The political situation for LGBTQ+ Americans in the U.S. feels perilous as of late, with book bans, “grooming” smears, and an unhinged political party happy to use queer people as scapegoats. Still, for many LGBTQ+ people around the world, life in America and other Western nations is still preferable to the homophobic and transphobic terror they face in their countries. As pointed out by Asylum, the new photo book shot by Italian fashion lenser and director Umberto Nicola Nicoletti, more than 40 percent of the world’s nations still impose prison sentences or the death penalty just for being LGBTQ+.
Asylum tells the stories and shows the faces — that display fear, hope, determination — of individuals desperately trying to escape their circumstances and make their way to better lives. But a step up is never guaranteed; many LGBTQ+ refugees face double discrimination in their destinations, for being both queer and foreign. Double that prejudice when LGBTQ+ refugees find themselves surviving in refugee camps, where many are subjected to assaults by other migrants. Nicoletti hopes Asylum — which features an introduction from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi — humanizes these émigrés to those who may view them as dangerous or simply nuisances. “The aim of this project is to give these individuals the identity they are often deprived of when they are reduced to an indistinct mass — and to show the world their true beauty,” Nicoletti states.
Asylum is available May 16 from Rizzoli on amazon.com and other booksellers.