First Person: To Fight for Ukraine’s Freedom, He Went Back Into the Closet

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Today, we're bringing you an episode from the recently launched New York Times Opinion podcast, “First Person,” hosted by Lulu Garcia-Navarro. In each episode, Lulu sits down with people living through the headlines for intimate and surprising conversations that help us make sense of our complicated world. This particular episode is about one gay Ukranian soldier’s experience fighting against Russia.

Since the beginning of the war, Ukrainians of all backgrounds have come together to fight their common enemy, Russia. But for some Ukrainians, that enemy holds particular terror. In Russia, gay people are routinely targeted for their identity — arrested without cause and even tortured. That’s what motivated Oleksandr Zhuhan to join the volunteer Territorial Defense Forces, despite experiencing homophobia in Ukraine. In the months since, Zhuhan has been fighting two battles: one for his country and one for his identity.

You can find transcripts (posted midday) and more information for all episodes at nytimes.com/column/first-person.

“First Person” is produced by Derek Arthur, Christina Djossa, Jason Pagano, Cristal Duhaime, Olivia Natt and Courtney Stein. The show is edited by Kaari Pitkin, Stephanie Joyce and Lisa Tobin. Scoring by Isaac Jones, Pat McCusker and Carole Sabouraud. Mixing by Isaac Jones. Fact-checking by Mary Marge Locker. Audience strategy by Shannon Busta, with editorial support from Kristina Samulewski. The executive producer of Opinion audio is Irene Noguchi, and the director of New York Times audio is Paula Szuchman. Special thanks to Jeffrey Miranda, Kate Sinclair, Patrick Healy and Katie Kingsbury.

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