Be a Super Hero: Join us for the Pride March!

Once again, to show solidarity with our queer friends in Ukraine fighting Russian aggression, Munich Kyiv Queer & Friends are invited to walk in the front forming the huge Ukrainian column on position number 13. We are so grateful to the organisers!

Join us, be part of Munich’s Pride March. Do not just watch from the sidewalk, stand with us for Ukraine. An be in front!

In correspondance with MunichPride’s motto 2024 (“United in diversity. Together against the Right”) we have chosen the slogan: “Power for Peace”. The message is clear and simple: We have to fight for Peace with the Power of (queer) solidarity, creativity and wit. Bring your posters or just walk with us. Be part of Ukraine’s (queer) future.

Super Hero Cat. Graphics: Naomi Lawrence

The banners we carry with us were created by Munich based artist Naomi Lawrence. They are stunning and powerful!

PrideMarch CSD München
When Saturday, 22 June 2024, 11.00 (Come by till 11.20 for the lining-up!)
Where Nockherstraße/Nockherberg, position number 13
Organized by Munich Kyiv Queer

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

Anastasia, a 25-year-old feminist and pansexual individual, recounts her experiences during the full-scale invasion in Lviv. Alongside her friends, she engaged in various humanitarian efforts, aiding those affected by the conflict. They navigated the challenges of fleeing to Poland and Germany, facing overcrowded trains and uncertainty. In Germany, Anastasia found a more inclusive environment compared to Ukraine, where misogyny and societal norms stifled diversity. Despite the upheaval, she observed a shift in societal attitudes towards the queer community in Ukraine. Returning home, Anastasia reflects on her journey, finding solace in her evolving identity and belief in a more inclusive future. Iryna Hanenkova collected her story.

My name is Anastasia, and I’m 25 years old, proudly identifying as a feminist and pansexual. The onset of the full-scale invasion found us in Lviv. I gathered with my three closest friends in a rented apartment, where we fashioned a makeshift bed in the corridor and barely slept for the initial 3-4 days.

Anastasiia at the Pride

Our days were filled with purpose as we rallied to aid those affected: collecting donations, assisting military personnel with shopping, and distributing soft toys to children and their mothers seeking refuge in nearby sports clubs. We also undertook the task of clearing out the basement shelter, discovering a stash of old pharmacist bottles at our entrance, which we promptly arranged to be taken to the Pharmacy Museum.

We did our best to help those we could

Not having a permanent job at the time, I dedicated myself fully to these humanitarian efforts. On March 5, my friend and I stood at the border crossing to Poland from 9:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., enduring the cold without adequate heating, tents, toilets, or food.

Upon arrival at a large distribution camp in the evening, we finally found respite, warming ourselves and replenishing our energy. Although a Polish volunteer kindly offered us accommodation in Lublin for the night, we hesitated due to warnings about potential scams and politely declined.

On the way to Germany

Our journey was fraught with challenges, from overcrowded trains in Poland and Germany to the chaos of ticket queues where scalpers prowled. Yet, amidst the uncertainty, we pressed on. In Berlin, our spirits were lifted by the sight of German reporters welcoming us with Ukrainian flags.

Anastasiia, 25 years old. Ukrainian pansexual and feminist.

After spending a few days in the German capital, we ventured to Cologne, where, thanks to connections, we secured temporary accommodation for a week before settling into a communal-style living arrangement until in August 2022 I rented a room. My friend returned to Ukraine after a month and a half, leaving me to navigate life in a new environment alone.

Attending Pride for the first time on July 3rd was a transformative experience. The atmosphere of mutual respect, love and solidarity was awe-inspiring. In the summer of 2023, I returned to Pride as a representative of KyivPride, forging connections with amazing people and establishing a supportive community with three Ukrainian bi-girls through our joint chat.

In Germany, I found a level of openness and acceptance of diverse genders and identities that I miss in Ukraine. The pervasive misogyny and self-rejection among Ukrainian women, coupled with adherence to patriarchal norms, contrast sharply with the inclusive environment I encountered abroad.

