Who we are
The Contact Group sees itself as an interface between the LGBTIQ*-subcultures of Munich and Kyiv and other cities in Ukraine; we initiate, moderate, coordinate and carry out projects on our own or in cooperation with the large groups and associations of respective communities. We stand by their side at any time.
In Munich, these organizations are currently LeTRa (Lesbian women), Münchner Aids-Hilfe, Rosa Liste (Pink Party) and Sub (Gay Community Center), shareholders of CSD München, Munich Pride. Also cooperate groups like Aufklärungsprojekt Munich (schools), Daneben (Subculture for women and transgender), Diversity (LGBTI*-youth), Queeres Archiv München (History of the LGBTI*-movement), Gay Outdoor Club GOC, Gay & Gray, InsideOut Munich (Tennis Club) and Isarhechte (Gay Swimmers). We welcome the lesbian choirs Lilamunde and Melodiva, the mid-age lesbian group MiLes, Münchner Löwen Club MLC (Fetish), Philhomoniker (Gay Choir), the LGBTI*-choir Regenbogenchor, Team München (Sports Club), Trans-Ident, TransMann (both transgender) as well as Queeramnesty, QueerCampus (Students), the members of Queergottesdienst (Church), Queerelations (Film network) and VelsPol Bayern (Lesbian, gay, bi, trans* and inter* police in Bavaria). We are many!
In Kyiv, entities involved are Fulcrum (Gay and bisexual men: Advocacy, HIV-prevention), Alliance.Global (Gay and bisexual men: Community Center, HIV-prevention, Counselling), Gay Alliance Ukraine (LGBTIQ*: Community Building, Mobilisation, Advocacy, Public Awareness) and its Queer Homes, Gay Forum Ukraine (LGBTIQ*: Mobilization, Advocacy, PR), Insight (Lesbian women, Trans*: Community Center, Research, Advocacy), Nash Mir (LGBTIQ*: Advocacy, Research, Trainings, Human Rights’ Case-Management) and the parents’ initiative Tergo. Also Munich keeps in touch and works with Liga (LGBTIQ*: Mobilization, Health Issues, Counselling, Advocacy, PR) in Nikolaev, the Womens’ Network Sphere in Kharkiv and Gender Zed (LGBTIQ*: Community Building, Mobilisation, Public Awareness, HIV-prevention) in Zaporizhzhia.
In our Contact Group are people, enbies, trans*, women and men of all ages from the LGBTIQ* scene in Munich and Kyiv. We come from different backgrounds and bring our individual life and work experiences with us. Everyone is welcome, everyone can make a contribution. Munich Kyiv Queer meets every third Tuesday of the month, we have a core team and people who work with us from time to time.
Wieland is a doctor and he loved his job when he was still in charge. His clients always knew that he is gay. “I’m out and people accept who I am”, he says. It has not always been like that. Wieland came out late as he was very afraid to live openly as a gay man. It was Munich’s LGBTIQ*-community, such as Gay Outdoor Club and the city’s gay community centre Sub that gave him the confidence to come out of the closet. He has done a lot for the community since then. When he was board member of Gay Outdoor Club, he made it part of the German Alpenverein which is very conservative. With his husband he, additionally, founded Munich’s Rainbow Foundation. He wants to give something back. That’s why he came to join Munich Kyiv Queer. Wieland is a caring man, but also tries to make Munich Kyiv Queer work effectively. He is actually good in solving conflicts.
„We reached a lot for the community, KyivPride was and is a big success. But we can go a step forward and change things still in the Ukrainian society, I’m sure about it. Now we must keep going on and support our friends in Ukraine even more.“
swims with the Isarhechte, a gay swimming group situated in Munich. However, he would not describe this as political commitment, but rather as “joyful participation”. He likes to be part of the community. George has a soft spot for everything Eastern European. In 2012, he gave in to his passion for Russia for the first time, moved to Moscow and promptly fell in love. The relationship did not have a future – a consequence of the country’s restrictive policy towards LGBTIQ*. The socio-political climate in Russia made a binational love between two men impossible. Marriage? Children? Forget it! Until today George does not let go of the words of his ex. And it is probably thanks to them that he joined Munich Kyiv Queer. In Ukraine he wants to stand up for equal rights. There his request has at least a chance.
„I hope that through my commitment I can make a contribution to the fact that more and more dreams can be dreamed and lived, regardless of which country one was born in and lives in today.“
is a scientist. He studied molecular biotechnology in Munich and can be quite hands-on. He always keeps an eye on things and meets every difficult situation with humor and empathy. Commitment is important to him. Before Stefan started at Munich Kyiv Queer, he was already active at Diversity, the umbrella organization of Munich’s LGBTIQ* youth organizations. Stefan has always been interested in the community of Eastern Europe, which is under pressure in many countries.
