19 powerful photos of queer people refusing to stay knocked down.

'You won't silence me.'

Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of anti-LGBT violence.

The five young men couldn't risk being seen speaking to a foreigner about what they'd done, so they met secretly with Robin Hammond in his hotel room.

The men explained they had been found guilty of practicing homosexuality — a crime punishable by death in Northern Nigeria. Fortunately, their convictions fell short of the most severe sentence, but they still suffered 20-25 lashes each, were ostracized by their families, and effectively became homeless.


1. Ibrahim, Nigeria: "I am gay and proud to be that." Read their story here.

Their stories changed the course of Hammond's career in a big way.

Hammond, a contributing photographer for National Geographic, has been visiting Africa for years capturing the continent through his camera lens. He's witnessed firsthand the extreme homophobia and transphobia that exists in many regions there.

This time felt different though.

“It wasn’t until I’d heard these personal stories that it really became real to me," Hammond, who met with the young men in 2014, told Upworthy. “Very rarely did we ever hear from the survivors of this bigotry.”

Inspired to do more, Hammond launched "Where Love Is Illegal" in May 2015 with $20,000 from the Getty Images Creative Grant. The online project documents stories and photos of LGBT people who've been persecuted for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

2. Lindeka, South Africa: "Ever since my friend was killed, I hate men." Read their story.

As Hammond put it, "These people are saying, ‘You can discriminate against me, you can beat me, you can call me names. But you won’t silence me.’”

"Where Love Is Illegal" evolved into a global movement of storytelling focused on promoting change.

At first, Hammond thought his series would be contained within Africa. But as it grew, so did Hammond's realization that anti-LGBT attitudes are virtually everywhere, and his project should reflect that.

So "Where Love Is Illegal" went global. Hammond has visited seven countries to document LGBT people and their stories thus far — in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

3. Nisha, Malaysia: "I was in prison just because of my identity as a Muslim trans woman." Read their story.

4. Yves Serges, Cameroon: "They removed the fuel from a motorcycle and poured it on me." Read their story.

5. Flavirina, Burundi: "The neighbors were talking about me — everybody was talking about me." Read their story.

It's crucial to Hammond that the queer people in his photos have control over the way they are portrayed.

“I am an outsider coming into their community and trying to tell their story," Hammond says. "So what I wanted to do in the creation of this work was try and find a way where it wasn’t just my take on it, but the stories were really coming from them, and weren’t just about them."

That's why each person in the project chooses how they are photographed, and the stories complementing each image are written by them, unedited.

6. Wolfheart, Lebanon: "They continued to beat my partner. I could sometimes hear him screaming." Read their story.

7. Grisha, Russia: "I realized that she was very afraid of the publicity this whole situation could bring." Read their story.

8. Darya, Russia: "In the middle of the road, I was suddenly surrounded by eight masked men. In their hands were baseball bats." Read their story.

9. Tiwonge, Malawi: "It’s hard for me to find a job." Read their story.

But Hammond wanted "Where Love Is Illegal" to have even further reach. So he decided to lend his platform to anyone who wanted to utilize it.

The photographer opened up his project to the public, allowing for photo submissions from LGBT people around the world. There are over 100 stories (and counting) featured in the project.

10. Lorenza, Italy: "I went to a psychologist at the urging of my mother, but it didn’t change anything." Read their story.

11. Michael, U.S.: "Growing up in a house of traditional Cuban refugees, it always seemed unspeakable to me that I would be gay." Read their story.

12. Steph, U.S.: "I still get called homophobic slurs from family members." Read their story.

Although the stories are gut-wrenching, the people who tell them "are not what happened to them." They're so much more.

“While the stories that we are sharing are stories of survival — which often mean people are describing some of the most horrendous abuse," Hammond says. "So many of those people, despite what they’ve been through, have come out stronger because of it.”

13. Yuki, Japan: "When I was 18, I almost jumped off an eight-story building in Tokyo." Read their story.

14. Meg, U.S.: "It was like the blind leading the blind. We had no idea how to find our own identities or keep ourselves safe in a society that rejected us." Read their story.

15. Vincenzo, U.S.: "I can’t describe the feeling of fear and violation when someone shows you torn pages of your most secret thoughts after you deny them." Read their story.

Hammond hopes the photos inspire others to fight for change — especially those in countries that have already experienced that change.

Many of the people who've learned about "Where Love Is Illegal" are in developed countries where queer people are generally more free to be who they are, according to Hammond. That's great, because it'll take a worldwide effort to create justice for everyone.

“We can’t let the fight for equality stop at our own borders,” he explained. "It’s not just a nice thing to try and help people outside our own countries, it’s a moral obligation."

16. Arash, Iran: "Here in Turkey, it’s safer than Iran. In Iran, I was worried each time I was leaving the house because of my appearance." Read their story.

