A new video from LGBT-centric Conde Nast site themsits down with Denis Davydov, an HIV-positive gay man who fled persecution in Russia and sought asylum in San Francisco.
While on vacation in the U.S. Virgin Islands, he was stopped from reentering America by a customs officer who claimed he was entering the country illegally. He applied for asylum after moving to San Francisco, and although he was paying taxes and following the law to the fullest extent, he was held in detention for 46 days and denied his HIV medication.
"It feels like it happened to somebody else, not to me," Davydov reflects in the video.
Back home, Davydov had been persecuted, ostracized, and even assaulted by his classmates, and told by his father that being gay would not be acceptable. After he'd moved to Moscow to seek more freedom, the Russian government announced new policies: a crackdown on the criminalization of homosexuality.
As the video explains: "If Denis had not been detained, his lawyers say he would have been granted asylum within months. Now they say it may not happen until 2021."