Gay people can be patriotic

Response from Ukrainian Armed Forces Private Oleksandr Horbachenko to Ivano-Frankivsk Mayor Ruslan Martsynkiv

author:
National LGBTI Consortium
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Ukrainian defenders risk their lives every day to save the country from total destruction. The whole nation has united in the face of an insidious and unprincipled enemy – the front is united and everyone stands shoulder to shoulder. Representatives of the LGBT+ community are no exception. The National LGBTI Consortium team spoke to Oleksandr Horbachenko, former head of an agricultural production company and now a soldier in the Ukrainian Armed Forces!

Each defender of Ukraine has their own, but very similar, reasons for choosing to defend the country with arms. When asked what motivated his decision, our hero replied that he was guided by his responsible position as a citizen.

 

“I am Ukrainian. My country is in danger. I must defend it because only in safety can I carry out my business and political activities freely…”

 

The hero added, however, that he used to have a discriminatory attitude towards the army because of the traditionally prevailing “strict patriarchy,” i.e., the need for unconditional subordination.

 

“It was tough for me, as a person who had been making every decision on his own for the past 15 years, to voluntarily transfer authority to another person with unknown professional and human qualities who would make decisions for me,” Oleksandr explained.

 

“I clearly understood that I was probably not the best option as a soldier: firstly, I had never done military service, and secondly, my attitude towards the army, in general, was biased. All this made it necessary to think about the decision for some time,” says the interviewee.

 

The decision was made, and everyday pre-war life was left behind. Many people in Ukraine were forced to reformat their activities to keep up with the rapidly changing realities. Literally, everyone joined the defense of the state, and as the interviewee explains, this is an understandable process.

 

“Everyone who came here has absolutely transparent patriotic feelings… You know, everyone who is here has hope for the future and has come here to defend it. Specifically, I want to return to a peaceful life and remain active in my business”.

 

According to statistics, more than three million Ukrainian citizens have left the country, and more than seven million have been internally displaced to other regions of Ukraine. But those who have stayed behind have focused on defending the state in every way possible, and Oleksandr’s family is no exception. His sister is actively involved in the volunteer movement. His parents have taken over the family business to support their children. Oleksandr added that every soldier feels the support of volunteers.

 

“Perhaps everyone at war now feels their (volunteers’ – ed.) support. This includes help with everyday problems, help with home-cooked meals, someone helping to buy things that can be useful during service, for protection or defense,” the interviewee said, speaking about the tremendous support from the public.

 

Our troops mainly depend on foreign weapons, medicine, and humanitarian aid supplies. Many Ukrainians who have left the country have been actively volunteering from there, helping to find and buy the necessary items. But they are not the only volunteers. The countries that are friendly to us are making the most significant contribution to victory by helping us find the resources we need to fight the war. Oleksandr is concerned about the possibility of NATO and other allies of Ukraine blocking such supplies. Still, he is confident there will be no problems “provided diplomatic efforts are made.”

Can we say we are successful? We think so. Despite the pro-Russian lobby in the parliaments of some European countries, our diplomacy is working a thousand percent, and the possibility of lobbying for the interests of the aggressor country is diminishing every day. Even the friendliest states are already trying to publicly express their “neutrality.” The most despicable pro-Russian politicians are having trouble publicly condemning their own activities, which could cost them their political careers in the case of some of them.

And while big politics can be endlessly fascinating, we return to the person who brought us to this topic. Oleksandr is not the first member of the LGBT+ community to serve openly in the armed forces. And while we know the difficulties LGBT+ people have faced in the army in the past, the interviewee now has this answer to the question:

 

“This is not an area where sexual orientation or gender identity (SOGI) is a significant factor. The purpose of being here is completely different. It’s not about finding your soul mate… (laughs).”

 

The LGBT+ community contributes significantly to the everyday struggle, whether on the frontline or as volunteers. “Everyone is here. Everyone is involved,” is how Oleksandr describes his acquaintances from the community. It would be strange if a person who voluntarily joined the armed forces to defend the country was harassed on the grounds of SOGI. However, Oleksandr has never publicly raised the issue with his brothers and sisters. Nevertheless, he feels supported, and there is no hostility.

 

At the end of the interview, we asked Oleksandr three key questions:

 

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PEOPLE BEHIND THE LINES?

Do not interfere. Listen to the military.

HOW DO YOU SEE THE FUTURE OF UKRAINE?

Free. Independent. Nationally conscious. Prosperous. Tolerant and open to the right people, regardless of subjective factors.

WHAT ELSE WOULD YOU LIKE TO TELL OUR READERS?

You can be helpful in any position! Find your place in the life of the country and in the lives of other people. And above all, your life is given to you: not to your loved ones or your children. Not your parents. Value your life. And do everything you can to make the most of your opportunities and reach your full potential.

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