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Pink & Black: Kyiv Queer Resistance [Ukraine]

Kyiv. Ukraine. Interview with queer-anarchists from Kyiv about their activity, theory and points of view. This is part 4 of a series of interviews, we are not aware of english translations of the other 3 interviews.

Originally published by UANTIFA.

Tell us about yourself?

I’m Baphomet. I’m 25, I work as a marketologist. Bisexual, antifa and queer anarchist, Satanist.

What is queer in your understanding?

“Queer” literally is translates as weird, different, of course with negative connotations initially. This used to be the way to call gay and transgender people in order to humiliate and insult them. But over time the word gained the meaning of “weird, so weird.” For me queer is about community and self-identification that arises after alienation, the reason for which is our difference from others, above all, the difference in sexual orientation.

Thanks to Christianity homosexuality has become something shameful, unacceptable, abnormal, although it is natural, always has been and always will be. Calling ourselves “queers”, we say: “Enough of this!” to the heteronormative world and challenge it restoring its own dignity; we restore the feeling that we are also humans, not worse and perhaps in some ways even better than others.

This provocation, by the way, is the essence of Satanism. Of course it has nothing to do with the belief in otherworldly forces and religious sacrifices — it is an attack on the established false and immoral Christian outlook, its values, principles and norms.

What is queer anarchism and what do you recommend reading on the topic?

Queer is a bottle, a form. People are gasoline. Anarchism is a rag and a lighter.

This is theory and practice, answers to basic questions (What? Who? How? Why?) And, of course, the ideal. Modern queer theory is tame and shaky, it has no social ideal, it does not offer anything specific. Through it you will only be able to understand that there are other people like you. But what to do next and how to change what you don’t like, queer theory says nothing about it. Therefore there are right queers, queers of superstition, or people who love only queer aesthetics. Without serious political content, queer easily becomes a commodity and an object of the market. Only in synthesis with anarchism does the queer reveal its true social potential, provides answers to existential questions and offers a path to dignity. Synthesis with other ideologies — populism, appropriation and hype. Say the K41 is a good example of this.

As for the reading on the topic: “ Federalism, Socialism and Antitheologism” by Bakunin (I do recommend all his theoretical and practical works in general), biographies and books on the activities of landowners, especially Sophia Perovskaya, Nietzsche, all from Murray Bookchin, Mao Zedong, texts of “Black Panthers”, “The Fourth World War” by Subcomandante Marcos, the books of the RTiP cooperative on anarchism and philosophy.

Toward the Queerest Insurrection is on queer anarchism. I strongly recommend to follow “Anarchist Fighter” project (in TOR).

What do you do within the framework of queer activism?

First, self-development: I do not use alcohol and drugs, I do sports, read books, watch movies, obtain useful skills.

Secondly I am actively involved in public and political activities. I go to rallies, attend important events, organize lectures, seminars and meetings. Recently I helped to organize a self-defense test group for LGBTQ + people, where we did basic physical training, learned to do kicks, boxed, learned how to handle self-defense, and sparred. I hope that soon the community will understand the importance of self-defense and revolutionary ideas. Then the first Queer Bashback bands will appear. Actually the foundation for this is slowly being laid. And the last but not the least I work and financially support the antifa and the anarchist movement.

How can you describe the Kyiv / Ukrainian LGBTQ + community? What is its composition, what is it?

There is no community — there are “crowds” but to make it more convenient we will skip this issue. In my opinion the “community” has several thousand active members and tens of thousands of “supporters” (people who go to the Pride and do not face LGBTQ + phobias in everyday life).

Most of them are young people aged 12 to 35; there are slightly more reproductive males than females. Most often they come from provinces and different regions that relocate to the capital since today Kyiv is the largest economic and cultural center of Ukraine. One way or another financially everything revolves around the lower echelons of the conditional “Ukrainian middle class” (youth, individualism and a stable salary above $ 600 a month), which everyone who is not yet there wants to get into. Political consciousness and awareness are mostly on zero level, so they can rather be attributed to the “center” with some credit to the left. They can even be called left-wing liberals or social democrats in essence: moderate criticism of the state, the desire to make everything work well for the people but without a clear understanding of “how” to implement it, believing in reformism. Many people are engaged in “intellectual work” in one way or another, related to the art industry and the non-profit sector or seeking to gain a anchor there. Unfortunately, there are very few left-wing radicals. From this perspective Ukraine is not yet like Europe, where the queers by default are leftists. But there’s time for everything)

Most of them are young people aged 12 to 35; there are slightly more reproductive males than females. Most often they come from provinces and different regions that relocate to the capital since today Kyiv is the largest economic and cultural center of Ukraine. One way or another financially everything revolves around the lower echelons of the conditional “Ukrainian middle class” (youth, individualism and a stable salary above $ 600 a month), which everyone who is not yet there wants to get into. Political consciousness and awareness are mostly on zero level, so they can rather be attributed to the “center” with some credit to the left. They can even be called left-wing liberals or social democrats in essence: moderate criticism of the state, the desire to make everything work well for the people but without a clear understanding of “how” to implement it, believing in reformism. Many people are engaged in “intellectual work” in one way or another, related to the art industry and the non-profit sector or seeking to gain a anchor there. Unfortunately, there are very few left-wing radicals. From this perspective Ukraine is not yet like Europe, where the queers by default are leftists. But there’s time for everything)

What is your attitude towards LGBTQ+ organizations? KyivPride, UkrainePride, «Іnsight» etc.?

