SF man helps LGBTQ+ Ukrainians who've reportedly become targets of Russian aggression during war

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- San Francisco resident Leo Volobrynskyy is making a lot of calls to Ukraine lately. He is worried about the war and its impact on the LGBTQ+ community.

"I talk to my friends, gay, lesbian, family members almost every day. Early morning. Late night," said Volobrynskyy.

His primary concern is word that Russian troops are targeting LGBTQ+ Ukrainians.

"I've heard from some friends that some people have already disappeared - and to this day we don't know what happened to them," said Volobrynskyy.

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Leo's lived in San Francisco for 20 years, managing the horror of what's happening in his homeland, by helping.

"The only salvation is to do something and all of us, including myself, started jumping and saying what can I do," said Volobrynskyy.

He's been focusing on raising funds by generating interest in his own unique way.

"What I do is, I put on the Ukrainian Nation outfit every weekend and go to every fundraiser I can get my hands on," said Volobrynskyy.

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He's shown up at handfuls of fundraising events, helping to raise tens of thousands of dollars within the LGBTQ+ community. The money going to nonprofits like LIGA in Ukraine.

Andrii Zarytskyi is a director of LIGA. He says, "We help the community to survive - to stay alive. We help people to relocate from places where there are heavy bombings or shellings."

The nonprofit's helping provide everything from food to shelter for those in need.

"A lot of people just like everywhere else had to leave their families because they're not accepted," said Zarytskyi.

TAKE ACTION: Local and national support for people in Ukraine

The nonprofit is helping provide everything from food to shelter - to those within the community - explaining that often LGBTQ+ Ukrainians are estranged from family.

He says transgender people are the most vulnerable.

Telling us about trans women trying to flee - being stopped at the border because their IDs identify them as men - meaning they have to stay and fight.

"I can only imagine how hard it is for those people because the situation is terrible as it and the fact that they're not accepted and this shows again they are not accepted as who they are," said Zarytskyi.

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And like Leo he also fears the community is a target.

"If the Russian army and the Russian soldiers are in any of the cities and they know somebody by name and by face in the LGBTQ+ community those people will be targeted directly and I'm afraid they might be killed," said Zarytskyi.

If you are interested in helping Ukrainian LGBTQ+ people, you can donate to:
Leo Volobrynskyy CLICK HERE
Rainbow World Fund Ukrainian Relief Fund, by CLICK HERE.
Razom CLICK HERE
Direct help for the army CLICK HERE
One of the biggest humanitarian help centers in Ukraine CLICK HERE

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