Due to Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, many LGBTQI + people have been forced to flee their homes. Some are forced to travel abroad, others need shelter and food in Ukraine’s safe areas.
The Insight NGO team collected several stories of people they helped. We publish stories with the permission of storytellers.
Olga, 39 years old, Kramatorsk, lesbian
Anger, despair and devastation are the feelings that the first day of the war brought.
At first, before sunrise, in the dark, my peaceful city shuddered and trembled from the powerful explosions. Then, at dawn, we had to see with our own eyes enemy missiles flying over high-rise buildings, and then fell rapidly down, causing more and more explosions.
That horrible February morning, almost everyone thought about the safety of family and friends. The next few days passed like crazy. I had to go nearby for a while. It later became clear that the enemy was intensifying shelling of peaceful homes, leading to numerous casualties among the residents. To survive, he had to escape and go to other, still peaceful cities.
A close person, whose views I share and support, advised to seek help from the NGO Insight. After discussing the situation with Insight and clarifying some additional information, I was kindly given the opportunity to move and receive temporary shelter in a city as far away from the territory of military aggression as possible. In addition to housing, I was provided by food and hygiene products etc.
It is difficult to plan for the future now, as long as the brutal war continues, but I know for a fact that my heart feels boundless gratitude to the sincere and hospitable people of Insight.
Mariana, 34, Zaporozhye, lesbian, queer
The day before the war, I hadn’t slept all night and learned about the russian invasion early in the morning.
I was shocked and started to panic. I ran to my mother’s house to help pack an anxious suitcase and agree on what to do next. I was very scared to think that I could lose loved ones and my cat.
Every day I listened to these sirens, hid in the garage in the basement. My psychological condition has deteriorated. I couldn’t think of anything but war, I listened to the news for hours. I decided to leave when I realized that my life had stopped and that it could end at any moment.
I have been familiar with Insight’s activities for a long time. I learned about the shelter in Lviv and Chernivtsi on the social networks of the Zaporizhia branch of the organization. Then I decided to go to the shelter first, then to Poland. In the shelter in Lviv, I was able to rest from a very difficult evacuation from Zaporozhye. There was a place to sleep, something to eat and everything you needed. I am very grateful that the cat was let into the shelter!
Diana and Sofia, Lugansk – Kharkiv, trans-woman and cis-woman
For me, the problems began back in 2014, over time I had to move from the already occupied territory. These were difficult years due to the lack of my own housing and life away from hometown.
In the second stage of the war, we met the war in Kharkov. We were temporarily staying with a friend. At first, we thought that Kharkiv would not be bombed so hard. But it quickly became clear that we were wrong. Sirens sounded every two hours, it was scary to go outside. Enemy troops bombed the neighboring areas, and we were afraid to get to the railway station.
In the last days before the evacuation from the city, we hid in the shelter of the subway, looking for a train to leave. We slept on cardboard and concrete floors. It was difficult to leave the city because of the large flow of people. We stayed at the metro station shelter for two days and went to Poltava, where we stayed for 4 days, after resting from everything, we went to Lviv.
From there we decided to go abroad. Although I was worried that there would be problems with documents while crossing the border. The fact is that my passport is male, but the name has been changed to female. Representatives of Insight accompanied us to the border, where we were met by partners of the Polish organization.
A friend who knew about the work of the Insight shelter in Lviv recommended ask organization for help. I knew about Insight for a long time. It was my first acquaintance in Kyiv. At that time they helped me with housing and with the migration service, which did not want to issue documents. I was required to confirm my identity, that was difficult to do, because all the data about me remained in the occupied territory.
Now we are in France. Here they helped us with housing. Thank you, Insight, for everything!
Kadi, 26, gay
My first day of the war was probably very strange. I went to bed at about 4 o’clock in the morning, and the first explosion took place at about 4:30, and at 6 o’clock .My stepmother shouted from the kitchen to my father, who came to my room to sit at the computer that Russia attacked us.
I woke up from her scream, 15 minutes later there were 2 explosions with an interval of up to 5 minutes. I was then at home with my father and stepmother. My first thoughts were like “What kind of war? What do you mean? I am sleeping! It’s all a dream! ”
That day we decided that I would go to my grandparents, and my stepmother’s son would go to them (parents), and there came almost 2 weeks of war. Until I went to Chernivtsi.
I was acquainted with the activities of Insight, thanks to an ex-boyfriend, to whom I moved to Lutsk. There is an Insight office in Lutsk and we met different people there.
I am very grateful that Insight has made it possible to live safely in a shelter, providing everything from toilet paper to medication.
When the war is over, I would like to be active in my city, to help the LGBTQ + community, and in general to make people’s lives better than they were before and during the war.
Ukrainian LGBTQ+ and feminist NGO ‘Insight’ is collecting donations to provide support LGBTQ+ people and women in Ukraine with covering basic needs in protection, safety and health during the war.
‘Insight’ public organization is working in 11 regions of Ukraine and was founded in 2008. From the first days of war, our team:
- launched help-bot for legal and psychological support for LGBTQI+ communities and for women;
- opened 2 shelters in Lviv and 1 in Chernivtsi (each can host 15-20 people at the time)
- setup hormone deliveries for T*people to different cities in Ukraine;
- setup medicine deliveries;
- setup evacuation logistic LGBTQ+ people and women to safer locations (EU, Western Ukraine)
- connect people with host organizations in EU and other countries