Special issue: Belarus

14 April 2023

Unit works with 10 countries in Eastern Europe, South Caucasus and Central Asia, supporting publications on queer topics, connecting journalists and activists, and following the great work they do. Once monthly, we put together a selection of queer stories, opportunities, analysis and art to help you stay up-to-date with the ever-developing queer spaces without relying on social media algorithms. Check out this issue from April 2023 and subscribe below to get the next one right into your inbox.

Lately, we’ve noticed a lot of materials from Belarusian authors that we want to share, cool new projects have appeared, Belarusians are actively reflecting on their life and activist experiences after 2020. This selection comes from Vika Biran, a cultural researcher, columnist, and Unit project manager.

“If both of us are sent on a drill, I’ll shoot you in the back” — DasHip

Dima, a former volunteer who served in Kalinoŭski Belarusian regiment, talks about the service, the relationships that are traumatic and supportive, and LGBTQ+ life in Belarus and Ukraine. A sincere and powerful interview from Jenia Dolgaja, a journalist and part of the Unit network.

“I feel like I have to consent to sex by default.” Activist Nasta Bazar explains what you can and shouldn’t say — Radio Liberty

“As for lesbians, it definitely bothers me that people only hear the first four letters of the first word in the concept of ‘sexual orientation’.” 

In this interview, lesbian activist Nasta Bazar describes her understanding of sensitivity and tells of cases where it is lacking. Some commentators who left homophobic comments under the article also lacked it, and Vika Biran decided to analyze them and think about them as a modern manifestation of Belarusian nationalism.

How democratic Belarusians thought they were tolerant, but forgot to defeat homophobia — Kyky.org

LGBTQ activist Andrei Zavalei read reactions on Twitter to the rainbow flag next to the white-red-white flag (that has become a symbol of protests against Lukashenko’s dictatorship) at an anti-war event in Sweden and wrote about why Belarusian society is losing the fight against homophobia.

“‘Faggots’ can be completely abstract stereotyped images or even just horror stories made up by propaganda, while the victims of this violence, fueled by homophobia, are very real.

Just as we were shown from where the attack on Belarus was prepared and ‘they’ were forced to launch a preventive strike, the same way Mikhail Pischevsky’s murderer stated at the trial that he felt threatened and had to defend himself, issuing a ‘preventive blow’ to the jaw with a swing that led to the removal of 20% of the brain, 16 months in hospital in a vegetative state, and finally to the death of Misha”.

“Hanging out in Belarus set the bar high for me”: how LGBTQ people live in exile — Hukanne

A new gpress.info special project about life in the LBQ community kicked off with an article about the experiences of queer people who were forced to leave Belarus after 2020.

“Overdue Dignity” — Nasta Mantsevich

A poetic, powerful reflection on identity, family, boundaries, interest in the past, and the right to the future.

This is the first issue of our newsletter focused on one country. You can help us not miss out on great content on queer topics from your country, about your community. If you’d like to share a link, ask a question or share any feedback, write to us on Instagram or Facebook. Thanks a lot in advance!

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