Being gay in Russia is lonely and dangerous. Homophobic rhetoric is encouraged by the state. Violence and discrimination are tolerated. Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Russia more than 20 years ago, it remained classified as a mental disorder until 1999. Recently, homophobia has become more virulent.
According to a recent official poll, 80% of respondents opposed gay marriage. 41% said they support discrimination based on sexual orientation. 20% consider gay people dangerous and said they should be “isolated from society.” Only 3% said LGBT people should be able to raise children.
An amendment to Russia’s Child Protection law passed in June 2013 criminalizes what it calls “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors.” Its ambiguity and selective use effectively make it illegal for any kind of gay event to take place or to even mention acceptance of homosexuality in public.
With a significant increase in hate crimes, hundreds of LGBT Russians are asking for asylum in the United States.
Photographer Misha Friedman documents how members of the LGBT community live under these conditions. They are prisoners in their own homes, hiding their identities, afraid to live a full life while looking for hope elsewhere.
Misha Friedman was born in Moldova in 1977, and graduated with degrees from Binghamton University and London School of Economics, where he studied economics and international relations. He worked in corporate finance and later in humanitarian medical aid while teaching himself photography. Friedman’s analytical approach to storytelling involves trying to look beyond the facts, searching for causes, and asking complex and difficult questions. Sometimes he succeeds.
Friedman regularly collaborates with leading international media and non-profit organizations, including the New Yorker, Time Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Amnesty International, and Doctors Without Borders. His widely-exhibited work has received numerous industry awards, including multiple grants from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Friedman lives in New York City.
The Pulitzer Center raises awareness of underreported global issues through direct support for quality journalism across all media platforms and a unique program of education and public outreach. We support over 200 reporting projects a year, in partnership with more than 150 news organizations with an increasing focus on regional and local outlets to ensure we are reaching diverse audiences. We are raising awareness of the interconnected nature of the greatest challenges of our times and pointing to possible solutions. We serve global public-interest journalism by engaging wide audiences on deeply reported topics and inspiring the next generation to value credible news and cross-cultural understanding.
The Iron Closet
Featuring: Misha Friedman
Curated by: Evey Wilson
LocationsView Location Details Download a detailed map of this location Brooklyn Bridge Park – Emily Warren Roebling Plaza
1 Water St
Brooklyn, NY 11201
This location is part of Brooklyn Bridge Park
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Photography and the Battle for Global LGBT Rights
Join the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting for this panel convening photographers who are documenting LGBT communities in Russia, Uganda and North America.Learn More