Forbidden City

A photography project shot in locations hostile to gay men with the help of Google Street View. 
All images by Jonathan Higbee with Google Street View.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates 

With the help of Google Street View I can finally produce photographic work in countries I've dreamed of photographing since I was young. It's not the expense of travel that has kept me outside their borders; instead, I've had to avoid otherwise beautiful countries because doing so puts me at risk of being imprisoned -- or worse -- for the "crime" of being gay. These images reflect what I'd produce if I had been born straight and was able to travel to these places in the physical world. 

My colleague Mark Beckenbach provides a cattier, more concise statement of "Forbidden City":

UAE: "Gay men not allowed."

JH: "Oh yeah? Then I'm going to use GSV to look deep into the nooks and crannies of your country, gain an intimate visual understanding of it, and give others like me, and the general public at large, a taste of street photography whether I'm welcome or not."

Locations featured in this excerpt include:

Russian Federation: Being gay is a crime that carries punishments varying from fines to concentration camps (gay men only), depending on the federal subject.

Egypt, Tunisia & GhanaBeing gay is punishable by up to 3 years in prison, and is predominantly enforced against men, not women. In Tunisia, two men were recently sent to jail for "looking gay."

United Arab Emirates: Being gay is on the books as punishable by death (gay men only; analysts unsure whether the law also applies to lesbians). "Lighter" sentences of 10 years in prison are most likely. 

Giza, Egypt        ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Gabes, Tunisia       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Krasnodar, Russian Federation       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Larabanga, Ghana       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Krasnodar, Russian Federation       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Giza, Egypt       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Sir Baniyas, United Arab Emirates       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Larabanga, Ghana       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Krasnodar, Russian Federation       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Medenine, Tunisia         ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Larabanga, Ghana       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Giza, Egypt       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

Gabes, Tunisia       ©Jonathan Higbee via Google Street View

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