Taras: “A man attacked me because he was disgusted by me”30.11.2023 | cb — No comments
The Russian invasion a year and a half ago changed everything for Taras. After losing his job, he moved from Lviv to Kyiv to find work and start a new life. But his new love betrayed him, his colleagues bullied him at work, he was beaten up and his cousin was killed in the war. And yet Taras has not given up. Our columnist Iryna Hanenkova has written down his story.
Hello, my name is Taras. I am 20 years old, from Kyiv, but originally from Lviv. I am gay.
I lived with a friend in Lviv when the invasion started. On February 24, 2022, he came into my room and told me that the war had broken out. Of course, I didn’t believe him, but when I went to work, my bosses wrote that we should stay at home. It was the day we were supposed to receive our salaries and all the employees were left without money. Of course, they gave it to us later.
I saw a rocket hit nearby; the whole city was engulfed in smoke, it was terrible. The organization I worked for closed down. No one knew when it would reopen, so I was left without a job.
Painful coming out
That was hard, because I was completely on my own anyway. I hadn’t had any contact with my family since I came out. They took it well at first, but soon the arguments started. They said that I was ill, that I needed treatment and priests to pray for me. The arguments with people who were so close to me were very painful.
When there was another heavy rocket attack on our city, my friends took me home with them and I moved in. We volunteered, brought things to the emergency shelter for people who had left Kyiv and took in refugees for the night who later went abroad. I also worked in a theater where they delivered things and food from other countries. We sorted them and passed them on.
One day, a friend told me that a husky had been abandoned in Kyiv and I decided to take her home. I remember the moment when it was snowing, I was loading a truck and the dog, whom I called Bella, was running alongside me. When the alarm went off again, we ran into the cellar. There were lots of people there and Bella made everyone happy. I love her very much, I felt calmer with her. I had someone to look after.
Farewell to Bella
I found a job as a cook. I worked long hours and the dog suffered a lot from my absence. So I had to give Bella to a friend who had his own house. It was a very difficult decision, but there was no other way.
Then my previous job became available and I started combining two jobs and working seven days a week. Everything became more expensive, food, rent. So I just started working again as a social worker for Alliance Global, doing tests for HIV, syphilis and so on.
It was all really very difficult. In the kitchen where I worked, people found out about my sexual orientation and I was severely harassed. I put up with it for a month and then resigned.
There was no such nagging at my new job. I was supported, we all had a good working relationship. But there were misunderstandings with my boss. I resigned again and moved to a position as an administrative assistant.
And then, I met a man I really liked, through an app. One day I packed my things and went to Kyiv to meet him. And I realized that I wanted to move to the capital to be near him.
New love, new life
I had settled all my affairs in Lviv and was about to move away – but I had no money: I had debts, no friends except him. I saw an ad for an apartment on Facebook and moved to Kyiv. I knew nothing at all about my new flatmate, he was a complete stranger…
For one month, I was unemployed. And meeting the man who had made me leave Lviv was inspiring. I felt very happy. Later, however, I found out that my roommate wasn’t paying rent and I was supposed to pay for everything. That was very unpleasant, so I decided to move out again.
I became ill. Pain tormented my body: I found it difficult to speak. It was impossible for me to stand up on my own. Enduring two weeks of pain was the price I paid for not going to the doctor in time. It turned out that I had acute appendicitis and needed an operation.
I was incredibly scared. My friends sent me money and communication with my mother seemed to improve. But above all, the man I was in love with came and supported me. The operation was successful! We became closer, I felt cared for and supported.
I found work again. However, they found out about my sexual orientation there too and the bullying started again. There was a fight in front of customers and colleagues. I was provoked and humiliated, and one man started hitting me because he was disgusted by me. I put up with it because I needed money. It was winter, I was alone and my salary was low.
The separation from the BF
And then: my boyfriend blocked me on social media. The person I fell in love with, the person I left my hometown, my work and my friends for, the person I ate grapes with in the evening and chatted with until the morning! Something inside of me broke and a depression began that lasted three months. I later found out that he was an escort and that many people had contracted syphilis from him and that he had cheated on me in many ways.
I resigned. The depression, the loss of my job, the search for a new one, the lack of financial resources, everything I was experiencing and feeling at that time was brought to an end by a phone call from my mother. She told me that Andriy, my cousin, who was in territorial defense and was serving near Bakhmut at the time, had been killed. His wife and two small children were left alone.
The death of the cousin
I packed my things and drove straight to Lviv. The grief of the relatives, the longing for the deceased and the pain broke my heart. The body was brought a week later. It’s impossible to express everything I felt at the time, but I had no time for depression. The funeral was hard.
When I returned to Kyiv from the funeral, the company I was working for closed down because it was no longer making a profit. I only had a thousand hryvnia left in my pocket and I was supposed to pay the rent in a few days. And the landlady had already announced that she was going to increase the rent from 5,000 to 9,000 hryvnia. I thought about returning to Lviv…
The new beginning
Fortunately, I got some money, rented a room and got a job. That’s where I am now. Things are starting to improve. I’m now a manager in a café. Being gay is not a problem. My colleagues support me.
I really love my job. We organized a charity event with the drag queen Diva Milk. We turned the café into a small club that night, entertained people and raised money for the armed forces.
I have a great company that treats LGBTIQ* people well and supports me in everything. I want to develop in my work, organize interesting events and continue to donate to the armed forces. We believe in our victory!
This is how you can donate
INDIVIDUAL HELP Munich Kyiv Queer has its own fundraising campaign via https://www.paypal.me/ConradBreyer to support queer people in Ukraine who are in need or on the run. Why? Because not all LGBTIQ* are organised in the local LGBTIQ*-groups. This help is direct, fast and free of charge if you choose the option “For friends and family” on PayPal. If you don’t have PayPal, you can alternatively send money to the private account of Conrad Breyer, speaker of Munich Kyiv Queer, IBAN: DE427015000021121454.
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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