Viktor. Bisexual, 55 years old. From Odesa. Currently continues to live in the city. The interview took place in May 2023.

The man doesn’t look his age at 56 years old. He is thin, but handsome. Gray hair is already visible on the temples, the corners of the mouth are lowered in sadness. Brown eyes look joylessly through the glasses.

 – I’ll choose the name Victor. I had a friend – Vitya. Unfortunately, he died. The Russian troops killed him. No, he wasn’t gay. A homophobe rather. And he had no idea that his best friend was bisexual. He kept a chair leg at home, a huge one, just in case. Vitya often had people come over, and once one of his guests started flirting with him. So Vitya used that leg to beat him up. Poor guy hadn’t even had a chance to put his shoes on – he’d been running down the stairs only in socks.

Vitya’s mother called me in the morning. He died during the air raid alert from a heart attack. Vitya always hated those cursed alerts, but he constantly smoked on the balcony when the air defence was working. I thought missiles didn’t scare him. It turned out that he pretended to be brave.

Immediately after the call, I rushed to them. While I was on the road, she dragged him from the balcony into the room, put him on the sofa. I rushed in – he was lying there. He looked alive. I took his hand – it was still warm. But that was the end for him…

Then the paramedics arrived. The elevator was not working, so I was helping to carry him down in a blanket. I helped for a few floors, and then I said: “No, guys, you do it yourselves now. Because otherwise there will be another corpse.” My strength just left me in an instant. My legs couldn’t hold me.

Of course, I attended both the funeral and the wake. All our friends were there. I gave the speech. We sat in the yard, where as boys we used to run around, drink, laugh, and reminisce about our adventures. When everyone was leaving, there was no feeling that we were leaving the wake. And then when I got home, it hit me – it was Vitya who died! Vitya! I started to howl… Not a single tear during the day, but then –  a stream. Like a wife who’d received a letter informing of her husband’s death. I realized that I loved him. I loved him like no one else. Although before I couldn’t even admit it to myself.

I remember that in April the Tairov cemetery was hit. I thought that Vitya’s grave was blown to pieces. I cursed Putin with every word I knew while driving. I arrived and saw that the debris had fallen on the old burial grounds, and Vitya’s was intact. I then sat down on the bench that stood next to his grave and came out. “Well,” I said, “Vitya, I loved you”. That was the only way I could confess, and only to him.

And who else would I tell? Parents? They are already over 80 years old, they have a patriarchal outlook. “Skrepy” as the call it. I think if they found out about me, they would also have a heart attack. Business partners? They are also that kind of people for whom this is not normal, and they are unlikely to want to work with people like me. Colleagues? No, I’ve had a bad experience. Once I got drunk and kissed a colleague from work on the lips. I thought he was bi too, turned out I was wrong. Then he told about me to one person, that person told others. So now I  have fewer friends at work. Even though I used to have a reputation of a womanizer and I have seven years of marriage behind me, if I came out, I would be all alone now.

Unfortunately, Ukraine is still quite a homophobic country. We have enough sovietophiles who would carry portraits of Stalin on the 9th of May. They are happily waiting for the Russian armed forces so they could oppress gays. They have nothing in their lives, so they dream of oppressing someone, imprisoning, they want their “comrades’ courts” back.

Maybe something will gradually change in Ukraine. Take, for example, the United States. If someone had said in the 60s that the president would be an African-American, that person wouldn’t have escaped lynching. And after a few decades Obama came to power. Where is the Ku Klux Klan now? Nowhere.

I don’t dare to come out. Do I even need it? When Vitya died something in me also died with him. I don’t have anyone. Neither women nor men. It’s been more than a year. I don’t need anyone. So you can say that I’m now not bisexual, but asexual.

I am alone almost all the time. I’ve taken a dog from the shelter, so at least I go for walks with him. We go to the park in the morning, to the water pump station in the evening, and at home he lies next to my chair while I read – and I don’t need anyone else. I only wish to live to see Ukraine’s victory. Because I have no joy in life. Only hope.