Bogdan and Artem find help in a shelter

24.01.2023 | cb — No comments

Giving up was not an option when Bogdan and his boyfriend Artem had to move out of their flat. They had both lost their jobs and could no longer pay the rent. So they went to a shelter run by Gay Alliance Ukraine, which is partly supported by the German LGBTIQ*-community. This story was written by our columnist Evgen Lesnoy, filmmaker, journalist and blogger.

24th of February 2022 has divided the lives of Ukrainians in two. They reckon with a time before the war and a time after. Before this ominous date, people made plans, hoped for the future; life had a meaning. Afterwards, everything changed dramatically.

Bogdan. Photo: Evgen Lesnoy

Bogdan was born in Kherson, the city that Russian soldiers had invaded a week after 24th of February. The city has since been liberated, but is shelled every day. His parents stayed in the occupied territories; the mother has only now left for Poland. Bogdan himself has been living in Kryvyj Rih for some time.

Just two days before the war began, his boyfriend Artem from the town of Polohy in the Zaporizhzhya region moved in with him. The house where the boy grew up has since been hit by a Russian missile. Not even the walls remained standing. Since then, he has had no contact with his parents. He does not know if they are still alive.

So on that unfortunate 24 February, everything changed. The owners of the restaurant where Bogdan worked as a cook and the management fled the city on the same day. They stopped paying the wages. Bogdan’s landlords were initially willing to let the two of them have their flat for some days, but it couldn’t stay that way.

Suddenly they were homeless

Two young men, two gay young men, in a city that had become a frontline city, were about to be put out on the street. And so it happened.

In the early days, Bogdan cooked lunch for the fighters of the local territorial defence. But soon, the housing problem became virulent: they had to get out.

Bogdan (2nd from left) in the shelter. Photo: Evgen Lesnoy

But the world is not without good people. Organisations of the LGBTIQ* community came to help. Bogdan called his friends at the Gay Alliance Ukraine. They offered them accommodation in a shelter for queer people who, like them, were without housing and money because of the war.

Of course, they don’t have a separate flat for themselves there, not even a room. They share all the spaces with several people. But at least there is a warm bed and food. The accommodation was organised by activists from Gay Alliance Ukraine and the local queer organisation Protego.

Vegetables from your own garden

Now the first shock is over. They are alive and can be useful to the LGBTIQ* community, Ukrainians and Ukraine. The economy also gradually got going again: cafés and restaurants reopened.

Bogdan managed to find a job as an assistant cook. His boyfriend Artem stayed without work. But they are not lazy. Together with the residents of their shelter, they started growing vegetables in the garden in spring. Although many of the boys come from the city and were working the soil for the first time, they managed to plant some vegetables.

Unfortunately, not everything survived. Russia’s massive rocket attacks did not leave Kryvyj Rih unscathed. A rocket hit a dam on the Inhulets river and flooded the garden plot. Unfortunately, part of the harvest was destroyed.

The boys still live in the shelter. In a very cramped space, but there is no shame in that. After victory, there will be comfort again and a European future for Ukraine. The main thing now is to drive the Russian occupiers out of the homeland.

A thank you to Germany

Bogdan continues to work and cook for the Ukrainian military. Artem is active as a volunteer and helps both the Ukrainian army and the civilian population in any way he can.

Tired from the day. Photo: Evgen Lesnoy

P.S. Bogdan and Artem asked to thank Munch Kyiv Queer, ECOM and KyivPride. Due to their donations, this shelter for LGBTIQ* people exists.

This is how you can help

INDIVIDUAL HELP Munich Kyiv Queer has its own fundraising campaign via to support people in Ukraine who are not organised in the local LGBTIQ*-groups like Bogdan and Artem. 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 like KyivPride. 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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