He got off the stage, stripped off his high heels and went to fight

Ivan Gonzyk is a diva, basically a gay man. And sometimes he likes to live his feminine side as a pole dancer. Now he fights in the army. Our author Evgen Lesnoy interviewed Ivan on his YouTube channel. This text is based on their conversation.

Ivan was born in the Kherson region, the part where the Russian occupiers are currently wreaking havoc. His parents stayed. Ivan himself has been living in Kyiv for some time now.

Pole Dance on High Heels

Our protagonist is a trained paramedic. He has already served in the army in 2015, took part in combats in the occupied Donbas.

Ivan is actually a creative person: He loves dancing and show business. The trained make-up artist has worked with many Ukrainian stars that we don’t know in Western Europe. He has danced in nightclubs himself. A man pole dancing on high heels – what could be more beautiful? But for the moment, he had to say goodbye to this world for a while.

Ivan in high heels. Photo: private

When the full-scale war broke out in February 2022, it seemed to Ivan that his country needed his services as a medic more urgently than a pole dancer. He packed, joined the army and decided: No more secrets!

His openness mobilises help

Nothing from his life should be hidden from anyone any more, not even from his comrades! All the extravagant photos and videos on Instagram were now publicly accessible. In a way, this was even helpful.

All his followers who noticed that Ivan was going into battle saw it on Instagram and started to help.

Ivan organises support for soldiers and the people who still live in the towns near the front. He is no longer a glamorous diva but a soldier that helps: He got his company a car, a washing machine and a microwave. We don’t need to talk about medicine. Of course, this was necessary, too.

Standing in Bakhmut’s battles

But Ivan’s main task now is to save lives. At least three times a week he drives to Bakhmut to pick up wounded fighters.

Ivan also wages an information war against homo- and transphobia. Although he is not directly confronted with it in his company, he still has to explain a lot. The archaic understanding of family and love, especially among people with a soviet and post-soviet education, is a big problem.

Ivan says that one of the reasons he came out is because he wants Ukraine to become a real European country where human rights count. He now says openly that he is gay and that he was in the war, so that after the victory no one can say: You LGBTIQ* people were not at the front….

Russia’s public enemy: the gay man

On Russian television, they mock of him in prime time almost every week. How is it possible, they ask, that such a person dares to defend the country?

Ivan also has a dream. He would like to live in two countries: Ukraine on the one, and the Czech Republic or Spain on the other hand. He hasn’t decided yet. First, Ukraine has to win the war.

This is how you can help

INDIVIDUAL HELP Munich Kyiv Queer has its own fundraising campaign via www.paypal.me/ConradBreyer to support people in Ukraine who need help and 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

Questions? www.MunichKyivQueer.org/donations

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:
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