“We need to increase the military aid to Ukraine!”

Sasha is a queer activist and artist from Kyiv turning 20 this year. When she and her parents found themselves away from home after Russia’s full-scale invasion, Sasha was still a teenager. Soon she realized that Ukraine and its queer movement need help to survive. This is her story, protocol by our columnist Iryna Hanenkova.

I currently live in Vancouver and study Arts at the University of British Columbia (UBC), with an interest in acting, psychology, and international relations. Since I left Ukraine, I have represented my country at protests in Warsaw, New York, and Vancouver.

Before moving to Canada in July 2022 to begin my education, I lived with my family in New York for six months. As a teenager at the time, I was unsure about what to do with my life, as I was neither prepared for the war, nor was in a good spot in my personal life even prior to the full-scale invasion.

How to support Ukraine from abroad?

For everyone who lived in the Kyiv region at the time, February 24th of 2022 was the scariest day of their lives, as the russian army was constantly shelling and quickly advancing on the region. In order to reunite with my immediate family who were abroad at the time, I left my home without a definite plan and ended up going to New York through Warsaw.

I spent half a year advocating for Ukraine in New York, as well as trying to figure out what to do with my life and how best to utilize my skills as a Ukrainian living abroad. I volunteered with “Razom For Ukraine”, joined every Ukrainian protest, and took part in the New York Pride Parade in June 2022 to represent the Ukrainian LGBTIQ* community.

Attending pride events has always been important to me since I first started advocating for women’s rights and then further exploring my sexuality. The first pride parade I ever attended was the “Equality March” organized by KyivPride in September 2021, 5 months before Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Activism has been the primary drive of my life since I became conscious of the issues of human and animal rights in Ukraine at the time. The war accelerated all social changes in my country and resulted in the recent ratification of the Istanbul Convention, introduction of gender-neutral partnerships bill to the Parliament of Ukraine, legalization of medical cannabis, etc.

I joined the Pride movement to break Western stereotypes…

As part of my goal to gain more support for the Ukrainian cause, I also attended Seattle Pride in June 2023, and helped organize Ukrainian entry at the Vancouver Pride in August 2023. I believe that Pride parades abroad are a great opportunity to remind the world that Ukrainian queers still need support to defeat Russian imperialism, as well as to break the Western stereotype that there is no queer movement in Ukraine.  

Since I moved to Vancouver to study at UBC in June 2022, my life gained more certainty and I was able to concentrate more of my efforts on advocating for Ukraine. When I became a student at UBC, I joined the Ukrainian Student Union a.k.a. USU. Together with the team, we organize events and fundraisers on and off campus to promote Ukrainian culture and history.

As part of USU, I am organizing the “LGBTIQ* Ukrainians” entry at this year’s Vancouver Pride too. Our goal as a student club is to increase the support of Ukraine in the university and the city, as much of the local population is unfortunately subject to pro-russian and communist propaganda.

.. and to increase military aid to Ukraine

In 2024, I intend to work on more Ukrainian advocacy projects, maintain the existing support for Ukraine, and attract as many new supporters of the cause as possible. My hope is that such work will influence the decision-makers to increase military aid to Ukraine which is the only way to accelerate Ukrainian 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.

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

Questions? www.MunichKyivQueer.org/donations