17. Nawras, Syria: "I believed in God, despite the beatings and insults and the humiliating and hard words." Read their story.

18. Kurt and Fletcher, Australia: "They thought we were sick — like we chose to be same sex attracted." Read their story.

The effects of "Where Love Is Illegal" is just beginning.

In the coming months, Hammond hopes to launch workshops in countries he's visiting for the project, equipping LGBT people with the tools to tell their own stories in their own communities. This way, each person becomes a catalyst for change.

"I believe in the power of storytelling to connect people," Hammond said. "And if it’s done well, it can move people to take action.”

19. Biggie, Uganda: "I have lived to be recognized as a leader, rugby player, and a feminist who will continue to fight until all of us are ... equal." Read their story.

After all, it takes more than powerful photos to prompt progress.

“None of this really makes any difference unless there’s real change on the ground," Hammond said. "Storytelling and raising awareness is a good thing, but I feel like I will have done a disservice to these people if we don’t actually come together and try to make real change.”

Learn more about global efforts fighting homophobia and transphobia, and support "Where Love Is Illegal" by spreading the word online and donating to Hammond's efforts.

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Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Don't like Michelle Obama? Don't care. Those of us who love her will fly our MO flags high and without apology, paying no mind to folks with cold, dead hearts who don't know a gem of a human being when they see one. There is nothing any hater can say or do to make us admire this undeniably admirable woman any less.

When it seems like the world has lost its mind—which is how it feels most days these days—I'm just going to keep coming back to this study as evidence that hope for humanity is not lost.

Here. Enjoy some real-life Michelle on Jimmy Kimmel. (GAH. WHY IS SHE SO CUTE AND AWESOME. I can't even handle it.)

Michelle & Barack Obama are Boring Now www.youtube.com

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via EarthFix / Flickr

What will future generations never believe that we tolerated in 2019?

Dolphin and orca captivity, for sure. They'll probably shake their heads at how people died because they couldn't afford healthcare. And, they'll be completely mystified at the amount of food some people waste while others go starving.

According to Biological Diversity, "An estimated 40 percent of the food produced in the United States is wasted every year, costing households, businesses and farms about $218 billion annually."

There are so many things wrong with this.

First of all it's a waste of money for the households who throw out good food. Second, it's a waste of all of the resources that went into growing the food, including the animals who gave their lives for the meal. Third, there's something very wrong with throwing out food when one in eight Americans struggle with hunger.

Supermarkets are just as guilty of this unnecessary waste as consumers. About 10% of all food waste are supermarket products thrown out before they've reached their expiration date.

Three years ago, France took big steps to combat food waste by making a law that bans grocery stores from throwing away edible food.According to the new ordinance, stores can be fined for up to $4,500 for each infraction.

Previously, the French threw out 7.1 million tons of food. Sixty-seven percent of which was tossed by consumers, 15% by restaurants, and 11% by grocery stores.

This has created a network of over 5,000 charities that accept the food from supermarkets and donate them to charity. The law also struck down agreements between supermarkets and manufacturers that prohibited the stores from donating food to charities.

"There was one food manufacturer that was not authorized to donate the sandwiches it made for a particular supermarket brand. But now, we get 30,000 sandwiches a month from them — sandwiches that used to be thrown away," Jacques Bailet, head of the French network of food banks known as Banques Alimentaires, told NPR.

It's expected that similar laws may spread through Europe, but people are a lot less confident at it happening in the United States. The USDA believes that the biggest barrier to such a program would be cost to the charities and or supermarkets.

"The logistics of getting safe, wholesome, edible food from anywhere to people that can use it is really difficult," the organization said according to Gizmodo. "If you're having to set up a really expensive system to recover marginal amounts of food, that's not good for anybody."

Plus, the idea may seem a little too "socialist" for the average American's appetite.

"The French version is quite socialist, but I would say in a great way because you're providing a way where they [supermarkets] have to do the beneficial things not only for the environment, but from an ethical standpoint of getting healthy food to those who need it and minimizing some of the harmful greenhouse gas emissions that come when food ends up in a landfill," Jonathan Bloom, the author of American Wasteland, told NPR.

However, just because something may be socialist doesn't mean it's wrong. The greater wrong is the insane waste of money, damage to the environment, and devastation caused by hunger that can easily be avoided.

Planet

The world is dark and full of terrors, but every once in a while it graces us with something to warm our icy-cold hearts. And that is what we have today, with a single dad who went viral on Twitter after his daughter posted the photos he sent her when trying to pick out and outfit for his date. You love to see it.




After seeing these heartwarming pics, people on Twitter started suggesting this adorable man date their moms. It was essentially a mom and date matchmaking frenzy.

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