LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — During this Pride Month, we've highlighted many issues facing the LGBTQ community.
And Thursday we are focusing on LGBTQ immigrants.
Vlad Slavskiiis from Russia says just like many gay immigrants, his life back home wasn't easy.
“I was bullied like before I even knew what gay meant,” Slavskii said.
He says he came to the U.S. when he was only 17 years old as fear of staying in Russia was greater than the fear of the unknown.
“I saw people being attacked, beaten, killed, go through absolutely horrific experiences. And I experienced those attacks of beatings and really horrible things myself,” Slavskii said.
He is describing the reality for many gay people around the world.
There are 69 countries that have laws that criminalize homosexuality, according to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association.
The majority of those countries are in Africa.
Russia is known for some anti-LGBTQ laws but it's not illegal to be gay.
That's not much relief for gay people living there.
“The strongest part is the society because most of the problems that are reinforced in Russia are reinforced. The government gets out the ideology and enforces that ideology,” Slavskii said.
He says it's hard to even make friends as a gay man because people are afraid to support the gay community as people worry about being guilty by association.
Immigration Equality is a nonprofit and the nation's leading LGBTQ immigrant rights organization.
They help LGBTQ and HIV-positive immigrants.
For people like Slavskii, they are the saving grace.
Immigration Equality helps with the entire process from helping file paperwork to finding a pro-bono attorney to represent you during immigration hearings and if your case goes to court.
Slavskii says the biggest thing to keep in mind as an immigrant is you're not alone and there is help.