A trend towards conservatism and the heralding of so-called “traditional values” across the New East has undoubtedly had a punishing effect on the LGBTQ community. In recent years, a number of anti-LGBTQ repressions — from Russia’s infamous “gay propaganda” law to the return of far-right politics in Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic — have contributed towards an image of eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia as irredeemably homophobic. So how do we account for this while maintaining a progressive stance on a part of the world that could do with a lot less condescension and a lot more empathy? And how do we ensure that LGBTQ voices in art and culture, however threatened or unconventional, are heard?
Being LGBTQ is a major new series from The Calvert Journal exploring and celebrating LGBTQ life in the culture and politics of the New East. In the coming months, we will feature art, film, photography, fiction and music from across the LGBTQ spectrum, past and present: from clubbing in Tbilisi to Central Asian sci-fi; from the art of the Berlin Wall to the lurid world of turbofolk; from celebration of queer potential to mourning for lost time and lost friends. Artists and activists might tackle the same questions differently, but when it comes to being LGBTQ, the personal is always political.