Mixed and rather negative. On the one hand, they are engaged in really important activities: increasing the visibility of LGBTQ+ people, normalizing our perception among the hetero-majority, protection in the legal field.

Thanks to them, Ukrainian society has become more tolerant, at least in the capital. It is also important to note their legal and humanitarian activities: there are few places to turn if, for example, you are a transgender person and your life has been attempted, or you are being persecuted and you need to hide somewhere. This is important and deserves respect. But their political views and practices are disgusting. Liberalism, belief in reform, love of market economics and inability to imagine a world without it, already dogmatic desire for tolerance (when you are being tolerated under the threat of condemnation/ fining/ criminal code articles) — all of this together creates a weak, hopeless and infantile movement.

Another point is the exploitation of activists. For them, we are merely a resource. The anarchist movement is a clear example of this: anarchists had supported, participated in the organization of prides and events, defended them physically, while being physically attacked, and helped in other ways from the beginning. But whenever the anarchists needed support, all these organizations and people turned away, repeating: “It’s all your subcultural showdown between the fa/antifa” or “SSU/police say you’re terrorists. You must actually be terrorists, then” It used to hurt. Today, it seems to me, that we are successfully fighting for subjectivity, and refusing to cooperate with us, ultimately, becomes a bad decision for them.

It is outrageous when some people try to set a self-benefitting agenda for the whole audience, to determine something as experts, and people still listen to it and support it.

Amnesty International, for example, recently launched a ridiculous campaign in support of Kharkiv’s Sharygin Sphere. The founders of the organization were said to have suffered dozens of attacks and should therefore be supported by signing petitions or otherwise. The “attacks” were: shit thrown at the door of the office, verbal insults from opponents and inscriptions on the walls. It’s ridiculous to read to people who were attacked by Nazi groups with knives, who had been hospitalized with broken bones; whom strangers tried to kill or strangle because they’re “faggots”. And for some reason it often happens that those who have experienced something similar will not receive any help or recognition from the community.

But it is especially worth noting Sofia Lapina with her desire to become a queer-gatekeeper and to start cancelling the unwanted people. I have many questions regarding the persona of Max Belarus, however. But the attempt to cancel and boycott him was as comical and flawed as it gets.

What is your attitude towards Ukrainian right-wings?

Ideologically, we are different and this is our stumbling block. We want completely opposite things. But there are worthy people even among them. For example, I closely follow the activities of “Honor” and believe that much of what they do is something really cool; the left should learn from them. That is, tactically we can agree, but ideological positions raise many questions.

It is interesting to watch “AKS”, with their populism, hipsterism, Nazi-maoizm and attempts to play the “Third Way”. But, of course, everything looks boring. The right has never been completely anti-systemic, and the Ukrainian right-wing movement after 2017 seems to me to be completely controlled and crushed by cops and intelligence services.

What is the attitude to the Ukrainian left?

It may sound ridiculous, but we’re ideologically different from them, too. The most active today, are, of course, the anarchists, but their main problem is political illiteracy. People join the movement, but they either don’t read, don’t develop and don’t join discussions, or get stuck in approaches that had been studied long ago; sometimes it seems that people associate themselves with ideas exclusively at the level of slogans and subcultures, but do not enrich this connection. Of course, we are still far from the real subjectivity in political and historical processes, but we are gradually recapturing our space and becoming more and more visible. Even you had written about it.

”Social Movement” is developing in its own way, but I see few points of contact and therefore they do not interest me.

The “Borot’bists” (members of “Borot’ba” organization) and other reds no longer play any role in grassroots politics, nor can they be called leftists, because the left is about anti-imperialism and social self-organization, not about supporting neo-empires and the “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

What do you think about the Liberals and the political center?

It’s an exclusive and boring swamp, created around the opportunity to raise their standard of living and status at the expense of grant money. I know very few honest people who really do useful things and have at least some political sense. Most of them are grantoids and a parody of “civil society”. I think this is due to the political and historical context: Ukraine hasn’t had an authoritarian regime since the 1990s, unlike our neighbors.

That is why there are so few real human rights defenders, good journalists, media and activists, such as in Belarus or Russia.

How do you feel about the war and Russian aggression?

I am an anti-imperialist. There is a war with Russia happening in the east of the country. Russia is an empire, and, perhaps, only a revolution in the metropolis can change the situation. At the same time, I do not like the neoliberal course of the Ukrainian government and what they are doing to my country. All empires, metropolises and colonies, all states must disappear! They should be replaced by self-government and free people.

How do you see the queer utopia?

One where people live in unique communities, collectively solve problems, coordinate their actions with other collectives, cities and countries. One where no one has to get up at 5 am in the winter for low-paid work and return home in the dark. One which has clean air, water, healthy food, a roof over your head, quality medicine, free transportation and education based on scientific and moral approaches. One in which no-one cares who you sleep with and hold hands with — most important thing is that you are happy and do no harm to anyone. One with sports, healthy habits, communication, friendship, sincerity and smiles. One with autonomy, equality, solidarity, justice, mutual aid and a community for all.

What would you like to wish readers?

Read books, discuss, take more care of your physical and mental health.

You are beautiful and have great potential! Don’t waste it, become politically conscious and active, join the anti-fascist and libertarian movement — this is a real way to change the world and Ukraine for the better. Queer Liberation, Class War & Social Revolution!

Follow the  Rebel Queers Telegram channel if you want to know latest news and have a contact with queer-activists from Ukraine.

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