Sexuality & Culture

, Volume 19, Issue 2, pp 275–296 | Cite as

Political Awareness and Self-Blame in the Explanatory Narratives of LGBT People Amid the Anti-LGBT Campaign in Russia

  • Irina V. SobolevaEmail author
  • Yaroslav A. Bakhmetjev
Original Paper


How do homo- and bisexual people explain the launch of a homophobia campaign that violates their basic human rights? Which narratives do they use to adjust to the hostile environment? On the basis of 77 in-depth problem-centered interviews with LGBT in Russia we explore the explanations they use to talk about their experience of a homophobia campaign. Respondents demonstrate their awareness of the political reasoning behind the campaign and explain it as a tool for electoral mobilization, the repression of pro-Western oriented opposition and as a part of biopolitical technologies adopted by the government to increase its control over people’s bodies and minds. Contrary to intuitive expectations, this political awareness does not protect the informants from self-blame, social escapism and moral suffering.


LGBT Homophobia Anti-gay campaign in Russia Narrative analysis Protests in Russia 



We are grateful to Christopher Swader, Elena Zdravomyslova, Alexander Kondakov, Leonid Polischuk, participants of the international workshop “Love and Sex after Communism” at Uppsala University, and three anonymous reviewers for detailed analysis and valuable advice. We are also thankful to Gleb Musikhin and Masha Udensiva-Brenner for their valuable comments, to Dmitrii Tolkachev for his excellent research assistance and Varvara Ganshina and Ilya Lomakin for their help with data analysis. All mistakes are our own. We are eternally grateful to our informants for their personal courage and agreement to participate in our research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Columbia University in the City of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Faculty of Social Sciences, School of Political ScienceNRU HSEMoscowRussia
  3. 3.Laboratory for Political StudiesNRU HSEMoscowRussia

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