Anette Detering: The Russian patriarch Cyril I also agitated against the queer community. This is how the gay parades in Kyiv would justify the war. The Russian leadership and the Russian Orthodox Church deny the right to life to lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and non-binary people. The annual parades of the LGBTIQ community are a benchmark of democracies. When a parade can no longer take place, the train moves in the other direction at breakneck speed, as we now see. We too see this war as a threat to our very existence.
Wolfgang Beyer: In this context, we also criticize German politics, how they dealt with the law against “homosexual propaganda” passed in Russia in 2013, which is inhuman and hostile to homophobia. In Russia, civil rights groups and LGBTIQ activists have been stigmatized, persecuted and threatened ever since. A civil war has been waged against part of the Russian population in their own country for almost ten years. Even then you could have seen what it was all about. The war in Ukraine is just the logical continuation of Putin’s misanthropic policies.
Anette Detering: Since 2013, Russian society has been systematically changed and suppressed in order to carry out this war, or to stick with the Russian propaganda term, a “special operation”. So far there have been no major protests or resistance from the Russian population. One may now ask why this is so. Here in Berlin, rainbow flags and LGBTIQ-related posters could occasionally be seen at the large anti-war demonstrations, but as far as we know there were no major demonstrations against this war by the queer community here in the city, apart from the Quarteera association.
There should not be homosexuals and heterosexuals, but a society in which all people can freely try out, experiment and live out their sexuality. This constant, compulsive attribution and devaluation, which is also associated with it, are forms of violence that also lead to war. Even homosexual people themselves often don’t understand this, because many struggle with their homosexuality and their internalized rejection.
Wolfgang Beyer: We made a conscious decision not to make any specific political demands this year, rather we have the fundamental concern that we, we queer people, address ourselves every day, that we move and take to the streets. And that we don’t let ourselves be reduced to one date and one day a year, but that we have to do it all the time.
Many queer people also rest on these institutionalized forms. And I see a very fundamental phenomenon: state equal opportunities commissioners function in a certain way in the sense of a heteronormization of queer life interests. We are, so to speak, integrated into society through these institutionalizations.
Anette Detering: Queer people should be aware that they still have to take to the streets for their own concerns. And that also means, for example, showing up at demos with your own posters. Last year we had to bring most of them ourselves.
We originally asked her to speak at our demo, which unfortunately won’t be possible. Zi Faámelu will not be able to be in Germany this weekend. I think that’s a pity, because with her life and her struggle she shows us all how complex and how existential the situation is for the people in Ukraine.
Anette Detering: We also see this self-confidence in other young people from Ukraine who have now come here. They speak out loud and resolutely against the Westplaing by German intellectuals who want to tell them that they know more about Ukrainian history, culture and society than they do of their country have done something positive with them.
Many of them have a clear awareness: If Ukraine loses, then everything that Ukrainian society has fought for in terms of democratization and freedom rights will be gone for a very long time. And the homosexuals in Ukraine know that, otherwise a separate group of queer soldiers would not have formed within the Ukrainian military.
Wolfgang Beyer: Ella’s act was the most radical form of an attempt at communication. She gave her life to speak to people directly and say: I’m here and I’m feeling really bad. I need help, I need love and community. And the fact that she didn’t get all that as a trans person is also a structural problem in our society.
Anette Detering: The fact that Ella, as a trans woman, is not anchored in the collective memory is also a sign of a lack of empathy and emancipation. In other contexts, remembering and commemoration has taken place much more naturally. In 1992, for example, Silvio Meier was murdered by neo-Nazis in Friedrichshain. Silvio-Meier-Straße and a memorial plaque at the Samariterstraße underground station commemorate him today. I miss these mechanisms. There is no real commemoration, no symbol of remembrance or anything like that.