Accepted Paper:

The only gay in the village: the life story of a post-soviet countryside queer male  


Karlis Verdins (University of Latvia)
Janis Ozolins (University of Latvia)

Paper short abstract:

Our presentation is dedicated to the analysis of the life story and creative work of Baltjancis, a secluded countryside enthusiast and activist of Latvian gay movement. Remaining a closeted homosexual for mainstream audience, he secretly continues his projects already for twenty years.

Paper long abstract:

Baltjancis is a secluded activist of Latvian gay movement who has tried to establish a one-man gay subculture living in the countryside of eastern Latvia, approximately 300 kilometres from Riga. In the early 1990s, when homosexuality was decriminalized in Latvia, he established contacts with gay organizations and individuals in different countries, unofficially traded imported porn movies and other goods to his Latvian clients, published an underground magazine, organized a gay pop band with his partner, and finally started a career as a writer of self-published poetry collections and his life story.

Speaking to mainstream audiences, he tries to avoid explicitly gay subjects and conceals parts of his life story in order to protect himself from homophobic comments. However, accusations of dilettantism still pursue his efforts. Creativity in its various manifestations is a crucial part of Baltjancis personality. He refers to himself as a multi-talented person whose ideal in art is Soviet Russian pop singer Alla Pugacheva -- her songs, personal style, and in particular her unwillingness to reveal her personal life to mass audience. In his poetry he uses the style and imagery of Latvian widespread amateurish poetry that concentrates on sentimental feelings, beauty of one's homeland and promulgates optimism and sincerity. At the same time he occasionally tries to use this style as a medium for expressing his gay sensibility and his personal experience in a veiled way. Our research contains material from field work at Baltjancis home in 2013 and analysis of his creative work.

Panel Gend004
Queer ethnographies of the 21st century: heritages, realities, and perspectives