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Topher Taylor: To Ukraine with Love

As the invasion of Ukraine gets worse by the day, Topher Taylor explores the small but significant ways that London’s LGBTQ+ community can help

Every time I switch on the news, I feel like I’m watching a movie. I’m concerned about people and my thoughts have been with the LGBTQ+ community. Tedious political mouthpieces complain about ‘wokeness’ but it’s times like this that the reality of being a minority becomes inescapable. I’ve read about trans women being unable to pass at borders due to documents misgendering them and of black people being assaulted and abused at exit points. Even in times of war, minorities are experiencing evil.

The fight for equality is quite simply that – equality. I’ve been researching ways in which we can help, so I had a chat with Steve Taylor, board member of the European Pride Organisers Association, about the situation for LGBTQ+ people in Ukraine.

 

TT: How has the LGBTQ+ community been impacted by the situation in Ukraine? 

In two ways really. The first is the need to survive queer people are more likely already to be marginalised, homeless or in insecure housing, and so the impact of the invasion has been felt strongly by many in the LGBTQ+ community. Second, there’s a real fear of what might come if Russia controls Ukraine or more regions. We’ve already seen crackdowns in Crimea and Putin’s hatred of LGBTQ+ people is likely to be pushed further in a Russian-occupied Ukraine.

TT: What is the mood within the community in Ukraine now? 

There seems to be an incredible sense of solidarity both among themselves but also in their knowledge of the support they are receiving from outside. And a determination to survive and say ‘fuck you’ to Putin.

 

TT: Are people being separated from their networks? I understand that minorities such as the trans* community could be under huge stress right now. 

There has been some separation, but organisations including Kyiv Pride have been doing an amazing job setting up shelters to help LGBTQ+ people come together and find some safety, help and advice. All of the money we raise for Kyiv Pride and Kharkiv Pride will be regranted directly to them. You can donate through our appeal at epoa.eu/ukraine.

 

TT: What was LGBTQ+ life like before this in Ukraine? 

It wasn’t great, but things were slowly getting better. Prides had been taking place with less violence and more acceptance. But it wasn’t some LGBTQ+ haven – far from it. The impact of that is that the LGBTQ+ community in Ukraine is very strong, well connected and supportive.

 

TT: What message would you like to send to the London community? 

The LGBTQ+ community in London has been an amazing supporter of our community abroad when it has come under attack – I saw that myself in the incredibly moving vigil outside the Admiral Duncan after the Pulse massacre in 2016. So, my appeal would simply be to not forget our LGBTQ+ friends in their time of incredible need. Every single thing that you can do will make a difference and be appreciated.

 

TT: Is this going to affect EuroPride 2022? 

EuroPride 2022 in Belgrade was looking set to become one of the most important in the event’s thirty-year history, but Putin’s invasion of Ukraine makes it even more significant. The hosts in Belgrade have already said that they will focus parts of the human rights conference on Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. We’re sure there will be enormous displays of solidarity too and you’re more than welcome to join us between 12th and 18th September.

Follow @EuroPride on Facebook and Twitter, @europride.info on Instagram, plus @KyivPride, @KharkivPride and @BelgradePride for info on EuroPride 2022.

Topher will be back with us again next month, so please keep posted for his May installment. you can follow Topher on his Instagram page @tophertaylor

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