Alexey is an office worker at day and a dancer at night. His sister is the only one of his family members who knows he is gay. “I could never tell my parents or brothers. I just don’t think they need to know.” In a country where extremely conservative values are on the rise, coming out is not an option - not even to one’s closest relatives.
Out of the dozen people whose lives I followed over the course of the past few years, 5 people have fled from Russia and Ukraine to escape discrimination, persecution and even torture.
When starting this project in 2016 I hoped I would see a different Russia four years later but the change for the better is yet to come.
In July 2019 LGBT activist Yelena Grigoryeva was brutally murdered in her hometown Saint Petersburg. Journalist Yelena Milashina, who exposed the kidnap and torture of gay Chechen men was attacked on a work trip in Chechenya in February 2020.