Russian photographer Vlad Zorin has defied Russia’s hateful law banning “gay propaganda”, signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June 2013, with his new photo book With Love from Russia. As such, he and his photo subjects risk arrest, fines and possible imprisonment.
The book features intimate portraits of gay Russian men alongside stories about their comings out, sexual awakenings, romantic relationships, heartbreaks, and in some cases contentment with life in an anti-gay country.
He found his participants through social media and visited their homes in order to shoot them in their native surroundings. In some cases, the men lived with their relatives, some of whom they hadn’t come out to.
The book contains the men’s portraits. Some of the men are masked to hide their identities. The images seem both inviting, yet isolated, an apt illustration of being gay in a country whose laws punish open queer expression.
Russia’s gay propaganda law, it ostensibly seeks to “protect children” from any “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships” that might “raise interest among minors.” However, it has mostly been used to shut down LGBTQ events and websites, break up LGBTQ families and harass queer-friendly teachers.
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