Being gay in Russia today is dangerous. And it cost one journalist his life.
We began a recent episode of Reveal with the story of a reporter who was murdered in his apartment in St. Petersburg. He wasn’t killed for what he wrote about or investigated, but because of who he was: a gay man. Hateful anti-gay rhetoric is so pervasive in Russia that it’s heard daily on television and in speeches by politicians.
We learned what’s behind this rhetoric and heard how President Vladimir Putin uses homophobia to quash political dissent, exert influence on neighboring nations and bash the West.
But what does it look like?
Photographer Mads Nissen found himself outraged a few summers ago. Outraged to have witnessed – and captured on film – a fistfight that broke out because a young man decided to come out of the closet. Punches and slurs were thrown at the man – an ugly display of the contempt for the LGBT community in Russia.
“Since that summer day, I’ve been dedicating myself to tell the story of modern homophobia in Russia. Not only the violent attacks, but also the new, so-called anti-gay law and the everyday stigma LGBT persons in Russia are facing.” — Mads Nissen
Unfortunately, this violence is ongoing.
We partnered with Catchlight – a nonprofit that supports photography focused on key issues around the world today – to republish Nissen’s photos.
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Capturing the rage and resilience of Russian homophobia
Julia B. Chan worked at The Center for Investigative Reporting until June, 2017. Julia B. Chan is a producer and the digital editor for Reveal's national public radio program. She’s the voice of Reveal online and manages the production and curation of digital story assets that are sent to more than 200 stations across the country. Previously, Chan helped The Center for Investigative Reporting launch YouTube’s first investigative news channel, The I Files, and led engagement strategies – online and off – for multimedia projects. She oversaw communications, worked to better connect CIR’s work with a bigger audience and developed creative content and collaborations to garner conversation and impact.
Before joining CIR, Chan worked as a Web editor and reporter at the San Francisco Examiner. She managed the newspaper’s digital strategy and orchestrated its first foray into social media and online engagement. A rare San Francisco native, she studied broadcasting at San Francisco State University, focusing on audio production and recording. Chan is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.