Building a GLBT Literary Tradition in Russia

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When I mentioned to a friend recently that I was writing an article for The Gay & Lesbian Review, the Moscow writer—who keeps his sexual orientation hidden from his fellow literati—sounded concerned. “Aren’t you afraid to be published in a ‘minority magazine’? For me this would be out of question,” he said. His fear that publishing in a gay/lesbian journal would somehow stain his spotless literary reputation is typical of Russian gay writers, many of whom are still, if not totally in the closet, in a deep fog of confusion. Nevertheless, things have changed since Soviet times, and gay writers in Russia now have somewhere to turn. Indeed gay magazines and journals—as well as organizations and clubs—have been springing up.

As with other enterprises in Russia, gay and lesbian publications come and go. The majority of LGBT periodicals that flourished during and after Gorbachev’s regime are now extinct. One publication that stands out for its quality is the gay literary almanac RISK, which dates back to 1995. RISK is published in Moscow by the critic and poet Dmitrii Kuzmin, who prides himself on catching all the “big fish” in contemporary Russian gay literature in his journal’s net.

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