Chicago Tribune

'Chicago changed me': For Russian man seeking asylum, celebrating Pride in a way he couldn't at home

A toddler stands in his childhood home near Moscow, wearing a pink skirt. His face radiates joy.

Looking at the photo on his phone, Alexander recalled his mother laughing. It was the last time he could be himself in the country he grew up in.

"Two, three years old, this is when I started realizing that I was different," he said.

Now 24 years old and living in a tidy, two-bedroom apartment in Lakeview, he has applied for asylum - after arriving in the U.S. on a student visa - and is living here legally as he awaits a decision. Returning to Russia will

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