I found my flock

Upon my return to Ukraine in the summer of 2023, I found my LGBTIQ* community relegated to online social media groups and a small circle of bisexual friends. During the full-scale invasion, I observed a shift in societal attitudes towards the queer community in Ukraine. LGBTIQ* topics are gaining visibility, and cases of violence against LGBTQ* individuals are receiving media attention, signaling a slow but significant change.

My time abroad was marred by deep depression and numerous economic and bureaucratic obstacles, culminating in the completion of my journalism diploma through distance learning. Now back in Ukraine, I’m focusing on self-discovery and contemplating seeking professional support once again.

Anastasiia at the LGBTQI+ Pride

The NGO “Feminist Workshop” in Lviv provided a vital space for me to connect with like-minded individuals until February 24th. I eagerly anticipate rejoining their events ever since.

My European experience led to a personal revelation, evolving my identity from bisexuality to pansexuality. Each day brings greater self-awareness and acceptance as societal norms evolve, reinforcing my belief in a vibrant and inclusive Ukraine where everyone finds their rightful place.

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

Which sportswoman dared to come out during her career? When did the first Pride take place in Berlin? How many times has Ukraine won the ESC?

Three of 50 questions that we will be asking you on 21 June in the Lesbian-queer centre LeZ, via pictures, text, audio and video. At the Queer Quiz, you’ll find out everything about queer culture, queer history and a whole lot about LGBTIQ* celebrities. We have invited guests from Ukraine!

Form a team with your friends or find your peers on site! Attractive prizes await the teams in the top three places! Register using the QR code above.

A popular game

We would like to thank Vova and Vanja for their commitment and Sibylle for supporting them. They developed the Queer Quiz and refined the concept over the years. They now tour Munich’s community with it.

Queer Quiz Score points with your queer knowledge
When Friday, 21 June 2024, 7 pm
Where Lesbian-queer centre LeZ, Müllerstraße 16
Organized by Munich Kyiv Queer, LeZ

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

The queer cabaret show from Ukraine! Immerse yourself in a world of glitz and glamour! Samantha Jackson, Bavaria’s first Ukrainian drag queen, the magician Markus Laymann and our special guest Pasta Parisa invite you to an evening with breathtaking performances by drag artists, singers and musicians! A unique fusion of drag and queer Ukrainian culture. Tuesday, 18 June, 8 pm, at Wannda Circus Freimann. Buy your tickets now!

Before things get started, we’d like to introduce here our cast in fast-forward. First of all, we proudly present our hosts and special guest Pasta Parisa:

Ukrainian’s Drag Ambassador SAMANTHA JACKSON from Odesa has a big stage presence, a big heart and an even bigger voice. Everything about her is big. Especially the longing for her old homeland, which she had to leave because of the war. With her songs, she reminds us of Ukraine. Her cause: A life in freedom! Samantha says: “All people in this world deserve to be free to choose who they love and be who they are.”

Reality seller MARKUS LAYMANN is a missionary of intelligent entertainment. That is why the style of his magic programmes is more cabaret than serious magic. The focus is always on entertainment, on entertaining the audience. In times when there are no more miracles for the enlightened spectator, it is more important to address the audience directly, to make them laugh or think or to surprise them.

Pasta Parisa. Photo: Merlyn Charles Nieto

PASTA PARISA is probably the rockiest, most feminist and hairiest drag queen in Bavaria, if not Germany. From her own small shows for Munich’s LGBTIQ* community to international stages, Pasta enchants with dance numbers following songs from pop history, modern burlesque and funny lipsync performances. Munich’s first “Queen of the Night” of the Garry Klein Club sets every party and every event on fire! Because who doesn’t like pasta?

And these are our perfomers

MERRITT OCRACY is Munich’s Ukrainian Drag Quing. A faerie harlequin, a vintage prince of the mischievous abyss, a crossover chameleon that flies through space and time and has landed on stage from somewhere out there. Merritt says: “Gender is a construct, build your own.”

BEE QUING came to Germany because of Russia’s full scale invasion of Ukraine, too. They love to entertain the audience with their energy and improvised dance moves. Combining their passion for dance with drag is an experience that amazes us all.

