lauritsen

The invisibility of homosexuality in Soviet Russia combined with the absence of research data on sexuality in general, let alone homosexuality, and the silence of scholars, which, the historian Dan Healey asserts, “has been a productive taboo in domestic and western historical writing, reinforcing myths of a natural, elemental, and unchanging heterosexuality” have made this enormous, culturally complex country into a virtual blank slate for the projection of Western sexual fears and fantasies. In the late Soviet period, the militant anti-communist Simon Karlinsky (1976) presented the last two decades of tsarist Russia as a ‘kind of golden age’ of homosexuality, which was brutally cut short with the rise of communism. The leftist historians John Lauritsen and David Thorstad (1974), on the other hand, located that golden age in the first decade of Soviet rule, when the Soviet criminal code made no mention of homosexuality.



There is little doubt that these outsiders’ representations of sexuality, which emerged from what Healey refers to as a “problematic source base”, were to a greater or lesser extent shaped by “a complex and evolving tradition by which an ‘Eastern’ Europe was constructed as only just within the Christian orbit, yet at the same time as Other to a 'civilized’ West”. Within the modern psychoanalytic discourse of sexual liberation, the long-standing contest between East and West has been construed either in terms of a puritanical, repressed West and an uninhibited, sensual East, or of a well-adjusted, democratic West and a violent, repressive East. Reich, in fact, switches from the former interpretive opposition to the latter in the fourth edition of Sexual Revolution. As we shall see, this imagined geography haunts recent attempts to apply ‘queer’ to the Russian context.

—  Brian James Baer, “Queer in Russia: Othering the Other of the West”