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Award-winning photographer who fled Iran to live his life freely as a gay man has died from coronavirus

Patrick Kelleher April 23, 2020
Shahin Shahablou gay coronavirus

Shahin Shahablou (Instagram)

Groundbreaking gay photographer Shahin Shahablou, who fled Iran for London in order to be himself, has died from coronavirus.

Shahablou left Iran, where homosexuality is illegal, for Britain in 2011. He gained refugee status and went on to become an award-winning photographer.

He died last week, on April 15, from coronavirus complications, just months after meeting his partner Kevin Lismore, Buzzfeed News‘ Patrick Strudwick reports.

“He really wanted someone that he could share his life with,” Lismore told Buzzfeed. “He said he would never be able to find a partner there in Iran; that it would just be sex. But he wanted a partner for life.”

Shahin Shahablou found love just months before he died from coronavirus.

Lismore said that “something very special” happened between them, and Shahablou believed that their meeting and falling in love was destiny.

“That’s the cruellest thing, to lose him so soon,” Lismore said. “It feels really unfair on him and me, and on his friends and family. It’s tragic.”

David Gleeson, a friend of Shahablou’s, said they considered having him repatriated to Iran, but his family felt that he should remain in London, the city he had come to call home.

It feels really unfair on him and me, and on his friends and family. It’s tragic.

Shahablou also enjoyed a long and varied career as a photographer. In London, he worked as a freelance photojournalist for organisations such as Amnesty International.

Photography was his first love, and he carved out a career for himself in Britain.

Sadly, he experienced financial hardship throughout his time in the UK. Friends said he refused to ask for the money he deserved for his work, and also tended to pass up more commercial jobs, choosing instead to focus on the work he cared about.

He was working part-time in a supermarket at the end of his life in order to make ends meet, but photography was his first love.

Shahablou was a well known figure in the LGBT+ community in central London, where he spent much of his time. He also dedicated much of his work to photographing members of that community.

He was afraid when the coronavirus pandemic hit the UK because he had asthma and a leaky heart valve.

He went into hospital last month but was later discharged. Then, on March 27, an ambulance was called and Shahablou spent his remaining days on a ventilator in intensive care.

 

 

More: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Kevin Lismore, Shahin Shahablou

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