"We need to survive"

By Jang KapgenLex Kleren

As the war in Ukraine continues, marginalized people are at danger to be hit the hardest by its consequences. Lëtzebuerger Journal talked to queer people who either fled or stayed back in Kyiv – to share their testimonies of incredible resilience and constant fear of death.

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The Russian attack has started on February, 24 and has forced over two million Ukrainians fleeing into neighboring countries with rising death polls on both the Russian and Ukrainian side. Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital and the previous home of around three million people, witnesses consistent fights in its streets and bombs falling from the sky. A previously flourishing city has been turned into the battleground of geopolitics and hunger for power. While some of its citizens remained in the city to defend their capital or to organize humanitarian help, others have fled into the safety of west Ukraine or its neighboring countries – among them, Yevhen Trachuk. They are a previously Kyiv-based queer artist and work as project manager for Kyiv Pride, an LGBT+ organization in the capital. The war has turned their life into a nightmare of never-ending exhaustion.

The Russian threat

"Kyiv felt like a safe place to me", Yevhen explains the situation prior to the Russian invasion in our interview on March 4, "I could dress how I wanted to, and I did not fear to be attacked". They remember queer parties as part of Kyiv’s night life and the yearly Pride march, exemplifying the ever-bettering situation of the queer community in Kyiv. Nevertheless, equity was not achieved – police still had to protect Pride marches as "far right" groups were feared to attack participants, as Yevhen recounts, and basic legal equality, such as same-sex marriage and anti-discrimination laws, were not provided yet. However, when Putin started his attack, the safety previously felt by Yevhen could not be guaranteed anymore. The artist "felt like the local situation got more dangerous, because there are all of a sudden a lot of people with weapons. So, if they were homophobic and if they wouldn’t like you, they might hurt you".

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