Mr Gay Syria
In 2016, for the first time, there was a contest to find Mr Gay Syria, a candidate to represent the country in the annual Mr Gay World contest, which aims to progress LGBT rights globally through a chosen candidate.
With the Syrian conflict is in its fifth year (at time of shooting), those forced to flee Syria have long since formed diaspora communities around the Middle East and further afield. Istanbul has become one of the main centres of Syrian culture and life in exile, and is also home to a growing community of LGBTQ Syrians standing up and asserting their identities and their rights.
Hussein Sabat was the winner of five brave gay Syrian men that competed in the Mr Gay Syria contest, held in Istanbul, Turkey. This story follows Hussein and the four other competitors in the community, from the competition in Istanbul to Malta for Mr Gay World 2016.
This isn't just the story of the search for Mr Gay Syria, it's the story of a movement of individuals forming a community and empowering themselves and each other in exile. This is a story about resilience in the face of fear, and unity amid increasing polarisation and sectarianism.
Hussein was resettled by the IOM/UNHCR to France in mid 2018, after several years of waiting in Turkey. He is learning French and hoping to bring his daughter and ex-wife to live with him and his partner.
*Images shot between June 2015 to August 2018.