24 FOR 24

Day 10

When what you’re running from is more than war.

Tall, sharp bushes scratched Zi Faámelu’s face, and the rough waters from the river pulled her body in the opposite direction. She knew it was the only chance she had to escape.

The singer, a transgender woman from Ukraine, was carrying only her passport, wrapped in a trash bag to protect it from the water. Her passport identified her as male, making it illegal for her to flee Ukraine.

Throughout her life, Faámelu said she faced discrimination and transphobia. The invasion made things worse, she said, and she found herself stuck inside her apartment due to fear of persecution. 

Svetlana Shaytanova works for Quarteera, a nonprofit organization creating a safe space for members of the Russian-speaking LGBTQ community in Germany. She focuses her work on spreading awareness and sharing the harsh realities faced by queer people, like Faámelu.

Today’s #24for24 recognizes the need to elevate stories like Zi’s and the work of people like Svetlana who make it even slightly easier for the next person to tell their story to their friends, their family, or even themselves.

Read more of their story.