„I would like to draw attention to the situation in Ukraine and contribute with words and deeds to a positive development on the ground.“
He has been responsible in Munich’s Gay Community Center Sub for working with the press for several years now, recently he joined Munich Pride to take care of its PR, too. Conrad didn’t know much about Ukraine until the summer of 2012. After he met three guests of Munich’s CSD from Kyiv during the Pride Week to talk about press work on both sides of the Schengen-border, he began to become interested in the lifes of LGBTIQ* people there and now he is all fired up on the issue. Conrad organizes the Contact Group and its press work; his husband Stas also co-ordinates the Pride partnership between CSD Munich and KyivPride. His main job is as an independent journalist and editor.
„I greatly admire the courage and political skills of these young activists in Kyiv who don’t let the difficult circumstances get them down.“
Her heart beats for the community. Thanks to her unwavering efforts over many hours of discussion, she eventually managed to convince her conservative father that LGBTIQ* are a valuable part of society. When people put their hearts and minds to caring for each other, it can make a big difference. Alla is studying medicine in Munich and is spokesperson for “Women on Web”, an NGO that works for safe access to abortion. She found out about Munich Kyiv Queer through Instagram, where we accompanied our protest against human rights violations in Chechnya. Alla herself is Russian and comes from the Caucasus. She wants to make a firm stand for Ukraine and show that she rejects her country’s aggressive policies.
„Through discussions with my father I have helped him to change his mind and become more tolerant of the LGBTIQ* community. If we reach out to people, we can achieve a lot.“
is a person with ideas, brave and political, with a talent for organization and PR. S_he was once responsible for the media work for KyivPride and also a Co-Chair of LGBTIQ* association Liga, the all-Ukrainian organization advocating for LGBTI!* rights since 1993. Today, Lenny is an executive director of KyivPride – not an easy task. Lenny does a lot of PR work for the contact group and s_he always has many ideas for new common projects.
„We will never give up our fight against homo- and trans* phobia in society and politics!“
has actually found to activism with Gay Alliance Ukraine. In 2015, she started to work for the Ukrainian LGBTIQ*-organization. Since then she has dedicated herself to the topic: Olena works in community building, with volunteers, for the Queer Homes in Ukraine and OdesaPride. She values Munich Kyiv Queer’s effectiveness and creative approach. The cooperation between Gay Alliance Ukraine and Munich Kyiv Queer, she says, has already significantly increased volunteering of LGBTIQ* activists in the regions.
„I dream of a strong and self-confident Ukrainian LGBTIQ* movement. Munich Kyiv Queer inspires me a lot in this respect.“
Of course, Uwe had had many duties already. Most time in a week he worked for Siemens to earn a living before he retired. “And I was working hard to gain some honour working for Munich’s gay community centre Sub, too”, he says jokingly. Both jobs were fun for him and gave his life a meaning. Uwe is a big lover of human beings. He supports people and gives advice if they might feel they need it. After having given company to his husband for KyivPride 2013, he now is part of Munich Kyiv Queer. Currently, he’s developing volunteer trainings for Kyiv’s LGBTIQ*-community and visits OdesaPride nearly every year.
“Visiting Kyiv made me think about Human Rights. I am convinced that our world can improve as a whole when only two human beings start caring for each other. In Kyiv, I learned that this has always to be accompanied by a strong political commitment.“
has been committed to Human Rights since she was a schoolgirl – starting with Amnesty International. Since she grew up with the image of the evil Russian during the Cold War, she enrolled at the university not only for sociology and psychology but also for Slavic studies. During her studies she attended language courses in Ukraine and Russia several times. She loves Eastern Europe. Today, Steffi works as a freelance science and medical journalist in Munich. She came to Munich Kyiv Queer through music: Steffi learned violin in her childhood, then as an adult she played in orchestras and bands, sang in choirs, today it is the trumpet. When a friend asked her in 2018 to host singers from Odesa’s queer ensemble Qwerty Queer, who were travelling to the LGBTI* choir festival Various Voices in Munich, she immediately agreed.
„In my view, freedom is something that cannot be restricted to a certain culture or region. For me, along with human dignity, freedom is one of the most important achievements of modern democracies that is worth fighting for.“
was heading “Team Home” at Munich Kyiv Queer until recently; now she volunteers for us. When Putin started his war against Ukraine on 24th of February, she wanted to take action. She had already been involved with Ukrainian LGBTIQ* in 2018, when we once again offered a workshop for volunteers from the country and were looking for hosts. Taike herself lives in a rainbow family and has a son. She grew up in Swabia, partly in Peru. A social scientist by profession, a certified project and energy manager, too, she is also working in the lesbian-queer centre LeZ. There, she mainly supports volunteers in their training for bar service.
„It’s important to me to do something and not just talk. So that queer people can find a safe space where they can show themselves and meet each other – just as they are. To this day, my task is very fulfilling: offering places to protect victims of war, people who suffered from persecution, oppression, hostility and exclusion.“
Swimming has long been a passion for Thomas. Therefore it didn’t take long after moving to Munich in 2008 to jump in with the Isarhechte. The Isarhechte are a lesbian and gay swimming club and without them Thomas wouldn’t have found friends so quickly in a strange city. It showed him how important it is to have a functioning LGBTIQ* scene. Now working in international trade, he always had an interest in things eastern, even from childhood as he grew up on the former inner-German border with a view of the Iron Curtain. This sharpened his desire for freedom and justice. He has responsibility for “Kyiv issues” within his sport club.
