Misha Friedman
Misha Friedman
Misha Friedman

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.


Artist Bios

  • Misha Friedman

    Misha Friedman

    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 on Crisis Reporting

    The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting

    The Pulitzer Center’s mission is to champion the power of stories to make complex issues relevant and inspire action. Founded in 2006, the Center is an essential source of support for enterprise reporting in the United States and globally. The thousands of journalists and educators in our networks span more than 80 countries, and our work reaches tens of millions of people each year through our news-media partners. The journalism we support covers the world’s biggest challenges today, from the environment and global health to human rights and artificial intelligence.

The Iron Closet

 archive : 2015

Featuring: Misha Friedman

Curated by: Evey Wilson

Presented by: The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
  • The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting


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Sep 132015

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.

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