This article was originally published at 12:50 pm.
Since at least April of this year, queer men in Chechnya have been under attack from police, and the violence is still running rampant as of early July. While members of the U.S. government have taken action and people around the world have staged protests, efforts to stop the "gay purge" are still in need of major resources. To answer the call, two people created a benefit calendar that makes donating to the cause very, very easy.
Photographer Balthier Corfi, one of the founders of Collectif TBD Models, teamed up with the agency's co-founder and stylist Todd Hanshaw to bring their 2018 calendar to life. Each black-and-white page features a gorgeously un-clad male model, smoldering for the camera — and your donations, which go to Rainbow Railroad. The Canadian charity, which works to protect queer people from discrimination across the globe, has partnered with the Russian LGBT Network to bring detained men to safety, providing them with visas and legal assistance, among any other needs they may have.
As of this month, Rainbow Railroad's site reports that "37 individuals have escaped into safe houses in Russia, and would like to leave the country." The organization "is providing direct travel assistance and has already negotiated safe travel for seven individuals with a commitment to supporting everyone of them."
Corfi and Hanshaw devised the calendar as a way to raise money to keep Rainbow Railroad's momentum up. The project is equal parts powerful and swoon-inducing — check out some sneak peeks below.
"Thanks to wonderful word of mouth and great outlets [...] orders have already started rolling in — Australia, France, Italy, U.K., Canada and the US — we are very excited," Hanshaw told Refinery29.
"This experience has been very emotional," he continued. "We are not doctors or scientists - we work in the fashion world and it took us a while to figure out what to do, but we knew we had to do something!! We create beauty and in the face of this ugly moment in history - some beauty and light is needed."
The persecution gay and bisexual men are facing in Chechnya is nothing short of horrific. But in these moments of extreme hatred, the calendar, and the efforts behind it, are simply another reminder that the ever-resilient LGBTQ community always shows up for one another (and looks damn good doing it).
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