• Shawn, a gay refugee from Uganda who was resettled in California, shows off one of his tattoos, which says, "God is Great." His father was a minister and he is a practicing Catholic. Reconciling his homosexuality with his and his family's faith has proven challenging.

Dual Shadows: East Africa’s LGBT Refugees

8 Aug 2017 2017 CONTAINER

“Dual Shadows” follows LGBT refugees in East Africa from their homes in Uganda, where they face unimaginable abuse; to Kenya, where they hoped to find refuge but found more hardship; to the US where after years they are resettled, but it is not the paradise they imagined.

Featuring: Jake Naughton

Presented by

Jake Naughton

“Dual Shadows” is a three-part project about the LGBT refugees of East Africa. It follows them from their homes, where they faced unimaginable abuse; to Kenya, where they fled to but faced more hardship; to the US, where many are eventually resettled through a process that takes years.

In Uganda, the notorious “Kill the Gays” bill caused international outcry. In its wake, LGBT activists received funding and a global platform unimaginable without the bill. But that same visibility created a grassroots allergic reaction. Though the rhetoric has diminished and the bill was struck down, attacks and abuse are on the rise and to be gay in Uganda may be more dangerous than ever before.

In the months after the bill’s passage, Sulait and his boyfriend were tortured in a Ugandan prison. They fled to Kenya only to be attacked by a mob of men with machetes. Hundreds of others also fled to Kenya, hoping for peace, but instead found only more persecution.

After years of waiting in hiding in Kenya, many are settled in the US. But America is not the paradise they imagined. Persecution and fear are replaced by isolation and anxiety about an unknown future.


Jake Naughton is a photographer working on projects about the construction and presentation of identity, ranging from the LGBT communities in Kenya, Uganda and India, to the geopolitical crucible that is Iraqi Kurdistan. He is a frequent contributor to The New York Times. Additional clients include The Atavist, GlobalPost, Highline, NPR, and VICE Magazine.

In March of 2017, Jake was selected as one of PDN’s “30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch”. His work has been recognized and supported by the Magenta Foundation, American Photography, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting and others. He is a founding member of the creative cooperative Black Box and an alumni of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism.