In 2012, a brave gay guy asked local businesses in Vilnius, Lithuania to show rainbow stickers in their windows. Thus, the idea for the Friendly Vilnius map was born. The guide lists all the city’s LGBTI-friendly venues, and five years on, is celebrating the release of its fifth edition.
What’s more, some 50 venues are on board this time around – and it’s receiving official endorsement from the city. It will carry the Vilnius Tourist Information Centre’s logo, while a digital version will also be available on the organization’s website.
The map’s creators have called this ‘a meaningful step showing the city’s policy of inclusion.’ Homosexuality is legal in Lithuania, although same-sex marriage and adoption are not. Attitudes towards homosexuality can be hostile.
Speaking to Gay Star News, filmmaker Romas Zabarauskas [pictured above] said: ‘I love the Friendly Vilnius map because it was born out of a spontaneous idea.
‘In 2012 I came back to Vilnius from my film studies in New York City. For the first time I clearly noticed how we lacked diversity and visibility of an LGBT+ community in our city. I wanted to change that, so I asked different venues to have LGBT+ friendly stickers on their door. That was scary to do.
‘I was truly afraid contacting the businesses with this request. But some people joined, and now years later, the project has grown so much. We’ve gained so much love and support that it just feels like a part of everyday life.