„I think it is brilliant that the scene in Munich and Kyiv are linked. Our work together has given new impetus to the twin city partnership.“
Katja is the good soul of Munich Kyiv Queer. Born in Ukraine, she has lived in Munich for many years, Katja studied here and most recently worked at the university. She has observed Munich Kyiv Queer’s work as part of the large Ukrainian community in the city for a very long time and then decided to get involved herself. With her ideas, her contacts and her commitment she is a great enrichment for the group. She joined with all her heart, nothing is more repugnant to her than when people are treated unfairly.
„It is about human rights and human dignity in my home country. I want queer people in Ukraine to enjoy equality and social acceptance.“
For years, Stas has been involved in the campaign for rights for queer people in his home country. The scene is, thanks partly to him, more visible, louder, more authoritive. All of Europe gives its support. The community is more of a threat than before though and almost nothing is moving forward at a state level for the sexual minorities in the country. Stas worked for many years for Gay Alliance Ukraine, edited the gay magazine Stonewall and finished as fundraiser for the Regional HIV Legal Network that delivers legal support for people who are HIV-positive or somehow affected. He is also part of KyivPride though he now lives in Munich with his husband Conrad. He works as a photographer, musician and designer – he’s good in so many things.
„Society wants us to stay in our hiding places. But we are here, with our hopes and fears, love and sadness and we will show ourselves.“
has lived and worked in Munich for many years. From a distance, he wants to support the LGBTIQ* community in his home country. Oleksii does this with commitment and in silence. With Conrad, for example, he takes care of our website, but he is also always present at projects and activities when we need help. And that matters, because Oleksii is very busy professionally.
„To be oneself is a fundamental right of every human being. It is precisely then that one is most valuable to society. Acceptance of everyone requires a great deal of action and I am happy to be involved in a great cause with my modest contribution.“
Olha came from Odesa in March 2022. She was our first guest. Olha has been involved as an LGBTIQ* activist in Ukraine for what feels like her whole life, although she actually worked as a dentist. She ran the Queer Home in Odesa for the organisation Gay Alliance Ukraine. She founded the country’s first LGBTIQ* choir, Qwerty Queer, with the support of Munich’s queer choirs, she made the Q-Fest happen and brought to life the queer theatre Arcush, and of course also helped with OdesaPride. She says she felt in the right place and helped people to be themselves. Olha is helping now, too. She has been involved in supporting Ukrainian LGBTIQ* in need since the beginning of the war, so with LEGATO, the umbrella organisation of queer choirs in Europe. “I feel needed,” she says.
„Munich Kyiv Queer has been with me for years. Maybe I would never have got involved as an activist if I hadn’t had the opportunity to found a queer choir on the occasion of Various Voices. Munich Kyiv Queer is a team I trust, Munich’s community a place where I feel home. They have helped me and others a lot. I am who I am because of this connection.“
came to Munich in spring 2022 with the first refugees from Ukraine and has been helping us a lot since then. She co-runs the LGBTIQ* organisation “You are not alone” in Zhytomyr, one of our partners in Ukraine, which, like Munich Kyiv Queer, reinvented itself overnight as an aid organisation. Oleksandra is a fighter. She helps LGBTIQ* in Ukraine who are in need and supports Ukrainians who fled to Germany. And she never takes a break. Oleksandra knows Munich from before. In 2018, she took part in our workshop “Volunteering in the Community”. That’s when she learned to appreciate Munich’s community.
„I want to make this world a little safer, more tolerant and LGBTIQ-friendly. And that’s what we are doing now together with Munich Kyiv Queer in the alliance Queer Emergency Aid Ukraine. We are really a wonderful team.”
Sibylle von Tiedemann
Sibylle has been involved with our group for many years as a founding member and spokesperson. She repeatedly provided the Ukrainian parts to the Lesbian Culture Days in Munich, helped conduct trainings for Ukrainian LGBTIQ* volunteers and organised events such as the Ukrainian lesbian exhibition “No right to be herself” at the Cultural Centre Gasteig. The Slavicist and historian, who holds a doctorate, returned to join Munich Kyiv Queer as a volunteer after the war started. Not only can she as a scientist bring in her linguistic and cultural knowledge, but also her entire organisational talent.
„Russia’s war hurts me: as a person, as a German, as a Slavicist and historian. For me, ‘never again’ also means ‘never again war’. How such a phrase might take action makes me think every day.”
The war has changed Nikita’s life, as it has changed the lives of so many. Nikita has been living in Munich since spring 2022, after fleeing from Odesa. The opera singer worked as a soloist at the Odesa Philharmonic and Odesa Academic Theater of Musical Comedy. Since the war started, he has been using his art as a singer and drag performer to advocate for Ukrainian LGBTIQ*. He wants to help the community through these difficult times.
“I believe that after the darkness there will be a dawn and my beloved Ukraine will become the centre of freedom and equality.”