I’m gay in Ukraine and my country despises me’

Ukraine’s crisis is not just military and political, it is social and cultural.

Gay Flag

In my long struggle to both be true to myself and to my homeland I always lose. I still hope to see a ray of light. Sometimes I do.

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Like during a groundbreaking — for Ukraine — queer art-show that opened in Kiev in October.

This is the first time that an LGBTI-themed installation occupies the most popular modern art space in the country.

I spent some time standing near a huge plasma screen. It played a filmed interview in which I shared personal stories about my daily life as a gay man in Ukraine.

After watching the interview, most visitors avoided making eye contact with me — not surprising in a country where more than 70 percent still consider homosexuality a disease.

But there were many who smiled and nodded in support instead. A few people even brought their kids to the installation. That was a ray of light for me. But unfortunately the clouds are getting darker every day.

“It is better to have gay parades in Kiev, rather than Russian tanks” — Yuriy Lutsenko

Read Maxim Eristavi full story at politico.eu

On 12 December 1991 Ukraine became the first post-Soviet country recognised by the UN to decriminalise homosexuality. But Ukraine has a long way to go, regarding LGBTI-Rights.

“I knew one 19-year-old guy who accidentally left his laptop lying around his house and his parents saw messages he sent to his boyfriend. For over a year they didn’t let him go out of the house to work or study, they just kept him inside for fear of shame. And that’s a familiar story in Ukraine.”

Stas Mischenko, vice-president of Gay Alliance of Ukraine.