The personal story of Yuriy Dvizhon, director, activist, and co-founder of UKRAINEPRIDE. He lives in Ukraine. He is gay, he remembers realizing his orientation when he was 4 years old.

I remember realizing my sexual orientation when I was nearly 4 or 5 years old. That was the first time I remembered seeing a picture of a naked man in a black-and-white newspaper. I felt some unusual emotions or had exciting thoughts about him.

As a child, I didn’t know what it was then, but I somehow had a feeling that it was probably unusual for the society in which I was born. So I tried to either hide it, suppress it, or make it invisible, so people couldn’t understand that I really liked it.

I didn’t talk about it with my parents or my friends. But when I was in kindergarten, all my friends there were girls, and I found it hard for me to find a common ground with boys.

They always had their own stories with cars, and little soldiers, running around the street, and I was always interested in drawing, creating, and imagining something. So I had a lot of girlfriends I was friends with in kindergarten.

I was scared almost every day of being rejected by society or especially my family. I remember one particular trigger that reminded me of my sexual orientation. For example, as a child, I was so afraid of phone calls. We had a phone back home, and it was ringing pretty often.

Each time I heard that ring I got very scared because I thought that was calling the mom of some of my classmates after we’d discussed these things with them in school before. And I had that fear for quite a long period of time.

I have a twin brother who is straight. We were raised by the same parents, we lived in the same room, and we shared everything together. This is another stereotype that I break in Ukraine about LGBTQ+ people. A lot of Ukrainian here still think that you can become gay just because of some traumatic experience in life. But it’s not like that, you’re just born that way and my example here is very revealing.

At the age of 25, I made my public coming-out. It was during my work with a famous Ukrainian singer, who I directed a music video. Its idea was to take on the LGBTQ+ issues and was starring 10 LGBTQ+ Ukrainian people.

I was not just directing, but also shooting in this music video among those ten heroes who openly talked about their sexual orientation and gender identity. So this made my coming-out very loud, which then probably served as an impetus for coming-outs among other people who saw it.

It was very risky at the moment, but we’ve received a lot of positive comments, although the Ukrainian information space was much less aware of this topic than now. After that experience every year I create some art projects and collaborations with most likely famous people or the media.

It’s my mission from that time on to enlighten our Ukrainians and help them become more tolerant in different ways. And now I can even see the impact it has made on our country and how people’s perception of the LGBTQ+ community has changed.


To read more honest true stories of both LGBTQ+ and straight communities and hear advice from a mental health counselor on every story check out a new educational online course LGBTQ+Me. Embracing Our Differences.

Created together with UKRAINEPRIDE and BetterMe app, this course is aimed to help people with different gender identities and sexual orientations find common ground and understand each other on a more profound level. The personal stories are provided by Ukrainians who have lived the experience, which will be relevant to any LGBTQ+ person in any corner of the world.

To find more info on the project click here.