Though this week’s Photogenie theme is called Loving Pride, being recognized as part of the LGBTQIA+ community hardly comes without the opposite: there is ignorance, fear, hatred, and discrimination. Whether it’s on a large socio-political scale or in the minuscule, subconscious acts of seemingly innocent individuals.
Our salvation (love and pride) lies in knowing that there is a growing and strengthening community of peers and allies, that there is/will be love for us (from us to ourselves, from others to us) and in knowing that we can be proud of who we are, proud of what previous generations have achieved for us, proud of what we are achieving and proud to be surviving and thriving in an environment conducive to the antithesis.
In the wake of activist Yelena Grigoryeva’s murder, it is once again unfortunately necessary to address Russia’s ongoing bigotry and intolerance towards our peers in the Russian community and to give them support. We do so, by presenting to you a series on Russia’s LGBTQ+ youth created by photographer Nick Gavrilov and creative director Roman Gunt. The series was created earlier this year in response to Russia’s gay propaganda law, as well as news of LGBTQ+ persecution in Chechnya and has, too soon, gained relevance again in the face of Grigoryeva’s murder.
Gavrilov and Gunt defy the Russian censorship of ‘gay propaganda’ that Grigoryeva fought against, by photographing a series of couples, straight and gay, kissing. All photos are taken in front of Russian state institutions, cultural landmarks, and day-to-day locations.
Not only was the series a means to create beautiful and meaningful photography, but the process of creation was a statement in itself. Behind each image of a homosexual couple kissing, is the public scrutiny experienced throughout the process of capturing the moment. The unkind glances and the sudden police appearance at shooting locations are indicators of Russia's stance towards the LGBTQ+ community.
For Gavrilov, the project was also about representation: “Making this project was a necessity, our community needed it – each portrait is about the struggle against inequality in Russia,”. He elaborates that “there are same-sex couples and heterosexual couples, our allies and friends who, like us, are not indifferent to the atrocities that are happening to the LGBTQ+ community in Chechnya.”
Let us know what you think in the comments!
Our weekly themes always include three photo series by different photographers.
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Written by Isa Fernandez Reumann