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Love is stronger than hate. The story of gay survival in Russia and Ukraine3 min read

My name is Mykhailo but you can call me Mike – all my English-speaking friends do so. I am open gay journalist aged of 18 from Ukraine. Not long ago I moved from Kyiv to Moscow to re-unite with my love, Roman. I am writing this article not to become popular and receive any comments from you, but to spread my experiences of love and pain which we are facing both in Ukraine and Russia.

I came out just one year ago in Kyiv, Ukraine because I felt the necessity of living my life in the way I was born with no hypocrisy and shame. Afterwards, I felt liberated but some time later I started facing the troubles of being gay. I want to tell you the story of my and Roman’s fight.

If you would like to legitimize your relationships with your partner and get married in Russia or Ukraine — well you can’t— it’s not legal. If the documents mean a lot to you, and you will feel like you’re on the cloud nine after getting the marriage license, then make a fuss and buy the ticket to Europe or the USA.

I have been dating Roman for more than a year. Afterwards there was no hesitation to recognize that this was totally the man who I wanted to share my life with.

So we packed the bags and headed to Fort Myers in Florida where officially became husbands. No wedding ceremonies, flowers and guests — just my kitty (that’s how I call Roman) and me, surrounded with the ocean. A week of drinking up a sweet potion of daily hugs, kisses and walks. Moreover, we weren’t afraid of any violence, aggression and prosecution — that was our paradise.

The Courage to Live Out Loud

But, unfortunately, the honeymoon ended when the plane landed in Moscow. Our marriage status turned back to just a dream and we officially became no-one for each other according to Russian legislation. Again.

That means if I would ever be sick, Roman won’t be allowed to make any decisions about treatment. We can’t raise children, own property, or defend our rights as a couple.

Everyday Roman and I receive dozens of messages with the threats of reprisal. But we put our best foot forward to face the music and try to live a normal life.

People seem to be extremely aggressive in Russia and Ukraine because the state machine of propaganda changes the people’s perception so think that “faggots must die.” They think we must be eliminated just because of our wish to love and be loved.

The church in Ukraine bans the adoption of the Istanbul Convention, a European pact to combat violence against women and domestic violence. The reason is because the document also contains the terms “sexual orientation” and “gender.” Sounds kinda weird, doesn’t it? Sometimes I think our countries are stuck in the times of inquisition. The difference is the victims are gays instead of witches and heretics.

In our turn, we try to win the hearts and minds with the greatest weapon in the world — love. Being open-minded and kind-hearted, honest with ourselves and proud is our way to survive. It’s dangerous to do here but we won’t give up.

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