences that people are not used to encountering anywhere in Mexico. Leisure In Life is a luxury concierge that offers white-glove service at low Mexican prices. Affordable and luxury don’t typically go together, but we have mastered a way to share it with travelers of all budgets.
Fire Island Pines is the gay playground of local New Yorkers. In recent years this small gay community has become a destination even international travelers are adding to their lists. The Pines and Cherry Grove are two neighboring hamlets which comprise the gay area of Fire Island. Popular for an enchanting village feel, expansive beaches and wild nightlife, you can always count on a fantastic getaway here.
A historic gay community, Fire Island Pines is known as one of America’s first gay neighborhoods. It was traditionally an enclave where the LGBT community could express themselves freely, away from mainstream NYC. Gay life certainly continues to thrive here today. Each summer weekend, droves of jubilant gay men arrive by ferry, excited to socialize, enjoy the beach and party all night.
Fire Island Pines and Cherry Grove are so popular, that these remote towns even have their own gay clubs (yes, one each)! Glorious underwear parties and poolside gatherings are regular events in The Pines. Before the nightlife begins though, everyone gathers for drinks in the center of town at Low Tea.
Finding Fire Island Pines Rentals
Here in The Pines, quaint boardwalks connect large, beautifully designed summer homes. Many of these houses are enormous, easily containing 7-10 bedrooms. Additionally, Fire Island’s enormous popularity means booking a place to stay can be a little pricy. There’s a ton of demand and a fixed number of homes, so the sooner you can book something, the better price you’ll get.
Lastly, renting a place to stay in The Pines or Cherry Grove is done in an unconventional way since different groups of vacationers often share houses. There are special ways to find individual rooms or floors of a house, too. Not to worry, I can show you exactly how to go about it!
I am so happy to be back with you!! I’ve missed so you greatly. Today ended up being more hectic than I originally planned, so I’ll keep this short. But WOW DID I MISS YOU! Haha, did I say “miss you” enough yet? Also thank you so much to Natalie for keeping the link roundup going through the hot hot summer.
I love all the people in this trailer and look forward to being fully glued to my screen and thinking smart thoughts about the future of our country with them! Also(also.also.)… much respect to my favorite congresswoman for all of her intellectual and political prowess, but wow AOC looks like a stone cold babe here. (I’m sorry! It had to be said!)
This weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act and there’s a beautiful spread with feature profiles from Wendy Lu: I’m Disabled & I Refuse To Be Your Inspiration (FYI, one of the of the features is of Jillian Mercado, of modeling, activism and — relevant to our collective interests, Generation:Q fame!)
Kyrie Irving is committing $1.5 million to supplement the income of WNBA players who choose not to play this season, whether it be because of coronavirus concerns or social justice reasons. pic.twitter.com/ho8UwvmgmZ