Who we are
The Contact Group sees itself as an interface between the LGBT-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 (LGBT-youth), Forum Homosexualität (History of LGBT-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 LGBT-choir Regenbogenchor, Team München (Sports Club), TransMann (Transgender) as well as Queeramnesty, QueerCampus (Students), the members of Queergottesdienst (Church), Queerelations (Film network) and VelsPol Bayern (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender policewomen and policemen 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 (LGBT: Community Building, Mobilisation, Advocacy, Public Awareness) and its Queer Homes, Gay Forum Ukraine (LGBT: Mobilization, Advocacy, PR), Insight (Lesbian women, Transgender: Community Center, Research, Advocacy), Nash Mir (LGBT: Advocacy, Research, Trainings, Human Rights’ Case-Management) and the parents’ initiative Tergo. Also Munich keeps in touch and works with Liga (LGBT: Mobilization, Health Issues, Counselling, Advocacy, PR) in Nikolaev.
In our Contact Group are people, women and men, of all ages from the LGBT-Scene in Munich and Kiev. 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 loves his job. His clients know 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 LGBT-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 Uwe 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.“
He has been responsible in Munich’s Gay Community Center Sub for working with the press for several years. Conrad didn’t know much about Ukraine until the summer of 2012. After he met three guests of Munich’s CSD from Kiev 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 lesbians, gays and transgender there and now he is all fired up on the issue. Conrad organizes the Contact Group and its press work and he 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 Kiev who don’t let the difficult circumstances get them down.“
He was just tired of it all. Werner understood very fast that homophobia and racism have similar roots and that the fears behind can easily poison everyone’s pursuit of liberty. For this reason, Werner joined the Green Party. As an activist he has since then been involved in the work of Queer.Grün.Bayern, the LGBT-branch of his party in Bavaria. In 2017 though, he left the Green Party to found a new movement that adjusts better to his conception of Human Rights. By joining Munich’s protest against Russia’s so called gay propaganda laws, he first got acquainted with Munich Kyiv Queer. We organized a kiss-in in front of the General Consulate of the Russian Federation. The openness and creativity of the group has really made an impression on him. In 2014 and 2015, he attended KyivPride.
There’s nothing more important than solidarity. We have to stick together beyond all boundaries and in Kiev, I have learned how important this is. Liberty is not about to consume, we have to fight for it. And to become independent of any prejudice and repression – it means to be a free human being.”
Of course, Uwe has many duties already. Most time in a week he works for Siemens to earn a living. “And I am working hard to gain some honour working for Munich’s gay community centre Sub, too”, he says jokingly. Uwe is a volunteer. Both jobs are fun for him and give 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 Wieland for KyivPride 2013, he now is part of Munich Kyiv Queer. Currently, he’s developing volunteer trainings for Kyiv’s LGBT-community every year and visited Odesa’s Creative Protest Festival in 2017. He is one of Munich Kyiv Queer’s speakers.
“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. “
The “father” of Munich-Kiev cooperation, Sascha is a psychologist who works as an adviser for Sub. In 2012 he travelled with Green city councillor Lydia Dietrich to Pride in Kiev, the “first ever” Pride in Ukraine. That it didn’t go well convinced the two of them that partner city Munich must do something for the lesbians, gays and transgenders there. So the work that people are doing together is their “baby”, and it is growing and flourishing. Sascha supports the Contact Group with his wide experiences of pyschological advice, particularly through his work with migrants and refugees.
„In my advice work with gay refugees and migrants I see daily how tough life is for many gay men in the world. But we can’t be everywhere. Together with the LGBT-activists in Kyiv we can, with the combined power and experience of an already existing city partnership, make progress in ONE country.“
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 LGBT 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 “Kiev issues” within his sport club.
„I think it is brilliant that the scene in Munich and Kiev are linked. Our work together has given new impetus to the twin city partnership.“
Naomi ist easily one of Munich’s most famous artists that gets involved for the LGBT -community of her home city. Her works can be seen in many cafés and institutions of the scene, just recently a sculpture from Naomi was unveiled in the Munich City Museum. Naomi wants to engage herself for Kyiv, it is something close to her. Naomi bubbles with ideas. For CSD in Munich, she already created eye-catching art, she regularly exhibitits her work in Ukraine and holds workshops about “Creative Protest”, even a festival in Odesa.
„Whether the LGBTI-community or other minorities are attacked, makes no difference to me. For me, it’s about empowering people to acknowledge and act upon their own positive goals and beliefs. This will help to break through the cycle of unfair and corrupt systems that play people off against each other, to distract attention away from their own negative actions.“
It is sometimes frustrating. For years the young activist Stas has been involved in the campaign for rights for lesbians, gays and transexuals 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 recently 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 ne now lives in Munich with his husband Conrad. In his spare time, 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.“
Olena is a woman with ideas, brave and political, with a talent for organisation and PR. She was once responsible for the press work for KyivPride and is also a board member of Liga, the Nikolaev organisation concerned with LGBT-issues for so many years now. Olena is actually a doctor but nowadays she earns a living in the IT and as coach for kettlebells. Kettlebells were during Soviet times particuarly popular in the East and nowadays in the West, too. The sport brings her the balance that she needs when again she’s annoyed with the situation in her country. She loves to travel, with her wife she is always flying all around Europe. Olena does a lot of PR work for the contact group and she always has many ideas for new common projects.
„I am prepared to break the law and go to prison because of any stupid law that wants to ban so called gay propaganda. We will not give up our struggle!“
She is an American-born Ukraine specialist and freelance writer living in Germany. Currently she is developing journalistic and capacity-building projects in Ukraine to empower the LGBT community. Having lived in the U.S., Ukraine, Russia, and Germany, she has personally encountered a wide range of attitudes towards LGBT issues. These experiences have motivated her to share her international background as a human rights professional. Munich Kiev Queer has provided her with the unique opportunity to work directly with Ukrainian LGBT activists, which has only strengthened her belief in the importance of cross-cultural collaboration.
„I am queer and I like Ukraine!“
Sibylle along with many other women, every year, could spend months organising the “Lesbenkulturtage”, a cultural event week especially for lesbian women. This also gives the chance for activists from Ukraine to take part. Since 2016, she’s speaking for Munich Kyiv Queer, too, a Group she has co-founded. Having studied Slavic cultures, Sibylle is happy about the Kyiv project of the Munich LGBT-community. She long argues against injustices and she can be tough. She knows that in the contact group it is not just about one side helping the other. Both sides can learn from each other. Sibylle brings not just her language skills, but her organisational talent. Eastern Europe has always fascinated her.
„I always realise how little we know about Eastern Europe, although it is mentioned in the news almost every day. The contact group is for me the chance to open a window between the cultures.“
Yuri Yourski strongly believes in team work. That is why he joined Munich Kyiv Queer right after having been part in one of our yearly volunteers’ workshop weeks we offer in Munich for Ukrainian LGBT-activists. For years he worked as a Human Rights defender among Gay Alliance Ukraine, one of the biggest LGBT-organisations in the country. Now he is living in Estonia to fight for the Eurasian Coalition on Male Health in Tallinn. The political situation in Ukraine has prompted him to action and gives him much hope for positive future changes. Yuri grew up in the city of Zaporizhzhia. He is specialised in developing anti-discrimination campaigns, knows the importance of sexual education among youth and eagerly studies how education and art may help to combat intolerance in the future.
„Leadership for me is like an art. It is the responsibility to guide others by sharing with them my own experiences, skills, as well as the dedication of my time, energy, and emotional intelligence so that they can realize their full potential, both personally and professionally.”