BLOG Keep going! – Olena Semenova about Munich Pride

25.07.2013 | cb — No comments
Auf Wiedersehen Olena

Olena is a sportswoman. She’s used to fight.

Munich, 25th of July 2013 – A year ago, after the first Pride in Kyiv, we were shocked, disappointed, and angry. The Pride failed; some activists were beaten up, others – manhunted. Was it the end or the beginning? We did our best to turn it to the beginning of the big way, and this year brought success. Our first Pride in Ukrainian history took place in Kyiv last May. It was well protected by police, closed for public, short, but it was extremely proud.

 Our victory was impossible without the helping hand of our friends, people that were with us on our bad times and celebrated with us our great day. What is really important for me, as a volunteer activist, that with our main supporter – Munich’s community – we have not only official and political connections, but really good friendship. That is why our Pride Week in Munich was more about emotions and friendly communications, than about doing official representing.


Sibylle (r.) hosted Olena (l.) . She’s a friend and great lover of Ukraine.

Thank you my dear Sascha Hübner, you made our first visit to Munich really productive; thank you my sweet Conrad Breyer, you did a lot to make our connections stronger; thank you my dearest Sibylle von Tiedemann, you gave me a chance to know the lesbian community closer with Lesbenfrühlingstreffen this year. So we were well prepared for the Munich CSD Week 2013! We came to visit people that we know well, friends that we miss, and community that is close to our hearts. I personally was so much looking forward to meeting all people who entered Kontaktgruppe Munich Queer Kyiv! It is just amazing to feel how many people are involved in our fight for the rights, to know that they really care and want to do more with us.

We had no any official meeting, did anyone mention it? Even the press meeting with Hep Monatzeder, even the Green Party reception were more about conversation with great friends and supporters than about protocol talks. But what is also impressing: Every meeting was useful for something. My dear Uwe Hagenberg and Wieland Arndt, you turned all our Kontaktgruppe gatherings in your sweet house to a small celebration, and at the same time to the most effective meetings we’ve ever had. Today we have a number of ongoing projects that will develop and discover different sides of our intercity cooperation. Working with communities and volunteers, cultural exchange, education and empowerment – we have big plans!


Uwe’s and Wieland’s place – ideal to rest and work.

I left Munich with a feeling of light future, as we say in Ukraine. We are together, and in this solidarity is our power. Munich people give us an example of hard work for the equal rights that lead to a great freedom (in comparison to Ukraine!). You, friends, give us a vision of our future. We are ready to keep going on.

Small shots of my Munich impressions


What a huge difference with the experience I’ve had! The greatest impression: politicians are really close to the community they represent. They are aware of people’s problems. They use public transport. They talk to regular people. They are not afraid of questions from people and find an answer without help of army of advisers. It is so unusual for my Ukrainian eye to see that a big political party openly supports LGBT-community, make special events for this community, have special message for them (for us!).

Lesbian community


It is hard to dress up as Putin. It is hot, exhaustive and violent. Barbara (l.) cares for Naomi (r.).

The Pride Week was opened with a Lesbian Street Festival (Angertorstraßenfest), and I was so glad to see many women together and to realize how numerous and united they are – and in the same time very diverse. Maybe, in some years, when our lesbians will be not so afraid to be out, we will have such a diverse community also. Young girls, LesMamas, families, older ones, activists are mixed in a good way in Munich lesbian scene.

Naomi and Putin

Naomi Lawrence is my personal hero, I adore her and the art she’s doing. The idea with Putin&Tank is a great illustration for her talent: the message was very clear, very expressive, very visible and understandable for everyone. Moreovere! The real artist must be not only spiritually, but also physically prepared. As a sportswoman I know very well how hard it was for her to drive the tank during the CSD on this hot day.

It was also very heart touching to see the loving family support, that the musician Barbara Lux gave to Naomi during this uneasy performance. That is so important, so necessary.

Women Conference

I’m really grateful to Lydia Dietrich for the chance to take part in the Munich Women Conference 2013 “Next Generation”. That was a great experience! Feminists of different generations together for one goal. Main disclosure for me: Despite the huge difference in economic situation, our countries have the same problems in women issues. Main vision: Yes, feminists can be different and respect each other, they do not need to look like identical mass. So many open lesbians on Women Conference! We have so many common problems and ideas, that it is much more powerful to unite, not to separate.


Visit at Munich’s LGBT Youth Center Diversity. Olena (m.) listens to Christina (r.), board member of Diversity and speaking Russian.

Special Thank you for Ulrike Mößbauer for helping me to understand speeches and conversations!

LGBT Church

Thanks to Stephanie Gerlach, I’ve had a chance to visit the LGBT-service in one of the biggest protestant churches.  What is amazing: the feeling of freedom, love and unity. This service filled the souls with light, not with fear and anxiety, what is so usual for unfriendly orthodox churches in Ukraine. Of course, the women pastors also symbolize the feeling of equality of all people. Hugs!

(Olena Semenova, board member of the NGO New Wave, Kherson, and member of the Organization Commitee of KyivPride in Kyiv)

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