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Ukraine: Gay Community Center Opens in Lugansk

Press-release by Our World Gay and Lesbian Center, Lugansk, Ukraine

On August 18, 2001 the formal opening of Nash Mir (Our World) Community Center for gay men and lesbians was held. It is the first Center of its kind in the New Independent States.

Andriy Maymulakhin opening the community center

In his speech Andriy Maymulakhin, Coordinator of the public organization, said: We consider that this new Center will be useful for all of us. First of all for better communicating to find new friends, and if necessary to extend a helping hand to one another. We hope that the Community Center will help us to develop our own lifestyle further, to be saved from fear and to feel that we ourselves are valuable citizens in the country. We believe that the community of lesbian women and gay men, bisexuals and transgender people in Ukraine will now begin showing more strength, more bravery, and more pride, because only by showing such good qualities we can achieve equal rights in our society and destroy existing stereotypes as homophobia diminishes.

Various services will be available in the Community Center. We shall start with a demonstration of art films on gay and lesbian topics; the library will make this project happen. Thus, visitors will receive fresh information about life and events in the gay communities of other cities in Ukraine, and about the situation of gays and lesbians in the world; here they can consult on HIV-infection and sexually transmitted diseases. We shall try to emphasize cultural development at our Center. For example, in the beginning of November this year we plan to bring to Lugansk a small Dutch theater group Aputheater and to conduct other events in cooperation with the International Lesbian and Gay Cultural Network. However, apart from all these plans, we hope that our visitors themselves will show their initiative and will participate in the realization of new projects too.

The creation of the Community Center has become possible also due to the current project titled Information of gays and lesbians, both youth in the Eastern of Ukraine regarding the issues of HIV-infection, safer sex which is now already in operation by Our World Center. This project is financed by Counterpart Alliance for Partnership from money of the USA Agency of International Development. After opening of the Community Center, the participants took part in a training on safer sexual behavior under this project.

On the evening of August 18th at the same location a discotheque celebration was organized which attracted more than a hundred people. It was a successful gathering and party, where a special glow of mutual good relations between the people present was felt. At daybreak the last visitors rushed out of club into the street and some even continued to dance spontaneously to the music of I Will Survive beneath an unwinding Rainbow flag.

In the future on the premises of the Community Center, when the hours are not taken up with scheduled information-giving, consciousness-raising and other social measures, the gay bar and discotheque will be open and in operation. We expect that it will attract a considerable increase in the number of visitors to the Community Center, and that increased popularity will lead to better outreach to our target group within the framework of the health project. We view these measures as an important constituent in successfully implementing the health project. We anticipate that the income stream from bar beverage sales will become an additional source for meeting the budget of Our World Center and for improving its sustainability.

Opening of the Community Center is a significant step in formation of LGBT community in Lugansk and the region. Without controversy it is our next victory!

Andriy Maymulakin
Our World Gay & Lesbian Center
20 August 2001


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