Even in difficult times of war, the women’s organization “Sphere” did not stop working and managed to organize systemic assistance for those who need it. Already in the first days of large-scale aggression, a survey was conducted on the needs of LGBT+ people from the east of Ukraine, and based on its results, a list of the most pressing needs was formed and further actions were planned.
To date, Sphere provides financial support to members of LGBT+ community in the east of Ukraine who are affected by the Russian invasion and their families. Targeted assistance is sent to those who need food, medicine, paying for mobile connection or urgent housing. It’s easy to get it: just fill out a form, found by the link that is actively shared in social media and wait a bit. The application will be considered in a few days. During the last month, Sphere’s team processed 515 applications and sent 746,327 hryvnias. The relevance of this program is difficult to underestimate: the ability to seek and receive material assistance alleviates the effects of war on a vulnerable group – the LGBT+ community.
LGBT+ people fight, join the defence and volunteer. Sphere was not left out: it handed over to the Kharkiv Defence Headquarters various necessary things, from socks to harnesses and medicines. In addition to its personal contribution, Sphere shares information on the collection of humanitarian aid.
Along with the material support of the LGBT+ community, Sphere is actively developing the field of psychological care. Starting from the first week of the war, a chat of mutual support for LGBT+ and friendly people was launched, which regularly hosted online psychological help groups in audio format, moderated by Anna Sharyhina. Currently, there are two online groups of psychological mutual assistance: for LGBT+ people who stay in Ukraine, and those who have gone abroad. Meetings are held weekly, and there is a telegram chat to communicate and help each other.
Another possibility is compensation for individual psychological consultations. To receive it, as in the case of financial assistance, you need to fill out a form and wait for an answer.
The unification and consolidation of the community is an extremely important area of work that was not forgotten during the war. Sphere maintains contacts both with LGBT+ organizations across the country and with foreign colleagues. A striking example of the relevance of such links: EPOA (European Association of Pride Organizations) has issued a company flag in support of KyivPride and KharkivPride. All proceeds from the sale of flags went to support the Ukrainian LGBT+ community.
Recently, Sphere announced the opening of a competition for artists and designers to create an information space to cover the problems of women during the war and the consolidation of Ukrainian women as a group. The most expressive and impressive works will be posted on the social networks of Sphere, and the authors will receive an award.
The possibility of resuming the work of the community center for LGBT+ and allies of PrideHub is currently being considered. However, online work has not stopped: live broadcasts “LGBT+ and the war” are regularly held, there is a queer project ReFusion, a conversation club in English and Ukrainian is planned. Such events provide an opportunity to distract, get some emotional comfort, inspire further struggle and unite the LGBT+ community in this difficult time.
Despite the martial law, Sphere continues to hold rallies and draw attention to the problems of women and LGBT + people during the war. Thus, on April 9, near the Russian consulate, two Kharkiv activists, Anna Sharyhina and Irina Zhepalova, staged a performance entitled “Wives of Russian Rapists”: a suitcase with belongings and a laptop were brought to the fence around the former consulate as symbols of Russian military theft on the territory of Ukraine. Anyone could join the action, adding to this set of things that symbolize the looting of Russian soldiers.
On April 26, Lesbian Visibility Day, Anna Sharyhina and Anna Romanova gave a performance dedicated to Ukrainian lesbians and the importance of their dual identity. They marched through the streets of Kharkiv with two flags – the state flag of Ukraine and the flag of lesbians. The performance was aimed at supporting all Ukrainian LBQ women, regardless of origin, social status and occupation.
In wartime, it is more important than ever to continue one’s work – consistently and honestly. Sphere develops its projects and creates new ones, responding to the challenges of the time and bringing our common victory closer.