Photographing LGBT citizens in countries where homosexuality is still criminalized.

A bare-chested young man wearing only jewelry holds a transgender woman wrapped in cloth the color of rose gold. The woman's fingers twist themselves in her companion's two necklaces, her palm obscuring a broad tattoo covering his upper chest. Her head rests on the slope of his neck as his hand and bracelets graze her thigh. Only his eyes, gazing warily beyond the perimeters of the image, interrupt the romance of the frame, suggesting that their moment of peace has been snatched.

A version of this story originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.

A version of this story originally appeared in the December/January 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.

The man, Bobby Brandon Brown, is a gay man in Jamaica. By his own account, he has been physically attacked multiple times for his sexuality; he is homeless and estranged from his family; he has sex with strangers to survive, and has tried multiple times to take his own life. Despite the hardships he faces day to day, this picture of him and a former partner, named Persion Unapologetic, feels intimate, removed from his daily struggle. "I just need people to understand that us LGBT people are loving, caring, and wonderful," Brown writes in a story displayed alongside the image.

Brown's photograph is one of the 80 portraits that photographer Robin Hammond has captured for his series Where Love Is Illegal, which shares the images and stories of LGBT citizens from some of the dozens of countries worldwide where homosexuality is criminalized. Hammond is an award-winning photojournalist—he has earned a World Press Photo prize and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for his work, among others—but each image in Where Love Is Illegal represents an artistic collaboration between Hammond and his subjects. They choose their clothing, poses, and expressions; they write their own stories; and, after the images are taken on a large-format Polaroid camera, Hammond gives his subjects the option to destroy them. The images that survive are shared, along with testimony, on the project's Instagram account and website, which asks for visitors of all countries to share their stories of discrimination. That inclusive approach aims to amplify the voices of those who are traditionally silenced.

The ultimate goal, Hammond says, is to have LGBT people seen, heard, and valued within their own communities. "Stories are the way that we relate to each other and to our world. So I hope that by having stories coming from this marginalized group, they can challenge hostile narratives about their lives," Hammond says. "As many of them tell me, the aim is to be treated the same as anyone else." —Katie Kilkenny 

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Twenty-three-year-old Jamaican Bobby Brandon Brown says he cannot keep a job and has been physically beaten several times for being a gay man. Kicked out of his house by his family, Brown is homeless, has been sleeping with strangers for money and food, and has made several attempts on his life. He is pictured with 19-year-old Jamaican transgender woman Persion Unapologetic, who was in a relationship with Brown when the photo was taken.

Twenty-three-year-old Jamaican Bobby Brandon Brown says he cannot keep a job and has been physically beaten several times for being a gay man. Kicked out of his house by his family, Brown is homeless, has been sleeping with strangers for money and food, and has made several attempts on his life. He is pictured with 19-year-old Jamaican transgender woman Persion Unapologetic, who was in a relationship with Brown when the photo was taken.

Transgender woman Sally, who has been in Lebanon for seven months: "I ran away from Syria because I was running away from ISIS. One of my family members is now with ISIS. Because of him, I ran away here. He was in charge of investigations in ISIS. They want to catch and kill the gays. My last partner was kidnapped and interrogated by ISIS. I'm 90 percent sure they killed him. To kill someone they will choose the highest building and push him from it. They are worse than the Syrian investigation services. The gay people are treated as if they have a contagious disease. In Islam you are given the chance to ask for mercy and to re-enter Islam and follow the Islamic law. But ISIS considers [homosexuality a] a contagious disease, so that's why they kill them."

Transgender woman Sally, who has been in Lebanon for seven months: "I ran away from Syria because I was running away from ISIS. One of my family members is now with ISIS. Because of him, I ran away here. He was in charge of investigations in ISIS. They want to catch and kill the gays. My last partner was kidnapped and interrogated by ISIS. I'm 90 percent sure they killed him. To kill someone they will choose the highest building and push him from it. They are worse than the Syrian investigation services. The gay people are treated as if they have a contagious disease. In Islam you are given the chance to ask for mercy and to re-enter Islam and follow the Islamic law. But ISIS considers [homosexuality a] a contagious disease, so that's why they kill them."

Twenty-five-year-old Jamaican Elton McDuffus was teased, called racial slurs, and physically attacked when he was younger for not participating in traditionally masculine activities—such as playing outside or kicking around a football. Today, McDuffus, who identifies as gay, is a procurement officer for J-FLAG, Jamaica's Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays. He frequently changes residences in Kingston for his own safety.

Twenty-five-year-old Jamaican Elton McDuffus was teased, called racial slurs, and physically attacked when he was younger for not participating in traditionally masculine activities—such as playing outside or kicking around a football. Today, McDuffus, who identifies as gay, is a procurement officer for J-FLAG, Jamaica's Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays. He frequently changes residences in Kingston for his own safety.

