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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.

Joy

Nurse turns inappropriate things men say in the delivery room into ‘inspirational’ art

"Can you move to the birthing ball so I can sleep in the bed?"

Holly the delivery nurse.

After working six years as a labor and delivery nurse Holly, 30, has heard a lot of inappropriate remarks made by men while their partners are in labor. “Sometimes the moms think it’s funny—and if they think it’s funny, then I’ll laugh with them,” Holly told TODAY Parents. “But if they get upset, I’ll try to be the buffer. I’ll change the subject.”

Some of the comments are so wrong that she did something creative with them by turning them into “inspirational” quotes and setting them to “A Thousand Miles” by Vanessa Carlton on TikTok.

“Some partners are hard to live up to!” she jokingly captioned the video.

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All images provided by Adewole Adamson

It begins with more inclusive conversations at a patient level

True

Adewole Adamson, MD, of the University of Texas, Austin, aims to create more equity in health care by gathering data from more diverse populations by using artificial intelligence (AI), a type of machine learning. Dr. Adamson’s work is funded by the American Cancer Society (ACS), an organization committed to advancing health equity through research priorities, programs and services for groups who have been marginalized.

Melanoma became a particular focus for Dr. Adamson after meeting Avery Smith, who lost his wife—a Black woman—to the deadly disease.

melanoma,  melanoma for dark skin Avery Smith (left) and Adamson (sidenote)

This personal encounter, coupled with multiple conversations with Black dermatology patients, drove Dr. Adamson to a concerning discovery: as advanced as AI is at detecting possible skin cancers, it is heavily biased.

To understand this bias, it helps to first know how AI works in the early detection of skin cancer, which Dr. Adamson explains in his paper for the New England Journal of Medicine (paywall). The process uses computers that rely on sets of accumulated data to learn what healthy or unhealthy skin looks like and then create an algorithm to predict diagnoses based on those data sets.

This process, known as supervised learning, could lead to huge benefits in preventive care.

After all, early detection is key to better outcomes. The problem is that the data sets don’t include enough information about darker skin tones. As Adamson put it, “everything is viewed through a ‘white lens.’”

“If you don’t teach the algorithm with a diverse set of images, then that algorithm won’t work out in the public that is diverse,” writes Adamson in a study he co-wrote with Smith (according to a story in The Atlantic). “So there’s risk, then, for people with skin of color to fall through the cracks.”

Tragically, Smith’s wife was diagnosed with melanoma too late and paid the ultimate price for it. And she was not an anomaly—though the disease is more common for White patients, Black cancer patients are far more likely to be diagnosed at later stages, causing a notable disparity in survival rates between non-Hispanics whites (90%) and non-Hispanic blacks (66%).

As a computer scientist, Smith suspected this racial bias and reached out to Adamson, hoping a Black dermatologist would have more diverse data sets. Though Adamson didn’t have what Smith was initially looking for, this realization ignited a personal mission to investigate and reduce disparities.

Now, Adamson uses the knowledge gained through his years of research to help advance the fight for health equity. To him, that means not only gaining a wider array of data sets, but also having more conversations with patients to understand how socioeconomic status impacts the level and efficiency of care.

“At the end of the day, what matters most is how we help patients at the patient level,” Adamson told Upworthy. “And how can you do that without knowing exactly what barriers they face?”

american cancer society, skin cacner treatment"What matters most is how we help patients at the patient level."https://www.kellydavidsonstudio.com/

The American Cancer Society believes everyone deserves a fair and just opportunity to prevent, find, treat, and survive cancer—regardless of how much money they make, the color of their skin, their sexual orientation, gender identity, their disability status, or where they live. Inclusive tools and resources on the Health Equity section of their website can be found here. For more information about skin cancer, visit cancer.org/skincancer.

The mesmerizing lost art of darning knit fabric.

For most of human history, people had to make their own clothing by hand, and sewing skills were subsequently passed down from generation to generation. Because clothing was so time-consuming and labor-intensive to make, people also had to know how to repair clothing items that got torn or damaged in some way.

The invention of sewing and knitting machines changed the way we acquire clothing, and the skills people used to possess have largely gone by the wayside. If we get a hole in a sock nowadays, we toss it and replace it. Most of us have no idea how to darn a sock or fix a hole in any knit fabric. It's far easier for us to replace than to repair.

But there are still some among us who do have the skills to repair clothing in a way that makes it look like the rip, tear or hole never happened, and to watch them do it is mesmerizing.

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Pop Culture

Artist uses AI to create ultra realistic portraits of celebrities who left us too soon

What would certain icons look like if nothing had happened to them?

Mercury would be 76 today.

Some icons have truly left this world too early. It’s a tragedy when anyone doesn’t make it to see old age, but when it happens to a well-known public figure, it’s like a bit of their art and legacy dies with them. What might Freddie Mercury have created if he were granted the gift of long life? Bruce Lee? Princess Diana?

Their futures might be mere musings of our imagination, but thanks to a lot of creativity (and a little tech) we can now get a glimpse into what these celebrities might have looked like when they were older.

Alper Yesiltas, an Istanbul-based lawyer and photographer, created a photography series titled “As If Nothing Happened,” which features eerily realistic portraits of long gone celebrities in their golden years. To make the images as real looking as possible, Yesiltas incorporated various photo editing programs such as Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, as well as the AI photo-enhancing software Remini.

“The hardest part of the creative process for me is making the image feel ‘real’ to me,” Yesiltas wrote about his passion project. “The moment I like the most is when I think the image in front of me looks as if it was taken by a photographer.”

Yesiltas’ meticulousness paid off, because the results are uncanny.

Along with each photo, Yesiltas writes a bittersweet message “wishing” how things might have gone differently … as if nothing happened.
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