XENI SLAY Your favourite Ukrainian demon who will leave you like paralysed. Xeni Slay comes all the way from Düsseldorf where she hosts her show “Cirque du so SLAY”. Get ready for breathtaking acrobatics with a good dose of Slay and clowning! Xeni’s performances are a unique mix of her Ukrainian heritage and circus background, and she is ready to slay!

Olena Vyshnevska. Photo: Samir Sagaev

OLENA VYSHNEVSKA has been living in Vienna for a year and a half now. The war brought her to Austria. The mezzo-soprano, who worked in her home town Odesa as a soloist with the regional philharmonic orchestra, the opera house and as a teacher of solo singing at the State Academy of Music, continues to perform as a singer, travelling all over Europe to do so. She has won numerous international awards for her art.

SQUAREPLATZ is a queer band from Munich with Ukrainian-Turkish roots. Their unique sound combines electronic music and indie dance pop, inspired by the sound of the 90s. The lyrics by frontman Sezgin Inceel and Stanislav Mischchenko behind the keyboards deal with topics such as queer identity and social justice. With their music, the two artists stand up for diversity and inclusion.

Squareplatz. Photo: Stanislav Mishchenko

Munich Kyiv Extravaganza celebrates queer (drag) art from Ukraine. We offer a platform for young Ukrainian artists and also take the opportunity to collect donations for queer war victims in Ukraine. The donations will benefit LGBTIQ* people who are in need or on the run. Our team will be waiting for you at the information desk near the entrance hall to answer all your questions.

Munich Kyiv Extravaganza Queer Cabaret Show from Ukraine
When: Tuesday, 18 June 2024, 8 pm; admission/catering from 6.30 pm
Where: Wannda Circus Freimann, Im Park, entrance left of Völckerstraße 5; Metro: Freimann stop (U6); by car: Lindberghstraße 44, no parking spaces directly on the premises!
Tickets: 29 euros plus advance booking fees; BUY TICKETS HERE
Organised by: Munich Kyiv Queer, Munich Pride, Wannda, Cultural Department of the City of Munich

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

Petro Zherukha, a 27-year-old cisgender bisexual soldier, shares his journey amidst the chaos of war. Despite the dangers, Petro bravely confronts his identity, proudly displaying an LGBTIQ* chevron on his uniform to challenge discrimination and seek acceptance within the ranks. His story exemplifies resilience in the face of adversity. Our columnist Iryna Hanenkova has put down his story.

From the first days of the invasion, I joined the military. At these critical moments, everything seemed to lose its meaning, except for victory, which was directly associated with the future. For a moment, there was a feeling that there would be no future because we and our memories were being slaughtered. But it turned out that love for everything and faith were and will be stronger than any fear of death.

In the army, I serve in the supply unit and deal with everything related to transport. My military unit entered the front line quickly, so every second of doubt or lack of knowledge could become the end of us. Our logistics team worked almost around the clock. We debated whether to take cover during alarms or the sounds of explosions. We decided that we would work until the very last. If a missile hits the building where we work and we die, then so be it. And if not – it will explode somewhere nearby, then there is nothing to worry about, and therefore, all the more to continue our work. We could not afford any delays at work because it directly affected the provision for our fighters in positions.

My coming out was not related to the army, although I felt a direct threat to my life because the army was not the safest environment for me or anyone in general. My friend, who was directly involved in the creation of the draft law on registered partnerships, inspired me. The military system, on the contrary, systematically oppressed me.

Serving in the army is a quite challenging task. If you serve faithfully, that is. We wanted to strive to be good soldiers and dedicated all our energy, comfort, principles, personal space, funds, skills, knowledge, and even some fundamental human rights just to bring victory closer to us. We knew this system would never thank us so we accepted the fact that we would be anonymous benefactors, giving it everything we had to win this war.

I fought and still fight against the military system for my personality and my identity. I saw people lose parts of themselves, and their personalities, both in the army and at the front. I noticed that I also felt different and lost something of who I was before the army.

When I shared with my friends the idea that I might want to come out only to our group – they rejected me. I’m sure that’s because of the fear of the unknown. After the victory – they said, “not in time” – a golden saying that, sort to speak, so clearly describes the diagnosis of our society: to decide to postpone the desire to be happy right now. And I obeyed.

