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The LGBT specter in Russia: refusing queerness, claiming ‘Whiteness’

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In Europe ‘homoemancipation’ has played a significant role in legitimating anti-multiculturalism and broader Islamophobia. Similarly, political homophobia in Russia plays a significant role in (re)defining the contested meaning of the nation after the demise of the Soviet empire. While acknowledging the repressive and violent impact of contemporary anti-LGBT legislation and public discourse on LGBT people, this essay analyzes how the discursive refusal to affirm non-normative sexuality is constitutive of an ethno-national project in post-Soviet Russia. This analysis goes beyond the Cold War binary of east/west that oversimplifies Russian political homophobia as in opposition to Europe. By doing so, it is argued that Russia is not just an illiberal state, but entangled in Eurocentric projects that define national (racialized) boundaries through sexual politics. Consequently, challenging political homophobia in Russia requires attending to intersectional strategies and approaches to sexual politics. An intersectional approach to solidarity will situate sexual rights within national and global ethno-national, racialized, and colonial projects.
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Keywords: Ethnonationalism; Eurocentrism; Russia; political homophobia; racialization

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies & Slavic and East European Languages and Cultures, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA

Publication date: July 3, 2018

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