Ukrainian gay people want you to know that they are fighting for their country, their rights and their lives – and they need all the support they can get…
A twenty-foot-wide fabric mural installed across the street at Toronto Pride is a platform for Ukrainian gay activists, giving them the opportunity to share their thoughts. The mural features portraits of seven Ukrainian LGBTQ+ activists, along with lengthy quotes from each activist discussing the invasion of Russia. Visitors can use a QR code on the mural to visit a microsite where they can watch recorded interviews with activists.
Many quotes discuss the importance of fighting Russian propaganda that distorts Ukraine and undermines support for the Ukrainians’ fight against the invasion.
“The far right exists in Ukraine, but it is a small number of people who are full of hatred towards LGBTQ+ people and who are supported by Russia and financed by Russia. Russia supports them as part of their propaganda narrative , because they want Ukraine to be considered a Nazi country, which is not true,” said Lenny Emson, director of KievPride.
“This is the first modern war where you can see a great representation of the LGBTQ+ community – on the front line, in the military and in every part of this defense against Russia. And we need your full support here “Not just for refugees. We also need support for our army, because we also fight for LGBTQ+ rights,” says Borys Potapovych, director of Paralegals UA, a legal aid clinic specializing in helping Ukrainians. LGBTQ+.
Olena Hanich of Odesa Pride says: “When Kyiv was almost completely surrounded – when most of the roads out of the city were closed due to encirclement by Russian troops, I was personally very afraid that Russian soldiers enter the city, because I know for sure that they are cruel.
She continues: “We know of cases where the names of LGBTQ+ activists are added to lists which are transferred to the Russian army. We know that the Russian military is looking for people on these lists. My colleague has been notified that she is on this list. And I was very scared for me, for my friends, because they could be on that list too.”
Meanwhile, Zhenya Trachuk, who is also from KyivPride, asks the world to understand Ukraine’s shortcomings in LGBTQ+ acceptance and says, “For the United States, it has taken more than 60 years to have same-sex marriage and we are still on our way”. . People shouldn’t expect us to do much right now, because we’re still on the way. They shouldn’t use some instances of transphobia to cast a shadow over Ukraine in general.
The fresco was made by Adam Zivoa FR Magazine columnist and columnist at national post who spent 10 weeks reporting in Ukraine for the newspaper. Zivo worked with KyivPride to produce the mural as an anti-misinformation project.
“While reporting on Ukraine, I have often tweeted about my experiences there, including how gay Ukrainians outright reject the narrative that Ukraine has an exceptional far-right problem. there was a lot of backlash about it, with many people just refusing to listen or believe gay Ukrainians talking about their own country,” Zivo said.
“In response, KyivPride and I decided to film interviews with gay activists to further amplify their voices – we wanted people to stop talking about gay Ukrainians and actually listen to them. This fresco was created from the content we filmed.
Zivo hopes the mural can be installed in various public spaces throughout the summer. For now, it will be on Church Street, just north of Gerrard, for the remainder of Pride Toronto’s main weekend.
The mural will be up for all the pride. Zivo says he hopes the mural can travel to different public spaces over the summer.