But when I found out about everything that my friend did for me and people like me in the army, I decided not to suppress my personality anymore, to stop being afraid of reactions, and openly talk about discrimination if it happens. And I opened up, perhaps, among the most conservative people and in the most dangerous conditions imaginable. As you understand, this happened in a war zone between brothers and sisters who have been fighting for more than a year; who are tired, exhausted, wounded, lost, and with weapons in their hands. My superiors were afraid that I might get shot. I didn’t believe it.

When I attached a chevron with an LGBTIQ* flag to my uniform, I was regularly “advised” to take it off, and I believe that someone was simply afraid of aggression towards me. Someone was uncomfortable, someone discriminated against me passively, and someone thought that I was discriminating against them.

However, I accepted it – I am uncomfortable for many, incomprehensible, new for perception, so it takes more effort to accept me. That’s why I serve with an LGBTIQ* chevron so that my military accepts me for who I am and forms boundaries and relationships with the real me. I want to brag about the fact that I am successful in this and feel that in this way I choose to strive to be happy right now.

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

Since the start of the war, Munich Kyiv Queer has collected over 200,000 euros in donations for queer war victims in Ukraine and helped refugees to start a new life in Germany.

Solidarity with Ukraine is unbroken – at least in Munich. Since 24 February 2022, we, who have been campaigning for lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans*, inter* and queer people in Munich’s twin city Kyiv and beyond since 2012, have been asking for donations again and again. To date, exactly 228,938.78 euros have been collected.

What looks like a lot of money at first glance quickly turned out to be a scarce resource. So far, our initiative has given an average of 200 euros per person in one-off emergency aid to individuals. This corresponds to just under half an average monthly income in Ukraine. A private fundraising campaign allows for quick, free and unbureaucratic action. And because the need is great, there are currently only 27,682.63 euros left (status of 21 February 2024).

Munich Kyiv Queer joining Munich’s protest against the right in January 2024. Photo: Conrad Breyer

The money is given to queer people in need who have lost their jobs, been bombed out, are ill or have had to flee. As a vulnerable group, LGBTIQ* people are often particularly alone in such situations, as they cannot always rely on stable family structures and their circles of friends, often their families of choice, have often been torn apart in the course of the flight movements.

Thanks to the donors and the team

Conrad Breyer, spokesperson for Munich Kyiv Queer, is delighted with the unbroken solidarity. “We are so incredibly grateful for the help!” It comes from Munich’s community, its many committed people and organisations; it comes from Munich’s civil society and often from artists, especially from the drag scene, who offer Munich Kyiv Queer a platform for fundraising and aid campaigns. However, help also reaches them from all over Germany and even from abroad.

For a small, voluntary group like Munich Kyiv Queer with just a dozen members, it is an outstanding achievement to have raised so much money, says Conrad. “Many of us have been working non-stop for years, especially since the start of the war, to organise support for our partner organisations and friends in Ukraine.”

How Munich Kyiv Queer helps

And the commitment is by no means limited to donations. Munich Kyiv Queer also looks after people who have come to Munich: We help them with dealing with the authorities and bureaucracy, support them find accommodation and mingle into the German society and Munich’s community through a mentorship programme.

Munich’s LGBTIQ* community shows solidarity at a queer networking meeting in 2023. Photo: MKQ

With the donations, Munich Kyiv Queer has so far been able to help around 1000 individuals who need the funds for food, hygiene articles, clothing, (HIV) medication, operations, hormones, rent, escape, documents and even funerals. There is a lack of everything!

In the past six months, the donations have gone to people (names changed) like:

  • Vitalyna and Masha, two lesbian women with children, who were recently evacuated from the occupied Mariupol. They needed money for rent, papers and food
  • Lina, a trans* woman from Kharkiv. She does not currently earn enough to cover her rent and other needs in full
  • Dmytro, a gay man from Pavlohrad. He was beaten up and needed money for an operation.

“This help is really invaluable for our community. Just to feel that we are not left alone in this war and that we can rely on friends in Munich and elsewhere means everything to us,” says Stanislav Mishchenko, board member of KyivPride. Stas is also a member of Munich Kyiv Queer.

