We have all faced headwinds coming out. It’s one of our unifying experiences. But despite the challenges we may face in the US, it’s virtually unfathomable to imagine what it’s like to come out in parts of the world that are not only actively hostile towards gay rights; but where the environment is such that LGBT lives have virtually no value.
It was against this hostile backdrop that Viktor Pylypenko, 31, a former decorated and well respected volunteer in the Ukranian Army, would potentially collide with when he came out.
But he’s had nothing but positive experiences since he did and has changed people’s perception in his town.
The BBC reports that the LGBT community in Ukraine is often under attack and that hearing that finally spurred Pylypenko to act.
Although gay sex has been legal in Ukraine since 1991, it remains socially taboo with LGBT people facing stigma, discrimination, and sometimes violent attacks, rights groups say.
The country scored 19 out of 100 points in a 2016 survey by EU-funded Rainbow Europe: a ranking of LGBT people’s rights in Europe.
And things have only gotten worse since Russia has de facto occupied the country.
Pylypenko’s experience gave him hope and is inspiring for everyone.
Watch him below.