Anonymous (2015)
HD video, sound, color, 16:9
8:38 minutes

I became engaged in activism not so long ago. I participated in organizing KIEVPRIDE in 2015 and I am also an activist in a human rights organization that works against LGBT discrimination. It is very hard work because people, from regular citizens to the political elite, do not want to acknowledge LGBT issues.

There are two ways of resisting this: On a basic level, people should be more open about themselves. This may sound strange since I am not out myself. But I have reasons for that… The second level concerns state policy. If educational programs were launched, if teachers at schools taught that LGBT people are the same as other people and that homosexuality is not abnormal, maybe then, through education, our society would become more tolerant. The main problem is that people don’t have information and base their judgment on stereotypes.

For me there are two reasons: First, the situation with my work is not stable and it could prevent me from earning money for living. Second, I am not out to my family. Due to their beliefs, it would be very painful for my relatives if they knew the truth about me. Regarding my openness and my partnership with my girlfriend, we won’t have any problems unless we come out. Luckily, society is more tolerant of relationships amongst girls. As long as we are not public about it, problems are not so frequent. But the fact that we have to hide our relationship causes huge inconveniences. I think this is not right.

During my work in the police department I never faced problems because of my sexual orientation, apart from instances when colleagues showed interest in me and I had to stop them quite strictly. That behavior didn’t make me very popular, but it is in my character not to mix my private and work lives. The type of work I did never involved very close contact neither with people nor with LGBT people in particular. As far as I know, we didn’t have any special rules regarding the interaction between the administration and those subordinates who might be LGBT. I only know that several of my colleagues, who are also LGBT, hid their identities and had to be careful about that issue.

The difference between Kiev and Luhansk is astonishing. Different movements have developed here, there are organizations where you can receive information and psychological aid. There are psychologists and doctors. Many things are different. People are more consolidated here. You have a society where you can feel safe. In Luhansk we have never had that. The LGBT community has not been formed there, it is scattered. There are some people who communicate with each other, but the movement has not been formed. 

A consequence of this is the large migration of LGBT people from the regions, which is very bad for those areas in particular. The strength and progress of human rights are people themselves; passionate individuals who can change the circumstances around them. In other Ukrainian regions however there are branches of organizations that aim at consolidating a local community. In some regions the atmosphere for LGBT people is good. As far as I know, the LGBT movement is strong in Zaporizhia, where different projects are implemented. This gives me some hope.

The conflict with Russia has affected the life of sexual minorities as well as of the entire society. LGBT people have migrated away from the places where they lived, facing the same difficulties as others who are in the same circumstances. Those difficulties however are often more acute because of their identities. Have social attitudes towards them changed? Yes, because a new enemy has appeared, one that is seen in an even more negative light than LGBT people. If ordinary people had to choose between a so called “Moskal” and a gay person, the “Moskal” would be considered worse.

I would like to suggest people to further cultivate themselves, to widen their world views, to escape the stereotypes which govern them. In our country the influence of the past is very strong, including the influence of the USSR, where sexual identity differences were considered negative and were seen as the influence of the prison subculture. This is a heavy heritage for us all. The perception of LGBT people and of gay men is still tainted by that. Even if people never lived such experiences, there is a genetic memory reminding them about times when many people faced criminal persecution for their political views. I would like to ask people to be more objective and to try to get to know something new before they judge it.