Christina Clarke, 24, says she has experienced harassment even from within Jamaica's LGBT community. Because she is bisexual and presents as a woman, some fellow queer Jamaicans consider her "confused" and "promiscuous" for liking both genders. Today, she is an administration officer for an LGBT organization in Kingston that she says advocates for "freedom for all people."

Christina Clarke, 24, says she has experienced harassment even from within Jamaica's LGBT community. Because she is bisexual and presents as a woman, some fellow queer Jamaicans consider her "confused" and "promiscuous" for liking both genders. Today, she is an administration officer for an LGBT organization in Kingston that she says advocates for "freedom for all people."

Yaounde: "I lived a peaceful life with my sweet and loving mother in the big city of Douala, Cameroon, in the year 2012. Our life was peaceful, calm, and reserved, but all changed suddenly when two gay friends [visited] my mother's apartment when she had traveled. This left all the tenants in the knowledge of my hidden homosexual status. When mummy came back from the village, she was broken and destroyed, and after a good time she asked me if I entered into witchcraft."

Yaounde: "I lived a peaceful life with my sweet and loving mother in the big city of Douala, Cameroon, in the year 2012. Our life was peaceful, calm, and reserved, but all changed suddenly when two gay friends [visited] my mother's apartment when she had traveled. This left all the tenants in the knowledge of my hidden homosexual status. When mummy came back from the village, she was broken and destroyed, and after a good time she asked me if I entered into witchcraft."

Noelle Noelle is a 24-year-old transgender woman living in Jamaica who came out as gay before she realized that she identified as a woman. Though she says that navigating conservative social spaces in Jamaica reminds her of threading an obstacle course, she is still proud of her country and heritage. Before her grandmother died of Alzheimer's, she told Noelle to be "Be-You-Tiful." Noelle had those words tattooed on her chest.

Noelle Noelle is a 24-year-old transgender woman living in Jamaica who came out as gay before she realized that she identified as a woman. Though she says that navigating conservative social spaces in Jamaica reminds her of threading an obstacle course, she is still proud of her country and heritage. Before her grandmother died of Alzheimer's, she told Noelle to be "Be-You-Tiful." Noelle had those words tattooed on her chest.

Badr: "The worst moment of my life was in December of 2012. The first president of [Damj, a Tunisian non-profit for human rights that Badr helped to found] received death threats, and I was hiding him in my home to protect him. So I became the target of a group of homophobic gangsters who infiltrated my home in the medina of Tunis; they took my archives and many documents of the non-governmental organization after having violently brutalized me."

Badr: "The worst moment of my life was in December of 2012. The first president of [Damj, a Tunisian non-profit for human rights that Badr helped to found] received death threats, and I was hiding him in my home to protect him. So I became the target of a group of homophobic gangsters who infiltrated my home in the medina of Tunis; they took my archives and many documents of the non-governmental organization after having violently brutalized me."

A posed portrait of lesbian couple O (27, right) and D (23, left): "After [men attacked us for being lesbians], I felt even more strongly how dear D is to me, and how scary the thought that I could lose her. The worst thing that I felt was an absolute inability to protect the one I loved, or even myself. Yes, now I look back on the street and look at every passing male as a possible source of danger. I realized that there are defective people who can pounce on us just because we are lesbians. But every time, now when I'm in the street, when I take her by the hand, I do it consciously, it is my choice. D, hold my hand, this is my reward for your courage."

A posed portrait of lesbian couple O (27, right) and D (23, left): "After [men attacked us for being lesbians], I felt even more strongly how dear D is to me, and how scary the thought that I could lose her. The worst thing that I felt was an absolute inability to protect the one I loved, or even myself. Yes, now I look back on the street and look at every passing male as a possible source of danger. I realized that there are defective people who can pounce on us just because we are lesbians. But every time, now when I'm in the street, when I take her by the hand, I do it consciously, it is my choice. D, hold my hand, this is my reward for your courage."

Maximus Bloo, Tunisia: "Young kids who found out they're gay and [are] still discovering their life, they often get blackmailed by people such as [an older man I met on Grindr who blackmailed me] and pushed to be turned to a material and a tool for old people and other people to have fun with."

Maximus Bloo, Tunisia: "Young kids who found out they're gay and [are] still discovering their life, they often get blackmailed by people such as [an older man I met on Grindr who blackmailed me] and pushed to be turned to a material and a tool for old people and other people to have fun with."

