Ordinary People

Portraits from LGBTQ Armenia, Georgia, and Russia

An inspiring and beautifully produced series of photo-portraits of LGBTQ Russians living in an increasingly homophobic Russia

In late 2022, as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine dragged on, President Vladimir Putin signed new legislation cracking down on LGBTQ communities. Almost ten years earlier, Russia had enacted a federal law that prohibited the promotion of “non-traditional sexual values”—seen as Western values—to anyone under the age of eighteen. Known by many as the “gay propaganda law,” it has been used to silence any public discussion or positive messaging about LGBTQ issues in any place or format accessible to minors, including the media and online. The new legislation expands on the 2013 law to cover all ages and all media, causing many to fear for a new wave of homophobic violence.

In Ordinary People, Ksenia Kuleshova, a rising star in the world of photography, has taken a series of color portraits, accompanied by short interviews, of LGBTQ Russians who, despite the relentless homophobia from politicians, religious leaders, and the media, remain open about their sexuality and seek happiness and joy in their everyday lives. Kuleshova also looks beyond Russia’s borders to people in former Soviet states, many of which have taken their lead from Russia’s homophobic policies. Powerful and intimate, Ordinary People is a moving and ultimately joyful testament to the survival and resilience of the LGBTQ community in one of the most oppressive countries in the world.

Ordinary People was designed by Emerson, Wajdowicz Studios (EWS).

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