Max, Uzbekistan

Max was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a country where being gay is illegal. When he was 25, Max moved to Moscow and “my life began there. I could be myself, at least among friends.” Things most people get to experience as teenagers, “such as dates, first love, [a] personal life became available for me at 25.” That was in 2003, a period of relative openness in Russia. However, the situation for LGBTQ people soon worsened and Max was faced with bigotry, assault, and police who either ignored or participated in his persecution. In 2013, he fled to the United States and settled in New York City. He worries about his friends in Russia, but is happy with his life in the U.S. where he works as a painter and graphic designer. Max recently got married and is “learning to enjoy every day and trying to forget my past life in fear.”

Photo credit: Steven Laxton, stevenlaxton.com