With war, Kyiv pride parade becomes a peace march in Warsaw

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6/25/22

Ukraine’s largest LGBTQ rights event, KyivPride, went ahead Saturday, although not on its native streets or as a celebration. Due to Russia’s war in Ukraine, the event normally held in Kyiv took place in conjunction with Warsaw’s yearly Equality Parade, the largest gay pride event in Central Europe, with Ukrainian organizers using it as a platform to keep international attention focused on their country’s struggle. About 300 people traveled from Ukraine to the Polish capital, now home to a quarter million Ukrainians who fled the war. Blue-and-yellow Ukrainian flags fluttered among a sea of rainbow flags, and some participants chanted “Slava Ukraini” — glory to Ukraine. “Unfortunately, we cannot march in Kyiv,” Maksym Eristavi, a Ukrainian journalist and a KyivPride board member, said, citing the dangers of bombings in Ukraine. “However, it’s important for us to still march,” said Eristavi, who was draped in both the Ukrainian and European Union flags. “It’s still about pride, but pride in being Ukrainian and surviving through genocide.” KyivPride’s trucks were given the honor of leading Saturday’s parade, one of many ways that Poland’s people have stepped up to help their embattled Ukrainian neighbors. “We want to stand together against war, to walk for Ukraine’s freedom, for liberation, for equality, tolerance and acceptance,” Julia Maciocha, chairperson of Warsaw’s Equality Parade, said. KyivPride director Lenny Emson said this year’s event was aimed at calling for political support for Ukraine and basic human rights. “It is not a celebration,” Emson said. “We will wait for victory to celebrate.”

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