“When the shelling started, I was really scared”

09.12.2023 | cb — No comments

Pavel was drafted even before Russia launched its full-scale war. When the first shot was fired, Pavel was already sitting in the trenches. He has been fighting ever since. As a gay man, this is extra difficult for him: He’s afraid of the enemy, worries about his coming out and constantly thinks about his boyfriend, who is also serving. Our columnist Iryna Hanenkova presents Pavel’s story.

Hello. My name is Pasha, I’m 22 years old. I am a military man – an anti-aircraft gunner, and I am gay. I started my service with conscription. Then, when the full-scale war started, we were automatically taken to fight.

In the beginning there was bullying

During my service, no one knew about me until I got caught chatting with my partner. The correspondence was quite spicy.

After that, all my colleagues found out who I was. There was some verbal bullying, which sometimes turned into physical bullying.

During the war, everyone knew about me, word of mouth worked. The beginning of the war was difficult for me, as I had never had anything to do with war, and I had no training.

We did not fully believe that there could be a war at all. We were told to leave, so we left, dug trenches and just waited. When the first shelling started, I was really scared. Our commanders tried to make jokes so that we would not panic.

Most comrades know I’m gay

As for my orientation, many people do not care much. We have a task and we fulfill it. When it is calm, sometimes the guys would bring up topics related to my sexual orientation. These are mostly inappropriate jokes or topics that they talk about without understanding their essence. That’s just dumb.

Some moments offend me, and we often quarrel. But, in general, my orientation does not always cause me much trouble. Most of the guys accept the fact that I am gay.

Long-distance love is hard

When I was in Mykolaiv, I met my current partner Vladyslav. We texted and called each other for a week. After that, he came to see me, and we decided to try dating.

I must say that long-distance love is very difficult. Vladyslav was still a civilian at the time. When we moved to Donetsk, Vlad and I agreed that he should also go to the army. He serves in the Volyn region.

This is how you can donate

INDIVIDUAL HELP Munich Kyiv Queer has its own fundraising campaign via 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.

All requests from the community are meticulously checked in cooperation with our partner organisations in Ukraine. If they can help themselves, they take over. If the demands for help exceed their (financial and/or material) possibilities, we will step in.

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


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