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Yuriy Yoursky

Yuri Yoursky (2015)
HD video, sound, color, 16:9
10:59 minutes

My name is Yuriy Yoursky and I’ve been an LGBT activist for a long time.

The current economic and political situation in the country is very difficult. That is why LGBT activism is extremely important at the moment. The economic situation is not very stable and people have to think about earning enough money for a slice of bread and about feeding their families first. It is not a priority for them to think about their rights, about what their awareness of others means or about human rights education. Thinking about your rights on an empty stomach is very hard. The political situation related to the war is very acute and it influences issues of human rights. As many people say, including our opponents from the Pravyy Sektor, it is impossible to think about the “special rights” of LGBT people now since we have more important issues such as the war with Russia.

There is a big difference between being gay in the capital city and being gay in a small industrial town like the one I come from, Zaporizhia. In an industrial region there are many plants, the level of population is very high and people are hard workers who toil nine-to-five. The level of tolerance, intelligence and education is not high enough. That is why unfortunately the percentage of homophobia, violent actions, and bullying is much higher than in the capital.

Coming-out to my relatives has been in the making for a long time. It is still partly unrealized. Just two months ago I came out to my older brother. He is the typical citizen of Zaporizhia. He works at the plant that produces engines for planes. He has a wife, two kids, and I am a godfather to one of them. I was extremely afraid he would forbid me to communicate with his children. As I had heard homophobic jokes from him, I thought his reaction would be negative. I was extremely surprised by his reaction and with words: He said that I am his brother and that he would love me no matter what. He said he would be glad if I came to his home with my boyfriend and we could spend time together. Since my coming out our relationship has become better and stronger.

The problem with Ukrainian society is that it is patriarchal like many others. We have this idea of masculinity imposed on society. Men and women must have roles that are clearly divided. Men are expected to be strong and to protect and be the breadwinners in the family. A man is expected to find a typical man’s work: Work hard while his wife sits at home, cooks, cleans the house and raises his children. This pressure starts from childhood and it is imposed in school. That is why gay boys who understand their homosexuality since boyhood are afraid to take a wrong step under the pressure. They are afraid to fail somewhere, to show their femininity. Talented children are afraid to go to a dance school, are afraid to become artists or designers, just because these are not typical jobs for men. Unfortunately, they have to give up their future plans and their dreams about the future.

The war between Ukraine and Russia has influenced the work of LGBT activists as a radicalization of society has taken place. For all the forces that decided to fight for a stronger Ukraine, all methods came to be seen as good. Ultra right-wing forces got access to weapons, to money and resources, and it became easier for them to mete out their judgment. By doing the right thing in the war with Russia they became at society’s favorite characters and thought they could decide the destiny of any minority. These guys started expressing their opinions in public more often, saying that the LGBT community is not appropriate for Ukraine, that Ukrainians don’t need imposed European values. Despite the fact that we are heading towards Europe, people are being frightened that this is “Gayropa,” that a huge number of homosexuals will come from Europe and that due to their propaganda the whole Ukrainian society will be dominated by LGBT people.

It became more difficult to work. The recent Equality March held in June demonstrated this. Ultra right-wing groups had no difficulty coming there, voicing their opinion, showing their position and just beating up people who are not of the same sexual orientation as they are. Many activists have received threats. This is not investigated by the state. Ultra right-wing groups think that the LGBT community is somewhere on the margins, that it is occupied with its own activities and that it doesn’t have rights and it is not acceptable in other spheres of society. They don’t want to believe that there are LGBT people in the army, in Eastern Ukraine or that the majority of the community is patriotic. During Maidan we were also there, standing up for an independent Ukraine.

Ukrainian society is not very stable and unfortunately we require support the outside and as well as from one another. Instead of dividing each other into desirables and undesirables, into acceptable and unacceptable individuals, I would like us to support each other and unite. I would really like to appeal to the society. To ask people to stay tuned and check any information you see. Formal and informal statistics prove there have always been 5 to 10% of LGBT people. It has always been like this and always will be. You may not be aware, but gays, lesbians and transgender people are around you: They may be your friends who are still afraid to open up to you. Do not use homophobic speech. LGBT propaganda does not exist. You were born with your sexual orientation, it is is not chosen. Therefore, judging a person born this or that way is totally unacceptable. And I would like you to think about it more and more.