When Russian artist Alexander Abramov first realized he was gay, growing up in the former Soviet country of Kazakhstan, he began keeping journals about his first gay experiences, his run-ins with drugs and the emotional scars of growing up in a society filled with anti-LGBTQ attitudes. Now, the hunky Instagram model known as Abramov Lex has just released the first two books of a five-volume set called Uncovered. The books combine excerpts from his 20 years of journalling alongside intimate and sexy photos.
After moving from Moscow to New York City three years ago, Lex decided to harness his background in fashion and photography to re-imagine his life’s journey as art.
He was a sickly gay youth who grew up tall and lanky due to an intestinal operation at age 13. But over time, he grew into the 230-pound muscular model he is today. Uncovered tells the story of his young queerness, illness, self-discovery, immigration and eventual manhood as a photographic journey through five different hunky characters: a Wrangler, a Mercenary, a Woodman, a Journeyman and a Seafarer.
Each volume of Uncovered follows a different character with different parts of Lex’s journals, illuminating some struggles common to LGBTQ youth while also sharing his creative love of photography.
He tells Hornet, “When I was thinking about what characters I can play — starting with a very full and bushy beard — I was mostly guided by all my sexual fantasies dating back to first time when I started feeling attraction to my gender. All these characters are seen as sex symbols, for lack of a better term, in gay culture.”
Their diversity gave him opportunities to play around with my locations for his shoots as well as chances to vary his looks. The first volume follows the Wrangler and the second volume follows the Mercenary.
Uncovered also adds his adult prospective on his previous journal entries, to help contextualize his experiences and explain how real and immediate his young emotions felt at the time. He called the process cathartic.
“As a gay man who was born in the Republic of Kazakhstan and lived most of my 20’s in Russia, I know from my own experience the horrible situation with gay rights (and lack thereof) in these countries,” he says.
“When I started getting death threats through direct message in my Instagram because I was posting pictures of me and my then boyfriend, I kept thinking that, ‘Today it is only a threat in my social media, but tomorrow it could happen in real life on the street and nobody will protect me and my man.'”
Lex says gay life in ex-Soviet countries are often filled with fear. And so to help protect LGBTQ youth in the region, he’s donating 10% of each book’s profits to the Russia LGBT Network, the organization which Hornet has been working with to help LGBTQ people escape the ongoing campaign of kidnapping, torture and murder targeting queer people in Chechnya.
“I hope the 10% portion of proceeds to the Russian LGBT Network will give another guy the opportunity to be true to himself and be brave enough to leave like I did,” Lex says.