Through relentless propaganda and disinformation campaigns, Vladimir Putin and his allies have stirred hatred of LGBTQ people to undermine Ukraine’s independence and alliances with democratic powers. Putin claims to be combating the “outright satanism” of western powers pushing “a complete denial of humanity, the overthrow of faith and traditional values.”
From soldiers on the front lines to activists running humanitarian operations to survivors of war crimes, Ukraine’s LGBTQ community is more visible than in any conflict in modern history. And for queer people, visibility is power.
The Queer Face of War combines photo documentary and oral history to produce a community-level portrait of an LGBTQ movement in war.
It is based on on-the-ground reporting with queer Ukrainians since the war’s earliest days. When finished, it will be published as a book and a photo exhibition I plan to present in Ukraine and throughout the US and EU.
Ukraine’s LGBTQ movement is fighting alongside other Ukrainians hoping to build a fully inclusive democracy. Their stories are already building momentum in support of queer people’s rights inside Ukraine. Their stories also have profound implications at a time when anti-democratic forces are exploiting homophobia and transphobia around the world.
I’ve covered the LGBTQ movement and Ukraine’s struggle against Russia for the past decade. I was the senior world correspondent covering LGBTQ rights and Europe for BuzzFeed News from 2013 to 2020—work recognized with a GLAAD Media Award and a top honor from NLGJA: The Association of LGBTQ Journalists.
My recent work has appeared in outlets including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, and Teen Vogue. From 2021-2023, I was a senior fellow for emergency research at the LGBTQ human organization Outright International, where I led research on the impact of wars in Afghanistan and Ukraine on queer people.
I am currently a senior fellow at the CUNY School of Law’s Gender Justice and Human Rights Clinic.