In 1934, Joseph Stalin enacted sodomy laws, unleashing a wave of brutal detentions of homosexual men in large Soviet cities. Rustam Alexander recounts the compelling stories of people whose lives were directly affected by those laws, including a naïve Scottish journalist based in Moscow who dared to write to Stalin in an attempt to save his lover from prosecution, and a homosexual theatre student who came to Moscow in pursuit of a career amid Stalin’s harsh repressions and mass arrests. We also meet a fearless doctor in Siberia who provided medical treatment for gay men at his own peril, and a much-loved Soviet singer who hid his homosexuality from the secret police.
Each vignette helps paint the hitherto unknown picture of how Soviet oppression of gay people originated and was perpetuated from Stalin’s rule until the demise of the USSR. This book comes at a time when homophobia is again rearing its ugly head under Putin’s rule.