Anton Shebetko
We Were Here

More than 330 thousand Ukrainians took part in the Anti-Terrorist Operation on the east of Ukraine. No data exist on the number of LGBTQ+ people among them. The far-right groups and people who share conservative views strongly believe that they are absent.

The LGBTQ+ people became central figures of the We Were Here. They took part in ATO and JFO (Joint Forces Operation) as soldiers and volunteers. The collision, conflict, and the consolidation of these identities are captured in a series of portraits.

Most of the protagonists have to wear camouflage not only during the service but in everyday life as well. They don’t make public coming outs in civilian life, concealing that in the army too, being afraid of mocking and negative feedback. They all have different outlooks: some are in favor of the Equality March, others say that it will further provoke the far-rights.

The things that unite them are the service in the Ukrainian army, active participation in the volunteer movement, but also sexuality and gender identity, which are still taboo topics both in such a typically masculine structure like the army and generally, in Ukrainian society.