Sitara Thalia Ambrosio (DE) "Fragile as Glass" - Helphoto 2023




Fragile as Glass: LGBTQ+ People in the Russian Invasion Against Ukraine
In Ukraine, the LGBTIQ*-community has been more visible and more threatened than ever since the Russian army invaded in February 2022. In the Russian Federation there is a homophobic and transphobic social climate. According to US officials, there is a list of LGBTQ*-activists to be arrested circulating amongst Russian troops. Queer Ukrainians go to war despite homophobic incidents in the army. Others try to continue their political work or simply cope with life in the country at war. Various young queer Ukrainians say their sexuality now plays a lesser role.

“I worry more about getting killed by a Russian rocket than being judged for kissing my boyfriend”, says film student Yehor (20). Yehor’s family lives on the front line in Nikopol. On the first days of the invasion he fled from Kyiv to Lviv, in the west of the country where he stayed for six months. The war affects his libido and relationships have become more important and intense. The ongoing war is palpable in the city. Missiles strike repeatedly. Electricity is scarce and many flats are cold, as heaters use electric power. 

Sasha (21), Yeva-Lotta (19) and Sasha (22) from Lviv share the burden. Just 80 kilometers from the European border the power supply has long been unreliable. Yeva-Lotta says she is mostly angry. Sasha reports she feels much older and adult now, and psychologically suffers from the war. Air alarms, lack of electricity and dark shelters stress her out. She is a physiotherapist and treats soldiers coming from the front. The ongoing war has shown the three how precious each day and time with the people they love is.

Non-binary Edward Reese (37) is a project assistant at the NGO KyivPride. His transition plans have been affected by the war. Top surgery was planned in Kyiv in March, but after the invasion Reese fled to Denmark and had the surgery in Malmö, Sweden. In October Reese returned to Kyiv. “When you might die every day, it’s important to have valid documents. It’s the main issue for me being trans in this war”, Reese says. Reese hesitates to start hormone therapy, because the hormones could become inaccessible at any time.

Sitara Thalia Ambrosio is a freelance photojournalist based in Hanover, Germany. She reports internationally for various online and print media. Her work focuses on gender-related issues, migration, human rights violations and conflicts. Ambrosio integrates parts of her reporting into educational presentations at schools, e.g. on the topic of migration. In 2023, Ambrosio’s photographic long-term essay Fragile as Glass was awarded the Residence prize by Portraits Hellerau Photography Award and will be published as a photo book by the German publishing house Kettler. She is also committed to shedding light on gender issues in her own industry. To do so, Ambrosio speaks on panels, e.g. for the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and is a member of the German Female Fotoclub. 

Sitara Thalia Ambrosio (DE) "Fragile as Glass" - Helphoto 2023
Sitara Thalia Ambrosio (DE) "Fragile as Glass" - Helphoto 2023