Salah Barka, Tunisia: "When my brother told [my mother] that [I was] homosexual, at first she didn't understand because my mom has never been to school, so my brother explained that her son is having sex with other men, and she said, 'And so?' My brother then told her that everyone is talking about it, and she replied, 'As long as he doesn't bring the police to our home, he can do whatever he wants with his life,' and that was a real shock to me, like a slap in the face. It was not a normal reaction to me, because I was expecting a war, the end of the world, or being beaten up."

Salah Barka, Tunisia: "When my brother told [my mother] that [I was] homosexual, at first she didn't understand because my mom has never been to school, so my brother explained that her son is having sex with other men, and she said, 'And so?' My brother then told her that everyone is talking about it, and she replied, 'As long as he doesn't bring the police to our home, he can do whatever he wants with his life,' and that was a real shock to me, like a slap in the face. It was not a normal reaction to me, because I was expecting a war, the end of the world, or being beaten up."

B is a 32-year-old gay man from Kenya: "At 14 I discovered who I was but I was still confused because I was still young. At the University, in 2007, I discovered that I was not alone, many of my friends were like me but they were in the closet. I shared my personal feelings only with a friend of mine whose name was James. But in general I kept everything in my heart because I was afraid of African culture."

B is a 32-year-old gay man from Kenya: "At 14 I discovered who I was but I was still confused because I was still young. At the University, in 2007, I discovered that I was not alone, many of my friends were like me but they were in the closet. I shared my personal feelings only with a friend of mine whose name was James. But in general I kept everything in my heart because I was afraid of African culture."

Amine: "I was caught by the Libyan police ... they wanted to kill me. They beat me and detained me for seven days. I had to move back to Tunis, and stay away from my love ... a piece of me."

Amine: "I was caught by the Libyan police ... they wanted to kill me. They beat me and detained me for seven days. I had to move back to Tunis, and stay away from my love ... a piece of me."

Amina Sboui: "You will lose your job if you say to your boss that you are homosexual. Of course you will be kicked out from school if you are too feminine or too masculine. There are even homophobic murders in Tunisia."

Amina Sboui: "You will lose your job if you say to your boss that you are homosexual. Of course you will be kicked out from school if you are too feminine or too masculine. There are even homophobic murders in Tunisia."

Mo (left): "Jamaicans are very intolerant and homophobic; nonetheless, I live my life fearlessly. You can never know when you can become a target ... so I am always in defense mode.

Mo (left): "Jamaicans are very intolerant and homophobic; nonetheless, I live my life fearlessly. You can never know when you can become a target ... so I am always in defense mode.

Rick, a 23-year-old gay Jamaican, says he's always been treated like an outcast because of his sexuality. His family does not accept him, especially his mother who, he says, hates him. On several occasions he's attempted suicide. He says there are people who want to kill him, and that he has to have sex with men to get money to eat.

Rick, a 23-year-old gay Jamaican, says he's always been treated like an outcast because of his sexuality. His family does not accept him, especially his mother who, he says, hates him. On several occasions he's attempted suicide. He says there are people who want to kill him, and that he has to have sex with men to get money to eat.

Amanda (not her real name), Cape Town, South Africa: "Now I hate men so much because of what happened to me [a man raped me because I was a lesbian]. I feel afraid for my child to go outside because it is dangerous out there at night. But I hope I will be OK one day because [my rapist] got what he deserves, he has been sentenced to jail. I love God so much because he protects me and looks after me all the time. He always looks after me during bright times and dark times. People say it is wrong to date the same sex, but to God, we are all his people, and I truly know that Jesus loves me. Amen!"

Amanda (not her real name), Cape Town, South Africa: "Now I hate men so much because of what happened to me [a man raped me because I was a lesbian]. I feel afraid for my child to go outside because it is dangerous out there at night. But I hope I will be OK one day because [my rapist] got what he deserves, he has been sentenced to jail. I love God so much because he protects me and looks after me all the time. He always looks after me during bright times and dark times. People say it is wrong to date the same sex, but to God, we are all his people, and I truly know that Jesus loves me. Amen!"

A posed portrait of 25-year-old Miiro (left) and 21-year-old Imran (right, not his real name), a gay couple living together in Uganda that spent time in prison before being released by human rights lawyers." We heard people stoning the door and windows while shouting, telling us to immediately leave the house because they were tired of us, claiming that we are curse to the village, and even to the teenagers in the village.... After a while of storming the door, it broke and we were pulled out, thrown on the ground, beaten, and flogged for almost an hour. We were half dead. And they burnt all things in the house in the process. The leader of the village intervened and they decided to take us to the police station for life imprisonment."
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A version of this story originally appeared in the December/January 2018 issue of Pacific Standard. Subscribe now and get eight issues/year or purchase a single copy of the magazine.

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