Ukraine is currently fighting for survival. But for queer Ukrainians, who have been battling for freedom long before Putin’s tanks rolled in, the level of existential threat is even more palpable. And still there is hope, finds Alex King.

The streets of Kyiv are all but deserted these days. Every few hours, the silence is broken by the sound of air raid sirens—and sometimes the overhead rumble of fighter jets or the crash of missiles exploding in the distance.

The few people to be seen are usually members of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces, carrying Kalashnikovs and sporting blue armbands. These volunteer fighters patrol neighborhoods, man roadblocks and remain on the constant lookout for Russian saboteurs.

Back in early February, Kyiv couldn’t have felt more different. Before the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022, Kyiv was emerging as one of the most vibrant and culturally dynamic cities in Europe. Ever since the Euromaidan uprising (which is also known as the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine) succeeded in ousting the Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014, young Ukrainians have been fighting for a brighter, more progressive future—and they have been winning.