Kiev’s gay and trans marchers defined bravery stepping around bloodstained pavement to complete the 200-yard pride march Saturday. Many of us myself included when seeing a country struggle for independence mistakenly think that the fighters are concerned about LGBT people. Such is not the case in Ukraine, but I’ll bet dollars to donuts some of those ‘ultra-nationalists’ are enlisted soldiers on ‘leave’ from a country to the east.
Russian American journalist Masha Gessenn wrote in the New Yorker Many of the marchers who came on Saturday had also been at the 2013-2014 protests in Maidan Nezalezhnosti, Kiev’s central square, that ultimately toppled the country’s old pro-Moscow government. The right to march unassailed with a rainbow flag was part of what they felt they had won in the revolution. In Warsaw, the nearest capital city to the west, the Pride Parade will be held a week later and will, as it has for each of the last few years, draw thousands of people to an extravaganza of floats and flags that looks as much like a party as any other western Pride celebration. In Moscow, the nearest capital city to the east, an unsanctioned Pride Parade was attempted a week earlier; its participants were beaten and arrested, and two of the organizers are still serving their ten-day jail sentences. It was to underscore the march’s Maidan heritage that the participants chanted one of the revolution’s most popular slogans: “Human rights come first!”
LGBT Ukrainians symbolize the freedom that Putin has tried so hard to take from the country. There is no doubt in this journalist’s mind that some of those ‘hooligans’ you see throwing flares would have been heaving Russian-made hand grenades, made in their homeland, if not for the press being on hand.
Mashable reports that to get to Saturday’s march, participants had to have someone vouch for their character before being told the secret location of a parade that would last for less than an hour along a typically quiet 300-meter stretch on a promenade in a residential district north of this capital’s bustling center. They were bused in, 200 or so of them, and walled off by over 1,000 police in riot gear to prevent lurking ultranationalists and religious groups who wanted to attack them even before they took their first steps.
While they went just a few hundred meters, activists said Saturday’s parade marked an important step forward for LGBT people in Ukraine. “It is somewhat embarrassing that we have to hide in our own country, march on a concrete promenade on the edge of the city and be protected by a police cordon,”said27-year-oldactivistDenisPanin. “But we did it.”
— Mashable (@mashable) June 6, 2015
Ukraine changes. #LGBTpride took place today in Kyiv. Post-Maidan’s Ukraine made additional step toward European values
— Leshchenko (@Leshchenkos) June 6, 2015
Raw video of the parade