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

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

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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.

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