Every request for help is checked for credibility in collaboration with Munich Kyiv Queer’s queer partner organisations in Ukraine. If the LGBTIQ* organisations in Ukraine are able to provide support themselves, for example by issuing vouchers for food, medicine and hygiene products, they will do so. In all other cases, Munich Kyiv Queer steps in.

Part of the Queer Emergency Aid Ukraine

It should also be mentioned that Munich Kyiv Queer, together with around 40 other German LGBTIQ* organisations, is part of the Queer Emergency Aid Ukraine alliance, which it co-founded in February 2022. “Queere Nothilfe Ukraine” provides dedicated support to Ukrainian LGBTIQ* organisations. It has raised over one million euros since 24 February.

Ukrainian LGBTIQ* organisations use the money for their own aid programmes and for shelters. However, not all queer people are connected to these bodies or know them, which is why Munich Kyiv Queer supplements the offer with its individual case help.

Ukrainian delegation marching at Munich Pride in 2023. Photo: MKQ

The war is now entering its third year, with no end in sight. If you would like to continue to help, you can do so HERE. At MunichKyivQuer.org/donations we also list how your support helps and we blog about the current situation for LGBTIQ* in Ukraine. You can also find information about our projects going on.

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

Dmitry is a drag queen. In his blog post, the young Ukrainian describes how he experienced the outbreak of war and where Russia’s attack ultimately led him. He had to leave his home town, his family fled and he constantly had to find new jobs. The only ray of hope: Love! Dmitry recently met someone. Our columnist Iryna Hanenkova has written down his story for us.

It’s 24 February 2022, between 7:30 and 7:35 in the morning, something like that. The phone rings – it’s my grandmother from Zaporizhia calling. I’m living in Kharkiv at the time.

  • Hello, Dima, how are you in Kharkiv?
  • What do you mean?
  • Is it loud? Do they bomb?
  • What are you talking of? I need to get ready for work. What do they bomb?
  • The war has started.
  • I’ll call you back.

The war has begun. These words come as a shock. I call up the news and read what’s going on. The war has indeed begun. I jump out of bed, get dressed, wake my flatmate and tell him to pack his things. As a precaution.

I would spend the next week in Kharkiv, for the very last time.

We pack everything we need, documents, food. Luckily, we had bought enough for home a few days earlier. So wise! In the late afternoon, a friend who lives alone comes to visit. I didn’t want to leave him alone with all this. We sleep in the same bed for a week – with the window open so that we can hear what’s going on outside. We’re not hungry, we don’t eat. We even forget to shower. We’re afraid of it.

We go out for the first time on 28 February because we’ve run out of cigarettes and have started smoking again because we’re so nervous. It’s the fourth day of the war. We look around the neighbourhood. There are queues everywhere. You cannot get cigarettes around; the shops seem to be closed. At the end of the street we finally find a shop that’s open.

The Russians indiscriminately bombard the centre

It’s cold outside, the sky is overcast, we can’t see a thing. We queue for two, two and a half hours. When there are left only two people in front of us, we hear aeroplanes approaching and explosions. I’ve never been more scared in my life. The planes are bombing the city centre. Everyone runs wherever they can because you can’t see the planes behind the clouds. It’s very frightening. I’ll probably never forget that feeling.

Kharkiw in December 2022. Photo: Sibylle von Tiedemann

I hate the bastards who sit in these aeroplanes. The scum who built the rocket that’s flying towards me right now. It’s only 10 to 20 metres away. I can see it. That day it hits a group of people queuing at a pet shop nearby. One woman’s legs are shredded; she later dies in a hospital as a result of her injuries.

We give up to search for cigarettes and go home. The street is littered with “blind” rockets.

I fall asleep on the cold floor

In the evening again. They bomb the centre of Kharkiv with planes. The city centre, where normal people live. That evening I fall asleep in the corridor on the cold floor because I’m so exhausted.

I hardly get sleep in the days that follow. The shelling usually lasts until ten or eleven at night, and then it starts again at around six or seven in the morning. My two boys fall asleep quicker than I do because I always listen to potential noises.

