Salt Lake City-based Nomad Alliance’s CEO Kseniya Knizeva is receiving international headlines (as well as criticism) for her “Sexy Nomad Calendar”.
The Washington Post wrote an article entitled Sexy’ calendar of homeless men: Exploitative? Or empowering?. The Daily Mail wrote an article entitled Utah charity is probed over $40 charity calendar of ‘sexy’ homeless men after family said they felt ‘pressured’ to pose for it.
Is the “Sexy Nomad Calendar” exploiting the homeless or is it personifying them? Are people disturbed by a calendar that is no different than a “Sexy Firefighter Calendar”? Why is it an issue now that it is homeless people posing for the pictures?
Knizeva came on the Utah Stories podcast to discuss the “sexy” homeless calendar and what Nomad Alliance provides for the homeless.
“Well, we were working with a reporter at the Washington Post, and the story came out and it’s controversial, and we knew it would be controversial, but we believe that if you’re talking about the homeless epidemic, that’s always good. If you are concerned that a nomad is being exploited, at least you’re concerned for the welfare of an unsheltered individual,” Knizeva said.
Knizeva reflected that the calendar’s purpose is to both raise money for her organization and “humanize” the unsheltered men posing in it. She said many of them felt empowered by having the opportunity to pose in the calendar.
“Isn’t it wonderful? And that’s what I don’t understand. Why do we infantilize as a population and take their agency and their consent from them? Why can firefighters pose in something like this but the unsheltered can’t?” Knizeva asked.
Knizeva also mentioned that she has given many of the unsheltered people that have posed in the calendar a portion of the profit. “I do want to say that they do get paid half of the profits from the sale or from the donations towards a calendar, which get put in a pot that funds our work. The other half gets put in a pot to be split among the men. And we give them little cash stipends all year long. So when I see them, I’m like, ‘Hey, here’s $20 or here’s $30.’ And you should see their faces light up, and they get to say that they’re paid models. They also get a little bit of notoriety on the streets,” Knizeva said.
The non-profit director described that at one of the abatements, she gave a calendar to the police. The man that posed for February got stopped by the police and said, “I swore I was going to jail”, but the officers just wanted to congratulate him for being in the calendar. Knizeva described that each page of the calendar tells a homeless person’s story that otherwise would not be told. She reflected that many of them have very powerful stories. To support Nomad Alliance or buy the Nomad Sexy Calendar, go to their website.