Banning “Homosexual Propaganda”: Belonging and Visibility in Contemporary Russian Media
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This article investigates Russian mainstream media’s coverage of the 2013 legislation banning “propaganda for non-traditional sexuality”. Inspired by theories on belonging, media and visibility, it reconstructs a dominant narrative representing non-heterosexuals as threatening the future survival of the nation, as imposing the sex-radical norms of a minority onto the majority, or as connected to an imperialistic West which aims to destroy Russia. This story, it is argued, functions as a hegemonic grammar regulating how non-heterosexuality is seen and heard in the public sphere. However, it is argued that sometimes the linearity and cohesiveness of the narrative breaks down, when things appear that do not fit this model of interpretation. The analysis illustrates how contestations of belonging in contemporary media are increasingly structured according to the logic of visibility: dominant actors attempt to regulate what can be seen and heard in the public sphere whereas oppositional actors attempt to establish their own visibility in the mediated space of appearance, putting forward alternative constructions of the nation and who belongs to it.
KeywordsHomosexuality Russia Media Belonging Visibility LGBT
The author expresses his gratitude to Elena Zdravomyslova, Maud Eduards, Susan Jackson and Monika Edgren, as well as to four anonymous reviewers, for their constructive suggestions of how to improve this article.
Conflict of interest
The author declares that he has no conflict of interest.
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