I soon realise that I will lose my mind if I stay here. On 2 March, I decide to leave the city I’ve lived in for two years.

In peacetime, it takes me ten minutes and between 60 and 70 hryvnia to get to the station. Now a taxi costs between 3000 and 5000 hryvnia. I don’t have that much money. A boy and his father agree to give me a lift for 1000 hryvnia. They pick me up near my house. I’m carrying a suitcase that should last me another six months. We drive through an empty, destroyed city with Russian aeroplanes circling overhead.

The train station is full of people

I am extremely grateful to these people for getting me out of here. My friends from Dnipro persuaded me to join them in the city. And so I’m waiting for the evacuation train to Dnipro – for a whole day.

The station is overcrowded with people. There are two trains with women and children on board. The station staff and volunteers are handing out milk, water and biscuits. I don’t even have any water with me, which I will regret. My brain is trying to understand what is happening around me. It’s absurd, it’s madness; it can’t be. But it is reality.

Finally, my parents!

The train to Dnipro consists of three carriages. Only three carriages for the mass of people here. You could also say: “Like a herring in a jar”. So we are crammed into the train. We hear explosions nearby. We are all afraid that this carriage could become our coffin. When the train leaves, I breathe, I am relieved. The nightmare here is over. But the uncertainty and the view out of the window don’t make it any easier. I’m insanely thirsty and there’s no water. I spend the next six hours travelling to Dnipro, half unconscious.

I stay with my friends in Dnipro for a fortnight. Then I can finally go to Zaporizhia to see my parents. I’m staying until the beginning of April.

Escape to Kyiv

Sitting at home with nothing to do. That’s the worst! I leave Zaporizhia on 6 April and drive to the capital.

I’ve been living in Kyiv for a year and a half now. I’ve already changed jobs five times and I’m currently training to become a beauty consultant. I occasionally work as a drag queen, so it comes naturally.

In January, I helped organise a big Harry Potter performance, because I’ve always worked a lot with children. I understand that they need a fairy tale now – we all do, actually.

I had my own club project in Zaporizhia for six years. We’ve only been able to organise two parties there since the start of the war. Zaporizhia is a frontline city. It was so nice to finally have guests again.

Everything is so different now

The war changed a lot of things. It took away the family I used to see so often. My mother and sister now live in England, my father stayed in Zaporizhia with my grandmother. It’s only now that I realise how important my family has always been in my life.

The war also took my favourite city away from me. It took me a year to recover from moving. I miss my thriving, beautiful and beloved Kharkiv.

At least I’ve finally met someone I love. I was alone for six years and somehow it happened that now, four months later, it’s no longer like that. That’s probably the only thing I’m happy about.

Life goes on

I’m making plans and hope that it will all be over soon and we can all be together again. I dream of doing another cool (drag) production. But I don’t feel able to write the concept for it. Maybe one day I will, but I’m not sure.

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

The war is going on. Munich Kyiv Queer is therefore continuing to collect stories from LGBTIQ* people in Ukraine. We ask them: How do you live with this war? We want to raise awareness of the situation of queer people and collect donations. This is the story of Oleksandra.

Oleksandra held out in Mariupol for two months when the city had already been occupied by the Russian army. Then, as if by a miracle, she managed to get out. Her home was completely destroyed.

Oleksandra set off westwards with her girlfriend. They now live in Ivano-Frankivsk. That’s good, and they have even found jobs. However, the salary they receive barely covers the rent. And somehow they are not underprivileged enough to receive funds for food, medicine, toiletries and clothing. So “You are not alone” was really the only help they could reach out for and they are very grateful. Oleksandra and her girlfriend hope that we will continue to support the LGBTIQ* community in Ukraine. VIDEO

“You are not alone” is co-financed by the Queer Emergency Aid Ukraine alliance, of which Munich Kyiv Queer is also part of. These are your donations that make a difference here.

Thanks to all contributors!

Many thanks also to Oleksandra Semenova, who helped us with this video project. Thanks to Matt and Stas for the subtitles. And thanks to Nikita for the Ukrainian translations.

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

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 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

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.

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