LGBT Ukrainians fight for their country and their community

There is so much that this column could get into this week. Like many of you, the first thought on my mind is Ukraine. It speaks loudly to me. My grandmother and grandfather came to the U.S. from Odessa, and to find my roots Jason and I visited there a few years ago and visited the Holocaust memorial and what used to be the Jewish ghetto.

Ukraine’s LGBT community, like most of the countries under the thumb of the former Soviet Union, has to contend with a majority populace who are religiously conservative, and that has made it difficult for LGBT people. But guess what?  Like you’ve been seeing with the Ukrainian resolve to fight Russia, Ukraine’s LGBT community has also been fighting LGBT oppression. They do so with our biggest tool: Visibility.

Each year they march in major cities to show the strength of our community.  From invisibility just a few short years ago they have become a presence to be reckoned with. The world has seen how Russia oppresses its LGBT community to the point that many LGBT Russians feel forced to immigrate, especially LGBT families frightened that their children might be taken from them by the government.

Ukrainian’s LGBT Community feels this pain now.  Even while under attack from Russians, vandals in Kiev took the time to ransack its LGBT Center.  

Even in the face of this oppression, the Ukrainian LGBT community, like the country itself, will not be silenced. They are joining the fight.

This from London’s Pink News: “In recent weeks, Ukraine’s LGBT+ community have spoken of their fears for the future if Russia were to invade. Kyiv Pride, one of the country’s biggest LGBT+ rights groups, hit out at Russia and Vladimir Putin on Twitter on Thursday morning as news of the invasion broke.

“We remain strong, we are not intimidated.

“Putin will break all his teeth trying to bite us. We have left far behind the past to which he seeks to draw us. We are a country that has chosen the values of human rights, humanity, life and personality.

“Putin lives in the past, he has a place there.” 

Make no mistake, the fight inside Ukraine, both against Russia and LGBT oppression will be a long one, but LGBT Ukrainians fighting alongside their fellow citizens will bolster not only the country, but also LGBT community itself.