“I am OUT of Ukraine. I am IN Ukraine”

15.01.2023 | cb — No comments

After a trip through Munich’s community this well-known exhibition will now be displayed in the lesbian-queer centre LeZ from Friday 20 January on. “I am OUT of Ukraine. I am IN Ukraine” describes how queer people from and in Ukraine experience the war. The twelve photo collages can be seen at Müllerstraße 26 until the end of February. They were curated by our partner KyivPride.

In November, we showed them in Munich’s gay-queer centre SUB, and in summer, during the Pride, the LGBTIQ* Youth organisation Diversity put up the portraits in the windows of its café. Queer people from Ukraine describe their lives with the war: Some are fighting, some are helping, others have left the country. Now the exhibition is coming to LeZ.

What to do? Stay, leave?

War is always about decisions: Should I leave the country? Do I stay? How can I support my family, friends and, last but not least, the community to which I belong?

Vernissage at the SUB on 3 November. Photo: Stas Mishchenko

These twelve portraits provide rare answers to such questions. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, non-binary, trans* and queer people from Ukraine tell us their stories. We present three of them here. There is, for example:

Boris, gay, 26 years old, LGBTIQ* activist from Kyiv

He could not have left Ukraine anyway because of the general mobilisation. Men between 18 and 60 have to stay in the country. But Boris volunteered right away. He has been part of the armed forces before. He says: “This is the moment of truth when we actually have to be here and protect our country.”

Boris Chmilevsky. Photos: KyivPride

Boris worked as an LGBTIQ* activist before Russia started its full-scale war against Ukraine on 24 February. He had big plans for his job as well as for himself – Boris wanted to travel a lot. That’s not important any more.

“It is hard not to see that our society is getting radicalised now. But that is something to be expected. On the other hand, for the first time in world history, we see that the LGBTIQ* community is broadly represented on the front lines; many queer people are fighting openly.” Boris hopes that after the war, after Ukraine’s victory, this will be a powerful advocacy tool to build a truly inclusive Ukraine.

Luli, trans* woman, 27 years old, animation artist from Lviv

Shortly before the war, Luli and her partner had moved to Lviv. They love this beautiful city in the Western part of Ukraine and planned to buy a house there – to stay. “However, we have long since used the money to buy a car in order to support our army.” In general, Luli donates every hryvnya she has left to the armed forces.

Like many IT people, she now works in the info/cyber sector, but is not allowed to disclose any details. She stayed in Ukraine because she simply did not have the opportunity to leave. 

Luli Osmak. Photos: KyivPride

Luli came out during the war because she couldn’t shake off the feeling she might die any day. She no longer wanted to hide. And she understands that people react positively to it: “Hate speech is actively condemned by society. ” Anything else, she imagines, would not make any sense. To declare LGBTIQ* enemies now would only play into the hands of the enemy.

“We all have a hatred now and that’s right. But after the victory, you have to work with that hatred so that it doesn’t lead to something else. Yes, I see progress, freedom, tolerance and the rainbow, but the wounds in our society will not heal for a long time.”

Angelina, pansexual woman, content manager in Trutnov, Czech Republic, 21 years old

Angelina is from Kyiv, where she was born and spent her whole life. Now she lives in Trutnov, Czech Republic. She says it was quite easy to decide on fleeing. They no longer wanted to be a burden for the relatives with whom they wanted to stay only a short time. The escape was exhausting, but now they have a good life. Angelina is very grateful to the Czech people.

She misses her old life: Angelina worked as a content manager and a photographer; she participated in women’s marches and the Pride. Now she can’t do all that anymore. She helps where she can, but first she has to learn Czech. “It turns out it’s not that difficult.” She wants to start over, study.

Angelina Sazonova. Photos: KyivPride

After the victory, she sees an independent Ukraine. “New values that Russia does not impose on us. Values that we choose freely. No discrimination because it’s punished by law. Freedom for LGBTIQ* is something I would really like to have.”

Over the past few months, KyivPride has interviewed women* and men* about their lives before and after the war started. The results are sensitive self-portraits of people of all possible gender identities and sexual orientations who bravely face their fate.

When: Friday, 20 January, to Thursday, 23 February 2023
Where: LeZ, Müllerstraße 26, Munich
Organised by: KyivPride, LeZ, Munich Kyiv Queer

This is how you can help

Individual help

Munich Kyiv Queer has its own fundraising campaign via to support people in Ukraine like Marina who are not organised in the local LGBTIQ*-groups. We can help fast, directly and unbureaucratically.

Help for LGBTIQ* organisations

To support LGBTIQ* in Ukraine we have helped set up the Alliance Queer Emergency Aid Ukraine, in which around 40 German LGBTIQ* Human Rights organisations are involved. All these groups have access to very different Human Rights organisations in Ukraine and use funds for urgently needed care or evacuation of queer people. Every donation helps and is used 100 percent to benefit queer people in Ukraine. Donate here


Housing for queer refugees from Ukraine

LGBTIQ* often have seen discrimination in their lifes, therefore queer refugees are particularly vulnerable. Many are traumatised and now they experience re-traumatisation on the run. We want to offer them a home where they feel comfortable and can live without fear. Depending on availability, we rent two-, three-, four- or five-room flats and sublet them to people in need as shared flats. Our association does not have any funding yet, so we depend on donations. For example, we have to advance rent and deposits until the State’s job centres step in.

Donate here:
Münchner Bank eG
IBAN DE16 7019 0000 0003 1425 66
Munich Queer Homes e.V.

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