Geopolitics of Liberation at the Buffer Periphery of Europe
This article explores Pride politics in post-Maidan Ukraine from queer feminist and decolonial perspectives. It aims to understand how the location of Ukraine on the fringes of two imperial formations, namely the global West and Russian imperialism, shapes Pride and its consequences for LGBT communities and broader society. The authors introduce the concept of buffer periphery as an analytic lens that focuses critically on both imperial formations simultaneously, while tracing naturalized colonial discourses. The first part of the article analyzes the material-symbolic framing of Kyiv Pride marches in the context of the NGO-ization of LGBT activism, police reform, the war in Donbas, and the corresponding militarization of Ukrainian society and the region at large. The analysis is focused on how West-centered geopolitics of liberation and the Euro-oriented aspirations of the Ukrainian government work together to animate Pride politics and instrumentalize them. The second part closely examines the case of the Queer Anarcho-Feminist Block at the 2017 Kyiv Pride, considering it an attempt decolonial resistance to neoliberalization and militarization of Pride and LGBT politics in Ukraine. The article suggests that the resulting outcome of Kyiv Pride marches with respect to broader LGBT communities in Ukraine is rather ambiguous. While acknowledging its influence on public opinion and media discourse as well as its personal significance for many community members, the authors offer a critical perspective on Kyiv Pride as a vehicle and an effect of the colonial geopolitics of liberation. It remains unclear to what extent Kyiv Pride challenged homophobia and transphobia, let alone capitalist and racist regimes of power, or if it perhaps just converted the idea of LGBT liberation into a homocapitalist project of producing loyal sexual citizens.
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