My story isn’t unique, but it certainly is what became the spark that pushed me on the way to be an ally. I come from a conservative background, a small town in rural Ukraine, a post-Soviet country where being anything but the norm was outlawed (and quite frankly continues to be in the minds of many aged over 40).
My world changed when I began traveling, studying, and seeing how people are treated in different countries. Among them were the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
To me, being an ally did not come right away. To be frank, I never considered myself to be one, up until a few years ago. My closest friends will attest to the fact that all my life I wanted to make a difference for LGBTQ+ people, just did not know how.
Then, upon graduating from university and starting a career in Information Technology, my world changed. I saw a huge need for a space for LGBTQ+ people to feel safe, to be able to express their thoughts without judgment or fear, to communicate with one another in a way where their conversations could lead to something more than just a hookup. I saw a need for Taimi, and that is how the dating app, which quickly grew to become a social network, was born.
From the get-go, I knew Taimi had to be an inclusive space. My team worked tirelessly on making the product what it is today. What started out as a dating app for gay men quickly outgrew itself to be much more.
Taimi is a community. My involvement in building this community is clear. I want to see a world where people are just people, no matter their gender, sex, race, or religion.
Sounds utopian? Perhaps, but it is a society that we should all strive towards. People need connections; they need a world that is free of judgment and harassment, a safe and secure environment to communicate, chat, share information, discuss issues, meet new people and be actively involved in their respective communities.
Unfortunately, in more than 70 countries in the world that is not possible to this day. Not to mention the many societal prejudices LGBTQ+ people face in countries where they have legal protection. Say, the Netherlands, which was the first country to legalize same-sex unions, a country where freedom should reign supreme, but shockingly far-right views are on the rise, and LGBTQ+ people face discrimination on a societal level now more than ever.
This is why I made my mission to combat homophobia and raise awareness. This is why Taimi is not just a product that provides dating app services, but a product that offers a platform to be yourself. This is why Taimi is actively pursuing organizations that fight against homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia. And this is why Taimi wants to be an active voice in that fight.
To me, being an ally just makes sense. My employees are my friends, and many of them are LGBTQ+. I can attest to the fact that more than a few consider themselves an ally. There are, of course, those that don’t just talk about the fact that they are allies but take an active part in terms of activism, raising awareness, and spreading the message of equal rights and what needs to be done to make a visible change when it comes to LGBTQ+ rights around the world.
Taimi has grown tremendously in the past year. We recently hit 8 million users worldwide, which means the company is expanding around the world. We hope that eventually, we will be able to be open in markets where LGBTQ+ people face prejudice, we hope to change that.
Being an ally is more than words. It means that in your daily life you have to speak up for equality. I understand that not every “straight” person is ready to be an ally, but I hope my story will encourage more and more people to come out as allies, to speak up, to fight, to raise awareness.
How To Start Being An Ally. Taimi Founder Reveals His Personal Story was originally published in Taimi on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.